On a quest to know best available alternative town in the US, our columnist takes a superhighway trip-up through the north-west. Along the space he obtains spate of competitors with enormous diners, bookshops and easy access to the outdoors, but which target gets his vote?
Out on Route 21 in Washington state, the long golden prairies of wheat stretch out on either side of the road, lapping against distant purplish mountain ranges. Abandoned farms dot the landscape: scrawny timber-framed skeletons, their owners given up and gone to California or Seattle. I even snooped a lone grey wolf, standing and staring at my run automobile. He must have come across from Canada, manager south for winter maybe.
Some of the cities are no longer alive, but Pomeroy , in the south-east of the state, depicts signs of hope. Theres a great bookshop where the owner, John, affirms things are on the up. Dont announce us Pomeranians though. Thats a dog.
I tell him about my quest: a search for the perfect funky small-minded American town, a region with a buzzing homespun coffee shop and a great little deli, a city with some youth exuberance and a shared ardour for the great outdoors plus, of course, friendly bookshops such as his.
To me, those townships are where America is at its good. Its the new American daydream. It seems particularly appropriate that Im doing this in the middle of a wicked ballot duel between two most varied images of America. John affirms that Pomeroy is manager for success, but after a look around township I can see the duel is not quite acquired. I label Pomeroy as a maybe.
Alternative funky townships of America. Id expended the previous year gathering a listing of possible locatings. After I detected a rich seam of internet discussed on the subject, my listing had grown inordinately long and crossed almost every territory in the union. But what stood out was that north-west corner: northern California, Oregon, Idaho and Washington. The neighborhood was plainly catnip to people who wanted something better from life than can be bought in Walmart. I gleaned rows on the road atlas. I discounted the cities Portland and Seattle too big and well-known. I caught a plane to San Francisco. I got on Highway 101. I led north.
That first night I formed it as far as the Benbow Inn near Garberville , on the cusp of redwood country. Next morning, I had breakfast in the Woodrose Caf and decided that all my townships would need somewhere just like this: a busy little diner acting kickstart-the-day nutrient for lumberjacks.