I had the chance to meet this morning with John Francis, vice president for research, conservation and exploration at the National Geographic Society.
The South Seattle native is in town to help celebrate the debut of the society’s new Central Cascades geotourism map. The big event is tonight in Seattle.
The map identifies about 200 locations from Mount Rainier to Crater Lake. There were about 1,000 places nominated to appear on the map. Some are expected, such as Paradise Inn, while others are a little off beat. Francis said he had never heard of Joe’s Donuts in Sandy, Ore., but was able to enjoy some doughnuts while staying at Timberline Lodge earlier this week.
Francis said he feels the map will fit well with the Northwest appreciation and sensibility toward the outdoors.
“This is a remarkable region. This map is a first effort to direct tourism with that sensibility, that respect for the land,” Francis said.
It has taken 2 1/2 years to create the map, the eighth in a series by National Geographic.
But the project goes beyond the map. There also is a Web site, that contains far more places.
Not only will the map attract visitors from across the U.S. and the world, I think it will help Northwest residents rediscover the wonders that are at their doorstep.
“How oftend do people think ‘What am I going to do this weekend?’,” Francis said. “This is exactly what people are looking for. They’re looking for a unique experience. Looking at the map, you may find yourself saying, ‘I never thought of that.’ ”
Here is the column I wrote in January about the project: