Friday, August 17, 2007

Day four: Home again, home again, jiggity jig

We had made a pact to only visit locally owned businesses on our vacation. Politically that's a lovely idea but restaurant-wise it's a crapshoot. The Biker and I are pretty discriminating when it comes to our groceries. Fortunately we have no qualms whatsoever about walking out of a place that doesn't send out the right vibe, and we'll follow the other's lead unquestioningly on the spur of the moment. So it was that we set out down the highway on the morning of day four with our psychic food radars tuned to righteous breakfast signals.
We ended up in Dryden in a tiny little roadside cafe, the only one open at that hour.

It was like destiny.

Breakfast is CRUCIAL. You can throw anything you want at a hungry person for dinner and generally they'll thank you. But fuck up breakfast, particularly in a rural area, and you'll be closing down real fast. You do not mess with sleepy, grumpy people who have to put in ten hours a day on a tractor or behind the wheel of a log truck.
This place was perfect. The staff was friendly and the food was AMAZING.
Take a Break Coffee. Trust me. Go there NOW. Get a passport if you have to. It's that good.

We took our time and hit the backroads. We found Lake Wenatchee, way up in the foothills in big hair country. Beautiful, cold, hard blue water surrounded by longleaf pine and soopalallie brush waiting to go up like a bomb with the next lightning strike. Beautifully maintained park. Late August and not a single overturned trash container, not one candy wrapper, nothing. Pristine. Colder than Ziggy's tit in a brass bra, too.

This is horse heaven. Hitching posts and iron rings are set into the curbs outside the businesses. Actual adult people ride horseback along the side of the highway, not just little girls. The locals really go all out on the whole 'ranch' thing, too, and there are some amazing spreads in between Dryden and Leavenworth that would look right at home on the set of 'The Rifleman'. And from all appearances, it's for real...raising trail ponies is big business here. So is recreational riding; from day riders on rented mounts to guided elk hunts a month long through the backcountry with a packhorse train.

Back on the other side of the Cascades, going down through the mist and the clouds, we thought we'd lost the town of Index. Now, I have a brain like a garage never know what you'll find when. The Biker has a mind like a steel trap. If we've both forgotten something then it's time to be concerned. We started joking about Cartmans anal probe, ha ha, but I caught him openly checking his watch a la Betty and Barney Hill. "Don't you DARE mention maple syrup"*, I warned.
Too late. I'd just mentioned it.
Things got quiet in the car.

We found Index.

We spent a little longer there than was entirely necessary.

There was a time when we seriously considered making retirement plans that included moving to the town of Index. Index itself is just an amazing, beautiful, secluded place. It's situated next to the Skykomish river, down a small road off the main highway and over a bridge. It is almost perfectly preserved, which is itself amazing given it stands in the middle of forest fire country. Still, most of the original wooden buildings still line the two main streets, including the old 'Red Man Hall', an old fraternal organization. There's not a plumb line left in the place, yet someone's bought it and they're fixing it up!

Despite the generally depressed economy of the region, there is a distinct absence of both trailer trash and opportunistic yuppie dorks in Index...just retirees and families and nice big dogs sleeping in the street.

A huge notorious biker bar used to operate out of the old mill building right next to the bridge. It had been closed down due to repeated 'problems' in it's recent past, and the last time we visited the skinny, crazy-haired woman who owned it was having a huge garage sale to clear out the last of the accumulated weird. She showed us around inside, sucking on a Jack rocks all the while, Camel cigarette bobbing in the side of her mouth while she talked up the property. It was almost tempting, too...aside from the small problem of the place regularly flooding up past the first storey every winter. Everything was original. Old mirrored bar back full of bullet holes, zinc topped bar with a brass rail, spittoons. The plank flooring was peppered full of gouges from loggers' caulk boots. The gas lighting fixtures were still in place in the cribs, which were still wallpapered with old newspapers scrawled with names. There was even a moose head wearing a baseball cap. This was one of those places where you cannot help but imagine what the ghosts talk about when no body's around.

Near Sultan we saw a sign advertising the Sky River Meadery
. We had to stop. A winery? Meh. But a meadery we'd never seen up until this point. The Biker had wonderful memories of the stuff...he'd been an SCA member back in the day**and they used to brew their own mead for their 'feastes'. He'd extolled it's virtues to me in such fashion that I was eager to give it a taste.
Damn! Excellent stuff!
He was a little disconcerted...the mead he was used to was made using honey from bees who'd been sipping from the blossoms of cannibis sativa x. "Matanooska Thunderfuck", and it had an altogether different kind of kick. Still, we bought two bottles.


...the amazing rock formations along the columbia river are a staggering sight to behold

...pterodactyls native to the region have adapted well to man's presence

...the presence of these large prehistoric fliers plays a crucial role in regulating local nuisance species which, if left uncontrolled, would run nuts chucking buses full of screaming japanese people into office buildings

...a crew of firefighters joined us aboard the 'Lady of the Lake' cruise

...we saw a scary fire that blazed up from between the hills

...produce of all kinds was on sale everywhere in charming roadside stands. here a local farmer urges me to try his corn

* movie reference, That Which May Not Be Named, i.e. 'Conflagration in the Lower Atmosphere'.

