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Celebrating People, Places & the Good Life in SW Washington State
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Some of the Best Gifts of All

We have way too much stuff at our house. When we joke about moving to a boat (which won’t happen but we can joke about it, anyway), we ask “Will it fit on the boat?” The piano? No. More clothes? No. More furniture? No. New experiences? YES!

My favorite gifts are experiences — presents that get me moving, seeking, learning, growing or relaxing. The memories of those experiences WILL fit on the boat.

Here is a short but fun list of experiences (with gift certificates available) in Southwest Washington (of course!) that you can give this holiday season, or year round, to friends, family or to yourself:

Pacific County
Give a gift certificate to one of my favorite places, Shakti Cove Cottages. These cute little cabins are within walking distance of the beach at Ocean Park, include kitchens and are near some of the best areas of the Long Beach Peninsula including Oysterville and Nahcotta.

Entrance to Shakti Cove Cottages

Consider including a gift certificate to Nanci and Jimella’s Klipsan Market Café just down the road. Remember the famous and fabulous Ark restaurant? That was Nancy and Jimella’s before they sold it. Their tradition of wonderful food continues in Klipsan Beach. Call 360.665.4847 for details.

Clark County
The beautifully restored Camas Hotel offers a relaxing getaway that is surrounded by shops and restaurants including Oliver’s at the hotel. Call for details and reservations.

The charming Camas Hotel

How about a gift certificate to Magenta Theater? Their 2011 plays include classics Life with Father and You Can’t Take it With You. It’s a sweet deal to have dinner in one of the many restaurants in downtown Vancouver and then stroll down to Magenta’s space on Main Street, near 6th.

Cowlitz County
Speaking of theater, do not overlook the recently restored Columbia Theatre in downtown Longview. Upcoming events include ‘S Wonderful, The Fab Four, 39 Steps (4 actors doing 150 characters!) and more including performances for children. Call for a gift certificate!

The Columbia Theatre

What about a pre-show dinner? Consider a gift certificate to JT’s Steak & Fish House, which comes highly recommended. Call 360-577-0717 for a gift certificate.

Skamania County
A night or two in the beautiful Skamania Lodge would make anyone happy. You could include a gift certificate dinner or brunch at the lodge or Big River Grill in downtown Stevenson.

The view from Skamania Lodge

Dinner at the Big River Grill

Klickitat County
Maryhill Winery offers a beautiful tasting room overlooking the Columbia River. A gift certificate to the winery can be used on their wines and items in the retail store. It’s a wonderful drive out to the winery and can easily include the remarkable Maryhill Museum.

The stunning terrace at Maryhill Winery

One more suggestion
Okay, after purchasing “experiences” for your loved ones, you may still feel the need a gift in hand to fill a stocking or to wrap for under the tree. Stop by or shop online at the Fort Vancouver Bookstore for the 2010 ornament – Fort Vancouver Village by Paul Lanquist. You’ll find lots of other gift ideas related to Southwest Washington, too.

The Fort Vancouver Village 2010 Ornament


December 19, 2010   No Comments

36 Hours in Camas

Sometimes the best getaway is close to home, very close to home. Downtown Camas is only 20 minutes from our house.  For a weekend in November, it was a perfect escape to shop, eat and celebrate our wedding anniversary at the new Camas Hotel. (More details on this lovely inn later.)

The lovely Camas Hotel

Friday Night 7 p.m. K’Syrah Catering Wine and Bistro 212 NE 4th Avenue. K’Syrah is offering a tasting of Thanksgiving wines – perfect for the Friday night before the all the holiday gluttony begins. For $10 per person, we taste five excellent wines – Mercer Pinot Gris 2008, Primarius Pinot Noir 2007, La Quercia Montepulciano 2008, Ridge Three Valleys 2007 and Terre Gaie Sparkling white wine. We like them all but, darn, have to make a choice. We select the sparkling wine to offer with the dessert course on Thanksgiving. K’Syrah also offers three-course fixed price dinners on Friday nights. Menus are posted in the Web site.

