Category Archives: Beaches

Are You Half of the “Missing” Couple?

WPGBarnWedding431[1]Eighteen sponsors have banded together so that one lucky bride and groom can say their wedding vows on beautiful Whidbey Island in Washington State for free.

Some of the details have been prearranged. The wedding will take place on Saturday, January 17, 2015. The invitations, a venue that accommodates 48 guests, a cake, flowers, a photographer and a musician are all set and ready to make your day a memorable one. Gloria Mickunas, a professional wedding planner, promises to work with you on the rest of the elements you want.

This prize has a value of more than $15,000.

Would you like to get married on this picturesque island just 25 miles north of Seattle and 70 miles from the Canadian border?

If so, you can nominate yourself by writing what this wedding would mean to you and your significant other and submitting a photo of the two of you before the entry deadline of October 31, 2014 at midnight Pacific Daylight Time. Then get your friends and family to vote for you, maybe even the grocery clerk. The public’s votes will narrow the contestants to 10. Then one lucky couple or the “discovered” couple will be selected in a random drawing.

Voters won’t be left out either. They have a chance to win a two-night getaway on Whidbey Island in a random drawing.

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Mickunas says the date is rapidly approaching and might seem a little crazy. But there’s always some drama leading up to weddings. “We’ve made most of the tough decisions for you and now you can personalize the details.”

To find out more about winning a fairy tale wedding in a dreamy destination, visit WinAWhidbeyWedding

Please come forward if you’re part of the “missing” couple.

 

Get Into Soap Lake

As you might imagine, Soap Lake is a body of water, but it is also a town of 1,500 in Eastern Washington. I’m pretty sure they all know each other, because while we enjoyed a tasty restaurant dinner there at Don’s everybody else in the eatery recognized each other and chatted with them.

Soap Lake and the newly installed sun dial sculpture.

 

Soap Lake was formed by a mammoth waterfall that eroded basalt rock into what is now Dry Falls. When the waters of the last big flood receded, it left the mineral-rich lake. More than 15 minerals fill the lake, some say giving it extraordinary healing powers. Soaking in the lake water and spreading the lake mud over hands, arms and faces to facilitate healing was done by indigenous people, settlers and is still done today.

A list of all the mineral Soap Lake contains.

The name, Soap Lake, seemed appropriate because of the foamy ridges that formed on the beach on windy days. Besides the lake itself, local spas offer a Soap Lake experience where you can soak in lake-filled tubs. (Although a broken pipe has stopped that temporarily, it will soon be fixed.)

From www.soaplakewa.com:  Some day, Soap Lake will be discovered by the rich and famous. They’ll build a fabulous resort and take advantage of this absolutely one-of-a-kind mineral lake. They’ll hear about Soap Lake and its remarkable history. They’ll swim in the water and lie in the sun and know they have found a place that nourishes their soul as well as their bodies. They’ll be drawn back year-after-year until they decide to stay for the rest of their lives.

If you aren’t rich or famous, visit soon, before the price goes up. If you are rich and famous, we’ve been waiting for you.

Besides relaxing in the sun, Soap Lake has lots of activities throughout the year like Winterfest, the second weekend of December, with a juried art show, art sale, crafts and music. Lava Run to the Sun is a motorcycle rally in late July and the Soap Lake Box Derby takes place over Memorial Day Weekend.

A Peak at Pacific City, Oregon

Every so often I stray from my home state. Most recently, I visited the Oregon Coast, which I must admit has some appealing qualities that our coast does not, including more accessible beaches and gigantic rock formations in the water (you’ve probably heard of Haystack Rock). This time I stayed overnight in Pacific City, a tiny coastal town, so I’d like to share the possibilities it offers with you.

Beach at Pacific City, Oregon.

 

I stayed at the Inn at Cape Kiwanda, which is directly across from the beach and a few steps from a very good eatery, the  award-winning Pelican Pub & Brewery. My husband and I had been to Pacific City before, but never stayed overnight because the accommodations looked expensive from the exterior. As it turns out, they are not. Rooms at the Inn start at $139. All of the guest rooms have ocean views from a private, covered balcony, gas fireplaces, microwaves, small refrigerators and high speed wireless Internet. Really, what else do you need? If you want to bring your “best friend,” dogs love the beaches on the Coast and the Inn is pet-friendly.

What to do

As the iconic single’s ad says, “you can take a long walk on the beach,” watch sunrises and sunsets, look for glass balls and watch the waves crash.

Pelican Pub & Brewery and another Haystack Rock.

If you’ve come to storm watch, you might also want to read a good book and create a scrapbook of memories.

Kids can search for agates in the sand, feed bread to the seagulls, go horseback riding and eat s’mores on the beach.

And then you can get a good night’s sleep, slumbering with ocean noises in the background and find even more activities for the next day.

A good breakfast spot is The Grateful Bread, which is a full-service restaurant and a bakery.

Cinnamon roll french toast at The Grateful Bread.

