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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Objective: Searching for the perfect sunset

Even surfers pause when the sun set on Bali's beautiful Canggu Beach. (Dan Webster)
Even surfers pause when the sun set on Bali's beautiful Canggu Beach. (Dan Webster)

Not that I’m alone in this sentiment, but I’m a sucker for sunsets.

One of my most memorable end-of-day experiences came a couple of decades ago during a trip that my wife Mary Pat and I made to Trieste, Italy. We’d just driven across the Dolomite Mountains from Torino and were staying in a hotel overlooking the Adriatic a mile or so outside Trieste proper.

On our first night, rather than head into the city for dinner, we chose to eat at the hotel. This turned out to be a good decision because, in addition to the food being superb, the atmosphere couldn’t have been better.

As we discovered, the place offered to serve dinner on an outdoor terrace. Not only did this afford us a great view of the water, but the slight breeze coming off the sea cooled the air to a temperature that Goldilocks would have envied.

It was just before dusk when we were seated. Yes, there was another couple sharing the space, but they were sitting several feet away, so it was almost like we were dining in private.

I recall the kindness of the server, a middle-age guy who spoke no English but was patient with our rudimentary Italian. I recall, too, the cold white wine that he served us before presenting several courses of … well, it was Italian food, so you know it had to be good.

What I most recall, though, was the sun as it set in the west, and how the lights down the coast – of Slovenia, I think – slowly began to twinkle ever brighter through the growing dark.

I didn’t take any photos. Or if I did, they’ve been lost in the various SD cards that are scattered around my home office. It’s enough for me that the image still resides in my mind.

I’ve taken many such photos over the years. Some of the more memorable include those taken on various Hawaiian beaches, from Kauai to the Big Island. One of my favorites is the one that accompanies this story, taken on the beach at Canggu on the Indonesian island of Bali.

Others include one I took during a visit last summer to see our Going Mobile friends Leslie Kelly and John Nelson on the Olympic Peninsula. And I can’t forget those taken at numerous California locations, the one I took at a boisterous beach bar in Key West, Fla, and a shot I got last December when we were looking out over the South Atlantic from a Cape Town, South Africa, boardwalk.

I had hoped, too, most recently that I might be able to capture the varied colors of the sky as it set over the Columbia Gorge, a sight that anyone who has ever driven to the west side of the state has likely experienced. Ah, but the weather defeated me. Too much overcast, too little sunlight.

We had traveled the 120 or so miles from Spokane to the Sagecliffe Resort & Spa, which sits adjacent to the Cave B Estate Winery, a few miles from the town of George and fairly close to the popular Gorge Amphitheatre.

It wasn’t our first stay there. We’d driven over a couple of years ago to celebrate our anniversary in the midst of the pandemic. We stayed in the lodge, and I remember that we both wore masks and that I wiped down everything in our room with alcohol-soaked rags. Covid-19 caution, don’t you know.

The second time, again for our anniversary, we stayed a single night in one of the resort’s “cabins,” each one of which fronts the gorge and is like a miniature resort in and of itself. At least the one we reserved was, complete with a kitchenette and gas-fired fireplace.

This time Mary Pat insisted that we stay in one of the third kind of accommodations that the resort offers: a yurt. But as primitive as that may sound, it was anything but. The large round structure featured a king-size bed set under an immense skylight, both heat and air-conditioning, a small refrigerator, a full bathroom with flush toilet, sink and shower.

And while the internet was spotty, and we could have used some more functional bed-side night lights for reading, the whole set-up was comfortable. And we both ended up sleeping soundly.

I’m sure that was partly because we’d enjoyed a couple of wine flights at the winery in the afternoon, plus a glass or two more when we had dinner at the resort’s restaurant, Tendrils. (My bow-tie pasta was delicious.)

The only thing missing: the magenta rays of a setting sun. That, though, is the price we pay for living in the Northwest, particularly in the fall.

Whatever. We can always return. In the meantime, we’ll always have Canggu.

Dan Webster
Dan Webster has filled a number of positions at The Spokesman-Review from 1981 to 2009. He started as a sportswriter, was a sports desk copy chief at the Spokane Chronicle for two years, served as assistant features editor and, beginning in 1984, worked at several jobs at once: books editor, columnist, film reviewer and award-winning features writer. In 2003, he created one of the newspaper's first blogs, "Movies & More." He continues to write for The Spokesman-Review's Web site,, and he both reviews movies for Spokane Public Radio and serves as co-host of the radio station's popular movie-discussion show "Movies 101."