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Weekender: Skagit Valley, Washington

Farm-Fresh Picnic
There's a lot growing in Skagit besides flowers. While winding along Fir Island Road (Exit 221 off I-5), an asphalt ribbon bordered by some of the county's most fertile land, pull over at Snow Goose Produce (15170 Fir Island Rd., between Conway and La Conner; 360/ 445-6908). Locals shop here for everything from fresh herbs or tulips and daffodils (50 stems for $5) to smoothies made from fresh berries. Daytrippers stop for organic cheeses, live and fresh-cooked shellfish and crabs, and, of course, Lopez Island Creamery ice cream cones. For an unusual road snack, taste the Indian Candy—salty strips of smoked salmon ($18 a pound).

Taylor Shellfish Farm has been raising oysters and clams in the sound since 1890, and their outpost in Bow (2182 Chuckanut Dr.; 360/766-6002) has been doing the same since 1921. At the small store, which backs onto an inlet laid with shellfish beds, you can buy bags of Kumamoto oysters, Manila clams, smoked salmon, Dungeness crabs—even mini-bottles of Tabasco, crackers, oyster knives, and crab openers for an impromptu shellfish picnic.

On a typical day, the small tasting room at Samish Bay Cheese (15115 Bow Hill Rd., Bow; 360/766-6707; www.samishbaycheese.com) is crowded with devotees of Susan Wechsler's organic Goudas, Mont Blanchards, and Montasios. They stop in to learn about the art of cheese making or buy wheels and airtight sample packs to ship home. You can see Wechsler's herd of 18 Jerseys grazing in the fields out back. Ask her to recommend a quiet spot to set out a blanket and take in the colors of the flower fields.

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