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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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)


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.


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!).




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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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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.


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.


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.


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. 


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”.


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!


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.

• 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.

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

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.

Ross LakeThe North Cascades Institute Learning Center is located on Diablo Lake, home to classes for adults, youths and families. 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.


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 Rosé, 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!”


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.


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.


“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.” –

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.


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.


“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.” – 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.


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.


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.


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.


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?

Bellingham Groups offer Weekly Activities for Fun and Fitness

June 17th, 2014 by Todd Elsworth

To complement the full race calendar in Bellingham/Whatcom County, there are a host of groups that help locals and visitors connect with others on a weekly basis for fun and fitness. Opportunities include walking, running and hiking. The organizers are welcoming and excited to see new people join their ranks.

Fairhaven Runners

Located in the heart of historic Fairhaven, Fairhaven Runners offers weekly Fun Runs and Walks, special events and is best known for the Fairhaven Runners 15K. Their Drop in Runs and Walks are free and offer options to choose from.

All Paces Run |Tuesdays, 6pm – weekly

Get fit, get inspired and have fun! Led by staffers and volunteers, runs are 20 minutes out and back on two key routes, by the water or through the woods. Participants are divided into groups ranging from run/walk to seven minute pace. Meets at the store.

Tuesdays | Workout 5:30pm – weekly

Join the fun for a planned workout (or one of your own) on the track. Meet at Sehome High School parking lot.

Wednesdays | Evening Epic Run 6pm -weekly

Strenuous runs of 1.5-2 hours on hilly terrain with experienced trail runners. Often epic.

Select Saturdays | Fairhaven Walking Club 8 AM

Join in the fun and good exercise at a Welcoming Walk or Pick Up the Pace Walk that occur once or more a month at a variety of locations. Well attended. Plan on good exercise and camaraderie, versus casual strolling. Monthly walks will be posted on the Community Walking and Hiking page. You can also call the store at (360) 676-4955 to find out where the group will be walking.

Mt. Baker Hiking Club

Weekend hikes.
Contact: Mt. Baker Hiking Club or e-mail

Description: Organization provides regular opportunities for hiking on the weekend.  Also biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, canoeing, kayaking, and monthly social activities. Promotes conservation of recreational areas. A great way to meet new friends and explore the area.

Newcomers Club Men’s Hiking Group

Wednesdays & Fridays, 8:30 AM
Contact:, website –

Description: Club’s mission is to bridge the transition of new residents by providing a forum for friendships, information and activities.

Boomers Hiking Club

Wednesdays usually
Contact info: or 360-921-2615

Description: A local Bellingham group of Boomers that LOVE hiking the North Cascades. They usually make day trips to the Mt Baker area in both Whatcom & Skagit Counties.

Northwest Singles Club Walk Group

Mondays, 10am,
Contact info: Mary Lu at 733-0139 or

Description: Meeting at the top of Taylor Street Dock, 4.6 mile roundtrip walk along waterfront, various paces welcome. Open to walkers 21 and older, do not have to be single for walks, drop-ins welcome.

NW Tulip Trekkers Volkssport Club

Scheduled group walks and self guided walk route maps available at various locations
Contact: NW Tulip Trekkers, American Volkssport Association, or e-mail or call Curt or Martha Myron at 360-679-3638.

Description: NW Tulip Trekkers is an outdoor walking club, based in the coastal counties between Seattle and Canada.  Group promotes recreational walking for all ages, through scheduled group walks, American Volkssport Association-sanctioned volksmarches, monthly meetings and a monthly newsletter. Club provides information about local and out-of-town AVA events. The Trekkers Club is designed for AVA-member-walkers and for individuals and families who want to walk for fun and fitness.

Bellingham Senior Center-  The Button Walkabouts & Senior Trailblazers

Walks and hikes throughout the week
Contact: Info. and walk calendar available at (360) 733-4030, Whatcom County Parks/Seniors/Bellingham or Patti at 752-1619.

