Town and Country Canada

Vancouver, B.C. and Spences Bridge, B.C.

Then let not those begin to grumble,
Whose lot is safe though poor and humble;
Nor envy him who better fares,
But for each good has twenty cares.
— The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse

In the Aesop's Fable “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse,” the town mouse doesn’t appreciate the food and lifestyle of the country mouse. In turn, the country mouse doesn’t like the cost of security by living in town.

For my 60th birthday, I wanted to visit Canada. I wanted to be out of the United States and exploring and I didn’t want to confirm any preconceived notions of what Canada is all about. I wanted to see something different. I wanted a Canadian Walkabout Birthday. A visit to the big city life and time in the out-back country life of Canada. A yin and yang trip, a lesson in contrasts, a town mouse and a country mouse experience.

“I cannot understand, Cousin, how you can put up with such poor food as this, but of course you cannot expect anything better in the country; come you with me and I will show you how to live. When you have been in town a week you will wonder how you could ever have stood a country life.”

 Vancouver skyline from Stanley Park.

Vancouver skyline from Stanley Park.

 Fall color at Pavilion Lake.

Fall color at Pavilion Lake.

This walkabout was equal parts city and country; three days in Vancouver, B.C. and three days in Spences Bridge, B.C.

 Our   Airbnb on the 31st floor  , Vancouver, B.C. ( See link for description.)

Our Airbnb on the 31st floor, Vancouver, B.C. ( See link for description.)

Vancouver, B.C. In 2016, the Greater Vancouver area had a population of 2,463,431 making it the third-largest metropolitan area in Canada. Vancouver is on English Bay.

Spences Bridge, B.C. In 1892, the population of Spences Bridge included 32 people of European ancestry and 130 First Nations people. There were 5 general stores, 3 hotels, one Church of England, and one school. The population as of 2016 is only 99. Spences Bridge is in Canada’s 100 mile Desert Corridor.

 Our  Airbnb at Spences Bridge . ( See link for description)

Our Airbnb at Spences Bridge. ( See link for description)

 A room with a high rise urban view. Vancouver, B.C.

A room with a high rise urban view. Vancouver, B.C.

 A room with low rise river view. Spences Bridge, B.C.

A room with low rise river view. Spences Bridge, B.C.

Starting in Vancouver, we needed to pick up the key to our Airbnb. First I had to download the app "Keycafe," then find the Seven-Eleven convenience market where I entered a code, waited for a little box to present the key to our rental flat one block away, up the elevator on the 31st floor. We never met our host but we exchanged several emails.

 
 

The streets were busy downtown, and the food selections were plentiful and international. We started our day in a bustling coffee shop and progressed to Malaysian food at Banana Leaf. After a short afternoon walk in Stanley Park, we went out for the evening to the historic Gastown District where we enjoyed fresh local oysters at Roys Oyster House and live bluegrass at Guilt and Company. Everything we ate was amazing, five stars all!

 The cute little ferry to  Granville Island Public Market.

The cute little ferry to Granville Island Public Market.

 A young bighorn sheep checks us out along the road near Spences Bridge.

A young bighorn sheep checks us out along the road near Spences Bridge.

The next day, starting our day with a different coffee shop, we took a short ferry ride to Granville Island Public Market where we had a vegan noodle bowl and shopped for food to take with us to the countryside. But, before we left the Island I wanted a Cesar, a very Canadian cocktail from Liberty Distillery. We also bought a bottle or two to of a unique small batch handcrafted gin to take home with us.

 You know you are having breakfast in Canada when Hockey rules morning news.

You know you are having breakfast in Canada when Hockey rules morning news.

 Milkweed seeds along the Nicola River in morning light.

Milkweed seeds along the Nicola River in morning light.

 Outhouse across the road was our Spences Bridge neighbor.

Outhouse across the road was our Spences Bridge neighbor.

 Trump Tower was our Vancouver neighbor. It dominated the night skyline.

Trump Tower was our Vancouver neighbor. It dominated the night skyline.

In Spences Bridge, we followed the Host’s directions to our cabin on the river. "Turn right at the yellow street sign, just past the red and white vegetable stand." There was no key, the door was open, and we were met by our host Steve. He presented us with a loaf of fresh home-baked bread. He told us about his mom's house where we were staying. We didn't need a key, but if we needed anything, he was available to do what he could for us.

