Monday, October 5, 2009

Checking Out The Scenery

I have so much to post about, I hardly know where to begin. So for tonight (late as it is), I'll take the easy road (as opposed to the high road, which my 5 year old likes to remind everyone is the best place to be) and tell you about a road trip that my husband and I took last week. My parents were visiting from the East coast, and offered to babysit for a night. We took about 30 seconds to take them up on their offer.

We decided to try to take Highway 20 before it closes for the winter, so I contacted Bluebird Grain and Booth Canyon Orchard and made arrangements to meet them, visit their farms, and interview them. Brooke Lucy at Bluebird made a few recommendations for places to stay, and we booked ourselves a room at the Chewuch Inn in Winthrop, WA.

We took our time leaving in the morning, which we really regretted later because although I stopped 50 times to take photos along the way, I would have liked to stop 100 times. Heading north on I-5 out of Seattle the scenery turns rural pretty quickly. The land on either side of the road is very flat, and it seemed very pretty on the way up (it's hard to report on it after the fact, what with the hours and hours of magnificent scenery which followed). A little over an hour after leaving home, the roadside becomes rainforest. We stopped for lunch at the Buffalo Run in Marblemount, where clumps of ferns nestle under trees covered and dripping with moss. A big bowl of buffalo chili and cornbread hit the spot, and we were back on the road in no time.

Soon after, the scenery turns alpine. The road climbs, and twists and turns, almost all the trees are enormous evergreens, and the Cascade Mountains rise up as a backdrop, already spotted with snow. The temperature dropped 25 degrees in less than 15 minutes, and it rose just as quickly when the road started down again.

And then, the Methow Valley. The mountains cradle lush flat lands where cattle graze and grasses grow, and as we got closer to Winthrop the greens were replaced by golds, and the land begins to undulate.

Winthrop is just about the cutest town I've ever seen. It looks like it was built as a set for an old Western. There's a bookstore, a candy store, bakery, a couple of pubs, some gift stores and outdoor outfitters, and they are all perfectly old-fashioned on the outside. Even the gas station has old pumps. Our room at the Chewuch Inn was beautiful - luxurious, spotless, and quiet. We had Mexican food for dinner at the Duck Brand and slept like the dead.

I had fantastic conversations with both Brooke Lucy from Bluebird and Stina Booth from Booth Canyon, and will write separate posts about each of these amazing women when I can do them justice. For now, I just wanted to say, "Take Highway 20 East!" and don't forget your camera. Or to stop at Cascadian Farms on your way back for a milkshake (thanks to Stina for that bit of very worthwhile advice!).