Tip:  In Oregon, an employee always pumps your gas for you. There are no self-serve gas stations.

What is your favorite coast and why?

Fascinated by Fascination

 

I have a new favorite game. It’s not as accessible as Words with Friends but it is equally addicting and even more fun plus it’s a little physical.

I just returned from a trip the northern Oregon Coast and in Seaside at the Funland Arcade I had the opportunity to play Fascination.

Invented in the 1920’s, it’s a game similar to Skeeball or Rollerball. You roll a ball under a Plexiglas screen and when it falls through one of the 25 holes provided, a light lights up on the backboard. Your goal is to get a “bingo” either across, down or diagonally with the lights. An auctioneer-type emcee lets everyone know how many lights they need for a bingo to keep the challenge going.

Sometimes he gave us two balls, which really confuses non-multitaskers like myself or sometimes we played black out. In the end I finally won a Frisbee. Others walked away with Seaside coffee mugs, six packs of soda made in Seaside and saltwater taffy.

I highly recommend it as a delightful family activity free of video games and screens. Fascination is operated by relays like our telephones used to be.

The Fascination Room is open seven days a week in the summer and on Thursday, Friday and Saturday the rest of the year.

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

Cranberries: Treasured Berries

Cranberry wine at the Cranberry Museum and Gift Shop

You probably think cranberries grow in water like the ad for Ocean Spray depicts on TV. Actually flooding the cranberry bogs with water is one way that they are harvested. They can also be dry harvested.

Most of the cranberries grown in the Long Beach Peninsula area of Washington are sold to Ocean Spray. Other commercial cranberry producing states include Oregon, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Wisconsin. Because the soil and climate of Long Beach closely resembled that of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where commercial cranberry production was already established, Anthony Chabot cultivated cranberries in Long Beach in 1883.

Cranberry harvesting equipment

 

If you’d like to learn about the history of cranberries, Long Beach boasts a Cranberry Museum and Gift Shop. See what role the cranberry industry plays in the economy and look at historical artifacts and equipment built and used especially for cranberry farming.

Celebrating the cranberry is a regular event in Long Beach, with the Cranberrian Fair Harvest Festival. This year it takes place October 8 and 9, 2011. Foods, crafters, bog tours, and more will showcase the area’s rich heritage during the 91st Annual Cranberrian Fair. Collectible Cranberrian Fair buttons will sell for $5 each and cover admission to all events.

A cranberry bog in May

If you love this antioxidant-rich, scrumptious berry, here’s a recipe The Shelburne Inn makes:

Cranberry Raspberry Mousse

From The Shelburne Inn

1 12-oz package cranberries
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup water

Place cranberries, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil slowly until berries “pop” and sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and reserve.

1 ½ cups cranberry “sauce” from above mixture
2 cups raspberries, frozen but beginning to thaw
½ cup cranberry juice
2 Tablespoons unflavored gelatin
8 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz “Crème de la Chevre” from Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy
1 cup sugar
2 ½ cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla

Place the 2 Tablespoons gelatin in a small  pan with the cranberry juice and stir it in. Set it aside to soften, about 5 minutes. Heat slowly to dissolve the gelatin and allow this mixture to cool.

Beat the cream cheese and “Crème de la Chevre” with the sugar. Combine the cranberry sauce and frozen raspberries. The heat of the sauce will help thaw the raspberries. Add one half of the berry mixture to the cream cheese/sugar mixture. With the mixer running slowly, add the softened, dissolved gelatin mixture. Then gently fold in the rest of the berry mixture.

Whip the cream  and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Fold it into the mousse and the spoon it into glass serving dishes. Chill if not serving right away. Top with whipped cream made with heavy cream whipped with powdered sugar and vanilla. Optional: you may add a little cinnamon to the whipped cream.

Yield:  12 large servings or 20 small.

CamOcean: A Free Festival Celebrating World Oceans Day

Cabins at Cama Beach State Park

What do “The Home Grown Tomatoes,” beachcombing, wooden boats and Smokey Bear have in common?

You will find out at the CamOcean – World Oceans Day Festival on Saturday, June 18, 2011 at Cama Beach State Park on Camano Island. This sounds like a very good, educational and fun day.

Highlights of the event include more than 30 educational booths, live music by “The Home Grown Tomatoes” and the “Cajun Redhots,” guided nature walks, low tide beach walks, discounted boat and kayak rentals from The Center for Wooden Boats, storytelling, raffles and guest speakers like Bill Dewey from Taylor Shellfish.

You’ll want to be on hand to celebrate all that oceans give to us and learn how we can help these bodies of water by making easy changes in our lives.

Captain Fuzzy Beard will teach you how to talk like a pirate, shake hands with Smokey Bear and hear a short story from the U.S. Forest Service. Join W.S.U. Beach Watchers walking the beach at low tide and learn about the plants and animals that make the shoreline their home.

