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Preview of Bellingham Beer Week 2014 Sept. 12 – 21

September 10th, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

Bellingham Beer Week, 2014, Craft Beer, Breweries, Bellingham Beer, Whatcom County Beer

Kids have Lego Land. Adults have Bellingham Beer Week! BBW 2014 takes place at venues all over town from September 12 though the 21st. That’s right—this year it’s an expanded “10-day week” of special events highlighting all that’s good about beer and the people who make it for us. It’s all about collaboration and community—and the folks who run our local breweries are some of the best examples of these concepts that you’ll ever meet.

For BBW #3, we again have the conundrum of so many events, and so little time. But with careful planning, you can support your favorite breweries and watering holes, and even help local nonprofits, all while filling up on delicious beers of nearly every known style—from stouts to sours.

Here is a preview of some of what’s happening during Bellingham Beer Week. I will be popping in for as many as I can handle! I hope to see you out, about and enjoying beer all over Bellingham.

One more thing: let’s make this a safe and sane BBW! The weather looks like it will cooperate, so grab your bike or your favorite walking shoes and use your human power to get to the events and back home. And if you need to avoid driving after one too many, by all means, call a cab!

Bellingham Beer Week Preview of Events

Friday, September 12: Let’s get started! Oh boy. How to choose? I’d love to be at Elizabeth Station, where they’re hosting a “First Call” event , featuring craft brews making their first appearance on tap in Bellingham. A dozen or so breweries like Fort George, Laurelwood, Double Mountain and our own Wander will be bringing their new or rare babies for us to try. It’s also a fundraiser for Our Tree House, a local organization that helps kids and teens who have suffered a loss in their lives. $25 gets you in the door and ten, 4-ounce tastes.

Bellingham Beer Week, Craft Beer, Bellingham WA, Elizabeth Station

 

I also want to help inaugurate the Bellingham Tap Trail! The trail maps will be hot off the presses, and folks will gather at Kulshan Brewing at 4:30. Find out where the group is going next by following along Twitter or Instagram (hashtag #taptrail). It all ends at The Local. Stamp your passport for the chance to win BTT schwag.

Other opportunities to help local organizations on Friday night: “Hoppy Trails for You” at Kulshan Brewing, where they will donate $1 for every pint sold from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. to Recreation Northwest’s Stewardship Program to improve the trial connecting Fairhaven Park to the forest. Also, Bham Brewnited is at Boundary Bay, where $1 from each pint sold between 4:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. will go to WA Wild, which promotes and protects healthy watersheds. Boundary, Wander and Aslan are all members of the WA Brewshed Alliance, and all three breweries will be on tap in Boundary Bay’s Beer Garden.

Rock & Rye Oyster House is new on the BBW schedule this year, and they’ll be making some delicious cocktails with Ninkasi beers on Friday night, starting at 7:00 p.m.

Chuckanut Brewery will be tapping its Local Malt Alt at 5:30. This is a very cool project: a beer brewed with locally grown barley that was malted down the road in the Skagit Valley. Head brewer Bryan Cardwell will be on hand along with representatives from Skagit Valley Malting.

Saturday, September 13: Aslan Brewing is having their “Better Late than Never” Grand Opening party all day. Play cornhole, enjoy beer specials and live music, and ooh and aah at the circus acts.

From 1:00 to 3:00, the Copper Hog is hosting an “IPA-off” for all you hop heads. You taste; you decide which is best.

After the sun goes down, head to McKay’s Taphouse for Elysian Tap takeover Night or to the Green Frog for Ninkasi Brewer’s Night, featuring live music by Black Beast Revival.

Bellingham Beer Week, Craft Beer, Bellingham WA, McKay's Taphouse, Schooner Exact Brewery

Sunday, September 14: Close out weekend #1 of BBW by filling up your belly with some food to go with all that beer at the Bite of Bellingham. It’s at Depot Market Square from noon to 4:00 p.m. Try the best bites from 20+ area restaurants, and a beer garden, of course. Free admission; food and beer tickets available onsite.

From noon to 3:00 p.m., the Barleywood Squares game show returns at Das Schweinhaus. Craft beer-related questions are posed to local brewers and beer bar staffers, who do their best to answer them.

At 4:00 p.m., meet at Johnny’s Donuts at 2201 Cornwall Avenue to start the Wander to Wander 1K “race.” A $20 registration fee includes a pint at Wander Brewing when you finally get there, along with a medal to mark your achievement. All proceeds go to the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center. Register online or at the event, starting at 3:30. Costumes are encouraged, and at just over a half mile, this is one race nearly anyone can handle!

Bellingham Beer Week, Wander Brewing, Bellingham, Craft Beer, Brewery, Food Truck, Taproom, Brew Hall

Monday, September 15: From 7:30 – 10:00 p.m., The Local is hosting the Brewer’s Cup Awards Ceremony, the culmination of their homebrew competition that started way back in April. Find out who the BJCP-certified judges have decided is the Best Home Brewer in Bellingham!

Bellingham Beer Week,Bellingham, Beer, The Local, Brewpub, Pub

If you’re into an elegant dinner experience, head to the Cliff House for the Grand Brew Master Dinner, featuring four courses paired with Chuckanut Brewery beers. $50 per person, and you need to pre-register.

Tuesday, September 16: So many choices! Boundary Bay Brewery will be celebrating both its 19th anniversary and its 5,000 batch—a special Imperial Porter released that day.

Bellingham Beer Week, 2014, Craft Beer, Breweries, Bellingham Beer, Whatcom County BeerAlso at Boundary from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m., the first femALES event will celebrate the women of Bellingham beer. They’re releasing a collaboration Blackberry Hefeweizen made at Island Hoppin’ Brewery. Participants can taste beers and chat with women representing Wander, Chuckanut, Boundary Bay, Island Hoppin’, Aslan, and Kulshan Breweries, Evolve Chocolate Truffles, and more! $10 entry benefits Dorothy Place, a transitional housing and support services provider for women and children who have survived domestic violence.

Other Tuesday events include: Cascade Brewery Sours at Elizabeth Station, Fremont Brewer’s Night at McKay’s, Green Flash Brewer’s Night at the Copper Hog, Hi-Fi Brewer’s Night at Maggie’s Pub, Kitsap County Brewery Showcase at the Green Frog and Great Divide Tap Takeover at Rock & Rye. Whew! What a great night for beer!

 

 

 

Wednesday, September 17: I will be on San Juan Cruises’ Bellingham Bay BREWers Cruise from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Host brewery Boundary Bay will be joined by Island Hoppin’ and Schooner EXACT. It will be a great night on beautiful Bellingham Bay!

Bellingham, Beer, San Juan Islands, San Juan Cruises

If I weren’t going to be on a boat drinking beer, I would be drinking amazing beer and eating amazing food at The Local. They’re hosting the Menace/Chuckanut/Local Beer Pairing dinner, with three Menace beers and three Chuckanut beers paired with six courses prepared by The Local and Chuckanut’s very own chefs.

Thursday, September 18: Stone Brewer’s Night at McKay’s Taphouse looks very promising, as does the Brewers’ Olympics with Firestone Walker at Das Schweinhaus. And if you love Menace Brewing’s beers, they will be taking over the taps at The Local from 6:00 p.m. on!

Bellingham Beer Week, Oktoberfest, Bellingham, Craft Beer,Friday, September 19: Still going strong? Then you’ll want to plan on Bellingham Oktoberfest, a benefit for the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County. It’s happening from 6:30 – 10:00 p.m. at Depot Market Square. Get tickets now for $20 or at the door for $25. Tastes included from over 30 local and regional breweries, plus brats and more fun stuff.

Das Schweinhaus is having an Oktoberfest of their own, starting Friday and going all weekend. I’m pretty sure it will involve German beers, wursts and pretzels.

Saturday, September 20: Almost there! Stop by the Bellingham Farmers Market Saturday morning at 11:00 for a demo on cooking with beer with Chuckanut Brewery’s Chef Joel Shumate.

And hang out at Boundary Bay for the Bellingham Traverse, with a special Traverse Red IPA and lots of music and fun. The multi-sport race starts at noon and teams finish from around 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Cheer them on and enjoy the sidewalk beer garden.

Meet me at Elizabeth Station at 4:00 for Sourfest! So. Many. Sour. Beers. Sours and Berliner Weisses, plus wild and fruit ales from breweries like Skagit River, Anderson Valley, 10 Barrel, Aslan, North Fork, Schooner Exact, Castle and New Belgium, among many others.

From there, you can check out Full Sail Brewers Night at McKay’s Taphouse, starting at 6:00.

Sunday, September 21: Sadly, it will be time to close out another fantastic Belingham Beer Week. Why not start with a healthy hike with Beers at the Bottom? They’ll be meeting at Cyrus Gates Overlook at 12:45 and hiking the new Rock Trail, then gathering for beers at the bottom at Wander Brewing. I’m running a half marathon on Saturday, so I will not be in hiking condition on Sunday. Darn.

If you’re feeling a little lazy after nine days of beer nirvana, then head to Perfectly Paired in Fairhaven, for a beer and cheese pairing. Meet the guys behind Stones Throw Brewery, opening soon in Fairhaven, and try delicious cheeses paired with beers from Boundary Bay, Kulshan and Chuckanut breweries, as well as the BBW Collaboration Brew.

Wind up BBW at McKay’s, hosting a Whiskey Ridge Brewer’s Night at 7:00 p.m.

Specially Brewed Bellingham Beer Week Beers

Bellingham Beer Week, 2014, Craft Beer, Breweries, Bellingham Beer, Whatcom County Beer

Throughout the 10 glorious days of Bellingham Beer Week, you’ll be sure to find on tap all over the city the special beers brewed just for this occasion:

  • Bellingham Beer Week #3 Collaboration Beer: Whatcom Wheat. Brewed and canned at Boundary Bay, this is a collaboration between all nine Whatcom County breweries: Boundary, Kulshan, Chuckanut, Wander, Aslan, Menace, North Fork, Gruff and Stones Throw (the latter two are not yet open for business). Available on tap and in cans all over town.
  • 10 Barrel Bellingham Crush: A Berliner Weisse brewed in Bend, OR and made with local berries from Barbie’s Berries.
  • Fremont Brewing Co. Cowiche Canyon Hop Lab No.3: In honor of BBW #3, this is an IPA made with 100% organic Citra hops from Cowiche Canyon.
  • Chuckanut Brewery Local Malt Alt: Chuckanut’s award-winning Altbier, brewed with locally-sourced malt from the Skagit Valley.
  • Wander Brewing BBW #3 Tripel: For the 3rd Annual BBW, Wander brewed a Tripel made with three malts, three hops, and at a 3.2 ABV.

Check out the full BBW 2014 event calendar here.

I’ll see you out there! Have fun. Drink beer. Be safe!

Fall favorite: Harvest time at BelleWood Acres

September 10th, 2014 by Hilary Parker

No place tastes more like fall than BelleWood Acres in Lynden.

BelleWood Acres, Lynden

The orchard and farm have been a favorite of my family for years. The opportunity to pick and play in the crisp autumn air is one my kids never seem to tire of, and out-of-town guests have raved about the experience.

Owners Dorie and John Belisle opened their farm to the public starting in 2002, after having started as a wholesale orchard. In 2012 they opened a brand new farm market and bistro, which are open year round. The Belisles have continued to expand their offerings to entertain and educate on the farm, including live entertainment on weekends during the summer and fall.

“Harvest Happens” runs throughout September and October, with live music on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons in September, and music Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in October. BelleWood is also part of the Whatcom Farm Tour, which takes place the second Saturday in September.

Anytime during harvest season you can hop aboard the Apple Bin Express to ride out to the orchard, or rent one of three golf carts ($10) to explore the BelleWood Acres, Lyndenorchards as well as the rest of the farm.

Once there, you’ll be directed to the rows of apples open for picking that day. (You prepay for the number of bags and the variety you want to pick.)

It doesn’t take long to pick your fill of beautiful, ripe apples, but there’s plenty more to do on the farm.

Nearby, discover the cooling and packing facility, where you can watch as the apples are washed and packed. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch the action in the juicing building or the commercial kitchen, where they make items such as pies and jams.

Along with apple picking, there’s a u-pick pumpkins, gourds and sunflowers.

Dorie says one of the harvest-time favorites, introduced last year, are the corn cannons. Aim the cannons to shoot ears of corn toward large tire targets in the field. New this year, and sure to become a favorite, is a corn maze, featuring fun facts about farming in Whatcom County. BelleWood Acres, Lynden

After a romp around the farm, stop by the bistro for another perennial favorite: the fresh apple cider doughnuts. Or a slice of pie, or maybe an apple turnover. It’s agony for me every time I visit – what to choose?

One of the best parts of a visit to BelleWood Acres is that it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Many activities are free, John and Dorie encourage families to come out and just walk around the farm. Take the stream walk along 10 Mile Creek, which intersects the farm, and see if you can spot a fish in the salmon-bearing stream. My kids always have fun on the playground constructed solely of old tires.