The Button Walkabouts

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning group leaving center at 9:45am, either walking from center or carpooling to designated location.

Senior Trailblazers

Thursdays 9am, two different choices of hikes each week at various locations. All walkers must be members of the Bellingham Senior Activity Center

Whatcom County Senior Centers

Weekly walks may be available at different centers throughout Whatcom County
Contact: Whatcom County Parks

Bellingham Mountaineers

Contact: Bellingham Mountaineers

Description:The Bellingham Mountaineers is one of six regional branches of The Mountaineers, an outdoor and conservation club based in Seattle, WA. The Bellingham branch offers programs in climbing, hiking, snowshoeing and backcountry skiing. Our branch is run entirely by volunteer members who lead trips, teach courses and provide trail maintenance

Greater Bellingham Running Club

Check out the full calendar of events with the GBRC

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

An Authentic British Pub and Sunset Drinks in Birch Bay

June 9th, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

Now that the weather is behaving, it’s time to set our sights on all the great spots for outdoor imbibing, which is one of my favorite pastimes. This week, we headed a few miles north of Bellingham to Birch Bay, where we stopped by two beachfront bars, the Will’O Pub and Via Birch Bay Café & Bistro.

The Will’O Pub

Are you pining for a Wychwood King Goblin? A Paulaner Hefeweizen? A Smithwick’s Ale or a Belhaven Scottish Stout? Have you been longing for a place where they know the difference between football and American football, and you can eat bangers and mash every day?

Search no longer! Head to the Will’O Pub in charming, beautiful and tiny Birch Bay, Washington to enjoy the best bits of a British pub without hopping across the pond.

If you’re fond of saying things like “good on ya,” “daft” or “bloody,” you’ll fit right in here. And if not, you’ll still find plenty of good reasons to hang out at the Will’O.

Will'O Pub, Birch Bay, English Pub, British Pub, UK Beer, British Food

Clockwise from upper left: Hand-carved bar imported from Essex, England; tiny phone booth; pub mirror; flags from all UK countries (and the good ‘ol USA).

For one, the Will’O has the largest selection of UK beers in the state. I named some above and (thanks to my generous mates) sampled a few others: Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA (Scotland), Fuller’s London Pride (England), Murphy’s Irish Stout (Ireland) and Samuel Smith Organic Pale Ale (England). Also available were unusual ales like Old Engine Oil, Irish Death, Skull Splitter and Wexford Irish Crème Ale.

The Will’O Pub boasts somewhere around 70 UK ales, in bottles, cans and on draught, so they can most likely fulfill your needs, whatever they may be. They can also offer you a cider or a glass of wine if you’re not into the whole beer thing.

The Will’O patio gives us yet another place to drink beer outside. Yay! You don’t want to miss the views of the water or Birch Bay’s famous sunsets. It was so warm and sunny when we visited that I can think of only one thing that would have brought us back inside: karaoke!

Clockwise from upper left: Pretend these are palm trees; Karaoke singer; enjoying the sunshine; football club scarves.

Clockwise, from upper left: Pretend these are palm trees; Karaoke singer; enjoying the sunshine; football club scarves.

Yes, Tuesday night karaoke is another reason the Will’O should be on your drinking bucket list. We didn’t participate (this time), but totally enjoyed the song stylings of the senior set. Their joie de vive was contagious and they were so fun to listen to.

Need a few more reasons to visit? The menu boasts authentic eats like shepherd’s pie, beans on toast, Irish beef stew, and eggs and bacon butty. And if you’re into pain, you can order the Diabolical Burger, which comes with a free t-shirt if you can eat the entire thing in less than 20 minutes. Many have tried. Few have succeeded.

The Will’O is a lively place, with a very popular Trivia Night on Thursdays, and regular live music, too. After all, the pub was named after owner Andrew Weightman’s great-grandmother, who ran a pub and nightclub in Liverpool in the 50s, where acts you may have heard of (Gerry & the Pacemakers, The Beatles) played. In Will’O’s honor, Andrew and wife Stacy opened their British pub; they chose Birch Bay because he’s been visiting here since he was a child.

Will'O Pub, Birch Bay, English Pub, British Pub, UK Beer, British Food


Will’O Pub, 7714 Birch Bay Dr., Birch Bay, WA 98230           360-778-2852
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
The Will’O Pub on Facebook


Via Birch Bay Café & Bistro

Up Birch Bay Drive a few blocks is Via Birch Bay Café & Bistro, located in a 1940s-era building that was once a bathhouse. Both the café and its Skinny Dog lounge offer plenty of libations to choose from in a right-on-the-beach setting.

The café’s long-and-narrow setup gives every table an expansive view of the water. If you’re more focused on beverages, you can take a seat at the bar, also with bay views. And when weather permits, head upstairs to the rooftop deck, take in the cool sea breeze and feel the sun on your face.

Via Birch Bay Cafe & Bistro, Birch Bay, Restaurant, Bar, Beachfront, Waterfront, Seafood, View

Clockwise, from upper left: Via entrance, salt & pepper enjoying the view, antique windows, main restaurant.

The deck was closed when we visited, but we were perfectly happy to sit at a beachfront window while we sipped and nibbled. Among the four of us, we sampled the seasonal on tap (Iron Horse IPA), the Tequila Sunrise and a rosé from local winery GLM. Via’s specialty cocktails include:

  • The Grape Nehi: Grey Goose, Chambord, fresh lime, sweet ‘n sour, soda.
  • Slippery Rocks: Vanilla vodka, butterscotch schnapps, milk.
  • Pink Lemonade: Vodka, gin, sweet ‘n sour, grenadine, lemon.
  • Birch Bay Tea: Rum, vodka, gin, tequila, Blue Curacao, pineapple juice, coconut milk. (Yowza!)

As for food, we ordered the fish ‘n chips, a veggie burger and a Portobello mushroom sandwich. Our food didn’t last long enough for a photo opp. (Can you say, “crinkle fries?”) Each dish got at least one thumb’s up—which is good, because no matter how great a view may be, the drinks and eats need to match it.

Like the Will’O, Via Birch Bay has a great backstory (doesn’t every bar?). This one began when Yoon Oh decided to retire in Birch Bay to relax and do some sailing. He saw that the building was for sale and decided to buy it. Yoon and his brother, Jefferson, opened the restaurant in December of 2012 (so much for retirement). Sadly the restaurant was nearly destroyed three months later by a huge tide and strong winds that crashed through the windows and flooded the building. The waves reached the second floor, which seemed hard to believe on this tranquil evening, with nary a whitecap in sight.

Via Birch Bay Cafe & Bistro, Birch Bay, Restaurant, Bar, Beachfront, Waterfront, Seafood, View

With a lot of hard work by employees and the support of the community, Via Birch Bay reopened two months later. When you visit, you’ll notice wooden structures put in place to protect the windows. You’ll also see the co-owner’s artwork sprinkled throughout the building, including a portrait of his daughter that was saved from the ravages of the storm.

Via Birch Bay Cafe & Bistro, Birch Bay, Restaurant, Bar, Beachfront, Waterfront, Seafood, View

Via Birch Bay Café & Bistro is a lovely place to catch up with friends, have a drink, eat some good food and stare through the window at the sea, the rocky shore and the sinking sun.


Via Birch Bay Café & Bistro 7829 Birch Bay Dr. Birch Bay, WA 98230            360-778-2570
Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.     Friday and Saturday, 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Via Birch Bay Café and Bistro on Facebook

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

Chuckanut Bay Gallery and Sculpture Garden: A Feast for the Senses on Scenic Chuckanut Drive

June 2nd, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

Shopping at the Chuckanut Bay Gallery and Sculpture Garden in Bellingham is awe-inspiring. Everywhere you turn, you’ll see a display of beautiful works of art, thoughtfully arranged to showcase the care that went into crafting each one. In one corner, pottery shares space with art glass. In another, an unkindness of ravens (yes, that’s the name for a bunch of ravens) nearly come to life in metal sculptures and grace the wall in paintings of many styles.

