Road Trip

Washington State is full of surprises. (Pix at the bottom of the post.) I have lived over on the Western shores all the time I have been here, crossing the Cascades only one time into Idaho. And that was to pick up a truck, so it really wasn't a pleasure trip to see the sites.

These past three days were an eye-opener.

This last winter and this summer have been the worst I have experienced; gray, damp and cold. So when Janet invited us over to Lake Chelan, where the sun shines, it was a no brainer, even though it was just three days.

Monday morning was of course gray and cold, but up early and on the 7 am ferry from Kingston to Edmonds. A lot of coffee fueled the trip. Coming from the west, we headed over the Cascade Range foothills, through small country towns and farming communities. As we headed further east, the sun came out and it actually started to get hot.

We didn't make a lot of stops, but one was in Skykomish, a dot on the map that has a lot of railroad history. We wondered what was going on though, as there was a lot of construction, boarded up hotels and houses. Came to find out that the entire town is undergoing an environmental remediation. Apparently, the BNSF Railroad and the Department of Ecology are working to repair the damage caused by the railroad in the past. The fuels from the trains were dumped and contaminated the ground water, along with other damage. It's a huge project that has already been going on for several years. Currently they are working on the river and river banks.

We stopped in Leavenworth, which is cute, but a real tourist town. Very kitschy, not really my style, lots of shops selling junk. And a spectacular setting, nestled in the mountains. But we did stop in at a Danish Bakery for a treat.

Driving along the narrow mountain road, we had several road construction stops, but they were very short so I could get out of the car and listen to the river roaring through the rapids. It was moving really fast and I wondered how anyone could raft or kayak on them. Some of the boulders were as big as houses.

The first view of the Lake was breathtaking. It is huge! 55 miles long and really deep - 1400+ feet at the deepest point. The road runs right along the banks and the water is crystal clear - but cold as it is fed from the glaciers high up at the head of the lake. I could see why J&P like it there - the setup is just like their place down Baja - desert and water.

We only made one wrong turn and found Janet and Pat's place.

When Janet told me it was a single wide mobile home, I really had doubts about where she was living. But the set up surprised me. It is in an old development of sorts that belongs to the Yacht Club just down the hill. The home is old and the site steep. It sits up high and the previous owner built an enormous covered deck. So you can basically live outside in the summer when the weather is so wonderful. The area actually shuts down in the winter although there are apparently some people who are there year round. Janet and Pat will head south to Mexico at the end of the season.

The Yacht Club is great! Old and set over the water on pylons. They have to be replaced so the Saturday evening dances now have to happen outside! But how cool is that? Warm, moonlit nights on the lake. Good music, good food! Too bad we weren't there over the weekend. But we sat out on their boat in the marina, just enjoying being on the water.

First evening we kicked back, Janet and I drank too much wine! But recovered the next morning with a wonderful walk up the hillside, being aware we might run into a bear! Blanco, her Mexican rescue dog came with us, rushing around sniffing and enjoying himself. From the top of the hill, we walked down to a gracious, old resort called Kelly's, which has been a family-run place for eons. Overgrown with ivy, and a huge deck where we relaxed with lattes. Warm - make that hot - sun, sparkling water, boats - nice!

The guys went sailing, Janet and I went to town. Stopped at one of the numerous vineyards sprouting up. Karma, it's called. We actually didn't sample the wines, it was a bit too early for us, but what a charming place! It's an ideal wedding venue and they also have a limited menu. Perfect for wine on the patio.

Stopped at a fruit and vege store that was part of a farm. So we taste tested goodies and Janet bought Rainier cherries to add to all the Trader Joe's cheeses we took with us.  They were absolutely devine! Janet, bless her buttons, bought me a jar of local organic apple cherry butter.

Janet had a face to face with one of the goats.

Town is cool - we wandered the shops, not doing much actual shopping, but both of us are rather deprived in regards to where we can shop, so it was fun to see what is available. We oooh'd and aaah'd and fingered stuff and dreamed.

My favorite store was the food coop called Bear Foods. What a store! Great gourmet foods, local foods, specialty stuff! Just amazing. I could have spent an absolute fortune in there - but refrained! In the kitchen store, next to the coop, I bought Janet a citrus zester - something she has wanted for a while! So now we can expect twists in our G&Ts.

Dinner on the deck again - tough life.

Breakfast on the deck - another tough morning. We started out with coffee and biscotti and cherries. And ended up with a full European breakfast of cheeses, salami and fruit. And of course, sunshine.

We decided to come home a different way, via the northern section of the Cascade Loop. We had actually followed the Loop from Edmonds at the start of the trip. It proved to be a great move! What a highway! A totally different experience than the Eastward portion, coming over the back side of the mountains. Driving through valleys filled with fruit orchards, rivers flowing everywhere. Small towns, that if you blink, they're gone. Then up, up, up into the mountains and over the passes. Snow alongside the road in places, too. The highest pass was over 5,000 feet. The road was excellent, recently resurfaced. And although there was some traffic, it wasn't at all congested.

We ended up not stopping much and caught the 4:45 ferry back home.

The kitties were very happy to see us, and not pissed off at all, much to my surprise. Though today, they are sticking close to home.