Suncruiser West Coast - - Contents - STORY & PHOTOS BY GLENN KOHALY

Washington has been a hot bed for home­grown mu­sic tal­ent like Bing Crosby, Jimi Hen­drix, Kenny Log­gins, Foot­loose, Si­mon and Gar­funkel, KISS, and Bellingham car­ries that on with al­ter­na­tive rock band Death Cab for Cu­tie. Whether you want to dance or just en­joy a meal and be en­ter­tained, What­com County clearly has it hap­pen­ing with a va­ri­ety of live mu­sic venues fea­tur­ing blues, jazz, rock, hip hop, soul, folk and clas­si­cal.

Our first stop was the Ho­tel Bell­wether for their Blues, Brews and BBQ’S event held ev­ery Thurs­day evening through­out the sum­mer. Hug­ging Bellingham Bay the ho­tel’s Wa­ter­front Ter­race is the per­fect place to re­lax with a warm set­ting sun, cold drink, self-serve bar­be­cue menu and live mu­sic. We had an un­for­get­table evening meet­ing some of the lo­cals and vis­it­ing boaters who were en­joy­ing the am­ple on-site moor­age and oth­ers moored at neigh­bour­ing Squalicum Har­bor Ma­rina!

Our next two nights would be at the iconic sea­side Semi­ah­moo Re­sort lo­cated just 40 min­utes away in Blaine along the shores of Semi­ah­moo Bay and Dray­ton Har­bor. The re­sort has re­cently com­pleted a mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar restora­tion, turn­ing it into a state-of-the-art, lux­ury des­ti­na­tion. It’s a mag­i­cal place where you can cap­ture a sun­rise from one of two award-win­ning golf courses or watch from a deckchair as a great blue heron or bald ea­gle takes flight.

Our Satur­day morn­ing started with a work­out at the ho­tel’s fit­ness cen­ter which even has an in­door track. Just for bal­ance, the work­out was fol­lowed by an amaz­ing buffet break­fast at the Pier­side Kitchen with fresh, sea­sonal break­fast items show­cas­ing the lo­cal bounty from neigh­bour­ing farms and ranches. Keep­ing with the sea­side theme the re­sort’s lux­u­ri­ous spa of­fers guests a wide ar­ray of sea­weed-in­spired treat­ments. I don’t get to visit spas too of­ten but after talking with Sherry Ott, the Spa Man­ager I de­cided to treat my­self to the Sea Salt Body Pol­ish. This in­vig­o­rat­ing body ex­fo­li­a­tion not only man­aged to re­move a few crusty bar­na­cles but left me feel­ing re­laxed and very much con­nected with my new ocean sur­round­ings.

Semi­ah­moo is right in the heart of the North­west’s pre­mier boat­ing re­gion. Nes­tled be­tween the San Juan Is­lands to the south and the in­land waters of Bri­tish Columbia to the north, boaters will find Semi­ah­moo Ma­rina where any­one who wants to dock is wel­come and from there wan­der over to the re­sort for a meal, spa treat­ment or sim­ply to take in the view. Neigh­bour­ing Blaine Ma­rina of­fers an easy five minute ride to the re­sort via the 1944 ferry boat MV Plover.

We en­joyed a great af­ter­noon pad­dle us­ing on­site kayaks, get­ting up close to the lo­cal seal colony but needed to be back in time for our next mu­sic ex­pe­ri­ence – the Fri­day night Semi­ah­moo Beach Party fea­tur­ing live mu­sic and ta­bles of corn bread, coleslaw, potato salad, wild king salmon, chicken, burg­ers, corn on the cob and Vir­ginia’s favourite an ir­re­sistible se­lec­tion of desserts. We en­joyed lo­cal wines and craft beers and with a golden sun­set for a back­drop we found our­selves cir­cling one of the beach­side camp­fires mak­ing our own s’mores with the other guests and lo­cals.

Our fi­nal mu­sic ad­ven­ture be­gan with a drive along Mt. Baker High­way which un­der­stand­ably is one of the top scenic drives in Amer­ica. The jour­ney was high­lighted by wa­ter­falls and wild­flow­ers as we criss­crossed the Nook­sack River mak­ing our way to the Snowa­ter devel­op­ment run by Mt. Baker Lodg­ing. This was a great mix of semi-wilder­ness ac­com­mo­da­tion but just a short drive to Dem­ing for the Mt. Baker Rhythm & Blues Fes­ti­val. What a thrill to see Savoy Brown, Josey Wails and The Yard­birds – there was a nice vibe to the fes­ti­val with a re­ally in­ter­est­ing crowd en­joy­ing the beer gar­den and food ven­dors all week­end long. After the main stage shut down each evening around 11 pm, the after-hours ex­pe­ri­ence be­gan bring­ing fans and mu­si­cians to­gether for a world­class jam un­til 2 am! We were back to our lodge well be­fore that time but did hear from those en­joy­ing the free overnight tent and RV camp­ing that the jam was great.

Held in late July, Bellingham’s Mt. Baker R&B Fes­ti­val has been a big suc­cess for the past two decades. The Blues Foun­da­tion in Mem­phis hon­oured the Fes­ti­val with their 2013 Keep­ing the Blues Alive Award. Lloyd Peterson, the or­ga­nizer com­mented, “There have only been a dozen or so who have re­ceived this award. It’s like the Os­cars for the Blues. Most events who have won are huge, cor­po­rate events like the Chicago Blues Fes­ti­val.” We would have loved to have more time to en­joy the many hik­ing trails but after the Sun­day morn­ing Rev. Deb’s Gospel mu­sic hour we were off for our last night at Fairhaven, less than an hour’s drive away.

The Fairhaven Vil­lage Inn is a 22room ho­tel lo­cated in the heart of the Fairhaven His­toric District of Bellingham. Just foot­steps to more than 20 restau­rants the Inn of­fers the pri­vacy of a ho­tel and the warmth of a B&B right next to the Fairhaven Vil­lage Green. One not-to-be-missed (we missed it) Fairhaven ex­pe­ri­ence is tak­ing in an

out­door movie at the Vil­lage Green, Satur­day nights in the sum­mer. You could actually watch that movie from the Inn’s deck, but it’s so much bet­ter to take a blan­ket and cud­dle up in front of the screen. If you are there on a sum­mer­time Sun­day en­joy the af­ter­noon Mu­sic On The Green.

Be sure to get in touch with Bellingham What­com County Tourism (www.bellingham.org) and put to­gether your own road trip to the mu­sic, tak­ing in one of the many mu­sic fes­ti­vals, or just stop in at any of the var­i­ous bars and restau­rants that serve up qual­ity live per­for­mances. The web­site is loaded with travel info in­clud­ing lodg­ing, restau­rants, things to do and in­sider ad­vice for a per­sonal visit.

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