A Travellerspoint blog

September 2014

Heading East: West Glacier - Butte MT

sunny 26 °C

This was a stint of 350 miles or so. We left the park quite late in the afternoon, planning to stop at Whitefish MT for the night. It was a pretty wee town, with a couple of streets worth of very good looking bars and restaurants where I am sure it would have been fun to hang out and sample the wares of the local brewery. Unfortunately, it was not to be - too many other people had had the same idea and had the foresight to arrive earlier. So, after a fruitless scan of hotels on my phone on some free wifi I stole from one of the bars, we headed south to Kalispell - a more functional but still pleasant enough town. It gave us a good hotel room (although we didn't stay at the very trad looking Kalispell Grand), and thanks to a recommendation from the hotel, a nice dinner in a very old skool seeming Italian restaurant, ScotiBelli's. In the morning, we stumbled into the very busy Colter's Coffee Roasters (thinking it was a bit early to hit the Kalispell brewery next door) and set off.

Main Street, Kalispell MT

Main Street, Kalispell MT

Kalispell Grand Hotel

Kalispell Grand Hotel

Colter Coffee Roasters, Kalispell

Colter Coffee Roasters, Kalispell

A fellow guest at the hotel was trying to get the receptionist to saying that either Bigfork or Whitefish was prettier: she said she couldn't. Since it was only a minor deviation, we headed to the east of the gigantic Flathead Lake to see for ourselves, and then down the eastern side of the lake on a slowish road to Missoula. The town was a bit older and perhaps had a bit less on the boil, but that was made up for (at least) by the wee inlet from the lake and the lake itself.

Barn

Barn

Barn

Barn

Bigfork MT

Bigfork MT

Bigfork MT

Bigfork MT


Bigfork MT

Bigfork MT

Flathead Lake

Flathead Lake

Train in the Woods

Train in the Woods

Train in the Woods

Train in the Woods

The road

The road

Missoula was a bit of a disappointment - I had fond memories of a great bar I had visited last time, but we were there late morning. We took a punt and went out to Fort Missoula, where there are some barracks and training grounds. Our wee automated friend (i.e. the GPS voice in my brother's phone) got us hopelessly lost getting into Missoula proper, trying to tell us that a convenience store or similar was all there was of downtown. We eventually found it, had a very quick walk around, grabbed an enormous lunch at Crackerbarrel and headed for Helena. I even relented enough to take the Interstate.

Fort Missoula

Fort Missoula

Fort Missoula Barracks

Fort Missoula Barracks

I really wish I had done a bit more reading about Helena before we got there, because there is a lot to see - I did enjoy it, but there's more. We were unfortunate enough to get there just as the two coffee shops closed for the day, so had a wander through the central open-mall/pedestrianised street - an odd mix of some quaint shops and brutalist architecture, but with attention paid to street art to make it appealing. There was a fair going on (as has been the case in almost every town we've visited). Off this main street, there are lost of cool old buildings and, of course,a few blocks away, the State Capitol.

Helena Cathedral

Helena Cathedral


Helena Cathedral

Helena Cathedral

Bullwhacker

Bullwhacker

Cigars?

Cigars?

Newspaperman

Newspaperman

Fair, Helena MT

Fair, Helena MT

Downtown Helena MT

Downtown Helena MT

Downtown Helena MT

Downtown Helena MT

Train, Helena MT

Train, Helena MT

Apartments, Helena MT

Apartments, Helena MT

Helena Town Hall

Helena Town Hall

Montana Legislature, Helena

Montana Legislature, Helena

Montana Legislature, Helena

Montana Legislature, Helena

Montana Legislature, Helena

Montana Legislature, Helena

Just on dark, we made it to Butte - my second visit. I first read about it in a book called The Road to McCarthy, in which one of my all time favourite travel writers, the late Pete McCarthy, travelled to various places to trace his Irish roots (he has also inspired me to drive across Tasmania). On St Patricks day, 30,000 descend upon Butte to celebrate (mind you, 50,000 come to celebrate Evil Kneivel day and 170,000 for the folk music festival (according to Wikipedia)!) I then saw it in a Wim Wenders movie, Don't Come Knocking. The blurb for the film has this to say about Butte:

In 1900, Butte, Montana was the biggest city west of the Mississippi. Now it is a place of deep depression. Downtown Butte is a ghost town...

