By Quentin Kerfoot
The “Cascade Loop”, for those you have yet to ride it, spans two mountain passes and some of Washington states finest scenery. It is 440 miles of some great riding and diverse scenery, from mountains to semi-arid river valley. To help place the location, it is 150 kms south and west of Osoyoos, in the Okanagan National Forest, with stops in towns with funky names like Concrete, Diablo and Sultan.
We embarked on a 3 day ride
with a 2 night stay in Winthrop at the Virginian, a very quaint place with very reasonable rates. However, next time we’ll probably stay 1 night here
and get a little farther along the route on day 2, making the final day a bit shorter. Not a super long day, but for the casual rider a bit long, factoring in all the photo opps, cigarette breaks and sight seeing factor in.
Winthrop is an old time town steeped in tradition with a western flair, situated in the heart of the Methow Valley, one of those towns where they could shoot a duster film by simply throwing some dirt in the streets.
It is also known for its most excellent blues festival. This years high lights included Booker T, Commander Cody and Jimmy Vaughn and Too Slim & the Taildraggers. Someone I bumped into in my recent travels told me that Too Slim, from Seattle, was the highlight of the weekend. I have always wanted to attend this event but to date it has eluded me. In fact, I thought they were slotted into the same weekend as Sturgis North, meaning I might not ever get to attend. But while researching this article I was pleasantly surprised to note that for 2012 it is the weekend after SN, July 20 - 22. Yee haw, from one party to the next. Not sure if this old body can stand that much consecutive action, so I may have to start training early.
Their Auto Rallye Car show has been running for 36 years and was on while we were in town. The refreshing thing about this show was seeing different vehicles. As you know, if you attend enough car shows (wherever you live) you tend to see the same things week in, week out. So this was a treat indeed.
There is a nice BBQ restaurant called Heenen’s Burnt Finger Bar B Cue & Steakhouse. When we arrived they were technically closed, but happily reopened to accommodate 9 hungry, road weary travelers. They served us a family style meal of chicken, ribs, beans, corn bread and coleslaw. It was great to see someone in the service industry going the extra mile.
Lake Chelan is my favourite town along the way, nestled beside a glacier fed lake (obviously). There aren’t many places as picturesque as this. I need to spend some time here (next years ride) but to date have just ridden through3 or 4 times.
Leavenworth has some interesting touristy stuff to do. You probably already figured out I’m not much of a touristy kind of guy, but the people I was riding with seemed to enjoy it. Interesting history to this community – it was a bustling rail and lumber town until the early 60’s when the railway rerouted and the lumber mill subsequently phased out. Faced with withering and dying, the town reinvented itself into the popular Bavarian style village it is today.
On this weekend, the temperatures were scorching hot, in the mid to high 30’s. But we didn’t go for the weather or the show, these were simply bi products. Our goal was the scenic twisty highways of the cascade loop and as usual it didn’t disappoint. This is some sweet riding.
It was so hot, we drove by what they called “fire activity” about 25 minutes west of Leavenworth. Turns out “fire activity” is the term for multiple, uncontrolled fires. Kind of scary to say the least. The fire department was trying to contain one fire, and help was on the way for the others but it looked like a loosing battle. Two of the fires we rode by were burning fiercely right to road as well as a couple of hundred yards into the forest. Not sure how it turned out, as we rode on by. Nothing we could have done to help stop them.
The evening meal Sunday was at El Nopels Mexican restaurant in beautiful downtown Sumas, WA, a favourite of ours. Great food at unbelievable prices. And so, another enjoyable road trip with good friends comes to an end and back to work I go so I can do it all over again the following week.