Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Seattle: A Drive Across Deception Pass...Sounds Like A Nancy Drew Title

Come take a drive across Deception Pass.  Sounds like a Nancy Drew title, doesn't it?  Believe me, the beautiful scenery will give you courage to take the bridge across Deception Pass.  

The pass was named deception when Captain George Vancouver realized that what he had identified as a peninsula, was actually an island.  He named it Whidbey Island after his assistant Joseph Whidbey, who was with him when he realized his mistake.
 This is the view to the West - the shimmering open water of Puget Sound.  
This is the view to the East - the little island is called Strawberry Island.  This link will take you to a great map of Deception Pass State Park and will help you appreciate the topography.

Deception Pass State Park has both a fresh and salt water shoreline.  Many visitors parked their cars on either side of the bridge and took a "I'm not afraid of heights" walk across the bridge.
I loved that we took this unexpected stop on our Sunday drive. This park is only an hour and a half north of Seattle, Washington but it felt like we were on a vacation a million miles away.  How can Washington State be this beautiful so close to a major city?  A major city which is also beautiful from every angle, by the way. I would love to come back to this area and have a chance to sit on the beach and or find more of the scenic overlooks.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Seattle: A Little Northern Exposure in La Conner

To me, this looks just like the television show, Northern Exposure.  You see it too, right? In reality, it is the popular "weekend getaway" destination La Conner, Washington. As we walked around the town we had the feeling that we had been there before. For my Michigan readers, it is a Suttons Bay of the Pacific Northwest.

A friend in Seattle recommended that since we were heading on a daytrip to the Skagit Tulip Festival, we should see the tulips and then go West on WA20 and drive around the perimeter of Fidalgo Island and then south WA20 through Deception Pass State Park (which has saltwater and freshwater shoreline!), over Deception Pass (the bridge) and across to the Whidbey Island to the Clinton - Mukilteo ferry crossing to head back to Seattle.

Others had mentioned that La Conner was a great little town to have lunch. We combined the two suggestions and found an outside table at La Conner Waterfront Cafe where we could enjoy the sunny day and have some fresh fish and chips.  Truth be told, the cafe was overwhelmed by the "tulip traffic," so it wasn't ideal, but we enjoyed our very very long lunch on this outdoor patio that was right on the Swinomish Channel.
On our drive out of La Conner, we stopped our car and walked out onto a bridge to take the mountain view photo of the town.  If you look to the far left in the picture, the restaurant was two roofs to the right of the light green roof.

Spring is just beginning to wake up this little town - I can only imagine how picturesque it will be when summer is in full swing.  Be prepared to hold hands and spend an afternoon wandering past the art galleries and resort shops.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

Seattle: Skagit Tulip Festival in Washington

Allow me to add to your bucket list.  When I say I that went to "see the tulips" at the Skagit Tulip Festival, I really mean it!  Look at this spectacular field of red.  Part of the fun of a tulip festival is that it is crawling with people, all out to enjoy the day and marvel at the beautiful and varied blooms.  Each and every person is in a good mood and all are willing to take your pictures for you.  I can't resist showing you this great picture of Dan and me standing in a tulip field.  Maybe this should be our Christmas card picture...
We are staying just outside of Seattle, Washington and the drive is an easy 90 minutes north.  Check out this map of the tulip growing area.  (I am going to publish this blog post now and I'll come back when Dan is around and note our exact route for you - it was short and sweet, but allowed for plenty of tulip viewing.)
Look at the mountains in the distance! I could not believe our luck - we visited on April 12 and the day was about 65 degrees and partly sunny.
There is a lot of traffic (think of a row of cars snaking their way down country roads), so I recommend a bathroom break before you arrive within the map area and bring along snacks and water to keep your passengers happy and comfortable.  There are clear areas where cars have pulled off along the road to exit their vehicles and take pictures.  Join in the fun and try for your perfect family portrait.  
After exploring a few fields, we crept along the road to Roozengaarde Tulip Display Garden.  You can Visitors pay $5 to enter the garden display and enjoy the beauty of 250,000 blooming bulbs. A 15-acre tulip field (above) is right across the street (and next to the parking area).  Paid entrance to the garden display allows you to wander these fields as well.  What a sight! 