 Nightlife in Spences Bridge, a free (and ugly) jigsaw puzzle. We couldn’t finish it.

Nightlife in Spences Bridge, a free (and ugly) jigsaw puzzle. We couldn’t finish it.

 “I would like a Cesar, please,” a Canadian Bloody Mary. “Put in on my tab.” at the  Liberty Distillery

“I would like a Cesar, please,” a Canadian Bloody Mary. “Put in on my tab.” at the Liberty Distillery

 Would you, could you BBQ? There is plenty of meat to eat at  Granville Island Public Market .

Would you, could you BBQ? There is plenty of meat to eat at Granville Island Public Market.

 Would you pay if no one knew? The  Monkey in the Garden Permaculture Farm & Market Stand.

We walked along the Nicola River and admired the milkweed seeds, the changing colors of the maples, and the nearby pear orchards. Our days consisted of long drives in the countryside following rivers and mountain tops, watching the landscape change. We saw bighorn sheep along the roadside, and we stopped at several small lakes.

Our evenings were spent listening to streaming music and agonizing over an ugly jigsaw puzzle. That night, it was so dark, and so quiet, I couldn't tell if my eyes were open or closed. Luckily, there was a nightlight in the next room.

 Fall colors along the Nicola River at Spences Bridge.

Fall colors along the Nicola River at Spences Bridge.

 Large colorful artwork at the  Ocean Concrete  on Granville Island, Vancouver. Those are real, cement trucks.

Large colorful artwork at the Ocean Concrete on Granville Island, Vancouver. Those are real, cement trucks.

I can not live my life as a town mouse. The apartment, the dining, the drinks, and the nightlife, are fun, but too expensive for me. The cost of living in a city is too big for my bank account. I never wanted to do the work required to live in a big city. It’s a nice place to visit, but too expensive to live there.

I cannot live my life as a country mouse. Early in my career, I lived in the California Outback, very remote, without groceries, restaurants, libraries, and entertainment. I prefer the availability of having selections, services, and conveniences available and nearby.

But now, while on walkabout, I can pick and choose where I stay.

In British Columbia, Canada, I choose BOTH.

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A Horse is a Horse of Course, of Course!

The Olympia Camera Club at

Aspen Farms Eventing Center, Yelm, Washington.

 Show Jumping in the arena. A show jumping course comprises a series of colored fences usually made up of lightweight rails that are easily knocked down.

Show Jumping in the arena. A show jumping course comprises a series of colored fences usually made up of lightweight rails that are easily knocked down.

I usually photograph things that don’t move; trees, leaves, rocks, mountains, small details where I can take my time to get up close and personal. Nobody runs, nobody gets fuzzy, and nobody gets hurt.

 Share the love.

Share the love.

 Someone was all smiles.

Someone was all smiles.

As part of my new Walkabout in Washington State, I joined the Olympia Camera Club. The camera club meetings just started anew after a summer break and everyone was invited on a field trip to the Aspen Farms Eventing Center in Yelm, Washington.

The challenge was to photograph the Cross Country and Jumping Horse Trials.

Horses jumping, running, and splashing in the water. Photographing sizeable beautiful moving objects was definitely an excursion outside my comfort zone. A photography adventure in my new backyard.

 Cross Country. The object of this test is to prove the speed, endurance, and jumping ability of the horse over varied terrain and obstacles.

Cross Country. The object of this test is to prove the speed, endurance, and jumping ability of the horse over varied terrain and obstacles.

“Eventing” is when horses with riders go through courses with water hazards and all kinds of interesting jumps. The cross country is the most "open” event with field and forest backgrounds, natural jumps like fallen logs and ponds and plenty of room to put up a camera. Cross country horses and riders start across the course individually at staggered times (i.e., perhaps 10 minutes apart.)

The club invitation said, “we may also expect to photograph people and horses that are not moving.”

I didn’t expect it to be easy - and it wasn’t. Here are some of my photos and what I learned while trying to photograph at the Aspen Farms Eventing Center.

