What does that mean? Virgin Airlines did everything in their power to destroy our return flight last September from Boston & Providence. After much back and forth, a $500 credit was offered for future travel. When I attempted to use the credit for a January trip to Houston, I found out that any travel associated with the credit had to go through Seattle — you guessed it. Off to the PNW before the credit goes bye-bye.
Not that one needs a good reason to visit the area, but we had a few besides the aforementioned credit. First up, a long overdue visit with LA friends who relocated to Bellingham a number of years ago. Then there’s my niece and her family — in particular my 3-year-old great niece. Did we need to pick a weekend where the Dodgers just happened to be playing the Mariners? Not really, but why not? It’s always fun to visit stadiums, and our friends are serious fan(atics)s as well.
Upon the recommendation of our Bellingham buddies, we reserved two nights at The Willows Inn on nearby Lummi Island, a quaint establishment with just eight accommodations. From their website: “Lummi Island is located in the archipelago that includes the San Juan Islands and the Gulf Islands in the Salish Sea, the waters off the coasts of the Pacific Northwest and southwest Canada.” I didn’t fully appreciate what we were in for, except I knew we were going to splurge on their prix-fixe dinner.
Chef/proprietor Blaine Wetzel is a disciple of Rene Redzepi of the world-renown restaurant Noma in Copenhagen. The style of cooking and use of ingredients is based on whatever local products are available, heavily skewed to all types of seafood and every vegetable known (and some new ones) including plants, herbs and edible flowers. Many were grilled outside and finished inside. Our “snacks” began on the patio with a series of small bites and progressed inside for many more courses. We finished back on the patio for a series of desserts mainly using local fruits. It was a world-class meal in every sense.
After dinner we went into the kitchen along with many other guests where we met the chef himself. Our friends generously bought me his book so I wanted to get it signed. Little did I know that head chef Wetzel actually delivered (incognito) one of our courses! Talk about everyone being hand’s on. We loved hearing more background about the restaurant and having an aperitif before retiring to our room upstairs.
The only issue with the Inn’s location is the ferry that runs back and forth to the mainland — which ferry is the only access to the Inn. The line can be oppressive, especially in the summer months. After waiting about 30 minutes to get a morning ferry to the mainland, we called an audible, went back to the Inn and gathered our belongings and checked out. The idea of spending up to 3 hours of this short trip waiting for the ferry just didn’t make sense so I booked modest accommodations for the night on the mainland and off we went for a spectacular day of sightseeing in Bellingham and the surrounding areas.
As a longtime suffering gardener — meaning my efforts and my yield are seriously out of balance — seeing blackberries growing literally like weeds everywhere is just a killer. And then we went to pick blueberries. Does anyone not love blueberries? (Mr. H, don’t answer that). There are simply not enough adjectives to describe the abundance of berries in the area, both at Boxx Berry Farm and at a private home in Lynwood. Literally grab a container and proceed. The best method for picking proved to be imitating how one milks a cow (which I have never done but used my imagination).
We loved going to Safeco Field for two Dodger games. The ratio of Dodger blue gear to either Mariners or other teams is at least 50/50 if not more. Spending time with friends/fans was terrific fun. Once more, the distinct differences between stadium food offerings in other parks compared to Dodger Stadium makes one wonder why our organization doesn’t do a better job!
We had a blast spending time with family and enjoying a splendid meal at Purple Cafe in the heart of downtown. Delicious food, conversation and time well spent all adds up to a most enjoyable journey up north.