I Ate the State – Mason County

Greetings!

In this latest installment of I Ate the State, I visit the lovely and scenic, Mason County. Situated in the northwestern part of the state, Mason County is a relatively accessible area to most of Western Washington. Olympic National Park /Olympic National Forest withstanding, there are several routes in and out of the area, all involving very breathtaking countryside. (Olympic National Park/Forest accounts for a large part of the northwestern corner of the county and has limited accessibility and thoroughfares.) Because Mason County contains a sizable portion of the Olympics, the county itself seems expansive, but the population is only around 63k. The Hood Canal and Lake Cushman areas can get crowded in the summer months, but my springtime travels presented me with miles and miles of wide open, uncrowded roads. Couple that with an unexpected sunny day and it was truly a beautiful outing.

For this particular journey, I chose to hop the Bremerton ferry from the Alaskan Way Pier in downtown Seattle. It was a little foggy that morning, but things were just starting to clear as I boarded. Once underway, I enjoyed my coffee and the glassy calm of the Puget Sound as the ferry glided through the water. The calm perfection of the morning added an extra bit of magic as I stared out from the deck, daydreaming about owning one of the swanky mansions dotting the shores. For the money and time, taking the ferry is always a great way to start any adventure and the 60-minute crossing to the Bremerton terminal allows for the additional fueling of caffeine and formulating of travel plans. A fine way to spend an hour, in my opinion.

SeattleEye

Pulling out on the ferry from the Alaskan Way Pier. The start of a beautiful morning!

After disembarking from the ferry, I headed towards Belfair, gateway to the Hood Canal area. I’d initially thought of heading towards the county seat of Shelton and nearby costal inlets, but instead decided to go north and follow the coastline of Hood Canal, back around to the Kingston area. I’d heard great things about the route as well as the Lake Cushman and Staircase areas of Olympic National Park, so towards Belfair I did go.

While driving down Highway 3 outside of Bremerton, I was very excited to spot a drive-in movie theatre just off the road. It’s been ages since I’ve enjoyed a movie in the car – while wearing pajamas and eating popcorn. (That’s some old-skool glory, right there!) As it looks like they show first-run movies, I think I might need to make a pilgrimage back to the area and revisit those by-gone days of the mobile cinema experience. (Rodeo Drive-in, between Bremerton and Belfair)

Once past Belfair – a good place to fuel up, by the way – I turned off towards SR 106 and Union. Hood Canal begins at the tip of 106 and the road hugs the shore as you wind along the 2-lane highway. There are beautiful homes and cottages gracing the shoreline all along the drive and great views of the water to behold. This road was great from the driver’s seat of my trusty Sportage, but I think it’d be even better in a convertible or on a motorcycle.  I’m sure the road gets a little slow-going during the busy summer months, but as there’s such an abundance of great scenery, it can’t be all that bad.

Nearing Union, I came upon the Alderbrook Resort and Spa. Set along the shores of Hood Canal, this is definitely a destination-location sort of affair. Beautifully manicured grounds, spacious lodging, dining and recreational areas as well as a nice spa, adjoining golf course and good moorage on their docks. I could have easily spent the entire day there, wandering around the grounds, enjoying brunch and a mimosa in the restaurant and maybe renting a kayak (or a PARTY BARGE PONTOON BOAT) and tooling around the canal. (Or maybe just enjoying another mimosa on the deck… or on the PARTY BARGE PONTOON BOAT) I fully intend to return to the Alderbrook for a nice weekend getaway in the near future.  (With my friends, so we can rent the PARTY BARGE PONTOON BOAT.)

Just past the Alderbrook Resort, heading west on 106, keep your eye out on the left for the Dalby Waterwheel. It’s definitely worth pulling over to check out and you can do so just past the Alderbrook Resort. It’s a still-functioning water wheel brought over from Seattle in 1924 and creates quite a mesmerizing, idyllic scene. I could spent hours just hanging out beside the little cabin, listening to and watching the water fall over the wheel. It was a scene right out of Little House on the Prairie, ala the Northwest. Quite charming. (Although, maybe not as peaceful during the busy summer months as it is right off the road.)

