Local Tourist

Trip to Whidbey Island Distillery

2016-07-16 15.28.41Road Trip!

Always fun to get out of town and take a ferry ride. Yesterday, the plan was to head over to Whidbey Island, just a short ferry ride away where there is a distillery there that I wanted to visit. Whidbey is far more open and although it feels more rural in some aspects, in others, it feels more like the real world!

The morning started out gray and gloomy so it was good to get moving and out of the house to get the 10:15 ferry and even had time to stop for a cup of coffee on the the way. We were expecting a lot of traffic as it is the Lavender Festival in Sequim which always clogs the roads. But we breezed to the ferry and had a smooth ride over. Once off the ferry, we headed south towards Clinton, contending with masses of runners who were doing a Ragnar Relay. Orange cones lined the roads, providing safe space for them, plus police cars at every intersection. We had no idea it was such a huge deal, and a lot of the little hamlets we drove through had masses of cars and throngs of people cheering their team mates on. It was all very well organized and really didn't disrupt our travel at all, except for our destination!

The distillery, Cadee Distillery, I was headed for is right in Port Clinton, but when we got there, it was closed! "Sorry, closed due to the Ragnar Relay!" Very annoying at the time but it actually turned out ok!

We went exploring the island instead and discovered little communities and canals that we had no idea were there! Some were very exclusive with huge houses; others were older and weathered but to me, much more appealing. We even found one on an inlet with l-o-n-g walkways (probably 50 yards or so) from the houses down to the dock and boat houses. There are so many nooks and crannies and little harbors, it would take days to discover them all.

On the ferry ride over, I had picked up the little throwaway booklet on Whidbey and discovered there is another distillery, which we proceeded to seek out. Tucked off the main road on 9 acres, Whidbey Island Distillery (WID) is its own little world where Bev and Steve Heising create award-winning spirits. The compound includes The Bunker which houses the distillery and tasting room, various outbuilding, homes and an orchard.

Bunker Rye Whiskey

 

Driving up the driveway, the Bunker is the first thing you see, clinging low to the hillside. From the parking area, stairs lead down to the tasting room and the aromas wafting out are very enticing. We walked into the tasting room, lively with millennials sipping Bunker Rye Whiskey and different fruit liqueurs. The young lady pouring the tastings led us through the lineup, with the rye whiskey first. Once again, my old belief about not being a whiskey fan was turned upside down. This rye whiskey went down soooo smoothly with a wonderful flavor, I was immediately won over.

Next came tastings of the four berry liqueurs; blackberry, loganberry, raspberry and boysenberry. The first three liqueurs are all award winners, with boysenberry the new addition. The Blackberry recently won the Beverage Testing Institute's Platinum Medal  and in 2015 the Raspberry won 1st place in Sip Magazine's Best of the Northwest Berry Liqueur categoryAbout half a pound of fruit is used to produce each bottle and the flavors and colors are intense. I can just imagine them being poured over ice cream or cheese cake. Susan bought a bottle of the raspberry liqueur which was also my favorite. The distillery web site has recipes so I will be doing a little testing of my own.

Mike, the manager gave us a quick tour of the distillery, which is very unusual. All the alcohol is produced on site, which I discovered isn't always the case in some other distilleries, where pure alcohol is sourced from outside and then products created from that. The WID alcohol for the liqueurs is distilled from local, island wine and the rye is Washington-grown. What makes Whidbey Island Distillery's still different, besides it being housed in a very small room, is that it is a fully automated continuous still, designed specifically for the craft industry by Steve who is a retired aerospace engineer and physicist. Completely web-based, it can be controlled from anywhere via the internet on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android device. Gotta love technology. You can read all the particulars about the Heising 330 here.

On leaving the distillery and with some time to spare, we drove through Langley where the Ragnar Relay was finishing, so the town was jammed! It is very quaint and I look forward to going back when it isn't quite so busy. Freeland was our next choice for lunch which we enjoyed at Charmers Bistro, outside on the patio. A cute little place we thought, seeing it from the road, looked like it was a dive! But in fact had really good food and great service.