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Know the Subject. It took me a while to figure out where I was and what was going on with all the events. Who are these people? Where are the events? Where can I stand? What is the story? Why take photos? Who cares? I apparently was doing the photographic “spray and pray,” hoping that I got something photographically interesting out of my day.

Distance Makes a Difference. You can’t get very close to a jumping horse. We had to be aware and follow the safety instructions while on the course. This meant that my iPhone and my Lumix were nearly useless. When activities slowed down, I allowed myself to revert back to my comfort zone by photographing some of the small quiet moments behind the scenes. I’m sure I released a big ‘sigh’ of relief when I found something not moving.

Respect the Subject. Everyone was so beautiful and the tension was high. I talked to a few supportive spectators. They were there on a mission along with horses and the riders. Performance anxiety, stage fright, nervous energy, high spirits, and release were everywhere. It was not about photography or photos. It was about performing in the moment after months of practice and years of hard work.

 Focus is important for the rider, the horse, and photographers.

Focus is important for the rider, the horse, and photographers.

Know Thy Camera. The first thing I found out was how much I don’t know about my camera. I packed my Olympus OMD EM-5 mark 2, my Lumix 100, and my trusty iPhone. My Olympus was fun, but I took more time and attention than I like. I prefer traveling light and ‘nimble’ when I am taking photographs. I also want to own “the photographer takes a photograph, not the camera.” There is no way I could catch a moving rider and horse with my iPhone. My Lumix was also not much help with moving objects, but I did feel less conspicuous in the stable area.

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 The professionals on the cross country course.

The professionals on the cross country course.

Speed Matters. The guy with the mondo extra large Cannon lens said “Everything was moving, I was shooting at 1/1600 (of a second.)” In my head, I’m thinking, “Oh $#!+ I have no idea of what I am doing. I was shooting at 1/60th of a second.” Barely fast enough to stop normal movement. In-camera talk, I was draggin’ ass in a big way, and it shows in my photos - fuzzy, blurry messes of mixed results.

Consistency is Tough. Thank goodness there were professional photographers on the course and thank goodness I am an amateur. I watched two hired photographers sit in one spot all morning pointed in one direction. It did not look like fun, but I bet they got the “money shot.”

Depth of Field is Difficult. The story was about riders and horses. In the field, I couldn’t see that I was getting one clear and the other was blurry. In photography talk, I was not using a small aperture and fast speed combined with a usable ISO. I forgot my Photography 101 lesson. So a fuzzy rider, and a horse in focus, or vice-versa, isn’t doing the subject justice. Both need to be crisp and clear.

 Depth of field practice - with things that aren’t moving.

Depth of field practice - with things that aren’t moving.

Life First, Photos Second. I didn’t get the money shot. Most of my best photos from the day are only mediocre, but it was fun. My expectations were set low for photographic results knowing how little experience I have with large moving objects. But, without the Camera Club invitation, I would have never taken the scenic drive through my back neighborhood to watch beautiful horses and their competitive, driven riders. It was a unique event that I would not have experienced if it weren’t for the invitation of the Olympia Camera Club.

Thank you Olympia Camera Club for showing me an unusual morning activity.

Where is our next field trip? I can’t wait!

Thank you, Dennis Plank and his wife, Michelle, for the tip about this exciting opportunity.

 Stylin’ at the end of the day. I’m sure he said, “She made me wear this.”

Stylin’ at the end of the day. I’m sure he said, “She made me wear this.”

After the Burn is Over

 Raking up the ashes after “The Great Train Wreck” a collaborative piece by artisans from Reno & Sacramento. Leave no trace!

Raking up the ashes after “The Great Train Wreck” a collaborative piece by artisans from Reno & Sacramento. Leave no trace!

Burning Man 2018

It is now twenty-one days since the Man burned.

Over two weeks ago I returned home from Burning Man 2018. Only today, I finished cleaning and putting my dusty things away.

As I stuffed my fuzzy pink leopard print pajama pants into a big black bin, I got a bit teary eyed. “You never know what can happen. Maybe next year I’ll return to the burn. Or maybe this was my last time.”