** now keep in mind, this was up in Alaska in the 70's, and Alaskans in general have some sad, backwards notions of what 'cool' consists of anyway...still. Picture a fineass cigar smoking bear, butch as fuck and high on coke, wearing full chain mail, beating the living snot out of someone using a broadsword, thigh deep in the snow, and yeah, I'll give that a 'cool' rating, what the hey.


  1. Get thee to a meadery!

    I fear I've gone a little too "Close to the Edge" reading this posting.

  2. I love your camera! IT's psychedelic!

  3. mj: I'm not sure how you meant that. *snif* hold me. I'm feeling Fragile.

    w2: its the Roger Dean model!

  4. Godzilla arm-wrestling Metal-man? I gotta go there! Now all it wants for me are the Gerry Andersen puppet characters.

    Sounds like a great road-trip. I suppose I ought to get across the pond more often and see some of America that hasn't been franchised.

  5. i suppose i deserved that. :-D

    my friend Big Wally (as opposed to his wee son Wee Wally) ferments his own mead from the honey from the bee hives in the back yard. the spring collection is all from dandelion and mint blossom, and it's the lightest, most buttery, tangy honey you've ever tasted. the mead is amazing. when we were in college he'd bring some around on May Day and we'd dance the maypole on campus at sunrise and drink mead and morris dance and show up to breakfast at 7 am drunk off our frolicking asses. i love mead.

    ps. those firefighters are smokin.

  6. I'm not trying to give you the Long Distance Runaround.

  7. sopwith camel: i had to wiki that-damn, i used to watch UFO and Space 1999! i had no idea about the puppet stuff; we may not have had those here. of course, as usual, they look way more awesome than what we DID have at the time *sigh*

    cb: i bet you showed up drunk; that stuff has a kick like a missouri mule! i have yet to try the homemade stylee but i'm sure someone out here must make it. // we got the pix developed and put on disk and THEY STILL WONT FRICKEN DOWNLOAD TO THE FRICKEN NET!!!! CRAP DAMN PEE ARF EARWAX SNOT GRRRR

    mj: i find all this badinage alienating in the extreme; as a result i am the owner of a lonely heart.(knudsons, in a jar)

  8. I love mead as well , Natemare was brewing his own , which was well nice and had a good kick.
    Freaky pics :-)

  9. Kristy10:31 AM

    We were never into SCA, but we used to brew mead too. We had hops growing up the side of our house--four different varieties--the sort of thing that would have made our current Home Owners Assocication president roll over in his grave, if, that is, he were dead (I wish). The only problem with mead is that it takes several years to age properly. But once it does? Ooooeeee! Good drinkin!

  10. Ah yes! Mead. Never made any intentionally, but had a bucket of honey ferment once. Whooof! That was some rocket fuel.
    Nice firemen!

  11. I love going to local eateries...but then again, I don't ever really go out of every place I go to these days is local.

  12. Do you know they have a city called Malaga in Spain? (I know it was the last post, Im slow) - enjoying your travelogue & the maps link is cool. Matanooska Thunderfuck sounds even better.

  13. my nose has dropped off . . .

  14. . . . and seeing that Roger Dean a/w always reminds me of that crap band Yes - God they were crap

  15. I emailed the link of the meadery to my husband. So we now have the noodle to see and a meadery the next time we are up in that neck of the woods. Thankee kindly. Love the pics.

  16. Do you plan to organise an International Mead Exchange with Tickers? You could have dressing up, and everythin'.....

  17. Beast: that's so awesome..good on natemare. the closest i've ever come to making my own brew is when my canned tomato sauce fermented.

    kristy: this stuff is cold brewed or something; see the website...anyway, it takes less time to 'git good' and comes out tasting very 'nouvelle', not syrupy at all. whats wrong with hopvine? they're gorgeous! poopy man.

    dinahmow: i remember getting drunk as an owl with a buddy of mine in jr. hi off fermented applesauce. woo! good, and good FOR you!

    awaiting: there's some amazing food that comes from down your way, though. i don't wanna hear it. southern regional vs german cabbage illness with fricken'sugar and caraway on everything? no contest, lady. pass the dirty rice.

    frobi: yeah, it was named after the grape variety that came from spain. unfortunately i think after that first harvest fermented everyone just kind of laid down and quit. now go find your nose and line me up another go. left tit, this time.( i LIKED yes!!! in small doses.)

    gale: it's not much of a tourist destination, though. it's a pretty businesslike place...there's no gardens or bistro; its just a building with an office, pretty much. of course, it's an office crammed with bottles of high octane bee juice..!

    ara: tick doesn't need an excuse to dress up. national potato week, secretariat's birthday, christening of the Nimitz, he's already trying on the fishnet tights and wearing the pirate hat by 5:am.

  18. am I famous now? If so please send firemen - thank you X

  19. Did someone mention fishnet tights..... or did I just have a horrible flashback ????

  20. I've never really got the hang of fish net tights. I think, perhaps, you're supposed to take the fish out first.

  21. Arabella- Mead is close to heaven.

  22. must.



  23. sorry, i had a nice comment but i got lost at the firefighters. you did catch their digits right? come to mama!