Monday, September 21, 2009

September Sunrise Beach Walk

6:30 am, beach walk from Harper to Point Southworth. This is my favorite time of day to get a little zen-like and enjoy the last few glimpses of summer.  Impossible to stay in bed while all of this beauty is just here for the taking!  No wind, just gentle lapping of the outgoing tide, somehow the absolute quiet of the morning, except for the seagulls and terns calling out, calms the internal storms and frantic thoughts.

 Yesterday morning in the quiet, sitting on the deck, I drank my coffees and watched a bald eagle making attempt and after attempt to dive into the water and catch some wily fish.  I heard his splash into the glass-like water long before I saw his wing span.  Fascinating!

Walking from my beach (Tom and Gloria's) to Point Southworth is a little more difficult than I remember!  Not in distance, but the balancing act of of walking on rocks covered in barnacles and slippery sea weed is more than a little tricky.  Such an incredible morning, but at the same time have to really pay attention to where I was walking in order to not fall completely down - was more worried about dropping the camera!  Can you see what I mean?  Definitely not a beach glass or sea shell gathering walk.

So quiet, and  was concentrating so diligently on not falling, I almost missed this other beach friend!  He just looked at me, and then at his doe, am sure that they were quietly laughing...only about 10 feet away.  Yes, he's real!

Rounding the point, enjoying the streaking sun across the path of  the incoming 7:55 am ferry to West Seattle, I was reminded of how lucky I have really been to see this all of my life,  and to actually live here in the Puget Sound.  This used to be me in my business suit, getting in line before 7:30 on the ferry dock in order to make the 7:55, and be in Seattle calling on mortgage customers before 9:00 am.  Not a bad commute!  My dad always reminds me that people come from Kansas and Iowa to see this, and we get to actually live here.  Thank you God. Where can you commute looking out at the Olympic Mountains, the Cascade Range with Mount Rainier, and Mount Baker rising up all at the same time?  No where else in the world.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ambiance for Beautiful Homes - Astoria, Oregon

One of my favorite things to do is to explore towns by the sea, and Astoria, Oregon was no exception!  Wish that I had planned more time, and now that I know what a vital downtown community Astoria has, I will definitely go back for more adventures when I have more time. Great galleries, local art, upscale restaurants, coffee shops...

Just a quick post to tell you all about a great home decor store that I discovered while wandering through unique boutiques  and finding somewhere for a quick bite to eat.  Located at 22914th St., on one of Astoria's downtown side streets, Ambiance was so welcoming, charming and filled with many of my favorite things!

Wandered in and fell in love with all they had to display, Archipelago Candles (my VERY favorite!), chunks of collector coral, polished sea shells, wine glasses with etched swimming fish and "found" items like old seaside windows and clam buckets.  Botanical seashell art, driftwood pieces, oh so much to look at and touch - I was in heaven! Can you see the vintage fan on this shelf?  And the white coral?

Don't worry, I did ask Londa, one of the owners, if I could take pictures before I started shooting these!  Look at how seashells are displayed in glass containers... love the seaside signs and the table that is an old blue door. Londa was wonderful, and I am so happy to be able to show some of her inviting store!

These vintage green floats ($12.95) were gorgeous and   displayed beautifully all piled together in a unique recycled glass bowl.  Sometimes something so simple can be so beautiful!

If you ever have the chance to drive Hwy 84 from Portland to the Oregon Coast, make sure that you have enough time to stop and wander, and stop in and say "hi" to the owners at Ambiance!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hood Canal Oyster Adventure

Tom, my oyster aficionado boyfriend, came up to visit last weekend, so I thought I could show him some "real" oysters on the Hood Canal. We began our fun drive in Belfair and then around the South Shore, all the way around to Quilcene and then back across the Hood Canal Bridge at Shine.  For local (and not so local!) Sunday drive fans, this is just a great stretch of curvy road!  There are plenty of parks to stop at, interesting beaches to explore, a few wineries,  and farm fresh products to buy.  Not to mention the views of the Olympic Mountains to the West and the absolutely gorgeous homes to drool over and dream about.  Hmmmm.... one day maybe?

