Showing posts with label Washington Wine Country. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Washington Wine Country. Show all posts

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Getting Our Kicks on Route. . . 97

'Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.'
                              -- Jack Kerouac

I know, you are thinking I've made a doozy of a mistake. Because everyone knows you get your kicks on Route 66 - that stretch of highway crossing America that has been immortalized in song, fiction, film and travel paraphernalia.

But let me tell you that you can also get some mighty fine kicks on Route 97 as well! 

I'll admit that before setting out on our latest road trip, I hadn't given much thought to that stretch of north-south road known as Route 97. We've traveled it often as a means of simply getting from one place to another. 

Gettin' our kicks on Route 97

Regulars readers know that we are American boomer expats who gave up suburban Seattle life and spend most of our year living in Greece. Last fall we replanted our part-time U.S. roots in the small unincorporated town of Manson, on the shores of Lake Chelan in eastern Washington State.

It didn't take long to realize that even though we both grew up in Eastern Washington, that our familiarity with the area has faded over the decades. In many ways the territory surrounding us here feels more foreign - at least unfamiliar - than does Greece.

Our new wheels being delivered to Manson

So, during our month-long stay this fall, we declared it time to get out and explore this new-to-us territory. After taking delivery in Manson of a Toyota RAV we'd purchased on line while still back in Greece, we set off. Traveling a portion of Route 97 was our first outing. One of the things we learned is just how much of a name for itself, our old - somewhat familiar - Route 97 is making.

Things we didn't know about Route 97 

Route 97 - a scenic wonderland awaits travelers 

* It is one of the longest north-south highways in North America. It runs north from Weed, California, through Oregon and Washington, crosses the Canadian border into British Columbia where it becomes the Alaska Highway at Dawson Creek, B.C. It concludes at Watson Lake.

* If you traveled its full length -- 4,130 kilometers or 2,566 miles -- your journey would take you through semi-arid desert, interior rain forests, grasslands, mountain ranges, urban centers and rural settings so charming they could be movie sets.

* Route 97, in the Pacific Northwest is bordered on the east by the Columbia Mountain Range and to the west, the Cascade Range. The route winds through lush wine country and past old west ghost towns, places once teeming with mining activities.

A tribute on Route 97 to the Indigenous Nations and their people 

* Between Wenatchee, Washington and Cache Creek, B.C., Canada Route 97 promotion is a partnership between North Central Washington, Thompson Okanagan, B.C. and three Indigenous Nations.

*In Washington State the route got its start thousands of years ago as a trail used by the Indigenous people. The Columbia Cascades of Route 97 passes through lands of three Nations: Nlaka'pamux, Okanagan (Syilx)  and Secwepemc. Miners and early pioneers were to follow those same pathways as they settled in what is now the area encompassing three counties: Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan.

Route 97 in Washington State

The Columbia Cascades Route 97 - where we traveled

While our new Washington home puts us within easy driving distance from Canada we didn't make it to the border on our six-hour outing. We went only as far as Omak some 44 miles (64K) from the border.

A portion of Lake Chelan as seen from 'The Butte' 

We set off from Lake Chelan - a glacier-fed 55-mile long lake. Heading north we followed first the Columbia River and then the Okanogan River to Omak. This small town is home of the Omak Stampede, an event that brings the old West to life each year.  The Stampede draws thousands each year to this small town but on this crisp autumn morning we had the place to ourselves.

Omak Home of the annual western Stampede

Murals decorate the buildings in Omak

While there we saw several murals which tourist brochures credit as the work of  Frank Matsura, a 19th Century Japanese photographer. I couldn't find any reference to murals, but the guy's history is fascinating and worth clicking that link to read!

Rawson's Department Store didn't let us down

Then on to Okanogan town, five miles to the south. We once visited a Western outfitters store there, the type that caters to the clothing and supply needs of cowboys and cowgirls (yes, they still exist in the Western United States). The place has been around since the mid-1950's and in itself is worth making a trip to Okanogan to visit. We were delighted to find it still going strong and now it has all sorts of clothing and shoes! Okanogan is so delightfully 'Small Town Americana' that I could have filled this post with photos taken there.

Scenes like this make a road trip special

At Okanogan we opted to return home driving on the 'old Route 97' that cuts through orchards and vineyards high above the 'new 97' that follows the Columbia River.

Apple harvest is underway along old Route 97

We returned to the low lands at Pateros, a town at the confluence of the Columbia and Methow rivers.

Every July Pateros is the scene of the Apple Pie Jamboree. From the size of the apple packing sheds  (those facilities that receive apples from the grower and pack them for world-wide distribution) there was no doubt in our mind that the Apple Pie Jamboree is being held in the right community!

Apple Pie Jamboree - takes place in Pateros

If you go:

Had we wanted to make this outing an overnight trip, we'd have likely stayed at the 12 Tribes Casino and Hotel located just off Route 97 between Omak and Okanogan.  It is a small facility but upscale with the hotel attached to the side of casino. Two eateries on the property make it an easy roadside stop.

Next year we plan to explore several of the other loop drives that take off from Route 97. For maps and tips on those drives in Washington State and Canada check out the Route 97 website, (click the link to access).

Views along Route 97 are spectacular

That's it from the Pacific Northwest. Our month here has gone rapidly and we are packing up to return to Greece. After all, it is almost time to harvest those olives of ours!  Hope you'll be back soon for more tales of expat travel and life. Until then, thanks again for your time here and wishes for safe travels to you and yours ~

Linking soon with:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday

Monday, July 30, 2018

Moving from ‘The Morgue’ to Manson

‘Change is the only constant in life.’
-- Heraclitus

Was it only last July that we turned our lives upside down by deciding to sell our U.S. home and live full-time in Greece?

Was it only last year that I showed you photos of our ‘summer of slogging’ and made jokes about living out of that corrugated metal storage unit we’d rented in the Seattle suburb?

Filling up the Storage Unit - July 2017

One Year Later. . .

The Stone House on the Hill - far right
Settled in to our Stone House on the Hill in Greece’s Peloponnese, we are comfortably adjusting to and enjoying expat life. That is, with the one exception I told you about last week:
being homeless’ in America.

Having no address to call our own, coupled with ‘living out of the storage’ unit (as I had quipped last summer) wasn’t working. That fact became real clear after our visit in the Northwest last January.

We got rid of one temporary address during that visit. Our friend's graciously loaned us another. Our visits to the storage unit were bleak. Seeing our life’s accumulations – the stuff special enough to have kept -- stuffed into stack and piles, boxes and bags was nothing short of depressing.  We began calling it ‘the morgue’. It made us feel dead. We knew it was time to regroup.

Time for change -

‘And suddenly you know;
It’s time to start something new
and trust in the magic of beginnings.
  -- Meister Eckhart

So for the past few months, while I’ve been telling you of the wonders of Greece, we have been conducting a long distance search for a ‘seasonal home’ back in the States. (We would have once called it a ‘second home’ or ‘vacation home’ but the industry jargon has changed over the years.)

With no immediate plans to give up full-time residency in Greece, we needed a place for our belongings and a place to stay when we go back to visit. Someday perhaps it would serve as a full-time home when health, age, or immigration rules (or a combination of them) prompts us to leave Greece.

In keeping with our downsizing philosophy, we set out to buy a condo in the same Seattle suburb we’d left last year. Unfortunately for us, it is the suburb that continues to make headlines as being one of the hottest (high prices and selling quickly) housing markets in the nation.

With condo’s selling within five days of listing, we picked up our pace. If a ‘possible place’ came across the screen, we’d contact good friends back there, asking them to drop what they were doing to race out and see it. They’d report back and with the time differences, we’d have about 48 hours in which to make an offer. We went for two and lost out. The market was limited and the list prices the baseline for a bidding war.

The process got real tedious. It was time to expand the search:

Our old home was Kirkland, just north of Bellevue, a Seattle suburb
We opted to stay within Washington State boundaries. And in a quirky turn of events we came across a place we’d looked at and liked last summer. Back then the owner wasn’t ready to sell and we weren’t ready to buy.

Now she wanted to sell. We were ready to buy.

New adventures. . .of sorts!

We're heading to Manson, Washington, an unincorporated town in Central Washington nestled on the shores of Lake Chelan.

Manson and Wapato Point on Washington's Lake Chelan
The 55-mile long, glacier-fed lake has long been a popular tourist destination and the photo above shows the portion of Lake Chelan where Manson is located. For those who know the area, that is Wapato Point jutting down (towards the bottom of the photo).

A portion of Lake Chelan from the town of Chelan - Cascade Mountain range
The house will be new beginning for The Scribe and a return to his roots for The Scout (after a many-decades absence), as Manson is eight miles from Chelan where he was born and raised.

A portion of Lake Chelan from The Butte
The hillsides surrounding the lake were once carpeted with apple orchards, however, as the Washington State wine industry has exploded, many of those orchards have been replaced with vineyards – acres and acres of vineyards.

PicMonkey Collage
Manson Washington - apple orchards and vineyards

The vineyards have given rise to wineries, and the wineries have opened tasting rooms. New seasonal festivals related to the wine industry now fill tourism event calendars for this part of Central Washington.

Benson Vineyards - Chelan Washington
Our new U.S. base will be about four hours drive from our former home in the Seattle suburbs.

The similarities are many between our Greek and new U.S. home. In many ways it will be village life, as it is village life here. The main thoroughfares are two-lane roads. Agriculture and tourism blend to keep the areas vibrant. Much like our Agios Nikolaos, Manson village has a few restaurants, a grocery store, and bars. It does have a post office.

Wenatchee, like Kalamata is here, will be the hub for major shopping, health care and each city has a regional airport. Both are about an hour's drive away.

Our new U.S. home, is walking distance to the village and to the lake. We’ll be surrounded by vineyards and wineries.How much better a location could we have found?!

Surrounded by wineries - a perfect location
Thanks to the internet and Skype, the purchase process, completed during the month of July, was carried out quite easily despite being 8,000 miles and 10-hours time difference away.

Our airline tickets back have been purchased, a moving company has been hired, we are synchronized to move ourselves out of ‘the morgue’ and to Manson this fall.  It took three months last summer to get us moved out of our old life and we’ve scheduled three weeks this fall to get us moved into the new.  I’m certain with all the offers of help we’ve received from friends and with a bit of that Chelan area wine – we’ll be able to pull it off.

Oh. . .did you want to see the house? Well, here it is:
Our new home in Manson
It’s one level (like they recommend for boomers) and its in a gated community – so will be a secure place to leave our belongings. Unlike our Stone House on the Hill in Greece, we have no water views, but we will be able to see a portion of the Washington Cascade Mountain range from our front deck:

Our front porch
So with the purchase ‘done and dusted’ last Wednesday evening (as our British friends would say), we toasted the fact that we have a US address again and that we can now get back to the business of enjoying Greece.

A toast to a new address
The Scout has been busy planning a Greek road trip for us, that involves some more Greek island hopping!  And they might be some islands that many of you’ve never heard of. . . I’ll tell you about them soon!

Thanks for being with us as we travel this ex pat world! Safe travels to you and yours ~

Linking this week with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Communal Global
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Best of Weekend

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Washington’s Willows Lodge ~ Nice, Nicer, Nicest

We are taking a quick detour this week to tell you about a Pacific Northwest gem that’s celebrating its 15th Anniversary. Tales from the Middle East will resume in our next post. . .

Despite an unusually long spell of sunny, warm days which continue to brighten October, the autumn nights in the Pacific Northwest nights have turned chilly. That weather combination has made me think back to Willows Lodge, a luxury resort smack-dab in the middle of Washington's Woodinville Wine Country – just a few miles from our home and only a half hour from Seattle, (during a good traffic commute).

PicMonkey Collage
A spa-sponsored Garden Party brought out the hats and dresses, upper left, a Willow tree
I was thinking back to that sunny summer afternoon when I sipped wine under their massive willow trees while attending the hotel’s spa-sponsored Garden Party, an annual event that grows larger each year and one of the few that prompt attendees to don their favorite hats (something not often done in the Pacific Northwest).

'Refreshed' Guest room - Willows Lodge
While I sipped wine that warm July afternoon, the ‘The Scout’ relaxed in our second-floor guest room – the first to be finished in a comprehensive refurbishing, or ‘refreshing’ as they call it, of the interior common areas, meeting rooms and guest rooms at the lodge. Too hot to use the fireplace, we decided we’d have to return in fall or winter months and try it out.

Willows Lodge reception counter and lobby
The resort, which routinely lands on Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List, celebrated its 15th Anniversary in September by introducing the new look. The decor's ‘refreshening’ was just enough to create a feel of a more modern lodge interior –   subtle, but striking enough to ‘wow’ long-time regulars.

Willows Lodge Lobby

Willows Lodge

This quintessential Northwest lodge with its wooden beams and distressed concrete floors  incorporates reclaimed wood and metal furniture into its interior design.  That coffee table pictured above was made by Pacific Northwest artisans Meyer Wells and N.K. Build.
PicMonkey Collage
Guest room, bathroom and deck - London's Molton Brown products are featured

Guest rooms are described and priced by three categories: nice, nicer and nicest.  They’ve all been refreshed to include an accent wall behind the headboard in a deep wine hue (but, of course – it is wine country!) The new color makes the existing hand blown glass pendants simply pop.  The ceiling and wall colors have been lightened which adds to the feeling of spaciousness. I had a difficult time deciding whether I wanted to spend my ‘room time’ in the  comfy chair and ottoman (a new addition to the rooms) or outside on the small deck. I could have spent the entire stay bouncing between the two. . . with maybe a trip or two to the lounge and restaurant.

PicMonkey Collage
Barking Frog Restaurant - shots of breakfast and dinner (fresh Halibut was our choice)
The resort offers afternoon/evening light dining options in its Fireside Lounge just off the lobby (which opens onto an outdoor patio), and its award-winning Barking Frog Restaurant  serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. We loved eating in its patio but in the cold weather there’s nothing more inviting than its table that circles the indoor centerpiece of a fireplace. For an over-the-top gastronomical experience, the lengendary Herb Farm Restaurant, is footsteps from the lodge’s entry.

Say Ahh for the Spa

The spa pool at Willows Lodge
I had time between breakfast and our late morning checkout for a spa treatment but not enough to luxuriate in the steam room or pool – ‘next time’, I told myself. There are five treatment rooms, (one designed for two with a fireplace).

PicMonkey Collage
A treatment room at Willows Lodge

Tucked in between warmed blankets, I experienced one of their signature, Clarita Facials, a treatment I had written about a few years ago but had not yet tried. My face had a healthy glow about it for days afterward.

A Stay in Woodinville Wine Country

It was our first stay at this 84-room resort, that got its beginning as a privately owned hunting lodge. Owner C. D. Stimson, a member of the early day Seattle business and social community, came here to hunt ducks.

While the duck hunting has ceased in the immediate area, Willows Lodge is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts as well as those who want to visit wine country. Woodinville, located to the east of Lake Washington in the heart of what was once agricultural fields,  is now a vibrant part of the state’s wine country with more than 100 wineries and/or wine tasting rooms located near Willows Resort. Red Hook Brewery is the next door neighbor.

The lodge is adjacent to the Sammamish River Trail, a 10.9 mile bike and recreational rail trail. There’s a kayak launch near the resort grounds and a zip line concession just a short walk away. The resort has an assortment of bikes for guests (or a pedicab you can hire to get you to the wineries) and it is pet-friendly as well. 

PicMonkey Collage
Willows Lodge, the adjacent Sammamish River Trail, zip lines, and Red Hook Brewery
Our only excuse for not staying there sooner is its close proximity to our home. But an invitation to experience the new ‘refreshing’ as guests of the hotel got us to try it out. This hosted introduction convinced us that visitors to the area shouldn’t miss it and locals shouldn't take as long as we did to stay there!

Want more information?
Willows Lodge
14580 NE 145th St.
Woodinville, 98072

That’s it for this week.  As always, thanks for your time. We’re heading back to our Greek life so the tales of our time there will be intermixed with our continuing tales from the Middle East cruise. Hope we see you back here soon. Until then, safe travels to you and yours~

Linking this week with:

Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening
Mersad's Through My Lens
Photo Friday - Pierced Wonderings
Wordless Wednesday


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