Grayland, Washington, October 2013: Cranberries, Beaches, and Oysters

Our Fall getaway to Grayland, WA: A cranberry harvest festival, a crusty old beach town, delicious oysters, and a pumpkin patch.

We wanted a relaxing and fun fall getaway in October, 2013. Our last trip to the Washington coast was Ocean Shores, which left much to be desired (in our opinion). We opted for the lesser-visited Grayland, a tiny beach town just south of Westport.

I looked on the map and found an old hotel on the beach (the closest one to the actual beach that I could see) called the Walsh Motel. There wasn’t much about it on Tripadvisor yet, and their website didn’t have a ton of photos. The price was right at $95 a night for a room with a kitchen, fireplace, ocean view and king sized bed, so we went for it. We expected old and outdated, but were hoping for charm. The website doesn’t take reservations, so we called and did it the old fashioned way. The man on the phone was super friendly and suggested room 26, that was one of the best ones. We booked it.

The Walsh Motel has two kinds of accommodations–the beach front hotel part, which is non smoking, no pets, and no kids (great find for the childfree set!) and cabins that are not beachfront that allow smoking, pets, and kids. From the few reviews we read, the cabins are a very cheap, family friendly way to go…..but are pretty old and run down.

Day 1:

We left Seattle  in the afternoon on a Friday, and traffic wasn’t too bad, it was around a 3 hour drive. We arrived in Grayland starving and ready to go get some dinner. Check in was easy, we pulled into the Walsh Motel office and a friendly, laid-back woman checked us in (I’m guessing the co-owner, it seems like a couple owns it and lives in the house attached to the office). We pre-paid, were given a key and directions to the hotel at the end of the drive, and went to check in.

The room was older for sure, as expected. It was very clean, however and a bundle of wood was included for the fireplace. The kitchen had just about everything we needed, although we brought a few pans and utensils just in case.

Walsh Motel, Grayland WA (53)
Walsh Motel, Grayland WA
Walsh Motel Grayland WA (5)
Walsh Motel, Grayland WA
Walsh Motel Grayland (4)
Walsh Motel
Walsh Motel Grayland (3)
Walsh Motel
Walsh Motel Grayland (2)
Walsh Motel
Walsh Motel Grayland (6)
Walsh Motel
Walsh Motel Grayland (7)
Walsh Motel
Walsh Motel Grayland (8)
Walsh Motel

We quickly unloaded our car and then drove down the road to Bennett’s Restaurant for dinner. It was completely packed with a wait at the door. The staff was doing a great job, and while it took us a little while for the host to get us on the list they kept track of who was next very well. Unfortunately there were a lot of rude customers and we felt bad for the staff. We’ve worked in restaurants in a tourist town, and we sympathize. The host brought drinks to anyone who wanted them. We had some wine while we waited, which was nice.

We were finally seated around 8:30, and ordered some food. They have a lot of seafood options, and I decided to go for the captain’s platter of fried clam strips, fish, and shrimp. It came with a salad, sauteed vegetables, bread, and a baked potato. Paddy had a steak which came with the same sides. It was a little pricey, but all really good and at that point, we were famished. I had to take some of my captain’s platter with us, it was so huge.

Captains platter Bennett's Restaurant Grayland (9)

Bennett's Restaurant Grayland
Bennett’s Restaurant Grayland

Bennett's Restaurant Grayland

After dinner we went back to the room and attempted a fire in the fireplace. There was only a small stack of newspaper, and no kindling. We couldn’t get it going. We made a note to buy some fire starter sticks the next day.

The TV was small, and kind of in an awkward spot at the side of the bed. We tried moving it, but it didn’t work out. There was a small dresser near it, however and we moved that to the foot of the bed and put our laptop on it to watch a spooky movie. It worked out fine.

We’ve always kind of dreamed about buying an old hotel or resort and making it over. Since the owners were about our age, I’m guessing that is what they are doing. We looked at the room and thought about what we would do with it if it was our place.