As much as I love family time at BelleWood, I’m eagerly awaiting a chance for the grown ups to get an afternoon to take the distillery tour. The distillery opened 2012 along with the new farm store. BelleWood offers “Farm to Glass” distillery tours Saturday and Sunday afternoons at noon and 2 p.m. Call ahead to reserve your space.

For a full schedule of events and the apple-ripening calendar, visit BelleWoodFarms.com.

Fresh from the Farm: a Preview of the Whatcom County Farm Tour Sept. 13, 2014

September 8th, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

Most people go an entire lifetime without talking to a farmer face to face. Most people don’t know where an apple really comes from (apart from the pile at the grocery store). And most people never have a chance to see, up close and personal, the pig that becomes their pork chops. But then, most people don’t live in or near Whatcom County, and therefore can’t take advantage of the Whatcom County Farm Tour, coming up on Saturday, September 13, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. But you can!

Cloud Mountain Farm Center, Apple Farm, Whatcom County Farm Tour, Farm to Fork, Grapes, Pears

Scenes from Cloud Mountain Farm Center

I’ve been lucky to preview some of the participating farms, so here’s the insider scoop: it’s going to be a blast! Everybody should pile in a car or on top of a bike and hit the road for a super-fun day in the country. Where else can you learn how to make cheese or how to harvest and store your backyard fruit, make friends with a piglet, pick some crispy sweet apples, and find out where mushrooms come from—all in one day?

Heritage Lane Farm, Pig Farm, Whatcom County Farm Tour, Farm to Fork, Pork, Pigs, Sheep

A friendly face from Heritage Lane Farm

The farmers on the tour are opening their gates to the public, sharing their knowledge and even creating fun activities for the kids. The idea for the tour comes from our friends at Sustainable Connections, as part of their Eat Local Month, and the purpose is to connect people who eat food with the farmers who grow it. This month, restaurants, markets and consumers commit to purchasing, eating and serving more local food, so we can all “stay connected from farm to fork.”

Bellewood Acres, Apple Farm, Whatcom County Farm Tour, Farm to Fork, CIder, Apples, Distillery

Scenes from Bellewood Acres

What’s more important than knowing where your food comes from? Not much, I daresay. And here in Whatcom County, we are beyond fortunate to have productive farms growing a huge variety of fruits and vegetables, raising animals to produce meat and milk, and cultivating beautiful flowers, shrubs, and shade and fruit trees for our home gardens.

Here’s some of what’s in store on the Whatcom County Farm Tour:

Cloud Mountain Farm Center: If you’ve never been to Cloud Mountain Farm Center, make sure you go. They grow a variety of fruits, including apples, Asian and European pears, kiwis, and wine grapes. They are hosting a workshop on harvesting and storing fall fruit at 10:30 on tour day, so you might want to start things off here. All day long, there will be tastings and self-guided tours of the entire farm. The nursery will be open if you have questions about plants and shrubs, or want to take some home. Interns and staff will be out in the fields to answer all of your questions. New this year: a Farm-to-School slide show and demo of Cloud Mountain’s processing facility, where produce is prepared for delivery to Bellingham and Nooksack School Districts. At Cloud Mountain Farm, which is now a nonprofit community farm and education center, there is a lot more going on than I can convey here—but look for more in-depth stories about this amazing gem of a place in the future!

Cloud Mountain Farm Center, Apple Farm, Whatcom County Farm Tour, Farm to Fork, Grapes, Pears

Cloud Mountain Farm Center, Apple Farm, Whatcom County Farm Tour, Farm to Fork, Grapes, Pears
 
Cascadia Mushrooms: Stop here for a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at how mushrooms are grown. Tour the growing room, and learn how the organic shitake, oyster and golden oyster mushrooms are cultivated. (Note: Cascadia Mushrooms is located south of Smith Road, not north, as indicated on the Farm Tour map.)

Cascadia Mushrooms, Mushroom Farm, Whatcom County Farm Tour, Farm to Fork, Shitake, Oyster, Organic Mushrooms

 

Cascadia Mushrooms, Mushroom Farm, Whatcom County Farm Tour, Farm to Fork, Shitake, Oyster, Organic Mushrooms

 

Bellewood Acres: So much fun is planned for the farm tour! U-Pick apples will be ready to pull right off the trees, and the Bin Train will be revved up and ready to take you on tours of the apple orchards. Get lost (and find your way back out) of the corn maze (or is that “maize”?), shoot corn out of the corn cannon (that’s a new one!) and taste, taste, taste. Try some of the 20 varieties of apples grown on the farm, along with fresh apple cider, apple cider syrup and vinegar, freshly ground peanut butter, and honey roasted peanut butter (which they sold 11 TONS of last year—it’s big yums!). Pair apples with the peanut butter, caramel dip, cheese or enjoy on their own. If you’re 21 and over, stop by the Bellewood Distillery for some spirited tastings. Since fall is in the air, apple cider donuts or a piece of apple pie could really hit the spot—and at Bellewood, you can have some of each during the Farm Tour. Plus, they will have live music all day. Everyone will have a blast!

Bellewood Acres, Apple Farm, Whatcom County Farm Tour, Farm to Fork, CIder, Apples, Distillery

Bellewood Acres, Apple Farm, Whatcom County Farm Tour, Farm to Fork, CIder, Apples, Distillery

 

Appel Farms and Cheese Shop: Stop at Appel Farm’s brand-new, beautiful Cheese Shoppe and you can see cheese-making demonstrations, take a self-guided tour and participate in a scavenger hunt for kids of all sizes (win prizes!). Taste the gouda, cheddar, feta and squeakers, and meet the dairy cows who work so hard to give us our cheesy delights.

Appel Farms, Whatcom County Farm Tour, Farm to Fork, Cheesemaker, Dairy Farms

Appel Farms, Whatcom County Farm Tour, Farm to Fork, Cheesemaker, Dairy Farms

 

Heritage Lane Farm: Here’s where you can meet the aforementioned piglets! Heritage Lane raises pigs and sheep, focusing on heritage breeds that have come close to extinction, like Large Black, Mulefoot and Tamworth. It’s easy to imagine these animals running around in, say, John Adams’s or George Washington’s backyards. Everything about raising them is different from what you may know. For example, they eat more grasses (even home-grown barley sprouts) and fewer grains than conventionally raised pigs. Heritage breeds are leaner and more flavorful, too. Stop by Heritage Lane Farm during the tour, learn all about the pigs and have fun with a scavenger hunt.

Heritage Lane Farm, Pig Farm, Whatcom County Farm Tour, Farm to Fork, Pork, Pigs, Sheep

Between Farm Tour stops, you’ll see lots of opportunities for fun and delicious add-ons, like roadside stands selling corn and dahlias, garden centers and nurseries, and Good to Go Meat Pies, which is right in downtown Everson (on the way to or from Cloud Mountain Farm).

For Farm Tour stop descriptions and a map, pick up the Farm Tour & Eat Local Month Guide, available at the Community Food Co-op’s two locations, Whatcom Farmers Co-op, Haggen stores, and Bellingham and Whatcom County libraries and visitors centers. Or, just take a look at the map below, choose your first stop and pick up your guide there.

Whatcom County farmers work tirelessly to produce the best food they can—and we can help them continue doing so by purchasing their fresh-from-the-farm products and of course, visiting them during the Farm Tour!

Click here for a Google map of the tour. 

View the Farm Tour brochure here.

For more fun ideas in Bellingham and Whatcom County, visit our Insider Blogs page or our Things to Do page.

A Bellingham Bay Wine Cruise on the Schooner Zodiac

August 31st, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

My first close-up view of the Schooner Zodiac was on a perfect summer evening last year, when I was boarding the San Juan Cruises’ Victoria Star to partake of the Bellingham Bay BREWers Cruise. The Zodiac, moored opposite the Victoria Star, momentarily distracted me from the beery delights I was anticipating.

Schooner Zodiac, Bellingham Bay, Tall Ship, Wine Cruise

I took one look at her and said to myself, “Someday, you will be mine. Oh yes, you will be mine.” What I meant, of course, is that someday I would sail on this amazing work of art. And this week, on another perfect summer evening, I finally did, much to my complete delight. And it was on a wine dinner cruise, which made it even better!

Schooner Zodiac, Bellingham Bay, Tall Ship, Wine Cruise

Clockwise, from upper left: Schooner Zodiac mainsail; boarding the boat at the Fairhaven Ferry Terminal; our first wine of the evening; Katie from Vinostrology and the rest of the evening’s wines.

If you’re a sailor like me, or a boat enthusiast of any ilk, the Zodiac is a beauty that grabs your heart and doesn’t let go. Built in 1924 for heirs of the Johnson & Johnson family, she has a long and storied history that you can read all about on the website. But here’s the gist: she’s the largest working tall ship on the West Coast, at 127 feet long on deck, 160 from bowsprit to stern and 25.5 feet across the beam. The main mast is 114 feet tall, while the fore mast is 93 feet tall. And with a mainsail that’s over 4,000 square feet, she is rigged to fly over the waves.

Schooner Zodiac, Bellingham Bay, Tall Ship, Wine Cruise

The schooner Zodiac has been officially named a U.S. National Historic Site and is considered a national maritime treasure. We are so fortunate to have her here in Bellingham as her homeport! While she’s been both a race boat and a pilot schooner, the Zodiac now offers a variety of learn-to-sail and educational programs for adults and kids, along with charters and short- and long-term cruises.

From a few hours to several days, anyone can reserve a spot on the Zodiac—and become a crewmember, too. I signed up for—what else—the Wine Dinner Cruise, featuring wines selected by Katie Bechkowiak of Vinostrology Wine Lounge in downtown Bellingham. After we pulled away from the dock and heard all about the lay of the boat, location of the life jackets and a briefing on what was expected of us, Katie was introduced. She got right to the point and announced, “We’ll be starting with rosé!” which was music to my ears.

Schooner Zodiac, Bellingham Bay, Tall Ship, Wine Cruise

Abby, the boat kitty, enjoys wine too.

 

You might be wondering what could possibly have been expected of we passengers, other than to drink wine, enjoy the scenery, feel the wind in our hair and eat delicious food. Oh, we did all of that—and more. You see, the rule on the Zodiac is that everybody who’s able and willing helps sail the boat. You know, raise the sails and whatnot. Trust me, with the size of the lines, booms and sails on the Zodiac, it truly takes “all hands on deck” to get her under way. So we stashed our wine glasses (after enjoying their contents, of course) lined up on either the port (left) or starboard (right) side, grabbed a section of line, and pulled, hand-over-hand, until we heard the order to stop and we got to rest a minute, hearts racing and a little breathless. Then the first mate called, “haul away, port!” and our group did it again. Eventually, the sail reached just the right point—short of the very top, since the evening’s strong winds would have heeled us over too much. Great for speed, but not so good for bottles and cups of wine—and we had our priorities.

Schooner Zodiac, Bellingham Bay, Tall Ship, Wine Cruise

Once we were completely under sail, the engine was cut and the wind took us away. It was a magnificent evening for a sail, with crisp winds and fluffy white clouds in the late summer sky. And to sweeten the scene, another wine was opened—this time, a Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend from France. We sipped as the Zodiac skimmed across Bellingham Bay. There is truly nothing that compares with seeing our beautiful city and its mountain backdrop from the Bay.

Schooner Zodiac, Bellingham Bay, Tall Ship, Wine Cruise

Eventually, we tacked to change direction, which was smooth as could be on this boat and with this crew. All the while, conversations were struck up on deck between strangers and Abby the cat scampered around. As the evening chill came on, I pulled on a jacket and of course, switched over to a red wine (a lovely French Cotes-du-Rhone blend) to keep warm. Soon enough, it was time for dinner, prepared by the ship’s cook, Miranda. A lovely spread of cheeses, crackers and bread, plus a salad with avocado, fennel and crab started things off. The main dish was pork tenderloin with currant sauce, whipped cauliflower and green beans. With it, I enjoyed the lovely Bordeaux Kate chose for us. Dessert was a dreamy rosemary custard with orange curd garnish—and it was to die for! Easily one of the best desserts I’ve had all summer, on land or sea. And the rest of the food was just as delicious.

Schooner Zodiac, Bellingham Bay, Tall Ship, Wine Cruise

Clockwise, from top left: Dinner; Abby in her berth; dessert; vintage typewriter.

While I focused on my food below deck, I had the feeling that the sun was setting above—and I was anxious to see it. Unfortunately, it was just about gone by the time I tore myself away from my dinner. Just another of this summer’s stellar sunsets on Bellingham Bay. Even post-sunset, Bellingham Bay was magical. As we headed back toward the dock, the crew dropped the sails and the engine roared back to life, while the passengers lamented that the evening passed far too quickly.