Saturday Morning 10 a.m. There are a LOT of shops to explore so we start with a hearty breakfast at Natalia’s Cafe, 437 NE 4th Avenue. My veggie scramble with home potatoes is very good but Gary’s strawberry blintzes with whipped cream wins the best breakfast prizes for taste and presentation. Don’t miss the photo.

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December 8, 2009   6 Comments

Adventures on Washington State’s Cranberry Coast, Part II

Isn’t it always the case that when you travel someplace new, you wish you had more time to spend there? We just discovered that in Glasgow (and Edinburgh and Inverness and…) but that’s another blog for another day. This is about Washington State’s scenic Cranberry Coast.

We spent four days there in mid-summer and pined for more. So we returned a month later for a camping trip with long-time friends, Mary and John Tyburski. Again, we were enchanted by the area. Cranberry Coast, Part I is here.

Westport Marina

Friday afternoon. Taking I-5 north, we make our ritual stop for milkshakes at the Dairy Barn in Chehalis (Exit 77). Cookie Dough and Hazelnut shakes in hands, we head west on SR6 through PeEll, which has what must be the world’s largest stop signs, and through Frances and Lebam—a town with a name to love. It’s backwards for Mabel.

We pass the Pacific County Fair in Menlo, hurrying on to Raymond, where we pick up SR105. We’re eager to get to our campsite before sundown at Twin Harbors Beach State Park.  Setting up a campsite in the dark is not my idea of fun and it’s raining so we are grateful for our snug tent camper. Our days of sleeping on the ground are over. Guess we are getting older…

Home Away From Home

What a multi-generational community we find! Park demographics include all ages, from infants to grandparents and a diverse, well-behaved canine population. We must have missed the memo that said “bring your dog.” Two doors down, so to speak, at least 30 high school girls (also well-behaved) are on a field trip and eating dinner under the world’s largest tarp.

Much later, two cars of very polite surfers from Port Orchard set up their tents next to ours in the dark. We save them from an imminent medical emergency by lending them our hatchet. Watching a barefoot surfer try to chop wood with machete is not a pretty picture.

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November 1, 2009   No Comments

Adventures on Washington State’s Cranberry Coast, Part I

I love cranberries.  With about 30 percent of West Coast cranberry farms located along the Southwest Washington coast, it makes perfect sense that we have The Cranberry Coast to visit.

I thought this area could be easily explored in one trip. I was wrong. There is a LOT happening in this part of the state. This is Part I.

Thursday Afternoon and Evening
We leave Vancouver on a one of those frying, triple-digit July days. As we pull out of Chehalis on SR6, after our ritual stop at the Dairy Barn for milkshakes, the Wachovia clock reads 100 degrees. By the time we get to Raymond in Pacific County, less than an hour from I-5, we are down to a cool, marine 67 degrees. The Cranberry Coast is looking good already.

The Elegant Russell House

4 p.m. An Elegant Bed and Breakfast in “The Oyster Capital of the World” Our host Beverley warmly welcomes us at the historic Russell House Bed and Breakfast in South Bend. Russell House is a stunning 1891 Victorian home, built by John Russell as a 25th anniversary gift for his wife, overlooking South Bend and the Willapa River. Beverley has graciously agreed to store our tent camper and kayaks in the backyard while we are exploring the area. We settle in to the Bay Room with its turret window seat and spectacular view of the river.

6:30 p.m. Well-worn tavern, good beer, succulent oysters. Beverley recommends two diners in town for great oysters. We start with dinner at Chester Club and Oyster Bar, which more than one person points out has been written about in The New York Times. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us. A few older guys are hanging out at the bar, occasionally wandering out to smoke and greet a very popular dog in a pickup. When I taste my first oyster, I slap the table. It’s that good. Lightly battered and fried but not greasy. And it’s matched perfectly with Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale. I hope The New York Times was very, very kind to this bar. They deserve it.

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September 4, 2009   4 Comments