Chuckanut Bay Gallery, Bellingham, Chuckanut Drive, Art Gallery, Sculpture Garden, Pottery, Garden Art

Here, the art is wearable, usable or just show off-able. There’s jewelry made with stones, pearls and precious metals; mugs, plates, bowls, lamps and post toppers from the potter’s wheel; wooden bowls, trays and spoons; art glass for your beer, your bouquets or your bread; loads of framed photographs, prints and paintings; and clocks, textiles and much more to grace your home.

Chuckanut Bay Gallery, Bellingham, Chuckanut Drive, Art Gallery, Sculpture Garden, Pottery, Garden Art

And that’s just on the inside! Chuckanut Bay Gallery is also renowned for its beautiful garden, with winding paths leading to garden sculptures, wind chimes, art pieces, and accents made of metal, stone and glass.

Chuckanut Bay Gallery, Bellingham, Chuckanut Drive, Art Gallery, Sculpture Garden, Pottery, Garden Art

Chuckanut Bay Gallery, Bellingham, Chuckanut Drive, Art Gallery, Sculpture Garden, Pottery, Garden Art

Since 1986, Don and Carol Salisbury have operated the gallery, first as a showcase for Don’s pottery, and then adding the handcrafts of hundreds of American and Canadian artists. Their emphasis on “art and garden” is evident, as themes of nature pop up throughout the gallery. If you’re into birds (like me), you’ll find plenty to love here.

Chuckanut Bay Gallery, Bellingham, Chuckanut Drive, Art Gallery, Sculpture Garden, Pottery, Garden Art

Fun, letter-pressed greeting cards.

Chuckanut Bay Gallery, Bellingham, Chuckanut Drive, Art Gallery, Sculpture Garden, Pottery, Garden Art

Chuckanut Bay Gallery and Sculpture Garden is the perfect place to choose a special gift for someone you love or to treat yourself. Add to your collection of wooden spoons, Craftsman-style clocks, nature-inspired pottery or fine jewelry.

Chuckanut Bay Gallery, Bellingham, Chuckanut Drive, Art Gallery, Sculpture Garden, Pottery, Garden Art, Children's Books

Children’s books, finger and hand puppets and more!

Chuckanut Bay Gallery, Bellingham, Chuckanut Drive, Art Gallery, Sculpture Garden, Pottery, Garden Art, Candles

Lovely soaps and lotions, hats and scarves, candles, garden supplies and books.

Every piece featured in the gallery is selected for its quality and uniqueness. Don and Carol strive to offer things you can’t find elsewhere—and the prices are surprisingly reasonable! You can spend as little as $10 on something handcrafted, and they’ll even giftwrap your new treasure for free!

Chuckanut Bay Gallery, Bellingham, Chuckanut Drive, Art Gallery, Sculpture Garden, Pottery, Garden Art

If you’re like me, you’ve driven past Chuckanut Bay Gallery and Sculpture Garden a hundred times while traveling up and down scenic Chuckanut Drive, and always planned on stopping in. Do yourself a favor next time and slow down, park the car, and spend an some time perusing the art, wandering in the garden or relaxing on the deck with an espresso. Whether you spend a few minutes or a couple of hours, you’ll enjoy every moment.

Chuckanut Bay Gallery, Bellingham, Chuckanut Drive, Art Gallery, Sculpture Garden, Pottery, Garden Art

Chuckanut Bay Gallery and Sculpture Garden, 700 Chuckanut Drive North, Bellingham, WA 98229 360-734-4885 Gallery Hours: Monday – Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Sunday Noon – 5:30 pm Chuckanut Bay Gallery and Sculpture Garden on Facebook

Two New Bellingham Breweries: Wander Brewing and Aslan Brewing Co.

