It takes just a little bit of poking around and a small dose of keen observation to discover some intriguing and whimsical finds in the valley. Here are a few discoveries that might bring a smile or surprise.
A good place to start is at Bella Luna, the antique and collectibles shop on Second Avenue in Twisp. Deborah Lord has been an antique collector and trader for decades and there are hidden delights tucked around every corner. COVID-19 put a halt to welcoming her customers into the store last spring. In response, this summer she expanded to the parking area to create a safe display for shoppers. Interest grew and sales have been good with the outdoor arrangement. However, some may regard the outdoor display as an eyesore. In this difficult time for small-brick-and-mortar businesses, it seems reasonable to turn the other cheek at minor grievances to help small businesses stay afloat. After all, “we are all in this together” is the coronavirus rally cry.
Another whimsical and quirky find is in the basement of TwispWorks Gateway Building No. 1, where the bizarre fantastical work of artist Masha Falkkov resides. In the small studio, visitors will be swept into a land of glass creations in the Molecule Zoo, cosmic psychedelic illustrations across the walls, and digital games on the consoles. If you are a homeschool parent looking to engage kids in organic chemistry, the Molecule Zoo contains glass replicas of neurotransmitters and enzymes in a tactically beautiful form. A trip to the studio will leave you in awe as the creations are truly one of kind.
You might discover a curious collection of padlocks on the Spring Creek Bridge in Winthrop. These are a growing collection of love locks. Et voila, I am not as cultured as I thought, because despite being to the city of love, I never knew about this tradition that is apparently quite common on the Paris Bridge. Lovers place locks on the bridge as a statement of their enduring dedication. In Paris, the time-honored tradition has become quite a nuisance to the bridge infrastructure, and the city has launched a massive public campaign to deter lovers from sealing their love. The Spring Creek Bridge has at least 50 locks secured to its cables. Only time will tell when the bolt cutters will make their way across the steel. Until then, it’s worth a peek to be reminded that in this time of political angst, love endures.
Another whimsical local find is the Free Rock, a place to find free stuff 10 miles up Twisp River. Free Rock appeared a few years ago. I can’t recall its inception — maybe it’s always been there? Furniture, bikes and various equipment and tools are among the assortment of items one might find at the Free Rock. A friend of mine recalls once on her way to a hike seeing about 10 weed whackers lined up at Free Rock. On her return home, all but a couple had been snatched up.
This final whimsical find I encountered on hike, located about 3.4 miles up the North Lake trail. According to Wikipedia, the Chelan National Forest was carved out of the Washington National Forest in 1908 at the official establishment of the National Forest System by Gifford Pinchot. In 1921, the Chelan Forest absorbed the Okanogan Forest, and in 1955 the forest changed names to the Okanogan. As one embarks the trail to North Lake, which used to be a mule trail to the Gilbert Mine, it meets the Cedar Creek junction to Abernathy Pass. If you blink, you might miss the overgrown sign to the “Chelan National Forest –North Creek Lookout,” both of which don’t exist anymore. The sign is a metal-pressed plate, like a license plate, and the bark of its host tree has grown around it, nearly obscuring it. It’s a testament to the lasting power of nature’s domain, literally swallowing signs of civilization.