The reason it was the biggest town was copper: it struck it rich - to the tune of $50 billion or so, making it the wealthiest town on earth for decades - and was also processing ores from mines around the USA and Canada (including the one we visited in Kimberley). This made it the "richest hill on earth". With all this money, they built grand brick buildings up on the top of a ridge - most are still there, but their purpose has gone. There is a gigantic open cast mine, but the most substantial mining happening today is extracting dissolved copper from the poisonous water which is slowly filling the pit.

But the ghost town thing seems to be history - there were quite a few signs of regeneration, and the population has stabilised at nearly 35,000. I'd have liked to have spent a couple of days or more to soak up the atmosphere and get some photos, but instead we did our best to see the sights in the last hour of near-daylight we had. There's a hill at one end of town we drove up and had a view for miles around, and we drove in and out many of the streets containing small miner's houses before hitting the uptown historical district.

Across the road from our hotel was the fabulous Uptown Cafe to provide "Civilized Dining in the Wild, Wild West" - one of the flashest meals we had on the whole trip. The same can be said for the hotel, the grand old Finlen - we've been in Motel 6 style rooms with two beds but in this hotel we had separate rooms, and they were extremely well presented. If the motels have provided breakfast, it has mainly been in a wee corner of a small reception area - the Finlen has a proper lobby, and a bar where we hung out and had a couple of rums, along with the three elderly gentlemen who were obviously regulars and the young couple who hardly noticed their surroundings. All in all, it was a great evening for me (my brother had not so good news from home).

Finlen Hotel @ Butte

Finlen Hotel @ Butte

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Posted by NZBarry 20:07 Archived in USA Tagged roadtrip_2014 Comments (0)

Glacier National Park - Going to the Sun Road

sunny 22 °C

When I was in the Pacific Northwest in June 2009, I really wanted to drive the Going to the Sun Road, in Glacier National Park. It is the only road through the Park, and runs roughly east to west, connecting Montana with Idaho, and crossing the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. It was constructed in the 1930's, and is both a National Historic Landmark and a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark (because it basically has to run along and then up and over mountains and back down again). It is fair to say that there is the occasional scenic view. The park itself was first established in 1910, after the railroad had gone past its southern point - to attract people to stay, the railroad company built chalets and lodges throughout the park. It is over a million acres, in the Rockies just before America becomes Canada. Unfortunately for me in 2009, the snow had not quite cleared when I was there (it has been closed by snow as late as mid July, and can then close again in October) so I missed out. Not this time.

We were at East Glacier, which had a very park entry sort of vibe to it, yet we were basically half way between the only two entrances. Although we were heading west after we were done, we decided to go up to West Glacier (where there was an entrance) and go across and back, spending most of the day in the park. There isn't actually very much to be said about our day, as the pictures can tell most of the story.

Going-To-The-Sun Road

Going-To-The-Sun Road


Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road


@ Glacier National Park

@ Glacier National Park

@ Glacier National Park

@ Glacier National Park

@ Glacier National Park

@ Glacier National Park

@ Glacier National Park

@ Glacier National Park

Snow @ Glacier National Park

Snow @ Glacier National Park


Waterfall @ Glacier National Park

Waterfall @ Glacier National Park

Waterfall @ Glacier National Park

Waterfall @ Glacier National Park

Waterfall @ Glacier National Park

Waterfall @ Glacier National Park

When the road was first opened in the 1930's, a fleet of buses was set up to carry people through the park, no doubt from one railway station to another. Because the gears were not so great, the drivers came to be called jammers - that name has now switched to the vehicles themselves, which are still in operation, 80 years later (admittedly, Ford took all the bodies and plonked them on modern chassis and repowered them in 2001). They are now for private tours, but the idea of public transit through the park is still in play today, with a fleet of more modern buses. When we couldn't get a park at one stage, I was tempted to use one.

Jammer @ Glacier National Park

Jammer @ Glacier National Park

Jammer @ Glacier National Park

Jammer @ Glacier National Park

Jammer @ Glacier National Park

Jammer @ Glacier National Park

Jammers @ Glacier National Park

Jammers @ Glacier National Park

We went out the east exit at a place called St Mary, which is on a rather large lake of the same name. In St Mary, we had the worst food experience of the whole trip - there was a posh hotel of some sort and a cafe which seemed to be selling hotdogs to a large number of people on a bus tour. Neither appealed - so we ended up sitting in the "cafe" in the little supermarket - the cafe was a few chairs in one corner with vending machines to make coffee, hotdogs and the like.

