Life in Bay Center on Willapa Bay

Living in a maritime fishing village in Southwest Washington state on Willapa Bay

Posts Tagged ‘oysters’

The neighbor who knows a thing or two about a thing or two

Posted by pallix on November 21, 2007

My neighbor, a generational oyster farmer, has taken a shine to sharing information with us, believing we are uninformed city dwellers (we were, but we are learning), and what he likes to call ‘Yankees’ when he is in a bad temper. He has Native American blood, Chinook. I don’t know how much and while he presents as if he is fully Chinook, I am given to understand it may be a percentile. So, he has seen me attempting my kitchen garden and has given me his insights as to how he did it when he was a kid growing up.

Seems though, that I would need chickens, a chicken coop built atop the garden to create the scenario he describes with natural fertilizer for the garden, and bonus of eggs. Well it sounds efficient to me, but we don’t live on a farm, it’s a lot within the township. Although this is not as much a town as a fishing community, so not too likely my neighbors would complain too much if I was inclined to take his advice. Nah, I’m not quite ready to go there.

Further, he’d have me kill a bear for the fat to make pies as he shares a story with me of how his mother asked him when he was a kid if he wanted a blackberry pie. Sure, he says, and she says, well go kill me a bear. Seems she used the bear fat for lard. Or so that is how he tells me it was, back in the day, when he was a kid growing up around here. Well, there are no shortage of blackberries, in fact, they threaten to overtake anything in their path, including houses. I have actually seen here a house completely overgrown and ensconced in blackberry brambles . I haven’t seen a bear, but my other neighbors have on one of their walks along the beach.

Recently, my neighbors who have overgrown blackberries in the unused part of their lot, had the thickets cut down. One morning I look out my door to see a sign that says ‘Lietta’s Garden’. We had talked about having me expand my kitchen garden to include growing some vegetables and a couple of fruit trees on this part of their lot. Apparantly, they thought it a good enough idea to have paid to have the thicket cut down. As I explained to her, I think that blackberry brambles come back ferociously and cutting them back isn’t going to be enough; they would have to actually be eradicated.
Lietta’s Patch
Lietta’s Patch

My other neighbor (the oyster farmer) has taken to letting his yard go to wild, so blackberries have overtaken the front and side parts of his yard. I had been telling him about our other neighbors yielding part of their lot to the idea of a community garden and I’d like to extend that to include his yard too. He agreed, said sure, go ahead. I doubt we will actually, as he is known to have a change of heart and having said one thing one time, wouldn’t necessarily have ‘meant’ it.

He has been amused at some of what he calls my city philosophies as I’ve talked to him about community garden, sustainable living, 100 mile diet. But he keeps bringing me bits of information. Research papers on spartina, that plant life growing in Willapa Bay that has generated controversy about effects Willapa Bay and on oyster farms in the area. More recently though, he is intrigued (and terribly amused) at my mention of wanting to help grow a farmer’s market in our area (existing Public Market on the Willapa), as an extension of the idea of the 100 mile diet. He brought me a magazine, ‘Mother Earth News’ because of an article that mentions the 100 mile diet. I actually appreciated and enjoyed the magazine, and subscribed to the online email newsletter.

Oh, and that reminds me to mention how my oyster farmer neighbor does not have a computer, does not want a computer, and calls it ‘the box’. He knows we do have computer, use it daily, write our blogs, including as contributing editors to political blog forum Washblog, and that topics come up in our political blogging that sometimes more directly affect Southwest Washington, Willapa Bay, Pacific County.

A couple weeks ago, he brought us a treat – some fresh oysters and said ‘enjoy lunch’. Oh, how sweet, I said, but you know neither of us eat or like oysters. He looked at me in utter surprise and said exactly what one of my other neighbors said to me when he learned we don’t eat oysters and my husband doesn’t eat much seafood at all — ‘whaddya move here for then’. So that makes twice I’ve heard that now from my immediate neighbors. Guess not too many people don’t like oysters. And being that the town up the road calls itself ‘The Oyster Capital of the World’, one could indeed wonder why we moved to this area at all. We don’t have a boat, we don’t boat, we don’t fish, we don’t hunt, we don’t farm and lately we don’t even get much hiking, walking in.

