Four Fabulous Solutions to ‘Getting the Wiggles Out’ in Whatcom County

December 15th, 2014 by Hilary Parker

Jump Around Fun Zone

Cold, rainy winter days can be a challenge for parents. Kids invariably begin to bounce off the walls about day two. Parents begin to climb the walls shortly thereafter.

It’s time to get the wiggles out.

Around Bellingham and Whatcom County, we have a number of solutions for disbursing all that pent-up energy without being out in the elements. Here are four fabulous ideas for getting those wiggles out.

1) Jump Around Fun Zone

Often voted to local “Best of” lists, the Jump Around Fun Zone is a warehouse filled with several giant inflatable “bouncy houses.” Kids, ages 2-10, can run, jump and play to their hearts’ content while mom and dad can sit at a cafĂ© table or on comfy couches.

The Fun Zone’s owners pride themselves on operating a clean, safe facility: No shoes or bare feet on the inflatables; only clean socks, please. A check-in, check-out system for the children helps keep track of the kiddos, and the equipment is even inspected by the state Labor & Industries department.

If your jumpers get hungry, the Fun Zone has a snack bar, or leave to grab a bite and come back – admission is good all day. (And a special tip for parents: Jump Around Fun Zone is located next door to Chocolate Necessities, an artisan chocolate shop. Pop in and grab a truffle, you won’t regret it.)

The details:

$8 per child, ages 2-10; children under 2 are free

Open Wednesday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.


2) Lynden Skateway

When I was in grade school, roller skating was the thing to do. By the time I reached high school, the local roller rinks had fallen out of favor and closed. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I moved to Bellingham to learn that nearby Lynden still had a roller rink. Roller skating is a fun social activity that certainly doesn’t seem like the excellent exercise that is really is.

Never roller skated? The Skateway offers lessons on Saturday mornings. “Helper carts” can also be rented for kiddos who don’t feel steady on their feet.

Of course, the Skateway also has a snack bar to keep skaters fueled up.

The details:

Check the Skateway website for details on times and admission. Special prices are offered throughout Christmas Break.

lyndenskateway.comIce skating at Bellingham Sportsplex


3) Ice skating at the Bellingham Sportsplex

Ok, so ice skating isn’t a warm, or entirely dry, activity, but it will definitely get the wiggles out. With Public Skate, Community Skate and Homeschool Skate times – all open to the public – there are several opportunities throughout the week to get on the ice.

Since not everyone is a natural on skates, the Sportsplex offers Learn to Skate programs on a regular basis. “Helper” rentals are also available, which made a big difference to my little guys the first time they got out on the ice. (Helmet rentals are also available.)

Kids who want more time on the ice can sign up for group or private lessons or join the Bellingham Mites kids’ hockey team.

The details:

Check the Sportsplex website for open skate times. Admission ranges from $2.50 to $6 depending on day/time; skate rental is an additional $2.50.


4) Bowling

With three bowling alleys around the county, there are plenty of options to get the family out to the lanes without driving too far from home. 20th Century bowling_littlesBowl is located in downtown Bellingham; Park Bowl is located in north Bellingham; and Mt. Baker Lanes is located in Ferndale.

While some people may equate bowling alleys with adult leagues a la the Big Lebowski, our local alleys are family friendly and even offer birthday parties.

Thanks to the “bumpers” that cover the gutters, bowling becomes accessible to even the littlest bowlers, which can be the start to a life-long enjoyment of the sport. To get kids interested, Mt. Baker Lanes offers free bowling for kids during the summer months.

The details:

Check the bowling alley’s websites for their hours of operation and pricing.

Bellingham’s Bars Serve Nicely Priced Cocktails

December 8th, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

“Jingle, jingle, jingle, you can hear my sleigh bells ring.
I am old Kris Kringle, now go buy all the things!”

Fountain Bistro,Bellingham, cocktails, happy hour

I know, I know, that’s not how the song goes, but I’m pretty sure that’s what Kris really means. This time of year, your wallet is probably getting tapped out quicker than a keg of Melvin 2×4. So take heed: I have prepared for you a wrap-up of Bellingham’s “bargain” cocktails, which might just help you keep both your sanity and your budget in check through this season of giving (a/k/a “spending”).

My goal was to find quality cocktails at friendly prices. And I think I way succeeded! So whether you’re out shopping (locally, of course), meeting long-lost friends, or simply need to have a lovely bartender or server set a delicious concoction in front of you, I’ve got just the place(s).

Downtown Bellingham Cocktails

The Temple Bar

Everyone I know loves the Temple Bar. I have been known to pen love letters to it—it’s that kind of place. Not only does it serve amazing food and inspired cocktails, but Temple Bar is kind enough to give us a real deal, just when we need it. Their happy hour is unbeatable, with a bottle of wine and a little cheese plate for $18, or a growler of Kulshan brew and a little cheese plate for $15—but how about $5 for a lovely Paloma, Whiskey Ginger, or Gin or Vodka Tonic? Unbelievable!

Temple Bar,Bellingham, cocktails, happy hour

$5 Paloma and a delicious snack.

My Paloma hit the spot nicely, combining tequila and grapefruit soda. Simply delicious. My mates shared in the fun with $1 off their house cocktails:

  • Apple Ginger Toddy: Cloud Mountain cider, bourbon, allspice dram, ginger ($7 during happy hour and only available while the Cloud Mountain cider holds out).
  • Borealis: Sun Liquor rum, ginger, lime, cilantro, coconut syrup, ginger beer. So exotic! This one definitely takes you out of Bellingham for a bit and it’s only $8 during happy hour.

Temple Bar,Bellingham, cocktails, happy hour
Temple Bar, 306 W. Champion St., Bellingham, WA 98225   360-676-8660
Happy Hour: 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., 7 days a week

The Real McCoy

Everyone I know also loves The Real McCoy. Last evening, we came in from the chilly pouring rain and instantly felt warmer. Brandon was behind the bar, as always, making it all look easy.

The Real McCoy,Bellingham, cocktails, happy hour

Old Fashioned with a real maraschino cherry

We three imbibed with a few happy hour specials:

  • House Old Fashioned – always on tap and served on a big rock ($7 happy hour).
  • King Hops – Big Gin, lemon, Domaine de Canton, rosemary syrup, cardamom bitters, IPA.
  • Giant Awakening: Coffee-infused Mezcal, Averna, Pur Blood Orange Spice Liqueur, Maple.

Each of Brandon’s superbly conceived and created drinks are $8 during happy hour, $9 the rest of the day. (Side note: in Seattle, they would probably be $11 or $12.) And a little bird tells me there will probably be a $7 eggnog special coming right up to warm your holidays. I’m swooning already, just imagining how delicious The Real McCoy’s eggnog will be.

King Hops, Giant Awakening

King Hops, Giant Awakening

The Real McCoy, 114 Prospect Street, Bellingham, WA 98225 360-392-8051
Happy Hour: 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., Wednesday – Sunday

Rock and Rye Oyster House

Rock and Rye Oyster House,Bellingham, cocktails, happy hour

The Spiced and Stormy

Read all about my super-fun visit to Rock and Rye Oyster House here. And to whet your appetite a bit more, here’s a reminder of their delicious happy hour specials that are definitely priced to please:

  • $6 Lemon Pepper Rickey – Peppercorn infused vodka, lemon, soda.
  • $6 Spiced and Stormy – Spiced infused rum, lime, ginger beer.
  • $5 House Manhattan – Bourbon, sweet vermouth, aromatic bitters.
  • $5 House Martini – Gin, dry vermouth, twist.

Rock and Rye Oyster House, 1145 N. State Street, Bellingham, WA 98225 360-746-6130
Happy Hour: 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m. – close, Tuesday – Sunday

Cocktails in Fairhaven

The Archer Ale House

There’s more than just beer here! Archer’s is known for its huge selection of whiskies—over 130 to choose from, for all you bourbon, scotch and whiskey lovers.


Here’s what’s happening in the below-street-level pub:

  • Whiskey Wednesday: 20% off whiskeys, $3 benchmark Kentucky Bourbon, $5 scratch whiskey ginger, lots of seasonal cocktail specials.
  • Well drinks made with premium liquors range from $4.50 to $6.00 during happy hour.