St Mary Lake  @ Glacier National Park

St Mary Lake @ Glacier National Park

St Mary Lake  @ Glacier National Park

St Mary Lake @ Glacier National Park

Heading west again, we stopped at Logan Pass and had a wander around. There was a hiking trail, the highline trail, which runs for about 12 miles along the side of the mountain. Heights are not my thing, but I was OK walking this trail while it was carved out of solid rock and had a handrail, but when the trail turned into a bit of a line in the gravel, I couldn't handle it any more. On the way back, we saw the only critters of the entire day.

Continental Divide @ Logan Pass

Continental Divide @ Logan Pass


Highline Trail @ Glacier National Park

Highline Trail @ Glacier National Park

Highline Trail @ Glacier National Park

Highline Trail @ Glacier National Park

Highline Trail @ Glacier National Park

Highline Trail @ Glacier National Park

Highline Trail @ Glacier National Park

Highline Trail @ Glacier National Park

Highline Trail @ Glacier National Park

Highline Trail @ Glacier National Park


Mountain goat @ Glacier National Park

Mountain goat @ Glacier National Park

Mountain goat @ Glacier National Park

Mountain goat @ Glacier National Park

Mountain goats @ Glacier National Park

Mountain goats @ Glacier National Park

Wee animal (weasel?) @ Glacier National Park

Wee animal (weasel?) @ Glacier National Park

Wee animal

Wee animal

Wee animal

Wee animal

Our last stop was where we entered, the Apgar visitor centre, which was on the western end of another large lake, MacDonald. It was very peaceful in there, and after seeing snow and ice, a little bit anomalous to find people on the lake. After an ice cream (served by some extraordinarily friendly Romanians) it was time to go.

Lake McDonald @ Apgar @ Glacier National Park

Lake McDonald @ Apgar @ Glacier National Park

Lake McDonald @ Apgar @ Glacier National Park

Lake McDonald @ Apgar @ Glacier National Park

Lake McDonald @ Apgar @ Glacier National Park

Lake McDonald @ Apgar @ Glacier National Park

Lake McDonald @ Apgar @ Glacier National Park

Lake McDonald @ Apgar @ Glacier National Park

Posted by NZBarry 20:25 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Kimberley BC to East Glacier MT

sunny 27 °C

Again, this could have been an easy drive of 162 miles down a good road, but I had instructions that we had to see a truck and a slip (the latter had me completely befuddled, the former more than a little puzzled) and so we had 260 miles to go, some of it on downright shoddy roads.

I would probably never have heard of Kimberley, let alone visited, had a friend not moved there - her being there was a good enough reason to visit, and we had a good catch up and a sort of degustation menu in a German restaurant which had started life as a Bavarian farmhouse, and was dis-assembled and brought to Kimberley. I normally shy away from degustation menus because (a) I like to know what I am ordering and (b) most seem to involve fussy food that I won't like. The Bavarian Feast was mostly a down to earth meal which I ate happily, except for a salad that may have involved pears, frog nostrils and eye of newt: luckily my companions hoovered it up. All in all, we came close to doing a demolition job on what was a lot of good food.

But it turned out we had quite a good time in Kimberley, apart from the catch up. It is an old mining town where the mine closed and the town has been trying to figure out what to do with itself. It is almost completely surrounded by mountains - in the central area, there is the town centre, which has taken on a sort of German theme, one that later buildings have ignored. But when you stand at one end, it looks quite pretty, and it has the most alarming clock. It is built in the style of a giant cuckoo clock, right in the centre of town. Instead of a cuckoo, however, it has a yodeller who comes out on the hour to do his thing, or whenever puts in a dollar (which we had to do, of course). It must drive the people working nearby barmy - in fact, the sound was turned down for this very reason.

Kimberley BC TC

Kimberley BC TC

Kimberley BC TC

Kimberley BC TC

As you ascend from the centre, there are miners' houses, many not looking so great, and then as you climb higher, that's where the money is - rich people from other towns like Calgary have built these enormous three storey houses as holiday homes. On one side, there is a ski slope, which almost ends in my friend's house (one of the reasons she is there).

The closed mine is largely off-limits, but they have set up a quaint little train to run into one little part of the mine, where there is a reconstruction of a miner's day. Our guide showed us how to set explosives, how to drop a water pick (not an intended part of the demonstration), and how to drive a wee loader-digger thingey.