This week, my oyster farmer neighbor brought me a newspaper – Capital Press, because it had a few articles that referenced the 100 mile diet and sustainable living. Oh, I said, I just learned of Capital Press because of the award The Daily Astorian won for it’s comprehensive reporting on climate warming. Pshah, he says – ”I don’t believe in that climate warming stuff”. Ahh, I said, well you will when you recognize it has potential to affect oysters and Willapa Bay. “How”, he says.

And I launch into my newly developing language about how climate warming will affect the Western Coast and salmon and he cuts me off to remind me he is a studied geologist and launches into some history about the salmon. I listen politely for a while, then explain to him that what he is telling me is very likely true (salmon hatcheries, diseased spawnings, etc) and that he very obviously knows more about that than I could begin to know, BUT, I tell him — with climate warming, what was may not continue to be and that was more the point I was wanting to make while applauding The Daily Astorian for the many articles that explore climate warming in our region.

I was startled though with so many of the other facts he was rattling off including his statement that grain can’t grow here in Western WA – too wet, so where was I going to get grain (wheat, etc) within 100 miles for my 100 mile diet. And he also pointed out that since we are located at water’s edge, rural, and distant from most of the farming communities in SW Washington, perhaps I could expand my search beyond 100 miles. I searched my mind for a moment, recognizing the truth of what he was saying. Now I really have to rethink the whole concept of the 100 mile diet. Ah, those early tribes did eat fish, berries, and now I have to go learn what they did for grains. Ah, and that perhaps is why it is necessary to ‘trade’ and/or ‘barter’ with neighboring communities. Across the mountains in our state, is the drier and warmer climates, where most of the agriculture is grown – wheat, grain, fruit.

He was also quick to rattle off all the various diseases that can affect crops; seems he had done some farming in the area when he was younger man. After listening to him for awhile, I exclaimed in mild distress, that if I listened to him, I would give up already, and not ready to give up. Much I need to learn, I know, and how about being a resource when I have questions. He does know a thing or two about a thing or two, but he also doesn’t know some things about some things and not usually easy conversations. Friendly, but not easy.

This morning I read through the articles in the edition of the The Capital Press he provided and there was a wealth of useful information on agricuture, farming, and so I figured if there was an online email newsletter, I’d sign up and get online updates. Yep, there is, and I subscribed.

Now…about that grain problem with grain not likely to grow in Western WA along the coastline, how am I going to fit that into the 100 mile diet……..

well, article in The Capital Press about Shepherds Grain grown in Spokane – direct seed, organic, sustainable sparks an idea for trade with my daughter who lives in Spokane. She says blackberries don’t grow readily in Spokane and she is having to $6.00 for 1/4 lb while I have them growing around here all over the place at no charge. I took her pounds of blackberries that I’d picked for her this summer. Now I’ll make an offer to trade her blackberries for Shepherd’s Grain. While it isn’t quite within the 100 mile diet distance limits, it’s conceptually keeping within the concept. It’s grain that isn’t grown and shipped from thousands of miles away. Hundreds, yes, because Spokane is a few hundred miles from here – one side of the state to the other in this state is hundreds of miles – but it is from within the state and therefore Local! I solved that problem nicely. Well sorta – still got to work out the shipping exchange with maximum carbon reduced methodology.

