Brian's Photo Blog — Article 175
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The Chelan Chronicles, Part IV of IV
Monday 15 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 last of four reports of my adventures there.

You can read Part One of this series in The Chelan Chronicles, Part I of IV
You can read Part Two of this series in The Chelan Chronicles, Part II of IV
You can read Part Three of this series in The Chelan Chronicles, Part III of IV

Yesterday morning was the clearest I've seen it here, with a nice sunrise on the surrounding mountains. But I was too busy trying to get breakfast and catch the bus to take any pictures. But I figured that the next morning, this morning, I would have plenty of time. Or so I imagined!

Last evening at sunset, a west wind was blowing smoke over the mountains our direction. It did make for some nice sunset photos. But this morning, when I got up early to take a walk to the lakeside outdoor chapel about one and a half miles away, I saw that it seemed quite smokey out ... the worst I've seen it since being here.

I woke up at 5:50, and sure didn’t feel like getting up ... if only I could just roll over! But I did want to go on my sunrise walk, so that meant I had to get up. Well, once again it was worth it, and I can always sleep in tomorrow, because it’s a day without much planned ... just drive to Monroe, northeast of Seattle.

I took my walk anyway ... it was nice to be out in the stillness and quietness of the early morning. I think I got some decent shots, but the beauty of yesterday’s clearness was definitely long gone. Which just goes to prove what I discover time and again ... if you see a nice scene, take the photo right away, because it likely will not be there later. Snooze you loose!

It was nice to take a three mile walk before breakfast ... and to not have to rush to catch the bus! I even got a photo of the bus coming down the road as I was walking back ... a good souvenir shot!

Now I’m going to have a big breakfast, and basically skip lunch ... I’ll just snack a bit if I feel like it. Then a good, big salad with some steak on top at that nice restaurant in Chelan for dinner once the boat arrives.

Since I have time before the boat leaves at 2:00, and not much to do this morning, I think I will rent a bike for a couple of hours and ride it down the lake ... I have not gone that direction yet. I might as well, because otherwise I will be pretty bored. Oh, my food is here ... gotta go .... Oops, it wasn’t my food ... this cook is really slow! Good thing I’m not in a hurry today, or else I would be very frustrated!

I made it to the bike rental place by 10:00. I had originally thought that there was a gravel road going back down the lake a little ways on which I could ride the bike, but it ended up being only a trail, and it’s against the rules to take the rental bikes on trails. So I had to go back to the bicycle place, and then continue up the valley, the same way the bus goes. This is the only road you can ride the bikes on.

I rode from Stehekin to Harlequin Bridge ... about 5 miles or so, one way. First, I stopped at The Garden, which sells fresh veggies and goat cheese. Right when I arrived, the rustic, barefoot guy came to the gate and said that he would not be available for the next hour, because it was his scheduled bath day and time! I told him that that was fine, because I wasn’t going to buy anything, I just wanted to take some photos. It’s too bad I didn’t get a picture of HIM! The mosquitos were REALLY bad there, so I took a bunch of photos at top speed, while slapping those pests trying to suck all the blood out of my arms!

I continued on past the bakery, the new school house, the old school house, Rainbow Falls ... all of which (except the bakery) I had walked past yesterday. I went all the way to where the road turns from pavement to gravel, at Harlequin Bridge. Then I turned around and sped back to the bakery, where it’s now 11:25 and I’m drinking a small sparkling blackberry drink, sitting in a big wooden chair. It’s pretty crowded here ... I would guess about 20 people eating, drinking, talking, generally hanging out ... one even has a laptop computer. It’s the happening place.

I want to have the bike back by 12:00, so I’m glad I had a little bit of time to stop here and relax, seeing that I never came in the four times I was on the bus when it stopped here. Once I take the bike back, I will still have two hours before the boat leaves.

Well, I’m back at the hotel-restaurant-store, sitting on the balcony and drinking a coke. The boat should be arriving within 15 minutes, by 12:30. The smoke is really bad today ... the visibility is horrid! If it had been like this the previous three days, it would have been quite depressing! I’m so glad I was able to go on that nice hike yesterday when the visibility was the best of all the days.

Wow ... the boat is arriving already ... I just heard the horn. Time to take a few last photos. I already put my luggage on the dock with all of the other luggage, which they will load onto the boat soon ... first they have to unload all the luggage and supplies arriving here. As you can see from the photo of the boat, the smoke is so bad that you can barely see the other side of the narrow lake! Therefore, I probably won’t be taking too many photos on the boat ride back down. Good thing I took a lot on the way up.

Well, I've been doing some last-minute souvenir shopping ... I have gotten something for each family member. Now it’s 10 minutes until we can board at 1:45. I guess I should do a last-minute bathroom stop ... there is, of course, a toilet on the boat, but the stalls are really small and tight, so I’m better off going here before we leave ... and it will help pass the time! Gotta go ....

