To get my husband to stay at a B&B takes manipulation and often some bribery. He is a man who's much more comfortable in modern, sterile hotels where one's privacy and anonymity are almost guaranteed. Rooms full of antiques and knickknacks make him feel claustrophobic, and the scent of potpourri usually gives him a headache.
I, on the other hand, relish cozy, romantic inns with fourposter beds covered in eyelet-trimmed comforters and lacy pillow cases smelling of lavender. I enjoy innkeepers who call me by name, chat with me at the breakfast table and provide useful knowledge of the local area. The fact that they attempt to establish a personal connection and appear sincerely interested in my comfort and well-being during my stay makes me feel special.
So, to entice hubby dearest to spend a night at such an establishment, I knew I needed an angle. Considering his pen-chant for the outdoors, and water locales in particular, I looked for places that might appeal to his interests, yet also sat-isfy my desire for a romantic weekend.
The other requirement was that the destination had to be easily accessible by car and located within an hour to two from our home.
I hit upon the perfect solution with Gig Harbor's Rosedale on the Bay Bed & Breakfast, which has teamed up with Captain Tom Wolf of Puget Sound Fly Fishing to offer couples a weekend to remember. Set on a quiet, picturesque inlet outside of town, the Rosedale provides the ideal launch point for those seeking to spend a full day or half day fly fishing in Puget Sound. Captain Tom motors in in his vessel, What's Her Name, to pick up visitors right at the inn's dock and take them on a spectacular Northwest adventure.
The Rosedale, owned and operated by Tom and Laura Yarborough, is a charming hideaway that specializes in helping guests let their cares slip away. This peaceful oasis boasts three lovely upstairs suites. Two have water views; the third looks out over a lush, Eden-esque garden. My husband and I stayed in the Secluded Garden Room, a light and airy suite with custom-painted floral murals, antique white furniture and an expansive, king-size bed that was the ultimate in comfort. My husband noted with relief that knickknacks were tasteful and kept to a minimum.
Downstairs are the Morning Room, a restful place to view the garden, and the Fishing Den, a great spot to read or become mesmerized by the rise and ebb of the tides. The kitchen and its breakfast nook also have commanding views of the water, and it's easy to linger at breakfast watching birds and sea creatures pop in and out of view.
The Rosedale is a labor of love for the Yarboroughs - especially Laura, whose special touches adorn each room and whose gentle, caring manner makes guests feel so welcome. After a 30-year nursing career, Laura decided to make a change in her life; three years ago, she and Tom purchased the Rosedale and proceeded to remodel, redecorate and re-landscape the property. Tom tends to the garden; a feast for the senses with its abundance of colorful roses, dahlias and lilacs, as well as aromatic herbs Laura often incorporates in her cooking.
Breakfasts are Laura's specialty: guests are treated to the likes of caramel apple upside-down French toast, heart-shaped Belgian waffles, raspberry cream-cheese coffee cake, banana-blueberry muffins and the most incredible homemade granola my husband and I have ever tasted (the secret being the dried tart cherries). It's easy to move slowly when you're at the Rosedale; there's the feeling that time has stopped, and the only pressing activity is to eat or take a snooze in the ample hammock provided on one of the decks overlooking the water.
The evening we arrived, tempting as it was to simply unwind at the inn, we had plans to meet a friend for dinner at the Beach House in Purdy, about 10 minutes' drive from the B&B. In only its second year of operation, the restaurant has already begun to stimulate a lot of buzz in the community. The Naccarato brothers, Steve and Gordon, worked hard to renovate a dilapidated building set on picture-perfect Hen-derson Bay. They've transformed the place into a lively, hip, happening eatery with fresh, innovative and reasonably priced food.
Gordon is the genius behind the menu, a talented chef who concocts intensely flavored dishes that change seasonally. He also puts together a nightly specials sheet of appetizers, a salad, several entrées and desserts. An extensive martini menu is available, with such libations as Apple-Tini, Key Lime-Tini and Hawaiian Punch Martini.
