Roche Harbor on July 4th, 2020

Mom and I decided to go on an adventure for the July 4th weekend this year. With COVID having much of the country still on lock-down, we decided to keep it small and visit family in Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. This was my first trip to Roche Harbor, and I LOVED it. There was some driving, a ferry, some more driving, but well worth the trip!

We got an early start and headed out on the morning of the 2nd. We stopped at Fiddler’s Coffee in Centralia, and I want to give them a shout-out for the great Americana feel of the place, the comfort, and the REALLY GOOD coffee and breakfast sandwich. If you get a chance to stop by, you should!

We arrived in Anacortes, WA after about a four and a half hour drive. Traffic was pretty good, and Google Maps routed us around Seattle to avoid a crash. We toured downtown Anacortes (very cute town!) and stopped at the Safeway for some lunch makings and picnic-ed in the car while waiting for the ferry.

The ferry ride was definitely an interesting experience. We drove the car on and were stopped on a down ramp. There were a few times where it looked like we could just roll into the water! As it turns out, I get a little motion sick on the ferry. My mother found this HIGHLY amusing, but was nice enough to go up on deck and walk with me and take pictures on the trip. This part of the world is really beautiful. Even with the grey skies.

We arrived in Friday Harbor and then drove across the island to Roche Harbor. We got there late afternoon and visited with family, walked down to the village to see the retirement of the colors, and do a little explore. This town is small and cute, and the harbor is gorgeous.

There is so much history on the island. Roche Harbor is actually a designated US Port of Entry, with US Customs and Border Protection. It was a joint British and US military post in the mid 1850s, and became a large limestone quarry in the later 1800s when John McMillin started the Tacoma and Roche Harbor Lime Company in 1886. John McMillin and his family lived on the island, as well as all the workers. There is a lot more history there, but if you are interested, go visit and look it up! The Hotel de Haro still stands (pictures below show some of the original construction, and how the hallway looks after the building has settled for a hundred plus years), and so do some of the lime kilns, but a large fire burned many parts of the original town. The McMillin mansion was also burned, but the gates and the foundation of the carriage house still stand.

Several members of the McMillin family are interred in a family Mausoleum on the island. The mausoleum has quite a bit of symbolism (blow up the picture of the sign and read it), but the part that I like the best is that he created it as a table and his family is interred in the chairs surrounding the table. I like to think of them as sitting around the family dinner table together. There is also a very old cemetery on the grounds that you can wander along the pathways. The stones are very old and hard to read, but a lot of them have small sculptures next to them of forest animals.

There is a very charming sculpture garden in Roche Harbor, and even though it was very rainy, Mom and I explored it anyway. I have included some of my favorite pictures for you here. The bear was really impressive, and I had to take a second picture with my mother next to it so you can get an idea of how big it actually is! A lot of the sculptures are for sale, so if you are into having some art in your space, you should check it out!

We did some more touring, including stopping for some gin and liqueur tasting at the local distillery, found a cute fairy garden at the base of a tree, explored Quarry #9, which used to be an old limestone quarry and is now used as a swimming hole, complete with a rope swing. I am told, however, that the water is VERY cold! We enjoyed the scenery, and took a picture of an extremely festive man!

We watched the fireworks from the top deck of the house, and it was a really beautiful show. They light them off from a barge out past the harbor, and we could also see some being lit off from a few boats and from Pearl Island across the way.

We headed home the next day, catching the ferry out of Friday Harbor and stopping at Rockfish in Anacortes for lunch, and then heading home. It was a really wonderful trip, and I thank you for letting me share some of my favorite parts with you!

Annual Trip to Stephanie Inn

Last weekend kicked off our annual Ladies’ Trip to Stephanie Inn. As is our tradition, we started with a round of wine tasting in Dundee, OR. We visited Argyle Winery first to enjoy some bubbles before our lunch. Argyle was very accommodating of our group of six, even giving us a private room for our wine tasting due to COVID-19 regulations. We finished a little bit before our lunch reservations and snuck over to the Red Market in Dundee so I could stock up on chocolates for the trip. No kidding… they carry these chocolate covered hazelnuts that are to die for.

We had lunch reservations at The Bistro in Dundee. They had to split our party into two tables due to COVID restrictions, but we were seated next to each other so we could still chat. I had a caesar salad, which wasn’t all that exciting, but we did get some rave reviews on the kale salad and the reubens and fries.

