October 21, 2009
PART I of three in Washington State
Summer went out with a splash, warm days, brisk eves, five days on the road roaming first Seattle overnight in the dishy sleek new LEED certified Hyatt at Olive 8 – a mad dash through Barney’s & Pike Place Market before happy hour at the hotel’s Urbane where six of us gathered for shoestring fries, a cheese & salami plate, an excellent chicken liver pate with balsamic gelee and “savory clams” that were steamers a bit overpowered by Thai chillis.
In the morning off to Everett (four writers in a van with two p.r. young twentysomethings who drove and were supposed to represent Washington State yet were woefully unprepared but quite nice & pretty to look at). Toured the Future of Flight museum and the Boeing plant, top secret, had to leave purses in lockers no phones or cameras or anything not even spy pens or buttons. They’re building the 878 Dreamliner jet with tipped wings, very pretty, and they even have a jumbo Dreamlifter jet which opens sideways at the tail and the nose cone specifically built to retrieve wheels and fuselages, etc. too big for conventional cargo manufactured elsewhere in the world like Japan or Germany.
Still in Everett, who knew there was a pleasant waterfront hard to find amid industry, a new Navy base and Kimberly Clark paper mill. A ferryboat ride to the narrow, sandy Jetty Island manmade from dredging & tossing sand over the breakwater rocks which now after several years has volunteer cottonwood trees & wildflowers (good) blackberry vines & Scot’s broom that we always called scotch broom as kids (bad, with efforts to eradicate) but loads of birds, salmon fry taking advantage of a river-made lagoon at the far end and deer and coyote swimming over for a jaunt. Two miles long and about 40 yards across. Muddy sand flats stretch out into the bay from the jetty where we’re told kite-boarders swarm for easy launching and reliable afternoon winds.
Then it was a trip back and forth some 60 miles to Sultan in the foothills of the Cascades (Hwy. 2 that we would take right through Sultan over the mountains the next day, go figure…see above) to the Sky River Meadery, a small home-brewing outfit making honey wine, that is, mead – too sweet for some, delicious for others.
The GPS (!) got our drivers lost so we arrived a little too late to Ninety Farms outside of Arlington to take decent pictures of the sheep and cows meandering in the fields or the guard llamas that ran right up to us to make certain we weren’t going to harm their “mama,” Linda Neunzig, owner of the organic farm (lamb & beef supplier to upscale restaurants & specialty shops). The “local chef” for the evening in our itinerary, unnamed, turned out to be none other than the amazing Russell Lowell, of Russell’s Restaurant & Bar in Bothell (Bill Gate’s personal caterer). We were going to eat in the barn, but it was too chilly, so we gathered inside Linda’s cozy farmhouse full of her kids’ fair trophies for equestrian skills and showing animals. Washington wine (14 Hands cab for me) and butternut soup, salad, braised vegetables from the garden, cut-it-with-your-fork tender luscious home-grown beef perfectly done and the (ok-to-die-now) warm chocolate morsel with raspberry drizzle.
Lovely evening with Linda & Russell, good conversation and our one vegetarian (who had a specially prepared “tower” of layered veggies) wasn’t grossed out. Happy to bed at a motel catering to business folk along the ever-enchanting Interstate-5.
NEXT UP: Over the Mountains to Eastern Washington.