Lighthouse Keeper: The New Dream Job

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The email got me dreaming: Seattle mag writer Joe Follansbee sent word that his new book, the Fyddeye Guide to America’s Lighthouses, is now available. Joe, a consummate storyteller and maritime expert, has a boundless enthusiasm for these beautiful and historic beacons, as do I, after a weird and wonderful week I spent living in one as a "lighthouse keeper" a few years back.

I’ve never known a week like it. Eight of us loaded up a Suburban with seven days’ worth of supplies—because once you make the low-tide careen across the shifting sands in the custom-outfitted truck, there’s no going back until pickup time, a week later. No car, no grocery store, no errands.

Spending a week stranded at the end of Dungeness Spit near Sequim might sound like hell to some—especially when you factor in that this is a working vacation (mow the lawn, hoist the flag, polish the brass, give tours to the intrepid souls who make the 5-mile trek down the longest natural sand spit in the U.S.) and given that I paid to be there. But the gorgeous keeper’s house is packed with amenities (satellite TV, WiFi, etc.). And those sunrises—complete with cavorting seals—and the solitary walks on the beach…well, I would go back there today, if I’d thought to get a reservation in last year!

Must join New Dungeness Lighthouse Association to be a keeper; $35/year. Week’s stay is $275–$350/adult. Book well in advance; newdungenesslighthouse.com.

 

 

Dig Deep Into Wine at the Northwest Wine Encounter

Dig Deep Into Wine at the Northwest Wine Encounter

An intimate affair for wine lovers who get their geek on over things like the impact of soil, weather, terroir and altitude
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A flight of wine awaiting tasting at one of the educational panels

If you love good wine—really good wine—you’ll want to put Northwest Wine Encounter on your radar.

Haven’t heard of it before? That’s not surprising. The inaugural event, which I attended last spring, was an intimate affair with space for just a few dozen wine lovers who got their geek on over things like the impact of soil, weather, terroir and altitude on winemaking, learning about these during educational panels led by some of the region’s finest winemakers. And, of course, it helped to taste through flights of really fine wine as the winemakers offered insights and perspective.

The return engagement, on the weekend of April 28-30 (from $485/person including lodging, events and gala dinner), will follow a similar format and will once again be held at Semiahmoo Resort, a lovely spot overlooking Semiahmoo Bay, with the U.S./Canadian border and Peace Arch in view across the water. This year, there will be room for around 100 wine lovers (sign up for Northwest Wine Encounter here).


Winemakers and guests enjoying Friday night’s bonfire at Semiahmoo 

This quintessential Northwest location was chosen to complement the local wines that are the focus of the weekend. At Semiahmoo, Mount Baker frames the view in one direction, the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound in another. At one time in its history, Semiahmoo was also the site of a salmon cannery. Hard to get more Northwest than that.

The 2017 winemaker lineup includes a few superstars from Oregon and Washington: Chris Figgins of Leonetti Cellars, Walla Walla’s oldest winery; David Merfeld of Northstar Winery, Chris Upchurch of DeLille Cellars; Tony Rynders of Panther Creek and wine grower Mike Sauer of Red Willow Vineyards. New this year is the addition of a British Columbia winemaker, Walter Gehriner of Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery.

 

At last year’s events, the panel discussions were interesting, but the Friday night kick-off event was almost worth the price of admission alone. It had the air of an informal party where everyone was enjoying each other’s company. All the winemakers were in attendance, pouring and chatting about what they love most: making wine. The party eventually spilled out onto the beach where a bonfire warmed the crowd. Marshmallows optional, wine required.