Nighttime ‘Oyster Picnics’ Offer A DIY Taste Of Puget Sound

oystersOyster aficionados and hunter-gatherer types will want to hoof it to Seattle this winter for a moonlight adventure of the briny kind. Fifth-generation, family-owned Taylor Shellfish Farms is hosting its annual “Walrus & Carpenter Picnics” on January 8, and February 7, to support the Puget Sound Restoration Fund.

Taylor is famed for its sustainably-farmed Manila and geoduck clams (click here to read about my ‘duck dig at Taylor’s farm on the Olympic Peninsula), Mediterranean mussels, and four species of oysters. The company has other farms around Puget Sound, as well as a much-lauded restaurant, Xinh’s Clam & Oyster House, at their Shelton location.

The oyster picnics are held at low tide, and inspired by the 1872 Lewis Carroll poem, “The Walrus & The Carpenter (“O Oysters come and walk with us … A pleasant walk, a lovely talk, along the briny beach!”).” Participants depart Seattle on a chartered bus at 6:30 p.m., returning at midnight.

The evening includes DIY gathering and shucking (experienced shuckers are available for those who prefer to keep their extremities intact) of Taylor’s celebrated Olympias, Kumamotos, Pacifics, and Virginicas, which are paired with chilled wines. Chilled participants get to enjoy steaming bowls of Taylor chef Xinh Dwelley’s famous oyster stew prior to departure.

Tickets are $125; reservations required. For more information click here.

[Photo credit: Flickr user zone41]

‘Twilight’ Film Debut Brings Travelers From Around The World

Twilight

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2″ opens worldwide on November 16 and fans of the series have some unique options for getting excited about the final installment. Fan clubs, cinemas and tour operators from around the world are offering special events, viewings and even a chance to be on the red carpet with the stars of the film.

In theaters-
Across the country and around the world, theaters have different versions of a Twilight Saga Marathon, showing all five films. In Seattle, not far from Forks, Washington, where the story originates, Regal Cinemas has a special deal: a $15 marathon package that gets loyalty club members the entire saga from the first episode, ending with the 10 p.m. showing of “Breaking Dawn Part 2.”

Live and in person-
The Los Angeles debut of the film brings a red carpet event and Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards and Los Angeles Film Festival, has a once in a lifetime experience, which they are auctioning off as a VIP package for the world premiere of “Breaking Dawn Part 2.” The winner will get four tickets to the world premiere on November 12.

Starting with a pre-reception with the film’s director Bill Condon along with Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner and other actors from the film, the winner and three guests then go to the Nokia Theatre where VIP seats await for the world premiere, followed by an after party with the cast.

Fans can bid on the package between now and November 7, 2012. At last look, the bid stood at $6000.

Remote but personal-
Can’t make it to the premiere anyway? Yahoo! will exclusively Livestream the world premiere on Monday, November 12, starting at 8:30 Eastern time. That streaming video will no doubt be the backdrop for “Breaking Dawn” premiere parties held around the world.

Partygoers attending will watch previous installments of the series and play games like Name That Vampire, enjoy syringe blood shots or try special Twilight treats like Werewolf Kibble and Vampire Bites.

Coming from around the planet-
Interest in the “Twilight Saga” is worldwide and the vacation planners at Tour America in Dublin have suggestions for fans of the series that visit the places where the movie was filmed.

One idea is to fly into Seattle for a three-night stay in the Warwick Seattle Hotel, in the heart of the city. Pick up a car and head west towards Port Angeles, a coastal town with access to “Twilight” locations including Bella Italia, the restaurant where Edward and Bella had their first date.

Another idea puts visitors at The Quality Inn Uptown, which has views both of Port Angeles harbor and Olympic National Park where the National Park Service cares for mountain vistas, meadows of wildflowers, colorful ocean tide pools and some of the largest remnants of ancient forests left in the country, not far from the town of Forks.

Win a trip to Italy-
To celebrate the conclusion of the “Twilight” series, our friends at AOL’s Moviefone and Summit Entertainment are giving away an all-expenses-paid trip to Italy, one of the locations on the Cullen’s global quest.

The winner gets a six-day stay in “Lo Stivale.” To enter, like Moviefone’s Facebook page and leave your name and email on the “Breaking Dawn” tab.


