My favorite Eats in NW Washington State.

There’s just nothing like going back home after a long absence. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest so I get all exited and start making lists of things I want to do and people I want to see. But inevitably my list ends up being a bunch of places where I want to eat!  So here is my list of places that you absolutely MUST go if you ever visit the north-west corner of Washington state.

Bow, WA – The Breadfarm. This tiny place is the bakery to end all bakeries. They make THE BEST sourdough bread around and OMG the cookies are amazing! It’s a little off the beaten path but it is SOOOO wort the effort to go check it out. Be sure to bring cash because they don’t accept credit cards. They also go to most of the local farmer’s markets so you may be able to find them that way also. What i like to get here is a big box…then I start picking cookies that look good to me. Cookies for breakfast even? You betcha!

Mount Vernon – Skagit Valley Food Co-op. The Co-op is Ahhhhmazing! It is an organic grocery store that sells everything from produce to essential oils. They have a shop upstairs where you can buy jewelry and kitchen gadgets but their deli is what always gets me! The food is fabulous and good for you too! They have a hot table full of yummy goodness, desserts, a salad bar and cold case full of prepared foods. They also pull a mean shot of coffee.  My favorite thing is the coconut cuban rice pudding. Try it, you won’t be sorry!

Anacortes – The Store This little shop at the top of Anacortes is a big surprise! It doesn’t look like a whole lot from the outside but boy do they deliver! The sell wine and other various sundries and also have a small cafe where they serve coffee and snacks. But where you will find the line of people is at the bakery counter where you can buy humongous muffins that will leave you wanting more and more and more! My must haves are the coconut muffins or a bag of mini macaroons!

Anacortes – Gere A Deli This place is an Absolute MUST. The decor is vintage and the food is fabulous. EVERY single time I go to Gere A Deli I get the Reuben. It’s hot and a little spicy and they use this sweet mustard that just makes my mouth drool even thinking about it! My second favorite is their Clam Chowder that is served on Friday. But if you want some you better get there early because it sells fast!

Seattle – Little Water Cantina This place is a little slice of Mexico right in the heart of Seattle. They are located on Eastlake Boulevard just south of the University of Washington on the east side of Lake Union. There is seating outside that overlooks the boats and they have monthly live music during the summer. I tell people about this place all the time! The MUST HAVES are their margaritas (one kicks my butt) the homemade guacamole and chips and the Posole. The posole is so good that it makes ME – a confirmed poor cook want to learn how to make it!

Seattle – Ivars If you grew up in Seattle you know all about this place. It’s the best. It’s the one place that my Dad absolutely HAS to visit when he comes to town.  It’s entirely nostalgic and brings back tons of memories of eating outside with my grandparents and feeding the seagulls my uneaten french fries. There are several Ivars locations but I recommend the one on the Seattle waterfront.

So there you go, the best eats from a girl born and raised in Seattle. Enjoy!

Fidalgo Fitness in Anacortes, WA.

I can’t lie. I thought it would be easier. When I looked through the window at the pool all I saw were gray heads. A pool full of senior citizens! They were talking to each other and smiling. It looked like they were having fun so I figured how hard could it be? I’ll give it a try. I thought Aqua Aerobics would be super easy. Boy, was I in for a big surprise!

My first class was deep water aerobics. After donning my swim suit, I strapped on a wide blue float belt and synched it in tight – to keep it from sliding up to my armpits! I then swam gently over to the deep end of the pool – which in all honesty makes my tummy a little squishy feeling – and tried to find a spot where I wouldn’t bump into anyone.

Kirsten, our instructor is young and perky. She is red headed with fair skin, freckles and enough energy to light up Time Square! She played upbeat music with a quick rhythm and started us out jogging in place – then moved on to jumping jacks followed by cross country skiing. Very quickly I started to warm up! I found that the water provided a resistance to my movements that supplied a full body work out that was amazing!

I also learned that I could alter that resistance by opening or closing my fingers. Bending my knees made things easier but keeping my knees straight and moving from the core and hip worked my body in a whole new way! And increasing the tempo made my muscles work overtime! Kirsten varied our pace and encouraged us to keep our core engaged which made me feel stronger as I bobbed/danced about trying to keep up with the choreography.