Mine Entry @ Kimberley Mine

Mine Entry @ Kimberley Mine

Mine Guide @ Kimberley Mine

Mine Guide @ Kimberley Mine

Explosive System @ Kimberley Mine

Explosive System @ Kimberley Mine

Digger Shunter Thingey @ Kimberley Mine

Digger Shunter Thingey @ Kimberley Mine

Safe Room @ Kimberley Mine

Safe Room @ Kimberley Mine

That last room is where the miners would congregate whenever there was a risk of toxic gases in the mine, as they guys did in Chile a few years back for, what, 100 days - we both had Pike River on our mind, wondering if the guys had got into a room like this one, and met their end there. We then went into the powerhouse (it had to compress air for lots of the equipment and provide electricity for the trains) where, when he finally turned up, we had a talk from the former mine manager, who went on to run the whole company. He was pretty impressive (I have no idea how accurate) in what he said about the money spent to clean up after the mine and to provide for the town itself.

Powerhouse @ Kimberley Mine

Powerhouse @ Kimberley Mine

Power Generation @ Kimberley Mine

Power Generation @ Kimberley Mine

Power Generation @ Kimberley Mine

Power Generation @ Kimberley Mine

First IBM product

First IBM product

We all know about IBM and its mainframe, super and personal computers but apparently one of its earliest, if not its first, products was a time clock, for guys to clock in at work - the mine had two of them. Our speaker was most proud of the fact that a lot of the equipment is 100 years old (I think he said the young machine was brought in in 1926) and still functional - he put on a bit of a show, by having a wee boy come over to push the button to get one running.

We had been told about the great sandwiches to be had at Loaf in Fernie, so headed off without lunch to try it out. They may well have great sandwiches, but they obviously don't like Mondays, as they were not open. The museum was - the guy running it was so keen to talk to us, I wondered if we were the first in for the day (I must confess, I eventually ducked around a display cabinet and out the door to avoid him). After a quick snap of the courthouse, I introduced Steve to that Brazillian owned (soon to be Burger King owned) Canadian institution, Tim Hortons. I think he'd have preferred Subway.

Courthouse @ Fernie BC

Courthouse @ Fernie BC

Sparwood is a big mining town, and it is here I got to see the truck - a Terex 33-19 "Titan" built in 1973. It was a prototype but was actually put to work for nearly 20 years. There are two stories as to why it is the only one made: where we saw it, the story was that they had supply chain problems with getting parts to make any more. On Wikipedia, the story is that the bottom dropped out of the coal market, so it was no longer a viable manufacturing proposition. And what is so special about this truck? For 25 years it was the biggest ever made - it had a payload of 320 tonnes. I know people will be very curious to know what exceeded it - eventually two even bigger Terex's were made, and there's a Caterpillar and a Liebherr but the biggest ever, with the ability to carry nearly 500 tonnes, is the Belaz 75710, from Belarus.

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Then it was time for the "slip":

Frank, Alberta

Frank, Alberta

Frank, Alberta

Frank, Alberta

Under those rocks is the town of Frank, Alberta. On 29 April 1903 at 4:10 a.m., when no doubt the inhabitants were sound asleep, the top blew off the Turtle Mountain, and 82 million tonnes of rock piled down the mountain, across a wee valley and crashed into Frank, burying 90 or so people alive. As the pictures show, they are still there. Just down the valley, there is a new town of Frank - not somewhere I'd be too keen to linger.

Carrying on we went through the underwhelming Crowsnest Pass and at Pincher Creek, headed south.

Random Mountain, Alberta

Random Mountain, Alberta

Fields south of Pincher Creek, Alberta

Fields south of Pincher Creek, Alberta

Fields south of Pincher Creek, Alberta

Fields south of Pincher Creek, Alberta

Fields south of Pincher Creek, Alberta

Fields south of Pincher Creek, Alberta

River south of Pincher Creek, Alberta

River south of Pincher Creek, Alberta

We found ourselves on a very narrow road which meandered back and forth in the bush - a most unlikely place for a border crossing, and yet, that's where it was, and very casual - "what are you guys up to?" was the one question. Google maps shows that we should have gone out to a town called Browning, but I knew better and took a "short-cut" - it was a shorter road, for sure, but the worst we encountered - badly surfaced, twisty and hilly.

All in all, it was dark when we got to East Glacier, a wee town with a few cafes and hotels on the corner of Glacier National Park where I'd booked us into an antique wooden hostel. We just managed to get into the restaurant for dinner before it closed for fish tacos and huckleberry pie. Tasty.

