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Step back in time with a visit to North Pacific County

Raymond, South Bend and Tokeland are sure to please

Steel Sculpture of a man and his dog at a beach not far from North Cove. Photo credit: Marguerite Cleveland

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Heading along Highway 101 you will know you've arrived in Raymond by all the enchanting steel sculptures of people and wildlife lining the road. Known as the Raymond Wildlife-Heritage Sculpture Corridor, there are now more than 200 sculptures throughout the town. Raymond, South Bend and Tokeland are undergoing a renaissance of late with new businesses and revitalization of iconic structures taking place. You can make a day trip of it, but to truly immerse yourself in the destination, plan to stay overnight.

Get an early start and book a kayak tour with Willapa Paddle Adventures. Owner Baylee Countryman started the company when she was 17 years old to share her love of paddling and the beauty of the Willapa River with her guests. If you have been hesitant to try kayaking because of difficulty getting in and out of a kayak, this is the place to go. The pier has a special dock allowing easy access to the kayak and a stabilizing bar you hold onto as you lower yourself down.

When someone says Carriage Museum, your first thought is probably not "Let's Go!" but it should be. The Northwest Carriage Museum has one of the top collections of 19th-century carriages, buggies, and wagons in the country. Check out coaches used in famous movies such as Gone with the Wind.

Next, head over to South Bend for lunch at Jayden's German Store. Owner and single mom, Joelle Springer, grew up in East Germany before making her way to the U.S. She sells authentic German food products and just recently began offering lunch and a deli. Her food is fabulous. Eat in or go a little further down the road to enjoy at the waterfront park. For those of us who have been stationed in Germany, you will love tasting your favorite German food and finding products you can't get at the commissary.

After lunch, make your way over to the little hamlet of Tokeland where you can spend the night at the oldest hotel in Washington, the historic Tokeland Hotel. Owners Heather Earnhardt and Zac Young, along with their five children, moved from Seattle to take over this local treasure. They have kept the ambiance of the late 19th century intact while freshening up the place with new mattresses and luxury linens. Just be aware this is a boarding house-style hotel with the bathrooms down the hall and no TV or phones. It really is like stepping back in time. The lobby resembles a time capsule, and even the parakeets are in a vintage cage. Music from the 20s, 30s, and 40s play throughout the public rooms adding to the ambiance.

Earnhardt is a renowned Seattle chef and she has brought Southern hospitality and exceptional food to Tokeland. People drive for miles just to enjoy her meals. I was in Heaven after enjoying a hearty bowl of shrimp and grits. Her biscuits and gravy the next morning were the best I've had in Washington. Save room for her delectable desserts. The Hummingbird Cake is so popular, she makes one every day.

Before you head home, make sure to stop at the Tokeland Marina and visit Nelson Crab Inc. where you can enjoy coffee while perusing all the artwork and jewelry from local artisans. They also offer plenty of seafood for purchase, both fresh and canned from the local cannery. If you want to spend more time in the area, the beaches along Highway 105 are beautiful and uncrowded, and are about a 10-minute drive from Tokeland. The beach is perfect for a nice stroll before heading home.

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