Northwest Washington weekend

Spending time in Northwest Washington, even in winter, will make your weekend or weekday a good one.  It’s March and at this time of year you’ll see budding trees and flowers as you make your way from one city (or town) to another.  You just might experience a rain and wind storm too.

Start the weekend off right with a wine tasting at Hellams Vineyard in La Conner and go in search of daffodil fields.  Enjoy a tasty dinner at A’Town Bistro in Anacortes. End the weekend with a day in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.

While in Friday Harbor, stop in at San Juan Island Cheese for sparkling wine and the World Board.  The cheeseboards and lunch plates  are delicious at this small family-owned local cheese counter and lunch bistro.  Sip wine, taste cheese, eat lunch, eat in or take it to go.

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So Satisfied.

2015 Favorites

On this last day of 2015 and you look back on the year, what was your favorite part of it?  Was it a vacation or trip?  A new person (or pet) in your life?  A chance at a new career path?  Did you run your first half marathon?  Spent more time outdoors in nature?

As I update my 2016 calendar for the new year ~ Question: what was my favorite experience of 2015?  Answer: in May… a 5-night trip to Las Vegas.  We did it up VERY well!!!

My Top 16 list of other 2015 outings (in no particular order) are:

  1. Spending the final day of the US Open at Chambers Bay golf course with my dad and husband
  2. Drinking some very fine wine
  3. Enjoying theater.  Favorite: Phantom of the Opera or Mamma Mia
  4. Enjoying concerts.  Favorite Indoor Concert: Candlebox or Muse. Favorite Outdoor Concert: Afrodisiacs at Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park
  5. Taking the Victoria Clipper for a weekend to Oak Bay/Victoria BC to catch up with friends
  6. Road trip to Ocean Shores
  7. Road trip to Leavenworth
  8. Flight to Dallas, TX for the Seahawks/Cowboys game and to meet up with my brother/family.  AT&T Stadium is amazing. Pecan Lodge. Iron Cactus.
  9. A dinner boat cruise on the waters of the Anacortes/San Juan Islands area via Mystic Sea Charters and Hellam’s Vineyard
  10. Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square … finding new shops (like Watson Kennedy, Clementines, Fleurt, Timothy De Clue) and restaurants (like London Plane) nearby
  11. Snoqualmie Falls #optoutside adventure
  12. Visiting Chihuly Garden and Glass along with dinner at Sky City and taking in the Puget Sound views via the Space Needle
  13. Tailgating and attending Seattle Seahawks games.  Go Hawks!
  14. Attending a day full of action of the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament at Key Arena
  15. Road trip in a Mercedes-Benz convertible to get a pedicure at Tip Top Nails in North Bend
  16. Taste ~ Road trip to visit a friend and check out Dirty Oscar’s Annex and Corina in Tacoma. Honorable mention: Vista Lago Restaurant in Kirkland

And being thankful for other places and people not mentioned here.

What is on your list for 2016?

Anacortes Arts Festival

The 53rd Annual Anacortes Arts Festival has come and gone but a mention was needed of this Western Washington treasure.  It is typically the first weekend of August (Friday – Sunday) and is located downtown along Commercial Avenue. You’ll find more than 300 booths, music and entertainment, food vendors and more.  For more details, go to

A few artisans that stand-outs in my book are:

  • Urban Soule – – the buffalo – art that fits perfectly in any living space
  • Parallax Gallery –  – has pieces that you design a room around
  • O’Neil’s Fine Art Glass – – particularly like the acorn and leaf pieces
  • Ron Dobrowski Photography – black & white – the calculator
  • And an unknown that makes art from wood – take your pick – whatever your hobby might be



And if you are a beer lover and like to celebrate Oktoberfest, check out Bier on the Pier on October 3rd and 4th, 2014.  30 Breweries, live music, costume contest.  Located in the historic Port of Anacortes Warehouse.



August 2nd – Summer Winemaker Dinner Cruise

Looking for an ideal Pacific Northwest experience?  After a visit to the Anacortes Arts Festival, cap off the day with a winemaker dinner cruise on Saturday, August 2nd.

