Day 1 : A road trip to the past
The drive from Washington Pass to Winthrop was uneventful without any stops in between and at around 8:30, I reached Winthrop. The ‘To Winthrop’ sign always makes me smile and excited every time I pass by it. Soon I parked at a parking lot near a sandwich place I could find. I forgot the name of the place, but it was near an ice cream shop (I remember because I was fighting off the urge to try the ice-cream as well).
After breakfast, I was ready to hit the road again and the next stop was a tiny town called Molson in Washington close to Canadian border. As I mentioned earlier, I was crushing on ghost towns at the time and Molson was one that stood out particularly for me because it was well preserved. Also, it provided a good distraction from the already seen and experienced road that I would have to take otherwise.
Molson is around 100 miles from Winthrop and I was excited to get started. This was the first time in this trip where I was on a road that I had not been on before. But with it came a worry as well. Molson is in a remote area and I was not sure about the availability of fuel. And if you have read my earlier posts, then you know that I usually end up worried because of not fuelling up in time. This time I was determined to avoid that and so I fuelled up from the last gas station I knew of before taking the exit towards Molson. (In hindsight, it turned out to be needless worry as there are other gas stations on the way).
The landscape soon changed and changed again from green and snowy to dry and arid and back to green as it could not make up its mind. The drive went on uneventfully and soon I could see signboards informing of Canadian border and wait times. Soon after that, I came across a sign board showing the direction and turn I need to take towards Molson, which meant I was getting very close to my northernmost point in this trip.
The road to Molson; I found it quite fun really. The roads were empty and the sides filled with wildflowers and wild lavenders. There were green rolling hills and in between it was dotted with old structures, and I mean really old. Some looked burned as well, but maybe it was just the decay from age.
Soon I came across the sign for Molson,”Entering Molson, Population 35”. This was my first time in a place like this, an area so remote and peaceful and to be honest when I reached there, it did not look as old as I thought it would.
But that was just because I was not at the right place yet. I did not have any telephone network at Molson and so I could not check the exact place that I need to reach for the ‘Ghost town’. While wandering around, I chanced on the board for Molson Museum.
It is hard to explain what I felt when I entered Molson museum. It was open air and I was not very sure exactly how much of it was real and if it was reconstructed, but most of the displays – if I can put it that way – were in good shape, but old. It was very well maintained. I explored the museum for a bit and I will let the pictures do the talking.
I spent considerable time at Molson, just marveling at the old printing machines, the old machinery and just taking in the joy of reaching a place that I had been planning to for a while (Monte Cristo, WA you are next). It was empty with hardly anyone around. I enjoyed the solitude, the sound of the wind and the feeling of being in the middle of history. I spent time taking pictures while trying to imagine what life would have been like in Molson’s Hay-days.
It was soon time to leave Molson though and I had a lot of distance left to cover on day 1. But there was one more quick detour I wanted to make. In the map, I could see the Canadian Border just a few miles away and there was a road right next to it. I did not know what to expect but my curiosity got the better of me and decided to go check it out. The road soon turned to primitive road and I finally came across the border. The road I was driving on was in the United States, but just in arms reach was the fence separating the border. I was amazed at the simplicity, mostly because my idea of a border between two countries is something more fierce and intimidating. At the time, I thought this was probably the highlight of the trip.