Outside Magazine’s new “Guide to Family Vacations” (Frommer’s, $15.95) reminds us how lucky we are to live in the Pacific Northwest. A fifth of the paperback’s top vacation picks are within a day’s drive of Spokane.
Besides great destinations - from backpacking British Columbia and mountainbiking the Methow Valley to rafting the Snake or playing cowboy at historic 63 Ranch in Livingston, Mont. - Outside’s guide offers clever tips for “the hysterical parent” and numerous what-to-bring lists, such as the one titled ” The Zen of Car-Camping.”
Speaking of new books…
The 1997-98 Washington Bed & Breakfast Guild’s membership directory lists 112 inns across the state. For a free copy, call (800) 647-2918.
Learn as you sojourn
The Glacier Institute, a Kalispellbased nonprofit educational organization, offers more than 20 classes for youths and adults during August.
This week’s options range from studying glacier geology (Thursday and Friday) and wildfires (Friday) to high-country hiking (Saturday-Sunday).
Bears, glacier lilies and family nature hikes all are scheduled for later this month.
More information is available from the institute at (406) 755-1211.
On your marks … get set …
A “quick-draw competition” will kick off the Omak Western Art Show, which starts Wednesday evening and continues through Sunday, coinciding with the Omak Stampede rodeo.
More than 20 artists will display their work at East Omak Elementary School, and 15 plan to compete in the quick-draw event.
Show hours are 6:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Thursday through Saturday, and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. The quick-draw contest is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. For information, call the Omak Chamber of Commerce at (509) 826-1880.
The sky’s the limit
Visitors to Olympic National Park can join in a free astronomy program Aug. 11 at Hurricane Ridge. Telescopes will be available and constellations will be described. If the skies are clear, Saturn and its rings should be visible.
Participants should meet at 9 p.m. in the parking lot of the park’s visitor center on the southern outskirts of Port Angeles at 3002 Mt. Angeles Road. Dress warmly, and bring a blanket and binoculars, if possible. If it rains, there will be an indoor planetarium program at the center. Information: phone Matt Graves, (360) 452-4501, ext. 233.
Shiver me timbers
The Lady Washington, a replica of an 18th-century ship that explored the Pacific Northwest coast, is offering excursions from its homeport of Aberdeen, Wash., plus summer tours from nearby Westport and visits to Hoquiam on the state’s Pacific Coast.
Crew members are outfitted in 18th-century sailors’ clothing; living-history vignettes show what life was like for the original crew. Most of the three-hour sailings aboard the ship, which carries 4,400 square feet of sails, cost $25; dockside tours are $3. (There are discounts for children and seniors.) Information: (800) 200-5239.
A whale of a show
Want to see some orcas in the wild? Whale-watching trips depart daily from Friday Harbor in San Juan Islands. Boats also leave from the ports of Everett, Port Townsend and Anacortes, and from Victoria, British Columbia.
The orcas (killer whales) feed on salmon around the San Juans or Gulf Islands, and many companies use spotters to find out where the whales are, making most trips this time of year successful.
For day-trippers out of Seattle, Mosquito Fleet boats leave from Everett or Anacortes (about one-half and 1-1/4 hour drives north of Seattle, respectively); phone (206) 252-6800.
Or take a shorter whale-watching trip from Friday Harbor (Western Prince Cruises is one well-known company, (360) 378-5315). Phone the San Juan Islands Visitor Information Service for other whale-watching companies, (360) 468-3663. Some even offer whale-watching by kayak.
For visitors to Victoria, more than a dozen companies offer daily whale-watching trips on everything from high-speed, inflatable boats to more comfortable, conventional boats. They depart from the city’s Inner Harbour. Phone Tourism Victoria for a list of companies; (250) 953-2033.