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So a woman from Iceland falls in love with a Seattle firefighter…and they open a blues club in an Scandinavian dairy barn built in the early 1900s in a tiny town called Conway, WA.  Which probably won’t even show up on your typical GPS.  How’s that for a totally random start to this post?  You still with me?

Well, it’s all absolutely true.  And fabulous.  Yep, it’s the Conway Muse.  Sure, most GPS’s won’t find it, but thankfully my trusty (yet somewhat outdated as in c. 2011) Windows Phone sure did.  Which is a good thing when you’re driving around in the glorious Skagit Valley at night…a rural part of Washington State.  No street lights.  A nice change from the urban/suburban driving around I typically do.

What a glorious Labor Day weekend!  Rain on Saturday?  Who cares?  It was time to hit the Mount Si trail and get outta Dodge for a while.  It’s a 3100′ gain in 4 miles (6.6 km), so it’s somewhat of a butt kicker but not quite a lung crusher.  A sweet spot for expert and novice hikers alike, so the trail review points out.

Mt. Si_8-30-2014Here’s the view from the top!  The fog swirled and rolled around constantly, and the rain came and went on and off.  While huge, tall trees protected us from the rain most of the time, once we got on the final leg of the trail there were no trees with lots of daylight (and some rain) pouring in.

Mount Rainier would be visible from some of this viewpoint on a clear day, but that was not meant to be on this soggy but fantastic Saturday.

And how delicious it is to wake up on a Sunday knowing there’s still ONE more day left in the Labor Day weekend.  And the weather returned back to her late summer sunshine, with just a hint of chill at night to remind you she’s shifting soon into fall.

Off to La Conner, WA.  Just 60 miles (100 km) outside of Seattle and you’re in another world.  Rural yet vibrant.  A passionate artist community with glorious cafes, galleries, shops and beautiful views of the Swinomish Channel.  And you might spontaneously stop at a farmers market along the way which happens to dish up locally-made ice cream in waffle cones in eye-poppingly huge portions.  Oh yeah!  Love me some salted caramel!

Your visit to La Conner is not complete without a meal and a beverage of your choice at the La Conner Brewery.  While they have an incredible selection of wood-fired pizzas, if you’re full up from the ice cream you ate earlier in the late afternoon like me and yet are craving your greens when it’s dinner time, I highly recommend their Greek salad.  What a nice surprise how fantastic the food was there! Their large size is perfect for sharing with two.

The Conway Muse delivers.  Eclectic, funky, friendly, laid back, chill…with incredible music.  And given I love road trips, getting there is half the fun.  It’s not far from La Conner, but an adventurous drive on flat, Skagit Valley two-lane highways…in the dark.  Once you arrive you’re wrapped in wonderful music and an easy, welcoming vibe.  Your live music that night might have a cover charge, or it might be “pass the hat” style.  I was glad to have read a little more about the history of this place ahead of time, as seeing the Iceland flag on one wall and the collection of Seattle firemens’ hats otherwise might have struck me as just odd, random décor.  But nope, that’s the founders’ roots.  Cool!

If you’re looking for a great spot to stay in La Conner, there are many.  But try the Hotel Planter, on First Street a short walk from the Swinomish channel.  Easy walking to all the shops and cafes nearby.  And lots of charm…that hotel was originally built in 1907!  Super high ceilings, and I love the hexagon tile in the bathrooms. It’s an intimate hotel with just 12 rooms, and each has their own private bathroom and shower.  Their courtyard features lots of local artists’ work and it’s a really cool escape in an already cool escape like La Conner!

On your way back to the Seattle area, stop at the Portage Bay Café in the U District in Seattle.

Yep, it was a fabulous holiday weekend, everyone.