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Northwest Traveler

Travel news, consumer advice and trip reports for the Northwest and beyond.

Topic: Skagit Valley

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April 16, 2014 at 8:50 PM

It’s confirmed: Tulips are blooming in the Skagit Valley

The tulips are in full bloom in the Skagit Valley, in case you weren’t sure. Here are a couple of photos I took on Tuesday on a drive through the valley. Skagit Valley Tulip Festival events continue through the end of April. This was the message online Wednesday from Washington Bulb Co., which owns most…

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Comments | Topics: Skagit Valley, Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, Skagit Valley tulips

March 20, 2014 at 12:37 PM

It’s officially spring, and Skagit Valley is officially full of daffodils

Happy first day of spring (which began at 9:57 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Thursday). If you need a life-affirming outing that will truly convince you it’s spring, head for the Skagit Valley, where daffodil fields are near full bloom, according to the official bloom map on www.tulips.com, the website for Mount Vernon-based Washington…

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Comments | More in Northwest, Outdoors, Washington state, weekend getaways | Topics: bloom map, daffodils, first day of spring

December 9, 2013 at 4:36 PM

If you like to eat, there’s big news in little Bow-Edison

Ice lined the mouth of the Samish River at Edison over the cold weekend. (photo by Brian J. Cantwell/The Seattle Times)

Ice lined the mouth of the Samish River at Edison over the cold weekend. (photos by Brian J. Cantwell/The Seattle Times)

Just got back from a couple days in Bellingham, via Chuckanut Drive, and have a little news to report for fans of the expanding Bow-Edison foodie wonderland at the south end of Chuckanut:

The Rhododendron Cafe on Chuckanut Drive is under new ownership. (photos by Brian J. Cantwell/The Seattle Times)

The Rhododendron Cafe on Chuckanut Drive is under new ownership.

If you’re used to stopping in for a bowl of posole stew or some lime-soaked polenta cake at the Farm to Market Bakery in little old downtown Edison (all 500 feet of it), don’t be dismayed when you see the bakery empty and closed this month. Just turn the Prius around and cruise a mile or so back to the corner of Bow Hill Road and Chuckanut Drive and the little old Rhododendron Cafe, the new home to Jim and Lisa Kowalski, who ran the Farm to Market in recent years.

Longtime owners (since 1984, which is about a century in restaurateur years) Don and Carol Shank retired in October and hung up their aprons at the Rhododendron, a popular food stop on the scenic route to the City of Subdued Excitement (Bellingham). With fewer than a dozen tables, the cafe isn’t big — but if you’d ever squeezed

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Comments | More in Northwest, weekend getaways | Topics: Chuckanut Drive, Edison, Farm to Market Bakery

October 15, 2013 at 6:01 AM

Snow geese arrive in the Skagit as sunny October woos you to farms

Look for snow geese like these, making an early arrival now in the Skagit Valley. (photo by Alan Berner/The Seattle Times, 2012)

Look for snow geese like these, now arriving in the Skagit Valley. (photo by Alan Berner/The Seattle Times, 2012)

Snow geese have arrived early in the Skagit Valley. Is it a sign of a harsh winter to come? Are the caterpillars extra furry? Or does it just mean the geese like our mid-October sun breaks?

Haven’t measured the caterpillar dreadlocks, but I did spot a farm field of white — with bobbing, goosey heads and an occasional wing flap — in the distance from the Dike Road, just outside Mount Vernon, on Saturday.

Friends who live there confirmed the arrival of geese, though they don’t expect trumpeter swans until November. (Swans hang out across the road from their Britt Slough farmhouse; when their college-grad son visits he complains that their honking keeps him awake.)

We spent the day up there pressing homemade cider from bushels of apples our friends harvested from three old trees behind the house. We had no idea what types of apples they were; some were reddish, some were green, some were a bit of both. We just piled in whatever was washed and ready for the press. With no recipe whatever and no added spices,

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Comments | Topics: apple cider, Halloween, harvest

July 8, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Heading to the islands? Pick up some farm-stand berries

Raspberries from Hayton Farms on Fir Island, in the Skagit Valley. (photo by Brian J. Cantwell/The Seattle Times)

Raspberries from Hayton Farms on Fir Island, in the Skagit Valley. (photo by Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)

It’s berry season in the Skagit Valley, and if you’re heading to a campout or cabin in the San Juans (or at Bay View State Park, for that matter), few things make a better dessert or fruit salad after a quick stop at a farm stand.

We picked up some raspberries on the way home through the valley after a long Fourth of July weekend in the islands and discovered that they also make a good driving snack (and are a lot less salty than Fritos).

Right now it’s shoulder season, so to speak, so you can not only find raspberries, but also late strawberries or early blueberries. Ours were from

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Comments | More in Northwest | Topics: farm stands, fresh berries, raspberries

March 20, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Spring is here, Skagit daffs bloom, while snow geese linger

Snow geese turn golden in the setting sun over Fir Island, Skagit County. (photo by Yoshiki Nakamura)

Snow geese turn golden in the setting sun over Fir Island, Skagit County. (photo by Yoshiki Nakamura)

News flash: Spring officially arrived, in squishing galoshes and full-body Gore-Tex, at 4:02 this morning, Pacific Daylight Time, a day or two earlier than normal. Our lingering wintry weather has kept a contingent of snow geese and migratory swans in the Skagit Valley, I noticed on a drive this past weekend. It reminded me of this week’s stunning Reader’s Lens photo, above, from Times reader Yoshiki Nakamura. Click here to learn more about the photo.

On the same drive across Fir Island and along Best Road, we spied fields of blooming daffodils spreading yellow across the valley floor like French’s mustard smeared across a hot-dog bun. (Note: This is a full-value blog, with no extra charge for mouthwatering imagery.) Click here to see what’s blooming where in the valley. Tulip lovers still have weeks to wait unless we have a freak heat wave.

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Comments | Topics: daffodils, la conner, RoozenGaarde