The Archer Ale House, 1212 10th St, Bellingham, WA 98225 360-647-7002
Happy Hour: 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., Tuesday – Friday

Skylark’s Cafe

Skylark's, Fairhaven,Bellingham, cocktails, happy hour
Skylark’s bar will fix you up with a $3 well drink during happy hour. Or, get $1 off house cocktails. Popular selections include the Hershey’s Kiss martini ($7 during happy hour) and the Bloody Mary ($5 at happy hour), which you can have with house-made garlic-infused vodka for a mere dollar more. And all you mimosa lovers will love this one: Katie’s Killer Mimosa is made with champagne, orange vodka and a splash of Grand Marnier, muddled with fresh orange slices, orange juice and a dash of pineapple juice. Instead of a fancy flute, this masterpiece is served in a pint glass, and for only $7!

Skylark’s, 1308 11th St, Bellingham WA 98225 360-715-3642
Happy Hour: 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. to midnight, Sunday – Thursday

While I can’t say I hit every single one of these fine establishments this week (a girl’s gotta eat, too!), I have been to each of them more than once over the years. Trust me when I say you—and your wallet—are in good hands, no matter where you choose to take a break this crazy season!

Tourism Industry Ringing in a New Era for State-wide Marketing

December 8th, 2014 by Loni Rahm

The Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) is the non-governmental industry-led association formed after the Legislators defunded the Washington State Tourism office in 2011. With meager, bare-bones funding support — primarily to keep the ExperienceWA website online and distribute Travel Guides – WTA has focused on developing a plan to secure stable funding.

In October, WTA board members and staff began an extensive regional outreach program, designed to provide information to the membership and tourism industry partners about the long-term funding plan and proposed 2015 legislation.

After many months of research, WTA is prepared to submit a report to the state legislature on December 1, 2014. Under legislation passed earlier in 2014, the WTA is directed to report back to the legislature on the plan to fund the statewide tourism marketing program. In a feature entitled “A Program Taking Shape”, Becky Bogard WTA’s legislative advocate indicated “the proposed program follows many of the principles initially identified by WTA’s long term funding committee: it will be industry funded and governed. The funds collected will be protected to the maximum extent possible and there will be accountability for expenditure of the funds”.

The funding model is based upon an assessment on the 5 key tourism industry business sectors: lodging, restaurants, retail, attractions and transportation. Each sector will be assessed incrementally to collectively provide a percentage of the overall State-wide destination marketing campaign – projected at a minimum of $7.5 million annually. This is still substantially below the money invested by British Columbia, Oregon, California, Alaska and other states/provinces vying for Washington’s tourism market share. Our nearest budgetary travel competitor is the State of Montana who has doubled their destination marketing investment to $18 million while Washington’s marketing has lay dormant.

Washington State Tourism Funding graph

The proposed funding level will allow WTA and tourism partners to finally begin preparing the framework of a consistent ongoing marketing plan for tourism promotion which has been absent for the past three plus years.

Regional meetings are being held throughout the state to encourage involvement in the conversation, learn about proposed legislation which will be presented during the 2015 session, and help guide decisions and activities. Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism is hosting an informational presentation for its membership on Wednesday, December 17, 5:00 p.m. at the Best Western PLUS Lakeway Inn. If you have questions or would like to RSVP, please contact .

The final step in re-development of a state-wide tourism marketing plan will be the anticipated passage of legislation for collection and disbursement of the assessments. Four of the five key business sectors would pay an annual one-time assessment ranging from $100 to $3,500. This would be collected by the Secretary of State’s corporate reporting system. Lodging is proposed at 15-cents per room night to be collected by the Department of Revenue’s existing system of collecting and distributing lodging taxes.

Tourism industry partners will be holding their 5th Annual WTA Summit and Day in Olympia on February 12, 2015. In years past, several hundred people from across the state have gathered to discuss tourism topics and issues of potential impact. This year, the goal will be to garner the support necessary to approve the funding program developed by WTA to implement the tourism marketing plan.

Given the lack of fiscal impact on the state itself, we anticipate overwhelming approval.

For additional information, please visit

Holiday Events in Whatcom County

November 30th, 2014 by Annette

When the sun dips below the horizon, and the year comes to a close, Whatcom County lights up with festivities for all, in true northern style. Here is a 2014 list of must-see holiday events in Bellingham, Blaine, Ferndale and Lynden. Bring your camera to capture photos of Santa, and enjoy the fun!

Free Horse Drawn Carriage Rides and Santa in Fairhaven, Dec. 6, 13, 20. The Fairhaven Village Inn continues its holiday tradition as host of Santa Claus and free horse-drawn carriage rides through historic Fairhaven in Bellingham, WA the first three Saturdays in December from noon to 3 p.m. Cramer Classics, based out of Lynden, will begin and end the rides outside the front doors of the Inn at 1200 10th Street Bellingham, WA 98225. Warm up in the lobby and give holiday wish-lists to Santa and Mrs. Claus.

An Irish Christmas, Mount Baker Theatre, Dec. 2. This wildly popular show brings just about everything to the table, blending music, storytelling, song, and dance into an event that sparkles with life and a bit of magic. Singers spin tunes out of the mists and into the familiar “Silent Night,” “Little Drummer Boy,” and “Carol of the Bells.” Riverdance foot-tappers dance through generations of Christmas traditions and celebrations of life, into the world of mythology and out again. Superb music-makers pour their hearts into their pipes, flutes, fiddles, accordions, and bodhráns to ensure a rip-roaring evening of Irish merrymaking. This joyful night invites you to refresh your spirit, dust off your cares, and dance home with a smile in your heart. Tuesday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets at Mount Baker Theatre.

A Christmas Story: The Musical in Lynden, Dec. 4 – 14. Who can resist Ralphie and his 1940s quest for a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas? The Lynden Perfoming Arts Guild presents this classic at the Claire Vg Thomas Theatre (inside the Dutch Village Mall at 655 Front Street) Thursday and Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, and $8 for children aged 4 years and older.

Miracle on 34th Street, Bellingham Theatre Guild, Dec. 4 – 14. Settle in for a time-honored story, as a white-bearded gentleman claiming to be the real Santa Claus brings about a genuine miracle, spreading a wave of love throughout New York City, fostering camaraderie between Macy’s and Gimbels department stores, and proving that Santa is no myth. Performances at the Bellingham Theatre Guild are at 7:30 p.m. on Thurs., Fri., Sat., and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $14 adults, $12 seniors and students, and $8 children.

This gingerbread boat and Bellingham Terminal was created by the crew of the Alaska Ferry for the Holiday Port contest!

This gingerbread ship and Bellingham Terminal was created by the crew of the Alaska Ferry Malaspina for the Bellingham Holiday Port Celebration contest!

Holiday Port Celebration, Dec. 5 – 7. Two special highlights of this year’s holiday event at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal will be free tours of the Alaska Ferry on Friday, Dec. 5 from noon to 5 p.m., and tours of the Schooner Zodiac on Saturday, Dec. 6 from noon to 3 p.m. Be sure to bring your I.D. to take part in these great opportunities. The Holiday Port Celebration features an incredible Gingerbread House (and gingerbread everything) Competition, sponsored by the Port of Bellingham. Come see holiday creativity at its finest. The fun also includes performances from local bands, choirs and dance troupes, along with fire truck rides, horse-drawn wagon rides, art activities for children and photos with Santa Claus.

  • Hours for the overall event are Friday, noon to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Downtown Bellingham Tree-lighting and Art Walk, Dec. 5. Bellingham’s Depot Market Square will be host to a special ceremony on Friday, Dec. 5 at 5:30 p.m., to include the lighting of a majestic tree, a special Bellingham Farmers Market pop up gift market featuring handcrafted treasures and delicious treats, a visit from Santa, holiday music, refreshments provided by The Woods Coffee and more. The December Downtown Art Walk follows for a full evening of seasonal fun in downtown Bellingham, 6 – 10 p.m.