Diners and those desiring drinks and small plates of tapas or pupus have the option of eating outdoors on the restaurant's deck, overlooking the water, when the weather is fair. Some prefer simply to take their drinks out to the small strip of sand, aptly named Martini Beach, for a prime sunset view.
The restaurant was bustling the night my husband and I were there, and we relished having a corner table perched right on the water. We sam-pled appetizers of ahi tartare with a great wasabi-and-lime kicker, moist crab cakes in a Thai tartar sauce and razor-clam chowder fortified with apple-smoked bacon and red potatoes. The bacon appeared once again in the BLT, a flavorful salad of romaine, endive, tomato and avocado dressed in a warm Dijon-mustard vinaigrette. I swooned over my sautéed Alaskan halibut in garlic breadcrumbs with horseradish mashed potatoes, and my husband pronounced his filet mignon "magnificent." We forced ourselves, at our companion's insistence, to take a few bites each of the restaurant's well-touted coconut tapioca pudding with macadamia brittle and a plum polenta tart, both of which were heavenly.
It's evident that Gordon Naccarato has the Midas touch when it comes to cooking. He's a creative, talented chef who knows how to get diners excited about food and how to keep 'em coming back for more. I predict that the Beach House will not remain Purdy's little-known secret for much longer.
The captain's sport
The next morning came way too quickly. We arose early to meet Captain Tom dockside in order to spend half a day learning the fundamentals of the elusive sport of fly fishing.
Now, I must confess that I've never been fly fishing. The fishing experience I've had has been strictly limited to a few times my husband shoved a pole into my hand and told me to just sit quietly and wait for that magical tug on the end of my line (which never came). I remember seeing fly fishing demonstrated in that classic movie of some years ago, "A River Runs Through It," and recall the awe and wonder I felt in watching this art in motion.
My husband is an experienced fisherman, but basically a novice at fly fishing; in that respect, we were both at the beginning of the learning curve. Fortunately, Captain Tom was a patient teacher who relished his role of introducing us to the sport. With more than 27 years of fly-fishing experience on a variety of Northwest rivers, he's a master at his craft.
As we motored out to Carr Inlet, the sun was just rising and, with the exception of a family of playful seals, we were the sole occupants on the water.
Tom regaled us with fly-fishing stories and explained why the sport has never lost its appeal: it's provided a lifetime of learning for him, and he says not a day goes by without his discovering something new out on the water. Tom finds it gratifying to introduce others to fly fishing because he feels it's a way to get people to become more knowledgeable about their environment and respect its complexities.
Our first task was to read the water and note where it shimmered and moved. This "nervous water," as Tom called it, is a good clue that fish are in the vicinity. When we reached one such area, Tom cut the motor and began instructing us about poles, flies, rolling out, casting and stripping.
I felt overwhelmed with the new vocabulary, essentially a foreign language for me, so I tried to focus more on the movements. It all looked so easy until I tried to mimic the master and continually got my line tangled with my husband's line or wrapped around the motor. I feared that my fly would end up attaching itself to someone else's body part, but mer-cifully this never occurred. (It also helped that the flies weren't barbed.)
After we'd practiced the basics, Tom worked with us on doing a back cast, followed by a forward cast. A number of movements are performed simultaneously while casting, which initially taxed my coordination and upped my frustration. However, after a time I realized that patience and repetition were the keys to success. Casting involves constant, fluid motion, and it's a process of acceleration from start to finish. It looks like a well-choreographed ballet when done correctly, and although I may not have reached that goal, there were a few times when it felt right.
I began to revel in the challenge. I wasn't able to catch any fish (one hitched on my fly, but when I tried to bring it in, it got away). Still, I took pleasure in how far my skills had advanced in one morning. My husband and Tom caught and released a few small cutthroat trout, but nothing big. Nevertheless, it was an incredibly satisfying morning. The serenity and tranquility of the water, combined with the rhythmic action of fly fishing, soothed me and brought a special peace to my soul.
For my husband, the experience was clearly a winner, and his smile said it all.