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Compass Washington (Fodor's Compass American Guides) (1998)


Created by local writers and photographers, Compass American Guides are the ultimate insider's guides, providing in-depth coverage of the history, culture and character of America's most spectacular destinations. Covering everything there is to see and do as well as choice lodging and dining, these gorgeous full-color guides are perfect for new and longtime residents as well as vacationers who want a deep ...

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Created by local writers and photographers, Compass American Guides are the ultimate insider's guides, providing in-depth coverage of the history, culture and character of America's most spectacular destinations. Covering everything there is to see and do as well as choice lodging and dining, these gorgeous full-color guides are perfect for new and longtime residents as well as vacationers who want a deep understanding of the region they're visiting.

  • Outstanding color photography, plus a wealth of archival images
  • Topical essays and literary extracts
  • Detailed color maps
  • Great ideas for things to see and do
  • Capsule reviews of hotels and restaurants
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781878867995
  • Publisher: Fodor's Travel Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/7/1998
  • Series: Fodor's COMPASS American Guides Series
  • Edition description: 2nd Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.55 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Read an Excerpt


It all began in the summer of 1975, when one of my paintings was accepted in a competitive art show
in Seattle, and my wife and I decided this was as good an excuse for a vacation as we'd ever come up
with. Seattle was a delight—we took in the sights, rode the monorail from the Seattle Center
downtown, and explored the Pike Place Market before heading out of town to find a campground. We soon
discovered the perfect spot, a small county park on the Stillaguamish River, surrounded by woods that
looked like scenery from Grimm's Fairy Tales, with a jagged, snowcapped peak for a backdrop. The next
day, we drove north to Mount Baker. Even now, 20 years later, there's a spot on the Mount Baker
Highway where I involuntarily take my foot off the gas pedal as the road rounds a turn: the woods open
up and Mount Shuksan, a steep-cliffed, glacier-covered peak rises from a cleft. It's an incredible
sight, especially on a bright day, when the sun strikes the glaciers and the ice of the crevasses
radiates an unearthly blue light. At the end of the road, we found alpine lakes, and ate our fill of
blueberries as we hiked into the backcountry. We were in love. By the time we explored Bellingham the
next day, we had made up our minds. This is where we wanted to live. Twenty years later, I have
explored most of the state, but feel I hardly know it—there's too much to see and to enjoy.

My initial explorations took me to Whidbey Island, settled by Yankee ship captains in the 1850s.
The captains came to Puget Sound for lumber, liked what they saw, and stayed. Whidbey Island has a
uniquelandscape for western Washington, since even in prehistoric times it had little forest, but
many wide open prairies covered with wildflowers in spring. Here grow the blue iris and other
wildflowers rare elsewhere in western Washington. The village of Coupeville, on the waterfront of Penn
Cove, an inlet that almost cuts the island in half, has some of the oldest houses in the state. It is
off the beaten path and has changed little in the last hundred years, as you'll note when you
negotiate the narrow main street.

We explored the San Juan Islands with friends who had boats and took us to secluded beaches and
quiet coves. Here we have fished for salmon, set pots for Dungeness crab, and just come to relax. The
San Juans, like Whidbey Island, lie in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains and are thus drier
and get more sun than other areas of western Washington. That translates into more wildflowers and
birds, making the islands a naturalist's paradise. (Many of the smaller islets are bird sanctuaries.)
Best of all, you don't need a boat of your own to explore them, as you can take a ferry to all of
the larger ones. I sometimes take the ferry just to get away from things. It's a perfect writer's
haven: I snag a window seat, take out the old lap-top computer and hack away, while islands, boats,
seals, and an occasional bald eagle drift by.

It took me longer to start exploring eastern Washington—there was simply too much to see in the
west. But I still remember my first drive to Spokane. I took backroads instead of the Interstate,
crossing the Cascades on Stevens Pass, dropping down past the Wenatchee apple orchards—which were
in fragrant bloom—crossing the Columbia, climbing the switchbacks to the wheat fields of the
Waterville Plateau, and driving for what seemed like endless miles through fields of pale green wheat,
until pine-studded grasslands began to dominate the landscape near Spokane. I returned by way of the
Methow Valley and the North Cascade Highway.

