New guide explores the funny side of Vashon

Greg Wessel - File Photo
Greg Wessel
— image credit: File Photo

Just as Vashon is set in the national spotlight with a travel feature in the New York Times, a well-known Islander has released a new book to help both locals and tourists explore the Island — or at least have a few laughs.

Greg Wessel’s new book, “A Rough-Hewn Guide to Vashon and Maury Islands, Washington,” is available now at Island stores and online.

The 160-page book takes a tongue-in-cheek look at every aspect of the Island, from its climate and ecology to its military history, its UFO sightings and the antics of the community council. As the first-ever travel guide to Vashon, the book also has recommendations for places to eat, visit and have fun.

The book is full of actual facts and valuable information that only an Islander could give; at the same time it’s riddled with humor, personal stories and life lessons from the author.

“I wanted to make it a comfortable read and not just a list of restaurants and places to take the kids or where to go for a hike,” he said. “I wanted to wrap it all up in a funny way.”

Wessel, a well-traveled geologist who now works for the county’s Department of Development and Envir-onmental Services, has lived on Vashon with his family for about eight years. In that time, Wessel said, his job has taken him all over the Island, he’s gotten involved in the art scene showing his block prints — some of them Vashon-themed — and he claims he became an honorary Vashon native when he totaled his car hitting a deer.

“That’s an automatic native,” he said.

Well-spoken and sarcastic, Wessel said he took up humor writing later in life as a hobby. After writing several columns for The Beachcomber, as well as becoming a regular writer for the Church of Great Rain, he decided he had enough ammunition for a whole book.

“I don’t think it was beer-fueled, but it could have been,” Wessel said with a laugh.

Cindy Hoyt, a comrade from the Church of Great Rain, contributed a chapter about fashion — or lack of — on Vashon. And one of Wessel’s favorite parts of the new book is listing some of the most romantic places on Vashon.

In the chapter, Wessel suggests one could meet an environmentally conscious mate at the recycling center, get free wine for a date at First Friday or get attention by cutting in the ferry line. “You’ll instantly be the subject of a lot of people’s attention,” Wessel writes, “including the rugged and handsome State Trooper and his cute bomb-sniffing dog!”

The self-published book has been well received so far, Wessel said, though it’s just now hitting stores. He sold a couple dozen copies to locals at a book signing in February and said some off-Islanders he knows enjoyed the read.

“They said now they would like to visit,” he said.


“A Rough-Hewn Guide to Vashon and Maury Islands, Washington” is available at the Heron’s Nest, Vashon Bookshop and Giraffe. It can also be purchased online at


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