PROVENANCE WEB MAGAZINE Spring - Summer 1997, Vol.2 No.2

Intergate ISP Provenance Home Page BC1.COM

The Information Professional's Guide To British Columbia


 Everyone knows about British Columbians and where we live. We're

portrayed in the international media as a province populated by almost 4

million rugged, exceedingly polite, outdoorsy eccentrics, who live in

wooden houses scattered throughout pristine, snow covered forests.

We're the west coasters of lotus land, who eat a lot of granola, and thrive

on Tai Chi classes.

 

Only those who visit us see that our province is undergoing rapid and

far-reaching change, and that we're becoming a technological giant on the

global front. The likes of Electronic Arts ( world leader in interactive

digital game technology), Dynapro (touch screens), MacDonald

Detweiller (aerospace), and many hundreds of other high-tech

companies, now make their home here. And North America wide,

Vancouver ranks third, after the giants of Los Angeles and New York, as

a TV and film production mecca, with our very own Disney studio.

 

It's still true though that amidst the technology, our province offers

visitors unparalleled and unpopulated beauty. From our seemingly endless

coastline, to thousands of miles of rivers, to snow-capped mountains,

island paradises, ranch lands, fertile valley's replete with orchards and

vineyards, tiny frontier type towns, the very British Victoria, to the

sophisticated shopping and multicultural City of Vancouver our province

has something for every tourist. Coupled with the low Canadian dollar, as

a holiday destination, BC can't be beaten.


Getting There

Airlines: From Seattle the following airlines fly to Vancouver.

seaplane

Air Canada in Seattle phone: 1-800-776-3000.

Alaska Airlines in Seattle phone: 1-800-426-0333.

American Airlines in Seattle phone: 1-800-433-7300.

Canadian Airlines in Seattle phone: 1-800-426-7000.

Bus: Greyhound Seattle to Vancouver. ph: 1-800-661-8747.

Train: Amtrack Seattle to Vancouver. ph: 1-800-835-8725.

 

Driving: The Gentle Route from Seattle to Vancouver

Visitors driving to British Columbia from Seattle usually head north on

the Interstate 5 (I5) and drive straight to the border. What they miss, by

not taking a minor detour, which adds just an hour or two is spectacular,

gentle, countryside scenery.

 

To take the gentle route, head North on the I5 freeway. After an hour,

look for signs for the Mukilteo Ferry. It runs every hour to Whidbey

Island. At the other end, Whidbey Island connects to the mainland by

bridges, so there's no need to take another ferry.

 

On Whidbey Island, drive down the main road for about 45 minutes, and

begin looking for signs for Coupeville.

 

Founded in 1852, and the second oldest incorporated town in the State

of Washington, tiny Coupeville, with its wonderful collection of historic

homes and buildings, perches at the edge of the sea. Treat yourself to a

delicious low fat frozen yogurt sold right on the dock, and while you're

feeling like a salty sea captain, wander through the wonderful Island

County Historical Museum. Some of my stressed out information

professional friends in dreamy moments of career change fantasy have

told me this is the place they'd most like to work someday.

 

On the way out of Coupeville, stop and have a look at Captain

Whidbey's, an Inn on the National Historic Register, that is made entirely

out of Madrona logs. Don't expect the Four Seasons. Instead this slightly

ramshackle cousin offers a different type of charm. Its beautiful setting

overlooking Penn Cove, its unusual stone fireplace in the lobby, its

cramped, hobbit- style bar, and bookshelf lined hallway upstairs, make it

one of my favorites. If you decide to stay, go for one of the larger lagoon

rooms or cottages. 360-678-4097.

 

Near the North end of Whidbey Island you'll travel over the Deception

Pass Bridge. Stop in one of the parking areas at either end, and walk the

bridge. You'll be several hundred feet above the thrashing Pacific Ocean.

The sharp salt tang in the air is guaranteed to make you feel healthy and

young again.