Today, my hair and nails are clean and my body is on the way to desert detox recovery, but I am still suffering from Burning Man Burnout. Still feeling a bit of the Burner Blues.

 Crazy cats from California on the back of a colorful bus.

Crazy cats from California on the back of a colorful bus.

 You couldn’t help but to sing along. “Birds fly over the rainbow, why oh why can’t I?”

You couldn’t help but to sing along. “Birds fly over the rainbow, why oh why can’t I?”

 My Selfie Project - Learn how to take a selfie.

My Selfie Project - Learn how to take a selfie.

And, still no Whelan on Walkabout blog post. I tried to write while at the Burn, but the dust called me to ‘carpe diem.’

I like blogging because it helps me to reflect, organize, and sort out my thoughts and feelings. What better way is there to sort out my post-burn ‘decompression’ thoughts?

So, “Whelan on Walkabout, what did you learn at Burning Man?”

When I asked my fellow Burners “Why can’t real life be more like life at Burning Man?” Mostly the replies were “It can be like this! Why not?”

This was my eighth Burning Man Festival, and at one time I did get philosophical and ask myself “What have I learned at Burning Man that I can take into my everyday life?”

 Making new friends at Burning Man. “Desert Guard” by Lu Ming from Beijing, China

Making new friends at Burning Man. “Desert Guard” by Lu Ming from Beijing, China

I want to remember what I learned from the Ten Principles of Burning Man. I want to walk the talk and take part of it all home with me. I hope the ten principles can become a part of my normal life.

Principle #1, RADICAL INCLUSION. Welcome everyone and treat them with respect. Including others may be challenging, but worth the effort. Everyone benefits.

Principle #2, GIFTING. Unconditional giving is hard, but worth the effort. Never give up on giving unconditional love.

 Simple things are important, like a morning cup of coffee.

Simple things are important, like a morning cup of coffee.

Principle #3, DECOMMODIFICATION. There is no selling on the playa. Sometimes you just gotta get away from advertisements and commercials and breathe. Life is not about buying things.

 Tape on a commercial truck to detract from the advertisement. This message works for me.

Tape on a commercial truck to detract from the advertisement. This message works for me.

Principle #4, RADICAL SELF-RELIANCE. It feels good to make your own decisions.

 My kitchen for the week. The back side of Eggburt.

My kitchen for the week. The back side of Eggburt.

Principle #5, RADICAL SELF-EXPRESSION. We all have unique gifts to give the world. Don’t be afraid to give. Don’t be afraid to accept a gift.

Principle #6, COMMUNAL EFFORT. Cooperation and collaboration and part of being in a community. It is OK to go along to get along. We are all in this together. We need each other.

 The Aztec Dancers lead a procession to dance and be thankful for the gifts of life.

The Aztec Dancers lead a procession to dance and be thankful for the gifts of life.

Principle #7, CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY. Don’t hesitate. Care about the communal good and take actions that support everyone.

Principle #8, LEAVE NO TRACE - Sometimes it is hard to leave something better than how you found it. I spent time helping burners keep grey water, black water, gas, and oils off the desert floor. Imagine what we are all leaving in our communities! There is a lot to clean up. Pick up matter out of place and find it a home. It is good for the soul.

 70,000 people can leave behind a lot of bad things. The Earth Guardians help burners keep the playa clean.

70,000 people can leave behind a lot of bad things. The Earth Guardians help burners keep the playa clean.

Principle #9, PARTICIPATION. Life is better when everyone works and plays well with others. I like working with a group toward a common goal.

 Learning how to record Leave No Trace contacts into a database that is shared with the Bureau of Land Management.

Learning how to record Leave No Trace contacts into a database that is shared with the Bureau of Land Management.

Principle #3, IMMEDIACY. Be in the moment and enjoy life. The past is gone and who know’s what the future will bring.


Here is a very cool video about Earth Guardians and what they do. Video by Philip Safarik. Produced by the Burning Man Documentation Team.


 Earth Guardians, Burning Man 2018. You are the best! Thank you for a great burn.

Earth Guardians, Burning Man 2018. You are the best! Thank you for a great burn.

