Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Northern Cascades Fall Colors Caravan - Day 4, The Road to Leavenworth

* Sits back again at his favorite cigar bar and lights up another Perdomo - Lot 23*

Been a little while since my last post covering the massive potluck festivities held in Winthrop, WA at the Silverline Resort. I find that I usually don't get a whole lot of free time to post at home during the work week (Usually because I'm too brain dead to do much other than read and reply to a few forum posts, eat dinner, shower and pass out in bed), not to mention that HughesNet shared amongst roughly twenty different RVs is the best option if one wants to upload a large number of pictures in a realistic amount of time.....

So, I usually have to save up my efforts for the weekend when I have the spare cash to pack up my laptop, cigar kit and hoof it across town to Greater Trumps so I can do my blogging work.

When I left off, I had just finished gorging myself on more food than was wise and was enjoying the same cigar that I am now in the "Smoker's Tent" while watching alot of folks old enough to be my aunts and uncles get silly-faced drunk around a campfire so large we could have used it as a signal flare to land aircraft on the lake.

Somewhere around midnight, perhaps later, we finally dispersed and retired to our individual campers for the evening. I had had planned to go and make use of the rather lovely looking shower facilities at the park, but wound up using my onboard shower instead due to the lateness of the hour, I hoped to actually get moving soon enough the following morning to follow the caravan (In hindsight, I should have just gone and used the showers, one day I'll learn that no matter how early I get up, I will always miss my "planned" departure time... )

Alarm Clocks and I will never be friends, I find. Set the alarm for 7 o'clock, slept clean through it (I think it went off, to this day, I'm not positive it ever did) and woke up around 8:10.

Much scurrying occurred as I tried to read the camper for departure and make one of my traveling breakfasts, two raisin english muffin sandwiches with black forest ham lunchmeat and cheddar cheese melted in the middle.

As I was outside disconnecting the water, retracting the awning, raising the jacks, etc... Peter walked by and told me not to worry, the caravan wasn't departing till 10am.

I'm guessing 10am really means 9:40am in Canadian time, because I wound up being the last man out as I had to dump my rather full holding tanks before I left (Something I was glad I did given what wound up happening when I finally got to Leavenworth.)

So, one again, I had the road to myself as I resume the Fall Colors journey through Washington's middle.

* * * *

Day 4's Journey

View Larger Map

Keeping with the weather that had been ever-present since departing Sauk Campground a few days ago, the rain drizzled down, keeping the wipers squeaking back and forth across the windshield as the country side rolled past me.

In my time I spent traveling Oregon's eastern regions, Oregon is far more flat by comparison to Washington inner eastern areas. More than once the terrain reflected that which you'd find along Oregon's northern border where the mighty Columbia River carved its way through the living rock on its western journey towards the sea.

There are a few small towns dotted along the highway 20 as you meander south-east from Winthrop through Twisp, most are of the "blink and miss it" variety, but one caught my attention for perhaps a little more exploration on a future visit.

The little town of Methow (pronounced MET-HOW), hasn't much to it, just a church, a few homes, an out-of-business fruit packaging and storage facility, and what looked like it would have been a rather tasty little diner/cafe.

A moment of silence please for the passing of the Methow Cafe, I have no clue how good it was or if it was even worth the money, but I always mourn the loss of the little places, they're almost always the best.

* Remove your hat and bow your head *


Parked out in front on an older Ford pickup from the days when I was little, was a classic Western Wilderness Truck camper. The truck and camper were for sale, much like the Methow Cafe behind it, for the asking price of $995.

The highway finally began to wind its way down into furrows carved by glaciers from ancient times descending down till Highway 153 finally came to it's terminus at Lake Pateros.

To our north, Okanongan, and to our south, Leavenworth, and still no sign of the caravan. You folks move FAST, I left Silverline roughly fifteen minutes after the last camper had pulled out, but now I am both out of sight and out of radio range of the caravan by who knows how many miles.

No matter, I came to relax, after all, not make a marathon drive, ya miss all the neat stuff when yer trying to hug the bumper of the camper in front of you.

Highway 97 south as we followed hugs the edge of Lake Pateros for a number of miles, the furrowed and craggy landscape bringing my mind back to memories of traveling interstate 84 east along the Columbia River as it carries you far away from Portland and into the quieter country west of the Blue Mountains.

Around the Chelan, WA Municipal Airport, Highway 97 actually splits into the primary Highway and an alternative route that keeps you on the western side of the Columbia River, taking you through the town of Chelan, along the south-eastern shore of Lake Chelan for several miles, before turning south to resume following the western shore of the river till you reach Sunnyslope and join up with US Highway 2.

The caravan route takes you along the primary route that follows the eastern banks of the river instead, which is the primary haul route that most traffic passing through the area follows. I think in the future, I will divert off eastern Highway 97 in favor of the possibly less traveled western route for a change of pace, the eastern shore route feels a little too much like Interstate 84.

As we rounded another bend in the river, the Beebe Bridge loomed up on the horizon, the first point that Highway 97 crossed over the Columbia River. From a distance, the bridge looks fairly small, much like many of the older country bridges that I've seen or crossed along the way.

As we draw closer, the scale the bridge grows dramatically.

As we cross I notice large concrete piers standing lonely sentinel along side the brown steel girders of the modern highway bridge.

I make a mental note, curious as to what purpose these giant concrete piers once supported across the river. An old Highway Bridge? An aquaduct? Couldn't be a railroad bridge, far too small to be able to support that kind of load.

It wasn't till after I got home from my journey that I found this on a Geocaching website:

The original Beebe Bridge was built in 1919 to haul fruit from the Beebe Co. orchards on the other side of the Columbia River to the railroad at Chelan Station. It was reported that an airplane flew under the bridge when it was dedicated. The original bridge was a suspension bridge and was replaced with the highway bridge in 1963.

