Category Archives: Tours

Farm Tour On Tap

Farm fresh produce and fall just seem to go together like
comfortable shoes. On October 5 and 6 thirteen Skagit Valley Farms invite you
to visit and discover where your food comes from. The Skagit Valley Festival of
Farms
runs from 10 a.m.-4p.m. each day with opportunities to  visit educational exhibits, take farm tours, view gardening demonstrations, taste mouth-watering samples, let your kids try farm activities and everyone can navigate corn mazes.
Best of all, the basic tour is FREE. Each stop may also have
prepared food or the produce, meat, dairy products, etc. that they are known
for available for purchase.

Here’s a brief preview of what you’ll discover on this tour.

At Taylor Shellfish on Chuckanut Drive in Bow, Wash.,
you’ll meet shellfish farmers, watch oyster shucking demonstrations, urge crabs
along in their own races, build a fairy house on the beach, see the world’s
only lighthouse made of oyster shells and taste steamed Manila clams or
barbequed Pacific oysters.

Stop by Samish Bay Cheese in Bow and taste the phenomenal Arugula Ladysmith cheese that Roger makes.

At Sakuma Bros. Farms in Burlington, take a tractor-pulled
wagon ride, find out what a raspberry machine is, take part in a pie eating
contest and sample fresh berries, chips and salsa made with locally grown
produce and honey from Belleville Honey Company.

Although the Tulip Festival has come and gone for this year, you can still find out all
about this beautiful flower at RoozenGaarde in Mount Vernon. Gather ideas from the experts on layouts and plantings that you can do in your own landscape. Let the
children try the scavenger hunt and before you leave, shop for bulbs and gardening tools.

Wineries, dairies, cattle ranches, produce farms and more complete the tour.

There’s so much to see you might want to spend the weekend.
I highly recommend Candlewood Suites in Burlington
as a comfortable option. Rooms have full kitchens so you can bring back your
bounty and eat it freshly cooked or store it in a full-size refrigerator.

 

You’ll Never Get Closer to Elk: Oak Creek Feeding Station

At the beginning of March, two other travel writers, a VisitRainier employee and I experienced the feeding of the elk at Oak Creek Feeding Station, off Highway 12 near Naches in Eastern Washington (yes, it was a press trip). We got close enough to these four-legged giants to make eye contact.

 

This supplemental feeding program, began in 1945. It was adopted so that the elk wouldn’t venture into any of the agricultural areas nearby looking for food in the winter. Depending on the weather, feedings begin sometime in December and continue until March. If you visit in January or February, you’ll have the best chance of participating.

Everything is free – you just have to sign up and put your John Henry on a disclaimer. Then you can ride out into the field in a U.S. Army truck and witness the feeding of as many as 700 elk at a time. While you patiently wait your driver dispenses facts and figures about the program and cows and bulls snuffle and shift positions anticipating the upcoming buffet of hay. Then two other vehicles roll out and automatically start dispensing the bales while the regal animals jockey for position.

 

A bull can weigh up to 600 pounds, but they have no interest in the humans staring at them. They only want the food so you’re safe.

I have never witnessed anything like this and highly recommend it as a family outing.

Here’s a story my friend Carrie Uffindall wrote about it: 

Arrive before 1 p.m. to check in, visit the small museum and watch the elk head down the hill for lunch.

Boise’s World Center for Birds of Prey: An Awe-Inspiring Experience

Lately I’ve been traveling quite a bit in the Northwest for travel writing assignments and my most recent journey took me to Boise, Idaho.

Who I slept with at Hotel 43 in Boise.

Boise is home to the World Center for Birds of Prey, a place like no other I’ve experienced and unique in the world. Birds of prey portray grace and confidence to the extent that it reminds us all that nature is in charge. Daily tours and live bird presentations here provide visitors an up close and unforgettable encounter with birds of prey. The facility showcases a California Condor exhibit, an interpretive trail with a stunning panoramic view of Boise, interactive exhibits (lots for children) and outdoor flight shows in the fall.

The Peregrine Fund, headquartered here, is a non-profit dedicated to saving birds of prey from extinction. Throughout the world these birds are threatened by shooting, poisoning and loss of habitat. A 30-year effort successfully removed the Peregrine Falcons from the endangered list. Now they are trying to help other birds of prey.

This is Wally, an Eurasian Eagle Owl in training. Notice his markings resember that of a tiger.

 

Endangered birds are raised here and released to their natural habitats.

