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Whitewater Kayaking the Nooksack River – Horseshoe Bend

October 27th, 2014 by Todd Elsworth

If you head East on Highway 542, just past the mountain town of Glacier, WA you’ll find the popular whitewater kayaking section of the North Fork of the Nooksack River at Horseshoe Bend. We went out to see what all the hype is about on a sunny fall weekend.

NooksackRiverHorseshoeBend

I’m looking forward to seeing the river either from a kayak or by taking a Wild and Scenic Rafting Trip on the Nooksack River, someday. The outfit is based in Glacier, so they know the river as their backyard. They say it best, “The crown jewel of the North Cascades – the North Fork of the Nooksack River. Home to all five species of native salmon, this river is born at the base of the White Salmon Glacier, high on Mt. Shuksan. After mixing with many side creeks and tumbling over Nooksack Falls, this river’s glacial silt-laden water enters the upper gorge of the Nooksack where our trip begins.”

While I’m an accomplished sea kayaker, I’m not a whitewater kayaker- yet. Access to the river is easily afforded from the Douglas Fir Campground. We wanted to see boats in action- so we went to the Nooksack River Slalom.  First, we went to the start and watched the racers getting ready- they took turns paddling in circles up the eddies and back down the flowing downstream current.

NooksackRiverSlalomStart

Preparing for the race, the organizers predicted flows were “between ~ 400 to 1,700 cfs. At low water it’s a bumpy class 2. Levels are ideal (class III) at ~ 750 cfs range. The river is high and challenging at 1,200 cfs and levels higher than 2,000 cfs are too high and the river becomes a big flush.” It made some sense to me, with more to learn. I ran into an experienced friend on the trail who gave us a quick overview of running the race: You go downriver through the green gates and upriver through the red.

NooksackRiverSlalomCA

Paddling upstream, like a spawning salmon, the young paddlers made their way up, down and around both the natural obstacles and strategically placed gates. The determination and focus shown in their eyes and they intently placed their paddle blades at crucial points in the river to help them navigate their way through the course.

NooksackRiverSlalomGate

It’s fun to watch to see the different tactics employed. This round of kayakers were younger kids from Chilliwack, British Columbia. Their parents and grandparents cheering them on with clanging cowbells, hoots and hollers from the banks of the river.

NooksackRiverSlalomRapids

The red gates were strategically placed behind rocks in the river where the paddlers could find an eddy to make their way back up stream to run the gate. Paddling up the mighty Nooksack looks like quite a feat- except for when these kids are doing it and falling in behind the eddy.

NooksackRiverSlalomUpstream

The course is laid out days in advance and is an intricate network of cables and guy lines spanning the glacial spill. Below a young man is navigating his way down (and up) river through the slalom course. Off in the side eddy is a safety boat keeping a watch on the sketchy part of the course. This little section of river provided a weekend of fun for the participants and those of us on shore.

NooksackRiverSlalomCourse

Local and regional groups are currently working to protect the Nooksack River through the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to permanently safeguard the Nooksack’s unique and treasured natural heritage. The three forks of the Nooksack – the North Fork, Middle Fork, and South Fork – and numerous tributary streams form the upper Nooksack watershed. The full report is about to be published and it has me excited to see the landscape from the river. Soon, I want to be OUT THERE on the river!

 

 

In Bellingham, It’s the Time of Year for Pumpkin Beer

October 20th, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

Bellingham, Craft Beer, Pumpkin Beer

Is it just me, or has the pumpkin-flavored-everything craze gotten a little out of hand? It seems you’re either on the pumpkin-giddy team or not; and if you’re like me, you just don’t go bonkers for every pumpkin pie-spiced food and beverage that comes down the pike—including pumpkin beer.

But when my friends April and Janet donned their orange attire and headed south to Seattle for Elysian Brewing Company’s Great Pumpkin Beer Fest, I got to thinking that I should at least see what all the fuss was about. They inspired me to try it, and now, I don’t know what took me so long.

Pumpkin beers are a reflection of craft brews in general—there is one for everyone, whether you prefer a dark stout or porter, a saison, a maltier ale or a sweeter taste. And as our brewed beverage options in Bellingham continue to expand, we have the chance to experiment with more local, regional and far-flung breweries’ pumpkin offerings, mostly fresh on tap, but also by the bottle.

My first taste test was at Kulshan Brewing, on the day they released not one, but two versions of their Horseman’s Head Pumpkin Ale: spiced and non-spiced. “Let’s try both!” I exclaimed. Kulshan has brewed HH since they opened, but because I wasn’t a pumpkin-ale kind of girl, I never tried it—a grievous error on my part, I now admit. I liked the spiced version, with its hint of nutmeg, but for my first foray into the pumpkin ale world, I preferred the non-spiced. One step at a time!

Bellingham, Craft Beer, Pumpkin Beer, Kulshan Brewing Company

Kulshan Brewing’s Horseman’s Head Pumpkin Ale. 8.1% ABV.

Kulshan’s brew was made with Bellewood Acres pumpkins, roasted in Goat Mountain Pizza’s mobile oven. Now, I wouldn’t say I’d know the Horseman’s Head was a pumpkin ale based on taste alone. It was rich, mellow and smooth, and malty on the nose. Maybe a bit of sweetness from the pumpkin. But then again, what does pumpkin taste like? Squash-y. It’s the pie spices we associate with pumpkin flavor, and each of the other pumpkin beers I tried featured cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, allspice or a combination of them, so it was nice to try one without. It’s like when your mom snuck zucchini into her chocolate cake—you can’t really taste it. That said, the unspiced Horseman’s Head was a really nice ale for the season. I loved it.

Bellingham, Craft Beer, Pumpkin Beer, Kulshan Brewing Company

The glass is half full with Kulshan’s 16-month-old Imperial Russian Stout.

That day, Kulshan also released a special 16-month old Imperial Russian Stout that I had to try. After all, they’ve been sitting on it practically since they opened. It’s definitely an “oh boy” beer—super rich, but not heavy. It was nice and roasty, tasting of toffee and burnt sugar—crème brĂ»lĂ©e, anyone? At 10% ABV, this one is on the strong side. Walk home, my friends.

Next up was a trip to Wander Brewing with my friend, April—the pumpkin beer expert. We had one mission: try Wander’s PumpFest Pumpkin Ale. This one was a contrast to Kulshan’s, with a bright amber color, nicely balanced with a definite sprinkle of cinnamon. At 6.5% ABV, it’s a quaffable brew for pumpkin beer lovers.

Bellingham, Craft Beer, Pumpkin Beer, Wander Brewing

A couple of pints of PumpFest? Bring it, Chad!

Wander was also serving their Fresh Hop IPA. Brewed with 120 pounds of fresh El Dorado hops picked the day before the brew, it’s a once-a-year taste treat. And the taste was great—bright and hoppy, nicely bitter but not too. And just to experiment, after a few sips of the fresh hop, we sipped the PumpFest again, and the sweetness really came out.

April had suggested I try a few of Elysian’s pumpkin beers, since they are “the gold standard.” So, I picked up the Night Owl Pumpkin Ale and the Dark O’ the Moon Pumpkin Stout at Elizabeth Station, where I had stopped to have a pint of Southern Tier Brewing’s Pumking. Since I’m from the Southern Tier (of New York State) I had to give the home boys some love. And if you love cinnamon, clove and nutmeg, plus a shot of vanilla, this one’s for you.

Bellingham, Craft Beer, Pumpkin Beer, Elizabeth Station

Southern Tier Brewing’s Pumking at Elizabeth Station.

It wasn’t my favorite, so I replaced it with a pint I knew I would love: a special brew by Eric Jorgensen and Steve DeMoney of North Fork Brewery and Wander Brewing, respectively. Steve and Eric’s Neat Beer is a whiskey-barrel-aged Baltic Porter. Which is not a pumpkin beer. But trust me, if you had a chance to try this, you would have, too.

And gluten-free folks need not feel left out. Elizabeth Station is also pouring Ace Pumpkin Cider. It wasn’t as dry as I prefer, but if you like your cider on the sweet side, you’re in luck with this one. And just to round things out, I walked down the hill to grab a taste of Chuckanut Brewery’s Coffee Porter (made with Bean Stop coffee) which was fantastic. Again, not a pumpkin beer. But so worth making a trip to Chuckanut for—if you like porters, go get yourself one before it’s gone!

The next evening, I sampled both Elysians: the Night Owl and the Dark O’ the Moon. Even my husband, who doesn’t love spiced beers, enjoyed the Night Owl. The pie spices were definitely represented, but not overwhelmingly so, and they didn’t detract from the flavor of the beer. I liked the Dark O’ the Moon as well, especially as it warmed up a bit.

Bellingham, Craft Beer, Pumpkin Beer, Elizabeth Station

Elysian Brewing’s Night Owl and Dark O’ the Moon.

If you’re ready to try a pumpkin ale, or if you already know you love them, then take my advice and hurry. They are going fast, and even those I tasted last week may not be around any longer. Colleen and Chad at Wander said they were getting low on PumpFest, but would probably hold some back for Halloween. Elizabeth Station and McKay’s Taphouse each had at least one on tap as of today, but check their lists at BeerMenus.com to be sure. ES and Haggen both have good selections of bottled pumpkin beers (for now).

So now that I’m officially a pumpkin beer fan, I can’t help but ask: does Bellingham need a Pumpkin Beer Festival? Maybe just a little one? It’s food for thought!

Plenty o’ pumpkins await visitors to Stoney Ridge Farm in Everson, WA

October 13th, 2014 by Hilary Parker

Fall scenes from Stoney Ridge Farm, Everson

“Holy cow! That’s a lot of pumpkins,” exclaims the girl sitting next me as the wagon we are riding pulls out of a stand of trees, revealing fields of bright orange pumpkins, rosy-red apples and green-and-gold corn.

This bucolic scene – complete with a bright red barn and cerulean sky – is the home of Whatcom County’s largest pumpkin patch at Stoney Ridge Farm, 2092 VanDyk Road, in Everson.Colorful decor at Stoney Ridge Farm, Everson

Both adults and kids have told me about Stoney Ridge Farm in the past, but I’d never ventured out to its east-county location before. My family and I have been missing out; but no more.

Our beautiful late summer melted into the fall, and we were fortunate to make it out to the farm on a sunny, dry day. (Be sure to wear boots once the weather changes!)

Open only Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and this year until Oct. 25, families have just a few opportunities to experience all the farm has to offer.

Admission is $2 per person weekdays, and $3 per person or 4 people for $10 on Saturdays. Included in the cost are wagon rides, corn maze and petting zoo.

scarecrowU-pick pumpkins and apples are available as well as the pumpkins, apples, pears and squash for sale at the farm stand. Bring spending money for a treat from the bakery or the doughnut shop. And don’t forget to try the fresh-pressed apple cider.

My biggest piece of advice for a trip to Stoney Ridge Farm is simple: Bring a camera. Please, please, bring a camera. Not only is the natural setting picturesque, but the farm is filled with photo ops as well. The Gavette and Stemler families, who own and operate the farm, have done a terrific job outfitting the barns and outbuildings in a warm, whimsical country chic that makes the farm feel like you’ve stepped into a storybook.

On our visit, after selecting just the right pumpkin, we wound our way through the corn maze (twice!), made time for a few photo ops, then caught the wagon to head back up the hill to visit the craft and gift shop, drop in on the farm animals and have a snack in the bakery. The kids also discovered a small playground, while I watched the cider-making a short distance away. We could have stayed longer, but closing time was drawing near.

We had such a good time that we may just have to come back in a couple of months – Stoney Ridge Farm also offers Christmas trees and seasonal yuletide activities.

 

More Pumpkin Pickin’Girls pick out a pumpkin at Stoney Ridge Farm, Everson

Other pumpkin patches around the county include:

  • Cloud Mountain Farm, 6906 Goodwin Road, Everson
  • Cramer’s Western Town, 956 VanDyk Road, Lynden

 

 

For more fun ideas, visit our Fall Activities Page.

Wildlife teeming at Tennant Lake Recreation Complex

October 13th, 2014 by Todd Elsworth

Fall in Whatcom County is a great time to get outside and watch wildlife as they, too, get ready for the coming of winter. Whether it’s migrating birds just passing through or resident wildlife in their element, I enjoy the experience of admiring the fauna from near and afar. Tennant Lake- one mile southeast of the City of Ferndale, is one of the best places around to find success in this endeavor.

TennantLake

Near the parking lot a sign from Blaine Lorimer’s Eagle Project, Boy Scout Troop 26 reads, “Tennant Lake Recreation Complex is a cooperative project between Washington Department of Game and Whatcom County Parks and Recreation Board. This complex provides a wide range of outdoor and educational uses for your enjoyment.

Included within its 720 acres is an interpretive Center, Wildlife Viewing Tower, one half mile of Boardwalk Trail, hiking trails, a boat launch facility and fishing access along the Nooksack River.

These developments were completed to enhance your outdoor experience and appreciation for the wildlife of Washington.” There are a number of scout projects that you will come across throughout the grounds. Thank you to these boys and their troops for their enhancement projects!

The variety of options for wildlife viewing create a full day of opportunity. The Interpretive Center is a great place to start and finish your day. It offers mounted wildlife displays, “kid’s rooms” and maps that interpret the flora, fauna and wetland habitat of the area. An on-site naturalist is available to answer any questions. The center is open year round, but hours vary according to season.

TennantLakeFragranceGarden
Contact the Center (360-384-3064) or visit the Whatcom Parks and Recreation Department Tennant Lake website for complete information.

Wildlife Viewing Tower is a 50-foot tower that gives visitors an unobstructed view of Tennant Lake and the surrounding wetlands. From the tower Mt. Baker to the east creates a backdrop for nature observation. A monitor at the base of the tower allows those in wheelchairs to experience the sights from up top. Pan, tilt, and zoom functions on the camera provide the disabled visitor a range of viewing possibilities.

TennantLakeMonitorScreen

The stair climb is worth the view. Once you’re up in the Wildlife Viewing Tower you can look all around to soak in the surroundings. On clear days, Mount Baker sits comfortably in the distance. The above and below pictures are of the same perspective of the mountain in the background.

TennantLakeView

Adjacent to the center is the award winning Fragrance Garden. Visitors are encouraged to touch, smell and enjoy the beauty of plants. The raised beds are wheelchair accessible and have a unique Braille system that provides plant identification for the blind. This is a view looking back down into the garden.

TennantLakeGardenView

There are a number of trails to walk along. Listed conveniently on a sign at the center, the trails offer great variety to get out there and enjoy nature and the wildlife that abounds at Tennant Lake Area. The Boardwalk Loop* – 1 mile round trip, offers beautiful views of Mt. Baker and Tennant Lake. Watch for beavers, great blue herons and frogs.

TennantLakeBoardwalk

You may also like to consider the River Dike Access Trail -1 mile round trip, the trail offers a level walk surrounded by deciduous trees and open fields. Keep your eyes open for woodpeckers. The Hovander Homestead Trail also offers a 1 mile round trip to the homestead and back- bordering a slough, providing for opportunity to observe muskrats, red-winged blackbirds and wood ducks.

Driving Directions
I-5 exit 262 (Ferndale). R (W) on Main St. appx 1 mile. Get in L lane – take immediate L after you pass under railroad tressle (Hovander Rd). From Hovander Rd, turn R on Neilsen Rd. Go appx 1 mi – ends at Tennant Lake parking lot.

* The Boardwalk is currently closed for Waterfowl Hunting Season. The General Waterfowl Season lasts until January 25, 2015. During this time, the north half of Tennant Lake is a Game Reserve CLOSED TO ALL HUNTING AND PUBLIC ACCESS during hunting season.

Hunter Sign IN sheet. Attention Hunters: Hunting on Tennant Lake is only allowed in the three existing blinds. Access to the blinds is only by boat through the adjacent channel. The Boardwalk is closed for safety. You may not hunt from The Boardwalk. – DFW sign.