 “Baba Yaga” from the Russian tale “The Hut on Chicken Legs.” by: Jessi Sprocket Janusee and Baba Yaga's Book Club, Reno, NV

“Baba Yaga” from the Russian tale “The Hut on Chicken Legs.” by: Jessi Sprocket Janusee and Baba Yaga's Book Club, Reno, NV

Other things I learned from Burning Man

 One of my favorite pieces entitled “I Will Always Find You” at sunrise.

One of my favorite pieces entitled “I Will Always Find You” at sunrise.

I joined Earth Guardians without knowing anyone. I met people, we told stories, we shared experience, we worked together and everyone was so nice. No drama. No hype. No snarky remarks. What a pleasure!

“We are all just dust in the wind.” “And this too shall pass.” Life is an adventure, no matter where you are. Enjoy where you are now and don’t wait for another moment.

Sometimes it is good to stay up late. Live music and theater are worth the effort to stay up past bedtime.

Sometimes it is good to get up early. Watching a sunrise is the reward of honoring and setting the alarm clock.

And Sometimes, it is best to sleep. A cozy bed is a treasure. Feeling well rested is a gem.

I had several moments when I was suffering from a fear of missing out. There is never enough time to see and do everything. Don't worry about what you aren’t doing. Don’t worry about what you can’t do. Make a plan, pick a path, and go with it. Be thankful for the moment and enjoy.

 RadiaLumia was a geodesic sphere, five-stories tall, and covered with a breathing skin of origami shells and radiant spikes. Art by FoldHaus Collective, Oakland, CA.

RadiaLumia was a geodesic sphere, five-stories tall, and covered with a breathing skin of origami shells and radiant spikes. Art by FoldHaus Collective, Oakland, CA.

 “Lodestar” by Randy Polumbo, was made of an old military jet that involuntarily blossomed into a contemplative flower and gathering place for human pollinators.

“Lodestar” by Randy Polumbo, was made of an old military jet that involuntarily blossomed into a contemplative flower and gathering place for human pollinators.

Wearing funny old used clothes is fun. For the two weeks I was in the desert, I wore strange things I purchased at discount and thrift stores. And it was fun! Clothing is a form of self expression so why not have fun with it? I’m looking at my wardrobe and maybe adding some interest to my outfit selections.

Music is everywhere at Burning Man. I realized that music does make everything better. I am going to explore and enjoy more music in my life.

Food is always fun. I was gifted French toast for lunch and I had to stand in line and fill out the forms to get a burrito from the “Bureau of Burritos.” The fresh vegetables from the commissary were a blessing.

Art is worth the effort. You can’t avoid art on the playa, but in life, sometimes it takes a little imagination and time to find it.

Self care is always valuable. Yoga is good for the body, mind, and spirit. It is hard to have fun if your body hurts. After a week without bathing, my skin hurt. My nails hurt. My hair hurt. A simple shower with a bar of soap is beautiful thing.

Quiet time is valuable and a necessary part of self-care.

 The last moments before the burning of the temple “Galaxia” designed by Arthur Mamou-Mani.

The last moments before the burning of the temple “Galaxia” designed by Arthur Mamou-Mani.

I love you Earth Guardians. I learned a lot. I may return to the Burn, or I may not.

 Rainbow fur is always in fashion at Burning Man. But in the real world? Maybe not.

Rainbow fur is always in fashion at Burning Man. But in the real world? Maybe not.

If I did it in the dusty desert, maybe I can do it in my life. If I saw it in Black Rock City, I can seek it in other places around the world. If I had fun playing on the playa, I can find other playgrounds to enjoy.

I love Burning Man, but there are many travels ahead for me. And I will always have my lessons from the playa. It’s what happens now, after the Burn, that’s important.

 A Selfie a Day at Burning Man 2018. Selfie lessons… not all success, not all failures.

A Selfie a Day at Burning Man 2018. Selfie lessons… not all success, not all failures.

‘Gourmet’ or ‘Gourmand’?

Buoy Beer, Astoria, Oregon

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Gourmet or Gourmand? 

“These two words from French—"gourmet" and "gourmand"—sound so alike that you think they must have common roots, but they don't. They both relate to loving food, but one is positive and one is more negative.” Grammar Girl

https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/gourmet-or-gourmand 

 Hint: You may be a beer gourmand if you fall from your bike after visiting Buoy Beer.