The Falconry Archives, in a separate building, honors falcons through art. Of special note is the Arab Wing, paid for by the United Arab Emirates. Since the 1200’s Arabs have hunted with falcons. An exhibit highlights bird hoods so ornate you wonder how many hours of work it took to make them. My guide likened them to fishing flies.  

The Center is very accessible and all on one level. Plan to bring a lunch and use one of the courtyard picnic tables. You’ll not find a better view.

Kids can try on different birds of prey' wings like this one.

I highly recommend this as a must see on your bucket list. I didn’t know about it until I visited Boise, but I’m sure glad that I did.

King Tut Exhibit Opens in Seattle

Tomorrow, May 24, 2012, the Pacific Science Center welcomes visitors to view Tutankhamun: The Golden King and The Great Pharaohs’. Today, I had the privilege of seeing this phenomenon as a member of the press. I love my job. Go if you can. It won’t be shown again anywhere else after January 6, 2013 and the Science Center expects to sell out.

Seattle hosted a similar exhibit in 1978, but the current one contains twice as many artifacts. People who attended in 1978 recall waiting in long lines. This year that problem has been solved – you buy tickets for a certain day and timed entry. So far 90,000 of those tickets have been sold.

Possibly the first flip flops. Photo credit to Sandro Vannini, National Geographic.

King Tut became a king at 9 years of age and forensic analysis says he died at age 19, probably from an infection in a fractured leg. Even at this young age, he had everything he could possibly need in his tomb.

More than 100 remarkable objects discovered in King Tut’s tomb are on display. I found the complexity and intricacy of the jewelry fascinating. Small beads and miniature cornflowers make up a necklace called the Gold Collar. A Necklace and Pectoral of Mereret looked unlike anything I’ve ever seen, but could almost be described as a pendant that was also a very intricately-crafted picture. Twenty-five amulets were found around the neck of the mummy.

Much of what was found in King Tut’s tomb was created specifically for the afterlife. A gold Pair of Sandals adorned his feet while finger protectors were worn over his rings and toe protectors covered his toes – all to protect him in the afterlife. You’ll find a model of a boat in the exhibit because the Nile River was the main source of transportation in Ancient Egypt. Thirty-five ship models accompanied the boy King in the tomb so he could boat wherever he needed to go after death.

You can tour the exhibit with an audio accompaniment, which I highly recommend. Different music, composed for each of the galleries, transports you back in time and helps you experience 2,000 years of Egyptian history. These ancient treasures remain one of the world’s greatest legacies. The beauty, preservation and stories behind each item evokes all kinds of emotions. Reserve your ticket as soon as you can.

King Tut's finger and toe coverings

Pacific Science Center members receive a substantial discount. Non-member adults pay $27.50 for Mon.-Thur. or $32.50 for Fri.-Sun. Youth (6-15) are $16.50 for Mon.-Thurs. and $21.50 for Fri.-Sun and children (3-5) pay $15.50 during the week and $20.50 for Fri.-Sun. Admission gets you into the Pacific Science Center for the day and if you can take advantage of that as they know how to entertain there.

Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park

Proclaimed to be the Northwest’s largest holiday drive-through event, Fantasy Lights continues through January 1, 2012. With more than 300 colorful and dazzling light displays, it’s one event that should not be missed.

Last year Fantasy Lights spawned three successful marriage proposals and lots of pay-it-forward situations where the driver in front paid for the car behind him. Because I’m recovering from foot surgery, a drive-through display from the warmth of our car made perfect sense.

When this holiday tour was first born 17 years ago, it held just 38 displays. Now with over 300, you will see everything from animated bears flying kites, snow boys kicking field goals, a sea serpent that breathes fire, frogs jumping on a lily pad and Santa and Rudolf sail a tall ship to every holiday theme imaginable. Watch out for the reindeer jumping over your car.

My personal favorites were the illuminated aliens built by Rogers High School’s Welding Class. The aliens range in height from 5-7 feet and are 3-7 feet wide. Students from Rogers High have built many of the displays in the past including the flowers, gingerbread people and candy canes.

You’ll hear lots of “awes” and “ohs” from the kids sticking their heads out of car windows and sunroof tops. And maybe a few from inside your vehicle. Take as many passengers as your car holds because you pay by the car load.

When you arrive at the park gate, tune your radio to the suggested station and you’ll hear Christmas music throughout your drive.

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.

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!

Carr’s One-of-a-Kind Museum: What a Gem

This past weekend we had the pleasure of visiting a museum like no other in the Hillyard district of Spokane. That’s why it’s called the “One-of-a-Kind Museum.” Marvin Carr is the owner.

