I Ate the State – Jefferson County

Greetings!

In my recent travels for I Ate the State, I took a visit to Jefferson County in NW Washington. Home to beautiful Pacific Ocean coastlines, towering mountain peaks and a UNESCO designated rain-forest, Jefferson County is not only one of the most stunning areas in the state, it is a defining jewel in the North American crown. (I’ll also add it is one of my favorite places in the world…) It is incredibly diverse in its offerings and well worth the exploration.

As I am currently based in North Seattle, I took the Edmonds/Kingston ferry and made my way up Highway 104, across the Hood Canal Bridge. (For more info on local ferry travel, check out my previous entry for Kitsap County.) I was ultimately headed towards the largest town in Jefferson County, Port Townsend, but planned on taking several detours along the way. Jefferson County boasts many tucked-away inlets, tiny hamlets and areas of rolling farmland and I wanted to explore as much as possible. That said, not too long after crossing the bridge, I headed up Highway 19 towards Port Ludlow and Marrowstone Island.

I’d never actually visited this area of the state before and I’m glad I finally did! Not only was it a beautiful, crisp sunny day, but it had recently snowed and there was still a bit on the ground – including the shorelines. Absolutely breathtaking! It is also a much lesser-traveled part of the state, so I felt very much at my leisure to casually peruse the surroundings as I drove through. My first detour from said perusal was to check out the Port Ludlow Resort and Marina area.  (Take a right off of Highway 19 onto Oak Bay Road.  OR – take the first right after crossing the Hood Canal Bridge onto Paradise Bay Road.)

Port Ludlow

Port Ludlow Resort

Port Ludlow Marina

Lovely Port Ludlow Marina

While driving down towards the resort area, I noticed many homes tucked away by the water and mused at how lovely it would be to have a home near the water. Sigh… Especially in such a nice little inlet like Port Ludlow. The 37-room inn/resort is perched on a small spit of land next to the marina and features a nice restaurant (The Fireside), spa services and adjoining golf course. It would be the perfect base for exploring the surrounding areas as well as a great place to spend a relaxing weekend.

A little further up the very scenic Oak Bay Road, I took a right onto Highway 19 to head further north towards Marrowstone Island and Fort Flagler State Park. Along the way, I noted a sign for wine tasting at the Marrowstone Vineyards and took a quick turn in that direction. Just a short way up a very quaint road, I came upon the vineyard proper. Adding to the beauty of the sunny winter settings, the main building sits aside a lovely vineyard, sprawling its way down towards the water. There’s a charming deck and outdoor fire pit as you head towards the winery entrance which I’m told plays host to many events in the summer, both public and private. (Weddings, concerts, etc.) Inside, you can view areas of the winemaking process as well as enjoy a tasting in their cozy tasting room. The staff is incredibly friendly and well-versed in their wines and gave me a very detailed and tasty walk through a few of their offerings. Additionally, unbeknownst to me, I happened to be there on the Olympic Peninsula Red Wine, Cider and Chocolate tour and was also treated to various chocolate pairings. Score! I would’ve loved to have walked away with a case that day, but was conservative and took home a bottle of their delicious Island Blend. No matter, I’ll be returning soon to further exploit their catalog.

Before I continued on my journey, I took a trip upstairs to visit their gallery. It’s a beautiful, wood-planked loft featuring local artists and craftspeople and had the most peaceful feeling about it. I would absolutely love to have an event in that room, drinking wine and chatting with guests as we look out over the water.  Something about that gallery was just magical. I will definitely be back soon and hope to check out some of their summer events.

Back on Highway 19, I continued further up the island towards Fort Flagler State Park. It was a very pretty trek and I even stopped along the way to allow a few deer to saunter across the road. (On a general note, there are a lot of deer in Jefferson County. Be aware as you’re driving along the winding roads as they often meander about.) The sun was beautiful as it streamed onto the tree-lined road and quite awe-inspiring as the road opened up onto the Fort Flagler grounds and the coastal tip of the county.

Similar to nearby Forts Worden and Casey, Flagler was constructed in the early 1900s to help protect the coastlines and was in use until the 1950s. Today it is a state park and the old barracks, officer’s quarters and surrounding buildings are open to the public. You can rent them as vacation homes or for event/retreat sites or pitch a tent or trailer in the campgrounds. There are also many beautiful trails and coastline areas to explore, complete with remaining defense bunkers and battlements. I love walking around the old bunkers and exploring inside, but it’s important to bring a good flashlight or headlamp. Some of them are quite dark inside and there are many narrow, twisting corridors. Spooky!

In a continuing vein, the next stop on my journey was Fort Worden, just past nearby Port Townsend. The Fort Worden area is quite large and is still largely in use today. (Albeit not militarily – the area was decommissioned in the 60s and opened in the 70s as a state park with lodging, museums and a large arts community.) Like Flagler, you can rent vacation homes, host events and participate in the ongoing events offered by local Worden residents such as the Centrum Foundation and Copper Canyon Press. Several years ago, I was lucky enough to win a scholarship to participate in the week-long Centrum Jazz Workshop and have been a huge fan of the area ever since. Bring a camper or tent and set up in the beach campground to explore the expansive coastline and 100 year old bunkers. (Bring flashlights!) Even better, be sure to head for the large trail network found atop the bluffs overlooking the beach. It’s completely amazing – and chilling – to be hiking through old growth forest and suddenly come upon a perfectly disguised defense bunker overlooking the water.