Whatcom Museum’s Deck the [Old City] Hall – Holiday Cheer Kick-off Party, Dec. 5. Support the Whatcom Museum Foundation at this special fundraiser from 5 to 7 p.m. Tickets are $50/person and can be purchased at the Whatcom Museum Store. The Museum’s historic 1892 Old City Hall building will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in December with special holiday music, shopping and decorated trees.


Old Fashioned Christmas in Ferndale, Dec. 5 – 7. This is an event for kids, parents and grandparents to share in the joys of Christmas past, as well as Christmas present. Each year, volunteers of the Ferndale Heritage Society meticulously decorate the 12 historic, log cabins in Pioneer Park. Kids can write a letter to Santa in the one-room school house, mail them in the one-room post office, dance a jig, create a craft and visit Santa.

  • Hours are Friday, Dec. 5 from 5 to 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 6 from 1 to 9 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 7 from 1 to 4 pm Tickets are $4 for adults and $3 for children. Pioneer Park is located at 2004 Cherry Street in Ferndale.

Holiday Harbor Lights in Blaine, Dec. 5 – 7. A variety of activities occur in Blaine on this first weekend of December.  On Saturday, Dec. 6, a community tree-lighting takes place at 4:30 p.m., followed by the arrival of Santa by firetruck at 5 p.m. A lighted boat parade in Drayton Harbor can be viewed from 6 to 7 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, Dec. 5 – 6, a Homemade Arts and Crafts Christmas Bazaar takes place at the Blaine Community Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 6 – 7 a Holiday Art and Gift Market takes place at the Blaine Harbor Gallery. For more details see Blaine Holiday Harbor Lights.


Lynden Lighted Christmas Parade, Dec. 6. Bring your parka, your warm boots, your lawn chairs and a thermos of hot cocoa to warm your spirit with a dazzling display of lighted fire trucks, tractors, dump trucks, cars, floats, wagons and farm equipment down Lynden’s Front Street, snow or shine! The procession starts at Fairway Center and travels east along Front Street through downtown, beginning at 6 p.m.


Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt in Lynden, Dec. 6, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Find all eight elves in downtown Lynden businesses, and your name may be drawn to win a pile of Christmas gifts. (smart phones are encouraged but not required to participate) Information at Edward Jones office, 517 Front St, or Lynden DBA Facebook page. Other activities that day happening on Front Street include: Decorating Christmas Cookies at Hats Off, A Silent Auction featuring experiences & events to enjoy (great gift ideas), photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, Nativity display, a collection of nativity sets for the public to view and Skate with Santa at Lynden Skateway.

Allied Arts Holiday Festival of the Arts, continues through Dec. 24. This 35th annual festival features the work of over 100 local artisans and craftspeople. The affordable, locally handmade products range from jewelry, paintings, wearable art, specialty foods, and art from found materials. Fill your weekends with live local music, artist demos and workshops, and bring the kids in for fun art projects. The 2014 festival is located at 4145 Meridian St., Bellingham (near Park Bowl and next to the new Burlington Coat Factory).

  • Hours are Wed. through Sun., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, and Nov. 27. Also closing at 3 pm on Dec. 24. The Holiday Festival is open two bonus days: Mon. and Tues Dec 22 and 23 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Have a Merry Grinchmas and Grow Your Heart Three Sizes at Village Books, Dec. 1 – 24.  Take part in Village Books’ Grinch Community Cares project, aimed at spreading good deeds throughout the community, while building a sense of togetherness and holiday spirit. Stop by the store and pick up an official “Good Deed Tracker Booklet” which gives suggestions for 25 days of good deeds (like supporting local independent businesses). Fill out at least three good deeds and return to Village Books for a special gift. The Grinchmas celebration also benefits the store’s annual Giving Tree program. Purchase two Dr. Seuss books at Village Books and they will donate a Dr. Seuss book to a child through their Giving Tree program.

  • Expanded holiday hours at Village Books and Paper Dreams are Monday–Saturday: 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. and Sundays: 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Christmas Eve 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., New Year’s Eve 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and New Year’s Day 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Antique and Vintage Shopping in Bellingham

November 24th, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

Interesting antique and vintage stores with goodies from India to France (and everywhere in between) are sprinkled throughout Bellingham and Whatcom County, Washington. In fact, there are so many that I couldn’t cover them all in a single post! So today, I’ll introduce you to two very new and unusual shops that I think you’ll like as much as I do.

StoneHouse Artifacts

Our first stop is StoneHouse Artifacts, which specializes in “Treasures from Colonial India,” and is located just a few miles east of Bellingham, off of Route 542. The brand-new shop is adjacent to the home of its proprietors, Lydia McCauley and Kurt Scherer, and filled with French, Dutch and British Colonial pieces, rustic art, and hard-to find artifacts from all over India. Now, I haven’t yet traveled to the Indian subcontinent, but like many, have always found its history and culture fascinating. And if you enjoy the furnishings and folk art from that part of the world, then StoneHouse Artifacts is going to be your new favorite!


Clockwise from upper left: StoneHouse Artifacts building, Lydia McCauley, Horse, figurine in display case.

Each piece has been hand-selected by Kurt and Lydia, who have traveled many times to India (and beyond) and created their shop around their passion for the furniture, collectibles and textiles from that part of the world. Lydia McCauley is also a well-known musician, composer and performer, while Kurt is a builder who incorporated Indian materials and architectural elements into their home and shop.

Stone House Artifacts, antiques, India, Bellingham, furniture, collectibles, folk art

Clockwise from upper left: Door detail, indigenous canoe on cabinets, filing cabinet, kitchen cupboard with cooking pot.

Rosewood, teak, jackwood and ebony pieces anchor the shop, and include apothecary and dowry chests, tables, doors and cabinets of all kinds. Folk art items, such as a (very rare) Himalayan juicer, assorted marapachi dolls and fabric stamps with various patterns are also prominent. Bronze tribal pieces are displayed against warm white walls, while rustic bindi boxes sit atop a table.

Stone House Artifacts, antiques, India, Bellingham, furniture, collectibles, folk art

Clockwise from upper left: rosewood door, Tikka or Bindi boxes, cooking pot, Pooja (prayer) cabinet detail.

Huge, hand-carved doors are propped up here and there, some featuring a deity to protect the home’s inhabitants. Seeing them made me wish I had a home worthy of such a grand entrance! The shop also features plenty of practical items that any home can handle, like low-slung beds that have been repurposed into coffee tables, and beautifully carved beds and benches.

Stone House Artifacts, antiques, India, Bellingham, furniture, collectibles, folk art

Clockwise from upper left: prints, shawls and scarves, granite grinding stones, campaign chest, primitive juicer (yes, juicer!).

Kurt and Lydia gave me quite an education, describing such interesting details and stories about the folk art and furniture, the shawls and textiles. They are both very knowledgable, warm and welcoming. I can’t wait to return, see what’s new and share a cup of chai with them.

StoneHouse Artifacts has something for just about everyone. Whether you’re a fan of the British-Dutch-French-Indian cultural mashup or not, the history is fascinating, and every piece in the shop has a significance and beauty all its own.

StoneHouse Artifacts
4471 Squalicum Lake Road, Bellingham, WA 98226
(360) 647-0152
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
StoneHouse Artifacts on Facebook


Ormolulu, antiques, France, Bellingham, furniture, collectibles, folk art, vintage

Now let’s hop over to Ormolulu, a fabulous shop in downtown Bellingham that looks to Europe and America for its eclectic mix of “rough luxe” (I love that term!), industrial chic, and farmhouse decor, along with French antiques and artifacts, and tons of fun vintage finds that would look right at home in most any home.


Clockwise from upper left: Ormolulu interior sign, lovely vignette, the mannequin who greets visitors, globe and painted screen.

Ormolulu is owned by Debi Burton and Jim Blondeau, who have many years of experience in antiques and vintage décor. After traveling to antique shows throughout the region for two decades, they recently decided to get off the road and establish a brick-and-mortar shop.

Ormolulu, antiques, France, Bellingham, furniture, collectibles, folk art, vintage

Clockwise from upper left: Italian fireplace screen, windmill blades, driftwood and skulls, wonderful chair and pillow.

