Contributing writer to Travelink Publishing
Our map showed Long Beach Peninsula in Washington State sticking out mysteriously from the west coast like a letter "L". It was unknown territory to us, just above Oregon on the north side of the Columbia River. But we followed the setting sun down the short foot of the "L" to arrive in the tidy village of Seaview, and easily spotted the Shelburne Country Inn on the main street.
A friendly staff greeted us into the capacious, beam-ceilinged lobby, where a table of help-yourself beverages sat by the overstuffed sofa in front of a log fire. Flowers and candles posed expectantly on the huge wooden table where breakfast would be served. In the corner lay games, puzzles and a collection of mystery novels, and everywhere was a stunning array of artwork paintings, carvings, and pottery. We could feel the tension flowing out of our bodies.
"Have a look at the rooms," said innkeeper Laurie Anderson. So we poked around the hallways, peering over the fat velvet ropes hooked across each open doorway. Rooms brimmed with antiques, stained glass, quilts and duvets, oriental rugs, claw-foot tubs, chandeliers, wallpaper and art everywhere! A couple of attic rooms even had cosy cubbie-beds for children under the eaves.
We settled into No. 17 actually a suite, with its own sitting room opening onto a private garden patio. A basket of fruit and freshly-baked cookies sat on the table. The huge mirrored armoire in our bedroom reflected a museum-quality totem pole just outside our window. We found books and magazines but no raucous TV set to disturb the tranquility!
Dinner presented only one problem: should we eat at the Shoalwater Restaurant, or the Heron & Beaver Pub/Café? Both places are located at the inn, and both have earned prestigious accolades for 20 years under owners Ann and Tony Kischner. We opted for the Heron & Beaver, with its lighter menu. Fresh local ingredients were evident in my delicious spinach lasagne with its wild mushrooms and chevre cheese.
"Happy anniversary!" said Garry as he dug into his pan-fried Willapa Bay Oysters. We toasted each other in a sweet-cider wassail mulled with an intriguing blend of spices.
Innkeepers David Campiche and Laurie Anderson have owned The Shelburne since 1977. We quizzed them about the place.
"One third of the building is the original inn which has provided beds and food since 1896," they said. "Originally located across the street, this structure was pulled to its present site by horses in the early part of the century, and joined to a large existing house." The owners have enclosed the old veranda with art nouveau stained glass windows rescued from a demolished church in England.
Breakfast is serious business at The Shelburne. David and his chef prepare a menu of five gourmet selections whether there are four guests or 40. The menu changes each day, depending on what local products are available. Mushrooms are Davids specialty (he uses 20 different kinds at the Inn) and as he reverently pours a sauce from hedgehog mushrooms over our omelettes, we ask for his suggestions about what to do today.
There are lots of options. Our fellow guests decide to golf. We drive the 20-plus miles to the north end of the peninsula, stopping at historic oystering villages along the way. We bring along the binoculars for birdwatching, and hike across to the beach on the west side.
This broad, sandy beach stretches the whole length of the peninsula, constantly pounded by thunderous surf. It accommodates walkers, drivers, clam diggers, horseback riders, kite flyers, bird watchers, surf fishers, beachcombers, and folks just out to enjoy some sun and scenery. The tidy towns along the way provide for the needs of those visitors.
And nobody does it better than The Shelburne Country Inn.
How to get to The Shelburne Country Inn
From the north: Take exit number 104 from Interstate 5 to Highway 8 west. At Montesano, go west on Highway 107 for eight miles and join Highway 101 going south. This will take you directly to Seaview. Turn right at Pacific Way, and look for the inn a couple of blocks down on your left.
The Shelburne Country Inn
4415 Pacific Way, PO Box 250
Seaview, WA 98644
Phone: 1-800-INN-1896 or (360) 642-2442
Fax: (360) 642-8904
Web site: www.theshelburneinn.com