Tuesday, August 2
As I checked into the Crystal Mountain hotel last night the desk person reminded me of the gondola that would take one to the top of the mountain with a great view of Mt. Rainier (the northeast side, rather than the well-photographed south side). I quickly adjusted my plans to do that in the morning rather than drive to the Sunrise Visitor Center within the park.
I got up this morning and looked out the window … fog. Well, maybe it will lift. So I got ready for the day. Breakfast wasn't great. I was disappointed it was only a continental breakfast, which doesn't fit my dietary needs. And there were no alternatives for 30 miles. At least they provided hard-boiled eggs (better than many chain hotels that provide fake eggs) and I grabbed a half-dozen little packets of peanut butter (though I didn't put the PB on the eggs). It was enough.
The fog did lift … a bit. But not enough. Towards 11:00 I decided to move on. I headed east. There was a misty rain for a while, confirming my decision. Over the rest of the morning the terrain changed from lush green to tan and brown. I had definitely gotten into the rain shadow of the Cascades.
I took the road on into Yakima, where I had lunch at a diner with a '50s car theme. They had several seats made out of the trunks of those cars with the big tailfins. The food was merely OK.
I took I-82 north. After a while I realized it had been a long time since the last exit – then again, there wasn't much need for an exit. I checked a map later and saw the area was a military base. Here is the view from a scenic overview on I-82 looking at the town of Ellensburg.
It was a long drive, but a pleasant one. From the town of Ellensburg I followed US-97 north, then Alt-97, which followed the west bank of the Columbia River. I'm spending tonight in the town of Chelan. I'm in a small hotel. Yes, the room is small – the “desk” unfolds from the wall and I'm sitting on a folding chair.
Wednesday, August 3
I was on the Lady of the Lake by 8:25 this morning to take the 50 mile trip up Lake Chelan to Stehekin (ste-HEE-kin). After the first stop we were told that one of the engines is out, so the boat couldn't go its usual speed, and there will be two extra stops along the way to drop off locals. Instead of getting into Stehekin at the advertised 12:30 we arrived at 1:45. The tours for day-trippers had to scurry to fit into 60 minutes what they usually fit into 90. Here's a view of the northern end of the lake.
I was in line for lunch at 2:00, when lunch service normally ended. They served everyone who was in line.
I dropped my bags (the big suitcase left in my car back in Chelan) in my room. This is what I saw – way too cute. And what does one do with them. I wouldn't consider them clean enough to use after being on the bed.
I went searching for the bike rental shop. There were lots of bikes under the lodge's balcony … with a sign: These bikes belong to residents. The bike rental company is near the yellow house. I headed down the road (there is only one) about what I thought was the distance described in a sign. I passed several yellow houses. No bikes. I went back to the lodge. The staff person said I needed to walk much farther. I eventually found the tent at 3:30. No yellow houses nearby.
The owner told me she closed at 5:00. I could keep the bike as long as I wanted and if that was after 5:00 I could remember the time and come back to pay in the morning. I like her trust.
I went down the road until it was unpaved. I stopped to glance into the original 2-room schoolhouse and see Rainbow Falls.
I followed an unpaved road to the orchard. There didn't seem to be a place to stop in and buy, though the place was kept up (sprinklers watering the grass). I saw lots of deer browsing.
Here is the view down the lake from where the Stehekin River flows in. I took this shot as I pedaled back into town. I turned in the bike at 5:30.
There were a lot more cars and trucks around Stehekin than I would have thought. The one road doesn't connect with the outside world and vehicles have to come by barge. Many of the vehicles are much older than I see in any American town or city. Many are from the 1960s.
After lunch I was asked to make a reservation for supper. I decided with lunch at 2:15 I didn't want an early seating, so chose 6:45.
After the bike ride and supper still an hour away I went into the 2nd-floor lounge and spent some time on a jigsaw puzzle partly assembled on a table. I hadn't worked on one for about 18 months. I used to pull out puzzles when Dad and family came for holidays. Dad was repeating stories – and not even interesting ones. He would gladly work a puzzle with me, which allowed us to be together in companionable quiet. I usually got puzzles of about 750 pieces (fewer seemed to go together too quickly and 1000 or more took too long). I think we finished one during Christmas (or maybe Thanksgiving) of 2014. I had one more puzzle, not yet opened, when he died. That one had a train on it so I gave it to the brother who is into trains.
At 6:45 I was still not hungry, but headed down to the restaurant before 7:00. I had been told they wanted us to choose a time so the diners would be spread out. I learned the reason is they were understaffed. They finally seated me about 7:10, took my order at 7:30, and delivered my main dish at 8:15. By then I was hungry.
I was back in the lounge after supper because there was no desk in the room. Two sisters were sitting at the puzzle and finished it before going to bed. I checked email and wrote part of this post.
Thursday, August 5
Instead of renting a bike again I decided to do a bit of hiking. In Stehekin there is the main road along the lake and the river that feeds it and there are trails that mostly go up. I took one trail until it ended at a washed-out bridge over a creek. The damage was three years ago and I heard there has been no effort to rebuild it. I was warned before I started the trek that the bridge was gone.
I tried another trail, but soon tired of the climbing aspect. Nearby was the start of the Lakeshore Trail, and I took it. But the name did not mean it was at the same level as the lake. I got to an overlook with a bench and decided that was far enough. It was a lovely spot, so I stayed for a while.
The boat's engine had not been fixed, so it arrived in Stehekin at 1:15, instead of the expected 12:30. This time the layover was only 45 minutes, so no excursions for day-trippers. Yesterday, the boat left Stehekin at 3:00 and didn't get back to Chelan until after 8:00, way too late. Today it left at 2:00 and was back by 6:45. I slept about an hour of that time.
As we entered the part of the lake surrounded by houses (rather than National Forest land) several people in jet-skis came out to the boat. They criss-crossed the boat's wake, the extra turbulent water increasing their spray and occasionally making them airborne. I got a feeling this happens regularly.
Back in Chelan I found a Thai-Japanese restaurant for supper. I ordered chicken in a peanut-curry sauce. Tasty! Much to my surprise there were no vegetables. I have enough left over for tomorrow's breakfast.