First Stop Twanoh State Park: If you haven't ever stopped here, you are missing a little jewel! The park was created by the CCC in the 1930's, most of the building are still used today - built of native logs and sturdy bricks.  The beach is covered in oysters and little manilla clams, all can be yours with a shellfish license, a bucket and a little grunt work.  Oysters have to be shucked on the beach, leaving the shells for future oysters to grow. Although it was a little cold and gray as we strolled out to the beach,  we didn't mind. Tom was amazed at the oysters just lying on the beach waiting to be shucked and taken home!

I offered to take pictures of a group of family and friends that we met on our walk, having the best time shucking oysters and then running up to bbq them and steam fresh clams.  Funny how while at the beach, it is so easy to make friends... so generous that they opened up oysters and shared them with Tom.  Wow! His first oyster fresh off of the beach!

Second Stop: Hunter Farms  just past Union on the way to Potlatch.  Great farmstand!  We were hoping to find some fresh oysters in the shell to buy, since we couldn't take any off of the beach.  No such luck here, but bought incredibly yummy local ice cream - french apple pie and pecan/caramel swirl.  In my opinion, some of the best ice cream I have ever eaten!  Lots of fresh corn on the cob, local squash, tomatoes and fruit.

Third Stop: Hoodsport Winery in Hoodsport  This winery has been producing wine on the Hood Canal for over 30 years!  What I think sets this winery apart is that they produce wines that are made of other fruits, more than just grapes. Blackberry, Raspberry, Apple, Pear.. Their most popular selling wine is Raspberry, the #2 seller is Rhubarb.  Tom and I were the only ones in the tasting room that afternoon - what fun!  We each got 6 tastings, please don't worry, they were small and we were still full of ice cream.

Of course, we had to ask what their recommendation was for enjoying with oysters. Believe it or not, it was the Rhubarb!  So, we bought a bottle of Rhubarb and a very nice 1999 vintage Lemberger-Cab.

Fourth Stop: Hama Hama Oyster Company!  This was pretty cool! You can buy smoked salmon, shucked oysters, seafood salad, but best of all you can pick out your own fresh oysters (still in the shell)  from their hand selected buckets.  We learned so much about cooking oysters that afternoon from the extremely helpful gal in their store!

Those of you that are oyster fans probably already know that if you buy oysters during the summer months they really are only good for bbq'ing.  Apparently, they are not plump because they are all used up from reproducing.  Raw oysters are better to eat  in the "r" months.  She told Tom some inside secrets about barbecuing the right way... that's him enjoying a Martini at Mom and Dad's house!

Have to admit that I was really, really trying to psych myself up to eat bbq'd oysters.  Tom was so excited about trying to cook them, and I didn't want to disappoint him, but just in case I picked out a bunch of manilla clams for me.  Love the colors on the shells, and boy did  they taste terrific steamed in a little white wine, sweet walla-wallas and garlic.  yum!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Foggy Morning Beachwalk in September

Went for a leisurely beach walk this morning in hopes that the fog would lift and reveal sun streaking across the water at Harper Dock, with a line of sailboats bobbing in the bay. No such luck with the fog lifting, but still a wonderul zen-like experience. Perfectly quiet in the fog, no car traffic, ferries blowing their foghorns, squawking of bald eagles (they sound a little like a squeaky wagon wheel!), a flock of Canadian Geese honking their protest at me, while I stroll among the rocks and sand of low tide.

This little stretch of beach is the one of my favorite beaches to find interesting beach glass. Years ago there used to be a brick factory right on the corner, and is also where one of the docks for the first ferries was built.

I have found aqua, cobalt blue, purple and some red pieces here. Today, I was determined to pay attention to where I was walking and tried not to pick up too many things! Still, could not resist the colors of the agate and sand-washed clear pieces of sea glass that somehow found their way into my pockets...

What an opportunity to notice colors and shapes this morning, without the bright sunshine! Like the fine

dewey lines on this spider web outlined by heavy galvanized chain. Might have missed the beautiful natural artwork if the sun had been shining.