Umtanum Ridge
Beautiful sunset from Umtanum Ridge in Kittitas County

Greetings – And welcome to my travelmusicfoodwriting project, I Ate the State! – Washington State Edition.  It will eventually become part of a more far-reaching series, I Ate America!, but more on that later. And for those who have inquired about the progress of my first novel, The Secret Galaxy of Stars, it is indeed on its way.  (And thanks for asking!)

In the meantime…

For as long as I can remember, my family has cataloged, described and waxed philosophically about their travels and adventures using the language of food and music.  In addition, we’ve also extensively photographed, painted, drawn, written songs and probably, after a few drinks, even danced interpretively about the topic.  (I will categorically deny any involvement in the interpretive dance portions – And promptly destroy any photographic evidence should it ever emerge. Promptly.)

The depth of this food dogma never really struck me until reading back over the articles and blogs I’d written during my years performing and touring as a musician.  Regardless that I was writing about music and often of my adventures on the road, my foodie musings always seemed to find their way into the story.  Whether highlighting the fare of a tour venue (which was hopefully free to the starving artist) or discussing the fine art of foraging for dinner at a Chevron mini-mart, it just felt relevant to weave my food adventures into the rest of the tale.

Granted, food is an essential part of everyone’s existence – a necessary factor in the human equation.  Yet even with this reality, many seem to miss the more creative role food plays in their daily lives and adventures.  It may simply be a perfunctory task and source of fuel for the day.  However, food doesn’t just fulfill our fundamental need for nourishment, it helps tell the story of our histories, cultures, families, adventures and even dreams.  It is an actual character in our stories. Throw in a bit of good music to go along with that story and some very wonderful memories can result.

Without a doubt, both food and music have become beloved characters in my own adventures and have generally taken on a life of their own.  They still don’t laugh at my jokes, but have certainly provided me with countless hours of enjoyment, adventure, sympathy and companionship.  Lounging on a boat while enjoying a scratch margarita, grilling caught-that-day salmon on a deck overlooking Puget Sound while listening to the smooth sounds of yacht rock or crying in my Snoqualmie Falls Lavender ice cream over love gone wrong – Oh, the good times… We make quite a trio, food, music and I.

Mmmm… That’s a lot of salmon! (Fresh salmon at the Browns Point Salmon Bake)

You might be asking yourself why I’ve decided to start with Washington State.  (Not to be confused with Washington DC)  Is it because it’s located in the northwest corner of America and is a fine jumping off point from which to start a US exploration?  Or possibly that it offers a fine example of almost every ecosystem imaginable?  Perhaps because it boasts an extensive agricultural landscape producing delicious ingredients and wares on a global scale?  Is it because it supports a wine, beer and craft distillery scene to rival that of any the famed wine, beer and spirit-producing regions?

Blanket answer:  YES!

Interesting tidbit:  Washington State and more specifically, the Yakima Valley produces 75% of the US hop supply.  This contributes greatly to the US being the second largest producer of hops in the world.  Beer is delicious!

And while although it is certainly ALL of these things – and more – it is indeed the place of my birth and host to many of my most cherished food and music adventures and experiences.  Even though I love traveling throughout the world and am always planning my next big adventure, I am a proud Washingtonian at heart and can think of no better place from which to begin my travel chronicles.

When thinking of my approach to accurately representing a state and all the gems it has to offer, I hit upon the idea of visiting each and every county.  I don’t want to offer up one of the travel digests focusing only on the largest or most visited parts of any state.  Just because a region doesn’t enjoy the highest number of tourist stats doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful, interesting or worthy of adventure.  Whenever I visit somewhere out of my state, I love to try and blend in and experience the area as a local. I do appreciate many of the big ‘tourist attractions’, but I’ve always found I learn more about the area by blending into the background, traveling outside of the tourist hubs and being respectful and open to the areas unfolding around me.  This is what I’d like to achieve in my plight to experience the stories and offerings my own home state.

Carkeek Park
Such angelic sunsets we have here in Washington State. (Carkeek Park – Seattle, WA)

In Washington State, there are thirty-nine counties – And I mean to explore them all!  Since I know my state fairly well, I will make an educated guess that a few of the less-populated counties of Eastern and Southeastern Washington won’t have as many notable food or musical options, but mark my words – Even if I have to pull over to the side of the road and bust out a camp stove and guitar, I swear to have an adventure in every county of the state.  And believe me, I wouldn’t be the first one in this state to pull over and fire up a grill…

And with that, let’s go indulgently eat up the state!


p.s. If you happen to have any favorite Washington spots, I’m always looking for tips and suggestions – please hit me up!

Port Gamble
From rain to sun in an instant – A beautiful afternoon in Port Gamble, WA.

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