Since I fully intended on hiking through some of the bunkers and had again forgotten to purchase a new WA State Parks Discover Pass, I headed to the Coast Artillery Museum to buy a new one.  (Very convenient!) And since I love museums and hadn’t visited this one yet, I did a quick tour through the military history of the area. The museum name is slightly misleading as it features much more than artillery and shares quite a bit about life in the fort throughout its military history. Definitely worth checking out and well worth the $4 admission fee.

After I became versed in the history of the fort, it was time to head down to the beach and check out the bunkers and do a little beach hiking. It was starting to get cloudy and rain seemed imminent, so mucking around in the bunkers seemed like a good idea. As many times as I’ve visited Fort Worden and hiked around the area, I still seem to find a new perspective and discover new (to me) areas tucked away along the shore. This day was no exception and I stumbled upon a few bunker areas I hadn’t previously explored. And with the greyness rolling in, the relatively deserted beach and the still in the air, it reminded me of the look of the movie, The Road.  (Part of which was filmed in WA state near Mount St. Helens.) Eeesh. 

In need of a feel-good pick-me-up, I abandoned the bunker scene and headed back to the main grounds in search of Fort Worden restaurant, Taps at the Guardhouse. However, since this is a former military installation, I shouldn’t have been surprised to go from bunker to brig. Set inside the former guardhouse and jail, the restaurant hosts a nice bar and dining area where you can actually eat in jail! Granted, you can enjoy a nice ploughman’s plate and a glass of Domaine Vetriccie IGP Ile de Beauté White 2015 while you do it, but it certainly makes for an entertainingly foreboding dining experience. Since I successfully made bail/paid my tab, I’m looking forward to further exploring their food and drink offerings on my next visit.

For more information on artistic partnerships Fort Worden hosts, visit HERE. It truly is an amazing area and a great asset to the artistic communities of the Pacific NW.

Since Fort Worden is located just past Port Townsend, I headed back towards town to investigate the area. Port Townsend, founded in 1851, is the only incorporated city in Jefferson County as well as being its county seat. It is filled with a beautiful array of Victorian architecture and style and is a must visit for any fan of the era. (It is one of only three Victorian Seaports on the National Register of Historic Places.) The Arts community thrives in the area, there is a bevy of shops, antiquing opportunities, restaurants, galleries, wine, cider and beer tasting – the list goes on. It also has a ferry terminal which connects to Whidbey Island, making travel around the Sound more convenient. I always find something lovely in Port Townsend and this visit was no exception.  Here are a few of my top picks for the downtown area:

  • Waterfront Pizza
    • When I told my friend, Joe what town I was going to visit, he INSISTED I check out Waterfront Pizza. He also said, and I quote, “God rolls the dough and makes the sauce…” Well, with such heavenly reviews, I had no choice but to check it out. Turns out Joe was right! Their pizza is AMAZING! And as anyone who knows me will confirm, I’m not actually a big pizza fan. For the record, this place pretty much turned me around and put me back on the pizza-loving track. The sauce and dough were indeed god-like, the toppings tasty and plentiful and the place was packed the entire time I was there – in the middle of the day. NOTE: There is a very small walk-in section of the restaurant with an entrance off the street. Go there if you want slices or something to go. Head up the staircase to the right of that entrance if you want to sit down and order a whole pie and drink a glass of wine. I almost missed the experience as I didn’t initially notice the staircase to the upstairs section – and the street-entrance portion of the restaurant was continually standing room only.
  • Bubble n Squeak
    • This is one of new favorite stores! Quirky and eclectic selections of British antiques as well as current goods and sundries. There were sooooo many things I would’ve loved to have taken home, but I settled for some toffees and Turkish Delight. I’ll be back – possibly to purchase the amazing antique whisky dispenser they had. ($500! Eeek!) (But I want it…)
  • Mad Hatter & Co
    • Great hat store with ‘lots of options. Scarves, too! They even had some terribly (in a good way) British top hats and tweed golf caps which made me want to sprint to the nearest polo match or putting green. (And I play neither sport. Details.)
  • About Time
    • Super cool clothing and shoe store that happens to carry a brand of Israeli-made Jafa brand boots I absolutely covet. I will be back.
  • Wandering Angus
    • Quaint shop covering all things Irish, English and Scottish. Perfect shop to visit around St. Patrick’s Day.
  • What’s Cookin’
    • Local kitchen supply store, jam-packed with wonderful books, gadgets, cookware, tea and coffee making supplies, knives, bar supplies, etc. I only allowed myself a brief visit as I would’ve walked out with a giant box of goods otherwise. As it was, I made it out with only a respectably sized shopping bag. Respectable, I say!
  • Rose Theatre
    • An absolute gem of a classic movie house showing current-run films on their main screen with the addition of current-run and classic films in their upstairs 21+ Starlight Room. (Serving food and cocktails from the Silverwater Café)
  • Port Townsend Antique Mall
    • Antiques galore! They were just closing as I drove up for this visit, but I’ll hit them up next time. I could browse through that place for hours!
  • Vintage Hardware & Lighting
    • Ditto with this place! A very cool mix of items and if you happen to be looking for old lighting fixtures…
  • Port Townsend Vineyards
    • Lovely vineyard and winery just outside of Port Townsend. I much enjoy their Gewürztraminer and Cabernet Sauvignon.
    • Downtown Tasting Room
      • Just next door to the Rose Theatre. Small plates and a cozy setting make for a nice wine tasting outing.
    • Port Townsend Brewing Co
      • They have a great selection of ales and it’s a cool place to hang out and have a beer. They do close somewhat early, but they’re open ‘till 9pm on Fridays. (7pm all other days) I’m particularly happy they make an ale called Red Barchetta Red Ale. It’s made with a “power trio of hops!”  Insert major air-drum solo <HERE>
    • And scores of other great shops, bookstores, restaurants, etc.!

 Looking for a place to stay in Port Townsend?

Check out one of Port Townsend’s lovely Victorian era hotels located in the old town area:

And for lodging closer to the beach:

FW_Beach

Camp near the beaches at Fort Worden

FW_Deer

Commune with local wildlife while staying at Fort Worden

Festivals and Events to Check Out in Port Townsend: 

Throughout the year, Port Townsend features many cool festivals, concerts and art shows.  A few worthy of note:

  • Port Townsend Jazz Festival (July)
    • The whole town as well as Fort Worden takes a week to celebrate America’s original art form, Jazz. Local, national and international artists participate – it’s a great time to visit the area!
  • Strange Brewfest (January)
    • Enjoy beer? Enjoy weird beers and exotic beer concoctions? This is the event for you! Sample eclectic brews from around the NW while enjoying unique entertainment – You can’t go wrong! And while it’s a little chilly, it’s fun to get a bunch of people together to camp over at Fort Worden. All you need is a solid tent, a good coat and a toasty campfire. And more beer.
  • Steampunk Hootenanny (June)
    • I haven’t actually been to this one, but I’m intrigued! I definitely plan on checking this one out as they advertise the following very titillating features:
      • A “Den of Iniquity!” (Who doesn’t love some good ol’ fashion iniquity??)
      • An absinthe bar! (Yes, please.)

Next stop on my Jefferson County tour brought me to the Chimacum area. It’s not far from Port Townsend and features some of the most idyllic landscapes and farmland in the state. Over the course of my two days around the area, I was lucky enough to see it both blanketed in snow and alive with green hills and sunshine. There are so many stops to make throughout the area and it would be very easy to spend a quiet weekend just exploring this small area of the county.

In the summer, there are numerous farm stands to visit and a few great farmers markets. The Chimacum Corner Farmstand is a particularly cool one. As it operates officially between June and October, it wasn’t open, but it’s a great place to stop by during the summer and early harvest months. There is also a great fall Chimacum farm tour and even a cider tour you can take in and around the area.

On the topic of cider, I took a visit to one of the coolest places ever, Finnriver Farm & Cidery. This is one of my very favorite stops in the area! The cider is delicious, the staff is knowledgeable and friendly, they have great food onsite (local bratwurst, wood-fired pizza and crepes!), regular live music and great tasting events. It’s an impressive, fully-working farm, but has a great cozy, intimate feel throughout their tasting room, gift shop and public grounds. I’m also now a member of their cider club, so I’ll be going back a few times a year to pick up featured ciders and goods. What a burden!

I also had the pleasure of picking up a bag of peanut brittle from Sugar Hill Old Fashion Confections while browsing the Finnriver gift shop. This is a local favorite which has very recently opened a shop in the Chimacum area. Great family-run candy company using great local ingredients. (Including recently visited CB Nuts!) I will admit to being a bit of a peanut brittle snob as my grandmother made an AMAZING version. That said – and please don’t be mad at me, Grandma – the Sugar Hill recipe is simply outstanding and some of the best I’ve ever had.

Rounding out my Jefferson County adventure is one of the most stunning areas in the country, the Olympic National Park and the drive along the Pacific Ocean on Highway 101. For this visit, I came up Highway 104 and connected to Highway 101 around the Discovery Bay area. As there is no direct route through the park to get to the ocean, you’ll need to drive around the park boundaries and up through neighboring Clallam County before dropping back into Jefferson. (Or alternately, up through Olympia, and Aberdeen and up the coast from the South.) Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest are enormous areas and comprise not only a huge chunk of Jefferson County, but reach into surrounding counties, Grays Harbor and Mason as well.

One of my favorite areas to visit in the park is the Hoh Rainforest and the Hall of Mosses trail. To say it’s like walking into a fantasy-land is a complete understatement. It’s right out of a Tolkien adventure with lush moss dripping off towering trees, hidden ponds and streams, moss covered rocks and stumps and an easily managed rambling trail. The hiking and backpacking opportunities are near limitless in the park, but if you’re down a quick shot of majesty, this is a great pick. And don’t forget to pack your rain gear – it is one of the most rain-drenched areas in the United States. There are certainly beautiful, sunny days to be enjoyed during the summer, but the area receives between 100-170 inches of rain a year and is always somewhat damp. Be prepared for weather conditions to change on a dime and always pack extra supplies when hiking in any wilderness area. (The 10 Essentials)

Back out on Highway 101, heading south, I made a stop at the very beautiful Ruby Beach. A fairly easy hike down from the (sometimes crowded) parking area leads to long stretches of sandy beach, amazing driftwood displays and gorgeous haystack rock formations along the shoreline.  Bring a picnic, sit on the beach and just take some time to relax and watch the ocean – and some of the most exquisite sunsets you’ll ever see.

Just a little further south on Highway 101, you’ll come to another must-see stop in the area, Kalaloch Lodge and beach area. There are a few nice campgrounds in the area as well as a beautiful, classic lodge and surrounding cabins, but definitely plan in advance as everything books up quickly – especially in the summer months.  That said, I love to come to the area in the winter months when tourism is a little quieter. Granted, there are quite a few rainy, gusty days, but the storm-watching opportunities are amazing and there’s nothing like trying to walk against the winds down on Kalaloch beach. Good luck! It’s also especially cozy if you’re lucky enough to score one of the cabins perched on the bluff overlooking the beach. Put a few logs in the fireplace, fix yourself a hot toddy and stare out into the blustery seas. Another nice option is to head over from your campsite or cabin to the main lodge and grab a nice meal in the The Creekside dining room.  Adjacent to the lodge is the Kalaloch Mercantile, which is a great place to grab extra supplies, a good cup of coffee or some soft-serve ice cream.

After visiting Kalaloch, it was time to return home. Rather than going back towards the Kingston ferry, I headed south down Highway 101, up through Aberdeen, into Olympia and onto I-5 North. A lovely roundtrip tour and a few hours later, I arrived back in Seattle. My adventure was certainly action-packed, but I still only got to see a portion of what I’d planned. I fully plan on returning to Jefferson County again and again and I’m quite positive there will always be something new to check out and a gorgeous vista to behold.

I hope you enjoyed the ride and are inspired to check out all Jefferson County has to offer. It truly is one of my favorite parts of the state.

Until next time!

My Jefferson County Playlist 

I was going for an Americana sort of feel to accompany the rolling farmland and quiet, winding roads.

  • Last of My Kind Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit (Formerly of The Drive-by Truckers – Jason Isbell is one of my favorites)
  • If We Were Vampires Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit
  • Something to Love Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit
  • FlagshipJason Isbell (solo)
  • Look At Miss OhioGillian Welch (Also happened to be playing in the Finnriver tasting room!)
  • Wayside/Back in Time Gillian Welch
  • One Little Song Gillian Welch
  • Oh My Sweet Carolina – Ryan Adams (w/Emmylou Harris)
  • To Be Without You – Ryan Adams
  • All Your Favorite Bands – Dawes
  • To Be Completely Honest – Dawes
  • Beyond This Moment – Patrick O’Hearn (Lovely w/the snowy shorelines and pastures)
  • Northwest Passage – Patrick O’Hearn
  • My Shot – Hamilton: Original Broadway Cast Recording (I’d recently gotten to see Hamilton and was binging on the soundtrack. Come on – Thomas Jefferson was a big part of it. Seemed appropriate enough.)
  • You’ll Be Back – Hamilton: Original Broadway Cast Recording
  • Wait for It – Hamilton: Original Broadway Cast Recording
  • Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down) – Hamilton: Original Broadway Cast Recording

I Ate the State – Kitsap County

Greetings!

For this installment of I Ate the State, I’ll be featuring the coastal areas of Kitsap County and Kitsap Peninsula.  Home to beautiful shorelines, towering forestland and ridiculously quaint towns and attractions, Kitsap County is definitely worth the trip.

There are few ways to get to the Kitsap Peninsula and all involve some impressive views of the Puget Sound and inland waterways. While I’d love to have my own boat and cruise into the various harbors and marinas at my own leisure, it will probably be a few more years before that’s an option. (I am getting a boat. #Goals.) In the meantime, I’m content to either travel from the Tacoma area over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and WA-16/WA-3 or via the Edmonds/Kingston Ferry route. Another popular option is to take the Seattle/Bremerton Ferry from the Seattle Waterfront ferry terminal.

A note about the Washington State Ferry system:  It’s the largest ferry system in the country and third largest in the world! (I also mention this in an earlier I Ate the State – Clallum County post.  After traveling through Kitsap County’s neighbor, Jefferson County, Clallum County is next and is the westernmost county and point in the United States.) I love taking the ferry anytime I can. You can head to Vancouver Island, B.C. and Victoria, B.C., Bremerton and Bainbridge Island (also in Kitsap County), Whidbey Island, the San Juan Islands, etc. The routes are extensive and beautiful.  When I was a kid, my family would take mini-breaks over in the Seattle area and we’d always take a round-trip ferry trip to Bremerton and back – just to ride the boat. I have so many fond memories of riding the Washington State Ferries.

For this jaunt, I chose to take the Edmonds/Kingston ferry route both to and from Kitsap County.  As I’d formulated my travel plans very last minute, I didn’t really take into account the ferry schedule. Suffice it to say, I got ready very quickly that morning and made a mad dash out the door. I’m happy and impressed to report I was the second-to-last car to make it on the ferry both departing and returning. It prompted an earworm courtesy of The Beatles to play through my brain for a good portion of the day.

Woke up, fell out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup,
And looking up I noticed I was late.

Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat…

Excerpt from A Day in the Life – by The Beatles

Regarding music, it is my opinion that a good road trip must always be accompanied by a good soundtrack. The music helps set the mood of the journey – and the journey can help set the mood of the music. I can’t imagine traveling anywhere without music playing a part. It helps me slip into the surroundings and add my own little stories to the scenery as it passes. It sparks my imagination and inspires me to push a little further to see what’s up around the next bend. There are so many songs indelibly etched in my memory, reminding me of specific road trips and amazing adventures through the years. I’ve always been grateful for the easy recall of those adventures at just the mention of a song or from hearing a few notes in passing.

