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July 21, 2008

Washington Day Trip

Saturday we ventured across the U.S. border to go to a Raspberry Festival in Lyndon, Washington. Think small-town fun as if you've just landed on the set of the old t.v. show Happy Days and very possibly you just might catch Ritchie Cunningham shooting hoops in a game of three on three.

We end up getting on this short bus tour as part of the Raspberry festival. Not the Christ of the King bus, as one of the buses had painted across its side, but another one that was taking tours out to a small winery called Samson Estate Winery.

It's a winery that creates, among other wines, raspberry and blueberry fruit wines. Now, I can't say I'm someone who's particularly fond of fruit wines, but these were tasty enough to make me think I'd buy a bottle, except it's not available in Canada even though the people who make it are transplanted Canadians.

One of the brothers who runs the winery, part-time, gave the five of us a tour into the back where they make it and he was a really interesting guy. Near the end of the tour he told us about this fluke his brother (the one who is the specialist in horticulture and viticulture) had made that has turned into a fly-off-the shelves success.

It's a wine made from hazelnuts. They call it Oro because of its golden colour and there just happened to be a ready-to-be-bottled batch inside the huge stainless steel vat. He brought five glasses out, released a valve at the bottom of the shiny round tub and metred out a bit of the gold liquid into our glasses.

The taste was smooth and it literally changed in your mouth leaving a hint of chocolate lingering as a surprise. Who would think that you could make wine out of hazelnuts? Or even want to for that matter. His brother has proven that it's not only possible but like most inventions, a very wacky idea has become one of their biggest success stories; they can't make enough of the stuff. His brother has had other wineries contacting him to learn the process - it has something to do with ensuring that every last bit of oil has been squeezed out of the hazelnuts or something like that.

Then, we ventured down to Fairhaven, an arsty, picturesque sleepy little place that seems to be on the verge of awakening (unfortunately) with condo sales and a lot more restaurants than I recall from past visits; change I expect wrought from an influx of wealth from the south looking for new places in the Pacific Northwest to call home.

While we were wandering along a curved boardwalk/pier jutting out into Bellingham Bay that Dee had spotted, we saw this wonderful restaurant deck tucked on the side of the hill adjacent to the walk. We decided to go up and check it out and found ourselves in the sitting area leading into the lobby of The Chrysalis Inn and Spa.

There's no signage on the outside and inside is all wood and curves and a stainless steel spiral staircase leading up to the guest-only floors above. Beautiful. Scenic. Serene. Tucked away and ripe for romance.

A lazy, meandering, sparkling saturday in Washington State. And, oops, not a single photo of a raspberry.

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