June 16, 2018
No whining here, yet I have to preface my greetings today with the fact I am just so busy living life that Bill’s birthday has come and gone and now, a week later, we are reflecting upon his his role as a wonderful father for our kiddos!
We did start celebrating his “Medicare” birthday a bit early and continued our merriment for several days! After our spontaneous Whidbey Island farm-to-table dinner last Thursday, we had a quiet, true “birthday” dinner at our condo the next evening in the company of our doting son which was perfection!! Saturday I spent a bit of time wandering around beautifully manicured yards in Edmonds near the ferry dock in advance of my free travel class highlighting Provence and the French Riviera. Yes, I am soon travel bound again and having the Rick Steves Travel Center and educational facility basically in my backyard is a gift!! Rick started writing travel tomes when he was in college and initiated the “Europe Through The Back Door” tour book series which ultimately became a Public Broadcasting Service weekly televised program. I attribute much of the quantity and quality of sightseeing I enjoyed in Spain last and this year to his detailed, current, varied, relevant, well researched and continually updated guidebooks. I was able to soak up some sunshine, smell the roses and lollygag my way to class along the surrounding residential blocks, as well as some great people watching given that the Saturday Market was in full swing only a couple avenues over! Our speaker provided helpful information, well delivered, and I left feeling excited and motivated! Later in the evening we joined four long time, great friends for dinner at one of Bill’s favorite restaurants. Happy, Happy Birthday, Bill!!
Sunday was another superb beachfront day in an opposite direction from home – my childhood friend Dixie’s place at Three Tree Point, south of the Fauntleroy Ferry Dock near the airport. Skies storming with building, grey, rain laden clouds, substantial winds blowing them away into blue skies and white puffy clouds and then back again to dark and brooding firmament and rain. Those weather theatrics are all the more palpable while simultaneously observing whitecaps and crashing waves! Initially a barbecue was on the agenda, however, we junior high school girlfriends got cozy inside instead, and had a delightful visit that flew by far too quickly in each other’s company. I appreciate that Dixie and I did manage to get a stroll in along the homes on her beach drive before the sky opened up!
On to Monday and another Fabulous and Sunny Pacific Northwest day! We had a northerly, two plus hour drive to Bellingham and then a crossing to Lummi Island for our prearranged many course dinner at the renowned, yet remote Willows Inn. We set out early enough that the Hubby Research Team planned a hike that was short yet quite strenuous as the elevation gain in the first mile was substantial. We enjoyed the shade and the ultimate lookout point to Orcas Island across the Rosario Straits was breathtaking! We felt like we earned some of the indulgence that we knew was to follow.
We checked into our lodge accommodations and then walked down to the beach for a brief stroll and to enjoy the lovely and sunny afternoon. Willows Lodge has an outdoor deck and we availed ourselves of the inlet view and intoxicating ambiance. In past visits we have watched the sky turn countless shades of pink, purple, rose, red and magenta as sunsets sometimes take an hour to unfold from this expansive vantage point. And speaking of intoxicating, we ordered ourselves cocktails served in vintage glasses which sparkled invitingly in the sun’s rays. Some portions of the building are newer, though the actual restaurant is perhaps a hundred-years old with beautiful wood floors, cabinetry and windows.
Many are familiar with James Beard Foundation Awards, the culinary industry’s most prestigious recognition program. Making the list in 2014 were several Washington and Pacific Northwest restaurants and chefs, yet the only winner from our area was Chef Blaine Wetzel. In 2012 he was named Food & Wine Magazine’s “Best New Chef” and in 2011 The New York Times declared Willows Inn “One of the 10 Restaurants (in the world) Worth a Plane Ride”. Willows Inn has been referred to by Travel + Leisure and Katie as one of the best “secret vacation destinations”. Chef Wetzel is a Washington native who spent three years cooking at the distinguished Noma restaurant in Copenhagen before bringing his culinary wizardry here at age 25. Most of the staff have worked in some of the best restaurants in the country, average age being about 30, and with little turnover. Chef has turned the three-course menu of locally sourced ingredients into a tasting menu running 17 to 20 courses. Featured stars: fish, scallops, oysters, sea urchin, mussels, clams, crab, cod, roe… Check out this article if you are so inclined! https://www.thestranger.com/seattle/is-the-willows-inn-all-that/Content?oid=8195705
Service began on the deck and ensued in the dining room and we were blown away with presentations so beautiful, delicious, over-the-top creative, of the forest and of the sea, of the farm and of the garden! We are pretty good at finding adventure that is often free or inexpensive. This is one of those splurge investments and we believe it is worth every penny!
We came home leisurely on Tuesday and laid low, believe it or not!!! Wednesday had us going to a Mariner day game that was loads of fun and afterwards we stopped off to see our buddy, Jorge, at Heritage Restaurant and Bar, a new place in Woodinville. I had an extremely delicious bowl of clams in a spicy tomato sauce and Bill thoroughly loved his burger! Thursday and Friday I had “the place” to myself as Bill FURTHER EXTENDED his birthday week with a fly fishing trip to Dry Falls with his best buddy! We even had tickets to see Lover Boy at the Snoqualmie Casino on Saturday – but Birthday Boy was too pooped and thus we went home after having dinner there at Vistas. Another over the top meal featuring excellent service, scallops for me, steak for Bill and a bacon pound cake with caramel syrup and maple bacon ice-cream (I kid you not!!!). I am pretty sure Bill was also stuffed to the gills in addition to being wiped out. Views from our dinner table truly deserve being classified as vistas!
And here we are at Father’s Day. Awaiting The Boy. Life is good. No, It’s Great!!! I am happy that I was able to walk 33 1/2 miles in the last 13 days with all that Excessive Eating!!