Posted in 100 mile diet, agriculture, blackberries, climate warming, farmers market, Native Americans, Neighboring communities, oyster farms, oysters, Pacific County, South Bend, spartina | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sunny Autumn Day at the very blue Bay Center

Posted by pallix on October 26, 2007

I took my dog, Jake, for a thorough and long walk yesterday, going a little further than we usually walk. It was a crisp, sunny, Autumn day and perfect for getting out of the house after the wind and rain storms of the week before. My mother had sent some of her digital photos of Autumn colors where she lives and I had thought I might take some photos to show off Autumn where I live. Well, I didn’t find much color, found a lot of blue, but some great photos anyway. Sharing a few here.

processing building Bay Center

full size click here – processing building Palix River, on Bay Center Dike Road

Fishing boat

full size click here – Fishing boat on Palix River, Bay Center Dike Road

processing building on pier posts

full size click here – processing building on pier posts, Palix River on Bay Center Dike Road

private ramp and dock

full size click here – private ramp and dock on Palix River, Bay Center Dike Road

dock for fishing boats

full size click here – private dock for fishing boats, Palix River, Bay Center Dike Road

Dock of the Bay tavern and restaraunt Bay Center, WA
full size click here – Dock of the Bay tavern and restaraunt Bay Center, WA

old historic Pioneer Cemetary, Bay Center, WA
full size click here – old historic Pioneer Cemetary, Bay Center, WA

historic former owners of our house; Bochau marker at  Pioneer Cemetary, Bay Center, WA

full size click here – historic former owners of our house; Bochau marker at Pioneer Cemetary, Bay Center, WA


View of the Palix River and Bay Center Port from old historic Pioneer Cemetary

full size click here – View of the Palix River and Bay Center Port from old historic Pioneer Cemetary


Oyster shell holding area - oyster shells galore

full size click here – Oyster shell holding area – oyster shells galore

Posted in Bochau family, dock, oyster farms, oysters, Pacific County, photos, restaraunts, tideflats, Uncategorized, wetlands, willapa bay | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tales of the Willapa, as told by TurnerJake

Posted by pallix on October 20, 2007

 tales of the willapa curmudgeon

Somewhere in the year 2000, when husband and I were still at the having fun stage with the internet and computers, back in the day when one could playfully build a personal website, back before blogs and business enterprises took the internet seriously, we built a personal webpage for the Tales of the Willapa – tall tales as told by a curmudgeon character we named Turner Jake. Just some amusing tall tales crafted by my husband’s observations of the new region we moved to here in Willapa land.

As personal webpages disappeared and fell out of vogue, I continued to move his tales to different personal webpages until I found a permanent home for them here.

Posted in oysters, Pacific County, tall tales, willapa, willapa bay | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Chester Tavern in South Bend featured in New York Times Restaraunt Review

Posted by pallix on October 10, 2007

Who knew?  Right here in my own neighborhood!  South Bend is the town just up the road from our little Bay Center hamlet.   Wish we liked to eat oysters, but neither of us do so living in what is named as South Bend – the ‘Oyster Capital of the World’ isn’t quite the draw for us.  The region, the geography, the people, living off the I-5 corridor or as one of the local people calls the area – ‘God’s Valium’.  One apt name, there are others that try to describe this pristine wilderness paradise gem in Pacific County.

article; New York Times; South Bend, Wash:;  Chester Tavern, Sept 30,  2007

…….

Not so at the Chester Tavern. In this unprepossessing bar in South Bend (1005 West Robert Bush Drive, 360-875-5599), on Willapa Bay near the Washington coast, oysters are deep-fried with the kind of fanatical care you might expect in the self-proclaimed “oyster capital of the world.” (One in six oysters consumed in the United States come from the bay, according to the local Chamber of Commerce.)

No overbattered blobs here. The three-inch oysters — selected by the graders at the Coast Oyster plant — get a mere dusting of cornmeal and are fried in clean, unfiltered vegetable oil at 350 degrees, hot enough to seal in the sublime juices.

The result is sweet like corn bread, briny like the sea, creamy as a raw oyster and greaseless enough for even the calorie-concerned to down a dozen. Seven dollars buys six oysters with French fries, and $3 more gets the perfect chaser, a Fish Tale organic amber ale. For what may be the best fried oysters in the country, this is a bargain well worth the roughly two-hour drive from Seattle (or even a $318 round-trip flight from New York on JetBlue).

The genius behind the shell is Tim Sedgwick, who worked in the garment business in Seattle until 1994, when he bought the bar and began developing his oyster recipe. Oysters have since become the family business — Mr. Sedgwick’s daughter Amy was nominated for a regional Emmy for her public-television documentary “Shucks: An Oyster Story.”

