Chelan, WA

On the Eastern Side of the Cascade Range

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The drive through the Cascades was very interesting. As we passed over the 4,855 foot summit, the lush green mountains slowly turned to brown. The rivers still flowed swiftly because they carried water from deep in the Cascades.

What was interesting about the valley where we stopped was that the Columbia River was there. We last saw the Columbia when we passed from Oregon to Washington.

The most interesting thing about this valley: it claims to be the Apple Growing Center of the USA. I did not believe this at first. But when we left Chelan and drove to the Canadian boarder, we drove over 80 miles. The apple orchards were on both sides of the rivers, all the way. The Columbia River headed north east from Brewster, WA and we followed Okanogan River to the boarder. We passed other rivers which came into the Okanogan and we could see orchards lining both sides of those rivers. The orchards also continued south from Chelan on both sides of the Columbia. I never took a picture, even though I had many chances, because the road was up high above the valley many times.

It seems that most of the apple pickers are Mexican. They live here during apple picking season in very small huts along side the orchards. We went to a small church for mass on Sunday. They only had two masses, one in English and one in Spanish. We attended the all Spanish mass. Everyone was very friendly and the music was great. When you opened the massbook, it had English on the left page and Spanish on the right. It was interesting following the mass that way.

We made two major side trips while in Chelan; Grand Coulee Dam and a high speed boat ride to a small outpost of Stehekin, WA.

The boat ride was a lot of fun. Mom thought that it would be nice and smooth. But at an average of 48 miles per hour, every little wave jarred the boat. Fortunately, we had very soft airline type seats. The 55 mile trip to the outpost went by fast. We passed through a heavy down pour on the way. When we got back to the campground, we were told that it did not rain there, but they saw lighting and had to get out of the water.

The outpost gets supplies by barge, boat, and float plane. In the winter, the 75 inhabitants are cutoff and do not receive anything except emergency helicopter aid. Cell phones do not work, but satellite TV and Internet does. So everyone has e-mail. There is one road, which everyone says that it starts in nowhere and ends in nowhere.

There is a one room log school house for grades 1 thru 8. After 8th grade, kids are "sent out" to board with friends, relatives, or strangers to continue their education. Some families chose to close up their homes and move "down lake" until their children finish high school. Also, for high school, some families home school.

This is the beach at the city owned campground.
It is on Lake Chelan, which is 55 miles long.
The sites were on thick green grass which was watered several times each week. There were paved parking areas for the campers and cars.

Another view of the beach area. The grass went to the waters edge.
You can see campers in the trees on the right.

The Lady Cat.
Double hull, 1600 horsepower, 52 feet long, and seats 43 passengers.
It has a top speed of 55 MPH, but they normally travel at 50 or less.
They have had emergencies where they had to travel at 55.

We arrived at the outpost the same time the float plane did.
There is a big snow capped mountain in the notch in the background,
but the camera washed it out.

While at the outpost, we took a side trip to this 345 foot tall water fall.

Grand Coulee Dam.
The worlds largest concrete structure.
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