Fantasy Island

New Zealand: Strangers in a Strange Land

There are as many different points of view regarding slow travel as there are slow travelers. Our friends Monica and Chris Graff are simply excellent examples of people who enjoy slow travel as much as we do, but their interests and approach are very different from ours. We learn something from them with every conversation. So we feel most fortunate that Monica has agreed to work with us to share on MagoGuide some of their travel adventures based on her very entertaining blog Postcards from Polebridge.

This first collaboration begins with an excerpt from one of Monica’s posts about their adventures on New Zealand and a visit to Fantasy Island. You’ll see that Monica has a wicked sense of humor. This is followed by an interview we conducted (over a few glasses of wine) where we quizzed Chris and Monica on the particulars of their trip such as how in the world they found this place, how did they make their travel plans, what was the food really like, would they recommend it to others, etc. The normal questions that Team Mago has for our fellow travelers. We think that you’ll be surprised by the answers.

Morgan at the Whitefish farmers market

Mess of Collards

How about a mess of collard greens? It’s that time of year when collards are plentiful and there is nothing better with fried trout and cornbread. So here is a recipe that we’ll be including in “Mago at the Market” when it comes out later this year.

Hob Nob in Missoula MT

Quick Bites Northwest Montana – July 2015

Sometimes a restaurant we visit doesn’t quite merit a post of its own. There might be several reasons for this. Maybe there’s just not enough to say about the menu or perhaps we’ve not visited there often enough to have formed a solid option. On occasion it’s because we simply didn’t like the restaurant all that much. So here are some restaurants we’ve been to in the last year in Northwest Montana that didn’t merit a full Morgan-Hart-describe-every-dish review, but we thought that our adoring fans might be interested anyway. We hope that you enjoy these quick bites and the photos.

Beautiful day on Baptiste Lookout

Baptiste Lookout Duty 2015

Our good friend Debo Powers spent over a week as a volunteer lookout at the Baptiste Lookout in the Flathead National Forest. Here are her wonderful 2015 journal entries.

Under the North Fork River

Float’n Under the North Fork River

Floating down the North Fork River is a summer tradition and we’ve always wondered what it would look like from below. Taking our GoPro camera along on this trip gave us an opportunity to see this familiar float from a new perspective. Come join us as we float on top of and below the North Fork River.

Honey dry fried beef

Kung POW! Does not Pack Much of a Punch

Kung Pow! is a nice place to eat with friendly and attentive staff. Most of the food was well executed with some outstanding dishes including the house-made wontons in Sichuan chili oil, the fried fish balls, and many of the vegan offerings. However, the over-sized pot stickers, too much cabbage stuffing in the spring rolls, sorry mu she pancakes, and an inferior choice for the steak makes it difficult to rate this establishment above average. If you’re looking for some decent Chinese food in NW Portland, though, you could do worse than give these folks a try.

Oysters at The Fish Store

The Freshest Oysters in Tofino

In a foodie town brimming with restaurants, The Fish Store and Oyster Bar is a standout. Located near Tofino’s docks, this establishment owns sole distribution rights to Clayoquot Sound oysters and supplies all the other local restaurants. This arrangement guarantees fresh oysters in all of Tofino’s restaurants, but none are fresher than at The Fish Store where they can be eaten only ten minutes distance by boat from their long line deep water fisheries. Whether you eat it there or take it away, the seafood at The Fish Store and Oyster Bar is exemplary in a town where local, fresh, and sustainable maritime sustenance is de rigueur.

European Battlefield Tour

MagoGuide’s European Battlefield Tour Book for Sale

2014 marked the 100th anniversary of World War I. Team Mago spent two weeks in the early summer of 2014 exploring the fields of valor that made up The Western Front of The Great War as well as many of its antecedents and successors. This book takes you to battlefields and other military artifacts not typically found in guidebooks, providing detailed context, analysis, and local knowledge that enhance the experience for both travelers and readers. With over 350 photos as well as reviews of restaurants, hotels, and chateaus, this book both entertains and enlightens. If you are planning a visit to coincide with the centenary of the First World War War or are a student of military history, MagoGuide’s European Battlefield Tour is a must read.

Fried calamari

Storm Shelter

Shelter is a typical Tofino restaurant; upscale rustic setting, way nice wait staff, and good food. Warm chevre salad composed of braised greens, Okanagan goat cheese, double smoked bacon, caramelized onion, roasted garlic, and apple cider vinaigrette was the best dish of the evening.


A Jewel Box B&B: Wildwood Manor

If you are planning a trip to the San Juan Islands, Wildwood Manor is a must stay. Be sure to book early for the well-attended summer season, and if possible splash out for one of the suites. Tell Michael and John that MagoGuide, not TripAdvisor, sent you.

Eggs with a "man cake"

Bummed About Besaws? Stroll over to Stepping Stone for Breakfast

Stepping Stone serves the best breakfast in NW. Its fare includes excellent hash browns, biscuits, and sausage gravy. The sausage gravy is exemplary; you can really tell that some one took the time to make a genuine flour-based gravy as opposed to the vile glue one finds in many diners, even good ones. And don’t pass up the “smothered badass.”


You Can Skip McMillin’s

Don’t bother eating at McMillian’s. If you want to go to Roche Harbor (and Mago Guide does not recommend this crowded and spendy mini-resort and condo cluster on San Juan Island), eat at the downstairs Madrona Bar and Grill, which serves much better, simpler, and cheaper food. The wait staff is much nicer and more attentive there as well.

Scallops with sweet pea semi-fredo

As Easy as Duck Soup

Duck Soup is a small, pleasant, and intimate restaurant in the midst of San Juan Island. The location alone makes it a desired dining destination. Unfortunately, everything about Duck Soup from the wait staff to the wine list to the kitchen is just a little bit spacey. Scallops with sweet pea semi-fredo was the best thing we were served. The tomato fennel soup, however, was too thin and the fennel too dominant.