The first thing we’d do is put new mattresses, the mattress was pretty old and creaky and my back wasn’t so happy by the time we left. I’d also get rid of the 1980’s polyester floral hotel bedspreads and trade them in for down comforters and duvet covers. Huge upgrade right there. Some flat screen TVs and DVD players would be a good addition, and after that–just some cosmetic upgrades. My mind gets all craftsy….adirondack chairs on the deck? An end table made from driftwood? Fishing nets and bouys strung over the deck railing? Maybe someday we’ll buy a small resort and re-vamp it.

 

Day 2:

The next morning we slept in a bit, and then I baked off some homemade cheddar biscuits using the ingredients and recipes we brought. Paddy made a chicken sausage gravy and scrambled eggs and we had breakfast with an ocean view.

Grayland Beach WA (12)

One of our reasons for choosing Grayland this particular weekend in October was the Grayland Cranberry Harvest Festival. Washington State grows so many cranberries on the coast (Ocean Spray is located here) and I have never in my life seen a cranberry bog or where they come from. We also happen to love all things cranberry, and I have recently become a novice canner and wanted to get some cranberries to can homemade cranberry sauce for the holidays.

Our first stop was the community hall in Grayland, where the “festival” was going on. It was a small town community festival, with cranberry products being sold–bath products, baked goods, jams and jellies, etc. There were some people setting up food stands outside for later.

Grayland Cranberry Harvest Festival (14)

They were also offering bog tours for $7.50 per person. The tours left several times during the day in a small school bus to a bog down the road. We were wondering if we could see a bog on our own, without a long tour. We left and drove down the road, seeing the school bus tour group getting an explanation of the cranberry picking machine that was invented by a farmer in Grayland in the 1930’s. We quickly realized that every block was a bog, and you can walk right up to them and take a look at the berries yourself. It was pretty interesting.

Grayland Cranberry Harvest Festival

Grayland cranberry bog
Cranberry bog

Grayland cranberry bog

Grayland cranberry bog

Grayland cranberry bog

Grayland cranberry bog

Grayland (22)

Grayland cranberry bog

Grayland cranberry bog

Grayland cranberry bog

After we marveled at the cranberries (Paddy sampled one raw, he doesn’t recommend it), we continued driving up a big hill out of curiosity about the area. We found a plot of land that was recently cleared for building with a fantastic view of the bogs, which made for a great photo opportunity.

Grayland cranberry bogs

Grayland cranberry bogs

Grayland cranberry bogs

After taking in the view, we drove back to the main road and continued south to Tokeland. On the way, we pulled into the Nelson Crab Company to check out the seafood selection for dinner that night. We didn’t purchase any seafood but we did buy two lbs of cranberries for canning.

Nelson Crab Company Tokeland WA
Nelson Crab Company Tokeland WA

It being October and all, the month with the best holiday of the year, we followed a friend’s suggestion of visiting the supposedly haunted Tokeland Hotel. There are stories of ghost sightings, dinner plates in the restaurant spinning in the air on their own, and a supposed murder of a prostitute  that occurred in room number 7 in the early 1900’s, which is related to the haunting.

Tokeland Hotel WA
Tokeland Hotel

We walked in, expecting to be greeted or shown a menu, but no staff members were at the front desk or paid us any mind. We wandered around the creepy living room with a skeleton lounging in a chair, and took a look at the antiques on display. No one came out to talk to us, so we left.

Tokeland Hotel WA
Tokeland Hotel WA

Near the hotel was a house with one of the most magnificent driftwood sculptures of a horse I’ve ever seen, and some little shacks selling seafood.

Grayland driftwood horse sculpture

Grayland WA crab (33)

Grayland Tokeland WA

Next, we continued out tour back north past Grayland to the neighboring town of Westport. Paddy and I had been to Westport before years ago, and I have to say I do like it better than Ocean Shores. There is some meager attempts at tourism in the town, with a tiny aquarium and a few boardwalk souvenir and saltwater taffy shops. Overall though, it is a crusty old fishing town that time forgot. It has lots of local color without the big hotels and family fun time obnoxiousness of Ocean Shores. It is what it is, without apology. And we kind of love it that way.

Westport Harbor WA
Westport Harbor
Crab pots in Westport
Crab pots in Westport

We stopped at the local grocery store in Westport (there isn’t one in Grayland) and picked up some ingredients for dinner that night. On the way back towards Grayland, we made a stop at the Cranberry Road Winery. They produce two types of cranberry wine–a regular cranberry wine and a cranberry cinnamon wine. Both were very good and we bought a bottle of the cinnamon wine to enjoy with our families at Christmas. They do sell the wine in stores in Seattle as well.

After wine tasting, we took one last detour to Brady’s Oysters to pick up some oysters for oyster stew. Brady’s Oysters is a little family-owned roadside oyster farm and cannery, just outside of Grayland. We purchased some fresh oysters and smoked oysters for dinner, and a can of smoked oysters to take home. If you like oysters and seafood, Brady’s is definitely worth a stop.

We were hungry and felt like relaxing awhile. so I re-heated my dinner leftovers in the oven and made us some bloody marys.

Bloody marys in Grayland (38)

We read books for a little while (I was reading the original Bram Stoker’s Dracula, in honor of my favorite holiday of the year). After a little rest and some damn fine bloody marys, we went out for a walk on the beach.

They don’t call it Grayland for nothing. In the winter the gray sky, sand, and ocean all meld together into one big black and white photograph of a landscape. It is beautiful in it’s own humble way.

Grayland Beach WA

Grayland Beach WA

Grayland Beach WA

Grayland Beach WA

Grayland Beach WA

Grayland Beach WA

Grayland Beach WA

Grayland Beach WA

Grayland Beach WA

Grayland Beach WA

Grayland Beach WA

Grayland is also a great spot for clamming, if you’re into that sort of thing. I’ve never tried it, but a friend of mine has all the gear and loves digging for razor clams on the coast in the winter. The season is winter only, and you have to get an inexpensive permit. The Walsh Motel has an outdoor shellfish cleaning sink for guest use as well. I think we may have to come back and try it sometime.

In the evening, Paddy made some oyster stew from a recipe that he modified a bit. We used smoked oysters and regular, and it turned out really good. (**Tip: a little beer in oyster stew really brings out the flavor as well). The sun came out a bit and I went back to the beach to catch a few sunset photos.

Grayland Beach WA

Grayland Beach WA

Grayland Beach WA

Grayland Beach WA

Grayland Beach WA

Grayland Beach WA

Grayland Beach WA

We sat and ate our oyster stew and watched the brilliant fall sunset from the window. It was a perfect cozy fall evening.

oyster stew Grayland (63)

Fall sunset Grayland (70)

Spooky spiderweb
Spooky spiderweb

Fall sunset Grayland

Fall sunset Grayland

We had remembered the fire starter sticks for the fire, and we got one going no problem. We set the laptop up on the dresser at the end of the bed again and watched a bunch of episodes of American Horror Story with only the firelight. It was a spooky good time.

Walsh Motel Grayland WA

 

Day 3:

In the morning we ate some leftover biscuits and gravy, packed up, left Grayland and drove half an hour east to Aberdeen, WA. We’d been through Aberdeen many times but never drove by Kurt Cobain’s childhood home, so we thought we’d stop off for a quick view. There it was, 1210 E First Street. Not much else to report.

Kurt Cobain's house Aberdeen WA
Kurt Cobain’s house Aberdeen WA

We continued east about 15 minutes to Montesano and made a stop at the Shaffner Farms Pumpkin Patch to pick up pumpkins for our annual pumpkin carving party the following weekend. I’m a sucker for all that cutsey poo fall stuff like pumpkins and cider. Paddy is a good sport about it.

It was a spooky foggy fall morning, perfect setting for pumpkin picking. We were some of the first visitors to arrive, and we were loaded onto a tractor and driven a short ways out to the pumpkin field to find our pumpkins.

Montesano WA pumpkin patch

Montesano WA pumpkin patch

Montesano WA pumpkin patch

Montesano WA pumpkin patch

Montesano WA pumpkin patch

After pumpkins were selectively chosen, we were trekked back to the farm where other vegetables, gourds, and pumpkin carving accessories were for sale. We purchased our pumpkins and hot cider and got back on the road back to Seattle.

