At this time of year, many of your clients dream of one last
weekend escape before the creeping chill of winter arrives. The
simple pleasure of driving through oceans of golden yellow, mixed
with reds and oranges, delight the eye and calm the soul.
To enjoy such delights, don’t send your clients to New England,
but rather, its unheralded Western counterpart, Washington State’s
Lewis County and northern Oregon.
In mid to late October, your clients can expect a multi-day
adventure that is full of laughs, intrigue, challenge, old
roadhouses and home-cooked meals. I discovered fruit orchards ripe
for the picking, and quaint restaurants and resorts that you can
pretty much have all to yourself.
Mayfield Lake, one of Washington’s largest freshwater lakes,
covers 2,250 acres with an impressive 33½-mile shoreline. The lake
offers year-round fishing for salmon, yellow perch, cutthroat
trout, rainbow trout and largemouth bass.
Mayfield Resort & Marina provides comfortable accommodations
at Aspen Lodge, located a stone’s throw from the lake. Modern,
motel-style suites offer wide covered decks with sweeping views of
the lake, full kitchens, baths with showers, heating and air
conditioning. Book a stay in the fully furnished “Oar” cabins, each
built for two people. Quaint and nostalgic with old-style wood
furniture, it does not disappoint.
Resident managers George and Amy Penzenik are personable,
extremely helpful and offer a wealth of information on the resort,
boat rentals and lake and local tourism attractions. My advice is
to base your clients here, for easy access to most attractions.
Eagles, geese and blacktail deer were everyday sights for me at the
lodge. During the off-season, clients can expect to have the run of
“We’re crowded to capacity during the summer months,” said George.
“But starting in September through November, we just percolate with
a smattering of tourists.”
Guests at Mayfield Lake Resort can also boat, kayak, swim, fish
and Jet Ski. In mid October, the fall colors were just starting to
“It can continue like this into November,” George said.
The next day, I hung up the fishing rod and traveled to Raintree
Orchards, near Morton. Raintree’s owner, Sam Benowitz, specializes
in carrying some of the best fruit trees and shrubs for Pacific
Northwest climates. We sampled various apples, pears and berries,
and discussed realistic expectations of growing various species as
far north as my home town of Fairbanks, Alaska.
After the walk in the hilly orchards, one works up an appetite,
which brings me to another weekender tip have your clients make
dinner reservations at Mary McCrank’s Restaurant. Owners Gerd and
Jeri Schopp will indulge your clients in the Northwest’s finest
home-cooked food. For 50 years, Mary’s hospitality and home-cooked,
made-from-scratch meals and desserts bring people from as far away
as Seattle and Portland.
The area’s sleeper attraction is the Veterans Memorial Museum. I
went on the advice of a good friend, not expecting much. What I
found was a destination that made me laugh, cry and contemplate on
veterans of past and current wars without the TV newsroom
sensationalism. Tell clients to request a personalized tour from
museum director Lee Grimes, who has a passion for telling the
stories of veterans, from the solider who threw himself on a
grenade and saved his team, and survived, to the displays of items
used in the various U.S. wars. Find it just off Interstate 5 in
For nightlife, McMenamins Olympic Club Hotel & Theater in
Centralia is a must-experience destination. This historic building
offers colorful reminders of countless gamblers’ jackpots, revenuer
raids, dark secrets deeply buried and a famous bandit’s
The hotel’s 27 European-style rooms feature vintage furnishings,
comfy chenille-covered beds and conveniently located common
bathrooms. Packages include lodging for two, free billiards, a
bottle of Edgefield wine and dinner and breakfast in the Olympic
I returned home with salmon, fruit, bottles of wine, seeds and
most of all, recharged mental batteries from having had a few more
days to enjoy the many treasures of a Pacific Northwest autumn.
Lake Mayfield Resort and Marina
Veterans Memorial Museum