Road Trips

Exploring Hood Canal

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We headed out to explore Hood Canal today. We're staying right near the town of Hoodsport on Hood Canal near the Olympic National Forest in Washington. Hoodsport is apparently renowned among SCUBA divers as a staging area to view the giant Pacific octopus (cool!!!)

The shores along the canal are mostly rocks and shells (oyster, clam). Clam season is apparently over, but oyster season is not, and there were plenty of people out doing what looked like gathering shellfish as we drove past. 

We were headed down toward Shelton to Taylor Shellfish Farms to pick up some of their Shigoku oysters (our favorite). Shigokus were developed by Taylor Shellfish Farms (right here!) and we were lucky enough to discover them about 1/2 mile from our house in Portland at our local market that happens to carry them most of the time. (But it's still fun to get them right from the source!)

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Taylor Shellfish is quite an operation.

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The seafood store had everything we wanted (Shigokus, and the tiny Olympia oysters) and we left with four dozen Shigokus and two dozen Olympias. Hey guess what we're having for dinner tonight and tomorrow night??

Shigoku oysters are grown in floating bags that are attached to stationary lines and floats that rise and fall with the tides, so the oysters are tumbled twice a day. This low-energy, low-maintenance method is a variation on British Columbia’s more labor-intensive Kusshi, and it continuously chips off the oysters’ growing edge and forces them to “cup up." The shells end up deep and scoop-shaped.

This results in a small, dense oyster with a light clean taste of cucumber and salt. (My mom does NOT like oysters, and she liked these, so if you're not an oyster fan but want to be, try the Shigokus.) Also, they're super easy to shuck compared to many other oysters.

More scenery along the canal:

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The road runs right along the water in most places:

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Cute little beach house:

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Our next stop was the Hardware Distillery Co. in Hoodsport. I read about this place online and decided we should check it out. The owners, Chuck and Jan, started the distillery a few years ago near their vacation cabin in Hoodsport and it's become quite a little hot spot in town!

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Chuck was pouring today, and started us right off the bat with their award-winning aquaivit. (It was great!) He had a special bottle from the freezer out for the folks who were finishing their tasting as we arrived, so in all the excitement we were included in that special moment, and then started at the beginning with the vodka made from peach wine (oh hey, and ended full circle with another tiny pour of cold aquavit).

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We bought a bottle of the R Gin and a bottle of the Bee's Knees Plumb. For the R Gin, Chuck takes up about 100 pounds of barley to Hama Hama Oyster Co. (just up the canal a bit) and they cold smoke it in their big smoker. R Gin has a subtle smoky taste, and the name comes from the (discredited) old wives’ tale that oysters are best in months with the letter "R".

The Bee's Knees Plumb is a distilled honey mead, made from 80% honey and 20% plums from Chuck's friend's plum trees. It's good! I'm not sure what we'll do with it yet, but we'll figure it out. 

The building housing the distillery used to be the Hoodsport Hardware Store, hence the name Hardware Distillery. They've got a great vibe in there, and the decor is all old hardware and cool distillery equipment. Definitely worth a stop if you're coming through and are into this kind of thing. We also tasted in sequence the white dog, and then the same spirit that had been aged for just a little while in that small barrel...interesting to taste the difference a little wood makes.

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Next we headed back up the canal and decided to try the Hama Hama Oyster Bar for lunch.

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There's a market where you can buy fresh oysters and clams and other stuff, and outside around the corner they've got a "snack bar" where they're serving up oysters (raw and grilled), crab cakes, steamers, etc. while you sit outside on the water, in the sun, having a totally chill day eating delicious fresh seafood. 

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Fun atmosphere, great service, nice people, delicious seafood! We had some grilled oysters (since tonight's meal will be mostly Shigokus and Olympias on the half shell), a crab cake, some steamer clams, and a glass of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc. Everything was delicious and we'd come back here in a second!

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The grilled oysters with served two sauces: (1) a chipotle bourbon sauce (so good!) and a classic escargot sauce of butter and herbs (also good, but I loved the chipotle bourbon one best). 

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Hoodsport is a cute little town, and this whole area feels authentic and not too touristy at all. There are several state parks along here that (of course) are pretty dang crowded right now (a sunny weekend in July) but overall the place still feels pretty mellow. 

