Tag Archives: Whidbey Island

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.

 

Treat Yourself at Ciao

With a little help from my friend Sherrye, I discovered a new restaurant in Coupeville on Whidbey Island. Mark Laska, the owner and chef at Ciao, likes to use local ingredients and the freshness they impart makes food taste so much better than if it’s shipped to the eatery in a bag or a box.

 

Laska learned how to cook from his grandmothers and previously used his talents at four star hotels in Los Angeles. Thankfully, he and his wife decided that was not where they wanted to raise children so they moved to Whidbey Island.

Now he blesses islanders and visitors with authentic Neapolitan pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven. Staff at the restaurant makes their own mozzarella everyday. Many of the meats used in the dishes come from the nearby Three Sisters Farm.

 

I’m having trouble describing how tasty this pizza is. It’s not the thick, doughy crust slathered with tomato sauce and covered with tons of cheese to mask the flavor that you might be accustomed to. Instead, the crust is very flakey, with plenty of fresh ingredients and dotted with slivers of the homemade mozzarella. It was two weeks ago when I had that pizza and I still remember how much I enjoyed it and savored it.

For dessert, the gelato is phenomenal. Although it comes from Seattle, that’s still very close to local. Try the coconut or the hazel nut. A dollop of hazel nut in a cup of espresso is phenomenal.

 

Did you know pizza taste better if it is served unsliced? But if you prefer the convenience of sliced pizza, the staff will gladly accommodate you.

Spectacular food, unparalleled service and a lovely view — you can’t go wrong at Ciao.

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.

Partner Up for a Street Dance

Something is always happening on Whidbey Island, a great place for a day or even a weekend trip. On July 20 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m, the Community Street Dance at the Bayview Cash Store features local band, Ruzivo and Mbira dzeMuninga from Zimbabwe.

Groups will perform a mixture of original compositions and arrangements of both traditional and contemporary music reminiscent of Southern Africa.

Ruzivo, led by Seattle-based Zimbabwean musician Paul Mataruse, plays high-energy Afropop music inspired by Zimbabwean and South African traditional and contemporary tunes. The group combines four handcrafted marimbas with bass guitar, trap set and mbira, the traditional instrument from Mataruse’s native Zimbabwe.
 
Joining Ruzivo onstage will be the visiting group Mbira dzeMuninga sharing their deep and vibrant understanding of Zimbabwean rhythms through mbira, dance, drumming and singing.
 
The Basil Café will feature a selection of a la carte sushi that night, in addition to other Asian influenced dining options. Award-winning wines from Blooms Winery and Spoiled Dog Winery will be available by the taste, glass, or bottle. (Please note that children and dogs are welcome in the tasting room!).
 
The street dance is presented by Goosefoot, a non-profit organization whose mission is to help build a thriving South Whidbey through projects that support the local economy and promote learning and community.

Bayview Corner’s community street dances are sponsored by Puget Sound Energy and Whidbey Island Bank. It is because of their generous support that admission to the street dances remain free!
  
Please call (360) 321-4145 for further information.  The Bayview Cash Store is located at 5603 Bayview Road, just 7 miles from the Clinton Ferry dock on Whidbey Island.  Take Highway 525 to Bayview Road.  Make a right onto Bayview Road and the Cash Store is located at the next intersection of Marshview Avenue and Bayview Road.

More Top Travel Trends for 2011: The Washington State Version

More of Thomas Stanley’s predictions and the Washington State destination that matches.

Train display at Freighthouse Square made completely out of Legos

  • Ride the Rails:  We have train travel covered here – from short 45-minute excursions to crossing the country on Amtrak – it’s all available for travelers in Washington State. My favorite short rides include a stop at the train museum and a jaunt from Snoqualmie to North Bend (www.trainmuseum.org) and the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad (www.mrsr.com) that departs from Mineral.

 

Longer excursions are available on Amtrak (Amtrak.com) going north/south or east/west. But the best news of all is Amtrak opened a new stop at the Icicle Station in the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth last year. Daily service is now available.

  • Experiential Family Travel:  A simple definition of experiential travel says it is travel we live through, instead of look at. That can mean dining where the locals eat like Downrigger’s in Friday Harbor (www.downriggerssanjuan.com) or drinking coffee at Undertown in Port Townsend. Staying at a Bed and Breakfast also qualifies. States Inn and Ranch (www.statesinn.com), also in Friday Harbor, ranks as one of my all time favorites. The locally cooked breakfast from scratch was so delectable, I couldn’t eat regular food for a week afterwards.

Hurricane Ridge, courtesy of the Olympic Peninsula Visitors Bureau

If you want an all-inclusive experience, try hiring a Native American Guide to tour the Olympic Peninsula (www.nativeamericanfootprints.com). Highlights of these tours include dining on salmon cooked the Indian way, which is by far the most delicious way of cooking salmon, speaking with the elders of the tribe and hearing their stories, making your own hand drum and much more. This tour has now taken a spot on my Bucket List.

  • Bucket List:  Just a few suggestions here – The Space Needle, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, snowshoeing, winery touring and The Museum of Flight.

 

  • Top Picks for 2011:  These are my choices. Whether they turn out to be trends or not, you can’t miss with visits to the San Juan Islands, Whidbey Island, Lake Chelan or taking the North Cascades Scenic Drive.

Val Mallinson, Author of Dog Lover’s Companion Books

Cooper and Isis told Val Mallinson what to put in her books

Today we welcome the premier Northwest dog writer, Val Mallinson, to the blog. If it’s in Washington, Oregon or parts of British Columbia and you can take your dog there, she knows about it. Her books are very handy guides for discovering new and different places to take your furry friends.