Hint: You may be a beer gourmand if you fall from your bike after visiting Buoy Beer.

During my fitness walks I like to listen to podcasts. One of my favorites is Mignon Fogarty’s “Grammar Girl”. She has been podcasting since I first discovered podcasts and she is still on my download list.

While listening, walking, and reflecting on my recent visit to Astoria, Oregon, I ask myself, “Have I become a beer gourmet or gourmand?” My last adventure was supported by Alien Pale Ale, and now on my trip to Astoria I toured Buoy Beer.

The Great Pacific Northwest is filled with exciting dining and drinking opportunities.

 

The Washington beer blog states that there are over 360 breweries in Washington State. Add to that, nearby Oregon boasts of having over 375 locations associated with Oregon beer brewing.

Meeting our friends Tom and Mary in Astoria, Oregon, we met their friends Dan and Diane for a tour of Buoy Beer.

Astoria is located at the mouth of the Columbia River. I have never seen a river this wide! It is where Lewis and Clark completed their epic trip to the Pacific Ocean.

 It takes a lot of time and skill to load and fire a flintlock rifle.

It takes a lot of time and skill to load and fire a flintlock rifle.

We camped at the nearby Fort Stevens State Park and visited the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park where we watched a flintlock demonstration with a gripping story about Lewis and Clark encountering and shooting grizzly bears. Fort Stevens is also a WWI and WWII historic site with many structures still in place.

Back in Astoria, our new friends Dan and Diane told us their stories of beer making and the short evolution of Buoy Beer. Their passion and energy were contagious.

 People standing at the door waiting for Buoy Beer to open. “Open. Open. Open…”

People standing at the door waiting for Buoy Beer to open. “Open. Open. Open…”

 Dan, our brew man, showing us the ways of the brewmaster.

Dan, our brew man, showing us the ways of the brewmaster.

 Buoy Oysters, a house specialty.

Buoy Oysters, a house specialty.

Dan started making beer in his garage. It as a fun hobby for this retiree. Then one day, he invited his arborist, who was trimming his trees, in for a homebrew.

The arborist liked what he tasted, and he said he could hook Dan up with “all the right people”. Buoy Beer was born.

First, the food had to be amazing. When the beer was paired with the food - the people came. Beer recipes were scaled up and the brewery’s new location was established in Astoria with wonderful views of the Astoria Bridge and the Columbia River.

Bit by bit, it all came together.

Now, in the course of only five years, Buoy Beer employs over 150 employees and offers 17 to 20 different beers on tap. It is available in grocery stores and while we were there the place was packed with a waiting line out the door.

Dan treated to the full sensory experience.

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Smell the hops roasting. Old-school, Rolling Stones is playing in the background.

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Shiny stainless steel vats and oak barrels from Germany. All immaculately clean and beautiful. 

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Fantastic fresh oysters, clams, and harissa-rubbed halibut collars.

And beer tasting, “I’ll try today’s sampler, please.”

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 "I'll take this home with me. Just put it in the trunk of the car."

"I'll take this home with me. Just put it in the trunk of the car."

It is easy to move from beer gourmet to beer gourmand. I expect that you haven’t listened to Grammar Girl, so here is the difference. 

Gourmet - is a cultural ideal associated with the culinary arts of fine food and drink, or haute cuisine, which is characterized by refined, even elaborate preparations and presentations of aesthetically balanced meals of several contrasting, often quite rich courses. 

Gourmand - is a person who takes great pleasure and interest in consuming good food and drink. A gourmand has also been defined as a person who is "a glutton for food and drink,” a person who eats and drinks excessively.

There is such thing as too much of a good thing, but I think I can pace myself and maintain my gourmet status.

No need to “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”

 Olympia Beer Festival - sampled beers including Buoy Beer, with oysters from local Chelsey Oyster company.

Olympia Beer Festival - sampled beers including Buoy Beer, with oysters from local Chelsey Oyster company.

I prefer the saying, “When in Rome, do like the Romans.”

So, when in the Great Pacific Northwest drink craft beer with your fresh oysters. 

It is the gourmet thing to do.