9. Spring road trip….April/May/June.2019 

Day 36 5.27  Memorial Day
My camping spot last night was so heavily forested the sunlight might never show through.  So I drove back to the highway & in about 20 minutes spotted a day use area next to a nice lake--Clear Lake--with a picnic table, made coffee & ate some oats.

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Another new town was on my list today, Yakima.  Its known for its fruit orchards & vineyards-- but to me, most of all, for its hops.  About 80% of the hops used in American Craft beers come from this valley. I would have loved to have scored a tour of a farm, but today was Memorial Day & a whole lotta places were closed.  I veered off the highway & headed back on a dirt road when I thought Id spied a hop farm in the distance.  Growing among other fields of fruit trees, was a hop farm.

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I went to the Visitors Center & spoke with two really nice women who gave me suggestions of places that would be open.  I drove out to Bale Breaker Brewery, Yakima’s most popular brewery just to see it even though I knew it was closed today.  A cool outdoor space just outside of their taproom, has hops growing all around.  I stopped at a liquor store before leaving town, & picked up a six pack of their BottomCutter Double IPA to take home.

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Wilridge Winery sits outside of town high up on a bluff & is surrounded by trails that wind through the property which has fruit trees & all kinds of grapes growing.  The women at the VC told me they were one of the few that made Port & that were open today.

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The weather was perfect & for the first time it seems since I left New Mexico, I changed into shorts & sandals & put my puffy coat away.

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The path I took was all covered in grape seeds.

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The view from the front porch.

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Tieton Cider (named after the river that flows by the town) was open so I went for a tasting.  It was practically empty, but the cider was good.  One of the cider’s I tried was a Honey Lavender…now the second time I’ve tried this style of cider.  Remember I tried one in Hood River.  I ended up just buying a bottle of Hopped Cider made with Yakima hops.  That was another first for me…I’ve never drank cider made with hops.  I hope Danny will like it too.  (My stash of ‘take home’ beer is growing.  I had to rearrange stuff in Camper to make it all fit!)

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The inside was pretty cool.

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The next stop for my Memorial Day Triple Play (Port, Cider & Beer), was Valley Brewing.  But, when I went to Google the address & then went to their FB page, I realized that they were also closed.  I think there are about 6 breweries in this town & most of them were closed.  I asked the bartender at the Cider place where in town had good food & a selection of local beer.  She sent me to 2nd Street Grill, downtown.  The guy behind the bar was super nice & I asked him to recommend one of their local IPA’s.  He said no doubt it would be the Slow Motion Potion IPA from…..Valley Brewing.  He told me they make great beer but are also the newest brewery to open in Yakima.  It was delicious!!  I checked out the menu, feeling a little hungry, but in the end, decided to pass on the food & just enjoyed my beer.

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I was having conflicting feelings about this new town.  Everyone I’d come in contact with was very nice.  The farms, orchards, vineyards, & the surrounding area was beautiful.  But the town was a downer.  Maybe because it was a holiday it seemed empty, except for a large homeless population which seemed to be everywhere.  Most cities have a homeless population…(except Johnson County—the rich county just to the east of me), but they seemed to be on every street corner, every parking lot & panhandling along the street.  The whole place seemed kind of depressed.  I don’t know much about this town, & wouldn’t say I’d never come back here, because the area —outside of town—is lovely.  And I’m sure there are locals that would tell me all about what a great place it is…I just didn’t get a chance to visit with any on that subject this trip.

I left town & drove north on 82 & drove through the Yakima Canyon…really a nice scenic drive along the river.

I turned off when I saw a sign that said Historic Liberty.  I was in the forest & looking for camping.  I drove to the end of the road & past some old buildings that must have been the historic part, but they were mingled with a few homes that were currently being lived in.  To me, this spot is perfect!  It’s private, surrounded by big trees, but a big wide open space to camp in.  Plenty of space to let the sun shine in. I had no cell service so I settled in with a new book & stayed up late reading until I had  finished the whole thing.

Day 37 5.28
I drove a little farther north this morning, with a to-do list in hand.  It was early & I needed to find a place to buy ice, a post office & a laundromat…I was out of long pants & warm socks.  Google sent me to a town right before my final destination, which was called Peshastin.  There wasn’t much in this tiny town, but next to the Post office was a convince store that shared space with the cleanest laundromat I’ve ever been in…YES!!  Once my chores were done, I drove the last few miles to Leavenworth…a town that markets itself as Bavarian & does it over the top!  The story goes they were a logging town & when that industry began to die, the townspeople got together to decide how they could survive.  The decided to become a Bavarian town.  One bartender even told me there is a “Bavarian Code” that all the businesses must abide by…how many other places in the states have that?  It’s cute.  It serves tons of stuff like sausages, cheeses, pretzels, & beer.  There are also several wineries that have tasting rooms here.  All the stores have German names & most everyone that works here, wears some type of authentic clothing.  The nice guy in the Visitors Center, who looked about 35 & like a linebacker, even wore the shorts, authentic shirt with the suspenders along with a great big smile.  It’s somewhere between cute & weird.  This isn’t the first time I’ve been here, but on this Tuesday, after a big holiday, the place was not bulging at the seams like it usually is all summer long.  So, parking was a breeze & the bathrooms had no lines!

Right as the shops opened, I was lucky enough to get a FaceTime call from Claire.  So, I took her on a tour with me.  Since the shops weren’t busy, I figured I wouldn’t annoy too many people & Claire had so much fun..especially in the Christmas shop, seeing all the Nutcrackers & she really liked the troll.  I miss those girls sooooooo much!

The buildings are all intricately painted with so many details & there are flowers everywhere.

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I ate lunch at Munchen Haus & ate a bratwurst & had the Dark Persuasion German Chocolate Cake Porter by the local brewery, Icicle.  Peter called me right as I was walking around, knew I was in Leavenworth & suggested I try this beer…it’s one of his & Leia’s favorites they’ve tried at a beer fest before.  It was all good!  And I tried about 6 of these mustards, just adding one dollop of each along my brat.

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I left about 2:30in the afternoon up Icicle Road to look for a Forest Ranger suggested hike called “Eightmile Lake’ which was actually a 6 mile hike.  She said it was beautiful.  When I got out of the car, I noticed the sky had some dark parts to it, but the weather report had said rain wouldnt start until 6pm…I had time to complete the hike.

The trail starts steeply up, & was lush & green.  

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Then as the steepness ends & it becomes just rolling, I noticed I was hiking into a burned area.  

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All around me were tall blackened trees.  The forest floor was green, but I wondered how long it had been since the fire?  As the trail climbed higher, I didn’t see snow near the trail, but the river was raging & trail was crazy muddy in places…lots & lots of places!

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There was also a lot of blow down…so much fun to climb over! (not really).  And, where there is mud, there are mosquitoes.  They didnt seem to be biting as much as they were just buzzing & landing on your limbsin groups.  It was a mosquito party!  There were a few logs to cross—either over mud or once a skinny log bridge over the raging water, but I was really grateful for it.  A funny thing happens when you’re concentrating on a short walk over a narrow bridge or wet log...you have to make sure when those herds of mosquitoes land…you can’t swipe at them, just let them be.  One big swipe & you can find yourself sitting in mud or plopping in water.   The pic below was one section of the trail & yes, it looks like a stream (it felt like a stream!)

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At 3:30, it started to rain.  I kept hoping it would stop & probably waited a little to long to put on my pack cover & rain coat…we both were fairly wet by then.  I wasnt having a great time at this point, but kept going knowing that the beautiful lake wasnt much further.  In an effort not to be negative or sound ungrateful, Ill just let you decide if you think this lake is beautiful & lovely.

The mosquitoes thought sothey all stuck to my legs to take in the view along with me. 

On the upside, having a rain coat on prevented them from landing on my arms & hands & head & most of my face.  About a mile back towards the trailhead, the rain stopped.  My coat wasn’t coming off, but my hood came down.  I’d misstepped once & one shoe was covered in mud & the other about 1/2 covered, but I was having a talk with myself for being a cranky-pants.  I started to look up at the mountains where a little snow still lingered & down along the trail at the wildflowers blooming.

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I made it back to the trailhead, peeled off everything wet & muddy & took off to find some dispersed camping at the end of the road.  It was a long drive up a bumpy, pot holed road, but I found a nice campsite for the night just at dusk.  No cell service, so I sent Danny a message on my GPS that I was at camp.

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About 30 minutes later I got this message from him:  “Tornado here.  I’m ok.  House ok.  Sounds like Linwood hit hard.  Your phone is going to go crazy” (These messages are limited to 160 characters…a mere tweet.)    I knew there had been concern about severe weather back at home for this evening, but as we continued to message I just felt sick to my stomach for all our neighbors who had lost their homes & so very very very grateful that Danny & our house was ok.  I felt so so far away at that moment.  His Mom, who’s been living with us, was at her friends house about 35 miles away & not in line of the bad weather.  As the messages continued to come from Danny, the news was awful.  I messaged him that I was going to cancel my hike for the next day, leave at first light to head to town & find cell service so I could talk to him & to our friends.  I hardly slept at all that night & yet I had so much to be grateful for!  But knowing so many people we knew & community we didn’t know, had lost their homes was just horrible.

