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News / Clark County News

Press Talk: Let’s visit El Paso. Not!

By Lou Brancaccio
Published: June 4, 2022, 6:00am

With vandalism, burglary, murder, mayhem, pestilence, the apocalypse and Donald Trump all closing in on us, it’s pretty easy to forget the good things.

Like Vancouver summers.

I still remember visiting Washington in July 1987 while on a 50-state work assignment for USA Today. I lived in Florida at the time. After the six-month trip concluded, I’d always be asked “best of” questions. When it came to weather the answer was easy. The Pacific Northwest’s weather is the best.

Now quantifying “best” is difficult, but I was pretty confident. That’s why I was somewhat startled (and I’m not easily startled after living through so much stupid stuff) when I came across a study titled “Best Places to Visit in Summer” completed by WalletHub. And the study concluded that Vancouver — along with Portland and Hillsboro, Ore. — ranked 76th out of 100.

Oh my!

WalletHub is a personal finance website that commissions a bunch of studies. They grind a lot of statistics and expert opinions into their reports. For example, in this study they looked at travel costs and hassles, local costs, attractions, weather, activities and safety. They concentrated on cost and convenience of traveling and its affordability.

But hold on just one second. My analytical brain can wrap itself around the importance of affordability, but when you’re talking about summer travel, the weather has to be — needs to be — the big dog in the argument.

So, for example, when I saw that WalletHub ranked El Paso, Texas 21st, I spit up a little bit of the orange juice I was drinking. El Paso? I remember working for Gannett — a newspaper chain with about 100 papers under its wing — and anytime anyone did something stupid the bosses would pull them aside and say “How’d you like to be transferred to El Paso?”

No kidding!

• • •

A decade after that cross-country work assignment I mentioned, I had the good fortune of landing my dream job at The Columbian. One of the first things a staffer mentioned to me was how few people living here take summer vacations to someplace else. He admitted the weather in Vancouver is miserable eight months of the year. But when summer comes, it goes from worst to first.

And he was right.

I mean, summers are simply scrumptious. For me, if I wasn’t playing bocce ball in the backyard, or picking wild blackberries, I was just sitting on the deck watching my peach tree blossom. And, oh, those peaches! I grew the tree from seed — this is not normal — and 11 years later … scrumptious fruit. (I don’t say “scrumptious” enough.)

• • •

But look, I didn’t want to be the only one blathering on about Vancouver summers. So I asked Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle for her view.

The mayor wasn’t too impressed with the WalletHub study’s methodology or results. And she offered what I thought was a great response:

“Free concert series, local craft vendors, movie nights under the stars and fun runs are all part of Vancouver’s summertime joys. All of that spring rain provides cool fantastic opportunities to connect with neighbors and celebrate cultural festivals on our Waterfront.”

Not bad, madam mayor. And I might add with Portland next door you get everything a big city has to offer without having to live in that nuthouse.

So here’s hoping everyone gets outside to enjoy another wonderful summer on the horizon!

(And really? El Paso?)