Friday, July 4, 2008

From the (n)Evergreen State to British Columbia

Over the past few years, between regularly attending the Portland Open Show and the Ashland Shakespeare Festival, we have come to know Oregon pretty well and admire it greatly for its natural wonders.

However, apart from brief stops at the SeaTac Airport, I know Washington not at all. As a result, I must admit that I was a bit shocked, not at the scenery, but the use of the state’s natural resources.

From Long Beach, just north of the Columbia River, we proceeded northeast on highway 101 along the Willapa Bay toward Olympia and then north on I5 to Bellingham, a drive of about five hours along scenic backroads, or at least what should have been scenic roads. According to our friends Anna Lawson and Rob Astyk, much of the state of Washington is owned by lumber companies who, to a degree control the political process. Along the Willapa it is Weyerhouser. And they clear cut here with an total disregard that I have never seen before. In California and Oregon, companies at least try to mask their clear cuts, here there are no such constraints, it seems. In fact the companies brag about third cut forests.

This is not to say that Washington is not gorgeous, it is. And we all need and want both wood and paper (though most of this lumber gets ground for particle board that gets shipped to Asia), but the rapacity with which resources are harvested here is a shock.


Amid the devastation, these lovely little flowers are the first to grow back

Further on, a pair of reactor stacks added to the initial impression.

Sharon poses here at one of many gorgeous Washington State rest stops with our boon traveling companion, Rosa the chenille pig. Despite the fact that Rosa has no passport, the Canadian authorities readily admitted her just minutes after this shot was taken.

In Bellingham, we shared a lovely evening with Anna and Rob before heading out across the border to Canada.

As many of you know, even though I have lived in the US all but the first five years of my life, I am Canadian born and for a variety of reasons, both personal and political, have come to increasingly value my Canadian heritage. Over the past six years, we have spent a goodly bit of time in Eastern Canada, where I was born. This is my first contact with Western Canada, and thus far I am smitten. Vancouver, with its ethnic diversity, is as much a Pacific rim city as San Francisco, but it has the civility I find so attractive north of the border. I could live here.

This afternoon we spent getting just a taste of Vancouver, in particular we enjoyed the Granville Island Public Market on one of Vancouver’s many islands.
We had a late lunch there, got some traveling money, wandered the shops and market and bought a French baguette, Greek style olives, Canadian and French cheeses, Hungarian sausage for one of our favorite casual meals when we need some downtime when traveling, a hotel room picnic.

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