November 2011

Central Park's Got Nothing On Stanley

When talk turns to the ultimate urban park, most people’s minds automatically conjure up images of Central Park, New York City’s crowning jewel. Granted, 843 acres is impressive, especially when ringed by the skyscrapers of one of the world’s busiest cities but it still is nothing compared to Vancouver’s counterpart, Stanley Park. In fact, Stanley Park just puts it to shame. I mean, sorry New Yorkers, but you just can’t compete. You may as well go home. Go on…

Mount Saint Helens

"The eruption in 1980 was probably one of the most devastating natural disasters to affect the Pacific Northwest."

Though it has played nice for more than 30 years, Mount Saint Helens is still a fascinating destination for anyone interested in Pacific Northwest history and destinations.  Mount Saint Helens is about 100 miles south of Seattle and last erupted in May of 1980.  Ash covered the area and crippled local economies while the ground struggled to recover from the huge load of ash.

Northeast Washington Skiing: 49 Degrees North

"49 Degrees North is situated on Chewelah Peak, an area that has been a favorite for winter recreation since 1935. "

Nestled in the mountains of northeast Washington lies a small town named Chewelah – that’s Chew-eee-la, not Sha-way-lah, as many people try to pronounce it.  Chewelah only has one stop light, but it is a pretty little town to drive through, with old style facades and charming little shops.  Chewelah’s most famous treasure, however, is a few miles away at the top of Chewelah Mountain.  Just ten miles from town, a world of skiing fun awaits in a little resort called 49 Degrees North. 

San Juan Islands

The San Juan Island chain is comprised of 170 islands off the coast of Washington.  Originally a mountain range that connected Washington to Vancouver island, they are now a hot spot destination for sightseeing and tourism during the summer.  The San Juan Wildlife Refuge protects seabirds, seals and sea lions on 83 of the islands.  Another forty are inhabited but only accessible by private transportation.

It Doesn’t Always Rain in the Pacific Northwest

"don’t pull out the galoshes and inflatable raft just yet."

One of the most common misconceptions people have about our little corner of heaven up here is that we are constantly inundated with drenching rains.  When someone asks where I’m from, they inevitably answer, “Oh, it rains a lot there.”  I just roll my eyes and move on.  There is no use arguing with someone who is certain of their stereotype.

The fact is, the rainy part of the Pacific Northwest is actually relatively small compared to the whole.  West of the Cascades is where you’ll find the rain, but if you head over here, on the east side, you will find a lot of very dry land.  In the Tri-Cities of south central Washington, the average annual rainfall is just 7-8 inches.  In northeast Washington, we get about 20 inches per year, and most of that is in the form of snow.  Compared to Seattle at 36 inches, this half of the state looks like a desert!

Roadtrip Down the Oregon Coast

"The bay front at Newport is always very popular for watching the fishing vessels and for unique shopping."

Some places just lend themselves well to a road trip and I think the beautiful Oregon Coast is one of those special places. The Oregon Coast is about 360 miles in length and for the entire trip you can travel the infamous Highway 1 with some short detours.

Some of most popular places for tourists to visit from north to south include Astoria/Warrenton, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Newport, Yachats, Bandon, and Port Orford, Gold Beach, and Brookings. Many people split the Oregon Coast into three regions, North Coast, Central Coast, and South Coast. Each region does seem to have a distinctive flavor.

The picture you see was taken from Ecola State Park looking north toward Cannon Beach. The big haystack shaped rock is not surprisingly called "Haystack Rock" and it is one of the most iconic places on the Oregon Coast. However, most people don't realize it but there is another somewhat lesser known rock also officially named "Haystack Rock" at Pacific City which also has one of the best brewing companies and restaurants on the entire Oregon Coast. It's right on the beach and you have a spectacular view of Pacific City's Haystack Rock.