 

Just around the bend from the Dalby Waterwheel, I happened upon the very cute, Cameo Boutique and Wine Shop. Stopping in for a quick browse, I found a few tasty treats to take home with me and some lovely soap. There is also a nice selection of gifts and resort wear to tide you over during your local stay, along with a great selection of wine. Before I left the parking lot, I walked around the side of the shop and back towards the small cove directly behind. There’s a camping area and a couple of cottages, but also an incredibly interesting, old paddlewheel boat beached on the shore.  I’d love to know more of the story behind the boat and learn what brought it to its lonely beach home.  On my next visit, I’ll have to check in with the locals and see if anyone has the scoop.

Perhaps they might know something across the way at the Robin Hood Village Resort. The restaurant and front cottages were built in 1934 by Hollywood set designer, Don Beckman, who also designed the set for the classic, Errol Flynn Robin Hood epic.  Over the years, cottages have been added and it is now a cheerful, village-style resort set back amongst the trees. I took a lovely walk by the creek which flows along the backside of the restaurant and it looked like they also host weddings and events in the area. It definitely seems like a fun and whimsical place for an outdoor summer soiree.

By this point in the morning, I was becoming pretty peckish. I thought about heading back to the Alderbrook Resort, but decided to keep heading further into Union, on what then becomes US Route 101. A few miles down the road, the Union City Market (at the Hood Canal Marina) popped up on my right and I pulled over to take a look.  I’m very glad I did as it was chock full of wonderful local foods, gifts and specialty items. They also have a great coffee bar and a freezer full of some very tasty, handmade popsicles. Granted, popsicles aren’t really the first thing I think of upon waking up, but the carrot, ginger and turmeric one I purchased seemed the perfect way to start the day. It was particularly enjoyable while sitting at a picnic table on the shore, watching a boat crew load oysters out of the canal directly to the back of the store. Fresh!

While chatting with the very amiable staff at the Union City Market, I learned of some tasty breakfast selections across the way at the Union Country Store. I’m glad I took their advice as the Crab Eggs Benedict I ordered was absolutely delicious. Set in a small grocery store, the diner-style setup offers home-style meals, great coffee and local ice cream. It’s a quirky, welcoming spot and I’m very happy I stopped in to fuel my adventures.

After finishing all of my breakfast and feeling ridiculously (and unrepentantly) full, I took off down the road for the Hoodsport area. I’d heard about the Hardware Distillery and wanted to check it out. Along the way, I also noticed the Hoodsport Winery and decided to give it a whirl. Admittedly, I almost didn’t stop as it looked a little questionable with the bars on the windows, but I’d heard good things about the wine, so I decided to go in. It was a good decision as the wine was lovely and I had a great conversation with the woman running the shop and tastings. After walking out with a couple of nice bottles, I continued my path into Hoodsport and the Hardware Distillery.

Set within a cute row of shops in the middle of Hoodsport (still on US 101), the Hardware Distillery was well worth the stop. Not only was the shop cozy and welcoming, the owner was completely knowledgeable and I had quite a great time discussing recipes and drink ideas with him. I also walked away with a very entertaining gift for my dad and a much-coveted dill aquavit. (I’d been looking for one! Now I just need a turmeric vodka and I’m on my way to hopefully recreating the delicious Hanoi Rocks from Capitol Hill’s, dreamy Foreign National.)

ForeignNat

The most delicious drink ever made, The Hanoi Rocks from Foreign National on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. Granted, not from Mason County, but I’m going to use my newly acquired Dill Aquavit to give it a whirl.

