What is striking if you drive the Cascades Loop, the 400 miles loop that crosses the western side of North Washington State is the variety of its landscape. You enter, like we did, through North Cascades on Route 20, an area of deep and verdant forests, with green lakes and waterfalls, with passes patched with snow and you abruptly descend in a barren landscape close to Winthrop and Twist. The hills are burned, no vegetation whatsoever and barely any water around. It looks that you are in the desert.
The southern part of the loop that start right after Twisp is surrounded by large apple orchards. The road is aligned with walls of apple boxes ready to be filled and shipped all over America. The road makes a right turn to Route 2 and just a little bit further is Leavenworth, a Bavarian village teleported, like in Startrek, in the middle of Washington State where you can eat several authentic “wurst” and have “ein mass” of Hofbrauhaus beer in a real German beer garden. And you should try the “bretzen”, the really fresh and soft pretzel, not even a resemblance to the handcuffs we eat in New York.
In spite of the mighty Columbia River that is parallel with Route 2, the landscape keeps being dry and barren and people are cooling in its shallow waters or paragliding above its amazing valleys.
Before reaching the highway, Route 2 makes another try for the heights reaching over 4000 feet in Stevens Pass where is a ski resort. Here we encountered an entire caravan of Volkswagen vans from the 1950s, all retrofitted in Germany, together with some other famous German cars of the same time, like parachuted from another dimension on top of this mountain pass. There are way more interesting stops on the way, attractive hikes or cool places to hang out but unfortunately we had only two, almost, full days for this great drive.