The boat leaves in 22 minutes and they haven’t even started loading the luggage yet ... I wonder what they are waiting for? This time I've got my white Tilley hiking hat on, and I put lots of sun cream on my face and arms, so I shouldn’t have any problems with sunburn. Oh, they just started loading the luggage ... it’s about time! Five minutes and I can get on the boat.

Well, I’m on the boat, and we leave in ten minutes. I’m on the outside, upper deck on the back half of the boat ... it’s way too claustrophobic to stay in one of the inside cabins. I love the fresh air, and it’s not too hot, even though it is quite sunny ... well, as sunny as it can be through the smoke.

I think I’ll be glad to be back in civilization. I miss the Internet and Amazon, and being able to go where I want and do what I want and eat what I want, when I want. Boy, I sure sound spoiled! I don’t think I’m the typical spoiled American ... but I do like my independence, and doing my own thing!

Just my luck ... I’m sitting near some loud, foul-mouthed twenty-something hikers ... if they don’t move, I’ll have to soon, unless they can manage to shut up, which probably isn’t likely.

It will be interesting to see how well my battery lasts for this four-hour trip. Maybe I’ll just have to meditate on nature rather than typing or reading my Kindle book.

Well, it’s 2:00 and we’re off, so I guess I had better save my battery and enjoy the view. I suppose that’s one of the advantages of a paper book ... you don’t need a battery! Adios for now ....

Shortly after we left, the orange seaplane which was parked at the dock took off, and soon passed us. That would be really fun to do some day ... and a half-hour plane ride to Chelan sure beats a long, boring four-hour boat ride!

It’s 2:20 ... it seems like the smoke is getting worse ... it’s definitely not warm ... I might put on my jacket soon. Maybe I didn’t need all that sun cream after all! The sound and vibration of the motor is lulling me to sleep ... I wonder if I can keep my eyes open for four hours of this!

Now it’s 3:05 ... one hour down, three to go. I definitely can’t keep my eyes open ... I've been shutting them, but not falling asleep. So much for enjoying the scenery! Well, there’s not much to enjoy ... everything is gray from all the smoke in the air, and the sun is an orange ball in the sky. So when my eyes are closed, I’m not missing much!

Before I got on the boat Monday, I was worried about the weight limit for the luggage. The boat company Web site had said that if the total is over 75 pounds, you have to pay extra. So I was quite amazed that they didn’t even weigh the luggage ... I guess they don’t care so much after all ... I was happy about that, because I might have been just over the limit.

I SURE wish these loud guys would just SHUT UP!

I just went inside downstairs to use the toilet. The big room down there is packed full of people, but NO fresh air! As soon as I walked in the room I practically fell over, the air was so bad! Although I’m getting a bit cold outside, even with my jacket on, I’ll definitely take the cold fresh air than the warm deadly air!

I finally put on my earbuds and iPod, with some loud rock music, to try to drown out the inane babbling of these loudmouths. GOSH! Only two and a half hours to go! And still 81% on my battery! But I still had better conserve ... I’ll want to send some e-mails and read the news on the Web as soon as I get a cell connection ... out on the lake before I get to Chelan.

I've really gotten my exercise this week ... a five-mile hike on Tuesday ... a six-mile hike yesterday ... today a three-mile walk before breakfast, and then a ten-mile bike ride after breakfast. No wonder I’m feeling somewhat tired and worn out! I’m for sure not the type of person who just wants to lay on a beach in Hawaii for a week for his vacation! Well, it’s 4:00 ... half way there!


The boat got back to Chelan about 15 or 20 minutes early, which was absolutely fine by me! I didn’t want to fight the crowd by bringing my truck to the boat office to load my luggage, so I made a herculean effort and carried my 75 to 80 pounds of luggage ... three bags ... all the way across the street to the long-term parking lot. That just about did me in!

By the time the boat was scheduled to arrive at 5:30, I was seated at the Tin Lilly, and soon I was enjoying their incredible Black and Bleu Steak Salad — blackened steak, bleu cheese crumbles, tomato, red onion, olives and grilled romaine hearts served with blue cheese dressing. It looked so awesome that I just had to take a picture of it! I've just gotta try to make that at home!

After another night at the Chelan Best Western hotel, and an awesome breakfast at the Riverwalk Inn Cafe, I headed over the Cascades to the next part of my journey — a two-night stay in the Seattle area, with an entire day devoted to taking pictures around downtown Seattle.

But not too long after heading east through Leavenworth towards Monroe on the western side of the Cascades, I decided that I had had enough fun for one outing. Going to Seattle to take yet more photos seemed more like a chore than a joy, so as soon as I got to Monroe, I cancelled my hotel reservations, got some lunch at Taco Bell, and then hit the road south to Albany. By dinner time I was back at home sweet home!
For a complete list of all the blog entries and photo albums resulting from my trip to Lake Chelan, be sure to check out the September 2012 Lake Chelan Photo Outing Recap
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 175
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