I would’ve liked to have sampled more of the offerings at Hardware Distillery, but as I was driving, I needed to be responsible and move on to the next destination. (A drawback about doing solo adventures and stopping in for any type of tastings…) Additionally, as my next stop was Lake Cushman and the Staircase area of Olympic National Park, I needed my bearings and wits about me. And score one for responsibility as I did indeed end up needing my navigational skills further up the road…

From Hoodsport, I turned onto SR 119 and followed the signs towards Lake Cushman. I hadn’t visited the Park from this direction before, so I was excited to explore the scene. Suffice it to say, I was in no way disappointed with the area. Lake Cushman is a beautiful lake with deep blue water and expansive shorelines. Most of the campgrounds and lodging areas were still closed for the season on this visit, but I’ll definitely be back to explore in the summer months. That said, even just pulling over and taking in the vistas from the viewpoints along the way was worth the drive. Such stunning scenery we have in Washington State…

Cushman1

View from one of the roadside stops along Lake Cushman

A little further up, I pulled over at Big Creek Campground to take a look around. It was also still closed for the season, but you could park in the lot just off the road and head in to access the local hiking trails. Since it was a beautiful spring day and I really wanted to stretch my legs and check out the scenery, I happily donned my backpack and head off into the woods. Score another one for always taking the 10 Essentials as I did actually end up needing some extra resources that afternoon…

After walking around the campsite area a little, I noticed a trailhead and decided to investigate. It was a beautiful trail, flanked by moss-draped trees and mysterious thickets with an ambling creek off to the side. (Fun fact: It’s pronounced “crEEk”, not “crick” – Dad and Skoczen, I’m lookin’ at you…) About a quarter-mile in, I noticed a detour sign and thought I’d taken the correct fork, but apparently, I did not. It wasn’t until I’d gone another half-mile or so that I realized I’d taken a wrong turn (a couple by that point, in fact) and was completely turned around. AND I had no cell service, so the GPS on my phone was no longer an option – and no one was around in the closed-for-the-season campsite. Dun-dun-dunnnnnn – Time to take out the ol’ compass and map.

Granted, even if I didn’t have a compass and map, I could’ve likely just followed along the creek (not crick) and it would’ve eventually led to or close to a road. Luckily, however, I didn’t have to investigate that option and was able to get back on track. It did serve as a reminder on how quickly things can escalate in the woods and if you’re not prepared, how quickly things can go horribly wrong. It was also a reminder to always tell someone where you’re going when solo traveling – especially if you plan on traipsing off into closed areas with no cell reception…

As the Staircase area was closed for the season and there were road issues up into the area – and I’d wasted at least a good half hour being lost in the woods – I decided to head back down towards Hoodsport and off to my next destination: The Hama Hama Oyster Saloon.  Mmmmm…

Hama Hama, located in the Lilliwaup area, is a family-run shellfish farm, restaurant and store and has been serving the area for nearly 100 years. This experience is greatly showcased in the quality and presentation of the shellfish as well as through a devoted customer base, both in and out of Washington State. (They ship nationally to chefs and shellfish-craving consumers.)  It is truly one of the most enjoyable culinary experiences I’ve had in the Northwest and I don’t think I’d ever get tired of hanging out and taking in the scene. Even if you’re not a fan of oysters or clams, there’s something to enjoy. (Try the grilled cheese!) You won’t regret your visit to Hama Hama. (Also, please pick up a bag of oysters and a tub of the Chipotle Bourbon Butter for me. Thanks!)

After stuffing myself with oysters and delicious bread, it was time to consider meandering back towards Seattle. (After a quick stop into the Hama Hama store to pick up some smoked oysters and some of that delicious Chipotle Bourbon Butter… Sigh…) Since I’d already enjoyed the Bremerton ferry route, I decided to make a grand loop of things and return home via the Kingston Ferry. There was a bit of traffic in the ferry queue once I arrived near the terminal and I just missed the ferry crossing I wanted, but it wasn’t too bad a wait. I took a nice walk around the marina area and enjoyed some of my earlier-procured treats – not too shabby an end to my Mason County adventure…

I have to say, while I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of the counties I’ve visited so far, Mason County has definitely gone to the top of the list. Just this short daytrip was full of varied and excellent scenery, food, conversations, etc. I can’t wait to spend a little more time in the area and explore things more deeply. I’m sure I won’t be disappointed. And maybe rent one of those PARTY BARGE PONTOON BOATS!!

Until next time –

Cheers!

