Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Gorgeous scenery marks Washington's North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park
Photo by National Park Service
If you want stunning scenery, there's no better place to find it than North Cascades National Park. It's just been named one of the top 16 places to visit in the world in 2016.  It was the only destination in the United States to make the list. 
North Cascades National Park is located in Washington State, stretching from the border with Canada south to near Twisp. The park is bisected by SR Highway 20, one of the most scenic drives you'll ever make. Many years ago, when I lived in Omak, Washington, I sometimes took Highway 20  when I went to Seattle in the summer. A longer drive, but the scenery made it worthwhile.
The route was filled with high mountains, Liberty Bell being one of the most photographed, and beautiful glacier-fed lakes. The park has more than 300 glaciers, the most of any place in the United States outside of Alaska.  The scenery must be equally as beautiful in the winter, but I wouldn't know. Because of heavy snows, the Washington Highway Department closes the highway in winter from Ross Lake on the west side of the mountains to Lone Fir Campground on the east side.
Wild flowers and wildlife abound here, among them deer, cougars and black bears. If you see one of the more than 1,500 black bears, the National Park Service wants to know about it and asks visitors to fill out a bear monitoring form.
Camping and hiking are popular activities here; hiking, especially, since the park is close to the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Three PNW shops make some of USA's best doughnuts

Warning: Reading this article may cause you to gain weight!

Three West Coast doughnut shops were among 29 nationwide that were singled out by Food & Wine on CNN as having the best doughnuts in the United States.

Top Pot Doughnuts, Seattle, was singled out for its oversize donuts and fritters as well as their flavors and decorations.

Portland's entry was Voodoo Doughnut, so named because one of their doughnuts is shaped like a voodoo doll, filled with red jam, and a pretzel stick shoved through it.

Portland's second entry was Blue Star Donuts, which also makes doughnuts in Los Angeles and Tokyo. They were singled out for using a French brioche dough and the unusual toppings and flavors.

The majority of those named to the list were located on the East Coast.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Anatone: the shrinking Washington community

Anatone, Washington
Anatone, Washington, may have been a thriving community at one time, but today it resembles a ghost town, with dilapidated buildings lining both sides of Highway 129.

It sits high on the windswept prairie above the Snake River, and is surrounded by wheat fields, the major agricultural crop on the prairie.

The community was founded in 1878 by settlers by Daniel McIvor and Charles Issecke, and named for a Nez Perce woman.

Its population is shrinking. Anatone had more than 200 residents in 2000; now it’s down to 38, with cats, dogs and horses adding another 48 inhabitants, according to the community’s Facebook page. Anatone doesn’t have a newspaper but it does have a newsy Facebook page.

Anatone has no services, so travelers on Highway 129 will need to take care of this in Asotin, about 30 miles to the north or wait until Oregon. Limited services are available just across the border, with major services available farther south in Enterprise, Oregon.

Snake River from Highway 129
What Anatone has is stunning views of the Snake River as the road descends into Asotin and forest views in Oregon.