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Clark: Spokane’s must-see staycation destination is …

Thanks to the continuing bum economy, most everybody around here is still too broke to pay attention, let alone go anywhere exotic on vacation.

Perhaps realizing this, local marketing whiz Coleen Quisenberry has come up with an ingenious promotion that urges all us locals to “see our region from a tourist’s point of view.”

That’s what the Quisenberry marketing firm news release to the media says, and I think it’s a rather brilliant idea.

Living and working in the same community day after day, after all, can desensitize the inmates into not really seeing the environment that surrounds them.

Psychologists call this “institutional blindness,” which probably accounts for why so many of the drivers around here keep blindly blowing through red lights.

But what happens if we take a moment and reconsider Spokane through the fresh eyes of a pretend tourist?

Ahhh, yes.

Now you can step back and exclaim …

“My gawd! Who’s in charge around here? This burg has the crappiest streets I’VE EVER SEEN!!!”

This being a tourist in your own town stuff is quite liberating.

Anyway, “Tourist in Your Town” began Saturday. It continues through Wednesday with “participating area businesses and attractions offering discounts to local residents,” sayeth the release.

Quisenberry does have a good point.

This area is blessed with myriad spacious parks, decent restaurants, wineries, natural splendor and entertainment venues, although the massage parlors sure aren’t what they once were before all the police raids.

“Imagine the vacation you could afford,” stated the release, “if you didn’t have to pay travel expenses …”

Makes sense. The last time I visited San Francisco I wound up shopping in Nordstrom.

Following the Tourist in Your Town philosophy, I could have shopped at Nordstrom right here and saved myself a lot of costly airfare, not to mention the time I wasted riding the cable car, seeing my kids and eating Peking duck in Chinatown.

I’m not ashamed of my hometown. Spokane’s many amenities are why I’ve stuck around here for so long.

Well, that and my chronic low-achieving.

But I hope this unusual promotion turns out to be a runaway success. Which is why I’m willing to help.

See, the dining and merchandising angle to Tourist in Your Town is well and fine.

But our area is also rich with some other points of interest that many people have either forgotten or taken for granted.

So today I’m proposing a Tour Guide in My Town contest for you readers to earn exciting prizes like a free CD of all 14 of my bootleg parody songs, plus other precious Clark Column keepsakes.

All you have to do is come up with the best offbeat destinations you can think of if you were conducting a tour of our Lilac Blunderland. Then email your tour stops to me via the contact info below.

For example, no tour of the Spokane area would be complete without visiting …

• The Ruins of Ridpath – Yes, this crumbling hovel in the heart of downtown was actually the hotel that housed Elvis when he rocked his way into Spokane.

Now, alas, the once-grand Ridpath probably looks like the poor moldering King himself.

• The Spokane Valley City Center – I’m including this destination in hopes somebody out there finally knows where it actually is.

If so, please contact members of the Spokane Valley City Council immediately. Those poor, deluded souls have been searching for a center ever since Spokane Valley became a city.

• City Hall of Indecision – Once a Montgomery Ward department store, Spokane’s City Hall is a place of many other curiosities besides governmental smoke and mirrors.

Take our Curse of the One-Term Mayor. Believe it or not, the Lilac City has not elected a mayor for a second term since before the Disco Era.

And be sure to pause at City Hall’s front door in remembrance of the day Gypsy leader Jimmy Marks opened it to usher in the ghost of his late father, Grover. Sure enough, the very same thing was done for Jimmy when he shed his mortal coil several years ago.

See how much fun it is to be a Tour Guide in Your Town?

So send me your submissions, which I will compile for a later column.

Happy touring!

Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432

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