Some on Camano Island appreciate staying lost

Poor Camano Island is just a belly of its former self.

Thomas Guide books only show the center of the Island. Good luck if you need to find a street on the south end, because they all have cutesy names such as Sundance Lane, Dragon Drive, Whale Way or Pebble Beach Road.

Firefighters must love rushing to chimney fires, what with no numbered rhyme or reason to the schematic.

As a reporter, I travel with a Thomas Guide in my 1993 Toyota Corolla press car with 191,000 miles on the odometer. (It didn’t qualify as a clunker because it gets 25 miles per gallon).

When and if I get lost on Camano, my 2009 Thomas Guide, is no help. It only shows the gut and a couple of Camano Island ribs.

Brace yourself, Whidbey Island.

There is no Whidbey Island.

On the Camano Cliff’s-Notes version, it doesn’t show where I lived for seven years at Utsalady Point Road. There is no Arrowhead Beach Road where we spent summers in the family cabin.

There is a depiction of the Island at MapQuest, but that doesn’t help when you are on the road with no computer. And MapQuest won’t pop up directions about how to get to my folks’ place mid Island or where to find Elger Bay Store at the south end.

Here at The Herald, we are discouraged from printing the word “sucks,” as in how something operates. But if I was able to, I would use that word to clearly describe results one gets when using MapQuest to find a garage sale in Granite Falls.

There is a company, Totem Publications, that sells Island County maps. They have a pretty good map to hand out at the Camano Island Chamber of Commerce.

“It doesn’t have every street on it,” said Karen Daum, director of tourism and operations. “But it gets people around the island.”

One man doesn’t want Camano featured on maps. Roy Lesher said the island can’t sustain more development.

“I guess I have to laugh a bit and wonder what part they’re listing and what part they want to omit,” Lesher said. “The truth is that we do not need a tourist industry here on Camano Island. We have a few small B&B’s and the nearest motel is in Mount Vernon or Arlington.”

He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and said he would love to make more money for island businesses, but the environment will not support more intensive development.

Island County Commissioner John Dean said being off a map has a silver lining for Camano.

“Back in the days when people around Stanwood-Camano were looking for a little spark to their sluggish 1980’s economy, and chambers of commerce struggled to find ways to put us on the map, Camano was touted as ‘the island you can drive to’,” Dean said. “Now we’ve become the Island you can drive to down a crowded two-lane state highway of bumper-to-bumper traffic at 7 in the morning.”

Maybe it’s not such a bad thing to be left off a map every once in awhile, he added.

Asking about the lack of maps, I reached Mary Lehman at Rand McNally, the publisher of Thomas Guides.

They apologized.

“Thank you for contacting Rand McNally. Unfortunately we do not have an Island County Thomas Guide. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Your loyalty to Rand McNally is sincerely appreciated. Kind regards.”

I refuse to be inconvenienced, but the next reporter planning a trip to Deer Run Road at the south end of Camano may have trouble getting there. On a dusty Herald map shelf, I found a 1998 “King of the Road” map that shows the Island top to bottom.

It’s going in my press rig.

Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451, oharran@heraldnet.com.

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