Posted by NZBarry 20:39 Archived in Canada Tagged roadtrip_2014 Comments (0)

Leavenworth, WA to Kimberley, BC

sunny 28 °C

The next couple of days travel were also supposed to be easy, just 400 miles and a border crossing, but it became 650 miles plus. This is generally not on the Interstate, and we pop in to every town likely to yield an interesting result, so travel is not exactly rapid.

After coffee in a home-made jam shop because the Leavenworth coffee shop didn't open until 11:00, it was pretty much straight on to Wenatchee - our stop in Cashmere to see the museum was cut short by the museum not being open. We drove up and down the main street of Wenatchee a couple of times - I'm sure I could have coped with staying here - then found it had a public market open: part farmers market, part crafts and part more established shops in an enclosed building. My brother and co-pilot researched each town as we drove in: this was the apple capital of the world, so we thought we should get some. The lady selling them was very enthusiastic, saying they were "the first pick of the season, picked yesterday" and maybe they were, but they were inedible through being picked too early.

Wenatchee Market

Wenatchee Market

Wenatchee Market

Wenatchee Market

Wenatchee Market

Wenatchee Market

Wenatchee Market

Wenatchee Market

Wenatchee Market

Wenatchee Market

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The Wenatchee River joins the Columbia at this point: we followed it down for maybe 20 miles, and found it necessary to make a stop when we saw a train on the other side.

Columbia River

Columbia River

Columbia River

Columbia River

Columbia River

Columbia River

Columbia River

Columbia River

Columbia River

Columbia River

Heading west, things soon became very flat (they don't call this area the Columbia Plains for nothing) and very dry, so there were dust spirals rising from the ground. Apart from a quick stop for a burger in Ephrata (nice burger in a very old skool sort of way from DK's Drive In, but not much else to the town), we didn't see much until Harrington.

Columbia Plains

Columbia Plains

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We were stopped to take photos of dust plumes when a local cop stopped to see if we were alright. Next time we saw him, in Harrington, he gave us the thumbs up. The next time after that, it was a huge smile and big wave - if we'd seen him again, I reckon he'd have given us the keys to the town, if not citizenship. Not that there was much to see in Harrington, not until I saw an old car on the side of the road I wanted a photo of. I don't think my brother was very interested, as he wandered off to have a smoke, but as I took my photo, a chap came out to see what I was doing, and invited me in. Every Saturday, the owner of the former Studebaker garage gets all his cars out, and his mates and anyone interested in old cars can go in and have a beer and shoot the breeze. I think I'm an honorary member now - he insisted I sign the visitor's book "we don;t get many folk from Noo Zealan here in Harrington". Quelle surprise! They were nice cars, but.

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Studebaker

Studebaker

Studebakers

Studebakers

Studebakers

Studebakers

Studebakers of Harrington WA

Studebakers of Harrington WA

Studebakers of Harrington WA

Studebakers of Harrington WA

My brother was keen to see harvesters in action, particularly big rigs - just out of Harrington, he was rewarded, sort of - we came across a demonstration of vintage harvesting machinery.

Vintage Harvesting Demonstration

Vintage Harvesting Demonstration

Vintage Harvesting Demonstration

Vintage Harvesting Demonstration

Vintage Harvesting Demonstration

Vintage Harvesting Demonstration

Vintage Harvesting Demonstration

Vintage Harvesting Demonstration

Vintage Harvesting Demonstration

Vintage Harvesting Demonstration

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Finally, we got into Spokane late afternoon and had a wee walk down to the river and saw the power station and SkyRide (a gondala running down the river a bit). Steve thought it might be good to have a coffee, so I pull out my wallet, only I don't. It isn't there. Maybe it is in the car, I think. Nope. So, when did I last use it? That would be to pay for my burger in Ephrata, 125 miles back up the road. I phone, and sure enough, they have it - the lady said she'd run after me but not been able to stop us. So we saw very little of Spokane: instead, it was a rush back to Ephrata (this time on the Interstate).

On the way back we stopped at a place called Moses Lake and had a very nice dinner in a steakhouse. I had ONE beer, despite the best efforts of the waitress. Now in the US, they have this rule that if you're turning right, you can go on a red light. I'd got myself a bit confused about exactly where the Interstate on-ramp was and was dithering at an intersection, thought the Interstate was to my right, so took the free turn, nearly clipping a police car in the process. He of course asks if I have been drinking, and gives me a wee homily about how important it is to be honest when I say I have had one drink - he even asked what it was. He then administered his sobriety tests: first I had to follow his pen with my eyes as he waved it around. I'm a bit nervous, and he says not to worry, he knows what he's looking for. Then I had to do a sort of goose step, one foot straight in front of the other, heel to toe. My co-ordination is not great at the best of times, so I was not so good at this test. Then there was another test - I still don't really understand what I was supposed to do, it involved keeping one foot still but somehow dancing around it with the other foot, so obviously failed that one.