That said, there’s also something to be said for a quiet journey down a lonely back road.  I do absolutely understand the allure. And sometimes, maybe you never want music while traveling. For instance, my grandfather was a musician and actually took the stereos out of his vehicles because he used driving as a break from the music. He heard and played music all day, every day – very understandable he might want to take a break. But I digress…

After just making it onto the ferry, I felt it necessary to finally get that cup of coffee I’d neglected to grab as I raced out the door.  A quick visit to the ferry galley did the trick and I spent the next 20 minutes staring blissfully out the window onto the grey waters and rainy morning shorelines. No whale sightings this time, but they’re definitely something to watch out for during ferry crossings in and around the Puget Sound.

Back on land in Kingston, I headed towards Port Gamble. (Head west on Hwy 104 NE) The town of Kingston is a nice little harbor town and there are definitely some good spots to stop and get a meal or snack (or beer) as you’re waiting to get back on the ferry. The lines can definitely get long – be sure to check the ferry schedule and plan accordingly. Or just wing it… It’s all good. Even though I was just passing through Kingston this trip, there are a couple of spots I’d like to check out in the future. The Grub Hut and Downpour Brewing are two places I was particularly intrigued by. Next time!

Port Gamble is a fairly short drive from Kingston, so it was only a few songs into my road trip soundtrack before I arrived in town. (Check out the album Red Bird, by Jeffrey Foucault, Kris Delmhorst and Peter Mulvey – 2005. ‘Lots of moody, seafaring Americana for a rainy-day, coastal jaunt.) As it was a relatively gloomy day in January and mostly out of the typical range of tourism, there were plenty of parking spots right in the main street area. (Okay, there’s really only one main street in Port Gamble, other than the highway; which does actually slow down to 25 mph through the town…) Rockstar parking all around! (It does get pretty crowded in the summer months, but there are a few parking lots in and around the general area to accommodate visitors.)

GenStore

The Port Gamble General Store

Since I’d only had a cup of coffee for sustenance, I was indeed a little peckish. However, as I wasn’t quite yet to the hangry stage, I thought I should at least do a little sightseeing before I settled down for lunch. As I was parked just in front of the rather enchanting, Port Gamble General Store, I decided to start there. I’m glad I did. It provides an excellent peek into the past of Port Gamble and the vibrant milling community it supported as well as its modern day incarnation. (Founded in 1853 by William Talbot and Andrew Pope, the Puget Mill Company was the longest continually operating mill in the United States up until its closure in 1995. The town has been a national historic landmark since 1966.)

Inside, the General Store was chock full of interesting gift items, sundries, novelties, home goods, etc. and in the back was a very  quaint sandwich and coffee shop. They also have a fairly nice selection of beer, wine and sodas should you feel like packing up an impromptu picnic to enjoy while looking out over the water. (There are various picnic tables and nice vistas just past the General Store.) In the upstairs area, there was a very unexpected and excellent “Sea and Shore” museum. Not only were there a wide variety of seashells and sea creatures from the Pacific NW, there were examples of all sorts of sea life from around the world. It was definitely worth a small donation into the donation box atop the stairs as you walk in. It also provided a great view down onto the main floor of the shop. I love older buildings that have a walkway all around the upper floor which looks down onto the ground floor. You don’t see as much of that design in modern buildings and homes… What I loved even more was seeing the pictures of the same building earlier in the last century and how much of the store layout remained similar. And on that note…

GenStoreCafe

Nice little sandwich and coffee shop at the back of the General Store

The Port Gamble Historic Museum is downstairs and around the back of the General Store. It is absolutely worth the four dollar admission fee. Even more so if the lovely Pat is working at the front desk. She gave me a very knowledgeable, personal breakdown of the area’s history and was completely charming and helpful. The displays were very well put together, informative and gave a great glimpse into life in the earlier days of Washington State, highlighting both settlers to the area and the local Native American tribes. There were full-size dioramas of shop, home and ship interiors along with a well-preserved array of period pieces and photographs; including a great photo of the General Store in the early 1900s.

As I am a bit of a museum nerd, I try to visit every museum, big or small, in all the towns I explore; especially towards the beginning of my visit. I love getting the back story and learning about the (possible) seedy underbelly of a town’s upbringing. And since I often do my adventuring solo, it serves to give me a sense of belonging and family to the area I’m exploring – as if maybe I’m not such an outsider after all. Visiting the Port Gamble Historic Museum indeed gave me a good understanding of the area and a nice sense of belonging. (Thanks, Pat!)

After immersing myself in the town’s history, I visited a few more shops on my way to find something tasty for lunch.  Along my path, I visited the intriguing Mrs. Muir’s Tea House where they have a great selection of British goods, including a room dedicated to Harry Potter novelties and a very nice tea menu. (Formerly known as Mrs. Muir’s House of Ghosts and Magic, purported to be haunted and host to séances and tarot readings. Spooky!) I picked up a bottle of one of favorite beverages, Irn-Bru and a nice packet of Licorice Allsorts for the ride home. And I may have snapped a picture of the dreamy Outlander, Jamie Fraser cutout they had in the main room. Don’t judge.

