Washington Pass lookout - spectacular!
Last week we ventured south to Bellingham, then east over the Washington Pass to find ourselves in Winthrop. A refurbished gold mining town that is picture perfect for a western movie set, or a Harley convention. There were tons of riders in the valley and parked in town, strolling in the 100 degree heat in their leather vests, chaps, beards and bandannas. You've got to give those guys & gals credit for commitment to the brand!
Ten families from our elementary school joined together and camped at Pearrygin Lake, a state park on a perfectly-sized little lake nestled in the grassland hills a few miles above the town. It was just my husband, daughter, her circus friend and I (our son is learning the ropes of construction with his uncle back east for 5 weeks). We scored a great site; shady, right on the water and complete with nesting ducks who were sure to invite us to their breakfast party at 5:00 a.m. each morning.
The days were filled with lots of activities including water sport fun; as one of the dads rented a little Sea-Do speed boat to pull the kids on tubes and a wakeboard. Everyone in our very large group had a bicycle of some kind. There were the downhillers and cross-country riders seeking single track flowy trails through the grasslands and ponderosa pine forest, a few road riders (myself included) looking for quiet valley roads to tour, and kids who just had fun ripping around the campground.
Our group of four departed one morning in search of inner tubes at the Winthrop Motors gas station - we'd heard it would be great fun spending a couple of hours floating down the Methow River that runs through town east to Twisp. We handed over our $20 each (and were assured our tubes would be purchased back for $5 if we returned them in PERFECT condition). I don't have any photos of this adventure (no waterproof camera), but suffice it to say we had a ball for an hour and a half, froze our asses (literally. Like, completely numb in 5 minutes and remained that way for the following 85, which came in handy for the one or two times we bumped over the smooth river rocks), screamed a little in the rapidy parts, laughed a lot, held hands and hoped we wouldn't miss our landing place downstream. This was a very 'local' experience, made even more so by the humourous advice we got while trying to figure out how to make the river float happen. At the gas station, the attendant told us "don't land at the KOA campground, they don't like it if you're not actually camping there. Instead, go further and park your car on the side of the road where the big pile of dirt used to be". Uhm, ok. B left us girls at the starting place (the big red barn in town) and drove down the highway in search of the phantom pile of dirt beyond the KOA campground. Having no luck, he asked someone at the campground where to leave the car and they said "just keep driving down the highway until you get the place where the big pile of dirt used to be." Seriously? In the end, it all worked out and the lovely local Jennifer picked up my hitch-hiking husband and drove him right back to us at the starting point.
Later that afternoon we were told that the local outfitter wasn't running river float tours because the water was too high. Oops.
There are some things you just don't see in the city...
I'm pretty sure we're all in for returning next year. The road riding and mountain biking were fantastic (I managed one fun trail ride on a borrowed full-suspension bike and that's where the rash comes in - my legs are covered in tiny welts from riding through the dry grasses and shrubbery). Despite the fact that it was over 100 F each day, the lake cooled us off, ice was plentiful in our coolers and there was a lovely old willow to shade our group at the beach.
I hope we can get reservations during a full moon next summer. Camping under this super-moon, in warm and dry conditions with no tent fly required was truly dreamy.