Arts and crafts for everyone and even raffles. The event of the season for families and it runs from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Tsunami in Japan, a Wake-up Call

Signs like these mark the evacuation to higher ground in Washington's coastal communities.

Washington doesn’t usually have extreme weather like tornadoes or hurricanes, but settles for a milder, more rainy climate instead. However, our coast was under a tsunami advisory after Japan’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami last week. We escaped without damage this time, but southern Oregon wasn’t so lucky. Brookings, Oregon, sustained several million dollars in damage.

We have “tsunami evacuation route” signs, in our coastal communities like Aberdeen, Hoquiam, Long Beach, Ilwaco and Ocean Shores, for a reason. They weren’t erected just to give a sign maker more business. The danger to us is real.

The Cascadia Subduction Zone, one of the largest active faults in North America, runs parallel to the Washington Coast – 32-70 miles offshore. Researchers say it will cause a giant earthquake and a tsunami. The question is when. No one knows the answer.                      

Sea Lions rest on a buoy in calm Puget Sound waters.

A tsunami can occur at anytime of the day or night and under any weather conditions. Being prepared can only help. Having an emergency kit handy, that you can grab if you have to evacuate, saves time and decreases some of your stress. For ideas on planning for an emergency and building a kit, visit:  http://www.govlink.org/3days3ways/

When warned that a tsunami is coming, please:

  • Head for higher ground
  • Don’t go to the beach to watch it come in
  • Save yourself – not your possessions

 

Congratulations to Mary Nida Smith who won a copy of the book “A Cowgirl Remembers When…”

The Tacoma Waterfront Beckons

Tacoma waterfront from Ruston Way

Yesterday we got a break from the grayness and a tiny taste of spring. Boy was it ever yummy – kind of like a big dollop of plain hot fudge or a juicy Dungeness crab leg. We grabbed the chance to take advantage of the sun shining down on us Tacomans and walked the waterfront along Ruston Way. Mother Nature made a mighty beautiful landscape there and others have helped it along with parks, sidewalks, restaurants and a hotel.

The Silver Cloud Inn, the hotel at one end of the popular walk, offers 90 waterfront rooms. Talk about a perfect place for a Staycation. Rooms come with breakfast, high-speed internet and complimentary parking. No more than three miles from most of Tacoma’s attractions, the Inn is definitely centrally located. But you wouldn’t have to leave the waterfront if you didn’t want to.

Silver Cloud Inn

If you’re not able to spend the night on the waterfront, at least eat. Restaurants about along Ruston Way and there’s not a bad one in the bunch. The Lobster Shop, Duke’s, Katy Downs, The Ram, Shenanigan’s and Harbor Lights all serve lunch or dinner or both.

If you’re walking along the waterfront with a dog or two, you’ll fit right in. Joggers, roller bladders and bicyclists also share the path with pedestrians.

The weather didn’t last, but the sunlit waters of yesterday still shine vividly in my memory. Hopefully, I won’t have to wait long for another sunny day and a walk along the shore of Commencement Bay.

C.I. Shenanigans on Ruston Way.

The Other Waikiki

Last week I wrote a little about Waikiki Beach near Long Beach, Washington. Just yesterday I was on the other Waikiki Beach on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. How do they compare? Not much is the same, except they both are actually beaches paralleling the Pacific Ocean, and they both have their own charm.

According to a Moon Travel Guide of the Long Beach, Washington area, “tiny Waikiki Beach is a favorite local spot for picnics and swimming in the summer (no lifeguard is present). The beach received its name when a Hawaiian sailor’s body washed ashore here after his ship was wrecked in a failed attempt to cross the Columbia River bar in 1811. You can follow a trail uphill from Waikiki to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, and then on to Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.”

 

The winter temperature difference makes the Hawaiian beach much more alluring. Western Washington’s low temperature yesterday was 16 degrees, with icy road conditions. When we left Waikiki, it was a sunny 82 degrees. Pleasant white sand beaches stretched for miles, while the waters were filled with surfers, swimmers and waders. Not many brave our frigid waters to swim when the temperature falls below freezing, so our Waikiki is much less crowded.

Shopping and Restaurants

Hawaii hits the mark with a plethora of places to shop and dine. From Forever 21, Kate Spade and Coach to Macy’s, ABC stores and all kinds of island souvenir shops, Kalakua Avenue rivals Rodeo Drive and other city’s trendy shopping districts. Need a swimsuit? Just about every other store carries them. How about a necklace to remind you of your Hawaiian stay? You’ll find choices from beads to diamonds and everything in between.

Shopping in the gift shop at the Lewis and Clark Interpretative Center can also be about treasure hunting.

Señor Frogs, Cheeseburger in Paradise, Cheesecake Factory and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse offer food options for every palate and pocketbook. In between you’ll find Starbucks, frozen yogurt shops and all kinds of cookie stores.

The Washington version of Waikiki is ideal for picnics.

Take your pick or try them both and decide for yourself which you prefer.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Heather