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B.C. park’s specialty: salmon spying

Sun., Oct. 15, 2006

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about the travel industry’s latest inducement to lure you off your Barcalounger: salmon watching.

I assumed it was an aberration, Snohomish County’s sort of sweet attempt to work with what they’ve got.

How wrong I was.

The Canadians are all over the fish voyeurism thing, too. And I know they’ve got other attractions up there like beer, permafrost and that Teck Cominco plant polluting the dickens out of the water and the air.

So maybe there’s something to this trend after all.

To check it out for yourself, stop by Goldstream Provincial Park in Victoria, B.C., for what’s described as “an amazing spectacle of nature as the salmon make their annual return to the Goldstream River.”

Thousands of chum salmon show up right about now and keep on a-going for nine weeks or so. You may also catch a glimpse of coho or chinook salmon as well as steelhead and cutthroat trout.

(It’s up to you to figure out how to tell the difference. I really can’t help you there.)

The park’s Web site describes the process in great – and fascinating – detail. Here’s an excerpt:

“If you watch quietly and do not disturb the fish, you will likely see some working their way upstream, while others, in pairs or groups, dig, defend their ‘redds,’ or nests, and spawn in the gravel. The female … digs the redd … by turning on her side and repeatedly lifting her tail violently away from the gravel. A partial vacuum lifts the gravel, and the current moves it a little way downstream, leaving the desired trench.”

If indeed this interests you, you won’t be the only one. Minks, raccoons, otters and even bears might stop by for a nighttime visit as well.

And in a fine illustration of nature’s penchant for order, more than 250 bald eagles and other raptors descend on the park later in the year to clean up the salmon carcasses. They’ll arrive in early December and stuff themselves until February.

The visitor center welcomes the birds with special events and exhibits, and also offers salmon slide shows, videos and interpretive programs. If you’d rather stick with the great outdoors, you can explore the park’s hiking trails, which run from the valley floor to the top of Mt. Finlayson.

There’s plenty of information to be found, including salmon-watching tips, at Or you can call the Freeman King Visitor Centre at (250) 478-9414.

Take a hike, hike, hike

I find myself at odds with the rest of the world about so many things: Barbra Streisand, for instance. Olives. Los Angeles.

And football.

I just can’t care about it. But many people do – a number of whom I love – so, in their honor, I give you the Husky and Seahawk Tailgate Charter packages from Local Escapes.

Bainbridge Island (which I do like) serves as headquarters for this travel planner and tour operator established in 2005.

Camille Simonen, Local Escapes’ operations manager, says the charter parties appeal to fans looking for a “higher-end experience.”

“It would be great for birthdays, for family get-togethers,” she says. “And we can work with groups to provide whatever refreshments they want.”

The pigskin extravaganza gets under way on board a private yacht for a little waterborne fun before you’re shuttled to Qwest Field or dropped off at Husky Stadium. Your $140 ticket covers your game pass, sea rations, Captain Stubing and Isaac, your bartender.

The 48-foot cabin cruiser holds six people – but it doesn’t seem to include an actual tailgate.

Several gridiron grapples remain this season: Seattle vs. Minnesota next Sunday, UW vs. Arizona State on Oct. 28, UW vs. Stanford on Nov. 11, Seattle vs. St. Louis on Nov. 12 and, in the grand tradition of the shepherds watching their flocks by night, Seattle vs. San Diego on Christmas Eve.

Find out more at or call (877) 780-4162.

Auburn-ing for you

Auburn’s on the offensive.

Sure, it’s not Seattle. It’s not even Tacoma. But the town would like you to know that it’s “centrally located in the Green River Valley between Seattle and Tacoma.” So you get a three-fer.

And according to a recent news release, you also get 28 parks, four golf courses, “an emerging downtown shopping district and a popular trail system for jogging, horseback riding, bicycling and rollerblading.”

To entice you still further, the town’s hotels have banded together with some regional attractions to create the “Auburn as a Base Camp (ABC)” package.

As the name implies, they’d like you to use Auburn as a jumping-off point for visits to the Space Needle, Experience Music Project, harbor cruises, the Museum of Flight, the Museum of Glass, Tacoma Art Museum and other Seattle and Tacoma draws.

ABC combines passes to whichever you choose with a two-night stay at a participating Auburn hotel, a road map, a $25 gas card or a ride on the Seattle Sounder Train, and base-camp chow of granola bars, fresh fruit and bottled water.

Prices start at $340, based on double occupancy, and the package runs through Dec. 31. Make your reservations at Comfort Inn (; 253-333-8888), Travelodge Suites (; 253-833-7171) or Best Western Pepper Tree (; 888-624-4854)

Regional events

“Autumn Art and Craft Show, Oct. 28, Helena. More than 90 juried artists and craftspeople from the Northwest will present their handmade items. (; 406-449-4790)

“Bodies … the Exhibition, through Dec. 31, 800 Pike, Seattle. Twenty-one whole-body specimens and more than 260 dissected organs give you a good look at human innards. (; 206-467-5510)


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