Story by Kellie Ann Benz
As travel guides go, “Olympic Peninsula” delivers more than most. In fact, the book’s back page slogan ‘The Cure for the Common Trip’ says it all. Written by a native of the Washington Coast who is as equally knowledgeable as he is passionate, the small but information packed book is a must-have for anyone wishing to know the nooks and crannies that make up the Olympic Peninsula. Author Jeff Burlingame gives readers an insider’s perspective, deftly intertwining his own experience with local lore. He gives the readers tips on weather restrictions and strategies for getting to — and enjoying — some of the area’s modern pop-cult locations like the “Twilight” town of Forks or Aberdeen’s Kurt Cobain Memorial Park.
The book, which is in its second edition, breaks down the vastness of the Peninsula into travel-able sections, for visitors and residents alike to be able to map out their plans. Burlingame gets into detail on the Kitsap Peninsula and Hood Canal, Port Angeles and the Northern Peninsula and the Hoh Rain Forest and Washington’s coast from Queets and Quinault to Long Beach.
Guiding the reader toward what to expect when here, he devotes time to the landscape, plants, animals, government, people and culture. He also ensures that visitors pack right with a thorough list of the variety of accommodations and expectations of transportation in the region.
The book offers options for a wide selection of interests, with chapters like “Three-day weekend with kids,” “Best hikes,” “Best Campgrounds,” and “Wine Time.” The book is an all-around guide, small enough to slip into a backpack, yet thorough enough to guide you toward food if you get lost anywhere on the Peninsula.
Here’s a taste of Burlingame’s casual, yet informative style as he describes how Aberdeen keeps the memory of Kurt Cobain alive; “There is a small memorial park adjacent to the (Young Street) bridge, and the city’s eastern entrance greets visitors with a large sign that reads, “Welcome to Aberdeen: Come As You Are”, in honor of one of Nirvana’s biggest hits. Other bands from the Grays Harbor area have had international success, too, albeit none on the scale of Nirvana.”
Excerpt from “Olympic peninsula”
… This is a place where the calendar might say summer has already begun, but the weather is overcast and drizzly. Rain is part of the region’s charm — as well as the reason it’s so beautiful in the first place. Locals hardly seem affected by it, beginning their days with layers of clothes and peeling them off (and adding them back again) as the weather calls for. Smart visitors will do the same.
The Olympic Peninsula is also constantly evolving. It’s a blue-collar area with first-class natural amenities, including fish and timber, that provide jobs of all sorts. Today, it’s just as common for the peninsula’s residents to promote these same resources in the name of tourism. The city of Forks, once known as the “Logging Capital of the World,” became the Twilight capital of the world after Stephenie Meyer set her best-selling books there. As the Twilight fad fades, Forks again searches for a new identity. Just as the rains and rivers have carved the land, the area’s peoples are carving its history. I consider both the people and the testaments to how special this place is, and one visit (hopefully with good weather) is all the evidence you’ll need to agree.