Northport, Washington – There is a word for that nagging restless feeling you’ve had for the last couple of weeks. That urge to do something, to run away and as my friend says, blow off the dust. It’s called COVID fatigue, it’s completely normal and also somewhat to be expected after a year of social restrictions.
So gas up the car, pack your favorite snacks and drinkables, add a stash of masks and hand sanitizer, and you are good to go.
Earlier this month, I aimed my car north – toward Northport – and made a few stops along the way.
I stopped in Kettle Falls which is named after the falls that no longer exist, because they were forever flooded when Lake Roosevelt was dammed up by Grand Coulee Dam. The Kettle Falls Historical Center holds interesting exhibits about the native American heritage that shaped this part of the state, as well as stories of earlier settlers and fur traders. The museum reopens on May 15, if COVID restrictions allow.
Do stop at Meyers Falls Market (160 E Third Avenue, Kettle Falls) an independent natural food store that’s located in The Old Apple Warehouse, built in 1906. The food market is stocked with mainly whole foods and organic brands sourced from local producers. Next door is a fun gift and coffee shop featuring Kettle Falls’ own Crandall Coffee Company.
On your way out of town, check out the site of St. Paul’s Mission and the sharpening stone which has been used by Native Americans for generations. Tribes considered the area where the old mission building still stands one of the best salmon fishing spots on the Columbia. The mission was built in 1847 by Father Peter de Vos and was the baptism site for many Native Americans.
From Kettle Falls, follow the signs to Northport and the Canadian Border on highway 25 and prepare to be dazzled by the views. This is 35 miles of the most beautiful driving you’ll ever do in Washington. Mountains on the north shore of the river are reflected in the smoothly flowing water – and the road runs right along the river. It’s truly stunning.
The tiny community of Northport formed around a smelter in the late 1800’s. Frequent summer forest fires repeatedly burned the mining camp to the ground, which makes it even more remarkable that one of Washington’s oldest bars is still standing: Kuk’s Tavern opened in 1888 and has since operated out of the same building (400 Summit Ave., Northport) but with different names. Remarkably, it never burned down and today remains the hub of the community.