La Belle E’poque was a period of Western European history. It is conventionally dated from the mid 1800’s to the early 1900’s. It was a period characterized by optimism, regional peace, economic prosperity and technological, scientific and cultural innovations. It was a period of flourishing arts including literature, music and theatre. It was….The Gilded Age… and nowhere was this more present that the Peninsula!
Day One – Gold is Discovered!
While the gold fields were being discovered in California, another type of gold was being harvested from the shallow bays surrounding the Peninsula. That gold was the bivalve…the oyster. Two men realized their worth and platted the town of Oysterville. Today, you will have the opportunity to meet a direct descendent of one of them, as she guides you through the historic town relating the stories of the glorious past. So what is this thing called an oyster? Meeting the ‘oyster farmer’ in person and seeing him shuck an oyster in a matter of seconds is an art in itself. Taste his ‘crannies’, and hear his story. Your handcrafted lunch is served in the historic schoolhouse and be sure and save room for her delicious sweet surprises! Afternoon visits to a gallery filled with an artist’s renditions of Peninsula life …in water colors…but wait until he tells you the story of his family and their home! The cranberry is a revered berry here, not only because of its crop value today, but because of its history dating back centuries…why they even have a festival in its honor! Ending the first day of the tour will be your dinner prepared by a chef using only the finest and freshest ingredients coming right from the waters and soil of the Peninsula…Bon Appétit!
Day Two – The Clam Shell Railroad
What an unusual name but today you will discover its meaning and the importance of the line. Phrases like “the Daddy Train” will spring to life. A visit to an antique gallery that has made it their mission to collect the relics of the past, uniquely displayed, one could spend days here. Walking along the Pier is an experience in itself. Art galleries, boutique shops, and restaurants dot the waterfront. The historic trolley will be picking you up for your afternoon adventure. It doesn’t matter which direction you look, ‘sticks’ will be poking their heads above the water line…and now you will learn their secrets as told by a costumed historian. Enjoy your lavender tea and scones…and be prepared to be surprised with their handcrafted soaps, lotions and potions! Dinner this evening will be in an historic depot that is over 100 years old…but the chef’s creations are fresh, local and prepared right in front of your eyes.
Day Three – Ships Ahoy
Ships come in all shapes and sizes…and they have been plying these waters for centuries. Today, you will see dugout canoes used by the Native Americans and Lewis and Clark Expedition, schooners that plied the waters carrying the precious cargo between California and the Peninsula, Steamers that brought the passengers from afar and from the cities to the south, and finally to today’s mega ships that ply the Columbia from its mouth southbound. Visit strategic strongholds that protected our coastlines during times of conflict, lighthouses that guided the ships safely into the harbors, and view a Coast Guard rescue vessel that is plying a 10 foot wave! Visit a mansion built by one of the captains that made his fortune by offering his services guiding the ‘tall ships’ safely ‘over the bar’ and into harbors. Visit the ‘jail’ that now details the movies that have been made in the area, and climb the steps to the top of the famous landmark that can be seen for miles. Ending the tour will be the farewell dinner in a private dining room of a historic Inn with its leaded glass windows and crystal chandeliers.