Five fall getaways
November 24, 2008 · Updated 6:13 PM
Pacific Northwest beauty
Since our current Puget Sound summer has been less than stellar, I’ve found myself peering at my map for destinations where I might enjoy one last hit of a sunny four-day weekend before the rains descend.
Planning an outing based on guaranteed sun is a loser’s game here in the Pacific Northwest. My list includes five spots that more often than not have technicolor-clear fall days, and where the roadside stands display colorful local produce — fruit that actually ripened on the vine. Should your luck sour and the skies turn gray, these spots have enough going on to keep you pleased with your getaway even if you have to stay indoors. Check out these suggestions.
Veranda Beach Resort on Lake Osoyoos at Oroville
The Northwest’s newest family resort, Veranda Beach, opened in June with a completely new concept. The developer has created a family camp with 54 cottages available for rent at this time and 102 planned for this lakeside 35-acre resort. Located within a mile of the Canadian border at Osoyoos, it’s more than a five-hour drive from Mercer Island, but what fabulous country the Columbia River and Okanogan valleys are on Indian summer days. This is a great fall road trip.
Veranda Beach Resort plays off a nostalgic 1950s theme with an old-time soda fountain, an aquatics area in the lake complete with a trampoline and diving boards and lanes for swimming races, and, of course, cottages that all have lake views. The family fun in summer features midnight marshmallows over the open outdoor fire, watermelon eating contests and egg tosses. It cools off in September with the kids back in school, making it a quieter place. The resort is surrounded by orchards and faces southwest, perfect for evenings of watching the sun set over the North Cascade Range.
The fact that Oroville is hunkered down in the Okanagan Valley means it’s at a low elevation and captures the long, late summer afternoon-warming sun. Osoyoos Lake is the warmest of all the swimming lakes in the Okanagan. The North Cascade mountains scrape off the rain, so this part of the state gets very little rain. In fact, the Canadians five miles north brag that this territory is Canada’s only true desert. The nights are cool and clear, with lots of visible stars. You can cross the border for the best of Canada’s wines, with more than 100 vintners producing vintages within an hour of Veranda Beach. Among the top picks are the highly regarded ice wines produced there.
To get to Veranda Beach Resort, drive I-90 to Cle Elum, then take SR 97 north to the Canadian border. For more information, call Veranda Beach Resort toll-free at 1-866-837-2632.
Hastings House: A country house hotel on Salt Spring Island in Canada’s Gulf Islands
Last year I re-visited Hastings House and its hip neighboring enclave of artists and gentleman farmers in the village of Ganges, a five-minute walk around the bay. I was reminded of Hastings House’s pleasant British relaxing ways: tea service in the afternoons, complimentary sherry before dinner, hot muffins, tea and coffee brought to your door in the morning before breakfast, all in a bucolic Sussex-style manor house setting. Very 19th century. Very British, tailored just slightly by its Seattle owners.
When I first visited Hastings House 15 years ago, we drove to Tsawwassen ferry across the Canadian border, then hopped a British Columbia ferry that stopped at Salt Spring. Driving around the island couldn’t be more relaxing. As we turned into the driveway on Hastings House’s 35-acre spread, the first thing we saw were sheep and day-old lambs, the latter jumping around and testing their newly discovered legs. While Hastings House has added more cottages and guest suites for a total of 18, the property has taken great care to integrate all the architecture into the existing theme. Virtually every suite features all the modern comforts, but each also has unique inglenooks, lookouts, fireplaces and backdoor verandas. The warmth of the architecture makes this a cozy retreat any time of year.
A walk along the beach, an outing in a kayak or an afternoon bike ride is best followed by an in-room spa treatment. I opted for the massage; Judy a facial and manicure.
While the rooms and common areas of the manor house exude welcoming warmth, even better are the meals provided. And while dining at Hastings House isn’t the only option, given the proximity to the cafes and restaurants of Ganges, you’d be in error if you didn’t take most of your meals in the Hastings House dining room. With views of the bay, an award-wining wine cellar and lots of unusual food items grown on this most organic of islands, you’ll find that your meals deserve hours of “slow food” dining. The dinners are served European style with multiple courses. Among the dining “musts”—Salt Spring Island lamb and anything from the sea.
The best way to get there is via Kenmore Air on one of their famous Beaver float planes. The second option is to hop on I-5 north to the Tsawwassen Ferry, with boats leaving almost every hour.
For more information, call Hastings House toll free at 1-800-661-9255 or check them out on the Web at www.hastingshouse.com. Kenmore Air can be reached by calling (425) 486-1257 or on the Web at www.kenmoreair.com.