Overall, we had a really good time in Grayland. There’s not a lot of stuff to do there, but we would go back. It’s not as nice as Cannon Beach, Oregon, but it’s also way less expensive. If you like cranberries, fresh seafood, beaches, and relaxing, it’s a good Northwest getaway. Grayland and Westport still retain their local, crusty old beach town character, and we’re all about that.

Mt. Rainier National Park 2013: Sunrise Side

Mt. Rainier National Park 2013 Sunrise Side: Camping at Silver Springs Campground, hiking Naches Peak

After our first trip to Mt. Rainier National Park blew our minds with it’s beauty, we thought we’d visit the Sunrise side of the park in the Northeast. The Sunrise side is less visited than the Paradise Side, which we were excited about. We always like to go where there are less tourists.

Day 1:

We made a reservation at the Silver Springs Campground through the Recreation.gov website, and were lucky enough to snag a spot on the White River. It was a little dry since it was August, but still a nice view and came with ambient creek noises.

Silver Springs Campground Mt. Rainier National Park (21)
Silver Springs Campground

Traffic through Seattle to Enumclaw on a Friday afternoon was brutal, and we arrived starving and cranky. We quickly set up camp and started a campfire. We had an easy meal planned: our traditional first night camping meal of hot dogs and baked beans.

Silver Springs Campground Mt. Rainier National Park (23)
Silver Springs Campground
Silver Springs Campground Mt. Rainier National Park (22)
Silver Springs Campground
Silver Springs Campground Mt. Rainier National Park (20)
Silver Springs Campground
Silver Springs Campground Mt. Rainier National Park (19)
Silver Springs Campground

After bug spray was applied, camp was set up, and we had some food and wine, we felt much better. We relaxed around the campfire and enjoyed the sound of the river.

 

Day 2:

Our main plan for the day was a good hike. I consulted our Best Easy Day Hikes: Mt. Rainier National Park book and decided on a 5 mile loop trail around Naches Peak. It promised stunning views of Mt. Rainier and seemed to be about our fitness level.

We got up at about 8:00  AM. We quickly got dressed, slathered on sunscreen, ate some granola and got going. Naches Peak Trailhead is about a 20-30 minute drive south on Highway 410 from Silver Springs Campground. It is also technically outside Mt. Rainier National Park, so you don’t have to go into the visitor’s center and pay the fee. It’s good that we got there when we did, we snagged the last parking spot in the lot.

Most people hike the trail starting out to the left, as you see Mt. Rainier as you walk forward and descend back down the other side of the peak. I read a review online that suggested going the other direction to the right, because you get all your elevation gain out of the way pretty quickly, and a view is a view, regardless of which way you’re going. We opted to hike the trail backwards and I’m glad we did.

We started out passing Tipsoo Lake, and ascended up a rocky trail through the forest. A little ways in we could see Mt. Rainier in the distance through the trees. I don’t know if I’ll ever get sick of looking at that mountain.

Naches Peak Trail Mt. Rainier National Park (2)
Naches Peak Trail Mt. Rainier National Park
Naches Peak Trail Mt. Rainier National Park (3)
Naches Peak Trail Mt. Rainier National Park

The hike was pretty tiring in the first mile, and I had to stop and catch my breath several times. Finally, we reached the top and the views were definitely worth it.

Naches Peak Trail Mt. Rainier National Park (5)
Naches Peak Trail
Naches Peak Trail Mt. Rainier National Park (4)
Naches Peak Trail
Naches Peak Trail Mt. Rainier
Mt. Rainier
Naches Peak Trail Mt. Rainier National Park (11)
Naches Peak Trail
Naches Peak Trail Mt. Rainier National Park (12)
Naches Peak Trail

We stopped for a bit to enjoy it, and then continued on up around another small rocky point which was a popular place to picnic and enjoy a view. We had lunch with us but weren’t ready to eat yet.

Naches Peak Trail Mt. Rainier National Park (6)
Naches Peak Trail
Naches Peak Trail Mt. Rainier National Park (7)
Naches Peak Trail
Naches Peak Trail Mt. Rainier National Park (13)
Naches Peak Trail
Naches Peak Trail Mt. Rainier National Park (8)
Naches Peak Trail

After that, the rest of the trail was all downhill and Mt. Rainier was no longer in view except a little bit towards the end. The views of the valley, with wild flowers and ponds were still amazing.

