Monthly Archives: September 2011

Apples and More at BelleWood Acres

Sansa, Sunrise, Zestar, Tsugaru and Pink Pearl. What do these all have in common?

John Belisle talking about some of his favorite apples

They represent just some of the varieties of apples grown at Bellewood Acres in Lynden, Washington. John and Dorie Belisle grow 20 different varieties of apples – some you might recognize like Gravenstein, McIntosh and Honeycrisp.

Besides being a working farm, Bellewood Acress also provides education to children and adults alike. A self-guided tour is offered that includes the orchard, packing shed, juice parlor, bakery and farm store. Each year in their garden, the Belisle’s grow something new. This year it’s Atlantic Giant Pumpkins, but because the Northwest has suffered from a lack of sunshine this year, the ginormous pumpkins probably won’t be that big.

At the packing shed they pack over 200,000 pounds of fruit a year. In the coolers you can see the sizing tables. The largest apples are sold in the Farm Store, medium-sized ones go to the grocers and the sweet little ones make their way to some of the local school districts.

A breakfast of hot, flakey apple turnovers and Bellewood Acres Bubbly makes a great start to your day

After learning about the farm and taking a tour, a visit to the farm store should be on your agenda. Apple pie, apple turnovers, Bubbly, peanut butter and gifts galore await you. I’m sure you’ll leave with lots of goodies for your dining table and maybe even some décor items. I know I did.

Don’t Miss The Oyster Bar

Open for lunch and dinner everyday of the year except Christmas, The Oyster Bar restaurant on Chuckanut Drive in Bellingham has been around in one form or another since the Great Depression. At that time it was just a stand on the side of the road where you could buy oysters to take home and prepare yourself.


Now it’s a gourmet restaurant serving Contemporary Regional Cuisine. Of course, oysters reign on the menu, but you can also have salmon, halibut, sturgeon, mussels, wild boar, venison and more. All are served with sauces, purees or chutneys designed to extract the flavor of the main course and delight your taste buds.

My personal favorite had to be the Dungeness Crab Cakes presented on a rhubarb and plum chutney and topped with a dab of curried aioli. My compliments to the chef, Justin Gordon, and also the restaurant owners, Guy and Linda Colbert.  The Colberts have been in the restaurant business since six months after they first married, in southern California. We’re so glad they decided to move to Washington State and continue providing excellent food, high quality customer service and a fine dining experience you’ll remember for quite awhile.


With more than 600 selections, it won’t be hard to find the wine appropriate for the dishes you try. And the view – you’ve got to see that for yourself. Let’s just say it involves the San Juan Islands, Samish Island, Chuckanut Bay and it’s stunning.

Do the Puyallup


You’ve still got plenty of time to get to the Puyallup Fair since it runs through Sunday, September 25th. If you go, there is lots to see and do including several new attractions. I like to take two days to go through everything as it’s hard for me to enjoy everything I want to in just one day.

Listed as one of the biggest and best fairs in this article by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell, the Puyallup pretty much has it all. Livestock, a petting zoo, lots of entertainment, a beer garden and wine bistro, lots of food, famous entertainers, rides, a carnival, 4-H and Grange displays and vendors galore round out the fun at the complex known as the Puyallup Fairgrounds.


Some of my favorite treats from my time at the Fair this past Sunday included Danny Vernon, the best Elvis impersonator in the Pacific Northwest. And he’s phenomenal – both his singing and Elvis movements plus he has a five-piece band backing him up. But even better – watching the audience and all the people who actually remember the real Elvis and the words to every one of his songs. I don’t know if Danny is returning to the Fair, but if you have a chance to seem him perform, definitely do it.

One of the new attractions, A World of Music, is located just outside the Northwest Outdoor Barn. On display are instruments from many other countries and you can touch and play them to your heart’s content.

We also got to see a Seattle Police Officer demonstrate how his K-9 Ziva works. And, yes, she is named for the character on the TV show, NCIS. This German Shepherd is the first female K-9 to work with Seattle Police and she’s very good. She hasn’t been on the job long and has already caught quite a few bad guys.

Yummy, yummy barbecued ribs.

Foodwise, I highly recommend the new strawberry flavored ice cream in the Milk Barn, Fisher scones, of course; barbecued ribs or chicken, hamburgers, elephant ears and corn on the cob. I’ve heard that deep-fried Rocky Mountain Oysters (none for me, thank you), deep-fried bubble gum and deep-fried Kool-Aid are also available. I also have it on good authority that there’s a wine bar on the second floor of the fine arts building, but I’ll visit that on my next trip.

The News Tribune wrote a great article on how to visit the fair, if you need some help in that direction.

Maybe I’ll see you there on my return trip.

