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Thursday, May 27, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Put A New Spin On Summer

This summer, dare to be different.

Forget the local swimming pool or beach. Why not spend a day with the coolest dude in Redondo. Cool? This guy chills out with a chainsaw.

Then again, some like it hot. So, instead of the normal tan time, how about standing around a blast furnace where the summertime temps can hover around 120 degrees? Heck, you might even walk away with a beer glass.

But if you absolutely must indulge in traditional summertime fare, how about roughing it at some of the state's most underused recreational spots? After all, a Penrose by any other name. . . .

Summer clearly is the time for wild and crazy pursuits. With that in mind, this year's South County Summer Guide set out to find the quirky, the interesting, the different.

---------------------------- CHILLING OUT WITH A CHAINSAW ----------------------------

Despite his garb of ski pants and rubber boots, Steve Cox may be the coolest dude in town during the summer. As owner of Creative Ice Carvings in Redondo, he takes a chainsaw and ice-carving chisels to 300-pound blocks of ice.

The cook-turned-carver has crafted a full-size sleigh that can hold up to six people; a 5-foot-long, 2,100-pound 1937 Lincoln; and an 18-foot Eiffel Tower. The rule of thumb appears to be the higher the cost, the longer the melting time. Some of his larger productions cost up to $4,000.

Cox says he doesn't mind when people call and then come watch him at work.

-------------------------- A SCOOP OF MONTANA SLUDGE? --------------------------

Ice cream and summer go hand in hand.

And one place to get your fill is Auntie Irene's Ice Cream Shoppe in downtown Des Moines, where owners Dave Hegeman and wife Judy DeChant-Klinkner have concocted more than 200 flavors since opening the place three years ago.

At summer's height, the shop goes through more than 50 gallons a week of ice cream custom-made by Dankens in Seattle.

Some of the more outrageous flavors have been Montana sludge, blackberry and sweet cream, and chocoholic.

------------------------------ GET AWAY AT PENROSE, KOPACHUCK ------------------------------

Tired of fighting crowds while searching for a place you can let it all hang out?

Two of the state's most under-used recreational spots are in Pierce County - Penrose Point State Park and Kopachuck State Park. Penrose is at Mayo Cove, west of Tacoma and about three miles north of the tiny community of Longbranch, while Kopachuck is about 12 miles northwest of Tacoma off Highway 16.

Mostly wooded Penrose has 83 campsites. It also has more than two miles of beachfront and a dock and moorage buoys on Carr Inlet, and several miles of trails for walking, jogging or biking on 152 acres. Clamming is off limits there this summer.

Kopachuck has 41 camping sites, and includes Cutts Island. Accessible by boat, the island is a popular spot for picnicking and clamming. Island camping is a no-no, though.

------------------------ ONE REAL HOT OPPORTUNITY ------------------------

On days that the sun shines brightest, you have to be an early bird to work at Vines Art Glass.

Temperatures inside the SeaTac business soar to 120 degrees in the dead of summer. Despite the liberal use of fans, it gets so hot around the blast furnaces, reheating chamber and annealing ovens that workers sometimes have to start at 4 a.m.

Glass is heated to about 2,000 degrees in the studio, which churns out paperweights, drinking glasses and other items made with ash from Mount St. Helens and sold to shops throughout the nation.

----------------------------- GOING DOWN THE AISLE OUTDOORS -----------------------------

When it's hot, there's nothing like heading outside to get hitched.

A long-time favorite for fresh-air weddings is Lady Dyar's Little Lake Ranch, five miles east of Enumclaw. Weddings are performed in a gazebo on the shores of Dyar's private lake where white swans glide through the lily pads.

Over the past 20 years, Dyar estimates that more than 5,000 couples have tied the knot at her out-of-the-way retreat.

Somewhat more traditional are the gardens at Tacoma's Point Defiance Park. More than 60 weddings are scheduled for July and August.

Last July, one couple chose to get hitched at Point Defiance's Never-Never Land. It's a kiddie area better known for its nursery-rhyme sculptures. Naturally, their ushers dressed as storybook characters.

---------------- IT'S AN ICE IDEA ----------------

Sprinker Recreation Center could be the place to cool your tootsies this summer. It has the only indoor ice-skating rink in Pierce or South King counties.

At "cheapskate" sessions on selected evenings, admission and skate rental total $3 a person. Both open and adult-only cheapskates are from mid-June through late August. The center is at 14824 S. C St. in the Parkland-Spanaway area.

-------------------- CAR BUFFS CONGREGATE --------------------

Cruising on hot summer nights might be out because of police crackdowns. But there's still hope if you own an older car and don't mind parking it for a couple of hours outside Big Daddy's Restaurant in Auburn, or on the Payless parking lot in Burien for something called Hot Summer Nites Cruz.

That's where a lot of motorists congregate and mingle on summer weekends, many of them middle-aged men with muscle or custom cars, street rods or vintage Model-Ts.

Larry Andren, a Tacoma police officer, used to cruise up and down streets when he was growing up. Now Andren helps put on a Saturday-night cruise that doesn't go anywhere except to a roped-off section of the Tacoma South Center parking lot. The law-abiding Tacoma event averages about 200 vehicles and attracts 500 to 1,000 walkthroughs, who listen to oldies blaring on loudspeakers and ogle the cars of yesteryear.

------------------------- TEMPERATURES GET FEVERISH -------------------------

What's the hottest spot in South King County?

Since the Weather Service started keeping records, the temperature has hit 99 degrees at least twice at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The last time was July 1991.

Meteorologists say temperatures get hotter the farther inland one ventures in the summer. But during the rest of the year, the warmest temperatures are generally found closest to Puget Sound waters.

Weather stations at Sea-Tac and Buckley in Pierce County reported almost a three-degree difference for the month of August between 1961 and 1990. The average maximum temperature was 77.8 degrees in Buckley, compared to 75.2 degrees at Sea-Tac, where marine air is more of a factor.

The highest temperature ever recorded in Buckley was 102 in July, while in Puyallup it reached 101 one June. The mercury has climbed to 105 at Longmire on Mount Rainier.

Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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