Friday, September 7, 2007

Day Two - Roadtrip1

Waking up on day 2, we were refreshed and raring to continue on our way around the Cascade Loop. But first, there was breakfast. After devouring the fresh breakfast served by our hostess, we spent some time photographing from the porch and then we were off.

The plan for the day was to reach Anacortes by nightfall, stopping along the way at the many quaint towns and scenic viewpoints that dot the loop. The first thing we noticed was the landscape had changed dramatically from the first day. The mountains were as massive as behind us, but now apparently on the leeward side, the land was noticeably drier and pines had given way to shrubs. The stream still flowed by the roadside and it was contrasting to note the flowing water on one side and dry land on the other. Our first stop was barely 20 minutes from Leavenworth. The small town of Cashmere is apparently named after Kashmir, due to its beauty! The town is known for its special candy made from apples and apricots, called applets and cotlets. Driving around, the town felt like it was from a wild west movie.

Cashmere, WA - the apple town. Notice the dry mountains in the picture below. We were in the leeward side now. The River Wentachee flows along.
It joins the River Columbia at Wentachee, a few miles from Cashmere.

Our next stop was at the town of Wenatchee, specifically the famed Ohme gardens. This private garden has a beautiful landscaped and paved area with many small pools and awesome views all around. It is filled with conifers and it stood out in the dry scrub landscape all around it.

Ohme gardens, rugged landscape turned green

Leaving Wenatchee we took Hwy Alt-97 towards Lake Chelan. There are so many scenic vistas on the way, with the Columbia river flowing by the roadside. The Columbia is a massive river and it flows all the way into the Pacific Ocean near Portland, Or. We saw a couple of dams to harness the river and the large reservoirs they formed were the hub of water sports and activities.

Views along the road, dry mountains and dammed water.

We arrived at the town of Chelan, on the southern tip of Lake Chelan just in time for lunch. After a quick bite at a Thai/Italian(!!) restaurant, we took a walk by the waterside. Lake Chelan is a huge lake actually the third deepest one in the US and the town itself is similar to any typical American town on the lake. It thrives on touristy activities like water sports and rentals, waterfront shops and restaurants.

Lake Chelan

The drive from Chelan to the North Cascades National Forest is dotted with small cowboy towns like Pateros, Methow, Twisp, Winthrop and Mazama and along the way, we got on Hwy 20 West. Upon crossing Mazama, we entered the 70 mile stretch of the North Cascade national forest. This is a gorgeous stretch as the landscape changes to magnificent peaks with ice at the top and coniferous vegetation start to appear. Along the way are two glacial lakes, Ross Lake and Diablo Lake. The distinctive color of each lake (Ross is teal, Diablo is jade) is caused by finely ground rock dust suspended in the water and reflecting the green of the forest and the blue of the sky. Beyond the lakes, the road descends fast, and there are a couple of waterfalls as we head out of the national forest. There are numerous hiking trails and if you have sometime hit the trails.

The Cascades. Amazing views and a wonderful drive

The Diablo Lake with its amazing jade color.

The teal colored Ross Lake

Outside the national forest, it was more rural landscape that we sped through to reach our destination. The landscape had quickly changed to flat land and we crossed the bridge into Fidalgo island where Anacortes is situated. Islands always remind you flat lands with pretty beaches all around and palm trees swaying but Anacortes is not the flat beach side we expected. Ups and downs, narrow roads, mountains on one side, sea on the other, it was a sight! We quickly found our destination, Heron House Guest Suites and checked in. Too tired to do anything else, we hit the sack.

And that was day 2.

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