Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Still Enjoying Anacortes, Washington

I'm not done telling you about Anacortes just yet.  In our short time here I have found lots to do and have been dragging Betsy and Spirit to all the sites.  They certainly have been troopers and I have not heard any complaints, but that may be because of two elemental needs...water for Spirit to swim in and seafood for Betsy's taste buds to relish in.  Both of which I like too.

No visit to the Anacordes and neighboring Whidbey Island would be complete without lacing up our hiking shoes and enjoying the great outdoors á pied (on foot for you non-French speaking)  You don’t have to drive very far to find old growth trees and sweeping seaside scenery.  Just a few miles from downtown Anacortes (which is on Fidalgo Island) are plenty of locally-managed forest preserves that offer hiking and biking trails.  A visit to Washington and Pioneer Parks illustrates just why the locals (and tourists) cherish these pristine urban parks.  A short 20 minutes’ drive south of town will have you crossing the Deception Pass Bridge and in the middle of Deception Pass State Park - the most visited park in the state park system.

The stunning view from Deception Pass Bridge at 182 feet above the rushing blue water. 
We found a bunch of great trails that were dog-friendly and had the soothing presence of water for us to ooh and aah over at and Spirit to splash in.  Remember two important formulas: water + Labrador retriever = happy, tired dog.  Happy, tired dog = happy owners + a peaceful afternoon.

Since we are in the bountiful Pacific Northwest, we have to talk about food.  The connotations of seafood are everywhere and the smell of salt air is a subliminal message that had us seeking clams, mussels, and crabs.  Besides all that hiking left us famished and well below our required caloric intake (or so we convinced ourselves).  The first stop was a roadside dive that caught our eyes on the way to Deception Pass called the Shrimp Shack.  If Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives has not filmed an episode here, the show should be cancelled.  This funky place had fish and chips that left us satiated and clam chowder which enriched our arteries with its creaminess.  (Upon reflection, I don’t think we hiked enough to justify our lunch.)  

We continued to scour the island for seafood and enjoyed the chowder, clam strips, fish tacos, and flaky fried fish, but our favorite meal was a crab boil at home.  The meal was complete with our fruity Gewürztraminer (from Harper’s Trail Winery in Canada), sweet dungeness crab boiled in salt water, creamy potatoes, and succulent corn on the cob.  Oh, I forgot to mention the pound of sweet cream butter that served as a condiment.  Who wouldn't love Washington? 

The Farmers Market on Saturday and Wednesday is a must-do (even for you non-foodie types).  Who could not resist the sweet home-made coconut cake, tangy goat cheese, fresh baguettes, and flavor-packed fresh local berries?  Not us, we indulged in all!  The flowers were stunning, the smell of wood-fired pizza was salivating, and the eye-popping colors of fresh produce made me pull out the bills and grab the goods.  I was in gastronomic heaven.

A quick stroll around town and we discovered a funky little park, Causland Memorial Park, that has elaborate stonework mosaic and is an artistic statement of patriotism that honors war veterans.  The amphitheater, bandstand, and bulkheads were built out of thousands of native stones that were gathered from Anacortes and nearby islands. The downtown park is still utilized and serves as a setting for memorial services, weddings, lectures and concerts...or just a place to relax on a sunny day.

Next door to the park is the Anacortes Museum housed in one of the most beautiful city buildings - the historic Carnegie building (named after the famed philanthropist Andrew Carnegie).  Carnegie awarded a $10,000 grant to a determined group of Anacortes ladies who were focused on raising enough money to construct a library and fill it with books.  The historic building housed the library until 1958 when a new building was built and the library was moved.  The historic Carnegie Library is now the home for the museum, archives, offices, and a research area.  

The museum is small with just a few exhibits depicting the town's history but worth a visit to admire the gorgeous building...and it is free.

On our last day in Anacortes, we decided to drive south to Whidbey Island and visit the Greenbank Farm’s Wag 'n' Walk annual event (a fund raiser for the Whidbey Animals' Improvement Foundation).  The farm once bore the title of the largest loganberry farm in the country.  Today, the heritage farm has exploded into an eclectic array of wine tasting, pie shop, art gallery, cheese shop, and maze of off-leash dog-friendly hiking trails all set in an idyllic island location.  I was a little puzzled when first reading about all the farm entails but thought it was a great idea just the same.  Essentially, the farm is a community-founded nonprofit organization which manages 151 acres to support local commerce, natural resource stewardship, recreation, and agriculture.  So you can stop in for a dog walk, have your wedding, shop for fine art, enjoy cheese and wine under the afternoon sun, or sign up for the residential Organic Farm School.  Cool.

The hiking trails run through an open meadow and into a neighboring
forest preserve.  They were decorated with happy pet signs and
pictures of pets up for adoption.
Spirit made out pretty well with the freebies.  She was quite happy to participate in the hot dog eating contest that required her to jump in a kiddie pool with water and fish out the hot dog pieces - not a very hard task for a lab.
The farm visit was a great ending to our stay in Anacortes.  We found lots to do in this little town and on the neighboring islands.  I highly recommend a visit to this area.


  1. Don't leave until you take the ferry to Friday Harbor in the San Juans. Go whale watching at Lime Kiln Park. Visit the llama farm, find Liz Illg and introduce yourself. Ask to visit her off the grid house. Enjoy the scenery at South Beach. Don't miss it.

  2. Ever since I read the bit about the hot dog diving contest, Delilah is looking at me asking to go to Washington state ....

  3. I want to see photos of Spirit fishing for hot dogs!! :))

  4. Can one ever hike far enough after a meal like that? But then, what fun would it be? :c)

    Spirit is one talented dog, fishing for dogs! Very funny idea. Did she like it?

  5. Looks awesome. Adding to our bucket list:)

  6. Looks awesome. Adding to our bucket list:)


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