 

If you're planning a few days meander, watch for signs to Anacortes, a

town, known as the "Gateway to the San Juan Islands," because the

Washington State Ferry runs from here to Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan

Island.

 

My favorite is Lopez Island, popular with cyclists for its 30 mile circuit

route, which gently rambles through a pastoral setting of rolling hills

dotted with sheep and cows, spectacular ocean views, Victorian farm

Lopez Library Sign

houses and magnificent derelict barns.

The ferry ride takes 45 minutes.


I've vacationed on Lopez for years, and have stayed in some of the inns

and rental cottages. If money isn't a problem, stay at the much written

about Inn at Swifts Bay www.swiftsbay.com Considered one of

the finest Inns in the Pacific Northwest, you'll be pampered with an

exquisite, antique filled room, (some have decks), an outdoor hot tub,

outstanding music, and five star cuisine.

 

Bay cottage

If you want to be independent rent the Bay Cottage,

on the edge of Lopez Village, the only town on

Lopez. $100 per night gets you this delightful

1920s Victorian two bedroom cottage, complete

with a wood burning stove, a washer and dryer,

a wonderful west view deck, and a slice of private beach on Fisherman's

Bay. Owner Ellie Roser, of Seattle, has taken great pains to ensure

her cottage is outstanding in every way - from the Pierre Cardin china

to the exquisite linens. For reservations phone: 360-232-5780.

 

If the Bay Cottage is booked, try Sunset Guest House, a stone's throw

away, and perched right on the Ocean, 360-468-2688, or the architect

designed, Victorian Edenwild Inn, 360-468-3238, the Blue Fjord

Cabins, 360-468-2749, or go online to Island House Realty at

www.pacificrim.net/~lopezera/rent which lists more than 30 rental

cottages, or phone 360-468-3366.

 

Just down the lane from the Bay Cottage, is the Holly B Bakery, which

has the best whole wheat cinnamon buns I've ever eaten. Across from it

is the well stocked grocery store.

 

Lopez is blessed with a four star restaurant, the Bay Café, located in a

storefront, in the village. The Bay Café will make up for every bad meal

you've ever eaten, as you're bedazzled by some of the most innovative

dishes in the Pacific Northwest, at reasonable prices. Recently we had

the "special" which included a mouth watering asparagus soup, a green

salad with beet shavings and a tangy dressing, halibut in champagne

sauce, which did melt in my mouth, a delicious potato-leek timbale, and a

warm bread pudding with cherries, pecans and caramel sauce. Pure

paradise for under $25 each guarantees the Bay Café a loyal following.

 

If you're in Anacortes and have just one night to spend, ask any local

where the little ferry to Guemes Island leaves from. A five minute ride

will take you and your car to this undiscovered, picturesque paradise of

woods and summer homes. There's just one place to stay, the Guemes

Island Resort, where $85 will get you an ocean front cottage, complete

with stone fireplace, a spectacular eastern view, and miles of unpopulated

beaches. 360-293-6643.

 

If you don't have time to go to Anacortes and the San Juans, continue on

Highway 20 until you see the Old Farmhouse Restaurant on the right at a

set of traffic lights. Turn right and head about two miles into La Conner.

 

As you approach La Conner continue until you can't go any further.

You've hit the main street, which fronts the Swinomish Channel. If you

turn right you will see on your left along the water, the cedar shingled, La

Conner Channel Lodge. Make sure you go inside, pick up a brochure,

have a look in the library, and enjoy it all. If you're feeling nervy, ask to

see one of the rooms, some of which have a gas fireplace, a Jacuzzi, and

decks overlooking the channel view. This is "a find" and worth a stay, if

you have time. 360-466-1500.

 

La Conner was founded in 1867. Much of the town was built just after

when the farmers and fishers used the channel as a transportation route.

