Deception Pass Bridge – Best NE style Clam Chowder

Depending on your dreams, tastes and desires, many directions will draw those dreams, tastes and desires toward your fulfilling them in precarious methods. As we all make our journey through life, often enough we envision ourselves being somewhere or perhaps doing something . . . like skydiving. No, I really have had no real desire to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. One day, while working with the Navy SEALS, I met a civilian contracted Jump Master for the teams. He was an ex-special teams dude for the British Air Force (or something like that). He offered me a chance, that was never fulfilled, to watch the SEALs jump during their training. When the subject arose about jumping, I threw at him, “why would anyone desire to jump out of a perfectly good airplane?” He looked at me square in the eye, and knowing I have a strong background in aviation and aircraft maintenance, said in his thick British accent, “Mate . . . you and I know perfectly well, there’s no such thing as a “perfectly good airplane”!” To that, I had absolutely no comment . . .

Nowadays, many refer to their unfulfilled dreams and desires before they die, as their “bucket list”. When visiting great friends in Washington State, I was taken for an adventure ride through the Puget Sound. What was hoped to be an opportunity to fish the Sound for Steelhead or Halibut (neither in season), turned out to be just a joy ride on one of the only perfect days in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve never had a “bucket list” per se, but there have always been the “what if’s” or the “I wonder what it would be like”. More to follow.

coupevilleOn our second day on the Sound, we didn’t want to place ourselves in the way of our hosts (they were planning a wedding), so we made ourselves scarce to reminisce the areas of Whidbey Island where we spent almost 5 years of my military career. I met up with a couple of good friends that I had made while in the military, and have recently re-connected with through Facebook. Unfortunately, that was short lived, fun, but a good brief moment. My wife and I that day, visited some of the old areas and looked at some of the homes in which we lived. Coupeville, WA is just south of Oak Harbor and was used as a set for the making of the movie War of the Roses, featuring Danny DeVito, Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. The town was totally transformed for the shooting as we lived just down the street. Facades were erected, store front colors were changed and older automobile were brought in to better portray the time and era for the film.coupeville1

One of our conquests for the day included finding just the right place to eat lunch on the island. My wife attempted to find “this fish place” the evening before, but was unsure of its location; so we attempted to find something suitable in the Coupeville area while re-visiting. We walked the streets but only one place looked familiar. Toby’s Tavern has been a Coupeville mainstay for years and is always frequented by the local Navy aircraft flying squadrons of the past and today. The front window has many decals from many visiting squadrons throughout the years. Toby’s is in the backdrop of the film scene picture and still there today. See if you can find your squadron’s decal. I found three of my old squadrons . . . not easy to see many, if any in my picture. They weren’t open when we stopped by, so we traveled back into Oak Harbor determined to find my wife’s recommended dining location.toby's

But, before we left Coupeville, I had to see the place where Penn Cove Muscles come from. Penn Cove Muscles were featured on many, if not most, menus in the area and are also sold in Costco locations throughout San Diego. I even prepared them, buying them from Seabolt’s (see below), at the barbeque hosted by or Whidbey friends. penn coveI steamed them in a mixture of bacon, shallots, garlic, white wine and tarragon. Everyone at the party seemed to greatly enjoy them, and most of them have never eaten muscles before. Kinda funny . . . live around fish, but don’t eat it.

Another place we stopped in while in Coupeville was this little breakfast bakery. We peered through the window to witness the pastry chef preparing some fresh berry scones. The place was packed and the breakfast’s looked good. We bought a cup of coffee and shared a sticky bun. I would have eaten breakfast if we weren’t saving our appetites for what was to come.knead and feed

Perusing every unknown location throughout Oak Harbor with the premise of “it’s the best clam chowder”, we finally found Seabolt’S Smokehouse. Seabolt’s is known, not only on the island,  but throughout the world, for it’s smoked and packaged salmon. The restaurant offers a very full menu that mostly consists of various seafood cooked and served in a variety of ways. Now Seabolts is not cheap as they exercise their right to premium pricing. We did order the Clam Chowder to share, my wife ordered a Crab Cake . . . to die for, and I had the Halibut fish and chips. seabolt1While the Cole Slaw and fries that accompanied our dishes were very acceptable, the other three items were outstanding. The Crab Cake was deliciously seasoned, as was the moist Halibut, but the Clam Chowder was the best I have ever had. We even tried to find any other on the Sound that matched up. Seabolt’s smokes, prepares and packages their products right on sight as they also prepare all of their fresh menu items in the location’s kitchen. seabolt2

So now I’m on this boat . . . and a pretty nice boat it is, we cruise from Oak Harbor . . . harbor. sound1And, since this was our last days in Whidbey Island, it just seemed like the perfect ending to a joyous time with our friends, as I can now say I can cross that boating trip on the Sound and under Deception Pass Bridge off of my “bucket list”.deception pass



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