A life-size Jackie Gleason

A little background about how Carr’s collection got started:  He worked for the railroad, but was forced to retire due to an injury. That’s when he decided to put his energy into building a museum. He collects what he likes and has many “firsts” and several that are the “only one in the world.”

What I found amazing is he doesn’t have a computer or a cell phone, yet he still buys one piece a month to add to his collection. People call and ask if he wants what they have to offer. When he does buy a piece, he researches it extensively at the library so he knows the history behind it.

That’s why when he gives museum visitors a personalized tour, which he does for everyone; you come away with a wealth of knowledge. At 84 years of age, Carr is very sharp and tells some fascinating stories.

When you enter the museum, you’re greeted with life-size lady mannequins that seem so real you want to introduce yourself to them. Then there’s a powder blue limo owned by Jackie Gleason, an 1800 carousel horse, and life/death masks of several movie stars on the wall. Carr showcases the ship, Royal Louis, built out of matchsticks, the oldest typewriter in the world and German nutcrackers that go through 130 different processes before they are declared, “finished.”

One of the many squirrels exhibited throughout the museum

Carr has even made some of the exhibits. I suspect some of those might be the many different character squirrels spread throughout the museum.

What really impressed me about the museum was how clean and organized it is. All the exhibits and the floor are spotless. Although there’s no common theme for what’s there, other than they are items Carr likes, it’s not cluttered or in chaos.

I’d tell you more, but I really want you to visit the museum and see for yourself this hidden treasure in Spokane.

Carr’s One-of-a-Kind Museum is located at 5225 N. Freya, Spokane, WA  99217. Phone:  800-350-6469.

Tarry at Cherry Wood Bed Breakfast and Barn

In Zillah we found a most unique place to stay – Cherry Wood Bed Breakfast and Barn.

Teepee interior at Cherry Wood

You sleep in tall teepees that are completely furnished with real beds, a refrigerator and mirrors. The floors are either stone or brick depending on the teepee. You do have to venture outside to use the porta potties or the showers, but it’s worth it for the view of the Yakima Valley and experiencing the sites, sounds and smells of nature.

Try the “Twilight Tubs” for romance or bonding with your BFFs. Bath salts are supplied, and you can enjoy candles and drink wine while relaxing in the soaking tubs. Pepper Fewel, the owner, drew a vivid picture of what it’s like to recline in the tubs under the stars and it was a mighty appealing picture.

After breakfast in the morning, you’ll want to get dressed for a winery tour on horseback. For four hours, you’ll ride a horse, fit to your riding level, to three different wineries, which might include Cultura, Agate, Silver Lake or Two Mountains, and have lunch. If you choose to buy wine at any of the wineries, it is picked up for you and brought back to Cherry Wood so it’s there to enjoy when you return.

Getting the horses ready for a winery tour

Fewel says most of her horses were rescued and then trained for trail rides. Horses that run up to the gate in the morning are the first ones chosen for the winery tour that day. The ones that hang back don’t have to go.

This is a tour I’d love to try. What better way to enjoy the countryside, experience the lushness of the wineries and get a little exercise to boot.

A Ride-Along We’ll Not Soon Forget

About two weeks ago, my husband, grandson and I had the opportunity to take a ride with the Seattle Police Harbor Patrol Unit. This came about through a purchase I made at a fundraising auction. I’ve always loved seeing how the police work and have ridden along before, but always in patrol cars. This was a first and now my favorite ride along of all.

The sun gods offered us one of the most beautiful days so far this summer, so being on a boat on Lake Union made the time even more perfect.

The two officers who took us out shared all kinds of information about the Harbor Unit and it boggles the mind all the different events they have to be prepared for. Almost every officer in the unit dives, their boats have firefighting capabilities so the officers are also trained in firefighting and of course, they have to be skilled in boating. This is all in addition to their regular police training.

Lake Union houseboat owners should feel secure knowing this kind of firefighting power is so close to them.

The Harbor Unit patrols both Lake Union and Lake Washington with a fleet of seven boats. Our Seafair celebration on Lake Washington this coming weekend is their busiest time of year.

During our tour, we responded to a call of a small oil spill from a docked boat. Nothing too dangerous, but a frequent occurrence for the Unit.

If you get a chance to ride with a police officer, in any jurisdiction, I highly recommend doing so. It truly is eye-opening.

The houseboat from the movie "Sleepless in Seattle."