Naches Peak Trail Mt. Rainier National Park (14)
Naches Peak Trail
Naches Peak Trail Mt. Rainier National Park (15)
Naches Peak Trail
Naches Peak Trail Mt. Rainier National Park (16)
Naches Peak Trail
Naches Peak Trail Mt. Rainier National Park (17)
Naches Peak Trail

When we arrived back at the parking lot, we were beat. All the picnic tables were full of families eating lunch, so we just sat down on the ground next to our truck and had lunch. We were thankful for the cold Gatorade in our cooler. Sometimes, water just doesn’t re-hydrate like Gatorade.

After we ate, we headed back to camp. Our parking space was quickly taken by a waiting vehicle. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and reading books back at camp.

For dinner we chopped up some carrots, potatoes, onions, and zucchini and combined it with some chicken breasts, cream of mushroom soup, and spices and put it in some foil packets. We cooked them in the campfire and they were delicious. I don’t know what it is about campfire cooking that just makes simple food taste so much better. Maybe it’s just the warm hot meal in the woods thing. I don’t know.

The next day we packed up camp and headed back to Seattle. I have to say, the Naches Peak trail was one of the best We’ve ever been on in Washington and I would highly recommend it. Our book has so many cool hikes in Mt. Rainier National Park, I think we’ll be doing another one or two of them this summer. It really is a beautiful place to visit and we feel very lucky to live so close by that we can easily visit for a weekend.

Hood River, Oregon 2013: Girls’ Getaway

Hood River, Oregon 2013 Girls’ Getaway: Multnomah Falls, Hood River, Mount Hood, and a Lavender Festival

My Mom and I live in Washington, and my Grandma and Aunt live in Oregon. We wanted to spend a weekend together, but the drive to either location was too much for just a weekend. So, we decided to have a “girls’ getaway” halfway between near Hood River.

My Aunt had mentioned wanting to go to a lavender festival so we planned it for the third weekend in July (for some reason the third weekend in July is national lavender festival time) and rented a cabin in the town of Rhododenderon on Mt. Hood. I found the cabin on www.vrbo.com and located the owner’s website, Kathy’s Kabins. Kathy has two cabins available, a “kabin” and a “kottage.” We chose the smaller “kottage.” Kathy was very friendly in her correspondence, and allowed my Aunt to bring her dog for an extra $50.00 cleaning fee.

Day 1:

My Mom met me in Seattle in the morning, and we set out on I-5 south towards Oregon. We took a slightly less-direct route on way to Multnomah Falls off I-84. Multnomah Falls is a beautiful and popular waterfall with a restaurant, gift shop, and trail to a bridge overlooking the falls. It is definitely worth a stop if you are traveling on I-84. We had lunch at Multnomah Falls Lodge, which was very good. I had the Oregon pink shrimp tostadas with a cup of chowder, and my Mom had the fish and chips. Afterwards we went and did the obligatory gawking at the falls, which were crawling with tourists. I think I’d like to come back in the fall when there is less people and the leaves are changing color.

Multnomah Falls Oregon
Multnomah Falls Oregon
Multnomah Falls Oregon
Multnomah Falls Oregon

After lunch we drove a little ways farther to the town of Hood River, and then started our ascent up Mount Hood to Rhododendron on Highway 35 . We passed many fruit orchards and farmer fruit stands on the way. I later read that the loop around the mountain is called “The Fruit Loop” in the summer.

Mt Hood Weekend 138

We arrived at the cabin in the afternoon. It was a cozy and nicely decorated semi-secluded cabin in the woods. It had two bedrooms, a living room with two pull-out couches, two bathrooms, a full kitchen, and a fabulous deck with a hot tub overlooking the river. Kathy had everything you could possibly need, and even left us a bottle of wine (super awesome!) My Grandma, Aunt, and her dog took the master bedroom with a king bed and private bath, Mom took the other bedroom with a queen bed, and I took one of the pull out couches.

