Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Do you remember the TV show Northern Exposure?  If you do, this photo will look familiar to you!

Roslyn CafeAfter we left our gathering of friends in Sammamish, we drove a short hop over Snoqualmie Pass to the eastern side of the Cascades and our home for the next four nights, Sun Country Golf and RV Resort (click here to read our review).   It’s lucky Odel sprinted out onto the course as soon as we were set up – for half our stay, it rained.  :(

So, why’d we pick this particular spot?  Several years ago, we visited with our friends Jim and Diane when they were camp hosts nearby.  Jim gave us a great tour of the area (not far from their summer home base) and we had good memories… throw in the golf course for Odel and we figured a few days of closer exploration was in order.

As soon as Odel headed out on the links, I jumped into the Jeep to do a little of the slow, circuitous exploration that is best done alone – checking out this little road here, missing a turn there, taking a dirt road that looks interesting (but dusty), backtracking because I saw a garden that I liked, or wondered about the trail sign I thought I saw over on the left side… all of that is easier when I am the only person in the vehicle! 

Iron Horse trailI found several “places of interest” (for some reason, that always reminds me of the law enforcement phrase, “persons of interest”) for Odel and I to explore the following day.  The first was Iron Horse State Park, one of the many rails-to-trails projects we have seen in our travels.  Originally part of the Chicago-Milwaukee-St.Paul-Pacific Railroad, the trail extends more than 100 miles – plenty of room for us to stretch our legs.  :)

I had noticed the trail running along adjacent to the golf course where we camped; when I took a walk there, I wondered about this mileage marker: 2091 miles from Chicago!  During my exploration in the Jeep, I found a well-interpreted section of the trail in South Cle Elum, and we returned there together the next day.

South Cle Elum had been a major stop for the trains, where crews changed, locomotives were serviced,  and cars added or removed.  There was a passenger depot, a bunkhouse, a roundhouse and a turntable.

Round House RuinsA big surprise?  A 200+ mile section of the railroad that ran over Snoqualmie Pass (and through tunnels) was electrified in 1920, using electric motors (and the resulting overhead wires) in the locomotives!   During the lifespan of the railroad (summer of 1909 through March of 1980), this line was traveled by steam locomotives – first fired by coal, then by oil - electric locomotives and diesel locomotives.

We followed the trail around the grounds of the Cle Elum yard, where only the passenger depot (beautifully restored) and the electrification building still stand, reading the history of the now very quiet grounds.  In less than a century, the rail line was built, the tunnels blasted… the variety of locomotion developed and replaced… the railroad overtaken by the competition of trucks… the railroad company bankrupt and the rails abandoned.  It is a story we see often in our travels: abandoned homes or ranches falling into decay, abandoned businesses boarded up, with paint peeling…  it is always interesting to imagine the dreams of the people who built the homes and the businesses.   So much energy expended! 

Baby Burger at the BrickAnother rail trail is just a few miles away in Roslyn.  Here the story was coal mining, and the trail runs past slag heaps (which we saw) and mine ruins (which we didn’t see).  Of far greater interest to us by now was lunch, and we knew just where we wanted to go in Roslyn: The Brick.  If you remember Northern Exposure, you will recognize it as the bar/café where the characters of Northern Exposure so frequently got together (both the exterior and interior were used in filming).

Our fond memories of The Brick came from our visit with Jim and Diane.  We were surprised when, during our tour of the area with them, Jim said he’d buy us all (6 of us) burgers for lunch!  We trooped on in to The Brick and Jim went off to order our burgers. 

We almost fell on the floor laughing when they arrived – two baskets of three tiny burgers each, one for each of us!  (Diane Gruelle, I think that is your hand in the photo!)  So, in honor of our friend Jim, that is what I had for lunch, the appetizer threesome of burgers; Odel ordered a regular sized burger and we both had a local microbrew, thinking of our friends and that day.

Inside The BrickThe Brick has a beautiful bar, and a sign above our table provided a little history on the place:

“Welcome to The Brick, the oldest operating saloon in the state of Washington.  The Brick was built in 1889 by Mayor Peter Giovanini and is a hometown product made from brick manufactured in the Roslyn community. 

'”The back bar was shipped from England around Cape Horn and was purchased in Portland, Oregon.  It is more than 100 years old.

“The longevity of the chairs and tables is owed to Sears & Roebuck – acquired shortly after the turn of the century.”

In some ways, Roslyn reminds me of Bisbee, Arizona: each town founded on mining (coal in Roslyn and copper in Bisbee), with a long history of labor strife and struggle, each town falling on hard economic times when the mines were no longer profitable.  As artists and other independent souls moved in and began to rehabilitate the homes and commercial buildings, each town has created a new identity.  Both worth a visit!

More flowers than I have every seen on one house!

The Coal Miner’s Memorial in Roslyn.

Roslyn Flower House Coal Miner's Memorial

The following day, we were off reasonably early in the morning to visit Ellensburg, 30 miles away.  The draw?  The Saturday farmer’s market, of course!  Here was more evidence that summer is on the wane: plenty of corn and tomatoes, but the winter squash were abundant, too… and then the sprinkles started!

By the time we made our purchases and drove home the “back way”, foregoing I-90 for a more scenic route, the clouds were low and threatening.  The sprinkles of the morning turned into steady rain as the day progressed.  We headed back to the Iron Horse rail trail during a too-short break in the rain on Sunday, and 36 hours of steady cloud cover and cool temperatures did make us wonder:  is summer gone in Washington?


  1. We've been thinking the same thing - days in the mid 60's and more clouds and rain every other day. Oh well, it was a great summer, time to head south!

  2. you are making me look forward to our western travels next year..

  3. Another " must do" on our travels. Northern Exposure was one of our all time favorite shows

  4. I miss Northern Exposure a lot. It was a great show. Summer is still going here, with days in the 80's and a kayak in store this afternoon. Of course, who knows what it will be by the first of October. maybe fall? maybe winter? maybe still summer?

  5. It was nice to see your pictures of The Brick in Roslyn. I'm a big fan of Northern Exposure too, and really enjoyed our 2 visits there. I always get a comment when I wear my Northern Exposure Tee shirt. Lots of interesting info, great post.

  6. I want to visit this area because of the electrified railroad. That is just fascinating. Definitely time to go south. But since it's still 100 in Phoenix, not too far south yet.

  7. I love your pics! You have a unique, and upbeat perspective on your travels. This looks like an area I would love to visit.

    Happier Than A Billionaire

    Just for fun, baby monkey video taken from my kitchen window.


  8. You are doing what we should do upon arriving in an area -- jump in the car and explore to see what to jump in the car later and re-explore. Great idea!

  9. What fun you had exploring that area..me too!!I really miss going Northwest..that is a summer trip. We are going to get a taste of Fall this weekend..cool, rainy, yucky....I would still rather be in our fiver even in that kind of weather...Some popcorn, a good movie and our elec. fireplace ...just like home...

  10. You provided us with more to add to our "to visit" list! Thanks for the post.

  11. Love your description of your "circuitous exploration". That is exactly what I like to do too--alone. Never having to explain why you turned here, or there. Not having to apologize or explain why you are turning around to go back to something. What fun!

  12. Summer gone? Nope! At least not over here on the forgotten (east) side. But I'm sure fall is just around the corner waiting to drop our temps from the 80s to the 60 & 50s. Not sure how many golf days are left but this week is a good one to take full advantage. Have fun! Cheers! ~M

  13. What great memories of Roslyn! We're big fans of Northern Exposure and spent a week at the golf course RV park exploring "Cicely". We even danced on Ruth-Ann's grave!

  14. The Brick is one of my daughter and her friends favorite places to go for a weekend get away. Usually when they have some obscure rock band appearing. I hear some of the locals can rock pretty good.

  15. Wonderful photos. We loved Bisbee so I know we would love this area. The bar is awesome. We love eating at places with a ton of history.
    Thanks for the history lesson about the railroad. Really interesting.

  16. Hi Laurie & Odel, I loved your post on Rosalyn! So that's where they filmed the exteriors of "Northern Exposure"! I knew it was in WA and not AK, just didn't know where.

    Hey Odel, if you guys come south through Bandon, OR, at the Fish Market that sells wonderful Fish & Chips, they have a great Clam Chowder with lots of clam chunks in it! :)
    Happy Trails!

  17. The Rosyln Cafe used to have GREAT breakfasts, haven't been there for a while. Also hope you took the road on up to Salmon la Sac and up into the hills. Great country up that way with lots of hiking. Also hope you visited the Rosyln Cemetary, an interesting place with more history about the miners.


  18. Joe, we visited the cemetery last time - didn't make it this time. Yes, it is a very interesting and unusual one, worth visiting. Probably would have gone back if we had had more dry days!

  19. We loved Northern Exposure, we will have to visit there someday.