Schooner Zodiac, Bellingham Bay, Tall Ship, Wine Cruise

My obsession with the Schooner Zodiac has just begun. My husband and I are already planning our next trip—will it be a three-day or 12-day cruise to celebrate our anniversary? Can we squeeze in another afternoon or evening cruise, or should we try the island brewery or winery cruise next year? There is still plenty of time in 2014 to get out on the Zodiac before the cold weather sets in. Check out the sailing schedule and book quickly—they often sell out. As for me, next summer can’t get here fast enough. I can’t wait to sail on the Zodiac again!

The evening’s wines: 2013 Aubai Mema Casimir—Rosé of Syrah and Cabernet 2012 Château Pouchard Larquey Entre Deux Mers—Sauvignon blanc/Semillion 2010 Château de Montfaucon Côtes-du-Rhône—Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault, Counoise 2010 Château La Maroutine Bordeaux—Merlot/Cabernet

Learn more about the Schooner Zodiac.

Schooner Zodiac on Facebook.

Fall Outdoor Recreation Events and Races in Bellingham / Whatcom County

August 31st, 2014 by Todd Elsworth

Bellingham and Whatcom County are known worldwide for the “Grandaddy of all Races”, Ski to Sea. Hosted over Memorial Day weekend, the relay race is a great way to kick off a summer of outdoor adventure with friendly competition. Our race calendar is full all year long and the signal to the end of summer comes with incredible races to do throughout the month of September into October. This time of year is popular for events, with the great weather that usually presents itself (we hope).

BellinghamBayMarathon

Saturday, September 6th
RUN: Lake Padden Relay- The course consists of four 2.59 mile laps counter clockwise around the lake on grass and trails, starting by the picnic shelter (east entrance). The course is mainly flat and over half wooded, with one brief steep upgrade and three rolling hills all in the woods on the southwest side of the lake.

Saturday, September 13th
PADDLE: Samish Salmon Row The 5.5 mile course starts and ends at Lutherwood Camp, and is arranged so that spectators will have one of the best opportunities of the season to watch the race. Salmon BBQ lunch with all the fixings will be held directly following the race. Included with registration fee for racers, $8 for spectators.

SamishSalmonROE

RUN: Waterfront 15K Whether running or walking along this 9.3 mile course, you get a great opportunity to traverse Bellingham Bay’s beautiful waterfront. Tour the Taylor Street Dock, Boulevard Park, downtown and the marina.

Sunday, September 14th
ROAD BIKE: Chuckanut Century Come join us and ride one of the most scenic rides in Washington. With many routes offered you can pick your distance ranging from 25, 38, 50, 62, 100, or the double metric century of 124 miles. Although all cyclists should be fully prepared when they take to the roads you can enjoy the added security of knowing that there is ride support if needed and food stops with a wide variety of high-energy food and drinks along all of the routes.

Saturday, September 20th
MULTI-SPORT: The Grand Finale of the Northwest Traverse Series, Vital Choice Bellingham Traverse is a multi-sport event celebrating the life cycle of wild salmon and the natural and urban challenges of their journey. Solo, tandem and relay teams challenge themselves and one another on a rugged course that highlights the City of Bellingham’s Parks, Greenways System, bike-friendly roads, and open water opportunities for recreation.

RyanRickertsTRAVERSE

Saturday, September 27th
RUN: Silver Lake Cross-Country Run is an opportunity to challenge yourself on a great cross country course, and then watch some of the state’s best high school runners compete in the Mt. Baker Invite starting at 10:00AM.

RUN: Bellingham Bay Marathon offers beautiful courses, with views of Bellingham Bay, San Juan islands, and North Cascade mountains, the marathon is often called “the most beautiful marathon in the Pacific Northwest.”

RUN/WALK: Whatcom Crop Hunger Walk We had our first CROP Hunger Walk in Bellingham in September of 2005 at Lake Padden. Since then, this has been annual event in Fairhaven. I enjoy these walks because I like walking and I like to meet with the participants. But, there is more. CROP Hunger Walk is probably the best way to bring world hunger to the attention of the greater community. Money collected contributes to local food banks, as well as, Church World Services (CWS). CWS has continuous presence throughout the world. It helps provide food and water, disaster relief, refugee relief, and infrastructure development supporting food production and distribution.

Saturday, October 4th
GIRLS RUN: Run Like a Girl Half-Marathon is a non-competitive event for those who just want to get out and have some fun. Never participated in a half-marathon before? No problem! You can go as far as you feel comfortable. There’s no pressure to complete the entire 13.1 miles. Worried about the pace? Please understand that we use the word “run” loosely. Go as slow or as fast as you’d like. Most of our participants walk. And if you’re concerned you won’t make the 4 hour cut off, get an early start or turn around early! We’ll mark each mile celebratory style. Just to give a hint – this is probably the only half marathon you’ll get to proudly wear your very own dazzling tiara. And it wouldn’t be “girl-style” if we didn’t offer the chocolate mile, and other fun surprises along the way. Receive a beautiful finisher’s medal hand-made by a local artist when you cross the finish line. You will be personally adorned with this by our very own local firefighters.

KIDS BIKE: Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day  WMBC will be hosting an opportunity for you to take your family or friends to a supported event for all ages and abilities.   We will be set up at Lake Padden between the softball fields and basketball court  and will have two guided rides for beginner and advanced bikers (this will be a cross country ride) and a supervised course for children on Strider bikes.  The event runs from 2 to 4pm and rides will depart around 2:15.  Bring water, a helmet, and a bike.
WMBCTakeaKID

Saturday, October 18th
MOUNTAIN BIKE: Chuckanut Enduro Mountain Bike Race You do not want to miss the Cascadia Dirt Cup Series Finale!  Some of the best trails in the NW thanks to the WMBC.

PADDLE: Bellingham Canoe and Kayak Sprint includes ICF canoe and kayaks; High Performance Kayaks; Outrigger Canoes and SUP.

RUN: Get your fill of dirt, rocks and roots at the  Flora Lake Padden Trail Half – a 13.1 mile TRAIL half-marathon to support the kids in our community! The dense forest around Lake Padden, (located in beautiful Bellingham, WA) gives way to a challenging and memorable course designed for intermediate to advanced runners. All proceeds will benefit Rebound of Whatcom County, a local charity dedicated to the children on the fringes of our community.

FloraHalf

Sunday, October 26th
RUN: Run Wild Whatcom is a totally different kind of adventure race.  Part race, part scavenger hunt, part route finding, part Halloween celebration.  You’ll start at our main start/finish area, and visit three points within Whatcom Falls Park, collecting a token at each.  The order in which you choose to visit the points, and the route you take is up to you, as long as you stay within the boundaries.

Sunday, November 9th
RUN: Bellingham Trail Marathon & Half  is a stunning mix of trail running in Bellingham with lots of tough climbs on single track trails, as well as fast interurban trails and a short road section.  With 5,000 feet of climbing, this may be the toughest marathon in Washington! The race connects two of the most popular trail systems, Lake Padden and Chuckanut Mountain.  Runners will enjoy lake and forest views through Padden Park and expansive views of the city of Bellingham, the Cascade Mountain range, and Bellingham Bay from Chuckanut Ridge.  All finishers get a custom made medal and catered post race meal by mobile pizza folks!

Saturday, November 22nd
RUN: Turkey Trot Whatcom Falls Park in Bellingham, WA. Benefiting the Bellingham Food Bank. Course: 5K course at Whatcom Falls Park. This year, registration will be at Whatcom Falls Park Main Picnic Shelters. Entry Fee: $8.00 minimum donation to the Food Bank per runner (maximum $20 per family). Kids under 12 Free. GBRC Members Free-but donations welcome.

Shopping Fun in Lynden WA

August 25th, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

Lynden, Washington is quintessential small town U.S.A., and its downtown reflects the Dutch heritage of the city’s founders. Windmills, clogs, a Dutch bakery and huge flowering baskets give Front Street all the charm and personality you could ask for.

Lynden, Shopping, windmills, Dutch town

Welkom to Lynden! Parking is free!

Located about 15 miles north of Bellingham and four miles south of the Canadian border (Aldergrove crossing), Lynden is known as home of the Northwest Washington Fair, as well as the annual Christmas lighted parade, which is Dec. 6, 2014.

But today, Christmas is still very far away, and the warm days of late summer and fall are the perfect time to explore downtown Lynden’s Front Street shops. You’ll find plenty of opportunities to buy something new (or old) for your house, a special person in your life or yourself.

For home decor, you can choose from new, used, vintage and re-purposed goods from a variety of merchants. There are two chock-full antique shops: More Than Antiques and Keepsakes. Each has plenty of furniture, glassware, artwork, memorabilia and other treasures to choose from. I especially liked these horse figurines.

Lynden, Shopping, Antiques

Browsing (and buying) fun can also be had at a couple of cute stores that feature a mix of antiques and vintage items, with new decorative signs, pillows and accessories. You can find things for inside and outside of the house at the Hen House:

Lynden, Shopping, Home Decor, Hen House

And, the Rustic Cottage will also tempt you with all kinds of charming furniture and accessories. Oh, and Trixie, the Spider Monkey. She wasn’t in the best mood today, but she agreed to sit for a portrait.

Lynden, Shopping, Rustic Cottage, Home Decor

Remember those Dutch clogs I mentioned? You can find them (and a slippers version) at Dutch Mothers Restaurant, which also has a gift shop.

Lynden, Shopping, Dutch, Clogs, Windmills

Clockwise from upper left: another Lynden windmill, Dutch clog slippers, Dutch painted clogs and “Village News”

Lynden also has a lovely women’s clothing boutique, called Cheeks (very cheeky). The shop features designer jean brands like 7 For All Mankind, Rock Revival and Big Star. There are plenty of cute tops, sweaters, jackets and dresses, too, along with jewelry and accessories.

Lynden, Shopping, Cheeks, Boutique, Women's Clothing, Jeans

And for an interesting product mix, Wear on Earth is a men’s and women’s consignment shop in the front of the building and yarn shop in the back. I nearly got lost wandering through the displays of colorful yarn, including hand-dyed merino, peruvian highland wool, hemp wool, wool-acrylic blends, silks and cottons in all weights, textures and colors imaginable. Mirasol, Malbrego, Spud and Chloe, Cascade, Blue Sky Alpaca, MadelineTosh, Sassy Skeins and lots more brands are scattered throughout the store, along with a huge selection of needles.

Lynden, Shopping, Yarn Store,

Other Lynden retailers include Second Shot Sports, Blossoms Floral, Katz Used Books, Gypsy Girl Clothing and Cattlelac Cowgirl. If you get tired (what??) of shopping, get a pedicure or haircut at Mane Styles Salon and Spa!

Upcoming Lynden events: http://business.lynden.org/events

 

 

For more Insider Shopping tips by Teresa, click here.

For other ideas about fun things to do in Bellingham and Whatcom County, visit our home page.

Bellingham, Whatcom County Beaches are Beckoning

August 18th, 2014 by Loni Rahm

I love the beach. Pretty much any beach in any kind of weather. But I especially like salt water beaches in the summer.

Luckily for me and thousands of other like-minded people, Whatcom County has lots of delightful beaches to choose from. In fact, Whatcom County boasts over 130 miles of meandering marine shoreline…dotted with public parks and beaches, campgrounds, trails, and piers.

Although the beaches and bays have distinct personalities, they share a common lineage: they are all part of the Salish Sea. This intricate network of coastal waterways, shared by the United States and Canada, is one of the world’s largest and most biologically rich inland seas.

Entire guidebooks have been devoted to the diversity of these shorelines. And after nearly 4 decades of exploring them myself, I realize I’ve barely begun to understand and appreciate the natural science lab and culinary bounty sitting just steps away.

So I will limit myself to a brief overview of some of my favorites and encourage you to share stories and pictures on our Facebook page: Bellingham Experience, and through our photo contests on bellingham.org.

• Like points on a compass, Point Roberts is anchored in all four corners by parks, including the recently improved Lily Point Marine Reserve offering dramatic vistas from a bluff top towering above the cobble beach. Lighthouse Marine Park, Maple Beach and Monument Park round out the Point’s park quartet.

• Semiahmoo Spit offers arguably the best water and mountain views in the county – with a perspective that starts with sunrise over Mt. Baker and concludes as the sun quenches its thirst on the western horizon. Often overlooked, and worth a stop, is the APA Museum – a historical look at the Alaska Packers Association – open Fri-Sun afternoons, June thru September.

• Drayton Harbor, between Blaine and Semiahmoo, is one of the premier coastal birding sites in Washington. Armed with a bird book and binoculars (or just the naked eye) you can easily spot dozens of resident bird species as well as those “vacationing” along their migratory trail.

• I love sloshing through warm, shallow water in search of pretty rocks and shells. So it’s no surprise I’ve been smitten with Birch Bay since I was a toddler. I especially love the sand castle competition and low, low, low tides when I feel like I can walk a mile and still be wet barely above my knees.

Birch Bay

Birch Bay

• Point Whitehorn Marine Park is a new discovery for me. After following a fully accessible trail through ferns and lush trees, one arrives at a spectacular dilemma: lounge in comfort and stare at the expanse of water in front of you? Or take the switchback trail to the beach. I choose both.

Lummi Island

Lummi Island

• Lummi Island has limited public beach access, but I’ve discovered a fabulous way to experience (at least temporarily) the well-documented health benefits of island life is by renting a room or house with a private beach or by accessing one of the mostly DNR water-accessible sites around the island.

Bellingham Bay at Boulevard Park

Bellingham Bay at Boulevard Park

• Bellingham Bay: Wow! Where to start? So much waterfront surrounded by so many great food and beverage stops along the way. I’ve walked and enjoyed every inch of trail and pathway from Squalicum Harbor to Marine Park in Fairhaven (and beyond). I encourage you to do the same.

• I find the entire Chuckanut Drive beach access fascinating…but the winner of this stretch of beach must be Larrabee, the first designated State Park in Washington (est 1915). I love tidepools. They offer a fascinating microcosm of sea life in a cup or two of water. I’m also awed by the honeycomb, otherworld look of the rocks. As an adult, I’ve learned some of the stratigraphic detail of their geology. And that the Chuckanut Mountains are the only place where a finger of the Cascade Mountains “kiss” the sea.

Gotta go. The sun is out, and somewhere, there’s a beach in Whatcom County calling my name.

Medical vs. Recreational Marijuana

August 18th, 2014 by Jackie Sentenne Pettit

Legal retail sales of marijuana in Whatcom County, Washington brings to light the historic use of marijuana for many medical conditions.

Ancient Image of CannabisOld Cannabis medicine bottle

Medical marijuana has been legal in Washington State since November 3, 1998 when 59% of voters approved I-692, the Washington State Medical Use of Marijuana Act.

However, the medical attributes of cannabis remain primarily unknown to the general public. Most people associate marijuana with it’s psychoactive effects and its Schedule 1 classification (along with heroin) by the U.S. Federal Government.

Although schedule 1 classification states that marijuana “offers no known medical benefit,” the U.S. Government also owns Patent 6603507 issued October 7, 2003 on cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants. Scientists from the Department of Health and Human Resources state in that patent application that “cannabinoids found within the cannabis sativa plant are useful in certain neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and HIV dementia.”

There has been a growing frustration among those seeking medical treatment for chronic and deadly diseases that cannabis is purported to help and/or cure. Studies continue to show that cannabis eliminates cancer cells by activating the body’s own cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids.

How do cannabinoids (CBD), used in medical treatment, differ from delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), primarily responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis?

The National Cancer Institute says “cannabidiol, “may relieve pain and lower inflammation without causing the “high” of delta-9-THC”.

Marijuana sold in licensed retail outlets generally has elevated levels of THC. Medical strains of cannabis are now being “reverse-engineered” to be higher in cannabinoids. In strains engineered to be high in THC for its psychoactive effects, one would normally see labels with upwards of 10% THC and less than .05% total cannabinoids. New strains becoming available now with .05% TCH and 10%+ of CBD totals.

Label high in CBD

The human body has its own “endogenous cannabinoid system,” a group of compounds and receptors that are involved in a variety of physiological phenomena including appetite, pain sensation, mood and memory.

Nothing in the natural world produces cannabinoid compounds in such abundance and variety as the cannabis plant. At the present time, there are three general types of  cannabinoids:

  • phytocannabinoids” occur naturally, uniquely in the cannabis plant;
  • endogenous cannabinoids” are naturally produced in the bodies of humans and other animals;
  • and ”synthetic cannabinoids” are similar compounds produced in laboratories at great expense.

Cannabis bud

Many preclinical studies of cannabinoids have been conducted and may be found on the website for The National Cancer Institute. Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.

Some of the most encouraging studies of mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow. Another study in mice shows cannabinoids may protect against inflammation of the colon, potentially reducing the risk of colon cancer. Laboratory studies of delta-9-THC showed it damaged or killed liver cancer cells, as well as showing these effects in non-small cell lung cancer, breast cancer and may make chemotherapy more effective and increase cancer cell death without harming normal cells.

Additional studies are listed on The National Cancer Institute website for pain relief, anti-inflammatory effects and as a chemotherapy appetite stimulant.

The use of CBDs for treatment of epilepsy is receiving much attention, especially for the treatment of minors who are more susceptible to violent, long lasting seizures. While studies are on the increase, parents have flocked to Colorado where some doctors approve medical prescriptions for the use of medical, high CBD/low THC, marijuana, which has been used effectively to treat epilepsy and other forms of seizures. There have been many reports of children and adults who have gone from 50+ seizures daily to 3 per month.

On December 11, 2013, London GW Pharmaceuticals announced a U.S. Patent Allowance for use of Cannabinoids in Treating Glioma. Glioma describes any tumor that arises from the glial tissue of the brain. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, GBM accounts for approximately 46% of the 22,500 new cases of brain cancer diagnosed in the United States each year. Currently, treatment options are limited and expected survival is a little over one year.

GW Pharmaceuticals commercialized the world’s first plant-derived cannabinoid prescription drug, Sativex®, which is approved for the treatment of spasticity due to multiple sclerosis in 23 countries. There are currently 222 press releases from GW Pharmaceutics of London regarding medical research on cannabinoids and Δ9-THC. “GW has established the Cannabinoid Research Institute as a distinct division within the company in order to consolidate GW’s position as a world leader in cannabinoid science.”

According to PATENTSCOPE: Search International and National Patent Collections, more than half of the over 600 cannabis-related patents registered with the United Nations’ global intellectual property agency belong to Chinese companies.

Due to the tight restrictions in the U.S. by the FDA and DEA, clinical trials of the effects of cannabis remain very limited. There have been bipartisan efforts to delist marijuana as a Schedule 1 or 2 drug in order to allow research of the potential medical benefits, for humanitarian reasons and to allow the U.S. to compete in the global clinical trials to discover any medical benefits of cannabis.

None of the above should be considered medical, legal, or political advice, but is instead offered to provide information and address rising issues in the Bellingham and Whatcom County Tourism industry related to Initiative 502.

Launch your Paddle Adventure from Wildcat Cove at Larrabee State Park

August 11th, 2014 by Todd Elsworth

Wildcat Cove is conveniently located at Larrabee State Park, six miles south of Bellingham on scenic Chuckanut Drive. This is my favorite public boat launch, whether it’s for an overnight excursion or a day trip up and down the coast in Bellingham Bay. From the protected inlet I chose to go north to Governors Point and beyond into Chuckanut Bay and Clark’s Point for a leisurely day trip.

LarrabeeKayaking

Along the shoreline, the Chuckanut Sandstone features are sculpted by the wind and water to form interesting pockets along the cliffs. The surface is like a finishing sandpaper you’d use on a special project- smooth yet gritty in its own right. The sheer cliffs drop straight into the water and host marine life below the sea’s surface. Sea Stars (aka Starfish), urchins, anemone and colorful plant life are visible from a kayak or canoe.

ChuckanutSandstone

There are a few spots along the shore where you can get out of your boat and stretch your legs, have a snack and watch as others paddle past. I found a spot to lounge and enjoyed the views of Anacortes to the southwest with the tankers in the background. On the horizon in my viewscape I could see the islands of Fidalgo, Guemes, Sinclair, Vendovi, Lummi as they appear to be floating on the horizon.

LarrabeeKayakingNorth

We’ve had some magical days (and nights) with our beautiful weather this summer. This was one of those days. The sun was beaming down and the air was still- which leads to calm water and the best paddling conditions. It showed in the numbers of people on the water. Experienced solo sea-kayakers, novices in tandems, couples in canoes and photographers in stable inflatables were OUT THERE on this epic day.

LarrabeeCanoeing

The still air enables conversations of the crew of passing vessels to skip across the water with ease. The occasional breaking of a wave from a boat wake or the call of a gull complemented the chatter of people out having a great time. The coastline is rugged and when you’re skirting the shore, you feel like you’re much further from civilization than reality.

LarrabeeTandemKayaking

There’s a time to paddle and there’s a time to take pictures. Being in a boat does provide many impromptu opportunities for getting the shot. In a small boat, you often unexpectedly see wildlife up close (see Eating Eagles) and must be ready to shoot (your camera) to capture them in their natural setting. Sometimes, the wildlife is just used to having people around and enjoy posing for a shot of their best side.

LarrabeeBirdPhotography

These Black Oystercatchers were enjoying the paparazzi . In preparation for this story, I wanted to confirm the appropriate name of these Halloween-colored creatures. The confirmation came from naturalist Saul Weisberg, Executive Director of North Cascades Institute, who added his professional insight as to the value in their name, “Doesn’t take much skill to sneak up on an oyster. Or a mussel or a limpet or snail. All good with garlic butter and white wine.” (via facebook)

LarrabeeOystercatcher

As I rounded this last turn, the sight of campers and visitors to the beach at Larrabee were a warm welcome home. Families scattered along the sandstone cliffs and across the small beach waved as the day came to a close. The boat launch was still busy with activity, even in the evening, as a father-and-son team headed out in their canoe to drop a freshly baited crab pot. It’s your adventure and this is a great place to start.

Larrabee

What’s New at Bellis Fair Mall? H&M and Lots More

August 11th, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

“Let’s go to the mall!” As a teen, this phrase ranked high among my favorites. I don’t hear it nearly as often as back then, when we had hours and hours to kill on a Saturday. These days, most of us have lots to do and little time to do it in—that’s why you need to know what’s going on at Bellis Fair in Bellingham.

Bellis Fair Mall, Bellingham, Forever 21, H&M, Macy's, Chipotle, Buffalo Wild Wings, Food Court

New Store: H&M

H&M is here! Surely, you’ve heard that H&M opened in Bellis Fair a few months ago. If not, let me fill you in: H&M is trendy. H&M is fashion. H&M is inexpensively fabulous and it’s now in Bellingham! Whether you’re looking for women’s, men’s or children’s clothing, when you want something a little different, you can find all the cute at H&M.

H&MH&M carries lots of denim, outerwear, dressy separates, shoes, accessories, jewelry, bags, belts‒you name it. It’s nowhere near high-end couture, so it’s all at very reasonable prices. Bottom line: everybody loves H&M and everybody’s happy they don’t have to drive to Seattle to shop at one.

In the shoe department, DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse) is going to be opening in the first quarter of 2015. Shoes, shoes, shoes!

Newish additions to Bellis Fair include Forever 21 and Sports Authority. Forever 21 is a teenager’s (and those who can fit into their clothes) dream store, with on-trend clothes at great prices. Sports Authority carries apparel, shoes, equipment and accessories for field, track, water and gym sports. The store is huge, the selection is broad.

Motherhood Maternity, Christopher and Banks and Instinct all moved into bright new spaces, and Lane Bryant is completely revamped with a smaller footprint and the company’s new prototype layout. It’s modern, clean and easy to shop in. Kitchen Collection also relocated and remodeled, and Ben Bridge is revamping its store to include a new, bigger Pandora section.

Yes, the anchors are still doing their jobs, holding down the corners. Macy’s, Target, Kohl’s and JC Penney have you more than covered, whether you need bath towels, blue jeans or a bag of oranges. Branch out to Aeropostale, Hollister, Abercombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Gap and Old Navy for tons more clothing choices.

Bellis Fair Mall, Bellingham, Starbuck's, Food Court

Next Up: Food

Chipotle_Mexican_GrillThe big Bellis Fair Food news is that Chipotle and Buffalo Wild Wings will soon be opening. Chipotle serves Mexican food and is known for its commitment to family farmers and green building practices (they must love the green, since they use 97,000 avocados every day!).

 

 

BWW

Buffalo Wild Wings (or B-Dubs) is known for wings, beer and sports. Lots of people are super excited about both of these new dining options at Bellis Fair.

 

In other food news, Villa Pizza is opening soon, along with Big Orange, which serves bubble tea, among other offerings. Additional food court restaurants include Habanero Factory, Ivar’s, Kojo of Japan and Starbuck’s. Boston’s Restaurant and Sports Bar and Red Robin still welcome diners outside the mall.

Bellis Fair Mall, Bellingham, Forever 21, H&M, Macy's, Chipotle, Buffalo Wild Wings, Food Court

Bellis Fair has been revamped inside and out, with northwest-inspired beams and stonework, along with giant entertainment screens to keep non-shoppers occupied (if the massage chairs aren’t doing the trick). Kids can have a blast in the play area or take a ride on the choo-choo train. Fun!

Bellis Fair     One Bellis Fair Parkway      Bellingham, Washington 98226
360-671-5654

Monday ‒ Saturday 10:00 a.m.‒9:00 p.m. Sunday 11:00 a.m.‒6:00 p.m.
Bellis Fair on Facebook

“Roughing It” at North Cascades Environmental Learning Center

August 4th, 2014 by Todd Elsworth

Hidden high in the North Cascades National Park, southeast of Bellingham, you’ll find that the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center offers the best base camp for families and individuals who want the ultimate outdoors experience. The Environmental Learning Center provides direct access to nature, resources to learn about your surroundings, comfortable accommodations and incredible locally-sourced, fresh food.