I have since attended two more classes and I absolutely love the work out that I am getting from this type of exercise! Now I know why the pool is full of senior citizens! It isn’t because this class is easy, It’s because they are SMART people! They know what works. They know that exercise in the pool provides a low impact, full body resistance work out that you can modify depending on your needs! And it’s fun!

So, if you live in the area, please come on by the Fidalgo Island Pool & Fitness Center in Anacortes, WA. We have a weight room with cardio machines, group fitness classes upstairs and a wonderful pool with open swim times, lap swimming and water fitness classes that will kick your butt into shape! And if you drop in, tell them that Dawn sent ya! See you soon!

Maya Shakti – Anacortes, WA

When you walk through the door into Maya Shakti Yoga Studio in Anacortes the first thing you notice is the lovely fragrance in the room. Of course that’s because the owner Dawn Marie has been drying roses and lavender and rosemary to make her own signature Fidalgo Island Blend of potpourri and beautifully wrapped smudge sticks.

I recently visited Maya Shakti to attend a Restorative/Yoga Nidra class – and boy was I in need! I had just moved to the area the week before. I had trouble getting a spot to park my RV aka The Gypsy Love Bus, there was “no room at the inn” for our F27 Trimaran in any of the local marinas and I had been working really hard to find a job. I was feeling stressed and worried and extremely tired.

Every time I see Dawn it makes me smile. She has curly dark hair and a smile that reaches all the way to her eyes! I really like her and it’s not because we share the same name – although I think that’s really cool!

The first part of class was a very meditative yin/stretch. Dawn emphasized staying in tune with our breath – even through the transitions between poses which I had never really focussed on. I loved how slow it was. It felt thorough and deep and I kept my eyes closed almost the entire practice! Then we moved into a 20 minute Nidra which was heavenly! I was so relaxed and blissed out that when class was over I felt as though I had been sitting in a hot sauna, followed by a massage and a glass of wine! Totally at ease, zen and calm and it lasted most of the day!

It was really great. Just what I needed today. Dawn teaches all of the classes at Maya Shakti and she is also a Massage Therapist and Life Coach. Maya Shakti has has live music nights, a great shop up front to find Malas, T shirts, Cool patterned fabric and a free/share book bin! I love that! So if you’re ever in Anacortes come by Maya Shakti ad check it out – especially the Sunday morning Restorative/Nidra class – and tell Dawn that I sent ya! Namaste.

Sailing to Sucia – a Visit from the Deep

I am so lucky that my boyfriend has a sailboat! We love going out for a few days to “get away from it all.” This summer we are taking some time to explore the San Juan Islands in the Northwestern part of Washington State. Washington is called the Evergreen State mostly because it rains most of the time! We also have lots of Pine trees, snow-capped mountains and the Pacific Ocean! I grew up in Washington but I am able to explore this state in a whole new way from the decks of a sailboat!


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I imagine that when I tell people I’m going sailing for a few days they may conjure an image that is quite different from my sailing reality. I think they imagine me in a bikini, sitting in a lounge chair, hair flowing gently in the wind, skin bronzed, being served by a tan 20-something GQ model while our boat (hear Yacht) cruises gently through the islands.

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My reality is definitely NOT that! No bikini – I mean jeez, we live in the Pacific Northwest and there isn’t enough sun to get me to reveal my white belly for anything! There are no lounge chairs unless you count the few moments when I allow myself to rest on the Jib. Hair – that’s a whole story unto itself. My hair is long and when you are out on the water long hair is in the way ALL the time! So it’s usually pulled back quickly into a pony tail that gets whipped and twirled until it takes about an hour of combing to coax out all the knots! My skin does get bronzed or I guess you could call it wind chafed! And I much prefer a tanned 50-something Paul Newmanesque gentleman to share a drink with. 🙂

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We sail a 27 foot trimaran. It has a small berth (sleeping area for you land lubbers) which is only big enough for two people who REALLY like each other AND they have to be very good at Synchronized Spooning! There is a small head (bathroom for boaty people) with a porta potty but you have to be bent over 90 degrees just to get to it. The shower is a lovely black bag hung up by a hailyard on the outside of the boat above the nets. (yes, you read that right, outside) Hopefully there is enough sun to warm the water before you want a shower. 🙂 Cooking is done with a handy-dandy camping jet boil!