Mt Hood cabin Rhododendron, Oregon

Mt Hood cabin Rhododendron Oregon

Mt Hood cabin Rhododendron Oregon

Mt Hood cabin Rhododendron Oregon

We sat on the deck and had some ice tea, caught up, and listened to the river.

Mt Hood cabin Rhododendron Oregon

Mt Hood cabin Rhododendron Oregon

We had planned on cooking (the kitchen definitely had everything you could possibly need) but ended up feeling kind of lazy so we consulted Yelp and decided on the Rendezvous Grill down the road. While the menu wasn’t super exciting or unique, the food was definitely quality and we had a very nice dinner. They have something for everyone and a good wine selection. I had the wild salmon, my Mom and Grandma had the seafood cobb salad, and my Aunt had a pasta dish.

When we got back to the cabin we took a dip in the hot tub and then watched one of the movies I brought along.

The pull out couch in the living room was…well, a pull out couch. Not much that can be done about that. Kathy did do a great job of outfitting it with comfy flannel sheets and a nice down comforter, but I will say that after two nights on that thing my back was not so happy. The pull out couches are probably best suited to those of the younger persuasion. Everyone else reported the beds in the bedrooms to be very comfortable.

 

Day 2:

We got up earlyish in the morning and drove back down the mountain to Hood River, about an hour drive away. Our focus for the morning was to see the Hood River Lavender Festival. Our first stop was the Hood River Lavender Farm. It was set up for a festival and while we were early, people were starting to pour in. There were booths selling handicrafts, clothing, lavender plants, and lavender bath products. There was live music and a few food and wine vendors were setting up for the afternoon. We didn’t spend too long, we looked around at the booths, Grandma bought some lavender plants for her garden, and we moved on.

Hood River Lavender Festival
Hood River Lavender Farm
Hood River Lavender Festival
Hood River Lavender Farm
Hood River Lavender Festival
Hood River Lavender Farm
Hood River Lavender Festival
Hood River Lavender Farm

Mt Hood Weekend 112

Next, we went to Lavender Valley, which was my favorite stop. While there wasn’t a “festival” going on, (it was just a regular working lavender farm with a gift shop) the views were stunning. Majestic Mt. Hood reigning tall over fields of lavender with nothing obstructing the beautiful view. If you are in Hood River in the summer, definitely make a stop here.

Mount Hood, Lavender Valley, Hood River, Oregon
Mount Hood, Lavender Valley, Hood River, Oregon

Mount Hood, Lavender Valley, Hood River, Oregon

Lavender Valley, Hood River Oregon

Lavender Valley, Hood River Oregon

After viewing the fragrant lavender fields and purchasing some lavender essential oil from the gift shop, we were ready for some lunch. We drove back into the main town area of Hood River looking for somewhere to eat.

After finding some parking, we walked a block up and a block down on the main street and in the interest of finding somewhere quickly, decided on the Trillium Cafe. It seemed like more of a bar, but a really cool one. Large wooden booths, craft beers on tap, friendly service, and a good menu selection. We ordered salads, burgers, and pasta and it was all good. There were posters for live music in the evenings, and it seems like this is more of an evening hot spot than a lunch place. But it was a good comfortable little quiet spot for a lunch break.

After lunch, my aunt decided to head back to the cabin to relax a bit and Mom, Grandma, and I wanted to make one last stop at the Mt. Hood Winery. We pulled off Highway 35 as directed by a sign for wine tasting, but ended up next door at The Gorge White House tasting room instead. We just went with it and they had several local wines available for tasting with no tasting fee. They were all very good. They did sell the Mt. Hood Winery wine, however, and I purchased a bottle there without tasting it. Paddy and I just drank it two months ago and it was fabulous.

The Gorge White House is actually a working historic farm, we discovered, with fruits and flower gardens with you-pick specials. They also had a hard cider brewery there, but we didn’t stay to do any cider drinking. We did admire the flower fields and enjoy the sunshine.

