Pacific Northwest Seafoodapalooza

Nothing draws us GypsyNesters to an event like sticking the word “Fest” on the end of it. Like moths to flame, kids to candy, cats to a catbox or flies to…. windshields (what did you think we were gonna say?) we’re there in a heartbeat.

We were downright giddy with excitement to hit Washington State just in time for Salmon Fest AND Crab Fest. As we ventured into the Pacific Northwest, the salmon were running upstream with their insane, unstoppable urge to spawn. The horniest teenager ever has nothing on these swimming sex fiends.

Many Cohos and Chinooks fight their way up… CONTINUE READING >>

Nothing
draws us GypsyNesters to an event like sticking the word “Fest”
on the end of it. Like moths to flame, kids to candy, cats
to a catbox or flies to…. windshields (what did you think
we were gonna say?) we’re there in a heartbeat.

We were downright
giddy with excitement to hit Washington State just in time for Salmon

Fest AND Crab Fest.

As we ventured
into the Pacific Northwest, the salmon were running upstream with
their insane, unstoppable urge to spawn. The horniest teenager
ever has nothing on these swimming sex fiends.

Many Cohos
and Chinooks fight their way up Issaquah Creek for their reproductive
romp, desperate to return to The Washington State Fish Hatchery
from whence they came. In the Seattle suburb of Issaquah this
fascinating annual phenomenon spawns the beloved Salmon Fest each
autumn.

As “Fests”
go, this is a winner. For forty years now, hundreds of thousands
of people have come to celebrate and sell-a-brate the return of
the salmon. Scores of booths hock the wares of local artists and
artisans along the closed off streets of downtown Issaquah. Five
stages scattered throughout feature music while humans satisfy
their urges through feeding frenzies at the food vendors. Larger-than-life
salmon are toted throughout the festival on specially harnessed
volunteers along with banners that say “This ‘spawn’ brought
to you by…”

In
an odd quirk, almost none of the available vittles contained
any salmon whatsoever. Where were all the salmon steaks, sandwiches,
salads or sushi? Not here. All we could find was one booth
selling smoked salmon packaged
to take home and a couple of cubicles with questionable fried cakes.

What we did
find was a fascinating view of the life cycle of these giant fish
at the hatchery. Thousands of salmon, anywhere from three to six
feet long, fighting their way up dozens of miles from Puget Sound,
in a stream too shallow to cover their backs in many spots.

At the end of the journey they pile up in a traffic jam at a dam
waiting to get into the tanks where they began their lives several
years before. The
hatchery has been breeding and releasing Coho (King) and Chinook
(Silver) salmon since 1936. These days they return a whopping
four million fish a year to Issaquah Creek.

Between the salmon in Issaquah and the big Crab Fest in Port Angeles
sits Seattle. We figured we ought to take a look.

In keeping
with our theme, our first stop was Pike Place Market on
the waterfront. This was our kind of place!
There was seafood galore. Pike Place is famous for their
vendors and their propensity to toss large fish over the counters
to fill an order. A whale of a good time!

Colorful
produce booths line the market with free samples of candy-like
Washington apples — fresh off the tree — offered every step
of the way. Literally. Our fiber intake went way up that day,
we couldn’t help
but gorge.

Our
never-ending search for weird regional food brought us to
PIROSHKY, PIROSHKY… where piroshky rule the day, in fact,
piroshky is all they serve.

We had never eaten — much less heard of — a piroshky, so not trying
one was out of the question. A piroshky is the Russian version of
a

handheld filled pastry, much like pates in the Caribbean or pasties
in the U. P. of Michigan. Or possibly an apple “pie” from
McDonald’s. The shop offers over thirty varieties and our favorite,
both for its fresh local content and its shape like a fish, was
the smoked salmon. Besides, we’d been craving salmon since we got
skunked at the Fest.

Just a few blocks
walk from the market and a quick trip on the Jetsons-esque, world’s
first full sized monorail and we were staring up at the landmark
of The Emerald City. No visit to Seattle is complete without a trip
to the top of The Space Needle. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair,
the 605 foot tall structure is perhaps the best example of cheesy
1960s space age architecture on the planet.

Better
yet, it was the location for the Elvis 1963 cinematic classic
“It Happened at The World’s Fair.” The view from
the observation deck 520 feet in the air is fantastic, but
pales in comparison to standing on the very spot where The
King portrayed
Mike Edwards, Cropduster.
Elvised
up and ready to rock, it was time to head out across the Olympic
peninsula for The Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival in
Port Angeles. On the northern coast of Washington, this is
definitely the place to be for any decapod chowing seafood lover.

Crabfest in Port Angeles, Washington Not
nearly as vast as Salmon Fest, what Crab Fest lacks in size,
it more than makes up for in crustacean tastiness.

Wanting to work for our grub, we tried our hands at crabbing
in the Grab-A-Crab Derby on
the pier. For $12 each we were handed a little contraption with

snares made from loops of fishing line and pointed towards a oversized
tank full of crabs. If it were left up to David we would have starved.

He
couldn’t snag one of the claw footed, bug eyed buggers to
save him but luckily, Veronica snatched them out of the water
like an old salt. She snared six of them, so we chose two
for dinner and released the others back to the tanks to be snagged
again by some other lucky crabber.
For
those who don’t want to fish for their supper there is also
“The Famous Crab Feed” where a whole Dungeness Crab
is served up with corn, coleslaw, music and beer. Demonstrations
of crab cookery from celebrity chefs help to whet
the palate.
Shells
cracked and bellies filled, we wandered through beautiful
downtown Port Angeles. Nestled between the Olympic Mountains
and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, scenic beauty and ginormous
trees define the area but a more recent claim to fame dominates
the business district… The Twilight books

and movies.

Port Angeles
is the town where the bloodsucking characters come to shop and
hang out. The local entrepreneurs have embraced it wholeheartedly
— we glimpsed Bella’s prom dress at a clothing store and were
bombarded with displays for days at the book store, restaurants,
gift shops and, of course, the movie theater — all decked out
in an endless array of Twilight swag.

We
discovered that Port Angelean teenagers have a love/hate relationship
with Twilight when we visited the local downtown movie theater.
As we settled in with our popcorn, we were surrounded by young
folk — giggling, gossiping and flirting amongst themselves.
As the lights dimmed the preview for “New Moon,” the
second movie in the Twilight series, lit up the screen and the place filled with audible groans.

Teenage
angst aside, the Twilight phenomenon has really benefited
the area. As one bookseller told us, “Anything that
boosts the economy around here without clear-cutting trees
— I’m all for it.”

And
so are we.

David &
Veronica, GypsyNester.com


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