Find Handmade Goods at the Bellingham Farmers Market Throughout the Fall

October 13th, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

Fall is harvest time, and accordingly, Bellingham Farmers Market stands are overflowing with braising greens, winter squash and apples. It’s so rewarding to buy ingredients for homemade comfort food directly from the farmer. And you can get the same feeling by choosing handmade-in-the-PNW goods for yourself or for giving—directly from the artist or crafter.

Bellingham Farmers Market, Crafts, Jewelry, Pottery, Clothing, Art, Mount Bakery, Bellingham Bay Coffee Roasters

Coffee from Bellingham Bay Roasters goes perfectly with a brown sugar cookie from Mount Bakery.

Regardless of the weather outside, you can stroll throughout the covered open-air canopy of the Depot Market Square in comfort, while perusing the goods, trying on hats and chatting up the talented crafters. Grab a coffee and a cookie (like I did) and discover the treasures awaiting you every Saturday through December 20th.

 

Bellingham Farmers Market, Crafts, Jewelry, Pottery, Clothing, Art, Jesse Prints

Top: Bellingham Farmers Market wearables. Bottom: JessePrints offers great advice on art, like “Never squat with your spurs on.”

JessePrints are sold from a portable art cart under a red-and-white umbrella. Jesse Larsen wheels her cart from her studio across the street to the market each Saturday. She draws illustrations, carves the image into rubber and then hand-pulls prints. Each is matched with an appropriate saying to become a card, calendar or magnet. She also repurposes pages from old books to print pictures, suitable for framing and hanging wherever you need a little inspiration. Birds, plants, ordinary objects and dogs are popular subjects, but Jesse says she can’t draw anything she doesn’t love first.

Bellingham Farmers Market, Crafts, Jewelry, Pottery, Clothing, Art, Margotbianca

Margotbianca’s beautiful batiks.

Margotbianca is all about the batik. She creates and sells beautiful napkins, tea towels, bandanas, table runners and printed fabrics from linen, cotton and flour sacks. The batik process begins with a copper stamp, which is dipped in hot wax and stamped all over the undyed fabric to create a pattern. The fabric is submerged into dye for 24 hours and then boiled to melt the wax, which floats to the top and is reused. The areas that were stamped remain white, while the rest of the fabric is a gorgeous shade of rich color, such as red, rust, brown, yellow, green or blue.

Bellingham Farmers Market, Crafts, Jewelry, Pottery, Clothing, Art, Sown Designs

Sown Designs’ beautiful leather goods.

The next booth I visited was Sown Designs, which was chock full of leather goods, made from 100% reclaimed leather. Here, you’ll find a large selection of jewelry, like reversible necklaces and wrist cuffs and earrings, as well as wallets, cardholders and other necessities.

Bellingham Farmers Market, Crafts, Jewelry, Pottery, Clothing, Art, hats, toys, Moth and Squirrel

Moth and Squirrel’s cozy hats and squeezable critters.

For eight years, Moth and Squirrel has been selling stylin’ hats, huggable toys, and one-of-a-kind pins and hair clips—and here, there is truly something for everyone. Artist Libby Chenault utilizes recycled fabrics, like fuzzy cashmere sweaters and cotton shirts in her creations. The toys are filled with a renewable, non-polyester stuffing made from corn, which is good for the earth and the babies!

Bellingham Farmers Market, Crafts, Jewelry, Pottery, Clothing, Art, Umbilicus Designs

Umbilicus Designs are one of a kind!

At the Umbilicus Designs booth, feast your eyes on the nature-inspired handcrafted jewelry created by metalsmith Ryan Albachten. Ryan is into things like seeds, bones and shells, as well as gemstones of all kinds. Where else can you find a wishbone necklace or a crab claw pendant? Her earrings, bracelets, keychains, rings and ahhhh-mazing necklaces are beautifully displayed (try not to drool) and made from copper, silver, gold and brass. I have a pair of her earrings (just the start of my collection) and they never fail to draw compliments.

Bellingham Farmers Market, Crafts, Jewelry, Pottery, Clothing, Art, Red Boots Design

Classic, handmade Bellingham! You’ll see Red Boots Design clothes on cool kids all over town.

At Red Boots Design, artist Erin Boyd makes screen-printed shirts, hoodies, tops and bottoms, as well as functional art, like bottle openers and coat hangers. Fun designs range from a heart-belching dinosaur and classic Bellingham bicycles to rockets and yes, Lionel Richie’s head. My new nieces and nephews are always welcomed into the world with a Red Boots onesie, hat or tiny hooded sweatshirt—cute things you just cannot find anywhere else.

Bellingham Farmers Market, Crafts, Jewelry, Pottery, Clothing, Art, McDowell Pottery

Michael McDowell’s beautiful, functional pottery. Top: cabinet pulls and crocks; bottom: French Butter Dish and magnets.

My next stop was McDowell Pottery. Michael McDowell has been making pottery in Whatcom County for 40+ years. A variety of glazes, each made with Mt. St. Helens Volcanic Ash, add beauty to functional objects like cabinet knobs, bowls, magnets, butter keepers and crocks.

Bellingham Farmers Market, Crafts, Jewelry, Pottery, Clothing, Art, Earthenhome

Earthenhome makes natural products for your body and home.

At Earthenhome’s booth, I found natural body care and cleaning products. Mouthwash, lotions, tooth powder and body sprays contain essential oils instead of chemicals. Dishwasher soap and laundry powders are made from borax, baking soda, salt and essential oils. I’ve always heard one could make her own laundry detergent, but never felt compelled to do it—and now I don’t have to, because Sarah Klein is doing it for me. I win! And so can you.

