Anniversary Getaway in LaConner

We celebrated our 19th anniversary (19 married, 21 together, woohoo!) yesterday by heading into LaConner for an overnight at The Heron Inn & Day Spa. The Heron Inn is super cute. It's a bed and breakfast with tons of charm. Photo of the exterior (from their was pouring and blowing a gale when we arrived so we just hustled from the car to the front door):


We had the master suite for the night (and since it was a Sunday in the winter, we actually had the whole place to ourselves). Here is a shot  of the master suite/fireplace (also from the Heron Inn's website): 


The huge jacuzzi tub was so nice (scale is tough in this photo, but there was more than enough room for two in there)!


The nook at the end of our suite (taken while watching that tree outside the window whip around like crazy in the gale winds yesterday):


When I booked the room, I scheduled us each for massages (which were lovely). After some massage and intense relaxation, we headed over to The Oyster & Thistle for dinner. We'd been to Oyster & Thistle for lunch before once when we were in La Conner and it was great (especially the caesar salad!) .... but last night's dinner was top notch. We started with some Shigoku oysters on the half shell with a Vesper cocktail, a salmon and scallop crudo, a caesar salad to share (just as amazing as we'd remembered it). We shared two main courses: a paella with smoked duck, clams, prawns, chorizo, escargot, and saffron, and a cassoulet with duck confit, buttered white beans, house cured bacon, garlic and onion sausage in a roasted duck broth. Delicious, all of it. The service was great, the portions were just right and not too huge, and we loved the intimate ambiance. Highly recommended. 

Heron stained glass back at the Inn, after dinner:


We stopped at the DVD/games library downstairs before heading up to our room, and found a game Kevin used to play with his family when he was little, called Milles Bornes. We played a game last night  -- the artwork on the cards is so cute.


We've ordered a copy for the boat (here, from amazon, if you're interested). 


Here's a description of the game, from amazon: Rev the engine eagerly, waiting for the green light to send you hurtling across the countryside. Keep the tank full, find your way around the speed limit and avoid the accidents that will slow you down. Keep the pressure on full and be the first to make it 1,000 miles! Mille Bornes is the classic card game of cross - country racing. Keep a green light handy in case you get stopped and play a tire puncture on your opponent to keep him from getting ahead. Protect yourself with safety cards and save one for the classic Coup Fourre. Play your cards right and you'll be the first to cross the finish line and be the master of the Mille Bornes!

This morning we had breakfast downstairs at 9am...fresh fruit, yogurt, a little chia seed pudding, and then a vegetable scramble with cauliflower, broccoli, eggplant, scallions...and a side of bacon. Delicious. Kind of fun to have the place to ourselves, but we recommend you come to La Conner and stay at the Heron Inn. If we didn't have the "Boat B&B" we'd stay here more often.

After breakfast we drove back over to Anacortes and grabbed some groceries, then took Airship and cruised over to Blind Bay at Shaw Island. The wind had mellowed out a little bit and we were itchin' to be out testing our new gear. Take a look at the new sonar options:


These are all three sonar windows: top left is down view, bottom left is traditional, and right is side view. Side view is a little tricky to wrap your head around at first (well, it was for me). The center line is the bottom of your boat, the black is the water on either side of your boat, and the blue is the bottom on the left and right side of your boat. Here's a bigger, full-screen image of sideview:


It's pretty sweet. Passing the mooring buoys at Blind Island, you could see the concrete block on the bottom, and the chain coming up to the buoy on the surface. I'll try to get a photo of that when we leave. 