The roads were clear on the way home, all the runners safely in. Our return ferry was full, the sun had finally burned through the heavy marine layer and we got home in perfect time for a G&T on the deck

The Whidbey Island Distillery 3466 Craw Road Langley, WA 98260 360-321-4715

hello@whidbeydistillery.com

 

Movin' On

Salt Creek-2 When I condense everything that has been going on, really since I came back from Belize, it seems like I must have been really busy and things are just cooking!

Well, to begin with, it was a bit hectic, getting the new business (Suki & Deluco Tour Company) up and running. And it was a lot of fun, doing that. Sure took my mind off the weather and being stuck up here. But things unraveled a bit, or things took a turn, not for the worse, but in a different direction.

In a nutshell, the Tours did not take off as envisioned, and as we (Ryan and me) didn't want to put out a lot of cash, but just to test the waters, we reluctantly let it go. It's a great idea, but needs lots more lead time to build up name awareness through social media. Plus money thrown at it for a van etc.

While this was going on, and realizing that it was going to take more time and funds, I came to the conclusion that I am done with fighting the loan company about this house, and listed for sale with Susan. It's a short sale, which means basically no money out of it for me, but I know that this place, this area, is not right for me. It's too isolated; the neighbors too weird and I get too lonely down here by myself. I can genuinely feel no regrets walking away from it. Of course, there is always the cat issue that I must handle when I leave. That is the most painful part of the whole thing.

Last Caribbean swim - til next time

Along with getting the house ready, and keeping it ready, for potential buyers, I am dreaming about my next big adventure – Belize, here I come. The plan is to get out of here before winter (I refuse to spend another winter here) and go south to explore. And to find the ideal place for Ryan (and possibly a couple of his friends) to buy a property that can be used, while they aren’t there, as an AirBnb, while I will have a small cottage on the property and take care of guests. That’s the plan, so I am hoping to head down there in the autumn.

It was 16 years since I first went to Belize, when I fell in love with the place. When I returned in March this year, I felt the same way. The people, the water, the islands, the jungle all just draw me in to their magic. It’s like a part of me that has been lying dormant suddenly reappears! I felt happy, invigorated and alive, as opposed to depressed and old and frumpy here in the PNW! I’ve given a lot of thought to where I want to live and South Africa still holds my heart strings – but it is SO far away from my boys (the human ones) even though I don’t have much contact with Cody. Maybe I can swing it so I spend 9 months in Belize and leave for 3 during mid-summer/rain/hurricane season and go see the family back home in South Africa or come up to the States for a few months. Wouldn’t that be cool? Best of both worlds!

In the meantime....

A day trip to Salt Creek Park, just over an hour from here was the highlight of my week! It doesn't take much! Susan and I drove out there, just to get away from here for a while.

It's a lovely, county-run park with lots of campsites for both tents and RVs, many right along the bluff and nestled into the trees. It made me want to get a tent and air mattress and head out there, something I just might do.

 

Everyone Loves the Rhody Parade

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[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://grannytravels.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/image.jpeg" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] Small-town America! What fun the Rhody Parade was this weekend. It's years since I made the effort to go and it was so worth it, despite the drizzle!

The Rhododendron Festival has been a huge event in Port Townsend for close to (if not this year) eighty years! With its Royalty, from tiny tots to octogenarians, pet parades and other community events, it starts the summer festival season. The Parade is the highlight Iin my opinion) with Lawrence Street uptown lined with chairs and place markers for hours before the around noon start!

This year I was one of the lucky ones, being invited to a party at a gorgeous house right on the route! So front row viewing positions for the event, which started off with big, burley guys on their Harley's clearing the street for the fire engines, police cars and too-man-to-mention local school marching bands. Present and past Royalty cruised the route in classic cars, decked out in tiaras and finery!

[su_youtube url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gI7yDqUI6xc" width="760"]Of course, the kids along the route probably had more fun than anyone! Candy was being dispensed with abandon from the floats and parents gave up trying to monitor it! Many were fascinated, dancing and jiggling in time (kind of!) to the different rythyms emanating from the parade, and I can just imagine them going home, declaring that they are going to be a drummer/trumpeter/Pom-Pom girl (or boy) or the Rhody Queen riding the float in all her glory!