As a Boy Scout, we called this approach Cadillac Camping. Today, the trend has grown to be known as Glamping – (aka, luxury camping). But this place is different. Go to Experience & LEARN! For a tour watch the NCI Environmental Learning Center Slideshow.

NCIaerial

Photo credit: North Cascades Institute

“The Learning Center is a hub of discovery for all ages in one of the wildest, most biologically diverse landscapes in North America. Here you can explore cascading streams and pristine peaks, wildflower meadows and old-growth forests, and a rich Northwest history that includes more than 8,000 years of Native American culture. Better still, you can join a community – expert teachers, intriguing new friends – dedicated to the idea that learning together inspires stewardship.” The Institute was ahead of the times when it built this facility, which extends its mission of connecting nature, people and community.

My daughter Violet (age 6) and I headed up for a long July weekend (never long enough) to join others for a Family Getaway Weekend. We arrived on Friday for a quick check in and were provided with a schedule of events to choose from that spanned from Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon. Three days of fun were on our horizon, with complete strangers as our companions for the journey.

NCIELC

Photo credit: North Cascades Institute

I have been to the ELC several times since it opened on the first day in 2005; I have been there for an intimate wedding; I have been there for a writers workshop; I have been there- but I know that I have so much more to see, learn and share.

After we checked in, we headed down through the amphitheater to the dining hall. We sat down with plates full of fresh goodness from the Skagit Valley. The produce and meat is grown on the farms we drove past en route on Highway 20. The bread, cheese and other elements of what we’d eat over the next 3 days were also sourced from down valley. Even better- the chefs and dishwashers (actual people) make it all appear and disappear for you so you can focus on having the time of your life during your stay.

NCIfood

The schedule of events provided for the Family Getaway was comprehensive, with variety for kids and adults to each enjoy the experience at hand. I put on my professional “conference going hat”- picking and choosing which “sessions” would be of the most interest and value for me and mini-me.

There were group events to get us going before we’d launch into our selected sessions.

1:30 – 2:30 Orientation and Icebreaker games: in the Amphitheatre

2:30 – 4:00 Neighborhood Walks

4:00 – 5:00 Family Time – which also coincided with Activity Sign up time!

I read aloud for Violet the first session to choose from at 5:00 pm, “*Fairy Houses with Brooke. Meet in the Lily Shelter”. Followed quickly by, “Are you kidding me, Violet, they put this together just for you!” While we have experience looking for Fairy Houses in the wilderness on our own- she had never attended a class taught by staff of the Institute, “This is very special,” I explained. “I’ll read the description, Violet. Fairy Houses: What makes the North Cascades such a great place for fairies? Where might they settle down and raise their little ones? Learn the basics of fairy home construction with Brooke! All ages welcome to be dropped off!”

The sessions with an asterisk meant that you can leave your kids there with the staff while you do something for yourself while your kids get to make some new friends. When I pitched the dropped off aspect to Violet, she quickly chose the option of being there without the dad. Win-Win! We worked on eating our lunch as we reviewed the rest of the calendar ahead and plotted our course for the learning to come. Next up, ORIENTATION in the Amphitheatre.

NCIcircle

The group gathered and we all introduced ourselves, with the staff leading the way. As these budding Environmental Educators introduced themselves, it was evident the national draw that this place has for the cream of the crop. Our instructors hailed from Iowa, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Vermont and distant places around our great state of Washington. They helped break the ice by telling “ONE COOL FACT” about themselves. I could see what they were doing! We were next.

We had seen these strangers around the campus as we were getting our bearings and settling in, now we were about to share this place and ourselves for three days. As we introduced ourselves and shared our cool fact, we learned the geographic reach and points of interest of our new found friends. There were two families traveling together from Spain’s Canary Islands; two Grandparents scoping the place out for their annual family trip (with 25 kids & grand kids when they come back); a family of four from Florida, both parents Entomologists; college buddies who brought their families up from Seattle and San Francisco to get away; and more, each with their own story to share.

The icebreakers were fun and helped the shy shed their shells, a bit. We were paired up with our Neighborhood Walk tour guide and our new neighbors. Our first stop was back up the stairs to get a perspective on just where we were. Brooke, a marine science educator from Iowa, was our guide for the first leg of our trip. I love maps and this one is one of the best- it looks as if it’s 3-D when you’re standing in front of it, staring at the tops of peaks and down into the carved river valleys.

NCIBrooke

It was pretty evident that Violet has been outside before once we started our walk around the neighborhood. Once on the trail, Brooke was relegated to second in command as far as the guide went. “Come on! Follow me,” Violet would shout as we strolled up the trail soaking in the serenity with our new camp buddies. We were all intrigued with the moss and lichen. Reaching down to touch it, feeling the difference between the two and sharing what we knew about each and exposing what we didn’t know- to help guide our learning in the extensive library on campus.

The Wild Ginger Library is open 24 hours. After our tour, we went to the library and looked up the lichen we’d seen in the best resource for NW plant identification: Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. The authors, Pojar and MacKinnon, had identified and cataloged the lichen that we’d been admiring and we proceeded to learn the types we saw were called Lettuce Lung and Pimpled Kidney.

NCItrail

On our Neighborhood Walk, we were led to the base of Sourdough Creek. The flow of the glacial melt created complimentary sounds to accompany the wind rushing through the branches in the forest canopy. We followed the babbling brook down to the outflow into Diablo Lake, where we kicked off our shoes and dipped our toes in the frigid, turquoise water.

NCISourdough

Next up, 6:00 pm – Coffee Time on the Porch & Fairy Houses – for me and The V, respectfully. I enjoyed sitting on the deck of the Dining Hall, listening to Oliver give us some of the cool stats of the place. He talked about the dams that JD Ross planned and built way back in the 1920′s. He spoke about the unique relationship that The Institute has with Seattle City Light and the National Forest Service. Oliver outlined the coolest stats in summary- 308 glaciers (with a glacier’s minimum acreage to cover 25 acres in order to qualify); #2 National Park for biodiversity; and other tidbits of historical knowledge that had been passed down through the written word or oral tradition during his stay here.

While I was busy listening to Oliver and the sidetracked conversations the group wandered through, Violet was busy building houses for fairies. I arrived to find her completely engaged in the design and build of her own Fairy House- she had found an appropriate location at the base of a cedar and the raw materials necessary to complete the task. Her new found friends were also on hand to help her meet her pressing deadline and she in turn joined them to help them complete their tiny houses.

NCIfairyhouses

We made our way to dinner and joined another family, the ones from Florida, to break bread and toast the day, “To the start of a great adventure.” We asked and answered the second round of icebreaker questions for one another as the kids hung out at the table, simply happy to be around other kids who like being OUT THERE.

With a packed agenda, we cleaned our tables and made our way up to the group presentation with Naturalists Max and Brooke- How to Bear It. The dynamic duo did a fantastic job of engaging kids and parents in learning about the resident bears. The interactive demo included volunteers from the audience acting out the seasons of the bear and the manners through which they approach survival.

This is nature’s classroom, a place to experience and enjoy, but best of all ask questions. We were all engaged with the instructors and each other to make the most of our time in this place.

NCIquestion

We passed on the evening hike (8-10 pm) to Ladder Creek Falls, so we could get our rest for a packed agenda the following day. We retired to one of the LEED Silver certified, European-style lodges and enjoyed the company of others for bed-time stories in the communal lounge.  The lodges provide “guest rooms and shared gender-specific bathrooms with private showers…offering private, double, triple and quad occupancy rooms.” NCI.

I awoke early to the sound of the pouring rain bouncing off the roofs, as it made its way to the gutters that channeled it down into various rain gardenesque capture points. While I enjoy the sound of the rain, the imminent morning activity was soon approaching- Big Canoe with Sam and Max. But first, breakfast! The eggs were not rubbery and the potatoes were not reheated out of a big plastic bag- we were livin’ large. This was not like any ‘conference’ I’d ever been to for ‘work’.

Geared up and ready to go, we joined others that were brave enough to embrace the elements and go get in a BIG CANOE! We gathered in the same circle, now smaller than we’d had the previous night- during our icebreaker routines. This time, we were learning how to dance with our paddles and work in unison. Commands called out and we’d respond appropriately. GO TEAM! We were ready.

With Sam at the stern (the back) and Max in the bow (the front) we headed out for adventure- and some learning along the way. Max explained how the glacial flour from the meltwater creates the brilliant color of the water. He told tall tales of long-lost gold mines that are now buried beneath the man-made lake.

NCIMax

We returned to our room and Violet hit the showers to warm her soggy body. She threw open the door as she returned and exclaimed, “Daddy, I really like this place. Can we come back next weekend?” We had just started our Family Getaway Experience and she was hooked. “Com’ere,” I quipped and gave her a big hug and iterated, “I’m glad to hear you like this place as much as I thought you would. And, yes, we’ll be back. Next year.”

Next up was lunch and we joined others to share our individual and collective stories with our new friends. We were fortunate to have lunch with Sam, from Massachusetts, who earlier shared that her dad is a race car driver (and that she has driven race cars, too). Sam offered to allow me to go on the Diablo East Stewardship Stroll with Emily while she put an imaginary asterisk next to the sessions that she’d be hosting- Kids in the Kitchen  and Nature Up Close: Exploring the World Through Microscopes. Violet became Sam and the staff’s protege for the day, while I was able to explore the place and the people with our own guide and friends.

Joining me on the walk, was my new friend Gerry- the Grandpa from Snohomish who was on recon for the rest of his family’s future trip (all 25!). We followed Emily into the woods and learned fun stuff along the we way. She introduced us to Indian-Pipe Monotropa uniflora (pictured below) that lacks chlorophyll and instead obtains nutrition from coniferous tree roots.

“In Straits Salish and Nlaka’pamux languages, the name for Indian-Pipe means “wolf’s urine’; it is associated with wolves and is said to grow wherever a wolf urinates…it is an indicator for wood mushrooms in the coming season.” Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast.

NCIindianpipe

The trail climbed up the slope and crossed washed out creeks. We reached our destination- meeting up on the trail with the kids who were out with the Youth Leadership Adventures Program. The Thunder 10, they introduced themselves as, and each answered a question they had posed to themselves. Their answers were deeply personal and each exposed themselves to the vulnerabilities that they were out to conquer.

The group had only been together for a couple of days, but the bonds of the team were strong. Their enthusiasm for the work and journey ahead was signaled by the support they showed for one another. Glenn and I engaged them in questions after their presentations and got a deeper glimpse into the psyche of these worldly kids, who intently chose to come to have this experience.

NCIGlenCrew

We had to say goodbye and head back to our families. As we did, Glenn remarked, “Those kids have no idea of what they are experiencing out there and how valuable these lessons are going to be to them in the future.” I agreed. It was amazing. We were moved.

NCIYouthLeadership

After our jaunt, I reconnected with Violet. Not surprised that she didn’t really “miss me” as she was plenty busy with new friends and activities. We hurried on to the next activity: *Forest Sneak. While it was one of those “OK to drop off kids at activity” sessions, I chose to join the group.

The instructors outlined a fun game to play (aka HIDE & SEEK) and the kids ran off and sought out the best place to blend into the surrounding landscape.

NCIhiding

On the surface, little kids were being told to scatter throughout the woods and hope that somebody would find them. The reality was that these kids were becoming comfortable alone in the surroundings of the natural world. To see a small girl cover her eyes and count to 20 without screaming for her parents was refreshing. I can only imagine what she saw when she lifted her hand from her face and began the search for her friends. I imagine she saw the world in a new light.

NCIkids

We all reconvened in the Dining Hall and sat down with our friends to share our evening meal. After dinner, we gathered around at the Lily Shelter for the evening program of Campfire, Skits, Songs and S’mores. The entertainment was excellent- Brooke playing guitar and the staff and audience singing classic camp songs. They even had their own variation of WILD THING! Parents putting on staff-directed skits to get the kids rolling in laughter when the big punch-line was delivered! Oh yea, and S’mores!!

Sunday morning offered many options to choose from: Big Canoe, Junior Ranger Exploration, Microhike and then a shared Closing Reflections and Slideshow. We chose the Junior Ranger Exploration with Ranger Emily, with the incentive that we’d graduate and be awarded our Jr. Ranger badges at the Closing Reflection- View our collective photos for the slideshow on Flicker.

We ended, as we began, EATING! Lunch was a busy time of saying goodbye to our new friends, exchanging contact information and preparing for our re-entry back into the real world below. It was time to leave this special place.

Now is the time to plan to return (or go for your first time). All you need to know can be found at The North Cascades Environmental Learning Center.

For more ideas about fun things to do throughout Bellingham visit our home page.

 

A German Beer Garden in the Heart of Bellingham

July 28th, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

Guten tag! That phrase, along with lager, dunkel, weisse and kolsch pretty much sums up my grasp of the German language. But now that Bellingham has a new German beer garden, I have a chance to expand my horizons—by learning the names of more German beers.