After lunch we stopped at Furioso Vineyards to enjoy some wine and excellent views (reservations required), and then traveled on to one of my favorite tasting places: Alexana Winery. We had reservations, and Charles had us all set up so we didn’t have to share the winery, the views, or him with anyone else!

Alexana Winery also sells the Corazon del Sol label (Argentinian winery by the same owner) and the Luminoso is one of my absolute favorites. It is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre and I just can’t get enough of it. Their Malbec is also very good. This trip I left with the Rose of Pinot Noir, some Chardonnay, some Pinot Noir, some Luminoso, some Malbec… It was a great visit, and a huge thanks to Charles and the crew at Alexana!

**Side note: Charles also shared with us that Willamette Vineyards is building a new tasting room just for bubbles, if you happen to be a Champagne fan! Keep an eye open for that to appear off 99E early next year.

We left Alexana and headed for Stephanie Inn, arriving just in time for happy hour in the library. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of staying there, leave your pets and kids at home and GO. Not kidding. Completely worth it. They do a daily happy hour in the library where you get to sample local wines, beers and ciders (and root beer if you are not in the mood to imbibe), along with a nice little snack plate, and their famous focaccia bread. Yummers. They also have a night cap in the library where you can have some brandy, port, or try their homemade limoncello or the house chocolate hazelnut liqueur (like Baileys only better)!

There was some brief excitement that first night when I somehow managed to drop my phone out of my coat pocket and on to the beach. Fortunately a really nice man found it and returned it, so I could continue to take pictures to share with you from the trip!

The next day we had breakfast at the Stephanie Inn Dining Room (it is included in the room fee and it is fabulous – fresh made scones and muffins, eggs to order, thick pepper bacon, daily specials like belgian waffles, pancakes, eggs benedict, etc.). After breakfast we walked along the beach, past Haystack Rock and into town, where we donned our masks and did some shopping. We timed it a bit poorly, however, as we got completely drenched by a deluge on the way back to the hotel! It was windy and stormy, but the beach is just beautiful then. As long as you are looking at it from inside a cosy hotel!

We dried off and got cleaned up in time for happy hour, and that night we had dinner at the hotel. The Stephanie Inn Dining Room offers a 5 course prix fixe menu that is comprised of an amuse-bouche, starter, palate cleanser, entree, and dessert. They also offer a wine pairing to accompany it.

The following day was very stormy. We did a couple of walks on the beach, but almost got blown over!

We dressed for dinner again, and enjoyed another incredible feast at the Stephanie Inn Dining Room!

The next morning we had another amazing breakfast and then headed home. Always sad to leave Stephanie Inn, but we get to look forward to the next trip! Things were a bit different this year due to COVID, but the staff at Stephanie Inn are fabulous and did an amazing job of making us so comfortable we almost didn’t notice!

Have you been to Stephanie Inn or Cannon Beach? Leave a comment and tell me your favorite thing/place/shop/restaurant so I can get it on the list of things to do next time!

Planning My First Trip During COVID-19

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have really been missing some things over the last couple of months of staying safe and staying home. I have missed my friends, and my family. I have missed playing tennis. And I have missed traveling.

I had a couple of travel plans that were canceled over the last couple of months (Palm Springs, Orlando…) but now that things are opening back up, a trip to Cannon Beach that I scheduled a year ago is fast approaching. I’m very excited to get out, but want to make sure I do so as safely as I can for me, for my gracious hosts, and my travel companions.

This is the first time I have had to add masks, hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes to my packing list. (Yes, of course I have a packing list. Want me to share it with you?) But this is the world we are in today. We made dinner reservations well in advance to allow the restaurants to plan for social distancing, as required by reopening guidelines. We made wine tasting (woohoo!) reservations in advance, as they also need to following social distancing guidelines. I have plenty of masks (both cloth and paper) to ensure that I am protected and protecting others anytime I enter a shop or restaurant. I have made sure not to have any outside personal contact for the last two weeks, and I will ensure that I self-isolate for another two weeks when I return home. I am a bit nervous, as it is a risk. But I’m excited, all the same.

This is an annual trip that I have been taking with my friends for longer than I’m going to tell you. (No, you don’t need to know my age. Or my weight. But this is my real hair color.) I will write all about it and take lots of pictures. I can’t wait to share this with you. But before I go… anybody have any amazing things about Cannon Beach that they want to recommend for us to try? Any hikes, viewpoints, favorite shops, favorite coffee spots? Please share with me, as I’m looking forward to supporting the local merchants as they are reopening.

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