In the manicured garden area, some families spread out blankets and enjoyed the sunshine while their children ran around nearby.  It was very crowded, but as I said, I think that is part of the fun.  When something is special and only blooms for a short period of time, it inspires people to come out and enjoy it.
Above is an example of the display gardens (each variety clearly marked in case you want to note your favorites and order bulbs for your garden in the shopping tent).
Yellow and red as far as the eye can see.
What could be better than an arch of tulips and a mountain backdrop?  I saw a couple taking what looked like their engagement photo right here.  
This "Salmon Parrot" was one of my favorite tulips.  It looks like a Dutch painter's dream. I think a large bouquet of these would make my hotel room look like it was in House Beautiful.
Within Roozengaarde's open tulip field, I could see a painter set up to capture the day.  Can you see her with her easel?  I wish I had thought of bringing my travel paint set along - I would have loved to paint this on site.
I really can't emphasize how relaxing and worthwhile it is to head to the Skagit Tulip Festival (which will run April 1-30) - if not this year, then next.  Just mark your calendar and promise yourself.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Seattle: Agua Verde Cafe and Paddle Club - Great Mexican Food with a View

It's not every day that your burrito comes with a side of tranquility.  Yes, there was music and a happy crowd lining up and filling up Aqua Verde on Friday night, but all the while the view stayed the same.  Look at these gorgeous shades of gray/green on Portage Bay.
When we arrived we put our name on the list, ordered chips and margaritas and made our way to the self-serve salsa cart (see below) and then walked out onto the back deck and found a place to lean and have our drink and chips.

Salsa Verde: "Fresh and Mild"; tomatillo, cilantro, avocado and onion 
Chipotle: "Smokey and Sweet"; chipotle chile, tomatillo, cilantro and onion
Diablito: "Hot and Spicy"; roasted jalapeño and tomato 

Over the course of the meal, I feel like I personally ate a cup of the Salsa Verde - I just couldn't get enough of it. We sat on the open deck, looked at the marina and enjoyed the fresh air.  It wasn't long before we were buzzed and we were happy to get a table on the semi-enclosed deck overlooking the water.
We split the  Camarones (sautéed shrimp, cabbage, pinto beans, rice, avocado sauce in a flour tortilla) and the Mariscos (Alaskan cod & shrimp wrapped in flour tortillas with a creamy chipotle sauce & topped with green onions).  Both were delicious and quite rich.  I know that we will come back again and again. It won't be long before I am craving that salsa verde!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Seattle: Chism Beach Park in Bellevue:

This lovely little waterfront park is just 4 minutes from the bustling shopping area of Bellevue, Washington.  I was determined to find some large trees in bloom and I thought that a little waterfront park would be a good bet.  No such luck on this particular day at Chism Beach Park, but the sun was so beautiful I didn't mind.
I love seeing huge evergreen trees all over the Seattle area.  They always remind me of mascara wands.  Don't they look like that to you?
When I drove through Bellevue (looking for a park) I noticed some wonderful stores along Bellevue Way that will serve as a magnet to draw me back - I saw a Container Store, Nordstrom, Paper Source, Cost Plus World Market and Apple.  I can definitely have fun - this will be a perfect area to explore on a rainy day.  As for flowering trees, I did find this magnificent magnolia at Denny Blaine Park - the petals had just opened!
Here it is in the distance, to show some perspective. This is the very small park called Denny Blaine.  I can't say that this park has much to offer (it seemed to be a hangout place for kids skipping school) except for this magnificent magnolia and a "mountains in the distance" view.
The magnolia is in full bloom just above this garden door into private property. It reminds me of the magic of The Secret Garden and Julie Andrews' book, Mandy.  Have you read both?  They are wonderful and spring makes me want to be a little girl tending her first garden all over again.
I am constantly in awe of the mountain views that can be seen from so many everyday places.  I am not used to seeing mountains in my daily life.  I like it!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Seattle: Belle Epicurean in Madison Park

A table on the sidewalk, fresh air, blooming trees and a Pear Almond Brioche from Belle Epicurean in Madison Park. Everything about this was just what the (jet lag) doctor ordered.

I was trying to convince myself that I was raring to go, so I drove over to Madison Park to visit my friend's favorite haunts.  The only thing I hadn't counted on was the fact that it was Monday.  Small shopping streets often keep hours on the weekend and use Monday as their day of rest.  Yep.  Each shop I checked in on was locked up tight.  Except her favorite French pastry shop, Belle Epicurean!  
I admired their gorgeous honey display (I love knowing a place I get can get bottles of Savannah Bee Company honey) and contemplated which pastry I should order.
They warmed up a Pear Almond Brioche and the scent alone was worth the price.  It smelled good enough to dab behind my ears.