Schweinhaus Biergarten opened just a few weeks ago, in the heart of downtown Bellingham. It’s right across the street from the Copper Hog, which is convenient for owner Aaron Matson, since he also owns the Hog. When asked why he opened Schweinhaus, Aaron said that beer fans are seeking lighter brews, and he sees German beers as an upcoming trend. He wanted to give Bellingham beer lovers the opportunity to discover them.

Schweinhaus Biergarten, Bellingham, beer, garden, German, sausage, bratwurst

As you might guess, with a name like “Schweinhaus,” the emphasis is on more than beer. The little piggy on the sign is another clue that this place is a sausage lover’s dream. They offer a variety of wursts to satisfy meat lovers; on the day I visited, the list included currywurst, plain ol’ bratwurst, cheddarwurst, weisswurst and nurnberger.

I’m not sure what that last one even is, and as the resident vegetarian, I’m not sure I want to find out. And no, there were no veggie sausage options on the menu.  I didn’t even ask! Something told me that idea would be scoffed at, frowned upon or just considered blasphemy. After all, it is the Schweinhaus, not the shallot house. (Actually, staffers Andy and Kate were so nice, I’m sure they would not have scoffed at all. Maybe giggled.)

Schweinhaus Biergarten, Bellingham, beer, garden, German, sausage, bratwurst

Clockwise, from top left: perfect day in the beer garden; Andy works the wood-fired oven; a view from State Street; inside the oven

The sausages are sizzled in a wood-fired oven that’s somehow rigged up in the bed of a vintage International Harvester truck. Andy did the honors and delivered our food in a jif. My companion loved the bratwurst ; it was served with a side of potato salad and sauerkraut. I stuck to my gigantic, fresh-from-the-oven Ralf’s pretzel. I’m a big fan of Ralf’s, and Schweinhaus’s three types of mustard made it even better.

Schweinhaus Biergarten, Bellingham, beer, garden, German, sausage, bratwurst

With all this food talk, you might think I forgot about the beer. No way, Josef. Schweinhaus Biergarten’s taps are ready to refresh you with 12 lovely German-style beers that really hit the spot on a sunny day. They are served by the liter, the half-liter or a little .2-liter. For our first round, we tried Bitburger Pilsner and Firestone Pivo Pilsner. Both were perfectly refreshing, dry and crisp, but differed enough to keep things interesting. The second time around, we tried the Veltins Pilsner and the Maisel’s Weisse. This pils was more bitter, but not overwhelmingly so. The hefeweizen was a little sour with a pronounced banana and clove flavor.

The biergarten space is filled with all the necessary comforts like big, community-building tables and large umbrellas to protect our delicate PNW skin, along with large-screen TVs so nobody has to miss a game. And, there’s cornhole, because lawn games and beer just go together. Geraniums and flower baskets fancy things up a bit.

Schweinhaus Biergarten, Bellingham, beer, garden, German, sausage, bratwurst

On a blue-sky Sunday afternoon in Bellingham, beer should be enjoyed outside, and the more places we can do that, the better. Schweinhaus Biergarten gives us simple food done well, along with a different beer selection than you’ll find anywhere else—all in a convenient, walk-to downtown location. Plus, they’re almost always open. As the great-granddaughter of the proprietor of Schmidt Brothers Beer Garden, I’m happy to see Schweinhaus Biergarten arrive on the Bellingham beer scene! Check it out, and you’ll be happy, too.

 

Schweinhaus Biergarten, 1330 N. State Street, Bellingham, WA
(on the corner of State and Magnolia Streets)

Open 7 days a week, 11:00 a.m. – midnight(ish)

Schweinhaus Biergarten on Facebook

 

For more ideas about fun things to do throughout Bellingham visit our home page.

Anybody Would Love Everybody’s Store in Van Zandt

July 21st, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

What does Everybody’s Store carry? Everything. That’s right: everything—with an emphasis on local everything. Whether you need the makings for a date night (wine, cheese, crackers) or a new top to wear to said date night, or even the cookbook to teach you how to impress your date, you can find it at Everybody’s Store.
everybody's store, deming, variety store, whatcom county, shopping, deli, books

 

everybody's store, deming, variety store, whatcom county, shopping, deli, books

And where will you find this little store that sells a little bit of everything? East of Bellingham. Take the Mt. Baker Highway (WA State Route 542) to Route 9, and head south for just about a mile. It’s a quick side trip on your way to or from a hike at Mount Baker or Church Mountain, or pre- or après-tubing on the Nooksack River.

Everybody’s Store is a true Whatcom County treasure, established in 1903. That’s 111 years of continuous service, the past 44 of them under the present owners, Jeff and Amy Margolis.

everybody's store, deming, variety store, whatcom county, shopping, deli, books

I stopped in recently to check out the store and grab some food to take home. The staffers on duty were Colton and Max—two super-friendly, knowledgeable and helpful guys.

They introduced me to the 114-year-old cheese slicer, which is still used every day. Each of their many wonderful cheeses, salamis, deli meats and sausages are hand-sliced to order. They also helped me find some of the more unusual offerings, like prayer beads, harmonicas and canning jars. And, they told me about the company garden plot, which all of them keep growing strong, supplying the store with lovely peas, berries and other fresh organic produce.

everybody's store, deming, variety store, whatcom county, shopping, deli, books

Everybody’s Store is probably best-known for their amazing sandwiches. Choosing from eight breads, two dozen meats and cheeses and all the toppings you could ever want proved to be a tall order, but the guys were up for it. I like the Danish Swiss cheese with avocado, hummus, lettuce, sprouts and tomatoes on Sourdough Rosemary. OMG!

Need some beer or wine for your campsite? Of course you do! Everybody’s can fill your cooler with Kulshan Brewing’s 32 oz. pill bottles, or six packs and 22-ouncers of a nice variety of local and regional brews.

everybody's store, beer, wine, deming, variety store, whatcom county, shopping, deli, books

Their wine selection is very good, representing Washington state, Oregon and California as well as more far-flung varietals. And get this—if you buy three bottles of wine, you get 15% off each bottle. And that wine date package I mentioned? Buy a bottle of wine, some cheese and some crackers, and you get 15% off that, too.

How about some local honey, walnut preserves, herbs and spices, or kick-ass cornbread? OK!

everybody's store, deming, variety store, whatcom county, shopping, deli, books

everybody's store, deming, variety store, whatcom county, shopping, deli, books

And if you’re looking for entertainment for the kids, you can find it at Everybody’s Store. Kids love ice cream, so you can always find hand-dipped cones, pints of Acme ice cream and classic frozen treats here. And if you like the old-fashioned games and toys you remember from childhood, let them pick out a jump rope, tin whistle or harmonica for hours of make-your-own music and fun.

everybody's store, deming, variety store, whatcom county, shopping, deli, books

If you’re driving out Mount Baker Highway, make it a point to stop into Everybody’s Store. Soak up the quaint atmosphere, local products and friendly service that you don’t find just anywhere. Like the traveling New Zealander we ran into at the counter said, “I love this place! I’m so glad I stumbled upon it!” You will be, too. Anybody who’s anybody knows—and loves—Everybody’s Store!

everybody's store, deming, variety store, whatcom county, shopping, deli, books

Everybody’s Store, 5465 Potter Rd, Deming, Washington   360-592-2297

Hours: Monday – Saturday: 7:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Sunday: 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Everybody’s Store on Facebook

For more ideas about fun things to do throughout Whatcom County visit our home page.

Table Mountain – The Icing on the Cake

July 21st, 2014 by Todd Elsworth

At the end of The Mount Baker Highway (aka, East 542) from Bellingham, our hiking destination was the rewarding Table Mountain Trail. It is accessible from Artist Point in the summer months, and still enjoys some snow-pack when the road first opens in July – perfect for Hootin’ & Hollerin’ on a clear day.

Official descriptions say: “The dramatic andesite plateau of Table Mountain is one of the first mountains you see entering the Heather Meadows area. The hike starts at picturesque Artist Point, and after a short but steep traverse up the southeast face of Table Mountain, you emerge onto the plateau of the mountaintop. On a clear day take in fantastic views of Mt. Baker, Mt. Shuksan and other magnificent peaks in the North Cascades.” – UDSA Forest Service/Mount Baker Wilderness.

TableMountainINFOCenter

Since weather conditions vary, it is best to BE Prepared. We checked the forecast before we left home and stopped at points along the way to gather as much information as we could before entering the wilderness. We stopped at the Visitors Center in Glacier to talk with people in the parking lot and with the hosts inside about the status of the conditions “up there” to get a real-time update. It’s also just plain fun to talk to people- especially if they know stuff.

Our next stop was the Heather Meadows Visitor Center. First, we read the interpretive signs in the parking lot.  Freedom of the Hills was the title for this instructive piece that so many people seem to miss. It read “…This is a landscape of icy peaks and dark valleys, penetrated by only a few rough trails. When traveling into this mountainous realm prepare for risk and challenge. Trails are often steep and hard to follow…Few signs guide the way…Help keep the Wilderness primeval.” Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest sign at Heather Meadows. This tone confirmed the gravity of undertaking ahead.

My hiking partner, Al, especially wanted to check in to the center. His friend, Dean, is volunteering with the Forest Service for the summer. After quick introductions, we got to the task of gathering more data to answer our most pressing question- “Do we need our ice axes?”  We learned that we would be able to leave them in the car and that a boot pack trail would lead us to the switchbacks to the plateau of Table Mountain. Dean’s reminder to “Bring your poles though,” was sage advice.

ArtistPointMountBaker

After we checked in with the Park Ranger under the green Forest Service tent in the Artist Point parking lot, we headed up into the snow field with our elevated destination directly in front of us. Now, we just had to follow Dean’s additional advice, “Stay left. I went right and that was the wrong way.” The southern face of Table Mountain loomed large in front of us as wisps of clouds hung in the still, hot air.

TableMountainApproach

As we made our way up the trail, we came upon two young ladies who were drinking meltwater off of the side of the trail. They were outfitted in their shorts and running shoes and introduced themselves by saying, “Is this OK to drink? We don’t have any water. We didn’t even know we’d be doing this today!” Al interrupted and proceeded to explain to them the relative dangers of giardia with regards to drinking water in the wilderness. “Snow worries,” he summed it up for them. “Just scrape off the top and get the good stuff”. There’s a better lesson here- Bring WATER, ALWAYS!

Our new found dynamic duo explained that they were down visiting from Langley, British Columbia for the weekend. From a Southern British Columbia perspective, they have a much more comprehensive view of the mountain and surrounding ranges.  This was demonstrated by their admiration of Mount Baker, which exceeds the appreciation that many “Hamsters” have who live within an hour’s drive of its beauty. 

TableMountainRescue

After finding solace in Al’s scientific summary of the low risks in drinking the snow melt, they decided to follow us further up the trail. We would lead the way up the steep, snow covered slopes ahead- kicking in boot steps that make for a StairMasteresque work out. As we climbed, the heat of the July sun beat down on us from above and reflected upwards off of the white mountain scape. The deep blanket of snow covering the top of the immense precipice provided many routes to traverse the top.

The top of Table Mountain was quickly reached and as we paused to refresh ourselves we collectively decided to continue the journey of exploring Table Mountain together. Our route planning would include as many low angle drops as we could find. We were practicing our boot-skiing techniques at each opportunity- or “running shoes-skiing”, as the case was for our northern neighbors).

We introduced our new friends to our practice of Hootin’ & Hollerin’ as we made our way up and down the slippery slopes. We weren’t the only ones up there for kicks. We came upon a guy (pictured below) who was doing multiple laps, “hucking” himself off a cornice and “pointing ‘em” to go as fast as possible to the bottom of his run- we’d scream and yell like Seahawk Fans for his touchdowns and successful extra points- not “yardsaling”.

TableMountainSkierDrop

The sun cupped surface created small moonscape-like craters for us to slide across. We wanted to soak in the sights and get the perspectives of the variety of geologic examples of how the Cascades were formed. In addition to being a seasoned Mountain Man, Al is also a geologist and former teacher. He shared his perspective of what he sees in the mountain ranges, volcanoes, valleys and other features that have been created by the power of nature over millennium.

We admired Mount Shuksan (pictured below) and its immense hanging glacier. Complemented with the lower flank of Shuksan Arm extending across the landscape- displaying a variety of colored rocks on its’ steep slopes. From this vantage point we could look down to the Artist Point parking lot- where refreshing beverages awaited our return. Talk about incentive!

TableMountainMtShuksanView

We thought WE were prepared for the elements. Not the case. The summer sun (a record the following day) was beating down (and up) so hard that it was making it hard for our trusty guide, Al, to see. His sunglasses weren’t quite up to the task- letting in the dangerous UV rays, putting him on a path to temporary blindness. To remedy the situation, he pulled out a spare t-shirt and covered his head to help block the sun’s penetrating rays. He hiked head down, eyes closed, for a while- until he recovered.