Day 38 5.29 
At 5:15 I was back on the bumpy road & headed back into Leavenworth.  As soon as I hit cell service, Danny was right in that my phone starting dinging with texts & voicemail messages.  I went into Starbucks, bought coffee & checked my phone.  Facebook was the sameall friends & family wanting to know Danny was ok.  I couldnt wait to talk to him, but he was at work, so I did wait.  He called as soon as he could & its one of those moments, you are so extra grateful & happy to hear each others voices.  

But the news from the town was devastating.   I was seeing photos of homes totally blown away…many of them.  Linwood is a town of about 400 & we live outside of town by about 8 miles—in between Linwood & Lawrence.  But the tornado had come way too close to our house…it just barely missed us.  Thankfully & miraculously, there were no deaths.  There were some injuries, but I don’t believe anything severe.  But, there are so many families who’s lives will never be the same.  They’ve lost everything.  It’s a farming community & along with their homes, many lost their cattle & horses…dead or injured. And thousands of dollars in farm equipment.  One of our long time friends, who lost their barn, their old oak trees were stripped (their house looked like it was built in a park…not one tree around it now has leaves) & whose house had lots of damage but can probably be repaired, had a tree through their bathroom wall.  I couldn’t put my phone down, just wanting to see as people checked in as ok.

Here are the stats on the tornado: EF-4 with estimated peak winds of 170 mph & a measured path at 31 miles long & 1 mile wide.

I felt like a zombie.  In shock.  And yet, Danny was fine.  But, I wondered, should I just go home?  There wasn’t anything I could do, but I just couldn’t shake something like this away.  Too many people we knew were waking up to a life changed in a big way this morning.  After about 3 hours at Starbucks, I went for a walk & out to get breakfast at Parsley & Pantry.  It was yummy & I ate the whole thing.  Then as the shops opened up, I just numbly went in & out of them.  I did this for the rest of the morning & part of the afternoon.  Or I’d just sit on one of the benches along the main street.  Danny & I talked several times that morning.  

I went to Icicle brewing, thinking I’d get a beer & just eat…again.  I met the nicest bartender & ended up with a yummy Porter but skipped the food.  I stood at the bar for a bit & we visited.  I told her what had happened back home & she came around the bar & stepped outside & told me her story.  About 4 years ago, 30 homes in the area were burned down to the ground in a fire.  It had been arson, but when the forest catches fire, it’s catastrophic.  She visited with me for the longest time.  Many of the families have rebuilt & she shared how they have bonded & some have become best friends through tragedy.  I sat outside & just nursed my beer after our conversation.  I couldn’t keep from checking my phone, especially FB as photos were being posted from the news, from the community & from friends & neighbors.  I eventually finished my beer & took my empty glass back inside.  The bartender came around & gave me a hug & I returned it.  Another bit of trip magic…only this time it felt both sad & hopeful.  

There’s a river walk a couple of blocks from the downtown, so I went for a walk the length of the trail & walked back through town.  I called Danny one more time & told him I’d decided to go on the 50 mile Wenatchee Lake Scenic drive.  

The drive takes you through a little town which has a really cool hardware store.  It has so much more than hardware though, & it was nice to take a bit to look around.  Had so much stuff in it I like to look at.

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Wenatchee Lake

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The Wenatchee river is just raging this time of year & part of the drive parallels this beautiful, but sort of scary water.

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I called Danny as soon as I was back in town & he was back at home.  He’d lost power last night & it was still off.  It was going to get dark soon, & I have everything with me that he could have used…camp stove, lanterns, solar shower…I had it all.  He assessed the food situation, & went out & bought some ice for the freezer & the fridge.  

I was leaving Leavenworth tomorrow & I wanted to have a pretzel & cheese for dinner.  Almost every eatery here sells them, so I took a nerdy while to research who had the best.  I made in a good choice when I went to Uncle Uli’s Pub.  The pretzel was perfect as was their fondue cheese & spicy mustard.    As I was the only one sitting outside, I called my sister-in-law & caught up with her while I ate.

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My last stop was the Bushel & Bee Taproom.  I’d popped in their earlier to see what kind of beer they had & was glad to find one beer on tap was a big stout.  So, now I was back & enjoyed a Ale Smith Speedway Vietnamese Coffee Stout.  Danny called, so I went out to their outdoor space & sat on a bench.  No one else around, so Danny & I talked a long time.  He was drinking ice cream & eating cold pizza for dinner…ugh!

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It was time for me to find a camp spot, but I had decided I wasn’t going to drive the 16 miles back out & over that bumpy rutted Icicle road again.  There had been a large pullout along the road marked  “RV’s—No Campfires” about 8 miles up.  I had no intention of building a fire so I thought it wasn’t a problem for me to camp there.  A big RV had been in the corner spot, tucked between some trees the day before, so I took a place at the other end, parked & sent Danny a GPS message.  What a strange day it had been.

Night falls along the Wenatchee River near where Im camped.

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