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March 12, 2008

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Where's Richard?                                 Republic, WA



Destination: Republic, Washington
By Richard Frinta

Are reruns of Bonanza and Gunsmoke just not cutting it for you anymore? A good remedy might be to saddle up and head on out to Republic, Washington for the real thing. Republic is far from being a Hollywood set … it’s a real live cowboy town, supported by the timber, livestock, gold and tourism industries. This town is bursting with activities so join me for a quick tour. And don’t forget to check out their calendar of events.

Republic, once known as Eureka, was officially incorporated on May 22, 1900 and was once a wild and furious gold rush town. You can still see, even today, a horse or two tied up along the main street. It is thought that the town swelled to a population of 20,000 as prospectors came to work the mines. Today, the town has roughly 1,000 residents and has for the last 50 years. Driving down the main street at night, you can almost imagine yourself posting up the horse, pushing through the saloon doors and ordering a whisky. Billy the Kid fixes a cold eye on you and before you know it ... oh, wrong town, but you get the picture ...

Republic is easiest to get to from within Washington and from southern British Columbia, Canada. An easy route? Fly into Spokane via Express Jet. You can explore the city, lodge at the historic Davenport Hotel, rent a car from either Dollar or Enterprise and then continue on to the town of Republic. Start out by taking Highway 395 North, exit Highway 20 West, cross the majestic Columbia River and head into one of the most beautiful summit passes imaginable. Take note: If you are heading there in the near future, allow yourself extra time as construction crews are busy making repairs. You can also reach Republic from Rossland, British Columbia, and lodge at one of the Red Mountain Resort properties. In addition, Air Canada flies from Seattle and other cities into three surrounding BC airports (Penticton, Kelowna and Castlegar). WestJet goes into Kelowna, from there proceeds to Rossland, then on to your final destination of Republic. Distances to Republic from: Seattle: 181 miles/291 kilometers, Spokane: 91/147, Rossland: 52/83, Penticton: 70/113, Kelowna: 93/149 and Castlegar: 67/108.

Republic is surrounded by the Kettle Mountains and has the seven-mile long Lake Curlew nearby to satisfy boaters and fisherman alike. If relaxation is what you’re longing for, grab a raft and just float along. If you take to the road, you can visit the grand Coulee Dam (possibly on your return to Spokane), or being so close to Canada, you can head over to Rossland, BC, for great skiing and challenging mountain biking trails. The Stonerose Interpretive Center is a wonderful way to get down and dirty and drift back to yesteryears. Here you can dig for prehistoric fossils and is well worth the visit as those I met coming back can attest to. Everyone brought back at least one fossil from their dig.

Since I had only one day to spend in Republic before heading to Spokane, I decided to spend all my time at the K Diamond K Guest Ranch, where as soon as I came to a stop on the dirt road leading up to the ranch, I was greeted by one of the owner’s daughters, a very pleasant woman named Kathy. Kathy made me feel right at home, asking if she could assist with my bags and inquiring about the activities I’d be interested in participating in during my stay. Activities range from hayrides and fly-fishing to panning for gold, hiking and biking. Stargazing is an event here and should not be skipped, especially if you’re a city dweller!

K Diamond K Ranch is situated on a parcel of 1,500 acres. Central to that land is the guest ranch built by owners Steve and Dr. June Konz in 1961. At present, this family run, fully operating dude ranch has four guest bedrooms and a fifth (where I stayed) in the barn. Steve, a very engaging yet soft-spoken man, talked to me about his expansion plans of making his working guest ranch even better. He plans on making better use of the large barn to include weekly dances by inviting local musicians. In addition, they will soon have finished the construction of the second guest lodge. It’s like the White House of all log cabins. It will have 16 rooms, eight decently sized bedrooms, a 1,500 square foot kitchen (wouldn’t we all like that?) and will operate ‘green’, by using a geothermal heating system. Steve and Dr. June hope that this will become a great way for corporations to reward their valued employees ... with a weeklong stay at their ranch. The Konzs encourage guests to do as they like: relax to their heart’s content or help out with cowboy-like chores.

Staying at the ranch was delightful. Here are a few highlights.
• Rustling up the cattle and helping to take them to higher grounds. My responsibility was to follow close behind in my car with flashers turned on.
• Enjoying a cowboy-style dinner of barbecued beef (well done to the T), salad, potatoes and a dessert. We dined in the open air, on large picnic tables. The fare was modest but tasty.
• Roosters waking me up more often and earlier than I cared for in the morning ... OK, let’s take that off the highlight list.
• A morning horse ride that took us into the local hills where we spotted wild turkeys and a vista so spectacular, words cannot describe.
Eventually, it was time to hit the trails. Translation: I must be jetting to the airport. But Steve, insisting that there was no way I was leaving without a proper meal, corralled me back into the house. Steve and Dr. June truly are some of the most hospitable folks you will ever meet. My recommendation is to stay at least three days there. The most enriching value would be to stay a full week. Rates: April 1 - October 31, $150 per adult and $85 for children aged three to five, per night. K Diamond K Ranch, 15661 Highway 21 South, Republic Washington, Tel: 509-775-3536.

I saddled up my rental car, took off my stirrups and headed to Spokane. I kicked up some dust down the road and turned on the radio. Looking out the window, I said goodbye to some of the most beautiful scenery you can imagine. The only noises I could hear were the sounds of birds, horses and Steve’s son Wayne shooing up a horse. Garth Brooks’ song The Dance streamed through the radio and the lyrics ... “for a moment all the world was right” were fitting. “Yes, yes it was,” I thought.

This trip was sponsored by Visit Spokane.

Pictures From

The Trip


Express Jet


Female Rancher


Cutting Loose the Horses


Male Rancher


Stray Horse


Late Afternoon Gallop


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