TableMountainMtBakerView

The descent was ahead of us, but not before some more Hootin’ & Hollerin’ on the way down. The inclines we sought out got longer and steeper as we enjoyed sliding on our feet (and derrières) to make our way back. Descending the switchbacks we were afforded skybox seats to watch others climb and hurl themselves down the final steep slope. We watched from above as three guys hustled their way up slope to turn around and slide down on their imaginary sleds.

TableMountainClimb

Then, it was our turn to Hoot & Holler! We’d climb up slope, pause and catch our breath and head down slope- doing our best to link our turns. We each showed off our own style, with one thing in common- noise making. Yep, we’re screamers and proud of it!

TableMountainSkiers

As our Canadian companions descended the last slope, one reflected on how she realized that she’d been Hootin’ & Hollerin’ all the way down.  She iterated that this display of exuberance is an invigorating approach- to life and living, I inferred.

TableMountainJUMP

Table Mountain provides a panorama of views as you walk across it’s wide expanse. The snow cover that we were afforded and the new friends we made along the way were the icing on the cake of the mountain of happiness we encountered.

You might not have as much fun as we did, but you should at least try. See you OUT THERE!

For Reference:

Directions: From Glacier, travel east to the end of Mt. Baker Highway SR 542. It is approximately 24 miles from the Glacier Public Service Center to the Artist Point parking lot. The trail is accessed from the western side of the parking lot, opposite the bathrooms.

Maps:
• Green Trails: Mt. Shusksan #14
• USGS: Shuksan Arm
• USFS: Mt. Baker Ranger District and Mt. Baker Wilderness

Parking: Over 200 parking spaces, including spaces for RVs and buses.

Glossary:
Hootin’ & Hollerin’ = screaming and shouting phrases like, “YEEHAW” “Woohoo” “Make it happen, Captain” “That’s what I’m talking ’bout” and more…

hucking it= jumping off something crazy. This is not to be confused with sticking it, which is a reference to a successful landing.

pointing ‘em= not turning to gain as much speed as possible for sheer thrills.

yardsaling= a bad crash that ends with your equipment splayed across the landscape

For more ideas about fun things to do in Bellingham and near Mt. Baker visit our home page.

Family camping fun at Baker Lake

July 21st, 2014 by Hilary Parker
Baker Lake

The beauty of Baker Lake isn’t lost on the kids as they pause a moment to soak it in as they soak their feet in the lake.

Our family, along with a few others, started a tradition four or five years ago camping at Baker Lake. It’s become a treasured part of summer vacation.

The beauty of camping with a group of friends is that there’s always someone for the kids to play with, someone to share cooking duty (each family gets a meal to prepare), other parents around to help supervise the little ones, and there’s extra dads to tell tall tales around the campfire.

Located within the Mount Baker National Recreation Area, Baker Lake is nine miles of green-blue water surrounded by tree-covered hills. Of course, there’s a breathtaking view of Mount Baker itself, seen from the “opposite” side than the traditional view we see from Bellingham.

Baker Lake

It’s a short, inviting walk to Baker Lake from most of the Horseshoe Cove campsites.

Several campsites dot the west side of the lake; we stay at the Horseshoe Cove campground near the southern end of the lake. The campground has three coveted group campsites, two double sites, plus 33 more tent/trailer sites, all within walking distance of the lake. Horseshoe Cove also offers day-use access to the beach as well as a boat launch.

The trip is about a 90-minute drive from Bellingham, and makes for an easy weekend escape, and is even a doable day trip. To reach the lake, you travel south into Skagit County (I like Highway 9), then head east on Highway 20 before turning north into the recreation area and back into Whatcom County.

Near the campground are a number of day hikes suitable for the family (as short as 1 and 3 miles roundtrip). These hikes, combined with just about any kind of fun you can dream up on the lake – swimming, boating, fishing – should be enough to keep kids from uttering that oft-repeated summertime phrase “I’m bored.”

Be aware that Horseshoe Cove is an especially popular campground, so it’s wise to reserve early. While most campsites can be reserved, a few cannot, so you can show up day-of to nab a spot.

For more information on the Horseshoe Cove campground, visit fs.usda.gov/recarea/mbs/recreation/recarea/?recid=17636&actid=29

Headed further east?

Driving further east along Highway 20, the road continues to wind its way through both Whatcom and Skagit counties. Within Whatcom County’s borders are two stops that are a must if you’re taking a scenic drive or traveling further over the mountains to Winthrop and beyond.

North Cascades National Park Visitor Center – Shortly before reaching Newhalem, the North Cascades National Park Visitor Center is an excellent place for a stretch break with modern amenities. (By this I mean flushing toilets and running water. For those who find pit toilets intimidating, this stop is a must before heading over the mountains.) The Visitor Center is a beautiful lodge-like structure with fun, interactive interpretive exhibits that the kids will enjoy exploring. Who could resist a larger-than-life stuffed banana slug? Short, well-groomed trails are ideal for kids to who need to get their wiggles out. nps.gov/noca/planyourvisit/visitorcenters.htm

Ross LakeThe North Cascades Institute Learning Center is located on Diablo Lake, home to classes for adults, youths and families. ncascades.org. Local tour companies do have boat tours, but even a short excursion driving over the dam to get up close to that beautiful water is worth the stop.

The vibrant glacier-fed, blue-green waters of Ross Lake also beckon drivers to stop and marvel its beauty.

For more ideas about fun things to do throughout Whatcom County visit our home page.

Whatcom Wine and Spirits Fest on July 20: a Perfect Summer Afternoon

July 14th, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

I can think of only one thing that could improve a sunny summer day in Whatcom County, spent with friends within view of magical Mount Baker: locally crafted wine and spirits. (Okay, technically that’s two things.)

The best place to indulge in all of the above is the 2nd Annual Whatcom Wine and Spirits Fest. Not only does this super fun event take place in the great outdoors—namely the scenic orchards of BelleWood Acres—but it also brings together local winemakers and distillers, plus some amazing chefs, for one of the most enjoyable afternoons you can imagine!

Whatcom Wine and Spirits Fest, Whatcom County, Wine, Distilleries, Event, July 20, BelleWood Acres, Wineries

I was at last year’s inaugural event and will see you there for Round Two on Sunday, July 20. Nine local wineries and two distilleries will provide tastings, and the chefs from Haggen and Silver Reef Spa and Steak House will tempt us with lovely food samplings. And oh, yes—we’ll get to try samples of the beyond-delectable truffles made by Evolve Chocolate Truffles. (Fair warning: if you want some, you’d better get there ahead of me.) Live entertainment by a few homegrown musical groups will complete the laid-back ambiance.

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The Wine and Spirits

Since I’m not fond of the “wait and see” approach, I spoke with a few participants to get the lowdown on what they’ll have for us to sample:

Dynasty Cellars: Winemaker Peter Osvaldik told me they thoroughly enjoyed last year’s very-well-attended event. This year, they hope to see even more wine lovers indulge in Dynasty’s line up of dry and sweet Rieslings, a Rosé and a surprise red.

Legoe Bay Winery: I’ve added Legoe Bay from Lummi Island to my list of wineries to visit. I’m looking forward to meeting winemaker Larry Smith, whose un-oaked Chardonnay won a silver medal in this year’s Seattle Wine Awards. Legoe Bay will be pouring their Chardonnay, Viognier, Viognier Dulce, Syrah and Reefnet Red.

Inyo Vineyard and Winery: Winemaker Charles Terranova is looking forward to meeting wine lovers from near and far (especially everyone who learned all about him and his wine in my recent article). He’s also excited about the delicious food that Haggen and Silver Reef will be offering (as am I!). Charles will be pouring his 2008 Sangiovese Barbera, 2008 Syrah Mouvedre, Sognatore Toscano and 2011 Dry Riesling.

GLM Wine Co.: Tracey DeGraff says, “The best thing about this event is that you can visit each winery and distillery in one place . . . otherwise impossible to do in an afternoon! You will also be meeting the actual winemakers and distillers as you taste their wonderful wines and spirits, this doesn’t happen very often anymore.” GLM will be pouring their 2011 Kolk RosĂ©, 2011 La Robe Chardonnay, 2011 Gamay Noir and 2008 Deluge Reserve.

Vartanyan Estate Winery: Margarita Vartanyan is looking forward to a bigger and better event this year. She’ll be sharing her 2013 Sweet Riesling, her 2012 barrel fermented and barrel aged Chardonnay (10 months in new American barrels), a 2007 Melange Bordeaux-style blend and her newly released 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon 2012.

BelleWood Distilling: The hosts with the most, Dorie and John Belisle are thrilled to again have the opportunity to welcome the community to their beautiful farm, and introduce everyone to our local wine and spirits makers. It’s all about community, supporting local farms and businesses, and celebrating what makes Whatcom County unique. “We invite everyone to come out and meet your neighbors who are creating great wine and spirits,” said Dorie. “Come have a great afternoon on the farm!”

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BelleWood will be offering samples of their award-winning raspberry-infused vodka, Honeycrisp Vodka, Eau de Vie and gin, all made from apples grown right on their farm.

The Food

Chef Tom from Silver Reef Hotel Casino Spa and Steak House is preparing San Juan Spot Prawn and Dungeness Crab Cocktail with Summer Fruits, Organic Greens and a Basil Vinaigrette, while Haggen’s Corporate Executive Chef, James Valentine, will be offering a bruschetta, chicken Caesar salad and specialty cheeses. Last year, Haggen’s house-made mozzarella was a BIG hit!

Oh, and the BelleWood Farm Bistro has plenty of full meal options, too.

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The Venue

While BelleWood Acres is definitely a family-friendly place to bring the kids, this event is for the 21-and-over crowd. (Maybe you moms and dads can tag-team it with the kids so at least one of you can enjoy the wine and spirits tasting!)

The Best Part

All the wine and spirits you’ll taste will be available for sale at special prices. Plus, it’s tax-free. Plus, you’ll get a special 10% discount on case purchases! That’s like double the savings, right?

The Details

Whatcom Wine and Spirits Fest is a fundraiser for Sustainable Connections Food and Farm program. Bring some cash for raffle tickets: there will be drawings for awesome prizes (like wine and spirits!). Check out the event page for more details and to buy your tickets at a reduced price. $25 now, $32 at the door. Each ticket gets you food samples from Haggen and Silver Reef, plus eight wine/spirits tastings.

I will see you there!

BelleWood Acres, 6140 Guide Meridian, Lynden, WA 98264

For more ideas about fun things to do in Bellingham and Whatcom County visit our home page.

Beautify Your Surroundings with Garden Art in Bellingham

July 8th, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

Every summer, I try to do at least one garden tour in Whatcom County. Traipsing through the gardens that reflect both artistic talent and green thumbs, I feel inspired – and more than a little envious.

Most of these living canvasses of master gardeners/artists feature more than just plants. Tucked between the shrubs and trees, or at the end of a path, they’ll place a piece of garden art that draws the eye or makes a statement. We can all learn from the masters and add art to our own gardens to punch up the color or create the perfect focal point.

Whatcom County gardeners are lucky to have several outlets for art to beautify outdoor spaces, whether your style is classic, modern or whimsical. Let’s take a tour of Bellingham garden art shops, just in time for the Whatcom Horticultural Society’s 28th annual Tour of Private Gardens, taking place July 12 – 13. Learn more about the tour here.

In Fairhaven: A Lot of Flowers and The Garden Room

The first stop on our tour is Fairhaven, where A Lot of Flowers and The Garden Room sit across the street from each other on Harris Street. These two businesses offer a variety of garden art.

A Lot of Flowers occupies a space adjacent to the Village Green, across the walkway from Jalepeños and one door down from Fat Pie Pizza. The shop’s courtyard entrance resembles an outdoor room, and features an all-weather rug, hand-crafted furniture and lots of plants.

A Lot of Flowers, Fairhaven, Statuary, Garden Art

Inside, you’ll find cut flowers and arrangements, signs and gifts, and the start of the garden art.

A Lot of Flowers, Fairhaven, Statuary, Garden Art

Though the door to the small gravel-floored outdoor space, there is even more. Buddhas and bunnies share space with turtles, roosters and woodland fairies. Willow branch benches and shelves are filled with still more flowers, plants, statues and figurines.

A Lot of Flowers, Fairhaven, Statuary, Garden Art

Owned by landscape designers, The Garden Room combines garden tools, books and art with interior décor and gifts.

The Garden Room, Fairhaven, Statuary, Garden Art

If you’re into adorable animals, you’ll find plenty: frost-proof stoneware pigeons, pigs, bunnies, doves and owls can be found relaxing on the stairs, tucked under plants and gracing shelves all around the shop.

Classic details and shapes abound in a wide assortment of planters and brass watering cans.

The Garden Room, Fairhaven, Statuary, Garden Art

South of Fairhaven: Chuckanut Bay Gallery and Gifts

Chuckanut Bay Gallery and Gifts is just south of Fairhaven at the start of Chuckanut Drive, our designated Scenic Byway. It’s well worth a stop at Chuckanut Gallery to wander through the amazing garden with an espresso.

