day trip

Tiptoe Through the Tulips


Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Lonely yellow with the pinks

Susan and I took the early ferry from Port Townsend to Coupeville on Whidbey Island, then on to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, and we managed to avoid some of the crowds. We had hoped for a sunny day as forecast, but as is the norm up here in the Pacific Northwest, the weather guys were wrong, and it was a gray, dreary, cold morning. But it didn't dampen our enthusiasm, as it has been several years since we went to see the flowers, and that day it was pouring!

Whidbey Island is beautiful; very different from the Olympic Peninsula, with rolling hills and pastureland and lots of farms and old barns. It's a couple of hours to get over to the Skagit Valley and we made out way to Tulip Town. The valley plants hundreds of acres of bulbs and the fields are easy to spot, the brilliant, jewel colors glowing against the drab browns and grays of the fallow and plowed fields.

Tulip Town, one of the show gardens, was already busy, and even though we were early (before 10am) the parking lot was almost full and the tour buses were starting to arrive. It's expanded since last time, with a big indoor area with a food vendor, (I hesitate to call it a cafe or coffee house) and a couple of gift stores where I hoped to buy a tulip dish towel! The cold wind was making it's way through the building as we made our way out to the fields.

Susan trying to stay warm out in the tulip fields

As always, and despite the cold, the colors and the wide swaths of color are mind-blowing! The tulips were early this year, so even though it was the first part of the month, several areas were already over, but there were still acres and acres of color. It's also fun to see the kites that are set up in a field adjacent to the flower fields. The are staked down and the fanciful shapes and sizes soar in the steady breeze (wind). There were ones that twirled and others with l-o-n-g tails and Susan's favorite, the pterodactyls!  All very colorful against the leaden sky.

Tiptoe Through the Tulips

Close, but not too close! The Tulip Police were out in force to keep visitors out of the vast fields of flowers! Although there were, of course, those who had to get out into the middle of the field for a selfie! (Not guilty.)

Trying to stay warm, we tried to keep moving but it was easy to get sidetracked into more and more pictures! Finally, we headed inside for a warm drink which worked more on our hands as we cupped them around the drinks, sipping to warm up!

Our next stop was RoosenGaarde, the second show garden. Both show gardens are owned by the Roozen family, which owns the Washington Bulb Company, Inc,/RoozenGaarde.

We pulled into a parking lot which ended up not being the main access but for us, it was perfect. There were very few people there and we enjoyed seeing the blooms without selfie sticks being thrust into our faces as we walked along! When we continued on to the main area, we were dismayed to see the masses and masses of people being herded down the pathways to the fields and decided that we would bypass this opportunity and headed intoLa Conner for lunch, a much more civilized idea, I thought!

A pleasant outdoor patio (the sun was coming out) at a Thai restaurant, a glass of wine and we headed back to Coupeville and the ferry home.

A very gentle adventure!

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Seattle Distilling Company

Seattle Distilling Company gin  

I love gin! Everyone who knows me, knows it is my booze of choice. A couple of years ago, I wrote about San Juan Island Distillery on Orcas Island which really tickled my fancy and really opened my eyes to the complexities of distilling. Since then, I have tried a variety of craft gins plus some very expensive imports which have made me appreciate the art of distilling even more.

So when Ryan came to visit recently, we decided to get back from the Seattle Airport via Vashon Island and the Seattle Distilling Company. What a treat that was.

Vashon Island is between the mainland (Seattle) and Bremerton (at the base of the Olympic Peninsula) with ferries to and from. In fact, you only pay when you go to the island as they know you have to leave! And because it is a short ride to an agricultural island, the ferries are small and the rides short. But in the all the time I have lived up here, I had never made that detour and it ended up being a wonderful day trip.

Ryan's flight from LAX arrived mid-morning, so we had plenty of time before the distillery opens at noon to drive around Vashon. Such pastoral settings and a lovely, old cemetery that we explored in the rain. The business center of the island has interesting small stores, well-preserved buildings, coffee shops and restaurants. I imagine in the summer it is a busy place. But the day we visited, it was raining so very few people were out and about.

The Seattle Distilling Company is situated just off the main drag, a bit north of The Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie, which we saved for a different visit.

Here's my review on Tripadvisor:

[su_box title="Tripadvisor Review" box_color="#eddfcd" title_color="#090909"]Seattle Distilling is a tiny place producing a huge product. Or products!

A recent visit to the distillery, located on picturesque Vashon Island shows you don't need a huge space to create amazing spirits.

We arrived at opening time - 12pm - and were greeted by Paco Joyce, the VP and Master Distiller. The next hour was spent getting an education about the fine art of distilling; viewing and touching the steampunkish copper and steel stills, pipes and gauges; and really getting a feel for what goes into making a great bottle of whiskey, vodka or gin.

After the tour, we tasted the products - gin, vodka, strawberry-infused vodka, Idle Time whiskey and the Coffee Liqueur. My favorite, and my son's, as well, was the gin which is unlike any mass-produced gin you can buy at the liquor store. The flavors are carefully melded and include local lavender and juniper berries. The only ingredient that is not from the island, is the lemon peel that comes from, if I remember correctly, California.

Perhaps the most interesting fact to take away from the visit was understanding the symbiotic relationship between the distillery and the island community. As an example: The remaining mash left from the grain used for the base alcohol is fed to island livestock on nearby farms. The farms, in turn, provide some of the other ingredients needed, or the farmers apply their talents, like welding, to keep the stills and machinery running.

Although it is all local and very small, the Seattle Distilling Company is making a name for itself, winning Best of the Northwest from Evening Magazine, among other prestigious awards.

Well worth the visit.[/su_box]

Exploring Locally

Downtown Greeley, CO As those of you who read this blog know, I believe in exploring and adventuring wherever I happen to be. Recently, I've been moving around a lot, which gives me great opportunities to get out and discover what's happening.

Arriving in Eaton, Colorado ahead of the snow that hit the Rockies the day after I wound my way through them, I quickly got settled at  Susan and Dan's, which is right in Eaton, a small, farming community. That doesn't mean bucolic, pastoral fields of cows grazing, corn growing and vegetable gardens in every yard. This is industrial farming. Miles and miles of flat, cultivated and irrigated land that is just now being turned and will soon be fertilized with heaven knows what! And with the oil and gas boom, just about every field is dotted with fracked wells. Not a pretty sight, but the locals are happy - megabucks pouring into the area and MacMansions popping up in place of corn.



Susan on the patio of Margie's Blue Cup

Nothing is going to stop the exploring, so Susan and my first little adventure was into Greeley, a college town about 10 miles from here. Sunday morning and we got a recommendation for a good coffee shop (NOT Starbucks, or Charbucks, as I call it) and made out way into the University District to The Blue Mug @margies, a charming place that reminded us of Port Townsend. Funky furniture, high ceilings with wonderful old tinned tiles and most importantly...good coffee. It wasn't too crowded, being Sunday and the college students were probably still sleeping off heavy Saturday night parties. It wasn't really warm enough to b out on the delightful patio, though. Once it warms up a bit, that will be the place to enjoy sit out  under the big umbrellas and enjoy the surroundings.

As I mentioned, Eaton is a tiny dot on the map, but one of Susan's favorite places is The French Corner, an antique-y store with some lovely stuff. It smelled so good, too as there are bowls of potpourri strategically places, as well as scented candles to brighten the dark corners. It's in an old building that lends itself to the decor. The prices, for the most part, were reasonable and there is a huge variety of goods. We spent a sensory-filled hour or so wandering, touching, smelling and just enjoying.

Eaton actually has two French Corners and we visited both, the second one appearing to have more of a "sale" appearance, although I don't think that is the intention. Either way, both locations are fun places to go.

Yesterday, we planned to go to Fort Collins, which is half an hour or so away as there is supposedly a Farmers Market right in Old Town. Well, we didn't find it, but Old Town is a place I plan on going back to explore. We found out later that the market was indoors! So no wonder we didn't see it.

We made a circular route back to Eaton, but as I had found a Groupon for a tea place in Greeley, we decided to do that instead.

What fun that was!

Cranford Cove Tea Tavern

For Susan, who lived in the area 30 years ago, it was an eye-opener, as the area has grown up so much, getting gentrified and moving beyond being an agricultural town known for its meatpacking plant (which is still here to handle the animals from the local stockyards). There are lovely old building, many brick ones that are starting to house a lot of restaurants, specialty stores and places like Cranford Cove Tea Tavern.

What a delightful place that turned out to be! The Groupon worked getting us in there and I know we will go back. It's in a storefront location and has a surprising twist to the tea theme. Of course, you can get a cuppa but the specialties are alcoholic drinks made with various teas and spirits! My libation was a hot spiced rum drink made with the special chai blend (I always go for rum) and Susan's was a Lemon Drop made with green tea and ...hmm I forget but it was delicious!

Making the Tea Tavern even more special is that it is not-only-for-profit enterprise, that benefits Love Made Claim, a non-profit with "a mission to reach those in the sex industry with the truth that they are loved and valued." I do like to support social entrepreneurs as I believe this is the way of the future.


The Blue Mug

931 16th Street, Greeley, Colorado 80631 (970) 356-6364

The French Corner Market

" A Vintage Shop" 108 Oak Ave ( Hwy 85 ) Eaton, Colorado 80615 970-454-2006

Cranford Cove Tea Tavern

823 10th St. Greeley, CO 80631 970-515-5527

Eye Candy

That same weekend that Ryan was visiting, I was trying to keep pace with what he wanted to see and do. Our next stop in Seattle after the Great Wheel was the Chihuly Glass House and Garden. I had seen the Chihuly Bridge of Glass in Tacoma but hadn't even heard about the Glass House and Garden! Shows how isolated and out of touch I have been. This place should be on every person's bucket list. What an awe-inspiring, mind-blowing, spectacular place! The colors, the art, the the the the ....just everything! How beautiful!

And to be able to see it with my wonderful son was the icing on the cake.

This is a place that defies description. It is eye candy for the soulr. It is a place you have to experience. And although photos don't do it justice, I took a lot of pictures. Interior lighting was spectacular, illuminating the art so it stood out from an often black infinite space.  Impossible colors pop and even though there are numerous people around, I felt as if this was done just for me.

The gardens were a mind-blowing experience, and I can only wonder what it would have been like if the sun had been out! Complementary colors, shape against shape, impossible colors glowing among nature's own, natural flowers.

How could I have missed seeing this place? Now I know it's there and whenever a visitor comes to my house,  this is on the  list of must-sees.

I do have one suggestion, though. DO NOT take small children! There is just far too much priceless glass around for exuberant youngsters! Send them to Grandma's house and show them the pictures later! You will be so on edge and nervous, making sure they don't touch anything, that you won't be able to enjoy the beauty.

Chihuly Garden and Glass


Sunday - Thursday 10am  –  9pm
Friday & Saturday 10am  –  10pm


Regular Ages 13-64 $19
King County Special Ages 13+ $15
Senior Ages 65+ $17
Youth Ages 4-12 $12
Child 3 and Under Free