Travel Tips from Sue Frause

Sue celebrating her wedding anniversary on Lummi Island. Her husband is there taking the photo.

My friend Sue Frause, a Freelance Travel Writer and Photographer, who lives on Whidbey Island, shares some secrets she learned through her travels here. After traveling frequently both for her work and for personal pleasure, she’s gotten the process down to a science.

What works for you when packing for a trip?

Sue:  This is going to sound scary to many of you, but I don’t pack until about an hour before I leave. But I’ve sort of worked it out in my head as to what I’ll need, and then I simply put it all into my bag.  Plus I have my standard travel “uniforms” that I rely on, depending on the season.

What do you never leave home without?

Sue:  My passport, MacBook Air, Canon PowerShot G12, Droid, chargers, card reader for camera, notebook and pen.

How do you use your camera phone as a memory tool?

Sue:  I take a photo of my hotel room number. (If you travel a lot and stay in many different hotels, this can come in really handy.) I also photograph my license plate if I’m driving, so I can fill out the hotel’s guest registration correctly and if it’s a rental car, then I can find the right one in the parking lot.

Do you recommend using a credit card, debit card or cash when traveling?

Sue:  I generally use a credit or debit card, but depending on what country you’re in, cash may be a necessity.

What is the best way to approach airport security?

Sue:  Breathe deeply, wear shoes that slip off easily and enjoy it because soon you will be squished into an uncomfortable economy seat on the plane that seems to have shrunk since the last time you flew.

What would you like readers to know about Washington State?

Sue:  It has everything, from mountains and islands and beaches to wine and seafood and coffee. I could go to a different destination in my home state every week and never see it all. Your own backyard can be fun.

If you want to catch Sue’s new show, “Kitsch ‘n Bitch,” it’s one Wednesday night a month at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts. It’s a “live” TVesque show about food, folks and fun. Complete with a house band! She’s the hostess and runs through June 2012.

Floating on a Fall Foliage Cruise

Every once in awhile I venture outside Washington’s boundaries to see what’s going on in our neighboring states. In Post Falls, Idaho, which is only a hop, skip and a jump from Spokane, Washington, I discovered the Red Lion River Queen, an authentic paddle-wheel boat that cruises up and down the Spokane River.

The Red Lion River Queen docked at the Templin Marina.

I love to sit on the upper deck of a boat, watch the shores for wildlife and feel the warmth of the sun caress me. Sipping a drink, while doing so, makes the experience just about perfect. This cruise does that and more.

In order to enjoy one of these excursions, you’ll have to act fast because the last one of the season leaves the dock on September 25, 2011. I highly recommend these narrated tours.

From the water side you can see the $7 million home that Amway built. Nobody lives there now – the complex is just used for events. Besides the mega mansions situated on the river’s shores, you might see osprey and you’ll definitely see fall emerging in a symphony of colors.

The house built by a gentleman who worked within the Amway Corporation.


The River Queen holds 100 people (60 on the enclosed lower deck) , has a full bar on board and it’s easy to move about the cabin or step outside to the upper deck (holds 40 people) for an even better view.

The Wine Down at Sundown cruises, offer appetizers and wine tasting from Coeur d’Alene Wine Cellars. Sign up soon because the last departs on the evening of September 16, 2011.

 All aboard!

Take a Jaunt to Jetty Island: Last Chance This Season

I’ve heard about Jetty Island in Everett, Washington, but never had the chance to wiggle my toes in the warm sand, relax on the beach or participate in an educational trail walk. And it blew me away.


You have to take a ferry or a private boat to get there and I love ferries so it already enticed me. This ferry is free, one of the smaller Argosy boats, and the ride takes only three minutes.

On a sunny day, which we enjoyed, the 80-passenger ferry reaches capacity on every crossing until the Ranger on Jetty Island declares too many people have landed on the island and the ferry takes a break until some people depart.

Ranger Kraig Hansen, Chief Naturalist for the City of Everett, describes the island's fauna to a group of hikers.

Who would want to leave when the kids are kept busy digging in the sand or wading in the water and parents can relax without distractions. When everyone needs a change of activities, nature trails beckon and guided walks geared towards children are offered. Ranger Kraig leads the walks and is a fountain of knowledge and quite funny. He might even ask you to taste Pickleweed.

Jetty Island measures two miles long, has one floating restroom, and no running water or electricity. So bring whatever you need because you won’t find vendors on the island selling hot dogs and soda. Unplug and unravel for as long as you like. Just don’t miss the last ferry of the day back to Everett or you might have to pay a private boater to shuttle you in.

Although there is no charge to go to Jetty Island donations are welcome and make it possible for the ferry to transport more than 40,000 visitors annually.

The season officially ends on Labor Day, September 5 this year.

View of Everett from Jetty Island