May 26th, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

When it comes to craft beer, everybody has his or her favorite. Everyone’s tastes are different, too. That’s why it’s so exciting that our selection of breweries in Bellingham just got a lot more interesting, with the launch of not one, but two new microbreweries: Wander Brewing and Aslan Brewing Company.

I recently checked out both breweries, tasted their beers and visited with the owners. While their beers couldn’t be more different, the brewers all share the pursuit of brewing high-quality beers their patrons will love. And lucky for us, they are upping the diversity of Bellingham’s brewery scene, so just about every beer lover’s needs can be met.

Here’s the lowdown on our two new breweries:

Wander Brewing

Wander is owned by husband-and-wife team Chad and Colleen Kuehl (looks like “cool,” pronounced “keel”), two Midwest kids who set out for the West Coast and fell in love with craft beer and home brewing while living in San Francisco. During a long overseas adventure, they decided that opening a brewery was their long-term goal. So, they started writing their business plan in Africa—I mean, doesn’t everyone?

Once back stateside, they settled in Seattle. Chad went to brewing school and worked at Hilliard’s Beer, and then they set out to find “their” town. Where would they and their brewery thrive? In Bellingham, of course!

Next step was finding their location, which proved to be quite the undertaking. It took them months to find the perfect building, a 1920s-era shipbuilding space, with big wooden beams, lifts and pulleys, steel trusses, very high ceilings, and tons of natural light. They’ve transformed it into an industrial, yet warm environment—perfect for hanging out with friends.

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

Clockwise from upper left: Colleen working in the brewery; whiskey barrels waiting for Baltic Porter; what’s on tap; the Wander logo on a table leg.

Wander is a true taproom: you enjoy your pint in the low-key Brew Hall, right where the beer is made. Or, you can fill a 32 oz. barker or 64 oz. growler to go. You won’t find a kitchen at Wander, but you’ll always find a food truck parked outside, rotating between waffles, barbecue, tapas, pizza and more. There is plenty of inside and outside seating, including beautiful, live-edge tables that feature the Wander logo at the base.

“So, why Wander Brewing?” I asked. Colleen said, “We spent our whole life wandering, traveling and moving all over. It’s a spirit that encompasses us and lots of others—everybody has a different reason for why they wander in life. It’s about finding what makes you happy.”

I like that philosophy! And now, for the philosophy behind the beer: Chad and Colleen’s approach was to add to Bellingham’s beer culture by brewing styles that weren’t being explored as much as others. They’re doing a couple of Belgian beers, and plan to add many more. Their other offerings represent styles that Bellingham imbibers don’t often see, such as the California Common, which sports the lengthy moniker Washington Uncommon California Common. Oh, and it’s my favorite.

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

Wander Brewing has a 20-barrel brewing capacity—so lots of room for growth, but they plan to steer away from the hop-filled beers that are readily available in Bellingham. When I asked Chad who influenced his brewing style, he said John Maier at Rogue, for his style and background; Ryan Hilliard, who taught him how to do a startup brewery successfully; and Adam Robbings from Reuben’s Brews, for his diversity and creativity.

The Kuehls sourced as much equipment as possible from as close to home as possible, and many of the wood and metal furnishings in the tasting room are crafted locally, as well. After all, says Colleen, “You can’t ask people to support your local brewery if you’re not supporting the people around you.” Much of the wood is reclaimed from barns, Birchwood Elementary School and Chad’s grandfather’s bar in Iowa. The table legs were made by Black Fin Design and Fabrication in Bellingham.

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

Clockwise from top left: A sample flight, the gorgeous bar, the brewery and Brew Hall, brewing equipment.

Wander’s biggest sellers so far are the Shoe Toss Rye IPA (this is Bellingham, after all), followed by the Wanderale Belgian Blonde and the Common. Also on tap are the Bellingham Wee Heavy (a strong Scotch Ale), the Global Mutt Coffee Baltic Porter, a Belgian Brown and an Extra Stout. Chad and Colleen look forward to making a wide range of styles that are creative but not too far “out there” for the everyday craft beer drinker.

Bellingham craft beer drinkers are definitely showing their love for Wander. Each time I’ve been in, a nice crowd is filling the space. Chad and Colleen love being able to work together in their small business and supporting the community. Wander, they say, is about sharing their love of craft beer with the community and creating happiness. Stop by the Brew Hall soon, or check out the Wander Brewing/Aslan Brewing Co. Brewer’s Night at The Local in Bellingham on May 26th.

Wander Brewing   1807 Dean Ave Bellingham, WA 98225
Brew Hall hours: Tuesday – Thursday 3:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., Friday 3:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., Saturday noon – 10:00 p.m., Sunday, noon – 7:00 p.m.
Outdoor and indoor bike parking. All ages in the Brew Hall.
Wander Brewing on Facebook



Aslan Brewing Company

Another brewing team with an interesting backstory, Aslan Brewing Company is co-owned by Jack Lamb, Pat Haynes and Frank Trosset. Like so many great businesses, this one started over a pint, when the three were having one at Bellingham’s Green Frog. Soon they declared, “We’re going to open a brewery!” And with that, they started brewing at home, then built a pilot brewery in a downtown warehouse. There, they brewed batch after batch of beer until they decided they had some they could actually sell.

Once they reached that magic moment, all they needed was a space. And, like Wander, they had a difficult time finding one. A downtown Bellingham location was important, along with the right square footage and some fairly high ceilings. Finally, after nine months’ of trials and tribulations, they scored the perfect building. Then, it took another nine months of hard work to bring the brewery and restaurant to fruition.

And it’s gorgeous. Walls of windows offer views of passing people and traffic, while skylights keep the space bright. Plenty of wood, open ceilings with hanging bare-bulb lights, stone and metal are softened by green plants to make it an inviting space to hang out.

Aslan Brewing Co, Bellingham, Craft Beer, Brewery, Restaurant, Brewpub

Clockwise from top left: A random satisfied customer, what’s on tap, the Aslan space, a schooner of Pilsner.

Aslan is Bellingham’s first all-organic brewery, with a 15-barrel capacity. They’re aiming to brew filtered, sessionable beers, along with some herb brews and beers with other fun ingredients not typically found in Bellingham. The owners love to describe Aslan’s beers as “dank,” which to them means delicious, high quality beers. (It means something else in the urban vernacular.)

But first, they wanted to get the standards out. On tap when I visited were the Flagship IPA, Irie Eyes Red Ale, Oatmeal Pale Ale, Pilsner, Cascadian Dark Lager, Stout-ly Man Ale, Bellingham Brown and Ginger Rye Ale. Aslan’s brewers were influenced by Hopworks Urban Brewery in Portland, along with Will Kemper, from Chuckanut Brewery, right here in Bellingham. “Chuckanut has been a massive influence. We have much appreciation for their standards and quality,” said Jack.

Aslan Brewing Co, Bellingham, Craft Beer, Brewery, Restaurant, Brewpub

Clockwise from upper left: brewing equipment; Pilsner, Ginger Rye and IPA; food and cute napkins; the Lion says “Welcome.”

My companion and I decided to each get two-ounce samples of three beers. For me: the Red Ale, the CDL and OPA. For him, the Pilsner, Ginger Rye and IPA, each of which they’ll be canning, starting in July.

Aslan is also a full-service restaurant. Between the two of us, we tried the yam tacos, the Carne brat with house-made sauerkraut and waffle fries. The food was tasty, especially the fries, which are served in little steel buckets. I also loved the chipotle lime cashew cream on the tacos.

Aslan Brewing Co, Bellingham, Craft Beer, Brewery, Restaurant, Brewpub

In case you were wondering, Aslan is Turkish for “lion,” and it’s pronounced AZ-lan. Jack, Frank and Pat chose the name because they wanted the lion as their brewery symbol. And you’ll see it everywhere—on their signs, glasses and t-shirts, for starters.