Chuckanut Gallery, Chuckanut Drive, Garden Art

Here, you’ll find larger garden sculptures and structures displayed among the well-established beds of hosta, sedum, grasses and trees. Colorful glass art and metal garden stakes are sprinkled here and there.

Chuckanut Gallery, Chuckanut Drive, Garden Art

On the deck, you can peruse the selection of lanterns, bird feeders, wind chimes, smaller sculptures and wall art.

Chuckanut Gallery, Chuckanut Drive, Garden Art

Central Bellingham: Garden Spot Nursery

Garden Spot Nursery is located in the Sunnyland neighborhood, and it’s as bright and colorful as the surounding neighborhood is known to be. The nursery also happens to be on the back (King St.) side of Sunnyland Square, home to Trader Joe’s, so you’ve probably driven by while looking for parking. Next time, stop in!

The Garden Spot is known for its selection of bedding plants, perennials, herbs and veggie starts, as well as seeds, tools and planters. But wander around inside and out, and you’ll see all kinds of garden art, too.

There’s lots of statuary, from dozing puppies to laughing Buddhas. Brightly colored pots are just waiting for you to take them home and plop them on your porch or patio.

Garden Spot Nursery, Statuary, Garden Art

You’ll also find garden benches, wall pockets, metal whirligigs and wind chimes. (So many wind chimes!)

Garden Spot Nursery, Statuary, Garden Art

And if you have a large wall or fence to decorate, you’ll find just the right metal sculptures or art piece here.

Garden Spot Nursery, Statuary, Garden Art

When you’re on the prowl for treasures for your own garden or a gift for a gardener in your life, check out Bellingham’s many garden centers, especially The Garden Room and A Lot of Flowers in Fairhaven, Chuckanut Galley and Gifts south of Fairhaven on Chuckanut Drive, and the Garden Spot in central Bellingham’s Sunnyland neighborhood!

A Lot of Flowers    1011 Harris Avenue, Bellingham, WA 98225     360-647-0728

The Garden Room    1006 Harris Avenue, Bellingham, WA 98225     360-734-9949

Chuckanut Bay Gallery and Gifts   700 Chuckanut Drive N., Bellingham, WA 98229  360-734-4885

Garden Spot Nursery   900 Alabama Street, Bellingham, WA 98225  360-676-5480

Learn more about the Whatcom Horticultural Society’s 28th annual Tour of Private Gardens.

For more ideas about fun activities in Bellingham and Whatcom County see the many links on our home page.

Great Food and a Stellar Wine Selection at Bellingham’s Old World Deli

June 24th, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

A sandwich, a salad, a bottle of rose and a sidewalk table for two in the sunshine. What could be better on a beautiful Friday afternoon? This perfection was made possible by everyone’s favorite deli in Bellingham—Old World Deli, which also happens to have a stellar wine selection.

Old World Deli, Bellingham, Wine, Artisan, Cheese, Meat, Sausage, Specialty, Gourmet

Old World sets you up for the quintessential deli experience with pastrami, roast beef and ham-on-rye sandwiches, then adds a twist with grilled paninis, muffalettas and creative special sammies. Their daily soups and several salads nicely round things out.

And even though Old World deserves its yearly “Best Deli in Bellingham” award, we’re here to talk about . . . what else—wine! Old World will bowl you over with its large (and impressive) wine selection, which seems to consume more and more floor space every time I visit.

Old World Deli, Bellingham, Wine, Artisan, Cheese, Meat, Sausage, Specialty, Gourmet

Great wine and super-nice staffers.

Wines are arranged by region, and there is a special section of Value Wines, all under twelve bucks. Summer time is rosé time, and Old World Deli has tons of it, from all over the world: Washington, Spain, Oregon, France, Austria. Stacked in boxes and chillin’ in the cooler, each one is just waiting for you to tuck it into your picnic basket.

Old World Deli, Bellingham, Wine, Artisan, Cheese, Meat, Sausage, Specialty, Gourmet

So many rosés!

Christos, wine buyer and Old World co-owner with his wife, Anna, likes to bring in wines that he likes, that his clientele will also like—and perhaps will expand their palates a bit. He eschews big alcohol and oaky flavors for high acid, lighter body wines. Of course, he also brings in wines he doesn’t particularly love, but his customers will.

“I just pick interesting things, and I get to know people’s palates,” says Chris. “I remember palates more than I remember names. I’ll move them from one side or the other of what they usually drink.” He especially likes smaller producers from Europe, who offer terrific wines for not a ton of money. Since the land in Europe has been owned for generations, winemakers don’t have to cover a big mortgage payment with every bottle. “You can find tons of great French wines for $9.00 or $10.00—not so easy to do with Washington wines,” he said.

Old World Deli, Bellingham, Wine, Artisan, Cheese, Meat, Sausage, Specialty, Gourmet

Chris helped us choose a nice rosé to go with our Chicago beef sandwich and candied pecan salad. We were also munching on spicy dill potato chips, and the crisp, slightly sweet (but mostly dry) rose cut the spice really nicely. It only made sense to buy a bottle, with no corkage fee from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. We even managed to take some home!

Old World’s bright, flowered tablecloths and polished wooden floors make the setting cozy and casual, and super-high ceilings let in plenty of light to brighten up the space. But our goal on this last day of spring was to soak up some sun, so we headed out to the sidewalk and plunked our food and wine on one of the charming red tables. With pots of flowers and greenery surrounding us, and the city moving by, we felt very “Old World,” indeed.

Old World Deli, Bellingham, Wine, Artisan, Cheese, Meat, Sausage, Specialty, Gourmet

Once we finished our amazing lunch, we browsed around Old World’s foodie section. If you’re into house-cured meats, house-made sausages, specialty foods like pastas, olive oils, salts and drinking vinegars (yes, they are delish!), you’ve got to check it out. And home bartenders will love the selection of bitters, vermouths, tonics and olives.

Old World Deli, Bellingham, Wine, Artisan, Cheese, Meat, Sausage, Specialty, Gourmet

Old World Deli does a Food and Wine Club, too. Each month, members get three bottles of wines, an artisan cured meat, a housemade sausage or pate, a specialty cheese, and food items, like pickled onions or olive spread, that go especially with the wines chosen for that month. Themes are set around the wine region or varietal: Rhone wines, South African wines, or Grenache from all over. Chris picks the wine and then puts together foods that make it even better.

Old World Deli, Bellingham, Wine, Artisan, Cheese, Meat, Sausage, Specialty, Gourmet

They also offer special wine dinners every month. And my favorite time of day—happy hour—is from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. every Thursday and Friday. Get a glass of wine for three dollars (THREE DOLLARS!), and discounts on sandwiches and bottled beer, too. All day on Thursdays, you can buy a bottle off the shelf and enjoy it onsite for no corkage fee. Saturday nights are also live music nights. So. Much. Going. On!

Make Old World Deli a stop when you’re in downtown Bellingham, whether it’s for a delicious sandwich or a case of wine. You’ll be so glad you did.

Old World Deli, 1228 North State Street (between Holly & Chestnut)         Bellingham, WA 98225              360.738.2090
Hours: Monday, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Tuesday – Wednesday, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Thursday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.

Old World Deli on Facebook 

Wine, Beer and Spirits Topics by Teresa

For more ideas visit about fun things to do and where to stay in Bellingham visit our home page.

Exploring Peace Arch Park – an International Experience

June 24th, 2014 by Todd Elsworth

To my surprise, I learned that you can walk freely between US and Canadian borders at Peace Arch Park in Blaine, WA. I’ve always been curious as to where you can go around the park, so we set out to explore for ourselves. My daughter and I ventured out with bug net in hand to see what we could find in this unique international park.

PeaceArchUS

“The Peace Arch stands on the international boundary between Blaine, Washington, and Douglas, British Columbia. The Arch was constructed to commemorate the centennial (1814-1914) of the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814. The Treaty of Ghent ended the war of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain, a conflict that was waged in North America and involved Canadians, as well as Americans and British.” – PeaceArchPark.org.

Walking around the park, you’ll be on a scavenger hunt of sorts finding numerous interesting historical markers, each with their own story and relative significance.  On the US-side is a classic commemorative of the National Garden Club’s Blue Star Memorial Highway- A tribute to the Armed Forces that have defended the USA.

PeaceArchBlueHighway

An obelisk marks the location of the border and another is seen in the distance, set in the foreground of the railroad’s border sign. There’s no mistaking where you are when you look around.

PeaceArchboundarymarker

“In 1914, the international fund-raising efforts for the Arch were spearheaded by Samuel Hill, famed Washington State lawyer, financier, road builder and humanitarian,who later dedicated it on September 6, 1921.” – PeaceArchPark.org. An aging sign on the Canadian side adds: Through their donations of pennies, nickels and dimes, the school children of Washington State and British Columbia helped to purchase the lands surrounding the Peace Arch for an International Park. Today 16 hectares (39 acres) of gardens are jointly managed by Washington State Parks and British Columbia Provincial Parks.

PeaceArchCA

As we explored the Canadian side, we found a humorous sign with historical significance. First were listed the Basic Ingredients and then recipe laid out on how it was assembled. Creatively Canadian.

Basic Ingredients
76 piles
45 tones (50 tons) tension steel
3500 bags of cement
2 iron gates
2 spruce flagpoles
inspirational messages

The grounds of provincial park are well planned and maintained. Open lawns with sturdy picnic benches, a decorative drinking fountain and a life size checkerboard are some of the amenities you’ll find onsite. Both sides have flowers arranged to create the symbolic national flag.

PeaceArchCAflag

It took us awhile to go from flag to flag. There’s so much to see along the way. The border becomes invisible (even though there are plenty of markers) when you’re enjoying the park. We were free to run in the open space, sharing our time with other families as we explored the floral, artistic and historical wonders of the park.

Each year, the International Sculpture Exhibition is hosted from May to October. This is one example piece titled Harmony- Friends, acquaintances and colleagues unite in cooperation, blending and shining in fruitful expression of endeavors of Joy and Peace.

PeaceArchOrigami

Back home on the US side, we had to pose for a picture in front of our own floral flag. You’ll notice yet another marker with more significance of the place and the people who have worked to make it all possible, beautiful and accessible.

PeaceArchUSflag

I can’t imagine a more peaceful border crossing. Make a run for the border, then stop and explore.

For reference, the three messages and their sources:

“1814 – Open One Hundred Years – 1914” – Treaty of Ghent was signed in 1814, marking the end of the war between US and Great Britain

“Brethern Dwelling Together in Unity” – From the 133rd Psalm/Mayflower Compact.

“Children of a Common Mother”- Referring to our common British/French stock.

For more ideas about fun things to do in Bellingham and Whatcom County visit our home page.

The Berry Best of Whatcom County

June 20th, 2014 by Hilary Parker

Boxx Berry Farm, Ferndale, Wa

The sweet satisfaction of picking berries is woven into the fabric of my summer memories. As a kid, I would head off into the blackberry brambles to pick berries with my family, which we’d later turn into an amazing pie. On summer mornings I would walk out our back door to pick strawberries that went right on top of my cereal.

Now I’m making new berry-flavored memories with my kids. We usually harvest huckleberries and blackberries in the wilds around Sudden Valley (near Bellingham, WA) where we live, and my children have grown to love it as much as I do. Boxx Berry Farm, Ferndale, Wa

One thing I didn’t do as a kid was pick berries in a u-pick field. I didn’t discover u-picks until adulthood when I had children of my own. And fortunately for us, and you, Whatcom County is filled with u-pick fields for strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.

Our family favorite is Boxx Berry Farm at 6211 Northwest Rd., in Ferndale. Along with strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, the farm offers u-pick flowers and the fall brings pumpkin picking.

The Boxxes make the berry picking easy: the fields are well marked and both buckets for picking and boxes to take home your sweet spoils are provided.

After you’ve picked your fill of berries, the fun isn’t over. The kids will want to make a stop at the playground. I’ve found we spend as much time at the playground as we do berry picking because the kids are having so much fun!

Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on one of the many picnic tables, or head inside to the Shortcake Shack for all sorts of strawberry delights, including heavenly strawberry sundaes.

The adults will want to check out the Market Store, which offers fruits and vegetables grown on the farm as well as from other growers, plus wonderful pickled vegetables, sauces and dressings.

Farm festivals throughout the summer celebrate the crops in the height of their harvest season. Kids can ride the tractor “train” and hay rides let the whole family get in on the fun. Check the Boxx Berry Farm website for dates.

Some of the other best bets for berries around Whatcom County include:
Barbie’s Berries – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries
7655 Melody Lane, Ferndale

Bjornstad Farms – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries
6799 Old Guide Road, Lynden

Blue Heron Lake Farm – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries
2136 E. Hemmi Road, Bellingham

Fun Fact:
Did you know that more than 65% of the nation’s red raspberry crop is grown in Whatcom County?