The Bellingham Farmers Market is a bustling place year round, but I love the slower pace the cool weather brings. There is plenty of elbow room, so you can walk around at a leisurely pace, take in all the beautiful goods our talented craftspeople have made for us, and learn what makes each item so special. The market is open every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. through Christmas, rain or shine—and the Depot Market Square keeps everyone warm and dry, no matter what Mother Nature has in mind. Come check it out to meet these wonderful vendors, and many, many more!

Bellingham Farmers Market
Depot Market Square, 1100 Railroad Avenue Bellingham, WA 98225

Halloween Events in Bellingham and Whatcom County

October 3rd, 2014 by Annette

Get out your costumes and mark your calendars – it’s time to get spooky in Bellingham and Whatcom County! Activities take place throughout the month of October leading up to Halloween, Oct. 31, which is a Friday this year. Here’s a list to satisfy everyone from families to college students to the curious spirits among us. Stay safe, and have fun!

Gore and Lore Walking Tours, Oct. 3 – 31, 2014

Bundle up and take a walk with The Good Time Girls as they bring Bellingham’s spooky past to life during the month of October. A tour of Fairhaven’s haunted past departs from Sycamore Square Building at 6 p.m. on Fridays. A tour with a downtown perspective departs from the Bureau of Historical Investigation (217 W. Holly St., downtown Bellingham) at 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s best to arrive 15 minutes early. Tours are rated R: Minors ages 13-15 must be accompanied by an adult. Tarot and palm readings are available on select nights. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased online at thebureaubellingham.com or in person at the Bureau of Historical Investigation.

Bellingham Ghost Hunt Class, Oct. 10, 17 and 24, 2014

Bellingham Observers of the Odd and Obscure (BOOO) will host ghost hunting classes led by top paranormal investigators Chuck Crooks and Elena Stecca Oct. 10, 17, and 24 from 7-9 pm to be followed by a real life investigation from 9 pm to midnight. These seasoned Ghost Hunters will share their skills using different techniques and technologies to uncover the secrets of one of Bellingham’s most intriguing haunts. The class will provide an introduction into the world of ghost hunting. Participants will learn how to conduct an investigation, use equipment and interpret the findings. Chuck and Elena will share audio-visual evidence collected from previous investigations and will show participants how to debunk phony readings by uncovering potential non-paranormal causes.

Classes are $50/person. Attendees must be at least 18 years old. The location of the class will only be given to those who register at ghosthuntclass.wix.com/bellingham

Scream Fair Haunted House, Oct. 17 – Nov. 1, 2014

Be prepared to be scared at the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds in Lynden for 3 weekends in a row: Fri-Sat, Oct. 17-18 and 24-25, and Thurs-Sat, Oct. 30-Nov. 1. Tickets are $12 adult and $10 for ages 12 and younger. The event is open 6:30 – 10:30 pm on each date. Information at www.lastchanceproductions.com/ScreamFair.

Bleedingham Film Festival, Oct. 25 and Nov. 1, 2014

If you’re not sufficiently scared yet, our local film makers present an evening of horror-themed short films at the Pickford Film Center on two Saturdays in a row, both events at 9 p.m.  The Bleedingham Film Festival is in its third year. The films are scored by a panel of judges. The first night, Oct. 25, is a screening and awards event. The second night, Nov. 1, features a run of the films and an audience participation costume contest, with prizes from local businesses.

Attendees are advised to be of mature age and, as the films are not censored, to be aware that there may be some disturbing content played during the films. Tickets are available in person at the Pickford Film Center ,1318 Bay Street, Bellingham, WA 98225, or can be purchased on their website at www.pickfordfilmcenter.org. Prices are $7.25 for Pickford members, $8 students, $10.50 general admission.

Nightmare at the Spark Museum Returns, Oct. 29, 30 and 31, 2014

Those mad scientists at the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention (1312 Bay Street) have spent all year dreaming up special effects to transform their electrical show into a Sci-Fi Halloween Adventure. Full of shocks and surprises with a haunted cast of crazy, unforgettable devices sure to thrill and chill. See Maxwell the schizoid talking robot! Hear Elvis the miraculous singing tesla coil! View the infamous Cage of Death! Witness the awe-inspiring MegaZapper – throwing 4 million volts of lightning right before your eyes! Marvel as mad scientists discover a magic caldron and conjure-up the ghosts of Thomas Edison, Nicola Tesla, and featuring special guest spirit: Benjamin Franklinstein!

Nightmare at the Spark Museum Image - Sepia tone

“It’s tough being haunted every Halloween” muses Museum president and CEO, John Jenkins, “but somebody’s got to do it.”

The Nightmare will be unveiled at 7 p.m. for 3 nights only. Tickets are $12 adults and $8 kids 12 and under (not recommended for infants and toddlers). For an additional donation, adult visitors are invited to enter the Cage of Death and be swarmed with 4 million volts of raw electricity, and receive an official SPARK Museum “I Survived the Cage of Death” sticker. Cameras welcome! (Not recommended for pacemakers, defibrillators or faint of heart.). See Spark Museum website for more information.