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So now that you have a little clearer idea of what it’s like being on our boat, let me tell you about our latest exploration to Sucia Island. Sucia is one of the northernmost islands in the San Juans. It is shaped very similar to a hand print with the fingers facing to the south-east taking in the startling view of Mount Baker. On a boat you can wander in between each of the fingers or even go up and around to the base of the palm to Shallow Bay – a perfect little crescent with three different beaches and a perfect view of the sunset!

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Sucia is a fun place to visit for many reasons, It has many shallow bays to explore, it has miles of hiking trails and fossils to search for, it has great views from every side. It is covered in Madrona and Pine trees, there are beautiful sandy beaches, cozy camping spaces, and the most gorgeous sandstone surrounding most of the island. These undulating, curving, rhythmic looking walls remind me very much of the slot canyons outside of Kanab Utah that we visiting this past Christmas. The colors here a little less orange but stunning still the same.

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One of the best things about Sailing and being on an island is the ability to disconnect from every day life, worrying, job stress and the inundation of the “shoulds.” “I should be cleaning my house. I should be earning more money. I should be doing a better job at (fill in the blank). I should be skinnier, nicer, happier!” We all spend so much time being hard on ourselves. We expect perfection and tear ourselves apart when we can’t achieve it. Sailing is one of the few times I have found that it is possible for me to just BE.

We enjoyed our time on Sucia with sightings of Bald Eagles, Harbor Seals, Anemones and River Otters playing in the Bays and even one very spiky and hairy caterpillar that caught our attention. But little did we know that our biggest sighting was still to come!

There is always a little let down when you have to untie your mooring and head for home. So we were quiet and contemplative as we headed out of Shallow Bay and headed back to Anacortes.  My boyfriend was steering the boat and watching the horizon as he noticed a big puff of breath rise up from the water. He waited until he saw it a few times before calling down to me in the cabin. “Honey, there is something really BIG out here! I came up on deck and joined him in looking out at the water and there he was! A big huge Orca whale! His tall black fin breaking the water just after each exhale from his blow-hole.

Seeing an Orca in the wild for the first time is an exhilarating experience! Your breath catches, you hold it hoping that he’ll come back, swim along next to your boat, look you in the eye and give you a message from under the sea. My boyfriend said he was worried about me staying on the boat!

He stayed safely away from our boat and we didn’t try to follow or chase him. But we did stare out at the water watching for him for a very long time. It was like the universe was gifting us with his visit from the deep. As though our admiration of and love for the sea deserved a thank you. That our weekend needed a little something to cap it off. A message that we are on the right path, that we belong.

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It was pretty much a perfect trip. We love our boat (even with its limitations). We love living here – for now. And we love being out on the water, living one adventure after another and sharing our adventures with you!  Namaste y’all.

The Power of “What IF?”

I have been eyeing a certain Island. it’s an Island on an Island ….super cool huh? Its uninhabited except for a pair of bald eagles ….even cooler right? This Island (pictured below center front) is in the middle of Lake Campbell on Fidalgo Island just south of Anacortes, WA. I’ve paddled this lake before. I remember being all bundled up against the cold and not feeling very adventurous so I stored the idea of climbing this island for a later day.

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Well today was that day! I packed up all my gear and headed out. Not too many people at the lake. The sun was fighting a thin layer of clouds and a easterly breeze made standing on my board a little unsteady so I sat or kneeled as I paddled out. Life jacket – check, whistle – check, paddle – check.. oh crap…I forgot shoes! I usually paddleboard bare foot but hiking or climbing – no way!

That was when I heard the first “WHAT IF?” What if you do it barefoot? I mean, Native American’s did it and so do those crazy people on Naked & Afraid! If they can do it maybe I can too!” Choice #1 Continue paddling out!

