Everyone knows about British Columbians and where we live.
portrayed in the international media as a province populated by
million rugged, exceedingly polite, outdoorsy eccentrics, who live
wooden houses scattered throughout pristine, snow covered forests.
We're the west coasters of lotus land, who eat a lot of granola,
on Tai Chi classes.
Only those who visit us see that our province is undergoing rapid
far-reaching change, and that we're becoming a technological giant
global front. The likes of Electronic Arts ( world leader in
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
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
coastline, to thousands of miles of rivers, to snow-capped
island paradises, ranch lands, fertile valley's replete with
vineyards, tiny frontier type towns, the very British Victoria, to
sophisticated shopping and multicultural City of Vancouver our
has something for every tourist. Coupled with the low Canadian
a holiday destination, BC can't be beaten.
Airlines: From Seattle the following
airlines fly to Vancouver.
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.
Train: Amtrack Seattle to Vancouver.
Driving: The Gentle Route from Seattle to
Visitors driving to British Columbia from Seattle usually head
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
gentle, countryside scenery.
To take the gentle route, head North on the I5 freeway. After an
look for signs for the Mukilteo Ferry. It runs every hour
Island. At the other end, Whidbey Island connects to the
bridges, so there's no need to take another ferry.
On Whidbey Island, drive down the main road for about 45 minutes,
begin looking for signs for Coupeville.
Founded in 1852, and the second oldest incorporated town in the
of Washington, tiny Coupeville, with its wonderful collection of
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
feeling like a salty sea captain, wander through the wonderful
County Historical Museum. Some of my stressed out
professional friends in dreamy moments of career change fantasy
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
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
ramshackle cousin offers a different type of charm. Its beautiful
overlooking Penn Cove, its unusual stone fireplace in the lobby,
cramped, hobbit- style bar, and bookshelf lined hallway upstairs,
one of my favorites. If you decide to stay, go for one of the
rooms or cottages. 360-678-4097.
Near the North end of Whidbey Island you'll travel over the
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
The sharp salt tang in the air is guaranteed to make you feel
If you're planning a few days meander, watch for signs to
town, known as the "Gateway to the San Juan Islands," because the
Washington State Ferry runs from here to Lopez, Orcas, and San
My favorite is Lopez Island, popular with cyclists for its
30 mile circuit
route, which gently rambles through a pastoral setting of rolling
dotted with sheep and cows, spectacular ocean views, Victorian
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
and rental cottages. If money isn't a problem, stay at the much
about Inn at Swifts Bay www.swiftsbay.com
Considered one of
the finest Inns in the Pacific Northwest, you'll be pampered with
exquisite, antique filled room, (some have decks), an outdoor hot
outstanding music, and five star cuisine.
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
away, and perched right on the Ocean, 360-468-2688, or the
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
has the best whole wheat cinnamon buns I've ever eaten. Across
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
dishes in the Pacific Northwest, at reasonable prices. Recently we
the "special" which included a mouth watering asparagus soup, a
salad with beet shavings and a tangy dressing, halibut in
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
If you're in Anacortes and have just one night to spend, ask any
where the little ferry to Guemes Island leaves from. A five
will take you and your car to this undiscovered,
picturesque paradise of
woods and summer homes. There's just one place to stay, the
Island Resort, where $85 will get you an ocean front
with stone fireplace, a spectacular eastern view, and miles of
If you don't have time to go to Anacortes and the San Juans,
Highway 20 until you see the Old Farmhouse Restaurant on the right
set of traffic lights. Turn right and head about two miles into La
As you approach La Conner continue until you can't go any
You've hit the main street, which fronts the Swinomish Channel. If
turn right you will see on your left along the water, the cedar
Conner Channel Lodge. Make sure you go inside, pick up a
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
decks overlooking the channel view. This is "a find" and worth a
you have time. 360-466-1500.
La Conner was founded in 1867. Much of the town was built just
when the farmers and fishers used the channel as a transportation
La Conner is now for the tourist - and does "quaint" far better
places I've seen. I've been there over 20 times, and the delight
wears off. Although all the guidebooks says the best time to visit
April when the famed tulip festival is at its peak, I like it best
anytime of year, just after dusk when the temperature drops, and
aren't any tourists and cars around. All of the stores are done up
finest, with twinkling lights, and the mist from the channel
everything in a silent shimmering sparkle. Close your eyes and
whiffs of wood smoke, and for just a minute you'll be transported
magical never-never land of what it must have been like to live
At the opposite end of town, don't miss the Calico Cupboard
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
leaves plenty of room for dessert, like the chocolate peanut
Across the street is Hotel Planter which is on the Register of
Places. The other place to stay is the LaConner Country Inn, which
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
and the clothes are pretty good too. There is also a cat store
down toward the Channel Lodge. There are lots of gifty
places, a few galleries, mainly filled with expensive baubles, and
antique or two. The best place in town is the museum in Gaches
one block up from the water.
Head out of La Conner, the same way you came in. At the set of
lights, do not turn right onto Highway 20. Instead travel straight
across the highway. You'll be on the Bow Edison Road, a scenic
road. Follow this about 2 miles, and you'll pass through Bayview
Park and the tiny community of Bayview. Across Padilla Bay, you'll
Continue north through the peaceful, bucolic Skagit Valley
Last year, while riding my bicycle through these slightly winding
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
people straining to position the moon in just the right place. Off
fields, I could trace the work of farmers on old International
threshers by their feeble front lines, as they worked up and down
valley to get the crops cut. This place has soul.
Soon you'll come to the tiny town of Edison, which at first glance
seem like much. But in an that odd way of the Pacific Northwest,
the middle of nowhere, Edison boasts a good art gallery, the
Studio Gallery, and a highly acclaimed restaurant, the
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
I waited 30 minutes for one of the tiny tables (people throng to
in their BMWs from Seattle and Vancouver), and was rewarded with
outstanding Thai salad, and a delicious vegie burger. But for the
finale - I was almost in tears of ecstasy by the time I'd finished
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
pass the Oyster Bar and Oyster Inn restaurants, and Larrabee State
As you enter the southernmost edge of Bellingham, you'll see a
announcing "Historic Fairhaven." Turn left on Harris
Fairhaven is a wonderful jumble of historic buildings. Do you
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
friends visit Fairhaven every couple of months. It's Village
Books, one of
the best bookstores around. Upstairs the self-help section will
wonder how anyone could have any problems, given the sheer number
titles. Have a look in the Mystery section and make sure to buy at
one of Jo Dereske's books. Dereske is a former reference
whose delightfully low key heroine, Helma Zucas, is well known to
Pacific Northwest information professionals. Downstairs check out
writing section, and have a piece of chocolate cake. It's a 9 out
Head back the way you entered Fairhaven, go up the hill, and enter
I5 to Vancouver.