Tag Archives: coffee

Ferry Around the Islands

From one ferry you see another, courtesy of the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau

I love riding on a ferry. One of my past e-mail addresses was ferryprincess. I even have a collection of ferry boat memorabilia. My husband and I even got married on a Washington State Ferry.

This all stems from my childhood. When we went to visit my grandparents in Port Angeles, we took two different ferries because the Hood Canal Bridge hadn’t been built yet, so I associate those big vessels with the wonderful times grandparents show their grandchildren.

This past week-end we attended a Ukulele Fest on Vashon Island and I had the pleasure of riding the ferry from Pt. Defiance to Tahlequah. Although it was only a 15-minute crossing those fond memories quickly came back. My grandfather always had black licorice for me and Nehi soda.

Should you want to take advantage of one of the largest ferry systems in the world, here are some ideas of where you can go in Washington State.

With no traffic to worry about, visitors can leave their stress at the ferry dock, relax, enjoy a cup of coffee and scan the waterways for marine life during the length of the vessel’s cruise.

Although only 12 miles long, Vashon offers a wide variety of scenic countryside and outdoor activities like squid jigging (a method used to catch squid), clamming and beachcombing.

Also accessible by car-ferry from Vashon Island is Port Orchard, a city that celebrates the Kitsap Harbor Festival and a Seagull-Calling Festival.

Situated north of Vashon and just a short ferry crossing from Seattle is Bainbridge Island.  Anchored by Winslow, a quaint town filled with boutique gift shops and restaurants, this island also features 17-acre Fay Bainbridge State Park, a park ideal for camping and picnicking and the Bloedel Reserve, a beautiful 150-acre nature preserve and garden.

Two highways, 20 and 525, serve as the main roads on Whidbey Island. Rural historic areas rule most of Whidbey, with Oak Harbor offering more of a city feel. Langley, on the southern end of the island, captures spectacular views of Saratoga Passage and bountiful shopping opportunities. Coupeville lies in the north central portion and exudes small-town charm.

The Keystone ferry (reservations suggested) on Whidbey sails to Port Townsend, one of only three registered Victorian seaports. The town’s film festival held in September warrants a visit and who wouldn’t want to see where “An Officer and a Gentleman” was filmed.

Last, but definitely not least, the San Juan Islands are Washington’s northernmost islands and reachable by a ferry from the town of Anacortes. Travelers can also start their island journey here and work their way south. Filled with shops and galleries offering art made by locals, Friday Harbor on San Juan Island is known for its whale watching.

Just a short ferry hop from Friday Harbor is Orcas Island, a picturesque framework for Mount Constitution, the highest peak in the islands. While driving up the mountain, vistas include the Cascade and Olympic Mountains, the rest of the islands and the recreational opportunities below like kayaking, hiking and photography.

For Washington State Ferry information, visit:  www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries

Olympia: Coffee, Turnovers and Market Treasures

Inside Lattin’s Cider Mill and Farm

The aroma of freshly ground Ethiopian coffee wafted around me as I navigated I-5 back to Tacoma from a recent tour of Olympia, our state’s capitol. The smell reminded me of my introduction to the city that morning with the best latté I’ve ever tasted from Batdorf & Bronson’s Dancing Goats Espresso Bar. It was so delicious; I returned to their Tasting Room (http://batdorfcoffee.com) across the street and bought coffee to bring home. This Ethiopian blend has a blueberry finish, which might not sound like a good flavor for coffee, but take my word for it, this is the best.

Dancing Goats

Dancing Goats is located across the street from the Olympia Farmers Market, on Market Street. They have another location on Capitol Way in Olympia and a third in Decatur, Georgia.

Lattin’s Cider Mill & Farm

Have you ever tasted an apple fritter fresh out of the oven that actually melts in your mouth? I took a short drive to Lattin’s Country Cider Mill & Farm on Rich Road (http://www.lattinscider.com) on this particular Friday morning and experienced this cinnamon, buttery confection for myself. Not an experience I’ll soon forget or stop craving. They also bake them fresh on Saturday mornings and the locals flock there in droves.

But there’s more to do at this farm than just eat. You can buy a bucket of feed to give to the farm animals, enjoy concerts, festivals and in the fall hayrides and of course, choosing pumpkins, a haunted house and a corn maze.

Owner Carolyn Lattin believes kids should know where their food comes from and emphasizes that concept — from the farm animals to the bountiful gardens and fruit trees. In the front of the property you’ll find a pig that is given lots of food and attention. But come December, he’s auctioned off. The winner can do whatever he wants with Porky, but often that means a scrumptious pork roast for Christmas dinner.

Olympia Farmers Market

I never leave Olympia without a stop at their Farmers Market, which is one of the biggest and best in the state. Brightly colored vegetables, freshly picked fruit and luscious bouquets and plants delight the visual palate. I bought some tiny turnips, about the size of beads and the vendor suggested roasting them. They were full of flavor, with almost a cabbage-like taste. If you’re not sure what you want, you can always ask for a sample.

The market is open Thursday – Sunday from April through October and Saturday and Sunday in November and December.

It’s very easy to buy the makings for a complete dinner at the Farmers Market because meat, seafood, baked goods and whatever you fancy is available. Everything, but the fruit, is grown locally. We rely on fruit from Eastern Washington because that area has the best climate for growing it.

Now to measure out my Ethiopian coffee so I can savor a cup in the morning.

Hello Fellow Travelers!

Olympia Farmers Market offers the best produce, flowers and crafts in Thurston County.

I’m a native of Washington and still enjoy playing tourist in our beautiful state. Having lived for one very unpleasant year in a military town in Georgia, that shall remain nameless, I think we often take for granted our state’s wide variety of terrains and climates, attractions and activities, lush green backdrops and wide open wheat fields.

As a travel writer who has contributed to numerous publications, I am often asked to cover stories here in my own backyard. Washington’s miles of ocean beaches, numerous lakes, raging rivers and calm creeks make the state both a favorite destination for tourists and one of the many reasons most of us can’t imagine living anywhere else. We have snow-covered mountains, an active volcano (Mt. St. Helens), and rugged hills, yet we’re also dazzled by rain forests, parched by deserts and lured by wineries and breweries.

You don’t have to drive far to find your next cup of coffee in Washington or to discover a farmer’s market selling lush local produce. For those seeking a “staycation,” our state offers a variety of farms, dude ranches, spas, and fine dining. Pop culture fans will enjoy visiting Forks – home to the vampires who live in the “Twilight” books. We pretty much have it all.

Relying on past experiences and future explorations, I’d like to share the wonders and treasures of my home state with you. Maybe you’ll be persuaded to visit and share our majestic bounty. Maybe you’ll have memories of your own to contribute.

Whether you travel with spouses, children, grandchildren, friends or even Fido, there are destinations in Washington guaranteed to take your breath away.

Shall we get started?

Heather Larson