This year we visited the Methow Valley for a few days. We left a town where it was 60 degrees and overcast. Once we crossed over the pass we were in blue skies. We just looked at each other and grinned in amazement. It was pure bliss from that moment on.
|Just past the summit. Pure bliss beginning......NOW.|
Yeah, we pussed out and took the van instead of the Victory. This was as much a scouting expedition as a vacation, and it's nicer to be able to scout with a cup of coffee in hand. That, and we wanted to sleep a. in campgrounds b. on a comfortable bed c.inside a metal box that was d. safely above rattlesnake level, because e. fuck rattlesnakes. You're either in timber rattler country or desert rattler country out in Eastern Washington, and either one of them will bite you right on the hine and not give a fuck either way about it. Nothing ruins a vacation like a snake hanging off your ass. Thus the van proved to be an excellent choice. We only paid ten dollars on lodging and our butts remained reptile-free, unlike other we saw trudging around with five or six chomped on the back of them.
The Methow Valley is a different slice of Eastern Washington. The high forests are colder and damper than the Wenatchee side of the mountains, and there's a wider variety of plants...pine, fir, alder, spruce I think, vine maple, something that smelled intensely like juniper and a whole shitload of other stuff (yeah I know I should of brought my field guide but the dog ate it. Seriously. And here you were so looking forward to a botany lesson too. )
|Lotsa fuckin' trees really close together that are cold and wet.|
The foothills descend into rolling plain, and the forest ends in yellow dog hills and grassy, gravelly plains scattered with small clumps of sagebrush. The road you travel through them is edged with stunted oatgrass and short, silver artemesia.
|Picturesque log cabin that we saw with hills arroyo trees etc. And a bigass horse barn in the background.|
|One block off Main Street, Winthrop...the hardscrabble life of a wily forest denizen.|
Elk and deer everywhere, even in downtown Winthrop, holding up traffic as they eat the municipal landscaping, wandering through the parking lot of the grocery store, wading up the creek to watch the bikers getting overserved at the Schoolhouse Pub.
We were those bikers. Us, and hundreds more funky nasty tattooed fuckers ambling around half lit, as it turned out. We even met some hometown refugees and stood around in the middle of the street talking with them while all the other elderly miscreants baked in the sunshine, broke various misdemeanor laws,
|Just a reminder from the Church of Christ, Winthrop.|
Yeah, Winthrop is a 'Western' theme town, and it's campy and touristy, but it's cool.
|...and no western-themed town is complete without an abandoned hippie castle|
They have a craft show/farmers' market in the park every Saturday, and I failed to get a picture of it as well. Imagine lots of old people with long grey braids and faded hand-dyed t-shirts selling organic honey and incredible outrageously gorgeous handmade jewelery and little crocheted outfits for your laptop. It's a really good craft show. In fact the Methow is home to a rich and varied crafting legacy, one handed down not only from the primordial Native Americans but also the hippie scum that dried in a paisley ring around the valley back in 1969. That, and you get snowed in for four months out of the year when the North Cascades highway closes,
|..and closes with a bang I might add, with you stuck behind these battlements.|
We did a lot of exploring the backroads. Saw a lot of ancient hippie dwellings, tepees, yurts, Victorian homes, double wides, and 'vacation gothic' mansions. Saw some rivers. Saw lots of mountains. Saw this malachite green lake with the picturesque lightning-struck tree in front of it.
Then we came home. And here I is!
*The description I give here isn't of nursery-perfect specimens but trees that have survived fire at least once in their lives. They generally survive a flashing-over and even lightning without noticing much, and come back green the next spring. So there.