West Of The Rain – click any image for full size
“West Of The Rain,” Oobleck Allagash says of the region, “was originally conceived to be a tribute to the San Juan islands, as a token of love to my partner, Nodnol Jameson, given her respect and admiration for the nature and beauty of the Pacific North-west.”
While I’ve never been to the San Juan Islands, I have spent time looking at photographs from the web, and I have to say that Oobleck and Nodnol have done a superb job in recreating much of the look and feel of the islands, including some notable landmarks.
Visitors begin their journey on the south side of the region, where a quay juts out into the sea, a ferry alongside. Shoreward of this, rising up a gentle slope, are two rows of little shops and boutiques facing one another across a road. The first of these are, respectively, a charming little café and an old bed and breakfast – both perfect for anyone thinking of staying a while. Close by, on a little headland and in an homage to Friday Harbour on the main island, sits a lighthouse.
Follow the road up through the town, passing the parking lot, and it will lead you north and east around the region. Or, if you prefer, you can follow the footpath running past the lighthouse and along the west side of the island. Whichever route you choose, the is a lot to see, be it the beach to the north, or past the steps leading up to the local church to the boat yard, and then onwards from either.
In addition. a footpath winds its way across the middle of the region, taking hikers through woodland, over a bridge and around a small lake to reach the main road once more. It is in the design of the road and footpaths where at least some of the magic of the region lies: they have been laid out in such a way as to give a feeling you’re travelling through a place much bigger and more irregular in form than a 256 metre on a side square of land.
The rest of the magic lies in the natural flow of the land, from little town to rural roads and footpath, from woodland to rocky cliffs and sandy beaches, from boat yard to lake, there is a natural, organic flow to everything here. There’s also a lot of nice little touches, from the rooftop terrace of the café, though the roadside picnic areas to the little cuddle spots dotted around; the care and love put into building the region is clearly evident.
“The entire region is public,” Oobleck says, “and will over time evolve and include installations by friends who we also want to feel a part of the creative process. There will be no commercial activities on the sim, nor do we solicit or ask for contributions. Our goal has always been to make this as pure as possible in every way.”
That’s a noble goal, and having spent a fair amount of time exploring the region on foot – you can grab a bicycle near the arrival point, if that’s your preference – I’d say Nodnol and Oobleck have already succeed in their goal to a good degree, and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how things develop.
Rounded off by a subtle sound scape and offering many opportunities for photography, exploration and relaxing, West Of The Rain makes for a most enjoyable visit.
- West Of The Rain (Rated: Moderate)