Scouting Report 2007

Susan Seubert

We asked 10 people who explore for a living to reveal the places they've recently "discovered"--in other words, the best places you've never heard of (and, frankly, neither had we). Go now, before the rest of the world catches up.

Pancho Doll: Author of four Day Trips with a Splash guidebooks. His fifth, on the Northwest U.S., will come out this spring (

Pancho Doll is a swimming-hole explorer, averaging 24,000 miles every 12 months, all while living in his '95 Toyota Tacoma and chatting up locals to get the scoop. His favorite recent discovery is Estacada, Ore., an old logging town about an hour's drive southeast of Portland on State Route 224.

"I was there looking for swimming holes along the Clackamas River and its tributaries," says Doll. "Great results, too. There are no fewer than six spots to jump into clear, cool Cascade runoff, plus a hot spring." The town itself has two main relics from its boom days: a larger-than-life logger carved from a tree trunk and Hong's Chinese Restaurant & Lounge. Previously known as the Safari Club, the place is a roadhouse with taxidermy all over--tigers in the front window, a family of jaguars in a corner--but from what Doll gathered, the wildlife really comes out on weekends. The lounge's sign is supposed to read BAND EVERY WEEK, but the N fell off and the owners never replaced it. Doll also recalls a coffeehouse, The Grind, that had free Wi-Fi--no small thing when you spend half the year in your pickup truck.

How to get there: Hong's, 116 SE Fourth Ave., 503/630-3208; The Grind, 105 SW Hwy. 224, 503/630-7700.

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