Ferry ride was very smooth. In spite of occasional showers, water was practically still and wind was barely there. Usually it is difficult to be outside since wind is so strong that you feel that you are about to be blown away. This time it was very comfortable and I would even say warm outside which felt strange considering that temperature was in low fifties.
As we arrived back to US, we visited couple of stores in Park Angeles (nothing special) and then drove to Port Townsend. Port Townsend is located at the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula with a population just over 9000. It was established in 1851 and during its high days was more important port city than Seattle. Unfortunately, by late 19th century when the railroad was built to Seattle instead of Port Townsend, it started to decline. However, Port Townsend is famous for its collection of Victorian homes and significant historical buildings and eventually it turned into artists’ colony. It is known now as a "Victorian Seaport and Arts Community." Boating and maritime life are also central cultural elements in this port town.
What was great about Port Townsend that its downtown keeps getting better and better with more interesting galleries and little artsy stores opening. Very nice, especially when other similar communities (like Cambria in Central California) are not doing so well. We spend couple hours there and even bought a nice piece of ceramic made by a local artist.
Then we drove back to Port Angeles to eat. We went to the same restaurant we visited last year. They were forced to change their name from Wildfire Grill to LD Woodfire Grill but the restaurant was as wonderful as we remember it from the last year. It is small restaurant with huge wood-burning oven that is located away from the downtown in old Victorian home. They have a terrace with two fire pits for outdoor dining that is looking over Olympic Mountains but it was too cold for it. We ordered just one appetizer - Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno's- Fire roasted, stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped with apple smoked bacon. Served with Jonnies homemade chipotle aioli sauce. It was heavenly. All seeds and membranes were removed from jalapenos so the result was only slightly spicy but very tasty. I absolutely must make it at home.
For the main entrees, Alex ordered the Cedar Planked Seafood Platter – Large tiger prawns, sea scallops, wild salmon, clams and Alaskan halibut, fire-roasted in a buttered white wine lemon sauce. Served with our house risotto and fire roasted vegetables. The seafood was all perfectly prepared, and the lemon champagne risotto was truly fantastic. I ordered their special – Seafood Cakes. What a great idea! Instead of standard crab meat, they had a combination of minced salmon, halibut, shrimps, scallops and crab meat. Seafood was minced rather coarsely so you could still recognize separate ingredients which provided with rich variety of flavors and textures in each bite. I was not sure if seafood was mixed together in a raw state or already cooked but waitress told us that we can always email them for a recipe. And this is exactly what I am planning on doing as soon as we return home. We also had a bottle of very interesting Washington Organic Riesling from Badger Mountain Winery.
Their great wood burning oven and the line cook:
Our amazing appetizer served on their custom pottery:
White lilac just outside of the restaurant:
Later we checked into Olympic Lodge hotel. We stay in this hotel for over 10 years every time we are in Port Angeles. They are absolutely perfect in every aspect – great location right next to the golf course, large super-clean and tastefully decorated rooms and efficient and friendly staff.
View from our window:
We started next day with a nice breakfast in their small bistro. I had waffles and was very impressed with their interesting flavor. I was told that they were using Nash’s Red Wheat flour which I could buy at Nash’s store in Sequim. Unfortunately, we were driving in opposite direction so we decided to check local organic food store. They did not have the flour but they had Badger Mountain organic wines. We bought 11 bottles (all they had left) including 3 of Riesling that we liked so much at our last dinner.
It was raining lightly but we still decided to go to the Hurricane Ridge. When we were entering the park, we were told by the ranger that it was raining all the way and there was nothing much to see there with this weather but we decided to go anyway. We missed it last year because of the heavy fog and decided to take chances. And it was the right decision. True, we could not see the ridge from the very top of our ride but vistas that were opening to us during the ride were breathtaking. There was no rain higher up but a lot of clouds and some fog. The fog was not everywhere but just in patches in some areas and patches of fog with the sun shining through the clouds made absolutely spectacular scenery. In some areas fog was so thick that we could barely see 10 feet in front of us.
Unfortunately, it started raining much heavier as we were driving along Hwy 101 around Olympic Peninsula so we did not take any of the side trips to the rain forest. It stopped raining for short period when we approached the Ruby Beach and I was able to get out, go to the beach and take some pictures. The beach was covered with driftwood – huge trunks of the trees that got to the shore from the forest via multiple rivers and creeks and then were rolled back and forth by the ocean waves. Very impressive sight.