The island is not very welcoming. It’s basically just a big, huge rock that climbs steeply up from the lake. No maintained dock or trails. When I finally found the only spot that would work, I gingerly stepped out onto the craggy rocks and surveyed possible routes to the top of the knoll. I tied my board to a nearby tree and headed up and to the right. After about 8 rough climbing steps I came to an impasse. There was a large blackberry bush in my path, no hand holds to go around it and a steep rock wall to my left.

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“Now what?” I thought, “I might not be able to climb any higher today. Maybe I should come back another day with shoes? Maybe being out here alone isn’t such a great idea.” And then I heard it again, “WHAT IF you find another route and keep going? You’re not in a hurry. You’ve got all day. You can take your time and go slow. You will be disappointed if you don’t at least try?”Choice #2 Find a new route and keep going!

I turned around and made my way back down to my board and then turned to the left, climbed over a prostrated tree and found a rocky, shale filled crevice that looked passable. I screwed up my courage and went for it, hand holds, toes gripping the rocks, pushing bushes out of my face, moss sliding off of my hand holds, staying low against the rocks and fought my way up about 30 feet to the first moss covered shelf and then I stood up! OMG I had done it! I couldn’t believe it!

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As I stood there surveying the view I heard it again. “Now you’re here, WHAT IF you climb all the way to the top? I bet it’s a great view!” My courage was in full swing after my successful climb so I answered “hell yeah!” and headed on up the hill. Choice # 3 Go all the way! Stepping gingerly around thorny bushes and holly leaves I wound my way higher and higher – slowly of course, sometimes tip toeing over rough patches, robins egg shells and lots and lots of goose poo.

As I reached the top of the hill I felt a huge rush of adrenaline and accomplishment!  Life is like that isn’t it? It can be rough and challenging. We can have rocky starts but work our way through them, sometimes we fall and have to get back up but above all we get to choose. We can choose to get negative, give up and go home or we can listen to the WHAT IF voice that gives us other, positive options. We can keep moving forward, keep trying, look for another path!

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I explored the island a bit and took some time to contemplate the day, the adventure and how I felt but all to quickly it was time to make my way back down to the water and my board. I made it safely. I did leave a little blood on the island thanks to the blackberry bushes I tried to climb over. I think going down is easier than climbing up. But maybe that’s because I went down mostly on my butt and gravity was on my side! LOL. I was really happy to see this view when I reached the bottom!

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I had a great adventure today. As I sat in the sun, on that island I felt accomplished. I did it. I didn’t let myself quit. I kept going. I was proud of myself. Who knows what we are capable of accomplishing? Its like that famous saying, “What if I fail? But what if you soar?” The choice is yours. I hope you choose to Soar!!!!!!

Travel Home

I’ve been back from Thailand for a little over a week now and I feel so happy to be back home! I’ve done a lot of traveling recently – probably too much! I went to Italy in November of 2014, Belize in February of this year and then Thailand at the beginning of April! I really looked forward to each and every trip, dreaming of what I would see, the people I would meet and earning those cool stamps in my passport! It made me feel super grown up and worldly to be able to travel around the globe and even take my daughter with me! What I didn’t count on was how much traveling was going to make me love being Home.

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My daughter and I in Thailand

Home for me is the Pacific Northwest part of Washington State – an area ranging from Seattle out in a arc from Renton on the south end all the way up to Anacortes in the north.  I have moved so much in my lifetime that Home isn’t one defined place anymore. Home is not the town where I was born, or where my parents live. Home isn’t where my children live or my favorite town. Home for me right now is a 38 foot long RV that I lovingly call “The Gypsy Love Bus” and even this home is moveable! HA!

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The thing about travel is that you can’t help but compare the “foreign” places to your Home environment. It’s like I’m constantly do a match up in my mind of all the places I’ve been and the experiences I’ve had with my life here at Home. I’ve been weighing the pros and cons and right now being Home far outweighs all of the other places I’ve been.

