After our Spokane goodbyes we headed north for the town of Republic via US Hwy 395 toward Kettle Falls Washington where we’d again pick up US 2. This is where the Kettle River flows into the mighty Columbia which is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest. Having lots of time we decided to investigate the Kettle for a while so stayed with 395N which follows the river all the way to Canada. Not wanting to go that far we crossed the river at Orient onto Orient Cut Off then south on Pierre Lake Rd and back down to Lake Roosevelt created by the Columbia River’s Grand Coulee Dam 144 miles downstream! It is a pretty drive on mostly good dirt roads.
Heading west on US 2 over Sherman Pass we got into Republic in time for a late lunch at the Knotty Pine (very good bacon cheeseburger) and a visit at the Stonerose Interpretive Center and Eocene Fossil Site. Turns out right here in town there’s an extensive plant and insect fossil site dating from about 50 million years ago. For a small fee we’re all invited to come look for them, and even keep up to 3 finds! We didn’t know about this interesting fact and consequently did not allow time to go digging….but I will if we ever get back this way 🙂
The next morning we continued on State 20W through big hills/mountains covered with dry grass towards Tonasket where we started seeing orchards of apples, pears and cherries. We cut back into the hills to look at the countryside and orchards.
On Pine Creek Road we drove past a place completely surrounded by high, screened fencing with cameras posted everywhere….HOLY COW IT’S DOPE!!… Yup, this is Washington State and it’s LEGAL cannabis! Welcome to Empire Experience, marijuana growers! And yes, it certainly is a bit of a shock to folks who grow up in the 60’s, but we couldn’t help laughing!!
We spent the next few days at the nice enough Pine Near RV Park (a really easy walk into town) in Winthrop which is a touristy town, but cute enough and GOOD home-made ice cream….have you noticed a theme with me yet 🙂
With Winthrop as home base, we drove out beautiful 20W, put this road on your MVL (Must Visit List), into the Okanogan National Forest. This route takes you by the Washington Pass Overlook where a short walk goes out to a wonderful view of the mountains, and the road you’ve just ascended.
Further west at the edge of Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and Ross Lake National Recreation Area, where we turned around for the day, the view over Ross Lake looking into the North Cascade Mountains is just fabulous, and with more glaciers than at Glacier National Park!
On the return trip we had to stopped for a short hike in the woods at Happy Creek Trail….I mean with a name like that 🙂
Continuing on our trip west we back tracked a bit and picked up St. Rt. 153S through the Methow Valley along the Methow River down to where it joins the Columbia and we picked up 97S. Lots more orchards and grapes growing, at least until we got on US 2 west and back into the mountains of the Wenatchee National Forest. From Coles Corner we wandered up 207N to pretty Lake Wenatchee where we drove out lovely NF65 (National Forest road) which while paved allowed for no errors.
Back tracking again, we camped at Icicle River RV just outside of Leavenworth, which is a tourist town I salute. Seems back in the early 1960’s this struggling logging town decided to do something to save itself and formed a committee, Project LIFE (Leavenworth Improvement For Everyone). Looking at their lovely alpine mountain location and taking a cue from a California town which had “gone Danish” they became Bavarian! New fronts went onto buildings, Bavarian artwork, food, festivals and crafts were produced and promoted and they are now doing just fine thank you! Pretty clever I think 🙂
The next morning we drove on out US 2W, by the way also put this road on your MVL, to visit Deception Falls and walk the loop trail. Not only is it really beautiful, but the parts of the trail that had steps were designed by someone who actually placed them at the correct height and stride, very rare!
After this we drove almost to the town of Index where we stopped to hike the Bridal Veil Falls trail. Turns out it was a good bit further and up than we thought so although we never quite made the falls we had a gorgeous walk in the woods!
We took a couple of days to have a nice visit with Marguerite a newly discovered 3rd cousin of Ed’s, in Ellensburg and then headed out for our next blog posting… Mount St. Helens, Coming Soon! 🙂