Rocky Horror Picture Show, Oct. 30 – Nov. 1, 2014

The Mount Baker Theatre will present six performances of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in the Harold and Irene Walton Theatre. There will be two shows each on Thursday, Oct. 30, Friday, Oct. 31 and Saturday, Nov. 1 at 8 pm and 11:59 pm each day. This event features the original film playing on the large projection screen while local Bellingham actors also act out key scenes and sing songs. The film is rated R, and has mature content including sexual themes. No one 16 or under will be admitted without a parent or guardian. Tickets are $10 plus applicable fees. Call 360-734-6080 or online at mountbakertheatre.com.

Trick or Treat in Fairhaven, Oct. 31, 2014

Halloween is a major tradition in Bellingham’s Fairhaven historic district, from 3 to 6 p.m., attracting thousands of ghosts, goblins, fairies, characters and homemade creations. Most merchants decorate and participate. Look for posters on the windows, and be sure to stop at Fairhaven Pharmacy. Visit Fairhaven.com to see photos from last year.

Trick or Treat in Downtown Bellingham, Oct. 31, 2014

The Downtown Bellingham Partnership invites children with their families to Downtown Trick or Treat, 3 to 5 p.m. More than 100 downtown merchants will scare up a delightful array of in-store “treats” for kids dressed in costume. Look for balloons and posters on participating doors and windows to guide you on your journey!  See the Downtown Partnership website for more details. Be sure to stop by the new downtown Information Center at 1306 Commercial St. to Trick or Treat and take photos with “Dinger” the Bellingham Bells Mascot.

Ferndale Downtown Business Trick or Treat, Oct. 31, 2014

Ferndale businesses on Main Street will also open their doors to kids in costume from 3 to 6 p.m. for a safe afternoon of trick of treating. Check out the Ferndale Chamber website for a map with participating businesses.

WWW Symphony Orchestra Presents Spooky Selections, Oct. 31, 2014

Did you know Halloween also has a classy side? The WWU Symphony Orchestra will hold its annual Halloween Benefit concert at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 31 in the Performing Arts Center (PAC) Concert Hall on Western’s campus. The selections are chosen for their associations with Halloween, eerie themes, and ubiquitous, frightening pop-culture references.

The program includes “The Sorcer’s Apprentice” popularized by Disney’s “Fantasia,” Camille Saint Saëns’ “Danse Macabre,” and Dvořák’s tone poem “The Noon Witch,” based on the tale of a mother who threatens her child with the frightening spectre of a witch if the child does not behave.

The event is open to the public. Tickets are $5 and available online at tickets.wwu.edu and at the door; all proceeds will benefit Western’s Music Library.

Bellingham Explorer’s Halloween Costume Ball at Lakeway Inn, Oct. 31, 2014

Starting at 8:30 pm, the event will feature live music by R Factor 5, a light show, appetizers, signature drinks and a costume contest with a First Prize of $500 cash  for the best costume. Advanced Tickets are $35 and can be purchased with cash only at Bellewood Acres, Café Rumba in Downtown Bellingham and Bay Café Birch Bay.  Tickets may be purchased by credit card at: http://bellinghamexplorer.com/halloween. Tickets at the Door are $45. An all-inclusive hotel package is $199, sold exclusively at the Best Western Plus Lakeway Inn, includinn two General Admission Tickets to the Halloween Costume Ball, hotel accommodations and breakfast the next day. To reserve the package call 360-671-1011.

Halloween Themed Food and Beverage Options

Our creative local breweries have concocted a variety of special-release Pumpkin Beers for the season. Teresa, our insider expert, has taste-tested each and created a great list. Her recommendation: Get there quickly to enjoy the unique flavors, because they are going fast.

Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen is part of the Downtown Trick or Treat for the kids at 3:30. If adults over 21 yrs come in costume anytime on Oct 31 their pints are $3.50. Chuckanut also hosts a big Halloween Costume Contest at 9 pm with lots of schwaag as prizes! www.chuckantbreweryandkitchen.com.

Go scare up some fun!

Take the Nooksack Loop Trail to Hovander Homestead Park

September 29th, 2014 by Todd Elsworth

We took our bikes and the dog out for some sun and fun on the Nooksack Loop Trail to Hovander Homestead Park in Ferndale. We turned off Hovander Road to get to the Fish & Wildlife boat launch and headed south on our bikes. The new gravel trail is great, but we chose to follow the lower, worn double track in the dog off-leash area to let “Fido” get some exercise.
Download the MAP of Hovander Homestead Park.

NooksackLoopTrailHovander

The Whatcom Parks and Recreation Foundation is working on the The Nooksack Loop Trail linking the four cities of Bellingham, Ferndale, Lynden and Everson by generally following the Nooksack River and old railroad corridors, forming a non-motorized pathway of trails and designated lanes, approximately 45 miles in length. This is one section of a larger project.

The trail follows the banks of the Nooksack River. The flat gravel path is high enough that you can often look down and see the mighty waters of the Nooksack as they melt from the top of Komo Kulshan (now known as Mt. Baker) and run down the foothills of the North Cascades on their way to the bay.

NooksackFishing

Fishing on the river for the fall run, walking the river’s beaches with your kids (or dogs) or taking a dip to cool off from the heat of the September sun- the choice is yours. We dropped down to the beach to throw a stick, go for a swim and get a drink. I came to learn that the big turbine looking contraption in the middle of the river is an outgoing salmon smolt trap after further investigation.

Hovander Park is set up well for recreational fishing and hunting. You can fish from the banks of the river or venture out into Tennant Lake for hunting. Easy access is afforded from the many entry points throughout the park.

