The Chelan Chronicles, Part I of IV
Monday 1 October 2012 — Category: Outings
While on my four-day outing to Lake Chelan in Washington state — iPad in hand! — I chronicled my entire journey from Chelan to Stehekin and back throughout each day, as I had opportunity to sit down and write a few words. This is the first of four reports of my adventures there.Lady of the Lake boat dock in Chelan, to catch the daily boat to Stehekin at the other end of Lake Chelan.
Yesterday I spent all day getting here, up I-5 and I-205 through Portland, then I-84 east through the Columbia River Gorge. Once I hit U.S. Route 97, I went north along the east side of the Cascades into Washington. The further I went, the more I encountered the effects of the dozens of wildfires burning across that part of the state. In the mountains between Ellensburg and Wenatchee the smoke was especially bad.
I had the most awesome chile-lime dry-spiced ribs at the Tin Lilly restaurant in Chelan last night for dinner — I think they were the best ribs I've EVER had in my life ... tender, juicy, and spiced to perfection! The mashed potatoes and veggies were really good too! Afterwards there was an incredible sunset down by the Chelan waterfront due to the large amount of smoke in the air.
I was still kinda full this morning from all those awesome ribs, so I had only a light breakfast of yogurt and orange juice. Well, gotta go now ... have to beat the crowd at the boat company.
OK ... I’m back. I made it to Stehekin at the other end of the lake, right on schedule. The cruise up the lake was really nice ... I enjoyed it and got lots of good photos. I didn’t think about bringing sunscreen with me for the four hour boat trip in the sun ... it was stuck in my luggage ... so I got a bit sunburnt. On the way back I will need to wear my hat and put on sunscreen. Live and learn!
Of course, there is no cell phone service in Stehekin. There’s supposed to be a wireless Internet (wi-fi) connection at the North Cascades Lodge, but there’s no signal here in the restaurant next door ... hopefully it will work in my hotel room.
Lunch prices seem much higher than reasonable ... I guess all the supplies have to come in by boat. The dinner prices are a bit high, but within reason ... barely.
Speaking of supplies, at Lucerne they unloaded a TON of supplies for the Lutheran camp up at Holden Village. Box after box and sack after sack was taken off the boat and loaded onto a waiting school bus the camp owns, which was parked right on the pier!
I figured there would probably be a crowd of people trying to check into the hotel at Stehekin, so I put my luggage in a special storage place, and decided to have lunch first, especially since I didn’t have much of a breakfast. I had some more orange juice on the boat ... gotta get some big doses of vitamin C!
After lunch I will check in, then pop in to the little store here, then go to the visitors center, then try to find the famous bakery. Well, my hamburger is here, so I have to go now....
OK ... I’m back ... in the same restaurant for dinner! What a busy afternoon I had ... riding a bike!
After lunch I went to check into my room, but the person who does that is also the person who runs the cash register for the store, and the store was REALLY busy! So I told her I would come back later.
To not waste time, I thought I would walk to the bakery, which I understood to be about two miles away up the valley. It was going to be a long, hot walk there and back. But a few minutes' walk out of Stehekin, I came across a bike rental place, and it was even self-serve! So I filled out the form, picked out a bike and helmet, and off I pedaled!
I’m so glad I rented a bike! I would have been exhausted to walk to the bakery with my hiking boots and backpack full of camera equipment and the heat. As it was, I made it to the bakery in ten minutes or so! I was still hot and sweaty, but very glad I didn’t have to walk.
For bread, they only sell loaves of sliced bread, so I bought one of those, and put it into a little carrier on the back of the bike. On the way back to the hotel, I stopped numerous times to take some nice photos.
Once back at the hotel, I was finally able to check in. After the bike ride and carrying my luggage up a lot of stairs to my room, I was very hot and thirsty. I wanted to buy a beer, but they only sell six-packs in the store, and there are no refrigerators in the rooms, so I wasn’t sure I really wanted to buy six, because I didn’t want to drink warm beer later.
One of the guys working in the store suggested that I fill up my trash can with ice, and use that to cool my drinks. I thought that was an excellent idea, so I bought a six-pack of my favorite beer — Moose Drool Brown Ale (don’t you just love the name!) — it even has its own t-shirt and poster and more!
Then I proceeded to turn the trash can in my room into an improvised ice chest. Fortunately, there is a big ice machine here with all the ice I can use. After a while I walked around a bit and dropped by the Golden West Visitors Center. When I got back, I found that my “ice chest” was having some problems!
I had used a round metal trash can, and now I was finding out that it leaks! I had set it, full of ice, beer and water bottles, on the dresser. When I got back, melted ice was all over the dresser, dripping down the dresser, and soaking into the carpet!
I quickly got an extra bath towel and sopped everything up. I decided to use the smaller plastic trash can in the bathroom as my new “ice chest.” Luckily there is a big floor fan in the room, so I have had that blowing on the carpet for hours to try to dry it out. It seems like the emergency is under control, except that the previously-white bath towel I used to dry the carpet is now really dirty ... I guess they have not shampooed the carpet for quite a while! The waitress is bringing my dinner ... gotta go!
OK ... I’m back in my room. After tiptoeing around the soggy patch of carpet, I’m sitting on the balcony enjoying the limited view of the lake (lot’s of trees in the way). Lunch wasn’t anything special — like a low-end, fast-food joint — and dinner wasn’t so good either.
I got some pasta with veggies and chicken, in a creamy, smoked-tomato and cheese sauce, but the smoked flavor was not very good. In one word, I would say it’s more like cafeteria food than a decent restaurant. Also, it was a huge quantity ... I only ate half. And the waitress asked if I wanted a doggie bag! Where in the world would I take it?! I guess I could have put it in my bathroom trash can “ice chest!”
Well, I’m not going to eat any more lunches here ... they are not worth it, and besides, I’m having picnics for the next two days at least. Hopefully they can’t ruin breakfast! And hopefully I’ll have something better for dinner the next two evenings after my hikes.
On the information board at the visitors center it said that a lot of rattle snakes and black bears have been spotted in the area! Hopefully I won’t be killed by a rattle snake and then eaten by a bear! The ranger said that there have not been any problems so far, so hopefully I won’t be the first!
Come to find out that there is no wi-fi here after all, even though the resort Web site said there was. My wife already knows that there is no cell phone service here, but she will be really worried if I don’t e-mail her for three days ... she might call the police! There’s only one way in Stehekin to contact her....
After dinner I walked down by the bikes to use the only pay phone — a satellite one at that. Someone was already talking on it, so I had to wait. They finally got off, and then I saw I needed a calling card. So I had to walk back to the store to buy one, then walk back to the phone. Luckily I didn’t have to wait again. I told Catherine I was out of the communications loop, and she would hear from me again Thursday afternoon once the boat gets close enough to Chelan.
Well, I guess that’s about all for today. This is a long report! I’m tired, and I still have to get ready for my hike tomorrow. Breakfast is at 7:00, and the bus leaves at 8:00. It’s nice here (except maybe for the food), and I’m hoping everything goes OK on my hike tomorrow, and I don’t meet any dangerous wild animals. And like I said above, hopefully they can’t ruin breakfast!
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