What northwest residents say is true: I feel much more appreciation and gratitude for a sunny day when sunshine is as rare as it has been in the coastal regions of Oregon and Washington this year. Sunday, the third (and last) day of our string of summer weather, was glorious – sunny, warm, clear, calm. Our horizons were filled with snowcapped mountains while the water sparkled.
Beginning July 1, 2011, all the state-owned recreation areas in Washington require a Discover Pass for parking. A one day pass is $10; an annual pass is $30. There are 4 state parks on Whidbey Island, and at least one of the federal recreation areas has a parking lot owned by Washington state – which requires the Discover Pass. You can buy a day pass at the parking lot, or buy an annual pass “wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold”. Say what?
Last Friday, we learned that some state parks sell the annual pass, so finally procured one. Yesterday, with the freshly purchased pass in our Jeep and the sunshine calling our names, we headed to Ft. Ebey State Park for a hike along the bluff trail.
Looking towards the Olympic Peninsula from our trail.
Doesn’t this look like the perfect picnic spot?
After a good workout of 3+ miles (and even a bit of sunburn for me), we were off to Toby’s Tavern in Coupeville to meet our friend Joe and sample Toby’s mussels. The verdict? Toby’s are a better deal, less money for more grub. The all-important broth at Kim’s was much better, though, and Odel liked Kim’s bread better, too (I liked Toby’s grilled garlic toast as well as Kim’s chewy sourdough.) We’ll have to go back to Kim’s to make a final decision. :)
In the spirit of full disclosure, here is a photo of Toby’s mussels:
Mussels and garlic bread at Toby’s on Sunday.
Pastry case at Calico Cupboard in La Conner on Monday.
With visions of blue skies and sunshine dancing in our heads, we fell asleep last night planning to get up early to catch the ferry to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island for a day of sightseeing. One of the most frequently recommended “must does” in this area, it would be a first for us.
We were up at 6:30 and out the door at 8 am, rolling our eyes at the mostly cloudy skies. At 8:45, sitting in the parking lot of the ferry terminal under a heavy bank of fog in 58 degrees, we decided to wait until Thursday, the next day with a forecast of nothing but sunshine. So, what now?
We turned east, heading back to Edison, a tiny, charming town we had passed through on our way home from Bellingham on Saturday afternoon. The village that was bright, vibrant, and lively on Saturday afternoon was cold, wet, and extremely quiet on Monday morning – not one shop or restaurant was open! By now it was close to 9:30, and our stomachs were rumbling… so off we went to La Conner, another of the interesting small towns that dot the area.
We struck gold. See that photo of the pastry case at Calico Cupboard? It hints at the delicious breakfast we had in their dining room. The entire meal as great, but the toast was the best I have ever had in a restaurant. Calico Cupboard, La Conner - highly recommended by us!
Then we remembered: today is the opening of the Paddle to Swinomish 2011, the week-long cultural gathering of native tribes described in this story in the New York Times. This year, the annual event is hosted by the Swinomish Tribe, at their La Conner reservation. Tribes have been paddling to La Conner from Canada, Oregon and Washington for several weeks (or months); the big, decorated family canoes were anticipated to arrive beginning at 2 pm (with the cooperation of the tides). We decided to walk off our breakfast by exploring La Conner while we waited.
Light sprinkles turned to rain as the canoes began to arrive, but it was a great sight nevertheless. Wish I had a camera with a big zoom, but this is the best I could do with my little Canon. What no photo could capture was the sense of excitement. As the canoes approached the landing spot, the paddlers sang/chanted in booming voices, punctuated with whoops, cheers and laughter. The group of canoes in the photo above came swooping into view from behind a point, paddling hard and chanting loudly – then turned around and headed back behind the point. Other canoes came from behind the point singly, singing and laughing, heading up past us to the gathering point.
We eventually decided to get out of the rain and head home, feeling we’d made the right decision at the ferry landing. Back here at home, Odel got a pot of his great spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove, and we have a bottle of Joe’s “cranberry juice” (homemade wine) to wash it down at dinner time (thanks, Joe!). A good end to an interesting day.