Mr. Sedgwick is no monomaniac, however. Researching the history of the tavern, which dates from 1897, also occupies his time. A secret poker room once stood outside the building, he said, and big black-and-white photos over the pool tables show Oscar Chester, the original owner, who happened to be the town sheriff.

………

Posted in Neighboring communities, oysters, Pacific County, restaraunts, Willapa Bay in the news | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dock of the Bay and the Willapa Whopper burger

Posted by pallix on October 4, 2007

We know a bit of the history of the ‘Dock of the Bay’ restaraunt and tavern in Bay Center. For decades it was known as ‘The Blue Heron’ under ownership of Beverly Smith. She sold it a couple of years ago, and the new owners, from out of the area, Yelm, WA, tried to make a go of it but it didn’t go. Last year a local couple bought it and seem to making a go of it. So we’ve eaten there and even had a few beers under three different owners. We will ‘treat’ ourselves every once in a while to a meal there when we are permitting ourselves to eat meat. Our efforts at being sort of vegetarians go along well enough, allowing for occasional white meat as chicken, but every once in a while we just have to lapse and have a good old fashioned heavy duty burger and we know two places to get them – ‘Dock of the Bay’ and Clarks Restaraunt in Artic, WA.

So it was pleasing to see a write up that included and referenced the Willapa Whopper burger on the menu of Dock of the Bay in Bay Center. My husband, Arthur (Sweetie), had one of those Willapa Whopper burgers at one of our outings, and the amount of meat on the burger is close to obscene! He dared me to have one at another of our outings, and I can’t believe I took him up on his dare, but I did and sure enough, there are so many ingredients of that burger, it gives the Clark’s Restaraunt menu item of a hot doggity burger a real run for the money.

Article from Coast Weekend – Mouth of the Columbia:, These Willapa Bay roadside attractions are worth the stop

Pacific County, Wash. – On a clear day, following the Pallix River from U.S. Highway 101 west to Bay Center, then returning along the Willapa Bay shoreline (on Bay Center Road), is as pretty a drive as you’ll experience anywhere in the Northwest.

Oysters are king here, and the Willapa bivalves are grilled to perfection at Dock of the Bay, the only restaurant between Naselle and South Bend.

Savvy diners may remember this place as the Blue Heron Inn. Not much has changed since the change in name and ownership, save for the cosmetic improvements to the rough ‘n’ tumble lounge. You still might see a patron kicking back an oyster shooter and a beer at, say, 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Unless you want to belly up to the bar or play a game of pool, the small adjacent dining room, where slanted windows look out toward the harbor, is a better bet to enjoy a meal.

Our favorite time to mingle among the locals is morning, though fishermen and loggers ofttimes occupy the three tables during noontime and dinner, too. The half-pound Willapa Whopper burger draped with ham, bacon and an egg is popular, as are the deep-fried or sautéed prawns and the fish baskets. But we come for oysters, especially the hangtown fry omelet or oysters and eggs. The latter breakfast, available any time, showcases a quartet of medium-sized Willapa Bay beauties, oysters so fresh they taste of morning sunlight sparkling on saltwater. Accompanying hash browns, and lots of them, are the real deal: grated taters heated on the same grill as the ‘sters. A heartier breakfast you won’t find, but don’t come here expecting espresso (coffee’s from a pot), tea other than Lipton or anything fussy or fancy.

Other meals featuring oysters include a six-ounce steak and ‘sters, oyster burgers, oyster club sandwiches and a seven-piece oyster dinner sided with a flavorful oyster stuffing that’s unlike anything you’ve ever tasted from inside a turkey.

Dock of the Bay, Bay Center Road and Second Street, Bay Center, Wash., (360) 875-5130, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays (open every day in summer); breakfast and lunch entrees less than $10, dinner $9 to $20; must be 21 or older to dine here.

Posted in restaraunts, Willapa Bay in the news | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »