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Archive for washington state

Onions and Wine

By Linda Tancs

Located in the southeast corner of Washington State and nestled at the foot of the Blue Mountains, Walla Walla (a Native American term meaning “many waters”) is renowned for its sweet onion, the state vegetable. But in recent years the wine is giving this hallmark bulb a run for its money. Recognized among the finest wine regions in the nation, the city boasts more than 120 wineries amid 2,800 acres of grapes. Wineries and tasting rooms are scattered throughout six main districts, so expert-led tours and shuttles offer a convenient way to experience all the varietals that the region has to offer.

The Rain Shadow

By Linda Tancs

The Olympic Rain Shadow is a small region northwest of the city of Seattle, Washington, which experiences significantly dryer and brighter weather than surrounding locations. That region includes the San Juan Islands, the gateway to which is the charming town of Friday Harbor. If you’re eager to avoid winter’s chill, then you won’t be disappointed in the off-season, especially at Christmastime. The shops and galleries are open late for holiday shopping. Other festive activities are Santa’s boat parade, the festival of lights and an old-fashioned Christmas celebration at the San Juan Historical Museum. Best of all, everything is within walking distance from the ferry landing, so you won’t need a car. The direct ferry ride from Anacortes to Friday Harbor is just over an hour long. 

Cape Doesn’t Disappoint

By Linda Tancs

Washington State’s Cape Disappointment is a fabled headland staring into the mouth of the Columbia River. Its odd name is said to derive from British trader John Meares, who named it “Cape Disappointment” because he mistakenly believed that the mouth of the Columbia River was only a bay. Once deemed strategically significant, military fortifications were based there during the Civil War and World War II. The decommissioned bases, and North Head Lighthouse, now encompass Cape Disappointment State Park. Named to the National Register of Historic Places, Cape Disappointment is a High Potential Historic Site on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Perched on a 200-foot-high cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center tells the story of Lewis and Clark and their journey from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean.

Alpine Glory Near Seattle

By Linda Tancs

The jagged peaks of Washington State’s North Cascades National Park are crowned by glaciers—more than 300, the most of any national park outside Alaska. The park’s ecosystem is diverse, from the temperate rainforest of the west side to the dry ponderosa pines of the east. Another of its charms is the concentration of old-growth western red cedar trees, some estimated to be over 1,000 years old. You can find them on hikes like the one to Big Beaver Trail, which will take you through a long, glacier-carved valley. During the summer months you’ll find a variety of companies offering tours of the area, including ranger-led tours. The park is located less than three hours from Seattle.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Stewards of Mount Rainier

By Linda Tancs

Washington’s Mount Rainier stands sentinel over the landscape at 14,410 feet. It’s not only an active volcano but also the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S., spawning five major rivers. The Cowlitz, Muckleshoot, Nisqually, Puyallup, Squaxin Island and Yakama people are the original stewards of the land, with archaeological evidence tracing Native use of the area back 9,000 years. Now a bustling national park, 97% of its area has been designated as wilderness by Congress. Stretching for 378 square miles, the park has five developed areas, with three visitor centers, a museum and several wilderness and climbing centers and ranger stations. Its features include subalpine meadows, the temperate rainforest environment at Carbon River and Mowich Lake, the largest and deepest lake in the park. Wherever you roam, take advantage of the numerous day hikes offered along 260 miles of maintained trails.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Seattle’s Hidden Treasure

By Linda Tancs

There’s a side to Seattle, Washington, that you definitely haven’t seen. That’s because it’s hidden underground, a city entombed when the locale rebuilt on top of itself after the Great Fire of 1889. The result is a series of interconnecting tunnels revealing subterranean storefronts and sidewalks with plenty of stories to tell. You can experience it via a 75-minute underground tour beginning beneath Doc Maynard’s Public House and ending at Rogues Gallery. The easiest way to get there is by bus or light rail.

The Rewards of Rain in Washington

By Linda Tancs

Some locales, like Seattle, Washington, are known for their rainy disposition. But, oh, the rewards. Consider Washington State’s Hoh Rainforest, the recipient of 14 feet of rain each year. The result is one of the world’s lushest rainforests—a green canopy of coniferous and deciduous species bursting with mosses and ferns. Located on the west side of Olympic National Park, it’s one of the finest remaining examples of temperate rainforest in the United States and is one of the park’s most popular destinations. The visitor center is located at the end of Upper Hoh Road, where you’ll find some easy trails, like Hall of the Mosses and Spruce Nature Trail.

The Pacific Crest Trail

By Linda Tancs

One of the original national scenic trails established by Congress in the 1968 National Trails System Act, the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail generally runs along the high crests of the Sierra and Cascades mountain ranges. Beginning in southern California at the Mexican border, the trail marks a total distance of 2,650 miles through California (passing through five state parks), Oregon, and Washington until reaching the Canadian border. The trail is open to the public from April to September for foot and equestrian travel only. About 200 people attempt to hike the length of the trail each season, generally starting at the Mexican border and ending at the Canadian border. Only a few equestrians have ever ridden the entire trail.

Rainbows in the Valley

By Linda Tancs

Washington State’s Skagit Valley is prized for its mountain and river views, but at this special time of year it’s the rainbow-colored pastures brimming with tulips that draw crowds from every state and almost 100 countries. The perennial, bulbous plant is celebrated month-long in April at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. You will need a map of the tulip field area to help you navigate as the fields’ locations change every year due to crop rotation. Designed as a driving tour, the tulips are generally grown in a 15-mile triangle bordered by Highway 20, the Skagit River and the Swinomish Channel.

Art Under Glass

By Linda Tancs

Chihuly Garden and Glass is a sculptural oasis in Seattle, Washington. Its centerpiece is the Glasshouse, a 40-foot-tall, glass and steel conservatory hosting a 100-foot-long suspended floral sculpture in eye-popping hues of red, orange, yellow and amber. You can learn more about the artist, Dale Chihuly, at the eight galleries and three drawing walls that offer a comprehensive collection of his work. Outdoors, the lush landscape is equally matched by floral installations. The facility is located next to the Space Needle (spectacularly visible inside the Glasshouse) at Seattle Center.

 

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