Kingston

Checking out the marina while waiting for the Kingston ferry. Sigh…

 

Mason County Playlist

I was on a bit of a musical binge that weekend, so my playlist pretty much reflects only that… MUSICALS!

  • My Shot – Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
  • 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)
  • What Comes Next – Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
  • Fame – Fame (The Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)
  • Out Here On My Own – Fame (The Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)
  • Never Alone – Fame (The Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)
  • Dentist! – Little Shop of Horrors (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  • Feed Me (Git It) – Little Shop of Horrors (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  • Suddenly Seymour – Little Shop of Horrors (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  • Dammit Janet – The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Original Soundtrack)
  • Time Warp – The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Original Soundtrack)
  • Cabaret – Cabaret (Original Soundtrack)
  • I Dreamed A Dream – Les Miserables (Original London Cast Recording)
  • One Day More – Les Miserables (Original London Cast Recording)
  • Pure Imagination – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Original Soundtrack Recording – 1971)
  • Consider Yourself – Oliver! (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
  • God, That’s Good! – Sweeny Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Original Broadway Cast)
  • Think of Me – The Phantom of the Opera (Original London Cast)
  • Music of the Night – The Phantom of the Opera (Original London Cast)
  • Nessum Dorma – Turandot, ACT III (*Luciano Pavarotti, The Three Tenors in Concert – Rome 1990) *This particular recording slays me every time. And it’s embarrassing to be crying alone in the Sportage while in the ferry line, but whatever…

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.

VikingCups

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!

MarinaMkt

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.)

Sluys

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.

Boehms

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…

TwinSpits

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.

CBsNuts

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

Seattle 2018

Almost eight years ago, I left Seattle proper with little plan of return. It was time for a change and time to shake things up a bit. I’d been living in Seattle since college, working and playing music, and loved it, but needed to put a new perspective on things. Granted, I didn’t exactly leave the state; I barely even left King County. My path only took me as far as Tacoma for a couple of years and back up to Bothell for several more. (And most recently, a few more months in T-town.) I did, however, truly get a chance to experience more of the areas surrounding Seattle along with doing some great travel out of state and abroad.

Until recently, I’d been planning on buying a place in the Tacoma area and commuting to my job in Kirkland. However, after my most recent stay in Tacoma, I realized how much traffic has worsened in the last few years and that the daily commute just wasn’t mentally or physically sustainable. (So screamed my back. And my patience…)  I’d begun to formulate a plan on how to buy a place in the more expensive King County, including renting in the Bothell area in the meantime, when I received a very intriguing offer from two very dear friends. Long story short, I now find myself moving back to Seattle, back to the city I held dear for so many years, back to music and back to the many memories of good times – and bad.  And I am genuinely excited about it.

I know many things have changed since I’ve been gone – I’ve changed a bit myself. Places and people I took for granted as Seattle institutions have been replaced by the new and the shiny. But I know there are many things that remain the same and will always be quintessentially, Seattle. In the spirit of these holdouts, here’s a list of places I’m looking forward to having readily accessible in the very near future:

 

 

While I was away – RIP Seattle of my youth:

  • People’s Pub (Goodbye delicious fried pickles and spätzle…)
  • Spaghetti Factory (Why, Seattle – WHY??? Since I was a child…)
  • The Hurricane (And The Doghouse before it…)
  • B&O Espresso (Partially responsible for my caffeine addiction. And the reason my Birks are still sticky from a caramel mocha milkshake debacle…)
  • 13 Coins on Boren (Ohhhh, the debaucherous late nights…)
  • El Puerco Llrone (NOOOOoooooOOOoooooo!!! Farewell amazing carnitas…)
  • The Waterfront (As it used to be…)
  • Sunset Bowl (Happened while I was still in Seattle, but I still haven’t gotten over it…)
  • And I’m sure there are many more… 😦
SunsetBowl

Sigh… Sunset Bowl, I miss you…

 

But hey, glass half full – I’m looking forward to checking out all the new things Seattle has to offer.

