Photo Of The Day: A Rainy Day In Vancouver, British Columbia

We often think of warm, sunny days as the only optimal time to travel, but sometimes, bad weather gives us a completely different perspective of a new place. Such is the case with this photo from Doug Murray taken during a rainy day in Vancouver, BC.

As any traveler to the Pacific Northwest will tell you, rain is often inevitable, but wet weather is what makes this region beautiful. Plus a good wet day gives you the perfect excuse to check out the local coffee culture.

Traveled in inclement weather? Add your photos to the Gadling Flickr pool to be chosen for the Photo of the Day feature.

[Photo Credit: Doug Murray]

Nighttime ‘Oyster Picnics’ Offer A DIY Taste Of Puget Sound

oystersOyster aficionados and hunter-gatherer types will want to hoof it to Seattle this winter for a moonlight adventure of the briny kind. Fifth-generation, family-owned Taylor Shellfish Farms is hosting its annual “Walrus & Carpenter Picnics” on January 8, and February 7, to support the Puget Sound Restoration Fund.

Taylor is famed for its sustainably-farmed Manila and geoduck clams (click here to read about my ‘duck dig at Taylor’s farm on the Olympic Peninsula), Mediterranean mussels, and four species of oysters. The company has other farms around Puget Sound, as well as a much-lauded restaurant, Xinh’s Clam & Oyster House, at their Shelton location.

The oyster picnics are held at low tide, and inspired by the 1872 Lewis Carroll poem, “The Walrus & The Carpenter (“O Oysters come and walk with us … A pleasant walk, a lovely talk, along the briny beach!”).” Participants depart Seattle on a chartered bus at 6:30 p.m., returning at midnight.

The evening includes DIY gathering and shucking (experienced shuckers are available for those who prefer to keep their extremities intact) of Taylor’s celebrated Olympias, Kumamotos, Pacifics, and Virginicas, which are paired with chilled wines. Chilled participants get to enjoy steaming bowls of Taylor chef Xinh Dwelley’s famous oyster stew prior to departure.

Tickets are $125; reservations required. For more information click here.

[Photo credit: Flickr user zone41]

Sunset Magazine’s ‘Westphoria’ Blog Celebrates The Weirdness Of The Western States

chickenIt’s no secret that the 13 states comprising the Western U.S. are a bit unusual. Enter Westphoria, Sunset magazine’s 4-month-old blog dedicated to celebrating all that’s quirky, kick-ass, and distinct about the Left Coast, Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions. Think retrofitted teardrop campers, chicken “sitters,” bike-powered farmers market smoothies, and, uh, hotel rooms designed to resemble giant bird nests.

For those of you living on the other side of the Continental Divide, Sunset is the nation’s top Western lifestyle magazine, focused on travel, gardening, design, green living, food and the outdoors. Understandably, we’re big fans here at Gadling.

Westphoria is sort of like Sunset’s black sheep little sibling: edgy, on-trend, a smarty-pants with a sweet soul. Categories include themes like “House Crush,” “Made in the West,” “Dream Life,” “Food” and “Wanderlust.” I’m hooked.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Green Garden Girl]

North Cascades National Park Looks To Expand

The North Cascades National Park In WashingtonHidden away in a remote corner of the Pacific Northwest, the North Cascades National Park is amongst the least visited parks in the entire U.S. system. On an annual basis, only about 20,000 people pass through its gates, despite the fact that it contains some of the most breathtaking backcountry in all of North America. There is a movement afoot to expand the park’s borders, however, and if successful, advocates of the plan believe that it could attract many more travelers to the region.

A group of conservationists, led by former U.S. Senator Dan Evans and mountaineer Jim Wickwire, have proposed an expansion to the North Cascades National Park that would add an additional 237,000 acres to its already impressive 500,000+. They also propose spending $23 million over five years to add or upgrade park amenities – something that is a bit of a tough sell with Congress these days.

Proponents of the plan feel that the addition of the extra land would move park boundaries closer to main access roads, giving it a higher profile with travelers passing through the region. It is hoped that the easier access and enhanced amenities would at the very least lure a few more visitors from Seattle, a major metropolitan area, which sits less than three hours away.

There will be major obstacles to the proposal getting the green light. As already mentioned, a looming budget crisis is likely to make the expansion of any national parks very difficult in the near future. In fact, most could be facing significant fiscal shortfalls in 2013 as Congress looks to cut spending across the board. Opposition is also expected to come from outdoor enthusiasts who don’t want to see more lands fall under the National Park Service‘s domain. While the NPS provides excellent protection for those lands they also greatly restrict how they can be used.

No matter the outcome, we’re likely a few years away from having this proposal get any serious attention. Still, if you enjoy hiking, camping or backpacking in remote areas, then you should make an effort to visit the North Cascades. Its snow capped peaks, pristine forests, idyllic waterfalls and more than 300 glaciers make it a fantastic destination for anyone who enjoys the outdoors. Considering how low the visitation numbers are, you’re also likely to have the park mostly to yourself.

Bigfoot Hoax Results In Fatality

Despite the fact that Bigfoot is a well-known pseudo-inhabitant of the Pacific Northwest, a Montana man died Sunday night attempting to create a hoax in Flathead County.

According to CNN, the incident occurred in Northwest Montana when Randy Lee Tenley, attired in a Ghillie suit, walked into “the driving lane” of Highway 93, and was hit by a teenage motorist. A second car managed to miss Tenley, but a third automobile ran over his body.

Tenley’s companions confirm he was “attempting to incite a sighting of Bigfoot – to make people think they had seen a Sasquatch,” said state trooper Jim Schneider. No news on whether or not Tenley was also trying to win a Darwin Award.