Tag Archives: Dungeness Crab

Letting Someone Else Drive: Olympia During the Holidays

View from the dining room of the Budd Bay Cafe

Yesterday I tried something new – a tour with seniors sponsored by the Federal Way Community Center. And I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I loved the luxury of having someone else drive and being able to watch the sights instead of the road and traffic signs.

As a bonus, I saw an elf running down the road and Santa in his sleigh. Might have missed both had I been driving.

We took back roads and avoided Interstate 5 as much as possible. Roy, McKenna and Yelm passed by the van window slowly – small towns you never get an opportunity to see from the freeway. The driver told us Yelm has been totally unaffected by the economic downturn. I wonder why that is. But all the businesses did appear to be thriving.

Our first scheduled stop was for lunch at the Budd Bay Café, which boasts a 180-degree view of Budd Bay. Anytime I can dine and watch the sea while doing so makes me calm and joyful. Add to that a Dungeness crab and shrimp Louie that attained perfection and I will definitely be returning to this restaurant. Others in our party savored gigantic bowls of clam chowder, French dips and salmon. Most any local seafood you can imagine graced the menu. Just the names of the desserts – mile high chocolate cake and white cake peach pudding – made me salivate, but alas the salad was all I could conquer in one sitting.

On to the Capitol Legislative Building where we gazed and commented on the Christmas tree filled with lights and ornaments obviously hung by professionals. It makes our trees at home seem like pathetic miniatures. But then we could all enjoy this tree without having to exert any effort in getting it ready. That was the good part.

The decorated tree is located in the Rotunda which features the largest chandelier ever created by the Tiffany Studios in New York. Our driver (yes, I do feel a little like I was chauffeured) told us a Volkswagen could fit inside the chandelier.

Christmas tree in the Rotunda of the Olympia Capitol Legislative Building

The marble, Tiffany chandeliers, heavy red velvet draperies and elaborate décor in the Reception Room scream opulence, is hard to swallow given all the budget cuts currently being considered by the legislature. But I have to remind myself that the building was designed long ago when that was the norm. And it really makes for an elegant and beautiful building.

Public tours of the Legislative Building are free and offered hourly from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information about sites, dining options and activity options, visit www.visitolympia.com.

Captain Whidbey Inn Delivers on Its Promises

The lagoon where many weddings take place at the Captain Whidbey Inn on Whidbey Island

The brochure calls this inn “rustic sophistication.” After finally getting the opportunity to spend a night at the Captain Whidbey, I call it a “haven in paradise.” Lush grounds, a cozy cottage, no TV and nature’s beauty all around make this Penn Cove lodging one-of- a-kind.

More than 100 years ago, in 1907, Judge Still and his men cut and placed the first timber and laid the stone for the inn. When the Captain Whidbey (then it was called the Whidbey Island Inn) was first built, guests arrived by boat. Nearby, the town of Coupeville became a place for sea captains to settle.

Over the years the inn changed to a general store, a post office and a girls’ school, but it always returned to being a respite for travelers.

Accommodations include suites like the Captain’s Suite inside the Historic Inn that boasts a four-poster feather bed, a lagoon room with a balcony, private bath and view of the lagoon or a cabin with a deck, working fireplace and hot tub access. The lagoon rooms and cabins all have private baths.

The inviting lobby of the Captain Whidbey Inn.


The lobby invites you to make yourself at home – with the fireplace, a luscious view, a computer just in case you need to check your e-mail and comfortable places to lounge, read or just savor your down time. I even welcomed the rain as it added a kind of cloak of protection around the area that blocked out the stress of city life.

The chef takes advantage of locally grown foods including produce, seafood and meat for the entrees he creates for lunch on Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m., Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner on Thursdays through Sundays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Penn Cove Mussels, oysters, Sockeye Salmon, Dungeness Crab, pork chops, lamb and beef tenderloin are just some of the fare served in The Dining Room. Captain Still’s Tavern offers lighter fare like burgers, hummus and a cheese plate plus scrumptious sounding desserts like chocolate silk tart and blackberry crème brulee.

How I’d love to attend a Whidbey Island Writers’ Workshop here and take advantage of this place to engage in relaxed creativity. It has all the elements to foster productivity, originality and some really awesome writing.

For more information, visit www.captainwhidbey.com.