Next up, it was high time for lunch. Across the street/highway from the main part of town sits the old gas station and repair shop. These days they offer a different type of fuel, as provided by Butcher & Baker Provisions. Stepping inside, there’s an open-air feeling complete with long, communal style tables and tidy displays of local area specialty foods and beverages. The entire back area of the restaurant boasts a long counter and display cases where you can peruse the delicious house-cured meats and decadent dessert selections. The menu had many interesting offerings, including Bibimbap and a Roasted Cauliflower Agnolotti, but since they are a butcher shop which cures their own meats, I decided to give the charcuterie board a try. And a nice glass of wine to go with it… Several very tasty meat selections later along with perfectly grilled bread and a nice side of olives and pickled veggies, I felt any hangry feelings float merrily off into the distance. Since I was really quite full, I didn’t get a chance to sample any of the desserts. I’ll be back…

ButcherBaker

Old Port Gamble Automotive Repair – Now Butcher & Baker Provisions

Charcuterie

All the meats!

In order to avoid slipping into a blissful food coma, I headed out towards my next destination. Where that was exactly, I hadn’t actually planned, but since there was a rare break in the clouds, I figured it was a good sign something cool was around the corner.  Sure enough, I literally turned the corner and there was a sign for the Hood Canal Brewery.  Why not?? I’d heard good things about it, so I followed the sign and drove off in that direction.  Did I make it? Did I enjoy some beerly delights? NO. I somehow got turned around and ended up in… Poulsbo! And that’s quite alright as I’d visited there recently and had planned on stopping by again soon. No better time like the present, I guess! (But I will be back over to visit that brewery soon! And will pay closer attention to the road signs…)

Velkommen til Poulsbo! (Sign greeting guests as they enter Poulsbo, AKA “Little Norway”) I guess I didn’t think of visiting Poulsbo from this direction as I’ve only approached from the Tacoma area, but there I was heading into downtown Poulsbo, driving past a giant Viking statue known as ‘The Norseman.’ Even though it had started to rain again, I couldn’t help but be cheerful about my surroundings. In any weather, Poulsbo is warm and welcoming with a wealth of shops and restaurants to enjoy. The old town area of Poulsbo has quite a Scandinavian flair and is great to visit any time of the year, but becomes especially festive during the winter holidays. (And during the yearly Viking Festival) During my recent visits, I’ve gotten the chance to visit several great spots.  A few of my favorites:

Valhöll Brewing – Very cool little brewery and tasting room on the hill overlooking Front Street. They have a good variety of brews, the staff is cool and it’s a great place to take a quick break from the bustle of Front Street. And beer is always a good idea.

Valholl

Tasty brews for all!

Sluys’ Bakery – There’s been a bakery in this building since the early 1900s. The Sluys’ took over in 1966 and it’s been in the family ever since. They are the original creators of the famous, ‘Poulsbo Bread.’ I love that bread, but even more I love their amazing Viking Cups. They were OUT of them on this particular visit (the horror!), but I was able to pick up a few other tasty treats in their place. This place gets insanely busy, so be prepared to wait. It’s worth it.

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Insanely delicious Viking Cups from Sluys’ Bakery

Marina Market – One of the coolest, quirkiest little markets I’ve ever visited with a totally unassuming storefront. The first time I noticed it, I genuinely thought it was a marine market – as in it catered to boating needs. I’m very glad I investigated further as I was pretty impressed to see the sheer amount of international foods, beverages, gifts, etc. packed into such a small place. (With an obvious focus on Scandinavian items) And the freakish amount and variety of black licorice they carried was amazing! (Black licorice beats red licorice ANY day. True story.) They also have a great website, so if you can’t make it to the store, order online!

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Has an amazing selection of licorice, but does *not* sell boating items.

Truelux Candles – I love candles, but I never thought I’d add a candle store to my list of destination locations. This place is great! They of course have a lovely selection of the Truelux lotion candles (dreamy!), but they also feature many unique home décor items and more. In addition, they have a baby grand piano in the front and regularly feature music and the first time I visited the shop, they had a champagne bucket on the front counter, chillin’ some tall boy PBRs. Hilarious! (And much appreciated) The shop owners and their very sweet dog are also very cool.

Slippery Pig Brewery – Tasty pub and brewery down by the marina. They regularly feature live music, have a decent arcade and game room and a very friendly staff. They’re also family friendly. All I know is I want to try their ‘Loaded Bloody Mary’ the next time I visit. And someone else needs to drive…

Tizley’s Euro Pub – Cool restaurant located upstairs and next door to Sluys’ Bakery. They have a pretty interesting Scandinavian and Bavarian menu and I can guarantee you they pound out their own schnitzel. How and why do I know this? On my last visit, I was sitting in the bar with my family, which was in good range of the kitchen. The food was good and the beer selection was on point, but the entire time we were there, the chef was in the kitchen pounding away on the day’s schnitzel offerings. Pounding, pounding, pounding! It was a bit distracting, but I suppose it’s good to know the schnitzel was definitely house-made. Maybe visit later in the day when the schnitzel prep is finished… (Bonus tip: If you go out the back entrance, take the little walkway out to the road behind the building. BAM! You’re at Valhöll Brewing and you don’t have to walk all the way around. You’re welcome.)

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Tizley’s Euro Pub and Sluys’ Bakery

Boehm’s Chocolates – I usually visit the original Boehm’s Chocolates in Issaquah, but I was happy to find a shop in Poulsbo as well. My family has been visiting Boehm’s as long as I can remember and it was always a special treat to stop on the way home from one of our ‘Seattle weekends’ while growing up. Their sea-salt caramels are absolutely deeeee-licious.

