What makes a quick getaway even better? A beautiful place to stay, of course! And also bread pudding french toast and salted caramel sauce with coffee, black, for breakfast. That makes it very, very better. When you add to the mix the great company of new friends a quick get away becomes practically a vacation!
Sitting smack in the middle of beautiful protected farmland, the Queen, known to locals as the Armstrong House, was built in 1908 and is now owned by Shelly and Chris Davis. Shelly, a gregarious, generous, and entertaining hostess told us stories about how this house used to be THE party house in La Conner, the scene of many a prom or fancy ball. Apparently the third floor of the home, where the Davis family now lives, used to be one large open space and was referred to as the ball room. Cool! Makes me wonder what kind of interesting noises one might hear at night up on that third floor, especially at midnight…
But while old stories are nice, equally cool is the story of how Shelly and Chris were filmed by the reality TV show Radical Sabbatical on the Fine Living Network when they bought this place and renovated it into the bed and breakfast it is today. She entered a contest and won, and the prize was that she was followed around by TV cameras while she went through the most stressful time any home owner could imagine. Okay. I admit part of me was thinking ‘that’s complete insanity’. But I think Shelly would likely agree with that part of me. It’s also a pretty wild story, with a coolness factor that is hard to beat. No one filmed me when we renovated our house. All I have is a bunch of story boards with photos on them. You win, Shelly!
Staying at The Queen at the same time was the professional fishing couple Kathy and Kyle Rynning of Camano Island. Before I tell you what happened, let’s be sure we’re all on the same page here that Mike and I are generally not ‘friendly’ with others. It’s not that we don’t play well, it’s just that we’re usually not that interested in playing whatever game is afoot at the time. Between us we probably have no more than a handful of friends. But now we have more! We made friends with this lovely couple to the point that we actually went to dinner with them! That is correct. We went out with others and….. had a good time! Kathy and Kyle told us all about fishing for Salmon on the river up in Alaska, and about horses and living on Camano Island. We talked about kids and jobs and the fact that they had been at The Queen on their honeymoon. And Kathy and I talked about how it’s so hard to find cute boating clothes for women; clothes that don’t look like watered down stuff made for men. We had some ideas on what to do about that. And all the time I was looking at Kathy’s hair and thinking I would kill for hair like that. But she is so nice, I didn’t mention it.
We went to Nell Thorn of La Conner for dinner. After the appetizer of tiny baby beets roasted with their greens I had the very best hamburger I’ve had in many years. I couldn’t finish it, but it was just as good the next day. They have this drink called Sugar Plum Fairy. It has brandy, lemon and ginger agave nectar and something called Tuaca, a vanilla citrus liqueur. It is completely yum. I had two. This trip was lethal as far as the eating plan is concerned. Oh well. Life is short. (And if I keep eating like this it will be shorter.) Go to Nell Thorn, but make reservations. It’s deservedly popular.
I’m hoping we can go back to La Conner in the spring and stay at The Queen of the Valley Inn again. Shelly says that the field next to them will be planted with daffodils this year and I can imagine how beautiful that setting will be for this house.