From my travels I have learned that a vacation doesn’t feel like a vacation to me if I’m in a big city. I really need a beach and the ocean for it to feel like a real vacation. I’ve learned that flying for 15 hours is a big drawback to travel and something that I won’t repeat soon. I’ve learned that I’m happier with a cooler temperature than one that is too hot. I’ve learned that I am mightily blessed to have fresh drinking water that comes right out of my tap and that most of the bugs in my area aren’t trying to kill me or give me a deadly disease! I’ve learned that I love having hills to hike, water to paddle, friends nearby and meaningful work that i love.

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Teaching Yoga

I’ve also learned that I like having a feeling of “belonging” over the feeling of being a “visitor.” Which is really interesting for me because I never feel like I belong anywhere. I don’t really feel like I fit in or that I’m included. I always kind of feel like I am on the fringe or the “If we can’t find anyone else we’ll ask Dawn to do it” list. But I do feel at Home here.  I know where all the good restaurants are. I speak the native language and I feel safe getting around.

So I’m going to enjoy being Home for a while. I’m not traveling anywhere soon. I’m going to enjoy the summer, do a lot of hiking and sailing, eat at my favorite dives and spend lots of time with my friends….. Because I do have another BIG adventure coming up in September. 🙂

Home Sweet Bus?????

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I really don’t know what the hell I was thinking….. Well, that’s not exactly true. Back in October my boyfriend and I bought a 38 foot long Dolphin motor home to live in for a while. I thought it would be fun, we would downsize, live more adventurously, be outside all the time and that we would have that warm glowing feeling that comes from time spent together. I know a lot of our friends and family thought we were crazy and they were probably right. it’s not always great.

We are three months into our “Let’s move into an RV” experiment and I have to admit it has some challenges:

“It’ll be fun!” Yeah, if your idea of fun is cleaning constantly! I don’t know how such a small space gets so dirty! Most of it is the carpet. Our bus is covered in a light blue carpet that always seems to be full of pine needles, sand and grit. If you every get an RV with carpet – rip that shit out immediately and replace it with vinyl or wood – anything that is easily swept. It’s also fun if you like everything being smaller than in a normal house. We are only 5’8″ and we are too long for the couch, the windows all fog up every time we take a shower and the “office” is your lap. Yoga space appears when you push out the slide out, move the garbage can and fold down the extra counter space!

“We’ll downsize” That we did for sure! We didn’t need to bring any furniture. We brought our clothes, a few books, kitchen stuff and  just a few pictures and pretty things we loved AND the size of our bus keeps us from buying more crap that we really don’t need! And that’s a really good thing! Luckily we also have huge storage space under the bus. We don’t even have half of it full so if we did go on a shopping spree we’d have room for it all!

“We’ll live more adventurously!” How do you define adventurous? Is it adventurous to have to clean out and repair a frozen potty drain after a winter storm? is it adventurous to have to take apart and clean out the toilet when all your “stuff” gets clogged in it? Is it adventurous when your jacks start to sink into the ground because of all of the rain we’ve been having?

“We’ll spend more time outdoors.” Sure, we could spend a lot of time outdoors if only it didn’t rain so freaking much here in the Pacific Northwest! We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the country but it’s really hard to get motivated to go out an enjoy it when it is raining every day! Actually, we have spent a lot of time out away from the bus because we avoid going back! When we make a run into town, we find every excuse to stay in town as long as possible so that our return will be delayed just a little longer. (I’m giggling to myself here because we just did this today after being on a two-week road trip!)

“We’ll feel all glowy from being together” This one is actually true – on my part anyway. I am surprised that after 3 months of living in such a little space that we haven’t had more disagreements or run-ins. We live happily together in our small space and we are forging a great bond. I still like him!!!! I’m really lucky 🙂

So our plan for now is to live in this bus for the next 8 months. I’m sure it will get easier as the weather starts to dry up a bit. I have visions of moving the bus to a beach somewhere. Somewhere where we can see blue sky and maybe even the sun! Where we can sit outside and have a camp fire at night, maybe enjoy an  adult beverage and have people come by to visit….ahhhh yeah….there’s another list of things I’m imagining…..I wonder how THEY will turn out?

Cheers from the rainy Pacific North West!