Imagine palm trees, saguaro cactus and blooming geraniums, petunias and pansies. Imagine warm pools, chirping birds and people sporting shorts, sandals and T-shirts. The skies are blue and temperatures are warm, sometimes hot. People play golf and tennis. They hike and bike. And snap up tickets to cheer the Seattle Mariners during spring training.
In the delightful Travel Channel series "Great Hotels," hostess Samantha Brown takes us on sometimes quirky tours of the nation's best places. She'd no doubt like the Willows Lodge in Woodinville, Wash. She'd run her hands over the slate tables in the guest rooms — rescued from old pool tables complete with holes from the ball pockets. She'd purr about the 120-year-old planks recycled from a demolished Port of Portland building, gush about the computer for guests to check e-mail and snuggle in the plush terry robes. She'd bark at Gus, the lodge's "guest service hound." Rescued from the pound, the aging and gentle dog spends his days stretched out in a corner of the lobby waiting for pets.
The Olympic Peninsula might be best known for its rugged coast, dense rain forests and soaring mountains, but the scenic wonder also holds more civilized charms. Of the 35 wineries located in the Puget Sound region, six stretch from Port Townsend to Port Angeles. Both cities are also home to romantic bed-and-breakfast inns. We'll stick to the scene around Port Angeles this time. Camaraderie Cellars comes highly recommended by nearby innkeepers. The winery, which produces only about 1,000 cases annually, focuses on red and white Bordeaux grape varieties. Its goal is to make full-flavored wines to complement food.
If you want to watch strange, costumed characters take a crack at flying strange, garish contraptions, this event is for you. It's called a "Flugtag" — pronounced floog-tog. That means "flying day" in German. The spectacle looks more like an excuse to party hearty and laugh. This European-bred event, launched in 1991 in Austria, is coming to Portland on July 31 as part of a three-city U.S. tour.
Thanks to two-buck-plus gas prices, that driving vacation to the Grand Canyon may not be looking so good now. But Washington's Grant County holds many grand canyons and it's only a tank of gas away. The county, named after President Ulysses S. Grant, traces its natural features back to an Ice Age flood. Some 15,000 years ago, glacial Lake Missoula covered most of western Montana until breaking its 2,000-foot-tall ice dam. The monstrous rushing waters carved out Eastern Washington's scablands and created Grand Coulee, Dry Falls and Drumheller Channels. Grand Coulee stretches out 50 miles from Grand Coulee Dam to Soap Lake, extends 2 to 5 miles wide and drops down 1,000 feet.
SOME PEOPLE EXPRESS patriotism by flying the stars and stripes. Some literally wear it on their sleeve with red, white and blue shirts. Greg Flibbert collects military memorabilia, particularly flight jackets from World War II.
DESERT CANYON GOLF COURSE ranks as one of the best golf outings in Washington state. Indeed, Golf Digest pins a 4 1/2 -star rating on the Orondo course, tying several West Side courses for the top mark in the state. (Both Indian Canyon and MeadowWood come in just a half star behind.) Today, Desert Canyon boasts the sparking new Lodge at Desert Canyon Resort, a 21-suite lodge with big-screen TVs, granite countertops, full kitchens, balconies and fireplaces.
In his new book, "After Sunday: A Theology of Work," Armand Larive argues that the work world has strong religious connections often ignored by organized religion. He blames that lack of understanding on the church's focus on Sundays and institutional needs. He'll read from that book on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Auntie's Bookstore, Main and Washington in downtown Spokane.
The Halloween trick-or-treaters got fooled. And wowed. From the street, this historic Rockwood neighborhood home looks like a sprawling mansion on spacious and attractive grounds. While the house lists a Rockwood Boulevard address, the building stretches out along Garfield. That was enough to bamboozle two young boys in costume years ago — a story which homeowners Jerry and Linda Key enjoy recounting.