When I sat down at a small table on the front walk, I realized just how tired I really was.  A latte and a snack was just what I needed.  I called my friend with the proclamation, "Guess where I'm sitting!"  We talked for a half an hour about her wonderful memories of living in Seattle.  It was the perfect way to spend my first afternoon.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Seattle: Snoqualmie Falls: A Natural Wonder Minutes from Civilization

Are you kidding me?  After work, Dan said he wanted to surprise me by taking a short drive out to "see something" before we had dinner.  20 minutes after leaving his office we were at the magnificent Snoqualmie Falls.  

Visitors can park along the roadside and this waterfall is just a short walk away.  There are several viewing platforms, which provide a lot of different angles for photographing the waterfall.  
This is one of my favorite photos - the sun illuminating the forest in the distance at the sightseers are mesmerized by the roar of the falling water. It was 7:30 pm and the light was perfect.
I also wanted to show you these beautiful pine trees growing straight and strong on the edge of the rocky cliff.  Majestic.

I found a selection of videos on the Snoqualmie Falls website, if you want to see the waterfall in action. (*Note: The first video in the list is dated October 22, 2013. It shows the walk to the lower falls.  It is long and not worth it. Move on to some of the other choices.)

You can see the Salish Lodge and Spa peeking out in the top left corner of this photograph.  My good friend used to live in Seattle and she recommended that we come back to the Salish Lodge and Inn for brunch.  Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Seattle: Seafood Dinner at Chinook's at Salmon Bay

You can imagine how happy I was to sit down to fresh seafood at a great local place. Chinook's at Salmon Bay is part of the family of Anthony's Restaurants and I have come across recommendations for many of their restaurants as I read up on Seattle.  When I looked up Chinook's online to provide a link, I wasn't surprised to see that it was part of this beloved group of restaurants in the Pacific Northwest.  The food was delicious.

I wisely chose the tempura seafood platter (Alaska true cod, calamari, salmon and prawns with onion rings and zucchini slices) so that I could try a little of everything.  I had never heard of cooking salmon in tempura and it is a bit like "fish and chips" in that you can dip your fish in the sauce of your choice. I dipped my salmon in the teriyaki sauce and it has been on my mind ever since.  I loved it.  The cod was delicious dipped in their homemade tartar sauce and the shrimp was, of course, perfect in the cocktail sauce.  How soon can I go back and eat another plate of fried food?  The first chance I get!
Chinook's at Salmon Bay is located in Seattle's Fisherman's Terminal, which, by location alone, puts the fresh in fish.  The large glass windows of the restaurant overlook the marina and it is the perfect setting to enjoy a lively casual meal.
I was encouraged to order the clam chowder and I am so glad that I did.  It was perfect - plenty of clams, tender potato cubes and a delicious soup base. I didn't leave a drop.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Seattle: Kerry Park shows off the Seattle Skyline

What a view! I have been in Seattle for almost a week now and it is mind-boggling how much I still have on my "must see" list.  I haven't been to an area this chock full of fun in a long time.

I owe my first successful week to an old friend who used to live here (her list of recommendations has my head swimming...and I intend to do it all!) and a new friend (who heard through a mutual friend that I was visiting Seattle and generously offered to meet up with me) - these two women have made a huge difference in my acclimation. 

I normally blog daily, but I have been doing so much in a day that I haven't had time to write as things happen and now I don't know where to begin!  I've seen so much already that I could sit down this Monday and write posts all the way to April 30th.  I will do my best to keep a consistent schedule, but you might just see 3 posts go up in one day!  Palm Sunday (13th) will be spent at a local Tulip Festival (I know!), so look forward to some flower-filled posts next week.

Now back to that VIEW!  My new friend, Kathy was sure that I should see this view in the daylight before we made our way to the wharf for dinner.  The vantage point is a place called Kerry Park on Highland Drive.  There is parking on both sides of this residential street and though limited, there seemed to be a yin yang to the pace of sightseers coming and going. You must fit this into your trip - how often can you take a postcard-worthy shot?  Many of you will recognize this vista from the television show, Grey's Anatomy.

I felt lucky that I could capture Mount Rainier in this landscape the first time I tried.  I am told that cloud cover keeps her hidden much of the time and Dan swears he has only seen it a handful of times in the rain-filled weeks he traveled out here before I arrived.  It was definitely the night to capture the skyline.