Just across the bridge is the Beebe Bridge State Park. It's a neat little park, complete with campground, though its proximity to the highway might make stopping there for anything other than an over night rest less than enjoyable with the sounds of vehicles rumbling past at all hours.

As I cross the bridge, I happened to look to my right and catch sight of the caravan, stopped for one of their oddly placed rest stops. Sadly, I didn't notice this till I was almost on top of the turn off and wound up having to find a turn around a little ways up the road and backtrack to pull in.

At last, I had finally caught up!

* * * *

After a bit of a breather and some idle chitchat with the other caravaners, the group set out again. I opted to try and remain at the end of the caravan, given my usual tendency to lose speed on just about any grade and my natural tendency to a top speed of 50-55mph.

Peter, who was running the rear guard on this journey had me slip in ahead of him so he could keep an eye on things and soon, we had a rolling road block of Truck Campers :).

I did my best to try and keep up with the rest of the caravan, but it didn't take long before the distance between me and the camper ahead of me soon widened and the caravan began to pull further ahead.

Try as we might, the Redneck Express is not made for doing speed in the hills. More than one attempt was made try and tighten the caravan up and remove the "Riff-Raff" from amongst our ranks, but the slack action of pace soon created wide gaps between me and the rig ahead of me and once again more vehicles would slip in.

My last valiant try at passing an older Fleetwood 5th wheel ended in a chorus of screaming belts and the smell of burning rubber from under the poor Redneck Expresses hood, something that would come back to haunt me the following day as I journeyed for home.

* * * *

The original plan had been to stop at Smallwood's Produce stand and pumpkin patch just outside of Leavenworth, however, as the lead vehicles reached the produce stand, it was discovered that there wasn't any parking space available for a group our size to pull off.

The heads-up was radioed back through the caravan via CB (Never caravan without your trusty CB radio) and it was decided to head into town and circle the wagons at the local Safeway.

At last, we were in Leavenworth. Some of us, myself included, stopped in at the gas station to top up our fuel, and then joined the others while we negotiated with the RV park to get in a little early.

As we chat in the parking lot, Moby does his best to make friends with everyone, especially small children bearing food!

Unlike his little brother, Moby is a very well behaved dog. Eight years old, he is a Miniature Schnauzer, Poodle, something mix, which isn't the best genetic base to start with, it plagues him from time to time with various skin conditions that are perpetuated from his genetic misgivings.

But, he is still very quiet and very friendly, even amongst other dogs so long as no one get's stand-offish with him first. I can definitely see Moby traveling with me again in the future, even though he's a heavy little stinker to hoist in and out of the cabover bed at night.

* * * *

Up till that point, I hadn't realized that the RV park was directly across the street from the Safeway and sadly, right next to the highway.

The website gives up some rather nice pictures like this:

But, doesn't quite indicate that it's here:

Because of the size of the RV Park, the plan becomes that we go over, two at a time to prevent from blocking up the road leading into the park.

I wait till towards the end, mostly to give my poor truck a chance to catch its breath before hauling itself one more time across the street.

Check-in is smooth, I choose to go with the full-hook up site this time, picking it off the map in attempt to get as far away from the road as possible.

In the process of trying to back into my site, I succeed in introducing the camper to the tree behind it and shatter one of the original 70s clearance light lenses. That poor corner... This about the fourth time its been bashed into something, there's still a dent just next to that clearance light from where I found a power pole on a very dark and narrow street when attempting to back into the mouth of an alley so I could turn around.

At this point I'm thinking, "That's okay, there's an autoparts store in town, I'll just go and pick up a replacement lens to make do with till I can order so more of the classic style (Which are a royal pain in the rear to find these days).

Then, I go to hook up my sewer hoses. As I go to attach the female end to the camper's drain port, one of the two flimsy tabs breaks off.


So, off I go up to the office, maybe they have some basic RV parts. They do, but not any bayonet couplers for sewer hoses.

"Is there an RV Parts store in town?"

"Yes, but they're closed on Sunday."


"How far is the autoparts store from here?"

"Just up the road a block or so."

One of these days, I'll get it through my head that any local's idea of a "block" is more accurately described as 2-3 miles.

So, I hoof it down the road to the local Napa autoparts store.

May God Bless the Napa autoparts store in Leavenworth with great business and may its owner live a long and joyous life.

He did have some RV parts, though the only bayonet coupler is a 45 degree model, but I figure if all else fails, it'll work for the night. I buy about two dozen replacement lenses, given my propensity towards breaking them as I try and pop them into place, and hike back to camp.

By this point, I've decided that if someone isn't driving into town for that dinner tonight, I'm gonna be staying at camp and cooking, closeness to town was not as advertised!

As I'm walking back into camp, I come across Camper Jeff & Kali as they're getting ready to pull out and head for home. I wave them down and ask if they want to trade a regular straight bayonet coupler for a 45 degree coupler.

Instead, they give me their spare extension sewer hose with its permanently attached and far beefier bayonet couplers.

May God Bless Jeff and Kali with many many happy years and blessings!

At last, my sewer is hooked up, my clearance lights fixed and I can finally relax.


  1. Thanks for the info on the old Beebe bridge. I've often wondered what used to be there but always forget to look it up.

    We just got back from another trip across the North Cascades Highway. The foliage is in fine form although there was snow at the Pass. The road was wet and clear and we didn't run into any problems. It sure was pretty seeing the fresh snow on the tops of the mountains. I'll be posting pics later tonight or tomorrow.

  2. I think I could have done with more snow and far less rain on the caravan, personally. I find snow less bothersome in that it helps make the ground solid instead of slushy when the temperatures are right.

    Frozen ground over mud, any day of the week!