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August 27, 2004

Wild West Winthrop

Day 7. Yet another blazing hot day and we hit the early morning
trail yodelling for all we were worth leaving the mock Bavaria
behind for the authentic wilds of washington ahead. We headed north
up the eastern flank of the cascade mountain range. To the left were
the mountains and greenery and to the right was the dry brown
dessicated interior of the state.

Our plan for the day had originally included a stop at Chelan and a
trip up the lake (Lake Chelan) on the hydrofoil to Stehekin and
back. Lake Chelan is some 55 miles long and is formed by the same
glacial errosion that formed the fjords in Norway therefore it
shares the same characteristics - a deep gorge surrounded by the
towering peaks of the cascades. Stehekin can only be reached by
water, float plane or foot there are no roads to the town. this
really appealed to me as a place I must visit. However, whilst in
Leavenworth we heard on the news about forest fires near Lake Chelan
and as we drove up that morning, the local radio station was
constantly updating the status of the fires near Stehekin. This was
enough the convince us to skip the lake and we decided to spend more
of our day at our eventual destination, Winthrop. 20 miles or so
north of Chelan we turned up into the Methow Valley. Quite an
enchanting drive through this scenic valley seeing the ranches and
the small towns of Methow, Carlton, Twisp and eventually Winthrop.

Winthrop is a town for tourists like a wild west movie set with
covered boarded sidewalks and the traditional frontage of a wild
west town. In 1972 Highway 20 being built through the North Cascades
and this was the spur for the people of the town to renovate the old
west frontages to give visitors to the cascades reason to stop. They
based the renovation on old photgraphs of the original old town. It
works well, and after lunch we spent a very pleasant afternoon
wandering around window shopping and even playing miniature golf.
Apparently mock shoot outs are staged on Saturdays during the

As we were sitting in the saloon eating lunch we spotted a picture
on the wall of a brewery dray horse from Sam Smiths Brewery in
Tadcaster (a few miles from where we live in the UK). The staff had
no idea where the picture had come from and they didn't serve Sam
Smiths (as an aside, try Sam Smiths Old Brewery Bitter on hand pumps
if you get chance - nectar !) but the local brew was very good and
in the heat we sank a few 'buckets of ice'.

The motel we stayed at (Rio Vista) was on the southern end of the
main street and right on the banks of the confluenece of the Chewuch
and Methow rivers. All the rooms face towards this wonderful view, a
superb location for our stay. In the evening we walked back up the
main street, wandered the boardwalks and had a fine meal in the town
(there is a very good choice of places to eat for such a small town)
and then sunk a few more buckets of ice on the room balcony over
looking the rivers - wonderful if you dont mind the company of a few

So whilst our day did not turn out exactly as planned, it was very
good nevertheless and we got to spend more time in Winthrop making
up somewhat for missing Stehekin.

Posted by Graham on August 27, 2004 01:59 PM
Category: 2004 the pacific north west
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