Art, Wine, Chocolate, Football, Beaches, Forts, Rain, Flooding – the past several days have been jam-packed, though large chunks of it were spent sitting around and waiting for the power to come back on. I’m going to save the flooding bit for a follow-up post, but here’s a rundown of our hectic weekend.
Friday was the First Friday Art Walk in downtown Anacortes. We started with our favorite Mexican restaurant in Mount Vernon, then headed to Anacortes, despite a light rain. The event is similar to Greenville’s First Friday Art, but the galleries are located along the main street, and can truly be done as an “art walk.”
We found parking with no problem and headed to the first stop. Oddly enough, this was in a jewelry store, not what one normally thinks of as an art venue. Burton Jewelers not only featured jewelry but a wide variety of china and dishware. Laura enjoyed looking at the various dishes as much as anything. There was one small cove that had paintings, and in another cove a jazz combo was playing.
We stopped at a couple more galleries along the way. While there were some very nice pieces, nothing called out to us to take home. I did notice one thing, though. There were several patrons with unusual clothing and long greasy or wet gray hair. These folks had the appearance of homelessness, yet weren’t. My first thought was to wonder how someone like this would last at an art opening in Greenville. These were just eclectic, eccentric characters who really didn’t worry about their appearance, and appreciated art just like the next person. Really no different from Goth or other eccentrics.
Wine and Chocolate
Apparently wine and chocolate pairings and tastings are a big deal out here. Just about every local winery is hosting one on the weekends surrounding Valentine’s Day. I found several listed on the North Sound Wine Trail website, and Laura and I decided to try a couple on Saturday.
Despite the rain we headed out. Our first stop was at Eagle Haven Winery, just east of Sedro-Wooley. As we pulled up there weren’t many patrons. The tasting room was surrounded by apple orchards, so it was a bit confusing. We headed on inside.
We were given a small selection of chocolates that appear to have been chipped from a Sees Candies variety box. I got one with nuts and Laura got a smaller non-nut selection. There was no “pairing” per se, just a selection of chocolates to eat as we tasted the wine.
The wines were good. We did a white and several reds. One thing we noticed was that the white chocolate did NOT go well with the red wines.
We wound up buying a dessert raspberry wine, but didn’t purchase any of the normal varietals.
In addition to the tasting room the winery has an event space for wedding receptions, etc. They also hold concerts during the spring and summer. There is a covered pavilion that was kind of lost in the rainy fog on this particular day.
Our next stop was south of Mount Vernon. We took a winding route down through town and made our way to Carpenter Creek Winery.
Since this is closer to town there were lots more patrons. There was a group seated when we entered. One gentleman with an Australian accent was talking about people from North and South Carolina. “They sound dumb as sticks but some of them are quite intelligent.” I had to bite my lip.
This tasting was very different from Eagle Haven. They actually had chocolate truffles paired with their wines, with strong alternatives for those with nut allergies. They exclusively featured red wines with their chocolates.
The wines at Eagle Haven were better than the wines at Carpenter Creek when tasted by themselves. However, the way that they were paired really brought out the flavors of the Carpenter Creek wines.
Even though the wines tasted better at Eagle Haven, we enjoyed the tasting at Carpenter Creek much, much more. It seemed that they had put much more effort into their event, and was more like what we imagined it to be. Other wineries were having tastings nearby in La Conner, but we decided that we’d had enough wine for one day. We may save those for next weekend.
Super Bowl Sunday is usually an excuse for a big party for us. I really have no interest in professional football, but do like a good party. In a normal year we would head over to Paul Wag’s house for a gathering with the Furman Chemistry Department. This year we were on our own.
Normally I would make my bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers. I was surprised that you could find them pre-made in our local store. Of course, you still have to cook them, and they are much more expensive than if I did them myself.
This year we decided to skip the poppers and instead do a tapas meal where we would graze throughout the game. We planned for shrimp, stuffed mushrooms, Caprese salad, smoked salmon, and bread and crackers to go with it all. Dungeness crab is really inexpensive right now, so that would finish off our meal.
Sadly, our plans didn’t quite work out. With the heavy rain a power transformer got flooded and we lost electricity on the island. We had to resort to alternative methods for watching the game.
We had some of our tapas meal, but the parts that required cooking just didn’t happen. We soon tired of the game and decided to just go off-island and get some fast food for dinner. Our crab and other dishes would be enjoyed later in the week.
Power came back on around 4:30 in the morning. We drove past the place where the transformer had flooded. Puget Sound Energy had to erect a coffer dam of sorts in order to lift the transformer onto a platform and make repairs.
Whidbey Island Beaches
On Monday we decided we’d had enough of sitting around and waiting for the power to come on. Even though it had returned, we still decided to get out of the house, despite the continued rain. I had spotted a road on a map that looked interesting, so we headed to Whidbey Island.
Along the way we passed by flooded fields. The Padilla Bay trail that we often hike was now just a narrow pathway between the bay and a “lake”, which had been a potato field.
We crossed the Deception Pass bridge without stopping and continued to our destination. South of Ault Field, the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, we found a road that took us over to Beach Drive. At the start of the drive was Joseph Whidbey State Park. The park itself was closed, but there was open parking where we could look out over the water. At the other end of a stretch of houses was another parking/beach access area. Even though this is more open water than our protected bays, I was thinking that it wasn’t too far from the house to be a good kayak launch place. I may have to give it a try.
We continued past massive houses along the shoreline on Beach Drive. Eventually we reached the Fort Ebey State Park, which was open. There was a beach access area which was closed in with mosses and large evergreens. It looked like an inviting place for a picnic on a day with better weather.
Colonel Isaac Ebey was the first white resident on Whidbey Island in the early 1800s. Fort Ebey, however, came much later. It was a gun placement built for west coast defense in World War II. In another section of the park one can explore the old bunkers and gun placements. I was glad I had a flashlight for exploration.
Outside are two circular placements for the guns themselves and an open parade ground with views across the sound. The area is popular with paragliders, and today one was contemplating a launch, but decided otherwise. Large container ships and container barges could be seen on their way to Seattle.
We headed back, stopping in Oak Harbor for lunch before driving back to our own island. When the weather gets better I really want to explore Whidbey a bit more.
However, the weather was NOT going to get better. The flooding would get worse, but that’s for another blog post.