SKY VALLEY MAKES NEWS IN EUROPE
July 05, 2008
(U.S. HIGHWAY 2 & INDEX) -- You may not have noticed but our Skykomish Valley made news last month in Europe -- Ireland to be exact.
The city of Belfast Ireland
On June 3rd the Belfast Telegraph newspaper (on line version) printed what can easily be described as a glowing travel article about Washington State, which included points of interest here in the Sky Valley.
Travel writer Simon Calder described his May trip to Dry Falls in Eastern Washington this way: “Trust me: follow Highway 2 across Washington State, making the odd, brief detour along the way, and you will encounter a succession of natural wonders – including the greatest waterfall the world ever knew.”
Calder is talking about Dry Falls located some seven miles southwest of Coulee City in northeast Washington. It is a feature of Grand Coulee Canyon and part of the over all “Channeled Scablands” that cover three-quarters of eastern Washington.
Dry Falls is dry because there‘s no water there anymore. The location is the remnant of what was once (about 17 Million years ago) the largest waterfall that ever existed on the planet. The falls area is 3.5 miles of sheer cliffs that drop 400 feet to the ground. Niagara Falls by comparison is only a mile wide with a drop of a paltry 165 feet.
The falls were created by a monster collapse of an enormous ice-dam holding back the waters of an ancient lake that covered three thousand square miles of northwest Montana.
Calder went on to enthusiastically inform his European readers, "You may know Highway 1, along the coast of California. It is often rated as one of the world's greatest drives. Well, I've checked, and can confirm that Highway 2 – the old and now largely abandoned artery aiming due west across the state of Washington – is twice as rewarding.”
(Editor’s note: Twice as rewarding as California’s famous coastal U.S. Highway 1? Wow. Now THAT is what you call an endorsement. Mr. Calder was describing his trip from Spokane over U.S. Highway 2 and into Seattle via rental car.)
Calder wrote of then traveling seventy miles west from the falls and reaching Leavenworth (“Bavaria” as he called it). He thought the idea of a “faux Bavaria” was repulsive but had to acknowledge, “it works.”
He goes on to describe driving the U.S. Highway 2 route over Stevens Pass from Leavenworth and stopping to see the Iron Goat interpretive site on Highway 2 and then taking a turn off Highway 2 to travel the old Cascade Highway. He described the roadway as a “surviving stretch of the Old Cascade Highway, which swerves through a tunnel of overgrown undergrowth for several enthralling miles.”
Calder advised that one more detour off Highway 2 is essential for any traveler in these parts and that is the detour to Index. He writes, “ it is a village carved into quarters by the railroad and the Skykomish River (a favourite for rafters). An old mining and logging settlement sustains a general store, a museum, a Town Hall – and a Town Wall, a 400ft-high granite cliff.”
Calder went on to describe to Irish readers he should have ended his trip at Index because “at the town of Monroe, 20 miles further on, nature vanished and the ugly urban entrails of Seattle took over. I wanted to make a U-turn and rewind through the bewildering sights of the previous few days, but I had an appointment with real life…in southeast London. Next time, though, I shall linger in America's natural multiplex: inland Washington, where the nation is at its most elemental.”
Oh well. You can't win them all. At least Calder loved Dry Falls, Spokane, the drive over Highway 2 and Index. Thanks Simon, for telling Ireland a bit about our gorgeous piece of paradise we call the Sky Valley.
Next time you’re in the area give us a ring on the telly. Lunch is on the Sky Valley Chronicle.