There were several firsts on this trip: The first time I saw the whitewater canyon of the Wenatchee
with its steep sides of glacier-cut rock. The first time I saw the upper canyon of the Columbia River,
which is as spectacular as the more famous gorge separating Oregon and Washington. Seeing it veiled
in morning haze painted golden and pink by the rising sun is an other-earthly experience. So are the
coulees: dry, flat-bottomed Moses Coulee, dotted with wildflowers of the season, and the Grand Coulee,
a chasm of awesome proportions with straight-sided walls cut not by the slow, abrasive action of
glaciers but by the waters of one horrid flood pouring down from the valleys of Montana. Dry Falls, a
basalt ledge several miles wide, still marks the spot where the flood waters tore a gash through the
rocks of the plateau before losing their strength and fanning out into a maze of smaller channels. All
over this land you can see the basalt ledges left behind after the waters cut away the softer rock.
They stand like walls built by men; some look like the broken castles of giants, remnants of the
heroic age of geology. On my way home, I drove across the vast granite shield of the Okanogan
Highlands, with its park-like groves of quaking aspen, and watched hawks soar in the sky.

On other trips I lost myself among the gnarled rocks and dense woods of the northeastern mountains.
I cruised the gentle hills of the Palouse, a magic landscape in late spring and early summer when the
green culms of wheat change to a silky gold. From the Palouse, I have driven south into the
precipitous canyons of the Blue Mountains and crossed the dramatic dryness of the lower Snake River
Valley to the arid canyons of the northern bank, where the Palouse River falls over a basalt ledge in
a tall, roaring waterfall. The state has many waterfalls, some of them high and well-known, like the
Nooksack or Snoqualmie. Countless smaller ones are all but undiscovered, sparkling jewels awaiting the
unsuspecting hiker.

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Table of Contents





Early Settlers and Explorers

Americanization of Washington


Statehood and a New Century        

New Deal Era

World War II and Boeing        

Mount St. Helens Erupts        

High Tech Boom        

Fish and Forests

Today's Pleasures


Ambitious Beginnings

Pioneer Square

Downtown and Central Waterfront

Pike Place Market

The Regrade and Belltown

Lake Union

North of the Ship Canal        

First and Capitol Hills        

University District        

Lake Washington, Eastern Suburbs

West Seattle



Kitsap Peninsula

Northeast Olympic Peninsula        

Olympic National Park

Along the Western Straits

Ozette Lake and

North Olympic Coast

La Push        

Rain Forests        

Grays Harbor

Willapa Bay        

The Columbia

East up the Columbia


Buying Washington Seafood


North Cascades

Snoqualmie Pass        


Skagit River Valley        

Upper Skagit and North Cascades

National Park


Apple, Cheese, Oyster Tour        

Nooksack Valley, Mount Baker

Whidbey Island        

Fidalgo Island        


Lopez Island        

Orcas Island        

San Juan Island        

Shaw and Sucia Islands

Waldron Island        


Lower Puget Sound and

Vashon Island

Nisqually Wildlife Refuge



Mount Rainier


Mount St. Helens


Columbia River Gorge

Eastern Slopes of the Cascades
Up the Columbia River
Lake Chelan        

Methow Valley        

The Okanogan
Grand Coulee Dam
Creston and Wheat Country
Geology and the Columbia Plateau
Pend Oreille, Colville River Valleys


From Roslyn to George
Yakima Valley

Yakima Valley Food and Wine Tour

Horse Heaven Hills

Upper Columbia River Gorge        

Tri Cities

Walla Walla Country

Blue Mountains        

The Palouse        

North of the Palouse



Metric Conversions

Air and Ferry Travel


Accommodations and Restaurants

Festivals and Events


Outdoor Expeditions and Outfitters

Visitor Information        



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