 

La Conner is now for the tourist - and does "quaint" far better than most

places I've seen. I've been there over 20 times, and the delight just never

wears off. Although all the guidebooks says the best time to visit is during

April when the famed tulip festival is at its peak, I like it best midweek

anytime of year, just after dusk when the temperature drops, and there

aren't any tourists and cars around. All of the stores are done up in their

finest, with twinkling lights, and the mist from the channel covers

everything in a silent shimmering sparkle. Close your eyes and smell the

whiffs of wood smoke, and for just a minute you'll be transported into the

magical never-never land of what it must have been like to live here 100

years ago.

 

At the opposite end of town, don't miss the Calico Cupboard Bakery

Restaurant. The place is so well known for its delicious lunches, there is

always a lineup. It's worth the wait. The soup and 1/2 sandwich sampler

leaves plenty of room for dessert, like the chocolate peanut butter pie.

Across the street is Hotel Planter which is on the Register of Historic

Places. The other place to stay is the LaConner Country Inn, which has a

gas fireplace in every room.

 

There is a good South/Latin American store on the same side as the

Calico Cupboard about a block down. The Mexican stuff is authentic,

and the clothes are pretty good too. There is also a cat store further

down toward the Channel Lodge. There are lots of gifty candle/candy

places, a few galleries, mainly filled with expensive baubles, and an

antique or two. The best place in town is the museum in Gaches Mansion,

one block up from the water.

 

Head out of La Conner, the same way you came in. At the set of highway

lights, do not turn right onto Highway 20. Instead travel straight ahead

across the highway. You'll be on the Bow Edison Road, a scenic back

road. Follow this about 2 miles, and you'll pass through Bayview State

Park and the tiny community of Bayview. Across Padilla Bay, you'll see

Fidalgo Island.

 

Continue north through the peaceful, bucolic Skagit Valley countryside.

Last year, while riding my bicycle through these slightly winding roads in

the dusk, over the Skagit Hills to the east, a huge harvest moon

appeared, inching so slowly upward, it felt like a movie set with teams of

people straining to position the moon in just the right place. Off in the

fields, I could trace the work of farmers on old International Harvester

threshers by their feeble front lines, as they worked up and down the

valley to get the crops cut. This place has soul.

 

Soon you'll come to the tiny town of Edison, which at first glance doesn't

seem like much. But in an that odd way of the Pacific Northwest, here in

the middle of nowhere, Edison boasts a good art gallery, the Samish

Studio Gallery, and a highly acclaimed restaurant, the Rhododendron

Café, which is at the edge of town, on the Chuckanut Drive. You'll have

an exquisite meal here, in modest surroundings. The last time I was there,

I waited 30 minutes for one of the tiny tables (people throng to the place

in their BMWs from Seattle and Vancouver), and was rewarded with an

outstanding Thai salad, and a delicious vegie burger. But for the grand

finale - I was almost in tears of ecstasy by the time I'd finished my warm

blackberry crumble. Try the pie. It's a perfect 10.

 

Heading north on the Chuckanut Drive, you'll soon be into the slow

rhythm of the curves of the road as it heads high above the Pacific. You'll

pass the Oyster Bar and Oyster Inn restaurants, and Larrabee State

Park.

 

As you enter the southernmost edge of Bellingham, you'll see a sign

announcing "Historic Fairhaven." Turn left on Harris Avenue.

Fairhaven is a wonderful jumble of historic buildings. Do you ever wonder

what became of the 60s hippies? Many of them are here in Fairhaven,

in Tony's Coffee. And the coffee is great too.

 

Just across the street and down half a block is the reason most of my

friends visit Fairhaven every couple of months. It's Village Books, one of

the best bookstores around. Upstairs the self-help section will make you

wonder how anyone could have any problems, given the sheer number of

titles. Have a look in the Mystery section and make sure to buy at least

one of Jo Dereske's books. Dereske is a former reference librarian,

whose delightfully low key heroine, Helma Zucas, is well known to us

Pacific Northwest information professionals. Downstairs check out the

writing section, and have a piece of chocolate cake. It's a 9 out of 10.

 

Head back the way you entered Fairhaven, go up the hill, and enter the

I5 to Vancouver.




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