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MORA Ice Cream – Uhhh, if you are at all a fan of ice cream, VISIT MORA.  Amazing flavors with unique ingredients and delicious combinations. GO THERE NOW! (Oh wow. I just noticed on their website they’ll ship right to your doorstep. DANGER!)

Poulsbo Maritime and Poulsbo Heritage Museums – Two very nice museums featuring the local maritime and heritage histories of the area. Friendly staff, interesting displays and a good overview of the area in general. Definitely worth investigating.

While I could’ve spent much longer in Poulsbo, there were still some areas I wanted to check out before heading back to the ferry. So, with some delicious Sluys’ baked goods and Boehm’s chocolates in tow, I drove back towards Kingston. There was one more area I wanted to check out…

On the ferry ride over, I’d grabbed a few travel brochures from the local tourism cubbies. I always feel like a dork grabbing tourism brochures from my own state, but do I usually learn something new every time, so what the heck! Today was no exception as I learned of a cool lighthouse out on a little tip of the peninsula called, Point No Point Light House. It’s located in a little town called Hansville and was established in 1879. Hansville isn’t very far from Kingston and is a nice drive through farmlands, forest and finally out to the Puget Sound. I was thwarted from my path, however, by large areas of water over the light house access road and had to turn around. There was no one around and I didn’t think cruising the Sportage into waters unknown by myself was a great idea.  I guess I’ll have to visit the light house another day. Glass half full (and road), I did get to see a house made out of the front half of an old ferry along the road to the light house. Very cool!

Since my light house dreams had been crushed, I decided to head in the opposite direction down Twin Spits Road to see if I could maybe find a beach to watch the sunset. (Sidebar – I’m very curious how Twin Spits got its name…) After driving by many enchanting beach front homes and side roads leading off towards what I’m sure were equally enchanting beach cabins and cottages, I came to the end of the road. It was a private cul-de-sac, but there were a few public parking spots along the sides. (With a sign noting to be courteous of local homes and residents) I took the small path leading out onto a beach next to a private pier and got there just in time to see the beginnings of a pretty sunset. I walked around the beach for a few minutes taking it all in and enjoyed the fresh breeze off the water. Ahhh…

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Lovely start to the sunset on a beach at the end of Twin Spits Road

As it was getting dark and I still had a few things to take care of at home, I decided to head back towards Kingston – And with any luck, make the 5:30pm ferry. After a quick visit to the delicious CB’s Nuts shop on the way back (Soooo good!), fast-forward to 5:29pm and I was the second-to-last car to make it on the ferry back to Seattle. Victory!  Back on the ferry, enjoying a piece of Boehm’s sea-salt caramel, I looked out towards the advancing lights of Seattle and thought about all the Kitsap County goodness I’d packed into a few hours. (Full disclosure: In the spirit of packing a lot into a little bit of time, maybe I had two caramels… or three…) I’m already looking forward to my next visit to the Kitsap County area.

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The sign says it all…

 

Join me next time when I visit… Jefferson County. Hopefully I’ll get to see some good winter beach storms!

Cheers!

A quick Playlist from my Kitsap County journey:

  • A Day in the Life – The Beatles
  • Ships – Redbird
  • Buckets of Rain – Redbird
  • The Whole World Round – Redbird
  • Moonshiner – Redbird
  • Lullaby 101 – Redbird
  • Lighthouse Light – Redbird
  • Hold On – Redbird
  • A Day in the Life – The Beatles

Other great places to visit in Kitsap County:

Bainbridge Island

Blake Island and Tillicum Village

Port Orchard

I Ate the State – Yakima Valley Edition – Part Deux!

Alrighty – It’s Part Deux of my Yakima Valley adventures!

As I mentioned earlier, I was born in Yakima, Washington.  (Pronounced YAK-ih-ma, not Ya-KEE-ma  J)  I only officially lived there until I was 7, but of the early memories I carry with me, some of the fondest are my visits to Miner’s Drive-In Restaurant on 1st Street. 

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Miner’s Drive-in as it was in 1948.

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Miner’s Drive in today. 

What is now a fairly sprawling sit-down restaurant was then only a drive-thru with a small, ordering area inside.  When it was nice outside, there was – and still is – ample picnic-style seating available in a grassy area next to the restaurant.  Open since 1948, it was one of the first drive-thru restaurants in the area.  I can’t count the times I went through that drive-thru with my mom, grandma, great-grandma – whoever in the Smith or Brown family who happened to be craving a milkshake and fries at the moment.  It was always especially enjoyable for me due to the somewhat backwards drive-thru layout.  The driver does the ordering, but the pick-up window is actually on the passenger side.  Not only did it make me feel very adult and important to be handling the monetary transaction, it also meant I was the first one with hands on the fry bag.  HA!  (I will fight you for your fries.)

And on the topic of those fries, here are a few menu items I can recommend:

The Big Miner burger – Seriously.  There is no exaggeration in the use of ‘big’ to describe this burger. Words such as humungous, ginormous, gut-busting and insanely-proportioned are also appropriate descriptors.  Made with giant, grill-fried patties of locally-sourced beef, buttered and toasted sesame seed buns (very important ingredient) and all the fixin’s, one burger will likely cover your food requirements for the day.  (I like to add cheese and Walla Walla sweet onions)  Throw in an order of fries or TATOR TOTS and a thick shake and you’re probably good for a few days.  (Did I mention they have TATOR TOTS?  Yeah.  TATOR TOTS.)  Note to the incredibly hungry, incredibly brave or just incredibly insane:  They also have a DOUBLE Big Miner.  Yowsa.