We also figured out our fishing pole storage. No, it's not rocket science, but it is hard to carry along everything you want while mostly living aboard a 34 foot boat without looking like the Clampetts (which we will NOT do), so it can be a challenge. Will report on fishing pole storage solution later. :) 

Exploring Port Gamble


We headed into the town of Port Gamble today around noon. We wanted to check out the town and have some lunch at the Port Gamble General Store and Cafe (well, technically brunch, since we skipped breakfast). We took off in the dinghy, loving the quiet, non-smelly electric Torqueedo (though I think we may invest in a second battery, to tame the battery complex we occasionally feel while far from Airship). We toured the shore looking for a spot to beach. The point there where the mill used to be, just beneath town, is now a big construction zone, but we saw some people walking along the beach so we decided we could beach there and then walk up the hill to town.

As we walked up the beach toward town, however, it appeared that we were "inside" an area that was fenced off from town. I called up to the cafe to see if they knew where we might be able to get some legal beach access, and they were not so sure, but the guy said he thought there might be beach access around the point toward the Hood Canal Bridge at a park near Salisbury Park. He said the construction area wasn't completely fenced off...and that there was a road going in so people could get to the research center around the corner. Just as we hung up, a gentleman in a big white truck drove over to, um, chat with us (through a giant wad of chewing tobacco he was shoving into his mouth as he was rolling down his window...gross). I told him we were anchored out and we'd just beached the dinghy but that it looked like we weren't supposed to be here. He agreed. He said this area is a (closed, non-operating) construction zone, and dangerous to the public. (Looked like just a big muddy lot to us, but okay.) 


That pale yellow building on the hill is the Port Gamble General Store and Cafe. So close, yet so far.

I asked if he knew of a spot where we could beach the dinghy and walk up to town, and he said maybe around the point by the kayak shack, so we headed out into the choppy (but not too bad) water in search of beach access.

Looking toward town, the old mill in the foreground:


We could see Salisbury Point down by the bridge (it was far, and probably a bit of a walk to town from there) but as we rounded the corner a bit more, we saw a bunch of kayaks on racks and what looked like a kayak rental shack or something. Oh, and some beach!


Low tide was an hour ago, so we pulled the (now lighter without that big outboard) dinghy up quite a ways up the beach. (Turns out that was way more than we needed, but whatever.)

Sure enough, a kayak rental place. They were apparently closed so we just borrowed the beach for an hour or so.


We had lunch in the cafe adjacent to the Port Gamble General Store.


The food all looks and sounds great online, and their website is very nice. The food was good, but not go-back-for good. I mean, we'd go back, but our expectations would be different. We shared a burger that was fine (a little overcooked for our taste)...with bacon, bbq sauce, onion strings, white cheddar, and cornmeal crusted fried jalapenos. All that sounds great, and it was tasty, but overall needed more juiciness. The fries and homemade ketchup that came with it were fabulous though. We also shared a prawn tostada salad (Alaskan prawns, cabbage, lime cilantro dressing, avocado etc.) and for a $17 salad, I think we expected more than a small skewer on top with three small-medium prawns. It seemed excessively expensive for what you got. The prawns sounded like they should have been a highlight, but felt too separate from the rest of the salad. I think we'll try breakfast next time. ("Voted North Kitsap's Best Breakfast/Brunch" says their website.) :)

After lunch we wandered around town, and as we were halfway down the main street, we realized we'd driven through here before when we were camping in the Airstream on Hood Canal in 2010 and we drove the truck into Seattle to pick up our Hobie Tandem Island. The large expanses of green grass surrounded by bright white picket fences that makes up the historic part of town is hard to forget:




Woodpecker in a tree, doing his woodpecker thing:


Mrs. Muir's House of Ghosts and Magic:


Port Gamble is apparently famous for its paranormal activity and hosts an annual Ghost Conference in October. 

Lots of great Victorian architecture in Port Gamble:


We stopped in at the general store before heading back to the dinghy to pick up a couple things. I think they're really trying to up the tourism in this's definitely cute and has the "blinky light" vibe and a few funky shops and museums that make for a successful tourist stop, but it's a bit of a hassle if you want to visit by boat. If they just had a little dinghy dock or a convenient public beach, that'd be great! Nearby Kingston has 'em beat with easy access to town by boat

Now we're back on Airship working. Kevin's broken wrist seems to be healing up well after surgery. He's doing all the therapy exercises prescribed every two hours, and is spending some time out of the brace when he's kicking back doing something more sedentary. He's able to type with both hands now (not totally 100%, but he's writing his own articles, rather than dictating them to me for typing). This text with youngest daughter the other night was pretty funny:

Her:  So, how is boating with your broken arm? Is it way harder, or just a little bit harder?

Kevin: Oh, it's WAY easier. Laura does everything. I'm like a queen. "Honey, after you get those dock lines and finish the dishes, could you give me a massage?" 


I have to say for me...boating with one hand down is definitely harder and more work all around, but it's way more fun for both of us to have Kevin happy and healing out here on the water than it would be hanging at home or in the home office. 

A Few Days in the Bay Area


We left Anacortes on Friday morning (after returning from The Willows Inn on Lummi, and after stopping to look at a couple more boats) and drove back to Portland. We didn't get in until about 10:30pm on Friday night, and as Kevin brought in the last of our stuff from the truck, said "Please tell me you already brought my laptop bag into the house." 


Well shit. Guess where Kevin's laptop was? Waiting patiently in the pilothouse of Airship, back in Anacortes, four and a half hours away. We had a flight to San Francisco on Sunday morning, a birthday party for a good friend in SF on Sunday night, and then starting Monday mid-day in San Jose: meetings meetings meetings for two days. The presentation we'd been working on was on Kevin's laptop and we couldn't make do without it. So, guess what we did on Saturday? About nine hours of driving to go get that laptop (and give Airship another little pat on the bow). It was super windy and pouring rain for most of the drive, to boot! (See, it's not all rainbows and unicorns around here.)

We made it fine to SF and had a great view from our room at Hotel Nikko (above). The birthday party for our friend Tad was a wonderful evening with an incredible group of people. I've known Tad Savinar since I graduated from art school when, based on a recommendation from one of my professors, I became Tad's studio assistant for a few years. Tad is many things...among them, a visual artist. Now days we are friends, and I help him realize his work using some of my, Photoshop, some printing. He's inspiring to work with, but more importantly he is one of the most wonderful people I've ever known. Everyone at the party last night had something amazing to say about their friendship with Tad, and it was a beautiful thing to experience. The party was in the Salesian room of Original Joe's in North Beach. What a great venue! Upholstered walls and cool old signage...dinner was delicious, and the service was impeccable, but really it was all about the people.


There were a few people at the party with late November/December birthdays, and Tad made sure to recognize each one of them by giving out beautiful flower leis. This was Kevin's:


We gave Tad (and his wife, Kate) a portrait session in the studio. I said they could choose the style of their choice, but that I had some suggestions, and that dressing up was a must. (This will be a fun one!!)


(Side note: Tad and Kate are the couple who got married in Florence, Italy in May of 2014, and were the reason we went to Italy in the first place last year.)

This morning we drove into San Jose for a couple of meetings and presentations, and then I Yelp'd us a cool place to grab some dinner afterwards. On a previous trip I found a little place called Kenny's Cafe that had a delicious bibimbap (among many other things), but Kenny's closes at 3pm. We had a little bit of a jones for bibimbap, and I found a new place not too far from where we were called Mixed Roll & Bop, a new Korean Asian fusion spot with (from the reviews) the BEST bibimbap, as well as good spicy chicken wings, and sushi. We tried the stone pot bibimbap with spicy pork, some spicy chicken wings, and a spicy tuna roll (yeah, spicy seemed to be the theme, I know). It was all great, but the bibimbap!!! It was THE BEST! (Preparing it in the stone pot gives the rice some crunchy goodness on the bottom.)


This is their funky little sign out front:


Highly recommended. It's very small, and the environment is definitely on the "fast food" side, but the food was delicious and we'll definitely go back!

Tomorrow is another day of meetings and then we'll fly back to Portland tomorrow night.