How many dogs do you have, what are their names and breeds?

Val:  I have two smooth coat, miniature dachshunds, Cooper and Isis. Both are rescues and collectively known as “The Wonder Wieners.” But, I like to tell people I wrote the book from the perspective of a large, sloppy chocolate Lab, which I’m convinced I was in a former life.

How many Dog Lover Companion books have you written?

Val:  There are three: The Dog Lover’s Companion to the Pacific Northwest, which covers Washington and Oregon from the mountains to the coast and a little bit of British Columbia; The Dog Lover’s Companion to Seattle, which extends from Everett to Olympia and the islands to Issaquah; and The Dog Lover’s Companion to Oregon, which covers, um, Oregon.

The books are so thorough. How long does it take you to write one?

Val:  The first book took two years, full time and then some, from contract to cover. The latest edition, updated in 2009, took about nine months, like a birth – sometimes as uncomfortable as a pregnancy, almost as rewarding.

Do you actually visit all the places you talk about in the book?

Val:  Yes, M’am. Our collective 10 legs, six eyes, and three bodies (sometimes four bodies, if the husband came) have visited every single spot we wrote about.

In Washington State, what are your favorite places to take dogs?

Val:  Our favorite place is always the most recent one we’ve visited! One thing I like about the books is that there’s a “Pick of the Litter” at the beginning of each chapter, giving you the highlights of each region. If forced to choose, I’d have to start with water: Whidbey Island. The dog parks and beaches are great (Double Bluff Beach!!!), the people are so friendly, the picnic food is superb, and it’s so close to Seattle, yet seems a world apart. Second on the list would be mountains: Bellingham/Mt. Baker. Cooper loves a good hike in the woods or around Lake Whatcom on the Hertz Trail. Old Fairhaven has charm, delicious food and great shops and you can take well-behaved pets into most of the boutiques along the four blocks. Finally, Lake Chelan has really captured our interest lately, for the water, mountains, sunny blue skies and (slurp) up-and-coming wine scene. Page 357 of The Dog Lover’s Companion to the Pacific Northwest (TDLCPN) lists seven fabulous wineries where pets are welcome to hang out with you on patios while you wine and dine.

Which lodging facilities in Washington are the most accommodating to dogs?

Val:  Some wonderful spots go out of their way to be as friendly as a Golden Retriever. To name a few, Willows Lodge in Woodinville is the tops; they even have a dog greeter in the lobby. In Seattle, the W Hotel puts the “W” in tail-wagging; they often host Mutt Mixer parties along with CityDog Magazine, and they have a pet package at check-in.

For upscale hotels, try Starwood Hotels . I tell you what, on the cheap, you can’t beat Motel 6—they are reliably dog-friendly, conveniently located, and their website lists all the locations that have recently been updated and overhauled to look quite nice.

What is Washington’s best-kept dog-secret?

Val:  If I told you, I’d have to ki—no wait, different job. Okay, if I’m a dog, I’m going to recommend the ends of the earth at Cape Disappointment State Park on Long Beach Peninsula. The beaches are endless, the hikes are wooded, you often have the place to yourself, and the food and lodging are constantly improving. Hint: Try the Inn at Discovery Coast. Or Guemes Island, page 48 in TDLCPN, but you really have to want to get away from it all.

Visit Fort Worden for a Host of Fun

An appetizer courtesy of Bon Appetit

Fort Worden, in Port Townsend, along with Fort Flagler and Fort Casey on Whidbey Island, once guarded the nautical entrance to Puget Sound. Established in the late 1890s, these posts became the first line of defense designed to prevent a hostile fleet from reaching targets like Bremerton and Seattle. As an aside, I remember my dad talking about Fort Worden where he was stationed for awhile during WWII.

But these forts were never challenged and Fort Worden closed down in 1953. Eventually all three became state parks. The dedication for Fort Worden State Park took place in 1973.

Fort Worden, a 434-acre state park has 80 campsites, 60 picnic sites and holds a place on the list of State and National Register of Historic Places. The old barracks now serve as dorms and the hospital offers meeting space.

Besides offering public recreation, conference facilities, performing arts venues, vacation housing and historic and educational interpretive programs, it’s a darn cool place to visit.

The old Guardhouse has become a Gift Shop and Information Center filled with mementos like shirts, caps, coffee mugs, key chains, magnets, tasteful lighthouse gifts and of course, friendly volunteers. All proceeds from the gift shop go to improve the Park.

If you’re coming to the Fort for a conference or taking a class through Centrum, opt for the meals at Fort Worden Commons. Besides being a bargain at $34 for three meals, you’ll have numerous choices and from the sampling I tasted, the food is off the charts. You can thank Bon Appétit and Chef Jay Payne for the quality and freshness of the food.

Touch tank at Marine Science Center

Visitors can begin at the Guardhouse Gift Shop and navigate a walking trail with interpretive signs through the Fort’s history, which includes bunkers, tunnels and gun emplacements. Kids love to take flashlights inside the bunkers and tunnels and play.

On the beach, you won’t want to miss the Port Townsend Marine Science Center with its large touch tanks and creative geologic history and coastal wildlife displays. You can get up close and personal with a live octopus and an endangered pinto abalone. Hydrophones allow you to hear the sounds Orca Whales emit underwater. The Marine Science Center offers bird migration cruises, summer science camps for kids, nature walks, public programs and lectures. To check for days and times for events, visit www.ptmsc.org.

Alexander's Castle is a one-bedroom vacation rental and the oldest buiding at Fort Worden

You can rent the Officer Row homes for your vacation or even as a place to have Thanksgiving dinner if your family is large. Two of the units have been designated pet-friendly. www.fortworden.org

Enjoy your visit.

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.

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