Finally, he could administer what I would have liked in the first place - a breathalyser, which showed me as having zero alcohol in my blood. "My equipment is faulty, I'll have to get another officer" I am told. Someone from the Sheriff's department shows up, and gets the same result so finally, I have a grumpy cop but am free to go. This makes us very late into Coeur d'Alene, after 11:00, but we are greeted by a very helpful motelier, despite booking the cheapest place in town.

Next morning is a little humiliating for me, because I was convinced I came to Coeur d'Alene last time I was in the Pacific Northwest, and was telling Steve about things I had seen and done. We're only in the downtown area about five minutes and I realise I have never been here in my life. When my brother travels with his family, they have a "dick of the day" award - this, combined with yesterday's efforts mean I have won it so convincingly it is never mentioned again.

Coeur d'Alene has a very nice lake and a great new park (which was being set up for a barbecue cook-off which I would have liked to have stayed for, but they were going to take hours before any food would be ready. Otherwise, it was really quite boring. After a not so great breakfast in the Iron Horse (which looks really good inside but we sat, unknowingly, outside, it was time to hit the road for a fairly uneventful drive up US/BC 95.

Iron Horse

Iron Horse

Iron Horse

Iron Horse

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Steel Bison

Monarch Mountain Coffee, Sandpoint ID

Monarch Mountain Coffee, Sandpoint ID

Monarch Mountain Coffee, Sandpoint ID

Monarch Mountain Coffee, Sandpoint ID

Posted by NZBarry 20:35 Archived in USA Tagged roadtrip_2014 Comments (0)

Seattle to Leavenworth (NOT the prison)

all seasons in one day 22 °C

We had a fairly relaxed day for the first one on the road, just 150 miles. The plan had been to visit the Boeing factory for the tour, but I failed to secure a booking, so we wandered around Seattle for a bit, then headed up to see what we could see at Boeing anyway. As we were driving towards the main factory, we noticed a big security fenced area and the tips of some planes, so went for a little look and ended up in what seemed to be an employee's car park with almost unrestricted views of a field full of planes. We really were not sure if they were waiting to be junked or were new.

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Since there was a shift change, there were plenty of people about to ask. These are all new planes, just getting their finishing touches before heading off to new owners. I had no idea that they'd ship these fellows around the country by train until I heard it here today - then I read about three that were derailed in Montana a month earlier. I have also read that about 80% of Boeing employees would not fly on the new Dreamliner, because of concerns about how they are put together. The guy we spoke to said that the normal Boeing staff have very little to nothing to do with making the Dreamliner, it is made by an all new crew. We probably gained a much better insight into the workings of the place from this 20 minute chat than we would have on the actual tour.

After a quick coffee in a very old fashioned place in Everett, it was time to hit the road - US Highway 2, going East (if you go west from Everett, you'll be in Puget Sound within about 3 minutes, and that's walking). There were quite a few small towns and shopping centres but eventually the road cleared and we were running through the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest past (I think) the Skykomish River.

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The road peaked at Stevens Pass, where there were several lodges and ski lifts heading in all directions. No snow, of course, but the place was furious with mountain bikers.

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My original plan had been to stay at Wenatchee, but when I saw that quite a few people were staying there just to be close to Leavenworth (and I worked out that the prison is in Kansas) I started wondering what it was about Leavenworth - what I discovered intrigued me enough to make a booking, and there was only one place I wanted to stay there, because I thought we would be quite secure.

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Leavenworth was originally a railroad town (named after the fellow who owned the land it was built on, named by that fellow too), then a forest town but it was struggling so in the early 1960's, someone had the great idea of recreating it as a Bavarian Alpine town -and it worked, is still going strong 50 years later. The whole central town is done in a similar style, and it has various bars doing a beer and sausage combo (very tasty, too), and a couple of "bier gartens" which looked a bit sad because they really need to be full of jovial drinking folk, not a couple of families having a hotdog supper. All in all, I really enjoyed my stay in Leavenworth - I could cope with a relaxing week there.

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That prime rib is looking a lot more raw than it did at the time.

Posted by NZBarry 22:28 Archived in USA Tagged roadtrip 2014 Comments (0)

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