A chartered bus will pick you up at Hellams Vineyard in La Conner at 5 p.m. (please check in to the shop no later than 4:15 p.m.).  You’ll head over to Mystic Sea Charters in Anacortes, boarding and departing at 6 p.m.  The boat will return to dock at 9 p.m. and you’ll then be chartered back to La Conner.

The cruise will take you through the San Juan Islands, heading from Anacortes northbound to the mystical Mermaid Rocks and the Cone Islands, venturing on to Toehead Pass and Obstruction Pass off of Orcas Island, continuing onward to Thatcher Pass, Lopez Spit, Decatur Island and Lopez Pass, and the Marine Sanctuary off of Bird Rocks – then homeward bound.  This is a fantastic scenic cruise abundant with eagles, seals, and spectacular scenery.

The cruise will feature three Walla Walla wineries – Five Star Cellars, Bunchgrass and Kontos.  The winemakers/owners will be able to answer any questions and offer tastings of great Washington State wine celebrating the season and their work – what a treat!   The cruise will also feature a fully catered dinner of appetizers, salmon, prime rib, side dishes and dessert.  Cost is $130 per person (+tax).  To reserve  your spot, call Hellams Vineyard at 360-466-1758.  It just may be the highlight of your summer!


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Whale Watching in Washington

Whale Watching in Washington State – an all-day adventure!  Whale Watching is a great way to get out on the water, view beautiful scenery, meet new people, see something that not too many people get to, and participate in nature.  On this day, towards the end of the whale watching season, we were fortunate enough to indeed see a number of Orcas. The season typically runs mid-April to the beginning of October.  Go with a friend or make it a family affair.  We booked our trip through Mystic Sea Charters out of Anacortes, WA.  We were familiar with this company through the wine and dinner cruises via Hellams Vineyard in La Conner.  So, we said… why not?  There are other departing cities as well, depending on the company you choose.

The 100 ft. Mystic Sea leaves Anacortes around 11 am and returns to dock between 4-5 pm.  The route taken will depend on where the whales are spotted, but almost all go somewhere through the San Juan Islands chain.  We got the full tour as the pods were up north in the waters around Canada (British Columbia) and the San Juan Islands.  Juveniles played and enjoyed catching salmon.  The whale fin might remind you of a shark fin at times especially as it approaches a boat. Dun um, dun um, dun um, du da (for you Jaws fans out there).

What to expect?  You’ll take a trip there and back, ours was two hours each way.   There is indoor seating or enjoy the up close and personal viewing experience out on the deck.  Bring playing cards, visit with your neighbor, or grab a bite to eat.  Bring your own picnic or purchase food and drink there…chili, sandwiches, candy bars, chips, and the like.  Grab a map and follow along as the captain will provide information…. history, facts, geographical.  The boat will move to various spots within the waters for prime viewing.  There are other boats in the area as well.  Bring or wear layers as it will probably get chilly.  Also, if photography is a hobby and you would like to record the event, a DSLR camera with appropriate lens is recommended.  I brought a point-and-shoot camera with a pretty good zoom and was satisfied with some of the photos, but a larger lens would have really got the job done.  You might need to jump from one side of the boat to the other for the optimum viewing experience but do be courteous of the other passengers as everyone wants to get the best shot.

Come aboard and see the many treasures this experience has to offer!

Anthony’s at Cap Sante Marina, Anacortes

Anthony’s Restaurants have made a hit of this location and concept on Q Street in Anacortes, WA.  Opening last year, the decor and food is all Northwest!  Located near Rose Point, Anthony’s at Cap Sante Marina offers guests an impressive view of the marina and boating activities year round.  Two different outdoor dining experiences can be had and on a Sunday in August, lunch was enjoyed by the fireplace on the covered outdoor deck.  The atmosphere really enhanced the experience (the weather was balmy, all were relaxed).  Brunch is also served on Sunday.  Choices made this day were satisfying no doubt:  Penn Cove Mussels & Fries (traditional or ginger sake) and a Northwest Cioppino & Caesar Salad.  The Cioppino consisted of Wild salmon, Manila clams, Penn Cove mussels and Alaska cod in specially seasoned tomato-basil sauce.  Order some bread to go with and top it off with a tasty beverage.

Anthony’s in Anacortes makes for a great day trip…stay and walk the marina, plan for the various festivals throughout the year, or enjoy the oh so many nearby recreational options that the Anacortes area has to offer.