Since opening day, the Aslan boys are keeping super busy. The lunch, after-work and dinner crowds are flocking into the space, indulging in bison burgers and sampling all the beers. As busy as the brewery and restaurant are, Aslan will also be appearing at a few upcoming brewer’s nights:

May 26: Brewer’s Night at The Local (with Wander Brewing) in Bellingham

May 29: Brewer’s Night at H2O in Anacortes

May 29: Release Party for the Buffalale (a session IPA) at The Wild Buffalo in Bellingham

June 3: Brewer’s Night at Kulshan Brewing Coin Bellingham

Aslan Brewing  Co. 1330 N. Forest St.  Bellingham, WA 98225
Hours: Monday – Thursday 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m., Sunday, 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Outdoor bike parking. All ages.
Aslan Brewing Co. on Facebook

As Bellingham’s craft beer scene continues to grow, we beer enthusiasts will continue to have reason to celebrate! Whether you’re fortunate to live here or are visiting our fair city, be sure to check out all of our breweries. Each offers something distinctly different, but all serve their products with tons of love.

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

Visiting Western Washington University with kids

May 24th, 2014 by Hilary Parker
WWU Bellingham with kids

Western Washington University’s Outdoor Sculpture collection is a great way for kids to interact with art. Pictured here is part of the “Feats of Strength” installation (L) and the “Stone Enclosure: Rock Rings” (R).

Bellingham is fortunate to have a university in its midst. Being a college town gives this small city access to intellectual and cultural resources we wouldn’t otherwise have as well as providing a vast campus that in itself offers a wealth of things to see and do.

Whether you’re a local, or visiting Bellingham and Whatcom County, Western Washington University’s campus can be a great place for families to explore and experience. Who knows, it may even inspire your children to think about becoming a college student themselves one day. When I recently visited the campus with my 7-year-old son, he told me just that: “Mom, one day I want to go to school here.” That’s music to a mom’s ears.

Ready to explore? Here are just a few of the many ways you and your children can connect with Western.

Out & About

WWU Bellingham with kids

On top of the world, the “Log Ramps” sculpture is a kid favorite.

Outdoor Sculpture Collection – Western’s renowned Outdoor Sculpture Collection brings world-class art to

campus. What’s so neat about sculpture is that it is so accessible – kids to0 can interact with many of the sculptures – and multiple generations can find something of interest when viewing the art.

My kids’ favorite is “Stone Enclosure: Rock Rings,” a labyrinth-like sculpture located on the lawn between the Communication Facility and Fairhaven College. Other favorites include “Log Ramps,” which are great for climbing on or under, and the engaging little turtle-esque people of “Feats of Strength.” Families could easily spend a couple of hours exploring the collection, and when campus eateries are open, you can grab a snack after your adventure.

Sehome Hill Arboretum Trail – Managed cooperatively between Western and the City of Bellingham, the Sehome Hill trails above Western traverse 100 acres that once were home to mining and logging operations. Points of interest along the trails include a tunnel chiseled through sandstone, an old quarry site, and an observation tower. Paved trail and dirt trails and paths allow accessibility for many. Lushly forested, the trails make for a cool and shady place to walk on warm summer days and a great place for collecting gigantic maple leaves for art projects in the fall.

WWU Bellingham with kids

The old tunnel at the Sehome Hill Arboretum is an eye-catching point of interest along the trail.

Learning & Exploring

Planetarium – The Spanel Planetarium recently installed a Digistar projection system. Peer into the “stars” under the full domed theater. Check the Planetarium schedule for show dates and times. Stargaze under the real night sky with members of the Physics & Astronomy Department every Wednesday night when class is in session and weather permits.

Grandparents U – Grandparents and kids ages 7-14 have a unique opportunity to explore topics such as chemistry, book making and fossils during at day and a half at Western each summer with Grandparents U.  Along with diving in to some fun hands-on projects, participants get a chance to tour the campus, swim at the rec center and picnic on the lawn. Get the full university experience by eating in the dining hall and staying overnight in student housing.

For more information about Western Washington University, visit

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