The 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe isn’t just an inexpensive SUV, it’s also capable of handling the forest roads of backwater Washington to a recently deserted ghost town.
There’s older ghost towns in the state, but Lester is about two hours outside of Seattle on the outskirts of King County and rather easy to get to.
Located out near Stampede Pass, Lester was once a town along the Northern Pacific Railway. Even though it hasn’t had a railroad station since the 1950’s the denizens stayed around their quiet little part of the Upper Green River Valley; I’m dead certain they stuck around because it is unbelievably gorgeous.
The last resident of Lester, Gertrude Murphy, passed away at the age of 99 on September 29, 2002. For 13 years, Lester has been a shell of it’s former glory; left for the wilderness to creep back inside.
The town is 2 miles past a gate, which is around 20 miles down forest service roads from I-90. Plenty of dirt roads, pitted with potholes, ruts and washboarding… Hopefully no deer. Sounds like fun.
To get there, I took the new 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, my husband, my best friend of 15 years, some lunch and a metric ton of water.
The Santa Fe comes with active All-Wheel Drive (AWD) which intelligently puts power to each of the wheels as is needed in the corners (nope, wasn’t trying to slide the Santa Fe one bit) and over the many spots where the road disappeared to around 8 inches below where it was only moments before.
No matter how hard I tried to get the 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder, creating 264 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque, to create enough power to break loose – it wouldn’t. Stubborn thing. It’s as though they intended for the AWD to keep the Santa Fe on the road. Hm…
When a deer popped out in front of us, the combination of AWD and good brakes stopped us so the doe could prance off. Though, if we had hit it, a plethora of safety features and airbags would jump into action like a deer fleeing from the sound of a SUV on noisy dirt roads.
The Santa Fe comes standard with a slew of creature comforts, including heated side mirrors, windshield wiper deicer and a heated steering wheel (Ultimate Package) for those frozen days, and vented seats for the hot ones (also the Ultimate Package).
My friend in the backseat enjoyed a panoramic sunroof and sunshades on the side windows for most of the drive – enjoying the outdoors without having to be blinded by it. As we froze her with the air conditioning, she warmed herself back up with heated back seats (Ultimate Package).
Stopping at various scenic viewing points for the obligatory photo opportunity made the road going slower than we may have planned for, but that didn’t matter. The views of Mount Rainier and the deep valleys surrounding the soaring peak was well worth the effort of heading about two hours outside of Seattle.
When the mountain views left, the river scenes began – gurgling rivers tumbling over boulders and smooth river rocks – all the way to the end of the road, where we left the Santa Fe to hoof the four miles to (and from) Lester.
Up in the hills, the breeze sounds like the screams of a thousand fans at CenturyLink Field heard from across Elliot Bay, while down in the valleys for the walk the winds were a quiet breeze rustling the leaves through the broken windows of the main house or providing that bit of respite from the searing sun on the walk down an unrelentingly unshadowed section of the trail.
Lester is a great place to see the wilderness taking over the rotting barn and become one with the silence of the outdoors as you sit on the abandoned bench just east of the houses. Maybe you’ll hear the voices of Lester-past, or maybe you’ll hear the voices of your family and friends beaconing you back to the trail to leave.
The drive back was untalkative as the three of us pondered on the unseen and unexperienced world. . . What am I saying, we were tired from the sun beating on us for 4 miles and the many brief stop-hikes to see whatever there was to see.
I turned on the tunes of Pandora and enjoyed the 12-speaker Logic 7 surround sound system from Infinity. I be-bopped my way through traffic as my passengers fought a coma-like nap in the heated seats.
No deer hit on the way home and no drunks encountered. A successful trip to Lester in the Hyundai Santa Fe.
Created with flickr slideshow.