This was the first of many good moments in Seattle - stay tuned.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Delight in Seattle: First Stop, Buying Flowers for the Room

I made it to Seattle, Washington! And by the looks of the flowers for sale at Pike Place Market, I may never leave.  Can you believe the bouquet I'm holding?  It cost $15 and it brought me delight for days. Whenever I am going to be in a city at least a week, I buy a bouquet of flowers for the room.  It makes me happy every time I see it.

When did Moments of Delight become a travel blog??  I know, it feels a little crazy for me too.  Since January, I have been in Michigan, Texas, Florida, Minnesota and now Washington State.  This is my life and I am happy to share it with you - I write about the beauty of everyday life, as I see it.

Of course when I am traveling, delight becomes "site specific."  I hope you enjoy my photos and commentary about my visit to the Pacific Northwest (I've never been here before!) and take note of places you would like to visit in the future.  I will be in Seattle for several weeks, so my adventure will include making a hotel room a little more like "home" and my attempts at cooking in a McKitchen.  Wish me luck.
When Dan and I flew into Seattle, we checked into our hotel and then immediately went to Pike Place Market to stretch our legs, get some fresh air and look for dinner. Unfortunately, the market was closing for the day, so we didn't really get to see it in action.  Look for a post in the future when I visit the market and can take my time exploring.
I could have swooned.  Imagine standing in front of these fresh tulips with a sign that says $1 each. I wanted so many of them; I actually stood there imagining different combinations in my mind (*with the same contemplative expression I get when I am in the fabric section of Joann Fabric!).

I resisted only because I had already bought the large bouquet (above) and my hotel room can only support one arrangement.  And I kept telling myself that I can come back.  And I will!

*Note: A noteworthy bonus to buying flowers at Pike Place Market is that the bouquet was magically wrapped with a plastic bag containing water, rubber bands and paper to keep your bouquet fresh and happy as you stroll the market.  I was very impressed when I unwrapped my flowers and saw the infrastructure created to keep my bouquet at its best. Magnifique!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Baja Fish Tacos at BoneFish Restaurant

I don't normally review food at chain restaurants because while they are filling and perfect for a weeknight, they aren't necessarily worthy of a designation of delight.

However, I have had "Baja Fish Tacos" twice at Bonefish Grill lately and they were exceptional.  Beautiful grilled fish, fresh mango salsa and a sour cream crema.  Yum yum yum.  A little spicy and a lot delicious. If you have a chance, be sure to try this light and delicious meal, preferably at a table in the sun!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Dunn Brothers Coffee: When Coffee Equipment Catches Your Eye

I can't be the first person who photographed this magnificent yellow coffee roaster/grinder at Dunn Brothers Coffee in Rochester, Minnesota.  You see the beauty in it too, right?

I told my dad that the brightly colored specialty coffee equipment reminded me of when I toured a coffee bean shop in Paris with Patricia Wells when I was in her cooking class a few years ago.  This red beauty dominated the small Parisian shop, where even the air felt caffeinated. 
While other students bought coffee beans, I bought a coffee bean sack to make into a pillow for my living room.  You can see my masterpiece, a khaki and black graphic pillow on display below.
When a salesperson at Dunn Brothers Coffee saw my interest in the machine he came over to answer any of my questions.  What I wondered was if they had any empty coffee bean sacks that I could make into another pillow. Raw materials with a story behind it are always so much more interesting.

Lo and behold, he had one that I could have! I expressed my gratitude and told him to look in the blog this summer to see my creation.  The coffee bean sack is light brown with red lettering - I can't wait to get home and sew!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Paper Flower Dress

The Macy Department Store at The Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens (and maybe all Macy locations?) is celebrating spring with mannequins dressed in gorgeous dresses made of paper flowers.  I saw at least 5 different styles and colors.

Bravo!  We all need some whimsy after such a long winter and this coral frock made me smile.  Have you seen any "touch of spring" out in the world that made you particularly happy?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Strawberry Fields...or possibly the less romantic Lettuce Fields

I like to be as specific and informative as I can when I write.  I am sharing what I see with the world and I want to help you to locate everyday beauty too.  However sometimes I just don't know what I'm talking about but share it anyway.

Look at these gorgeous fields growing in South Florida.  I know! I usually picture a big citrus grove so these beautiful green fields took me by surprise. Are they strawberries? Could be.  Lettuce or green beans? It's possible.  I took this photo flying north out of Palm Beach International airport.  If you know what is growing in that area please let me know.

No matter what crop is growing, the effect is the same.  Natural beauty!