When we reached Astoria where we were staying, the rain was not getting any better. We were getting really hungry but unfortunately the restaurant I planned for was closed again, this time because of Monday. So we decide to go to the Fort George brewery as we did last year. Here is their history from their web site:
“The Fort George Brewery & Public House was the original settlement site of Astoria founded in March 1811 by Captain Jonathan Thorn. In its heyday, Astoria was the Pacific Fur Company’s primary fur trading post in the Northwest. Under temporary British Authority, it was renamed Fort George after King George the Third. In 1924, the Fort George building was erected to house a Ford service station and remained an automotive repair facility until the late 1990’s. Briefly abandoned and sadly neglected, we have revitalized the Fort George building producing beer here on site. We hope this brewery will respond and adjust to your thirsts, as we believe in beer that evolves depending on the palates of the people who drink it. We strive to use the freshest most locally obtainable ingredients and our beers are never filtered, fined or clarified. We the brewers aim to constantly raise our standards to make you the greatest pint of beer you’ve had today.”
What can I say? The beer was very tasty and unusual. I had Quick Wit – “A Belgian Style ale that’s very pale and cloudy in appearance due it being unfiltered and its high level of wheat.” And then got some of their special Mango beer. Both were just to my liking – not too bitter and somewhat on a sweet site. Alex had some kind of ale he loved. For appetizer we had their home-made salsa with chips – thick, made from fire-roasted tomatoes with perfect level of spiciness. We also had their ‘soup of a day’ which was chicken curry. It was Thai-style rich mild green curry with very sophisticated taste; I need to learn how to make it. For the entrée Alex had their Pan-Seared Oysters and I had their 10-oz Hanger Steak. Alex was moaning and rolling his eyes while eating his oysters and my steak was absolutely perfect – juicy, very flavorful and done just right – well browed on the outside and still pink and somewhat bloody inside.
Then we checked into our hotel Best Western Lincoln Inn. This was our second stay in this hotel and equally pleasant. They are recently remodeled and have large, clean and tastefully decorated rooms and friendly staff. They are located between two bridges in no too fancy area but overall it was very positive experience. And the rate was great - it was free for us this time since I used my Best Western reward points.
Our next day, May 22, started with pretty bad rain so an hour we spent in Astoria was walking from store to store under umbrella. They have one really gallery in the downtown where we always find something interesting. This time it was glass by a local artist.
We spent the rest of the day driving from one little coastal community to another with rain on and off. Unfortunately, due to the weather opportunities for photography were limited but I was still able to take few interesting pictures. With overcast and strong winds the ocean looked particularly stunning.
Our total driving for today was slightly over 100 miles but with frequent stops it took us over 7 hours very enjoyable hours to get to our hotel - the Looking Glass Inn in Lincoln City.
We got upgraded to a room with an ocean view and a whirlpool tub but were too lazy to use the tub. They also had a fireplace which came very handy given very low 50s (like exactly 50) temperature outside. In addition, there was very nice kitchenette which allowed us to have nice breakfast in our room. Our hotel was located right on a beach but because of the rain we did not get a chance to enjoy it.
Unfortunately, both restaurants I picked were closed today and we followed our hotel’s front desk recommendation and went to Kyllo’s Grill.
While I would not call it fancy, their fish was super-fresh and well prepared. I had halibut and Alex had Rock Cod, both very-very good. They were served with a cup of their chowder. We also ordered Crisp Calamari that came with great spicy and very garlicky aioli and a bottle of local wine – Van Duzer 2010 Pinot Gris. Wine was very nice: “A crisp fruit sensation where all the textures come together in a viscosity that has weight but is not heavy.”
Unfortunately, our next day, May 23, still started with the rain. It is interesting phenomena but while it is no fun to travel when it is raining; the Pacific Ocean looks its best in slightly stormy condition so the views we were experiencing were simply stunning. We spent a lot of time visiting multiple little galleries along our route (Lincoln City, Seaside, Yachats, etc) and enjoying very interesting Oregon artists. We bought more of Oregon pottery and I am already anticipating how much fun we will get from using it.