NooksackFisherman

Back to the Nooksack Loop Trail: It’s a quick flat mile from the trailhead at the boat launch to the homestead. If you’re with kids, take them to the Children’s Story Garden for an interactive experience with gardening and interesting creatures. A popular community library is on-site to facilitate information sharing amongst younger visitors. As part of the garden’s programs, “families learn to plant, maintain and harvest in this whimsical garden. Five fee-based Saturday classes runs April through October” Check out Children’s Story Gardens.
HovanderStoryGardenLibrary
The pumpkin patch had been cleared of its’ leaves to expose the orange bulbs on the ground. The Whatcom County Master Gardner Foundation is the steward of this special place, they are creative, talented and dedicated to their craft.

HovanderPumpkins

Their dahlia gardens are phenomenal. Their demonstration garden contains all Whatcom County introductions. A laminated sign reads, “The Puget Sound/Georgia Strait region is one of the best flower growing areas in the world. It’s no surprise that local dahlia growers have hybridized a number of the varieties that are currently popular for garden and exhibition use.”
HovanderDaihias
The Hovander Homestead itself is an impressive piece of architecture and is a Registered National Historic Place by the Washington State Advisory Council of Historic Preservation. It was placed on the register on October 16, 1974 by the National Park Service US Department of the Interior, Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. It was dedicated to the Citizens of Whatcom County who so willingly supported its acquisition and improvement, Whatcom County. Inside is an amazing museum that details the life of the Hovanders and provides a snapshot in time to life long ago in Whatcom County.
HovanderHomestead

We parked our bikes near the house and continued with the dog on leash to walk through the park. The park is welcoming to dogs and has appropriate space allocated to allow “Fido” to run free, but there are also those spaces where a leash is required. Walking in the shaded path of the trail, we made a big loop to the south of the property and turned back towards Tennant Lake to finish our own loop for the day. (I’ll fill you in on Tennant Lake another time- it’s an adventure in and of itself)

HovanderHay

We made our way back to the homestead property and came upon the goats out enjoying lunch and the warm late summer sun. “In and around the barn and farmyard is a collection of antique farm implements and old harvesting equipment. Within the massive barn is a milking parlor display adorned with some of the antique tools and equipment used at the time the Hovanders worked the farm. From May through October Hovander hosts a variety of farm animals that become part of the authentic sights, sounds and smells of a farm.” Whatcom County Parks

 

HovanderBarnGoat

There is always a lot of activity out at Hovander Homestead Park. Take the Nooksack Loop Trail from the north to extend your adventure and stroll the grounds for the day. Bring the whole family, even Fido, for a fun outdoors educational adventure- you deserve it.

For more fun ideas in Bellingham and Whatcom County visit our Insider Blogs Page.

Uniquely Bellingham for 90+ Years: Yeager’s Sporting Goods

September 24th, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

Yeager's Sporting Goods, Bellingham, Outdoor, Sporting Goods Stores, Fishing, Hunting

Ask a Bellingham local where to shop for anything from a cast iron skillet to a snowboard, and you’ll probably hear “Yeager’s!” For over 90 years, Yeager’s Sporting Goods has been supplying Bellingham and Whatcom County with sports and outdoor equipment, and a whole lot more.

Yeager’s is Whatcom County’s oldest outdoor store, but it’s probably just as well known for its toy department as for its extensive camping, hunting, marine and fishing departments.

Yeager's Sporting Goods, Bellingham, Outdoor, Sporting Goods Stores, Fishing, Hunting

Local and regionally-based products include Stanley and Gear Aid, by Bellingham’s McNett Corp.

In Toyland, the focus is on educational, interactive (not the electronic kind) and creative play, with blocks, books and games, along with dress-up, dolls and of course—Lincoln Logs and Legos!

Yeager's Sporting Goods, Bellingham, Outdoor, Sporting Goods Stores, Fishing, Hunting

Seasonal departments feature kayaks and canoes in the summer, and skis and snowboards in the winter, staffed by knowledgeable people who often double as instructors. Rentals of cross country and downhill skis and boots, plus snowboards, are available all winter long. Parents can even rent kids’ ski packages for the entire season. During the summer, kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards can be rented for a day or more.

Year-round, you’ll find everything you could want for hunting and fishing. Yeager’s claims to have the largest fishing equipment selection in Whatcom County—and based on the aisles and aisles of rods, reels, tackle and clothing, it must be true!

Yeager's Sporting Goods, Bellingham, Outdoor, Sporting Goods Stores, Fishing, Hunting

Fishing reels, plus hooks, line and sinkers.

And, home cooks and food preservers know Yeager’s is the place to find every kitchen gadget imaginable, along with canning jars, pickling crocks, tools, and reference books galore. Find a large selection of cast iron cookware, along with bakeware, coffee and tea makers, and cookbooks.

Yeager's Sporting Goods, Bellingham, Outdoor, Sporting Goods Stores, Fishing, Hunting

Canning jars, pickling crocks and all the equipment you’ll need to put up your own jams, vegetables and fermented foods.

Locals who work outside—and those who just want to look like they do—will tell you that Yeager’s carries tough work pants, shirts and jackets from Dickies and Carhartt’s. To protect your tootsies for a good long time, check out their quality boots and shoes from Sorel, Merrell and Danner, and Merino wool socks. Need some red suspenders? Go to Yeager’s!

