It had already been a long day.
I was without my co-pilot, heading to Vancouver for a conference and playing catchup with some friends.
I was late leaving Vancouver on Wednesday and thought it would be a nice drive through the Cascades, dodging the logjam of Seattle commuters on their way from work.
I wasn’t disappointed.
The day was drawing out, though, and I thought it would be best if I took the most direct route from Wenatchee to Spokane. That’s where life had a different plan.
My Google Nav told me to take a right at the dead-end intersection but all the signs said “Spokane, left.”
I thought “how could the signs be wrong?”
I was 20 minutes down the road before I realized I had three hours and change of driving left, instead of the two-and-a-half that Google Nav said I would if I had just hung a right.
Oh well, it was too late to turn back now.
That’s when I realized the route I was on. I knew I’d be passing through Douglas County, the farmland just past our last trip to Govan and the abandoned schoolhouse.
Trouble was, my atlas was on the living-room floor in Spokane and I had no mobile reception. I kept my fingers crossed that I might spy something — anything — from the road.
Sure enough, I passed through the village of Douglas. The township was platted in 1886 and named after the county in which it is located. It was a popular spot for miners on the Gold Rush trail but a fire ripped through the town in 1891, destroying the downtown core.
A new general store sprung up in 1904, right where it sits today:
Many of the buildings are in pristine condition, kept up by the loving touch of the 31 residents of Douglas.
It’s an outdoor museum of sorts, with an old fire truck and Ford tractor sitting in front of the old blacksmith shop.
There was no one stirring in Douglas on this night, however … no one to ask about the town or how long they’ve lived there.
I jumped back into the Escape and resumed my trip back eastward.
Then, I spied my gold.
It was sitting on the side of a hill, seeming lonely in its state of dilapidation.
The faded sign reads ‘No hunters’ and there’s another on the house reading ‘KEEP OUT’.
I spy a boot, sitting on a counter and switch to my long lens.
Owls hoot nearby.
Just up the hill from the house on Old Creek Road lies a brand new home. New residents love the small-town atmosphere, writes Luke Ellington on the Douglas PUD (public utilities department?) website.
“Douglas never boomed the way its pioneering founders wanted it to,” he says. “Yet, for this reason, it has retained the same charming and relaxed way of life the continues to draw new residents, customers, and enthusiasts.”
A simpler life, out of the big city, borne from a simpler time.