By BEN MITCHELL
Vernazza, Italy. Koh Phangan, Thailand. Constantia, South Africa. Waiheke, New Zealand. The White Salmon River, United States of America.
What do all of these places have in common? They are all on The New York Times' "The 46 Places to Go in 2013:"a list published last Friday that notes the must-see travel destinations in countries all over the world.
The White Salmon River came in at Number 13 on the list, in between Number 12: Montenegro ("A Balkan gem that's small, spectacular -- and cheap," a writer for The Times crowed), and Number 14: Hvar, Croatia ("Explore the quieter side of a jet-setter's haven," said another writer). The Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro -- set to host soccer's World Cup in 2014 and the next Summer Olympics in 2016 -- came in at Number 1.
Bonnie Tsui, a freelance author who lives in San Francisco, wrote the entry about the White Salmon River, which she billed in her brief article as "a white-water paddler's dream come true," due to the completion of Condit Dam demolition work last fall. Tsui did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Enterprise.
The White Salmon River is one of seven destinations listed in the United States, including the Adirondack Mountains, N.Y.; The Big Island (Hawaii), Hawaii; Houston, Texas (an entry that has predictably drawn some scathing criticism from commenters on The Times' Web site); Washington, D.C.; and Jackson Hole, Wyo. Besides the natural splendor of the White Salmon River, the skiing at Red Mountain Resort in Rossland, British Columbia was the list's only other entry to represent the Pacific Northwest.
The list has created quite the buzz in White Salmon in the week since its publication. The article has wound up on the Facebook pages of Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Husum whitewater rafting company Wet Planet (which was given a brief mention in the article), the Mt. Adams Chamber of Commerce, and likely many more.
Avery Pickard, executive director of the Mt. Adams Chamber of Commerce, said that the organization is "extremely excited" about the river being recognized by one of the largest news organizations in the U.S.
"We're on the list, on the map, and very proud of our rushing White Salmon River," she said.
However, this isn't the first time that the White Salmon area has been touted as a destination by The Times. The newspaper ran an article back in 2006 about how home values were rising around White Salmon due to gentrification from "a growing number of second-home buyers and retirees."
White Salmon Mayor David Poucher said he has had several people mention the article to him and hopes it will attract people from all over the world to live and spend money in the community.
"I think it's just awesome," Poucher gushed. "This is an opportunity. We're gonna get people [to come here]."
Poucher said he was initially shocked at the White Salmon River's accolade, but that it served as a reminder to him about how special this area truly is.
"We live here," he explained, "so we don't see all the incredible things we have."