Every float and vehicle was decorated with rhododendrons in some way - and the marching bands had sprays of blossomed attached the instruments; trucks had garlands festooning the grills; classic car mirrors sported bunches ranging from our local "common" pale pink, to deep purples, many matching the paint colors of the cars! The theme was Rockin' Rhody so a very 50s theme prevailed, along with the rock and roll that blasted out from all the floats.

I am so glad I went - it made me want to go to more local events! After all, I can hardly be called Granny Travels if I don't get my sorry butt out there!

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Mum and Son Weekend

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Mum and Son Weekend

I felt very spoiled this weekend! Ryan came up from California just for the two days, but we managed to pack in a lot of fun! He is never one to sit around the house, twiddling his thumbs.

One of the reasons for the visit (besides me!) was to drive the Suki and DeLuco Tour Company's Distillery Tour route again, and for him to actually experience it.

Ryan's flight got into Seatac at 9:35 and we headed to Seattle to get the Bremerton ferry, which is a first for me! In all the time I have spent up here, I have never taken that particular route. With the weather as gorgeous as it was, it was a spectacular just-over-an-hour trip. The ferry crosses the Puget Sound and then wends its way through islands and promontories to end up almost alongside the massive aircraft carriers at Bremerton Naval Shipyard!

Mum and Son

Ryan walked off the ferry to get a feel for where our tour guests would be going and I drove off and picked him up at a meeting place, then we were on our way. Just as Susan and I had done, we first headed to The Hardware Distillery in Hoodsport, along the narrow, winding road along the very southern part of the Hood Canal. It was super low tide, so the oyster beds that line these shores were very visible, with people out in the sunshine, picking and eating oysters! Not for me, though. Neither of us are very fond of shellfish, even less so when it is raw!

We had planned to meet up with a caterer but she got hung up catering! So we grabbed a sandwich at the local coffee shop and then went to the Distillery, did a bit of tasting, stopped at Twanoh State Park for a look-see then on to Gig Harbor and Heritage Distilling Company. There I discovered my favorite flavored vodka - an amazing Blood Orange one! Wow! We didn't do the tour as we wanted to get to Bainbridge Organic Distillers. We made it just before the door closed but Ryan was able to get a feel of the place. Not only is BOD beautiful but it also smells good!

Mother's Day

What a treat! I had breakfast cooked for me! I can't remember when that last happened!

With a full day open for us, we drove down to the tip of the Toandos Peninsula, which was my territory when I sold real estate down here. Not much has changed! More logging and a bit of construction, but it is still a live-off-the-grid kind of place, with the occasional "estate" tucked away on large acreage. Fisherman's Harbor is still as picturesque as ever, true Pacific Northwest vibe! However, we did not find the geocache we came looking for! It was too far back in the woods, according to the gps, and neither of us was dressed for bundu bashing!

But we did find the next one, up in Port Ludlow on the Waterfall Interpretive Trail. I just love having Ryan around. We always do new stuff and see new things and places, and this visit was no exception! I live just 15 minutes from the trail, knew of it but have never walked it. What a surprise to find such a gem!

Well-maintained, with native plants identified and informational plaques strategically placed along the tree-lined half-mile walk, it is a truly a hidden treasure. Especially when you come to the waterfall! It was really loud and flowing hard and fast, with lots of cascading water tumbling over the rocks!

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And just above the falls, we found our cache, hidden between two cedar trees and behind a stump! Success!

We ended our day with a wonderful dinner with Jim and Mardelle at their home that overlooks Discovery Bay. Of course, Ryan couldn't resist checking for caches near there. After dinner, we set of down the road and half a mile away, after much rooting around and misdirection, we found it! A tiny camouflaged tube with a sign-in list inside! Once again, success!

Early next morning, and I mean EARLY at 4am, I drove him to the airport. It was back to work for him and back home for me.