Yeager's Sporting Goods, Bellingham, Outdoor, Sporting Goods Stores, Fishing, Hunting

Since 1921, Yeager’s has been family-owned and widely known to sell “a little bit of everything” to its loyal customers. Walk through the aisles and you’ll see folks from every walk of life and age range—from slope-shredding hipsters to diehard hunters and of course, tall-tale-telling fishermen!

Yeager's Sporting Goods, Bellingham, Outdoor, Sporting Goods Stores, Fishing, Hunting, Toys, Canning Supplies

At Yeager’s Sporting Goods, you’ll find everything from stuffed bears to Bear Cheeks!

Yeager’s Sporting Goods, 3101 Northwest Ave., Bellingham WA 98225
360-733-1080 

Hours: Monday – Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.   Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 

Yeager’s Sporting Goods on Facebook

For more fun ideas in Bellingham and Whatcom County visit our Insider Blogs Page.

Preview of Bellingham Beer Week 2014 Sept. 12 – 21

September 10th, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

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

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

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

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

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

Bellingham Beer Week Preview of Events

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

Bellingham, Beer, San Juan Islands, San Juan Cruises

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Specially Brewed Bellingham Beer Week Beers

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

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

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

Check out the full BBW 2014 event calendar here.

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

Fall favorite: Harvest time at BelleWood Acres

September 10th, 2014 by Hilary Parker

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

BelleWood Acres, Lynden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 8th, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

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

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

Scenes from Cloud Mountain Farm Center

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

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

A friendly face from Heritage Lane Farm

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

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

Scenes from Bellewood Acres

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for a Google map of the tour. 

View the Farm Tour brochure here.

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

A Bellingham Bay Wine Cruise on the Schooner Zodiac

August 31st, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

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

Schooner Zodiac, Bellingham Bay, Tall Ship, Wine Cruise

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

Schooner Zodiac, Bellingham Bay, Tall Ship, Wine Cruise

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

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

Schooner Zodiac, Bellingham Bay, Tall Ship, Wine Cruise

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

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

Schooner Zodiac, Bellingham Bay, Tall Ship, Wine Cruise

Abby, the boat kitty, enjoys wine too.

 

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

Schooner Zodiac, Bellingham Bay, Tall Ship, Wine Cruise

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

Schooner Zodiac, Bellingham Bay, Tall Ship, Wine Cruise

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

Schooner Zodiac, Bellingham Bay, Tall Ship, Wine Cruise

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

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

Schooner Zodiac, Bellingham Bay, Tall Ship, Wine Cruise

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

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

Learn more about the Schooner Zodiac.

Schooner Zodiac on Facebook.

Fall Outdoor Recreation Events and Races in Bellingham / Whatcom County

August 31st, 2014 by Todd Elsworth

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

BellinghamBayMarathon

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

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

SamishSalmonROE

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

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

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

RyanRickertsTRAVERSE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FloraHalf

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

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

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

Shopping Fun in Lynden WA

August 25th, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

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

Lynden, Shopping, windmills, Dutch town

Welkom to Lynden! Parking is free!

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

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

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

Lynden, Shopping, Antiques

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

Lynden, Shopping, Home Decor, Hen House

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

Lynden, Shopping, Rustic Cottage, Home Decor

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

Lynden, Shopping, Dutch, Clogs, Windmills

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

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

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

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

Lynden, Shopping, Yarn Store,

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

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

 

 

For more Insider Shopping tips by Teresa, click here.

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

Bellingham, Whatcom County Beaches are Beckoning

August 18th, 2014 by Loni Rahm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birch Bay

Birch Bay

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

Lummi Island

Lummi Island

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

Bellingham Bay at Boulevard Park

Bellingham Bay at Boulevard Park

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

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

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

Medical vs. Recreational Marijuana

August 18th, 2014 by Jackie Sentenne Pettit

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

Ancient Image of CannabisOld Cannabis medicine bottle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Label high in CBD

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

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

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

Cannabis bud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Launch your Paddle Adventure from Wildcat Cove at Larrabee State Park

August 11th, 2014 by Todd Elsworth

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

LarrabeeKayaking

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

ChuckanutSandstone

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

LarrabeeKayakingNorth

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

LarrabeeCanoeing

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

LarrabeeTandemKayaking

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

LarrabeeBirdPhotography

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

LarrabeeOystercatcher

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

Larrabee

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

August 11th, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

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

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

New Store: H&M

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next Up: Food

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

 

 

BWW

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

10.27.14 UPDATE! Buffalo Wild Wings is now open! Restaurant hours are 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m. Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m. Saturday and 9:00 a.m. – midnight Sunday.

 

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

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

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

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

Monday ‒ Saturday 10:00 a.m.‒9:00 p.m. Sunday 11:00 a.m.‒6:00 p.m.
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“Roughing It” at North Cascades Environmental Learning Center

August 4th, 2014 by Todd Elsworth

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

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

NCIaerial

Photo credit: North Cascades Institute

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

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

NCIELC

Photo credit: North Cascades Institute

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

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

NCIfood

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

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

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

2:30 – 4:00 Neighborhood Walks

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

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

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

NCIcircle

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

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

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

NCIBrooke

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

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

NCItrail

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

NCISourdough

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

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

NCIfairyhouses

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

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

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

NCIquestion

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

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

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

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

NCIMax

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

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

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

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

NCIindianpipe

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

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

NCIGlenCrew

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

NCIYouthLeadership

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

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

NCIhiding

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

NCIkids

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

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

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

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

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