is Oak Harbor?
the old bumper sticker, "Where the heck is Oak Harbor?"
(It wasn't 'heck' but this is a family publication.) The
last time I remember seeing one was on a car in a ferry
line in England, of all places.
of bumper stickers, we don't seem to see as many as we used
to. Maybe people with new cars don't want to mess up their
shininess with sticky banners. Except, of course, at election
time. You can still see a few Clinton-Gore stickers, and
even a Nixon-Agnew, on an old beater around town.
of my favorites is one I saw on the freeway in Seattle:
"So many men, so few who can afford me."
one a woman friend of mind had, not on her car but on her
desk at work: "Of course I don't look busy, I did it
right the first time."
for my lament.
travel articles about Whidbey Island that I've had the misfortune
to read, from the East Coast to Seattle and the Deep South
to California, all seem to skip Oak Harbor. They start out
with a ferry ride to Clinton, stop for lunch in Langley,
meander on through Freeland and Greenbank, then maybe have
a picnic at Fort Casey or take a walk through old, historic
and then you'll find San de Fuca mentioned, but not often,
and only because of the Captain Whidbey and Penn Cove Mussels.
Coupeville, visitors get back into their vehicles and head
north . . . to Deception Pass! What happened to Oak Harbor?
It might be mentioned in some articles that Navy planes
fly in and out of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. But
for the people who live on North Whidbey, it's as if we
know Oak Harbor is the largest city on Whidbey Island, but
as far as travelers go, it's nowhere. They could at least
mention we have a lot of car dealers, the only WalMart on
the Island, North and South 7-11's and Blockbusters, a Big
Kmart and Big 5, besides supermarkets and a zillion fast
foods . . . but the highway just zings right through it
knows . . . or is told by these so-called visitors . . .
that we have a plethora of parks on the Island, both county
and state. Besides Fort Casey there is South Whidbey State
Park (closed in the wintertime) Fort Ebey, Joseph Whidbey
Park at West Beach, and of course the biggie, Deception
Pass State Park.
remember Dorothy Neil telling me one time about a friend
of hers. He lived next door to her on what is now Barrington
Ave., and made his living writing for travel magazines.
He would sit down at his typewriter at home in Oak Harbor,
and write about whatever attraction the travel magazine
of the day wanted. Snoqualmie Falls? "Sure, I can do
it." And he would bat out a thousand words on Snoqualmie
how about a resort somewhere in the state? Lake Quinault?
He collected brochures (the ferry is a great place for brochures)
so he'd find one that applied to whatever he wanted to write
about and just do it. And never had to leave his home in
not saying that all travel writers work that way, but why
not if you can get away with it. And no one at the magazine,
which is published back east, knows 'cause they've never
been there. If they want photos, that's a bit of a problem.
But everyone knows someone who has been there, so borrow
a photo from a friend and give the photographer a credit
line. They love it!
remember reading an article written just after World War
II about the Navy on Whidbey Island. The writer . . . the
article appeared in the Seattle Post Intelligencer in 1945
. . . sat in his car in Langley and wrote the story. He
even admitted it. The dateline was Langley, Washington,
and he said he was sitting in his car watching the airplanes
while he was writing about our great Whidbey Island Naval
still have the article; I think I ran it in Spindrift Magazine
some time ago. He did mention Oak Harbor, but only because
he couldn't get around it, since this is where the Navy
recreates (and that's a nice way to put it!)
Oak Harbor does have a few great things going for it besides
the Navy. It has a talented community playhouse, a growing
community college, an old downtown, a classy marina for
boaters, a country club for golfers, and three yearly festivals
. . . Holland Happening the last of April, St Patrick's
Day, as near to the big day as they can (no parades on Sunday,
this is still a Dutch town), and the 4th of July. They also
feed the homeless, support their kids (we hope) and have
more service organizations than you can shake a stick at.
to top the list, we have one of the best City Beach Parks
in the state, with lots happening there in the spring and
summertime, including Little League games, which I can watch
from my window.
And . . . it doesn't cost anything to park!