For as long as I’ve lived in the Northwest, I’ve always wanted to drove the full Cascade Loop in one trip. I’ve driven just about every section of the trip over the years, but for one reason or another, doing the full loop in one shot has never happened. When I came across PNW Drives on Facebook and saw that they were organizing a two-day rally around the loop, I jumped at the chance. This was my first time on a tour with this group but I had a great time and look forward to joining them on future drives. PNW Drives isn’t a traditional car club, more of an event organizer with any and all cars welcome. Heavy on the swag but not the typical landfill fodder you usually get…high quality hats, hoodies, custom water bottles, etc. Most importantly, good people with a passion for driving and lots of cool cars.
The planned starting point was pretty far North of Seattle and the start time was early in the morning. I decided to extend the trip by a day and I drove up to La Conner on Friday. La Conner is a cute waterfront town with good restaurants and shops and was only 10 minutes from our starting point at Twin Bridges Marina in Mount Vernon. It was nice to get away from everything, have some chowder and just watch the boats go by for a while. I did make the time to drive to the stating point so I would be prepared for the next day…had to grab a photo under the twin bridges!
Saturday morning, I woke up early and ventured out to the starting point. I was happy to find a well organized event, my all important swag bag, and a large group of friendly gearheads equally excited for the trip. We even had a superhero along for the ride! Here are some photos from the early morning meetup where we stayed busy applying decals, talking cars and sheltering under the bridges from the rain. I learned a newfound respect for anyone that does stripes, decals or wraps on cars…I was struggling and the event organizers took pity on me and helped me out.
We hit the road in the pouring rain, but there was even crazier weather to come. Our first destination was the Diablo Lake Vista where we would have the chance to stretch our legs, use the restroom and admire the amazing views. Okay, I was busy taking photos of cars and people, but trust me…the views of the lake are incredible when the weather is better and the fog isn’t so thick.
Our next stop was Twisp Park in the town of Twisp but before we arrived to the sunshine, we had to drive through the North Cascades. I was expecting to still see snow on the ground but I didn’t expect it to be actively snowing. Earlier in the day a few folks were wondering if my Jeep was going to keep up but given the weather we hit, I was thinking I might need to winch a few of them out of a ditch 🙂
The weather just kept getting better and the drive even more beautiful as we made our way to BeeBe Springs Wildlife Area. We had some time to hike (okay walk) around, get to know each other and soak in the warm dry weather.
Our final stop of the day was the Icicle Village Resort in Leavenworth. Leavenworth is a quirky Bavarian style town popular with tourists all year round, but especially during the holiday season in December. After a very early start and a full day of driving, I was pretty tired. I explored the area, grabbed some dinner, talked to Meg for a while and then went to bed early.
Day 2 started at a much more reasonable time of 10 am so I had the chance to sleep in and enjoy a leisurely breakfast with copious amounts of coffee before our group meeting. We drove from Leavenworth to Stevens Pass and even with the rain, the roads were fun and the scenery was beautiful. I was once again happy to be in my Jeep and not one of the super cars with racing slicks. Fortunately the rain stopped before we hit Stevens so we could walk around without getting soaked.
We ended the tour at Lake Tye Park in Monroe. It gave us all a chance to eat lunch, stretch our legs and say our goodbyes before heading home. I drove away tired, happy, having met some new friends and looking forward to a return trip around the loop in a fun car and with better weather.