Hot Dogs – Not to be outdone by the burgers, their hot dogs are equally tasty and ENORMOUS.  High-quality beef dogs, split down the middle and grilled, served on a buttered grill-toasted bun.  Add onions, relish, mustard, chili, etc. – they’re delicious!  Also try the DOUBLE Dog!  ;-} Pairs nicely with TATOR TOTS and…

FRY SAUCE – Do they have other condiments besides fry sauce?  Certainly.  They have quite a few delicious dipping sauces, in fact.  Does that really matter when FRY SAUCE is on the table?  NO.  End of discussion.  (Oh, wait – one more thing.  TATOR TOTS.)

Other delicious items of note:  I’m not gonna lie.  I typically order either the Big Miner or a hot dog.  With TATOR TOTS.  Or sometimes a small order of fries.  (A large order will feed your neighborhood.)  However, I have sampled many other delicious items on their menu.  Check out these tasty gems:

–          ANY of their BBQ items.  Want a BBQ Ham sandwich?  They’ve got it. 

–          Big Chicken Swiss w/Ham – YUM!

–          Fish Burger.  Mmmmm.  Try adding cheese and Walla Walla sweet onions!

–          ANY of their salads – particularly the Shrimp Louie salad.  (‘lots of shrimp!)

–          Dipped ice cream cones, milkshakes and hot fudge sundaes! 

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Many delicious items to be had on the Miner’s menu. And… TATOR TOTS!

Even though I no longer live in Yakima, much less the Central/Eastern side of the state, I try to visit Miner’s whenever I’m in the area.  It might also be true I’ve been known to make daytrips to the area just for the sake of a Miner’s Burger.  I can neither confirm nor deny this.

 

Moving on to the beverage portion of the adventure, I’d like to give a shout-out to Yakima Craft Brewing Co.

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Yakima Craft Brewing Co. = Delicious beer!

If you’re looking for a meal other than beer, you might want to perhaps stop at Miner’s first.  While although Yakima Craft Brewing does have a simple appetizer/bar menu in their Taproom pub, they don’t have a full kitchen, so the offerings are pretty basic.  However, if you are perfectly content with making a meal out your beer – and what’s wrong with that?? – Yakima Craft Brewing Co. is a good place to check out. (And the sausage sampler w/German mustard IS pretty tasty if you’d actually like something to accompany your beer.)

Tucked back into the River Road industrial area of North Yakima, (just off Hwy 12) Yakima Craft Brewing Co. has been brewing some very enjoyable beer since 2007. The Taproom is a fairly small pub siting adjacent to the main brewery.  Stop in for a pint or two – or several – and be sure to fill up your growler on the way out!  While we were there, my brother and I sampled the following brews:

Pale Ale – Light, very drinkable ale and not overly hoppy. 

1982 – Amber ale with just the right amount of depth and hoppiness.  Not too heavy for the hot summer days and not to wimpy for cooler fall nights.  Plus, the label is an awesome homage to the cassette tape.

Imperial Red – If you often go by the nickname, ‘Hoppy McHopperson’ you will love this beer.  VERY hoppy and pretty in-your-face.  I will admit to siding more with the Belgian-style golden ales, so this was a bit much for me.  My brother, aka ‘Hoppy McHopperson’ LOVED it.

Heather – A light, Scottish ale brewed with honey and heather.  My favorite of the day – and that was saying something.  Delicious!

Summer Serendipity – VERY tasty Kolsch-style brew and from what I understand, very limited in release.  Made me want to float down the Yakima River in an inner tube and a 6-pack of the stuff…  Yeah.

 

There were many other beers we would’ve liked to have tried, but the evening was approaching and it was time to consider eventually heading back towards Seattle.  I will, however, definitely be back – and in the near future.  In a nutshell, drinking locally brewed beer in the area where the majority of our nation’s hops are grown is a not only a privilege, but should also be a Washington beer lover’s rite of passage.  It makes me very happy to see the craft beer scene continuing to grow and develop in this part of the state.  It just makes sense!  And I am very happy to do my part to support this plan.

I’d definitely recommend stopping in for a visit the next time you’re in the area.  And don’t forget your growlers!

 

Some other areas of interest in the Yakima Valley area:

Additional Old Skool Burger Joints – Try them all!

Pepp’rmint Stick (Union Gap)

Laredo Drive-in (Naches)

King’s Row (Selah)

 

More beer!

Bale Breaker Brewing Co.Excellent local brewery and taphouse.  Try their High Camp Winter Warmer – delicious!

Moxee Hop FestivalCome celebrate hops in the tiny, hop-growing mecca of Moxee, Washington.

 

Learn more about the Yakima Valley!

Yakima Valley Museum  – The very first museum I ever visited.  And largely responsible for making me the giant nerd I am today.  Thanks, Yakima Valley Museum!

Yakima Valley Appellation – Wine TrailThe Yakima Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) is the oldest and most diverse wine growing region in Washington.  Tour all the local wineries and ENJOY!!

Yakama Nation Museum & Cultural CenterStop in and learn about the history, people and culture of the Yakama Nation.  Located 18 miles past Yakima in Toppenish, WA.  Well worth the visit!

Next up:  The Maltby Café in Maltby, WA.  Cinnamon rolls the size of your head!

Cheers!