I think I my route is determined! After a lot of going back and forth, mainly in my mind, but some on logistics, I’ll leave here in San Diego at the end of this coming week.
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.
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 category. About 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
I am so glad I decided to forgo Route 66 along the southern route through Arizona and New Mexico to Colorado. The scenery on my chosen route, US70, was unbelievably spectacular. Every twist and turn displayed new views and awe-inspiring rocky vistas. My overnight was in Richfield, Utah and from there, I had a choice to either drive north through Wyoming and miss some of the mountain passes, or go up and over. I chose the latter as I didn't think I wanted to see all the fracking wells that Susan said she had seen in Wyoming, coming from Washington.
Crossing the state border into Colorado and heading up into the mountains, I remembered how I had felt when I first came to Colorado back in the very-early 70s, when Aspen was a very small village and Snowmass only had a couple of ski runs. I actually learned to ski on the bunny slope in Snowmass! It was in John Denver's day, and I so wanted to move to the Rocky Mountain High he sang about. I loved the mountains and the smells, the clean air. We (my ex Randy) and I spent quite a bit of time there as his brother lived in Snowmass. We were there in all the seasons, my favorite being spring, when the mountains and meadows bloomed. We never did make the move...I had discovered a tiny town called Ouray that seemed, at the time, to be perfect. Driving through Grand Junction this time, I almost made the the right turn on Highway 550 to go check it out. Maybe on the way back? On Highway 70, I cruised through Vail and Breckenridge where it was snowing! During my weather check that morning there was no indication that it would do that, and I was fortunate that it was very light, although the white stuff was piled high alongside the highway and there were signs saying "icy road" so I was very careful. My little car does not have all weather tires! And I didn't carry any chains, which in hindsight was probably not a good idea! I made it up and over the mountains without mishap, enjoying the change in scenery - gone were the golds, browns, reds and tans of the high desert. Emerald forests and blinding white snow blanketed the mountain sides and the road winds up and down, through valleys and alongside rivers and through some very l-0-n-g tunnels, which I don't like!
Late in the afternoon, I popped out on the eastern side of the Rockies - and stretching as far as I could see, it was FLAT! No wonder people thought the earth was flat - it sure looked like it from my perch! The Flat Earth Society is probably in Denver! From there, it was literally, downhill! Traffic and trucks and people!
Thank goodness for Lucy (my and Betsy's name for Waze) who directed me around rush hour traffic to Eaton, Colorado where I got a big welcome from Susan and Dan and the animals!
p.s These are all iPhone 5 pix and I shot and edited them in Camera+, a really cool app that has lots of editing options.