Ashland’s Shakespeare Festival gets better in the fall
Ashland sits 15 minutes north of the Oregon-California border, but it feels like California to me. Its autumns are dry and warm. The fruit trees and increasing numbers of grape vines that cover the valley floor from Medford to Ashland make September and October’s lingering days aromatic and sweet. Afternoons get very lazy here in the fall.
What to do? Start with a play a day. If you don’t care for the Bard, no problem, since the festival selections always include daily non-Shakespeare offerings, many quite contemporary. After you’ve had your fill of drama, take a day trip over to Crater Lake or a jet boat down the Rogue River from Grant’s Pass.
As for accommodations, you should know that the Ashland-Jacksonville area boasts more B&Bs and intimate country inns than anywhere else in the Pacific Northwest. There are more than 65 active B&Bs, and the bar is very high in terms of quality. A Mercer Island friend told me that he ate in a number of restaurants and cafes and didn’t have a meal that wasn’t excellent. Since drama lovers tend toward affluent sophistication, Ashland has for more than 60 years been an absolute magnet for the arts, fine dining and excellent overnights.
The fastest route to Ashland is on I-5. I prefer the hour-longer drive on Oregon and Washington’s SR 97 via Yakima, Goldendale and Bend. On this route, the sun shines more, Oregon’s volcanoes are enticing and the broad shoulders of the American west are evident along every mile.
For festival show times and tickets, call 1-800-219-8161 or check out the Web site at www.osfashland.org. For accommodations, call Ashland’s B&B Network at 1-800-944-0329.
Bandon Dunes—The best links golfing outside of Scotland
The private jets line up at the Coos Bay airfield, awaiting their owners’ joyous return from rounds of golf. Links golfing — the way golf was originally designed along the windy west coast of Scotland among the gorse, heather and sand dunes — has found its American spiritual brother three-fourths of the way down the Oregon Coast. With a tip of the hat to Turnberry and Carnoustie, Bandon Dunes allows no golf carts on any of its now three courses. Very old school.
The scenery is spectacular, with jagged rock outcroppings tip-toeing out into the Pacific. The crashing waves are worth the trip by themselves. Given the money that is attracted to this unique setting, the restaurants, hotels and inns have certainly upgraded in the past 10 years. Art galleries feature glass art and wood working. There are riding stables, ocean kayaks to rent, a cranberry bog to tour and a sizeable wild game and bird petting zoo. Of course, Oregon has fantastic state parks about every five miles along the Pacific coast. In fact, in September and October, visitors get a state park all to themselves.
The fastest way to drive to Bandon is to take I-5 south past Eugene and Cottage Grove to my all-time favorite place-name, the wonderful hamlet of Drain on State Route 38, which follows the Umpqua River to the Coast at Reedsport. From there, drive south 40 more miles on the coast-hugging Highway 101, and get ready to tee it up.
Slightly slower but more scenic is to leave I-5 just south of Portland, and cut to the coast on SR 18 via McMinnville and Lincoln City.
For tee times or room reservations, call 888-345-6008 or visit www.bandondunesgolf.com.
Manzanita: Carmel comes north to the Upper Oregon Coast
Mercer Island’s famed basketball coach Ed Pepple turned me on to this happening beach village south of Cannon Beach. Ed’s long-time backcourt mate from his University of Utah days, Bucky Buckwalter, has retired to this elegant new beach town, and Ed told me to check it out. He was right. Manzanita has the feel of California’s Carmel, with pine trees among the sand dunes, underground wiring, architectural lamp-posts and shingle-sided, unpainted cottages, tucked in among the rocks and trees.
Manzanita’s main street is loaded with bookstores, coffee shops, fashion boutiques, art galleries and real estate offices. Clearly, this is Oregon’s newest land rush. Hats off to the city planners who pulled this off. Manzanita is quiet, non-carnie (unlike Seaside), and even classier and fresher than nearby Cannon Beach.
From Seattle, figure five hours of driving, and I recommend taking different routes going and coming. One idea is to drive I-5 to Longview, then cut over to the Astoria Bridge on SR 4 through rural Wahkiakum County. Another route is to head toward Aberdeen from Olympia, then take SR 101 south from Montesano.
For more information, call the Oregon Coast Visitors Association at 888-628-2101 and ask for Manzanita information. Or, on the Web, go to www.visittheoregoncoast.com and click on “Manzanita.”
Bill Morton can be reached at www.secondhalf.net.