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Hitting the Bottles

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[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] Heritage Distillery tasting room

You may be wondering about me - why am I visiting all these craft distilleries and taking such an interest in the spirits they produce? No, I haven't turned into an alcoholic although I have yet to find a gin I don't like!

But the craft distilling industry is booming in this area and around the country - and the world! So...

The other part of this is Ryan. The last few times he has come up to visit, we have done self-drive tours of the cideries and farms. And the last time was a stop at Seattle Distilling Company on Vashon Island. In our combined wisdom, we came up with the idea of a small tour company to take people to the distilleries on this side of Puget Sound, meaning west of Seattle. There are several tours operating in Seattle and surrounds, but none over here.

My part of the deal was to visit the distilleries and check out whether our idea will work. And yes, it will!  The website will be live in the next day or so, with plans to start operating the weekend after Memorial Day, and go through October. There is still a huge amount of organizing to do, but what fun!

Susan and I visited two more distilleries last weekend and what a good time we had! I even tried moonshine and it just about bit my tongue off! Not my favorite, that's for sure.

There are a total of five small batch, craft distilleries this side of the Puget Sound; Seattle Distilling Company on Vashon Island, which I went to with Ryan; The Hardware Distillery Company, which we visited a couple of weekends ago, Bainbridge Organic Distillers, Tucker Distilling and Heritage Distilling Company in Gig Harbor. The tour will visit three of them and take about 6 hours, not counting the ferry ride if guests are coming from Seattle. So it's a whole day - tasting and sightseeing!

Research

Even though we had been out to Hoodsport the previous week, we made the drive again, this time coming from the southeast, driving a route I have never taken before. It is absolutely spectacular! Although it wasn't very warm or sunny, seeing all the blossoming trees and flowers as we drove along the Hood Canal's southern shoreline was definitely worth it. It was low tide, and the beaches were loaded with acres of oysters which this area is famous for. Houses line the waterfront and several tiny communities hang on beside the road and almost every one has an fresh oyster store!

Probably 70 percent of the houses look like they are out of the 40s and 50s. The rest are new and big and glitzy so it won't be long now before they tear down all the little character houses and replace them with MacMansions. Such a shame!

Twanoh State Park is right on the shores and that is where we will stop on the tour for a picnic lunch, which we will provide.

StillWe made a quick stop at The Hardware Distillery and headed back towards Silverdale to visit Tucker Distilling, which is very new, tiny and located in an industrial park. Jason, the young man who poured for us, gave us a quick tour and then we tasted! Moonshine aka un-aged corn whiskey! Yikes, that stuff will burn a hole through your cheeks if you aren't careful! But I did like the Corn Vodka. I am the gin queen and have never liked vodka, but as they don't make my favorite spirit, I tried the vodkas and was pleasantly surprised!

Next stop, Bainbridge Island and the distillery there.

Hipster Heaven

What a great space they have! Open and spacious with great displays of their wares. I have had their Organic Fir Gin before. I actually took a bottle to Ryan one Christmas but he didn't care for the piney flavor, but I can guarantee it didn't go to waste! So I decided to try the current award-winning, organic Madagascar vanilla infused vodka and it is very good! Olivia, our pourer, gives very healthy tastings! We toured the distilling area and could see the huge fermenting tanks - three in various stages of fermentation, which make the whole place smell like baking bread.

Two tastings in one afternoon was enough for us so I put off Heritage Distilling until another day.

Gig Harbor

Heritage Distilling Company in Gig Harbor is impressive. It is the most award-winning distilling company for the third year in a row. Although I didn't do any tasting, as I was there in the morning and for me, it was a bit too early, it is definitely going to be one of the three stops on our tour.  Maybe next weekend, when Ryan comes up and we "run the route," we will do a little tasting!

Stay Tuned

Stay tuned for the new website - booking and everything will be online. Tomorrow I have training on the installing the booking engine through Zozi, a huge company that promotes tours around the world and is backed by Sir Richard Branson! Once that is in place, we will be live and hopefully, flooded with bookings!

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