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Published: June 11th 2012
BACKCOUNTRY WASHINGTON STATE
After getting off the cruise ship in Vancouver we headed straight south for the border. The line to enter into the US was very long. I guess on Saturdays everybody in Canada wants to go shopping down in the USA because every car in the line of probably two hundred cars had Canadian tags, except maybe five. The Customs Officer spent a lot of time asking us why we are carrying so much stuff in our car and what we are doing so far from North Carolina. We explained that we have been basically living out of our car for the last several months and that we just never know what we might need or where we might end up. That seemed to satisfy him and he let us pass through. We got alot more interrogation that all the Canadians going to Walmart. We heard Canadians have to pay an extra goods tax of 17%!,(MISSING) so that can really add up on electronics and other luxury items.
As soon as we could. we got off the interstate and turned east toward the Cascade Mountains. Up and up we climbed as the outside
temperature guage continued to drop. Finally, it quit dropping and read a brisk 38 degrees as we crossed over Washington Pass. A persistent rainy mist pelted us and we saw six foot high snow banks on either side of the highway. We began our decent down the eastern side of the Cascades and almost immediately, it began to dry out and get noticeably warmer. The western side of the mountains are part of the temperate rain forest that extends all the way from California to Alaska, but the eastern side has little rain and abundant sunshine.
We had expected this drier climate on the eastern side of the Cascades, but what we had not expected was Winthrop, Washington. Truly, in the middle of nowhere, the town jumped out at us as we rounded a bend in Hwy 20 and crossed over the Chewuch River. It brimmed with character and charm. We simply had to pull over and walk the streets filled with funky little shops, restaurants, and stores all built with a true western look. The Wild West is not what you think of when you picture Washington State, but this town is supposedly the inspiration for
one of the first western themed novels "The Virginian" written by Harvard grad Owen Wister who visited the town on his honeymoon in 1898. Even as far removed as it was from the big cities, it was still popular on a Saturday night and finding a room took some hunting. But, find a place to stay we did and the meal at the local Mexican Cantina recommended by our friendly motel manager was excellent. The little red schoolhouse on the main street had been converted to a brewery and if you can read the sign it says, "We're All About The Beer".
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