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August 25, 2004

Northern Exposure

Day 5 and we hit the road again. Heading east we drove along the
side of the Columbia River Gorge. As we travelled the landscape
became more parched and brown as we reached The Dalles. The Dalles
is effectively on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains and with
the prevailing winds being westerlies it is in the rain shadow of
the Cascades. This is the case for all of eastern Oregon and
Washington leading to a dry desert like interior.

At The Dalles we stopped at the visitor centre. We would have liked
to stay a lot longer but time pressures because of the distance we
had to travel did not allow it. The centre is excellent with loads
of information about the gorge, Lewis and Clarke who passed through
here and the Oregon trail. In the days of the Oregon trail The
Dalles were teacherous rapids that the settlers had to float through
on their rafts as they used the Columbia as their highway to the
Pacific. Nowadays the rapids are submerged because of the damming of
the river downstream.

At the Dalles we had planned to cross the river to the Washington
side but I missed the turnoff so we drove on to the next river
crossing. Heading north east on the 97 we climbed out of the
northern side of the gorge and crossed the Yakama Indian
Reservation, a barren desolate drive before dropping down into the
Yakima valley and picking up the I 82 then I 90 towards Seattle. We
were now heading back towards the eastern side of the cascades and
the land became greener and forested. Twenty miles before reaching
the Snoqualamie Pass we turned off the I 90 to visit Roslyn for
lunch. To my amazement, here in the middle of nowhere was a
roundabout, the first I have ever seen in all my driving in the
states. There was a plethora of signage explaining to drivers
exactly how to traverse this strange road junction and there was no
trace of any other vehicles. Why on earth it was there I've no idea.

Roslyn was a real pleasure for us. The world is split into two
groups of people who either didn't see Northern Exposure (the
majority of people I know) or who did (my wife and I). Roslyn was
the small town where the series was filmed as its alter ego Cicely
Alaska (if thats how you spell it). All of the places seen in the
series are there - we bought the kids some chocolate in Ruth-Annes
store. The sad thing is that it appears that Northern Exposure is
the only thing keeping the place going and it will be sad if the
town dies when memory of this superb quirky show is lost.

Fortified by lunch we headed north through the Wenachee Mountains to
Leavenworth. No not where the prison is ! absolutely everybody I
know has asked me if thats where the prison is. I dont know where
Leavenworth Prison is and I dont care ! Leavenworth is actually one
of Washingtons tourist attractions some call it charming some call
it tacky, it very touristy so you either like such places or you do
not. With a re-routed railway and a collapsing timber industry, the
town was dying when the people decided to rebuild the centre as a
copy of a Bavarian village. This has worked and the town is now
booming with a building code that ensures every building looks like
an alpine chalet - even Safeways. Apparently a film is being made
about this successful transformation.

All of the shops and restaurants are of the same theme and we
enjoyed two relaxing nights in the town eating sausages and drinking
German Style Lager. Speaking as one who has consumed copious
quantities of real German Lager, I can say that this stuff was
pretty good. I'm not too sure about all the yodelling music you
hear. I always thought yodelling was Austrian, but I could be wrong.

Posted by Graham on August 25, 2004 01:56 PM
Category: 2004 the pacific north west
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