To date, the Twilight franchise has grossed over $2.5 billion in worldwide box office. Since the 2005 release of the first novel in the series, Twilight, the books have sold over 100 million copies worldwide with translations into over 30 different languages.


[Photo credit: Flickr user Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer]

d more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/10/31/4951366/film-independent-to-offer-twilight.html#storylink=cpy

Photo Of The Day: Gum Wall

Photo of the day: Seattle gum wall

There are the attractions you plan a trip around: the Taj Mahal, the Louvre museum, a bakery serving bacon donuts, and there are the attractions you stumble upon, and the latter are often more memorable and fun. Take, for example, Seattle‘s gum wall, whose existence I was unaware of until I saw this close-up photo in our Flickr pool, but is evidently a downtown landmark. The wall is about 15 x 50 feet completely covered in gum, and several inches thick with chewiness in some places. The wall is near a movie theater, where employees long ago gave up trying to scrape away the crud when it kept getting replaced. Another example of how one man’s trash is another man’s tourist attraction.

See any odd attractions in your travels? Add them to the Gadling Flickr pool for a future Photo of the Day.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Mark Fischer]

North Cascades National Park Looks To Expand

The North Cascades National Park In WashingtonHidden away in a remote corner of the Pacific Northwest, the North Cascades National Park is amongst the least visited parks in the entire U.S. system. On an annual basis, only about 20,000 people pass through its gates, despite the fact that it contains some of the most breathtaking backcountry in all of North America. There is a movement afoot to expand the park’s borders, however, and if successful, advocates of the plan believe that it could attract many more travelers to the region.

A group of conservationists, led by former U.S. Senator Dan Evans and mountaineer Jim Wickwire, have proposed an expansion to the North Cascades National Park that would add an additional 237,000 acres to its already impressive 500,000+. They also propose spending $23 million over five years to add or upgrade park amenities – something that is a bit of a tough sell with Congress these days.

Proponents of the plan feel that the addition of the extra land would move park boundaries closer to main access roads, giving it a higher profile with travelers passing through the region. It is hoped that the easier access and enhanced amenities would at the very least lure a few more visitors from Seattle, a major metropolitan area, which sits less than three hours away.

There will be major obstacles to the proposal getting the green light. As already mentioned, a looming budget crisis is likely to make the expansion of any national parks very difficult in the near future. In fact, most could be facing significant fiscal shortfalls in 2013 as Congress looks to cut spending across the board. Opposition is also expected to come from outdoor enthusiasts who don’t want to see more lands fall under the National Park Service‘s domain. While the NPS provides excellent protection for those lands they also greatly restrict how they can be used.

No matter the outcome, we’re likely a few years away from having this proposal get any serious attention. Still, if you enjoy hiking, camping or backpacking in remote areas, then you should make an effort to visit the North Cascades. Its snow capped peaks, pristine forests, idyllic waterfalls and more than 300 glaciers make it a fantastic destination for anyone who enjoys the outdoors. Considering how low the visitation numbers are, you’re also likely to have the park mostly to yourself.

Seattle Is The Country’s Most Expensive Labor Day Destination

seattle public market by mclean robbinsWant to save money on this long weekend? Don’t head to Seattle. The Emerald City is the country’s most expensive destination for this upcoming Labor Day weekend, based on the cost of its lodging, according to a new survey by CheapHotels. The survey compared hotel rates for 20 popular U.S. destinations for the Labor Day weekend period spanning August 31 to September 3 (Labor Day).

The cheapest available three-star hotel is a hefty $312 per night, perhaps due to a large event, the annual Bumbershoot Festival, taking place that weekend. This music and arts festival typically drives around 100,000 visitors to the city each year. As a result of its popularity, hotel rates are around 65% higher than normal, according to the survey.

Budget travelers can find much more affordable rates at other national destinations, though. In Washington, D.C., or Miami Beach, for example, they can score a three-star hotel room for around $100 per night. And the usually in-demand Orlando is a bargain hunter’s dream. In fact, it’s the country’s cheapest Labor Day weekend destination according to the survey, with an overnight rate of only $63.

If you’re looking to save costs, we’d also suggest avoiding Virginia Beach ($309), Atlantic City ($286) and Philadelphia ($269).