And what a shop! Jim and Debi remodeled, opened up and brightened the 3,000-square-foot space, which for many years was home to the Blue Horse Gallery. Debi’s interior design background is evident throughout. Ormolulu is visually stunning, with every item displayed to perfection. But don’t worry—it’s not a “look-but-don’t-touch” sort of place at all. It’s approachable, fun and funky, with surprises around every corner.

Ormolulu, antiques, France, Bellingham, furniture, collectibles, folk art, vintage

Clockwise from upper left: Spools in baby buggy, stack of suitcases, cool old cart and horns, horns, horns!

Ormolulu has an eclectic collection of both serious and fanciful items that are fun to look at. They’d be even more fun to enjoy every day in your bedroom, kitchen, living room or wherever they might land. I spied everything from authentic twin bell alarm clocks to the most fabulous Mid-century Modern light fixtures ever, along with ram skulls, Art Deco lamps, metal cabinets, embroidered pillows, painted screens and vintage suitcases. Oh, and windmill blades! And antique lockers! I could go on, but really, you should just get yourself to downtown Bellingham and check it out for yourself.

Ormolulu, antiques, France, Bellingham, furniture, collectibles, folk art, vintage

Fun Holiday decor, featuring Sno-Kone string lights that I’m obsessed with!

When you go to Ormolulu, be sure to take advantage of free parking in the lot behind the building (on the Bay Avenue side). They are open four days a week, from Friday to Monday, noon to 6:00 p.m. Where are Debi and Jim the other three days? Lucky for us, they’re traveling around, curating more amazing items for the shop so we can bring them home.

With Debi’s warm and friendly advice, and Ormolulu’s thoughtfully chosen and high-quality goods, it’s easy to make your home industrial, chic and luxe, even if you’re not an interior designer. (And if you are, my advice is to get yourself down there right now!)

301 West Holly Street, Bellingham, WA 98225
(360) 201-9535
Ormolulu on Facebook

Looking for “traditional” antiques? Check back for my next post, which will cover many more options!

See Teresa’s Insider Shopping Topics, or our Shopping page for more fun ideas.

Backcountry Preparedness at the Mt. Baker Beacon (+BACON) Rally

November 24th, 2014 by Todd Elsworth

Head up to the Mt. Baker Ski Area on Saturday, December 13, 2014 to prepare and practice for a safe season of snowbound fun ahead. The Baker Beacon (+ BACON) Rally is fully loaded and ready to release a ton of fun and education for FREE. This event is for people with the prerequisite knowledge and standard equipment. Practice makes perfect and will help keep you and your ski buddies alive and well through the season. Photo below is a naturally released avalanche in the Mt. Baker Ski Area backcountry wilderness area.

100 year avlanche

Grant Gunderson Photography

Mt Baker Education Center, REI and a sluff-load of avalanche educators invite you to a free Backcountry Education Day at Mt Baker. Learn and practice basic search technique with your beacon, shovel and probe. Beginners and Seasoned Veterans are welcome. Beacon practice stations, companion rescue demonstrations and a two lane beacon search race course with over $6,000 in SWAG means you should be there if spending time out of bounds. Attendees should have their own Beacon, Probe and Shovel.” – REI Bellingham


Pat Kennedy Photography

“The event is designed for someone to arrive any time between 11am-2pm and participate. We have a 2 lane race course with multiple beacons to search for in each lane. 2 multiple burial scenarios for people to practice in team scenarios.  8 stations to practice with an avalanche educator on beacon, probe & shovel use. And three speakers giving talks on avalanche rescue topics in 15 minute sessions.  No set schedule will allow maximum flexibility towards education. Arrive, and participate in what you prefer.  More participation means more raffle tickets towards the $6,000 in prizes,” explains Pat Kennedy, Event Organizer, Great Guy and Photographer! The rest of the event team includes Jeff Hambelton, Eliah Drake-Raue, Sierra Sahlfeld and Kerry Herman.


Pat Kennedy Photography

Shown above is Steve Christie, Director of Sales at Backcountry Access (BCA), talking about terrain evaluation at the Mt. Baker Beacon Rally 2013 – story by Mt. Baker Experience Magazine.

Below is one of the happy past winners of a 3 day Level 1 AIARE course from the American Alpine Institute (AAI), based in Bellingham, WA, which offers many courses (and global trips) to choose from. These courses are essential for all types of snow-bound explorers. “On average 37 people are killed each year by avalanches in the United States alone. Almost all of these avalanches are started by the people caught in them. Some basic level or training and knowledge can dramatically increase your margin of safety while traveling in the backcountry.” – AAI.


Pat Kennedy Photography

Oh yea, and BACON – 50 pounds of yummy goodness from Carne Bellingham will be served at the event. I heard they even hide it in the snow to rescue! Quite the find.


Pat Kennedy Photography

Get your ski partners together and head up to the mountain to hone your skills, play in the snow, win some prizes and EAT BACON!

Mount Baker Beacon Rally
Mt. Baker Ski Area
Saturday, December 13th
Start: 11:00 am
Awards:  2:30-3:00 pm

FREE Event

Bring your Avalanche Beacon, Shovel and Probe!

Photography Credits: Grant Gunderson & Pat Kennedy. Thanks Guys!!

For Reference:

Mt Baker Safety – Mountain Education Programs

Northwest Avalanche Center

See Todd’s Insider Topics for more outdoor recreation tips near Bellingham

Black Friday shopping in Bellingham

November 24th, 2014 by Annette

Black Friday seems to have turned into Thursday and Friday this year, below is a list of special opening times for stores at Bellis Fair Mall, on the Guide Meridian and throughout Bellingham for holiday shopping mania Nov. 27 – 28, 2014. Since Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 27 is a national holiday, most stores will close for a least some part of that day. Many will then reopen on either Thursday evening or early Friday morning and then stay open for extended hours.

Bellis Fair Mall

The mall will close at its regular time, 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 26. It will stay closed on Thursday morning and mid-day to observe Thanksgiving, then re-open the main doors at 4 p.m. on Nov. 27.

Stores within the mall opening at special times on Nov. 27 include the following. Many stay open through the night.

  • Old Navy, 4 p.m.
  • JC Penney, 5 p.m.
  • Kohl’s, 6 p.m.
  • Target, 6 p.m.
  • Abercrombie, 6 p.m.
  • Aeropostale, 6 p.m.
  • American Eagle, 6 p.m.
  • Champs Sports, 6 p.m.
  • Charlotte Russe, 6 p.m.
  • Claire’s, 6 p.m.
  • Finish Line, midnight
  • Footlocker, 6 p.m.
  • Forever 21, 6 p.m.
  • Game Stop, midnight
  • Gap, 6 p.m.
  • H&M, midnight
  • Hollister, 6 p.m.
  • Justice, 8 p.m.
  • Lady Footlocker, 6 p.m.
  • Macy’s, midnight
  • Maurices, 6 p.m.
  • Payless Shoes, 6 p.m.
  • Sports Authority, 6 p.m.
  • Victoria’s Secret, 6 p.m.
  • Wet Seal, 6 p.m.
  • See a full list of open and close times for stores within Bellis Fair Mall.

Guide Meridian Box Stores

Opening on Thursday evening, Nov. 27

  • Michaels, 4 p.m.
  • Best Buy, 5 p.m.
  • Office Depot, 6 p.m.
  • Walmart, 6 p.m.
  • Sears Hometown store, 6 p.m.

Opening early on Friday, Nov. 28

  • DeWaard & Bode, 5 a.m.
  • Bed Bath & Beyond, 6 a.m.
  • Guitar Center, 6 a.m.
  • Burlington Coat Factory, 7 a.m.
  • Costco, 7 a.m.
  • PetSmart, 7 a.m.
  • Pier 1 Imports, 8 a.m.

Sunset Drive Stores

Opening on Thurs., Nov. 27

  • Kmart, 6 a.m.
  • Office Max, 6 p.m.

Opening early on Friday, Nov. 28

  • Lowe’s, 5 a.m.
  • Jo-Ann Fabrics, 6 a.m.
  • Harbor Freight Tools, 7 a.m.

James Street Stores

Opening on Friday, Nov. 28

  • Judd & Black, 9 a.m.
  • Trader Joe’s, 8 a.m.


Many businesses in the Historic Fairhaven District stay open late on Friday, Nov. 28 to kick off the Fairhaven Holiday Festival with a special art walk event from 5 to 8 p.m.

Businesses participating in the art walk and closing late on Friday, Nov. 28 include:

  • A Lot of Flowers
  • Brenthaven
  • Silvery Moon
  • Colophon CafĂ©
  • Whatcom Art Market
  • 12th Street Shoes
  • Three French Hens
  • The Garden Room
  • Artwood
  • Good Earth Pottery
  • Renaissance Celebration
  • Fairy Godmother’s Unlimited
  • Bay to Baker Trading Company
  • Drizzle
  • Paper Dreams
  • Village Books
  • Fairhaven Toy Garden
  • Skylarks Hidden Cafe
  • Whimsey
  • Morgan Block Studios

Happy Shopping!

SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention is one part science, one part entertainment

November 17th, 2014 by Hilary Parker


Kids explore the SPARK Museum, Bellingham, WA

I’ve been hearing for months now, “Mom, when are you going to take us to SPARK?”

My children visited the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention last spring with their dad and have been looking forward to a return visit since then.

So we finally ventured out on a blustery November afternoon to Bay Street in downtown Bellingham, which is becoming a hub for arts and dining. Boy watches sound waves at SPARK Museum, Belingham, WA(In fact, we started our day’s adventure around the corner at Rocket Donuts, a 1950’s sci-fi-themed doughnut shop.)

Exhibits at SPARK feature some of the earliest experiments to discover and understand electricity along with all sorts of collections of antique communications equipment, including military radios, phonographs, some of the earliest television sets and telephone switchboards. I was fascinated by an early, circa 1880, stock market ticker, one of Thomas Edison’s many inventions.

The museum features several hands-on opportunities: Take a peek through a stereoscope, experiment with electricity, see sound waves or make music with a Theramin.

Upstairs, kids can get even more hands-on discovery time with a room devoted to them. My kids loved the old-fashioned typewriter, a collection of magnets and simply creating mosaics with little plastic tiles. All of the activities are fairly low-tech, and I marveled at how, with a museum full of gadgets, they were easily amused for an hour with these simple toys. I reluctantly had to pull them away before our parking meter ran out. Girls try out a Theramin at the SPARK Museum, Bellingham, WA

On weekends, visitors to the museum can catch the MegaZapper, one of the largest Tesla coil “lightning machines” in the country. (Museum staff recommends children younger than 5 skip this show – it’s safe, but quite loud.)

The museum staff is full of passionate employees and volunteers who are excited to show off the collections and encourage visitors to interact with the exhibits. They made our visit that much more enjoyable.

While we were there, visitors came in every age range, from grandparents with toddlers, to a college-age couple on a date, to grade-schoolers; and everyone appeared to be having fun.

Now I know why my kids were so insistent that I come see SPARK for myself.

If you go

The SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention is open Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children under 11. For more information, visit

More rainy-day fun in downtown Bellingham

When the weather finally turns too cold and wet to brave the outdoors, there are plenty of indoor options in the downtown area to amuse (and educate!) the family.


Just around the corner from SPARK on Holly Street, is Mindport. Part art galley, part interactive exhibits, Mindport uniquely merges art and science with exhibits that range from music to mechanics.

Whatcom Museum FIG

The FIG, short for Family Interactive Gallery, has activity areas for the tiniest of tots (0-3) to adults who love to play. Kids can play dress up, build things, dance and more at 15 different interactive stations. The FIG studio is the place for creating your own museum-worthy art.

For additional venues and ideas visit our Museums and Galleries page.


Happy Hour at Bellingham’s Rock and Rye Oyster House

November 17th, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

Wondering what happened to the Oyster Bar at Bayou on Bay? Or are you just in the mood for an authentic oyster house, where you can load up on food and cocktails in a comfortable space? Either way, head straight to Rock and Rye Oyster House on State Street in Downtown Bellingham.

Rock and Rye, Bellingham, Cocktails, Bar, Happy Hour, Downtown, Oysters

Baltimore, schmaltimore. Pacific oysters, please!

Everyone who loved the old Oyster Bar but had a hard time squeezing in during busy times will be happy to know they can spread out in this new, bigger space, and still get the same great cocktails. And as one would expect, Rock and Rye’s menu is chock full of oysters—from Kumamoto to Hama Hama (and mostly from Washington).

But as you may have noticed, this is a booze blog, so we’re going to (mostly) skip that side of the menu and proceed directly to the reason we were there—Happy Hour.

Everyone deserves a little reward for working hard every day, and at Rock and Rye, rewards come in the form of nicely mixed cocktails at easy-on-the-wallet prices. Between the eight of us, we managed to cover the table with several of the rotating happy hour specials (these are Happy Hour prices):

  • Spiced and Stormy – Spice-infused rum, ginger beer, lime. $6.00
  • Lemon Pepper Rickey – Peppercorn-infused vodka, lemon (lots) and soda. A new twist on the Lime Rickeys of yesteryear. $6.00
  • House Manhattan – Bourbon, sweet vermouth, bitters, twist. $5.00
  • House Martini – Gin, dry vermouth, twist. $5.00
  • Beer – Wander Petite Monk Table Beer. $4
  • Cider – Woodchuck Granny Smith. $4
Rock and Rye, Bellingham, Cocktails, Bar, Happy Hour, Downtown, Oysters

From top left: house Manhattan and Martini, Lemon Pepper Rickey, beer, Spiced and Stormy.

That’s one great thing about the new Rock and Rye—we had room for eight of us (eventually 10)! I always recommend gathering with a large group of friends, so you can taste everyone’s drink. It’s very helpful when planning your next round. Some of the comments I heard around the table included a wish for a local cider option (Woodchuck is from Vermont, and “a rather pedestrian offering”), as well as an appreciation for the lovely ice cubes in my Lemon Pepper Rickey. Overall, we were very happy with our choices.

The standard cocktail menu shows a nice splash of creativity, and drinks range from $7.00 – $10.00—still quite reasonable. Call liquors are extra, naturally. One might choose from the Nettle Gimlet, the Two Twelve, the Doctor Cocktail, the Hoptonic, the Heart of Oaxaca or many more (with specials and surprises always).


Rock and Rye, Bellingham, Cocktails, Bar, Happy Hour, Downtown, Oysters

Rock and Rye’s atmosphere is lovely. It’s in the Bellingham Herald building, in a space that once housed the newspaper’s printing press. Inside, it’s all gleaming wood, metal and exposed brick, with natural light streaming in from each end. Old-fashioned light fixtures look right at home, and a beautiful metal staircase takes you up to the mezzanine. And when the weather warms up, you can grab a table outside on the deck.

The bar is 25 feet long, and backed with an impressive selection of liquors, liqueurs, bitters, infusions and magical potions—enough to make any pick-me-up one might imagine. Plus, there are 12 rotating beers on tap and a handful of red, white, rose and sparkling wines to choose from.

Rock and Rye, Bellingham, Cocktails, Bar, Happy Hour, Downtown, Oysters

I mentioned a wide selection of oysters, did I not? You can order ‘em up raw, fried or fixed up all fancy. A half-dozen set my friend back just ten bucks during Happy Hour. Our group also tried a couple orders of thick, hand-cut fries (I’m a fat fry fan), the steamer clams, a brisket slider and the Tom Tom Taco (pork shoulder, in case you’re wondering). The food received mostly thumbs up. Mostly. It was all reasonably priced, which always helps when you’re just out for a mid-week drink-and-snack. I mean, a big bowl of fries for $3.00? Such a deal!

Rock and Rye, Bellingham, Cocktails, Bar, Happy Hour, Downtown, Oysters

Rock and Rye serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (the menu looks pretty decadent), and Sunday is Ladies Night, with specials on bubbly, house cocktails, cheese plates and chocolate torte. Because we love bubbles, cheese and chocolate, right, ladies?

All in all, Rock and Rye has all the ingredients to make you happy any time of the day, but especially during Happy Hour. I will see you there soon!

Rock and Rye Oyster House, 1145 N. State Street, Bellingham, Washington 98225

Happy Hour: 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m. – close
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday: 3:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Friday: 3:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Rock and Rye on Facebook 

Tourism Bureau Launches Basecamp Bellingham Campaign

November 10th, 2014 by Loni Rahm

Ask a Whatcom County resident what they like the most about living here, and they’ll most likely answer with a verb. Kayaking, Hiking, Skiing, Biking etc. We are an active place. Regardless of the weather, regardless of the season, Whatcom County residents like doing things.

So do our visitors.

Recreational activities and events are a big draw for our region. Much of the Tourism Bureau’s year-around destination marketing efforts target an active audience who come to Whatcom County specifically to participate in recreational pursuits. There’s a lot we know about them, but there’s a lot more we’d like to know.

Which is one of the reasons Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism is partnering with Recreation Northwest, The Port of Bellingham, City of Bellingham and Whatcom County on a Whatcom Recreation Economy Study.   Earth Economics was recently contracted by the State of Washington to conduct a statewide study on the business end of recreation. Working together, we were able to attach a local component into the Earth Economics data gathering and research that will cull out the impacts of recreation business within Whatcom County. The report, which will be released next spring, will be used to gain a better understanding of the size and scope of existing as well as potential job creation in the recreation sector.

In addition to the research component, a marketing partnership has been formed between the Tourism Bureau and race/active event producers to collectively promote the region. Named Basecamp Bellingham, the campaign will feature the “human powered” outdoor activities and special events held in and around Bellingham. When you consider all the running, mountain biking, road biking, paddling, snowboarding, skiing, adventure racing and multi-sport events throughout the year, it’s no wonder our area has a reputation for world class recreation. Ads that tout our recreational prowess are being placed in annual race calendars, on event oriented websites and in special interest publications.

A basic website,, was activated last month to coincide with the Washington State Trails Convention held in Bellingham. We will continue to add content, blogs, maps, photos and event details to the website. The Tourism Bureau will also be soliciting participant pictures and videos through an ongoing photo contest that highlights the recreational amenities of our region and the people who enjoy them.

You don’t have to be a visitor to participate in our photo contests. We love sharing the joyous faces and scenic beauty of Whatcom County that are captured with your cameras and phones. We may be able to incorporate your fabulous images onto our website, in our visitors guides and other publications, and in our promotional campaigns. Just go to for photo contest details.

Get out and get up to Damfino Lakes and Excelsior Ridge

November 10th, 2014 by Todd Elsworth

For fantastic views of Mount Baker and the North Cascades head up to Damfino Lakes and beyond into the high country of Excelsior Ridge. Take the Mount Baker Highway, aka EAST 542, through the charming towns of Maple Falls and Glacier. “About 2 miles east of the Glacier Public Service Center, just beyond the Douglas Fir Campground, turn left onto Canyon Creek Forest Road 31. Drive to the marked and developed trailhead near the end of the road in about 15 miles,” -excerpt from Best Short Hikes in Washington’s North Cascades & San Juan Islands – The Mountaineers. By E.M. Sterling, Bob Spring, Ira Spring.


“From the trailhead begin at an old clear-cut, then quickly enter mature forest. Encounter a junction in 0.7 miles. The left fork is Canyon Ridge Trail #689, which connects to Boundary Way Trail #688. Take the right fork to reach Damfino Lakes in 0.1 mile. Tiny lakes are skirted by a puncheon bridge walkway and surrounded by blueberry bushes that turn a blazing scarlet in autumn. Stop and look for young salamanders in the shallows.”- Damfino Lakes Trail #625. We were fortunate to have gorgeous weather with blue skies and no wind. This made for the perfect conditions for the symmetrical reflection of the landscape on the tarnlike lakes. These lakes were named when a ranger who was asked the name of the lakes replied “Damn if I know.” –


Our timing enabled us to catch the explosion of fall colors as we made our way up the 3 miles to our destination: Excelsior Ridge. I knew that the hike would be a “stretch goal” with my 6 year old daughter and that near the end, she may need a “sherpa” to get her to the saddle of the ridge. We sang songs and played word games to keep her mind off the distance, for a while. We didn’t share the details of the hike ahead of time, but Violet could see the elevation gain ahead. After some “discussion”, she found the lift needed to get her UP to a reasonable elevation.

Once up on Excelsior Ridge, we enjoyed a brief picnic and roaming the small network of trails that cross-cross the saddle. I had the urge to frolic through the open meadows as though we were in The Sound of Music singing The Hills are Alive. While inviting, we didn’t trounce the fragile landscape to help ensure that it is there for “our kids” in the future.


From vantage points on the ridge you can look in all directions- to the North, East, South and West (Violet reminds me to Never Eat Soggy Waffles) and capture the images of surrounding ridges, peaks and the grandeur of Mt. Baker rising above it all.


Ready to head back down with renewed energy, Violet said, “Dad, let’s GO!” and we started bounding down the trail. It was one of those proud parent moments when you are watching your kid excel in an activity. She was trail running with ease. The purposefulness of the placement of her little feet was exciting to watch. The confidence of her ability to navigate the roots and rocks and other obstacles provided swift passage down the trail that seemed so steep on the way up (even though I was carrying her).

As the trail mellowed out, so did we- resuming our longstanding trail game of hide and seek- in place of zooming through the forest. It helps slow us down to look more intently at our surroundings as we pass through. Before we knew it we were back to the trailhead and on our way down the “driveway” back to the highway.

We spent the better part of the day in the wilderness and were ready for some good grub. Fortunately, just down the road is Chair 9- where they always have cold beer and outstanding cuisine waiting for you on your way down the mountain. Perfect for family dining, they offer a huge selection of gourmet pizzas as well as buffalo burgers, steaks, and tasty appetizers. Their friendly staff and chill atmosphere makes Chair 9 a local favorite – a destination restaurant that should not be missed.

For more fun ideas near Mount Baker see Hiking and Things to Do.

A Creative Hub in Bellingham: The Alley District

November 10th, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

Bellingham, Downtown, Alley District, Murals, Art

Downtown Bellingham is filled with alleys, some more attractive than others. But only one is home to the Alley District. Here you’ll find artists, makers and dreamers who had a vision to work together and create a wonderful community. Whether metal sculptor or wooden bike fender maker, jewelry designer or bicycle mechanic, they seek opportunities to collaborate and support one another’s work.


The Alley District is located in the heart of Downtown Bellingham, between State Street and Railroad Avenue. It starts around the Depot Market Square and continues along the alley that leads to the South Bay Trail, a popular walking, running and biking path to Boulevard Park and Fairhaven. Park your vehicle and head out on foot or bike and get ready to explore.


Sprinkled throughout the alley are diverse artisans, businesses and shops, a community bike shop, a community darkroom and photography studio, and restaurants and bars. Let’s start our tour at the far end, with one of the Alley District’s very first establishments: The Hub.


The Hub, started 13 years ago, is considered a Bellingham institution by bicycle enthusiasts. As a community bike shop, the Hub provides space for folks to fix their own bikes, along with tons of new and used parts for sale. They also sell reconditioned bikes, and service and repair all types of bikes (if, like me, you don’t know how to do it yourself). They also offer free advice and bad jokes, although I heard none of the latter during my visit.

Bellingham, Downtown, Alley District, Murals, Art

All of their bikes and parts are donated by the community. The space is jammed with tires, rims, chains, grips and gears. Extras that can’t be used are recycled, or end up in the bike-part sculptures that dot the property. The historic Hub building is covered in colorful murals, as is the rest of the Alley District.

Bellingham, Downtown, Alley District, Murals, Art

Murals by Yale Wolf (upper and bunny) and Lara Buelow (lower mountain scene)

Continuing north from the Hub, we find Anderson Intrinsic Wood Work & Design, the woodworking shop of Tom Anderson, the original Alley District resident artist. The shop is home to Creative Openings, his screen door company, as well as Anderson Wood Fenders. These are unlike any fenders you’ve seen, a beautiful and functional combination of woods that are shaped and curved, so they’re actual fenders—not just splash guards.

Bellingham, Downtown, Alley District, Murals, Art

Anderson Wood Fenders are thin and light, and a gorgeous addition to any townie, road, mountain or commuter bike. Tom’s selling his fenders right here in the ‘Ham, and sending them overseas as well—this week to France and Japan. And Tom’s screen doors grace homes from Bellingham to Costa Rica. After 35 years, Tom estimates he’s made about 5,000 doors.

Bellingham, Downtown, Alley District, Murals, Art
Ready for an espresso? You’re in luck! The Alley District has its own stand, The Wailing Goat. Owner Megan Wilford serves up the usual choices, including organic (yay!) cappuccinos, Americanos and lattes—as well a most unusual goat milk latte. There’s also hot chocolate and tea, perfect for warming up as you walk the trail to Boulevard Park on these crisp autumn afternoons.

Bellingham, Downtown, Alley District, Murals, Art

The next stop on the tour is Altility Art Studio, where Aaron Loveitt works with metal, glass and wood to create commissioned mixed media art pieces and architectural products for homes, businesses and public spaces (including the newest piece in the permanent collection at Big Rock Garden Park ).

Bellingham, Downtown, Alley District, Murals, Art

Inside is some seriously heavy-duty equipment, from an old-fashioned anvil to a huge, 50-ton hydraulic press and jib crane that swings in an arc and spans much of the shop area. It’s amazing how, with such burley tools, Aaron can form metal into sculptural shapes that mimic less-rigid materials. From his central location in the Alley District, Aaron has played a big part in the spirit of collaboration here, as well as with other artists throughout the area.

Bellingham, Downtown, Alley District, Murals, Art

Altility Art Studio is housed in a historic building with plenty of cool details.

Across the lot from Altility is Positive Negative, a non-profit led by Jason Bayl that rents dark room and studio space to local photographers. It’s open Thursday 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., plus Friday and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or by appointment. Look for events during first-Friday Art Walks, as well. Jason tells me an enthusiastic group of photographers is returning to film and taking Positive Negative workshops to learn how to process and print their photos.

Positive Negative

From Positive Negative, turn around and off to the right, you’ll see Plantas Nativas, a nursery owned since 1994 by Bay Renaud, assisted by his dog Benzo (who was too busy chasing sticks to pose for a photo). The nursery is stocked with both common and hard-to-find native plants, trees and shrubs, carefully chosen for hardiness and suitability for our area. In the fall, Bay stays busy collecting and harvesting native seeds for his growers to cultivate, then buys back their plants for nursery stock. It’s a full circle of native life. Bay also repurposes used barrels and food-grade tanks into rain barrels, so his customers can collect and use rainwater in their gardens. Be sure to poke around and check out the way they use scrap metal and found materials to create rain gardens and micro-climate planters.

Bellingham, Downtown, Alley District, Murals, Art

Leaving this block, you can keep exploring the Alley District by crossing Laurel Street to continue north on the alley. You’ll pass the Green Frog’s deck (perfect for a cold one) as well as Honey Moon meadery and Pepper Sisters restaurant. Grab a pint or a glass of mead and a snack, or a meal of southwest cuisine. If  you keep walking a few more yards, you’ll find yourself at Tide Lines, a delightful shop filled with artsy things for you or your home.


Tidelines is owned by Chelsea Jepson, a watercolor and jewelry artist, who had her eye on her space for years. When it became available, she jumped on it and fulfilled her dream of curating a shop featuring artists from within a 100-mile radius of Bellingham.


The final stop on our Alley District Tour is Oyster Creek Canvas Company, where they work with marine-grade canvas, making everything from boat cushions to tote bags. I have no nautical needs myself, but my chicken coop run has been protected for years by a custom-made tarp from Oyster Creek.

Bellingham, Downtown, Alley District, Murals, Art

Cross State Street and head to Oyster Creek Canvas for your boat and outdoor canvas needs. Tell Greg I sent you!

I hope I’ve piqued your interest about the Alley District, an amazing little pocket of Bellingham awesomeness! It’s easy to find, so next time you find yourself at the Bellingham Farmers Market, on a Bellingham Brewery Tour, or just wandering downtown, take a little stroll over to the Alley District and check out the artisans who make it their home. You’re sure to find inspiration and a spirit of friendship that will stay with you long after you leave!

Bellingham, Downtown, Alley District, Murals, Art

Upcoming events in the Alley District

Shop Small Saturday: November 29, 2014

Art on Tap: December 6, 2014 AoT Final

For more fun ideas in Bellingham, also visit our Things to Do pages.

Let’s Go Wine Tasting in Bellingham

November 3rd, 2014 by Teresa Schmidt

What do you picture when you think about wine tasting? A bunch of snooty muckety-mucks standing around in their loafers, swirling and spitting all over the place? That might be an accurate description in movies or sitcoms, but in real life? Not so much. Especially when we’re talking about wine tasting in Bellingham and Whatcom County, where you’re more likely to see folks in yoga pants and hiking boots, having fun—and actually swallowing the wine.

On a recent visit with Ted Seifert of Seifert and Jones Wine Merchants, we got to talking about the perceptions people have about wine tasting. “It’s intimidating!” Ted said. I agreed, remembering when I first started tasting wine and feeling like I was “doing it all wrong,” whatever that means.

Wine tasting, Bellingham, Wineries, Wine Shop, Seifert & Jones, Ted Seifert, Diane Jones

Diane Jones and Ted Seifert

Really, there is no “wrong” way to taste wine, although knowing a few insider tips can make it more enjoyable for you (and everyone else). Ted helped me out by answering my questions and offering his considerable expertise.

Let’s Dispel a Few Wine Tasting Worries

  • No one is judging you. You won’t be scrutinized while you taste. Relax and sip at your leisure.
  • You are not expected to make a purchase. I repeat: the merchant, wine rep or winemaker does not expect you to buy, nor should they make you feel obligated to do so. They are happy to have you taste, and perhaps remember their wine when you’re purchasing in the future.
  • It’s okay to ask questions! Wine pros are full of information. They know the attributes of wines from a particular region (appellation), the differences between the types of grapes (varietals), and so much more. Want to know why the 2010 vintage tastes completely different from the 2009? Ask away!
  • You don’t have to spit. Professionals and people who are tasting all day (like on a tour of Whatcom County wineries) often spit because their palates become tired or they don’t want that much alcohol. But in a smaller tasting, most folks taste and swallow.
  • You don’t have to drink it all. If you’ve had enough, or simply don’t care for a wine, pour it in the dump bucket, which you’ll probably see close by. It’s totally acceptable to do so.
  • You’re not alone. No one was born a wine connoisseur. You don’t know need to know the difference between pinot gris and pinot noir to try wine tasting—all are welcome! Simply knowing what you like is a great place to start.
Wine tasting, Bellingham, Wineries, Wine Shop, Seifert & Jones,Ted Seifert, Diane Jones

Wine Tasting at Seifert & Jones

Ted and Teresa’s Tips To Make Wine Tasting Even Better

  1. Go with a friend. It’s fun to have a buddy to compare notes with. But don’t hesitate to show up on your own. Wine tastings are full of people who like to drink and talk about wine—and they will talk to you.
  2. Read the room. If it’s crowded, be patient. Try not to occupy the pouring station. Get your pour and step to the side, so everyone has a chance to listen to the description and ask questions.
  3. To swirl or not to swirl? Definitely swirl! It’s half the fun, because it brings out the wine’s aromatics—and winemakers work hard on that part. So hold the glass by the stem, swirl it around, stick your nose in and take a big whiff. However, don’t be too enthusiastic, especially with red wine, or you’ll spill (says the woman with the stains on her sweater).
  4. Speaking of aromatics, it’s best to avoid wearing fragrances. They really do affect how your nose (and everyone else’s) interprets the wines. They can affect taste, too.
  5. Take notes. Keep a little notebook or use the tasting form. Think about what you smell (floral, fruit, mineral) and taste (berry, spicy), how it feels on your palate (dry, silky, thin) and how it finishes (abrupt or lingering). Some folks actually taste things like tobacco, leather or forest floor, while others just give it a thumbs up or down.
  6. There are no “official wine rules.” You can study and learn about wine for the rest of your life; or you can just enjoy it. You can stick to your favorite Chardonnay or expand your horizons and try some reds. You can even go crazy and try something you would never drink, but as it turns out, goes perfectly with the dish you’re serving tonight. And you don’t have to love it. Make a note and move on.
  7. Go in with an attitude that you’re going to have fun and you will! My advice is to find a wine seller that you click with, whether it’s a local specialty store or the wine steward at your grocer. Ask for recommendations and let them know how much you want to spend. And even if your budget is $10, they should be able to fix you right up.
  8. Of course, if you’re planning on visiting multiple tasting rooms, bring a designated driver. And even if you have one, don’t go crazy! Tasting wine while you’re inebriated isn’t fun for anyone.
Wine tasting, Bellingham, Wineries, Wine Shop, Dynasty Cellars, Barrel Tasting

A super special treat—a barrel tasting of Zinfandel and Syrah with winemaker Peter Osvaldik at Dynasty Cellars!

To me, wine is endlessly fascinating. Each bottle is a story the winemaker shares with us, featuring those particular grapes from this particular vineyard, and how they were affected by that year’s rain, temperatures and soil conditions. No other wine is exactly like the next—and that’s why I love to taste and explore them all. Yes—all of them. It may take a lifetime, but that’s okay by me!

Wine tasting doesn’t have to be intimidating! It’s fun, and around here, it’s completely approachable. Go out, have fun, meet new people and enjoy the fruit of the vine!

Where to Go Wine Tasting in Bellingham and Whatcom County

Call ahead if you have a large group, or to arrange tastings outside of regular hours.

Wine Shops

Seifert and Jones Wine Merchants
9 Prospect St, Bellingham, WA 98225
Tastings: Every Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Free.

Vinostrology Wine Lounge and Merchant
120 W Holly St, Bellingham, WA 98225
Tastings: Occasionally, check the Facebook page for updates.
Next tasting: Spanish wines, Friday, November 7   5:00 – 7:30.
Read my article on Vinostrology here.

Vinostrology, Bellingham, WA, Wine Bar, Downtown Bellingham, Wine Tasting

Taste anytime from the wine spouts at Vinostrology, from 2 ounces to a full glass.

Barkley Haggen
2900 Woburn Street Bellingham, WA 98226
Tastings: Fridays 4:00 – 6:00   Free

114 W Stuart Rd, Bellingham, WA 98226
Tastings: Fridays 4:00 – 7:00, Saturdays 2:00 – 5:00  Free

Wine tasting, Bellingham, Wineries, Wine Shop, Dynasty Cellars

Winery Tasting Rooms

Dakota Creek Winery
3575 Haynie Rd, Blaine, WA 98230
Hours: Thursday – Saturday 1:00 – 5:00   Free

Dakota Creek Winery, Whatcom County Wineries, Wine Tasting in Bellingham WA

Dynasty Cellars
Hours: Thursday – Saturday 1:00 – 6:30, Sunday 1:00 – 5:00
Tastings are $5.00, waived with wine purchase.

GLM Wine Company
1678 Boblett St., Blaine, WA 98230
Hours: Saturday 12:00 – 6:00, Sunday 12:00 – 5:00    Free

Inyo Vineyard and Winery
3337 Agate Heights Road, Bellingham, WA 98226
Hours: Friday and Saturday 12:00 – 5:00, March through November
Winter hours and events: Check the Facebook page
Tastings are $5.00, waived with wine purchase.

Inyo Winery, Bellingham, Charles Terranova, Whatcom County Wine

The tasting room at Inyo Vineyards and Winery

Masquerade Wine Company
2001 Iowa St. Suite F, Bellingham, WA 98229
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday 11:00 – 6:00
Tastings are $5.00, waived with wine purchase.

Whatcom Wine, Masquerade Wine Company

Barrels at Masquerade Wine Company

Mount Baker Vineyards and Winery
4298 Mt Baker Hwy, Everson, WA 98247
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 12:00 – 5:00

Vartanyan Estate Winery
1628 Huntley Rd, Bellingham, WA 98226
Hours: Friday and Sunday 1:00 – 5:00, Saturday 1:00 – 6:00 (closed first two weeks of January)
Tastings are $5.00, waived with wine purchase.

Winemaker Margarita Vartanyan

Winemaker Margarita Vartanyan

Samson Estates Winery
1861 Van Dyk Road, Everson, WA 98247
Hours: Through December 22, 2014, Friday – Sunday 11:00 – 5:00   (Closed after 12/22 and re-opening in February)
Tastings are $5.00, waived with wine purchase. Or try wine + chocolate truffle tastings for $8.00 or $10.00.



Deck the Halls in Bellingham in November!

November 1st, 2014 by Annette

Get your holiday on a little early this year, and continue it into next year. 2014 festivities in Bellingham light up in November and continue to shine throughout December.

Allied Arts Holiday Festival of the Arts begins Nov. 14 and continues through Dec. 24 at 4145 Meridian St., near Park Bowl and next to the new Burlington Coat Factory. This is the 35th year for the annual gathering of more than 100 artisans and craftspeople. It is a great opportunity to purchase handmade and locally made gifts from jewelry to paintings to wearable art to specialty foods. The festival is open Wed. through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with bonus days on Dec. 22 and 23.  Weekends are packed with activities including live local music, artists in action, and fun art projects for kids. Hours are Wed – Sun., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The festival will close at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Across town, Home for the Holidays is a 33rd annual shopping event Nov. 20-22 at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal (355 Harris Avenue).  Organizers promise “a fabulous selection of seasonal creations to trim your home, distinctive gift items, a few shabby antiques and delightfully delicious gourmet foods.” Hours are Thurs 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m., Fri 9:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m., Sat, 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 28, 3 to 8 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 29, 5 to 8 p.m. kicks off the traditional Fairhaven Holiday Festival and Art Walk throughout the historic Fairhaven District. The fun begins on Friday at 3 p.m. with a visit by Santa and Mrs. Claus in the Victorian Gazebo at Harris and 10th Streets. A tree lighting on the Village Green takes place Friday at 5 p.m., with entertainment by the Bellingham High Showstoppers. Twenty Fairhaven businesses will stay open late on Friday and Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m. to host a festive art walk with special exhibits and unique events. Check the Fairhaven website for a full list of participating venues.

Santa and Mrs. Clause at the Fairhaven Village Inn.

Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Fairhaven Village Inn.

Saturday, Nov. 29, noon to 3 p.m. (and continuing on Saturdays Dec. 6, 13 and 20)  the Fairhaven Village Inn hosts free Cramer Classics carriage rides and visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Bundle up and slow down for a leisurely, horse-drawn ride through the Fairhaven district to enjoy the lights and the sights.

Cramer Classics carriage rides in the historic Fairhaven district

Cramer Classics carriage rides in the historic Fairhaven district


Deck the [Old City] Hall Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 29 and 30, noon to 5 p.m. The Whatcom Museum in Bellingham presents an opportunity to shop, sing, see Santa, enjoy dozens of decorated trees and enter to win a special “decked out” tree for your home, complete with gift cards from your favorite local retailers. All this is happening at the museum’s historic 1895 Old City Hall Building at 121 Prospect Street.

  • See Santa, noon – 2 p.m.
  • Sing-a-long with Miss Joanne, 2 – 3 p.m.
  • Pop-Up Museum Shop, noon – 5 p.m.

Courtesy: Whatcom Museum Photo Archives

Of course December is also filled with holiday events in Bellingham and throughout Whatcom County. For a full list of activities take a look at Bellingham’s online events calendar.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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—crĂšme 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 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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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

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

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 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

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 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 SaĂ«ns’ “Danse Macabre,” and Dvoƙák’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 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: 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!

Go scare up some fun!