Most likely all you know of Washington is that it is home to vampires and werewolves, that is somewhere up north next to Canada, that is caught up in a never-ending torrential downpour.
There is something quietly thrilling about exploring a community that defies such misconceptions. There is nothing supernatural or mysterious about Vancouver. However, after spending a little time in the ‘Couve, it becomes quickly obvious that, well, you aren’t in Kansas anymore, Toto.
The lush green surroundings are a relief after being surrounded by 21st century glass-and-concrete monstrosities. And there is certainly no hustling-and-bustling here; people are in no great hurry when they are surrounded by beautiful trails to hike, mountains to climb and ski down, and rivers to boat in. Beacon Rock, originally discovered by Lewis and Clark, is now re-discovered every day by delighted hikers, who are rewarded by a stunning view of mountains and rivers at the peak . On a summer day sitting on the waterfront, the sun glints off the river and a lazy breeze ruffles through the trees — too many species to count. Up and down the coast, beaches like Cannon Beach leave one breathless from the combination of the relentless wind and the panoramic view. Visitors leave swearing that the west coast is the best coast. And despite popular belief and the affectionate nickname Pacific NorthWET, it actually rains less here than it does in Washington DC.
That isn’t to say that Vancouver is entirely overrun by nature. Part of what makes the community unique is its ability to move forward while still staying off the beaten path. In place of pompous museums and lordly skyscrapers, we instead offer the Fort Vancouver National Site, which has historical ties to Lewis and Clark and General Ulysses S. Grant. Impressively, the entire fort remains standing, along with the Officer’s Row buildings. Walking next the sky high walls made from logs certainly puts history into perspective, and exploring an anachronism is both disconcerting and refreshing at once.
Other attractions include the Clark County Fair, farmer’s markets, free concerts, music and recycled art festivals (like the aptly named Couvapalooza), and unique businesses, such as Ice Cream Renaissance, a dessert destination that serves homemade ice cream sculptures. There is, however, one myth that we will gladly own up to – we love our coffee. If you cannot last a day without coffee, fear not. Our local coffee bars, Black Rock and Dutch Bros, and the classic Starbucks, are everywhere. Frankly, it would be unnerving to walk a block without passing somebody with a coffee in hand.
Only ten minutes away, just across the Columbia River, lies Portland, the bike-friendly land of hipsters and Portlandia. Simply the food options – Voodoo Donuts, omnipresent food carts, and innovative restaurants (such as Slappy Cakes) – are enough to attract most tourists already. However, if you’re tougher to please, there are many more options for entertainment. Go run the Portland Marathon, or go to Comic Con, or go watch the Rose Festival Parade, or go get dim sum in Chinatown, or go get some froyo at YoCream, or go shop at 1D World if you’re a fan – Portland is actually one of the few cities that has one.
Between Vancouver and Portland, its younger sibling across the river, there is enough to keep you occupied for a long, long time. And trust me, you will want to stay here forever. Too bad there aren’t any vampires to help you achieve that goal.
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