Greetings, Seattle!  I’m BACK!!!  >;-)

2018: A Year in Review

2018: A Year in Review

I’m not one for making resolutions. I do have lists of ongoing goals and plans, but I wouldn’t consider them to be resolutions. My general idea is to keep moving forward, knocking out to-do lists as I go. It doesn’t seem realistic to put together a big list at the beginning of the year and expect it to remain valid for 365 days. Sure, my approach can at times go sideways and maybe I won’t end up getting much of anything accomplished, but it’s what works best for me. The bottom line is things change, the unexpected happens and some items just don’t end up as important as they might’ve seemed on January 1. I’d rather keep updating my plans and move realistically through evolving objectives than front-load a bunch of goals which could end up obsolete or unimportant.

All that blathering aside, I’m going to assign some proactive thinking, planning and scheming to the coming year and just go ahead and call out the awesomeness that will be 2018.

In no particular order, here’s 2018 in review:

  • After many years of plotting, planning and trying to save, I finally moved into my very own, sweet little home.
    • Where I can rehearse with actual amplifiers and not worry about freaking out my upstairs/downstairs neighbors.
    • Where I no longer have to listen to, smell, etc. my upstairs/downstairs neighbors.
  • It was wonderful how the nation came together, on a bipartisan level, to root out the lies, pandering, narcissism, sexism, bullying and posturing which had become so pervasive in the political scene.
    • I can’t believe how many people got out and voted. There were record turnouts across the nation!
  • I competed in both the Spartan and Ragnar races and didn’t destroy myself.
    • No, I didn’t come in first, but I finished! Baby steps…
  • It was inspiring to see the increased level of volunteerism, community service and general concern given to those in need.
    • You get my back and I’ll get yours. The unexpected can and will happen – often when you’re least prepared. You never know when you’re going to need to ask for help – or have the opportunity to help someone out. Give – and live – generously.
  • I moved forward with my artistic goals and closed out 2018 with a great sense of personal accomplishment and pride. The mantle of The Uninspired has officially been shaken off!
  • Life-sustaining water sources were discovered on Mars!
    • Shuttles are being booked for departure in the coming year.
  • My drink recipes were inducted in the Bartending Hall of Recipe Fame.
    • It was a long road, fraught with toil and heartburn, but we all pulled through. Thank you to everyone who helped me along the path to spirit-filled glory.

Peace to you all – And a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

rocks

Found on Ruby Beach in the Olympic National Forest on the Washington coast. Beautiful area!

The Board of Education CD Release Show – This Saturday!

Hello! And happy Thursday – better known as THE NEW FRIDAY!! (in my mind, anyway – and it doesn’t even matter that I’m not actually taking tomorrow off…)

ANYway…

Wooo hoooooo! The new Board of Education album, Binary has finally been released! A lot of hard work and diligent study went into this one. Give it a listen and we guarantee you’ll learn about everything from binary stars to famous inventions (Kevlar, anyone?) to details on how we’re gonna make it to Mars! (The VASIMR rocket – check it out!) And for all of you people born PSW (‘Post Star Wars’ – after the release of the original three movies), be sure to check out Why Is Dad So Mad? for a poignant tale of prequel woe. Ohhh, the horror…

If you happen to be in the Seattle area this Saturday (10/20), please stop by Town Hall for the big CD release show. TWO SHOWS at 11am and 1pm. Bring the family – Join us! (Kids 12 and under are free!)

Image

THE BOARD OF EDUCATION CD RELEASE SHOW

When: Saturday, October 20th

Where: Town Hall, Seattle – 1119 8th Avenue

Time: Two shows – 11am and 1pm

Tickets: http://townhall.strangertickets.com/events/6082132/saturday-family-concerts-the-board-of-education 

ROCK!!!

Board of Education CD Release show at Town Hall

Greetings!

The Board of Education is playing a CD release show for their second CD!  Please join us!

When: Saturday, October 20th

Where: Town Hall in Seattle

Time: Two shows – 11am and 1pm.

Ticket info:  http://townhallseattle.org/saturday-family-concerts-the-board-of-education/

Listen here:  http://thelonelytomato.com/

Why is dad so mad?

Find out why dad’s so mad about Star Wars.