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Editor's Column

"It's happened again. A writer for a major publication has come to Whidbey Island and barely wasted a sentence on Oak Harbor.This time it's a story penned by Sergio Ortiz, published last Sunday in the Los Angeles Times travel section. The headline: Eyeful of an island. The subhead: Immersed in nature's bounty - seafood, gardens, ocean views - on Whidbey, an oasis of civilized serenity almost within sight of Seattle.Anyone who has lived on Whidbey for a few years has seen this story before. A wandering writer makes his or her way to the island, usually on the Clinton ferry by way of Seattle. They interact with the locals, soak in the scenery, then go home to the big city and rhapsodize about it for $1 a word.There's a couple thousand words in Mr. Ortiz's piece. He got a week's worth of rest in four days on Whidbey, he writes, and those days were spent mostly at the Inn at Langley. Mr. Ortiz liked Langley a lot: While the village may seem too bijou at first glance, it oozes character. When the light is just right, Langley could be an Edward Hopper painting come to life.I don't know what too bijou means. For that matter, I'm having a hard time visualizing an Edward Hopper painting. But then I'm from Oak Harbor.After hobnobbing in Langley and getting adjusted to island time, Mr. Ortiz turns his rental car north. He visits - in this order, it would seem - Freeland, Meerkerk Gardens, Useless Bay, Bush Point, Fort Casey, Coupeville (A small, working-class town with a sense of the authentic and no hint of the pretentious. Welcome to the working-class world, doctors of Coupeville.), the Captain Whidbey Inn, Deception Pass and back south to Jack Metcalf's bed and breakfast.It's not clear if Mr. Ortiz drove through or around Oak Harbor. It is clear, however, that he didn't spend any time here. Here's the sum total of what he writes:A few miles south of Deception lies Oak Harbor, Whidbey's largest town, with 20,000 residents, a hospital, malls and a computer-assembly plant. The town is also home to the naval air station, and many residents are retired Navy personnel.Hospital? I assume Mr. Ortiz is referring to the hospital in Coupeville, though he might mean the Navy hospital. Computer-assembly plant? I'm sure many local residents would like to get jobs at this plant, if it actually existed. Perhaps he's referring to Logos (computer software) or Upchurch Scientific (science hardware). Neither assembles computers, though.The burger joints along Highway 20 in Oak Harbor look like lily pads in a Monet painting when the light is slanting just so, Mr. Ortiz writes.Actually, I made that up. Mr. Ortiz says nothing about Oak Harbor's beauty.Which is my point. I'm looking out my office window toward the Oak Harbor waterfront as I write this column. By any measure - Matisse, Renoir, blah blah - it's a knockout beautiful view. There ain't nothing exactly like it anywhere else in the world.These right-brained travel-writer types are going to keep missing Oak Harbor's beauty - its waterfront - until we put it in a frame that catches their attention.What are we waiting for?"

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