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We're just back hanging out at the Airstream now. The RV park here (Glen Ayr Resort) is totally fine. It's nice, right across the road from the water and we're backed up onto what I hear is a small creek (I'd have to go check to verify). We've got full hookups, but their internet is out (we're using our AT&T datacard with router and doing just fine). I'd stay here again, but I might try to see if this place had any waterfront spots first, because it looked fabulously close to the water as we drove past an hour ago. :)

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Last Day in Victoria

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We had some breakfast and did some work this morning before it was checkout time at Westbay Marine Village in Victoria. Since we're on the 7:30pm ferry tonight to Port Angeles, we had a bit of time to kill. (Long story, but the basic deal is: make reservations more than a day ahead of time for the ferry when you are 48.1 feet long and it's the middle of summer.)

We headed over to Thetis Lake Provincial Park because they had a day use area and we figured we'd be able to park there for the rest of the day and hike or ride bikes out from there if we wanted. We paid for the two parking spaces we were taking up and headed off to hike around the lake.

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It turned out to be a beautiful hike, with some fun signage along the way:

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We decided to head over to the ferry terminal early to see if there was any chance of getting on the 3pm ferry. There wasn't. So we parked and walked over to grab some lunch and sightsee a bit more. The ferry was just arriving as we walked past and we noticed the different configuration of the Coho (compared to the other more recent ferries we'd been on) so we stopped to see how the side door loading and unloading worked.

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So they must load them from the other side, or the back? They got these guys on somehow, so I think we're fine. :)

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We walked up the road a bit and grabbed some lunch and did a bit more sightseeing. Here's our view from lunch today:

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Which way should we go? Oh I guess we'll head back toward home.

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We're in line for the ferry now, with about an hour and half to go. We're working back in the Airstream with free ferry internet (well, "free" meaning it came with our $250 fare to get ourselves, our truck, and our Airstream back to the US). Next stop: Hood Canal!


Boppin' Around Victoria

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This morning we got up and worked, did some work, and then worked some more. For our lunch break, we headed down to the docks and caught an adorable little water taxi across the harbour. It was still pretty dark and windy, but the rain had stopped for a bit.

Our ride's here!

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Leaving the West Bay Marine Village:

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Dark sky with purple martin house silhouette:

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We got off the harbour ferry at Miner's Landing and headed straight for Red Fish Blue Fish for some lunch (well, or breakfast...brunch? We have an early dinner reservation tonight so we just did a late breakfast/early lunch combo today and this place was it!)  Their website said they opened at 11:30am. We arrived at 11:15am, and there was already a line of about a dozen people (we knew this would probably be the case). Red Fish Blue Fish is on the pier right by Miner's Landing, inside of an upcycled cargo container. It's cool, and has a great reputation for their food.

We had a 1-piece halibut fish & chips, a grilled, seared albacore tuna tacone (a cone-shaped taco), a half order of grilled Fanny Bay oysters, and a couple of Pellegrinos. Our halibut arrived first:

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Everything was great! I'd say this is the second best fish & chips (next to Bandon Fish House in Bandon, Oregon). The other creative items on the menu help quite a bit, but the batter on the halibut was crunchy, the fish was great, and you gotta love their 100% sustainable policy.

After lunch we walked around Victoria a bit just sightseeing. Harbour, with BC Legislature Building:

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Totem art:

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Empress Hotel:

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Cute little water taxi in the harbour:

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There are flowers everywhere in Victoria!

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Look at the line at Red Fish Blue Fish when we came back to our taxi stop:

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We hopped on a boat and headed back to West Bay Marine Village. Looking back from the boat:

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More purple martin houses:

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Westbay Marine Village from the little ferry:

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You can't beat the location of this marina and RV park. It's so close to town (would be an easy--and cheaper--bike ride into town, but we weren't sure what the weather was going to do and we kinda wanted to ride the boat) and the exterior spots all have marina or harbour views. Two of the shorter, marina view spots:

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Remember when we were over in Pedder Bay and we had made reservations for the Sooke Harbour House for dinner (the whole reason we even went to Pedder Bay/Sooke in the first place)? And remember how we had the day wrong and we missed our reservation and had no chance to go again while we were nearby? Well, guess what? We figured out that the Sooke Harbour House is a 45 minute drive from where we're staying in Victoria, they are open tonight, and we got ourselves an early dinner reservation. Woohoo! 

And now, a bit more work!