Hood River orchard

Hood River orchard

Hood River orchard

Hood River pear orchard

U-Pick flowers Hood River Oregon

Gorge White House Hood River Oregon

Gorge White House Hood River Oregon

Gorge White House Hood River Oregon

Gorge White House Hood River Oregon

After that, Grandma was getting tired so we decided to make the hour drive back up to Rhododendron to relax at the cabin.

Mt Hood Hood River 1

On the way we passed the Mount Hood Skibowl in Government Camp, and pulled in to take a look. The snow-less ski resort was in full swing as a giant alpine slide. People were riding up to the top of the mountain in the ski lift, and then sliding down the ski hill to the bottom on giant slides. I’d never seen an alpine slide before and it looked super fun. I looked into it more when I got home, and it looks like they have a lot of activities there for families and kids. If you are traveling with kids, that would be a good destination.

We relaxed awhile at the cabin (the deck was really nice with the river flowing below) and then deliberated about what to do for dinner. We were feeling lazy again so we browsed the nearby restaurant menus that Kathy left at the cabin, and decided on ordering take out pizza from the Zig Zag Inn. We went to the nearby grocery store and replenished our wine supply, then picked up the pizza. The pizza was reasonably priced and pretty good, but nothing to write home about.

That evening we watched the HBO biopic “Gia,” one of my favorite movies but I think it was a little much for my Grandma. She kept turning around and staring at us in shock throughout the movie. It was probably good for her to get a little culture.

 

The next morning we made breakfast and tidied up the cabin (We were just required to put all sheets and towels on the floor near the front entrance area, bag up the trash, and do all the dishes). We said goodbye and started on our separate ways home. Most importantly, my Grandma had a great time and that really made me happy.

I would really like to come back to Hood River with Paddy in the summer sometime. I think for a couples’ trip, we’d stay in the town of Hood River itself, and check out more of the bars and restaurants in town. I’d also like to do some more wine tasting in the area, and see a little more of the Columbia River Gorge. That alpine slide looks pretty fun too. Overall, Hood River has a lot to offer and I would really love to go back.

Lake Chelan, WA: Fourth of July 2013

Lake Chelan, WA: Fourth of July 2013: Swimming, paddle boarding, wine tasting, and BBQ

If you live in Seattle and are looking for a hot and sunny, summer fun time weekend on the lake, Eastern Washington is your best bet. There are several lakes to choose from, and Lake Chelan, WA is the most popular for sure. The town of Chelan lies at the southern tip of the lake, and has a lot to offer: hotels, rental houses, a waterpark, wineries, jet ski rentals, restaurants, boat ramps, and other activities.

The downside is that Chelan can be expensive. After reviewing our options, we decided to stay at the Grandview on the Lake–a place we had stayed at two summers before for a weekend with friends. We booked well in advance for the Fourth of July weekend, and it was a four night minimum over the holiday. We had two couples (we had hoped for a third couple to join us but they couldn’t make it this year) and reserved a one bedroom lakeview condo with a murphy bed and pull-out couch in the living room for $350/night. While it was pretty pricey, the saving grace here was the full kitchen which allowed us to cook all our own meals.

Grandview on the Lake Chelan

Grandview on the Lake Chelan

Grandview on the Lake Chelan

Grandview on the Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan Fourth of July

The Grandview always seems to be “changing management.” A few weeks before we arrived, they sent me a new confirmation with a new higher price. Not cool. I called and was told that they were under “new management” and that they would fix it and honor the previous rate. It was fixed, and we had no further issues. It didn’t leave the best taste in my mouth, however. Chelan is also quite a party place. Don’t come here for a romantic getaway in the summer. Also, don’t stay on the ground floor. The ground floor is always full of drunk half-naked twentysomethings guzzling Fireball whiskey with hormones a-twitter. Luckily, there are quiet hours at the resort, fairly soundproof rooms, and plenty of bars in town that draw the youngsters away from the resort into the wee hours. The upside of The Grandview for the childfree set, is that it is right on the lake but without a beach. There is a dock with deep water–easy swimming, jumping, and floating right at the resort–but way too deep for small children. The kids are pretty much confined to the swimming pool area, and there are less of them than at the more family-friendly Campbell’s Resort right across the lake.

Grandview on the Lake Chelan pool
Pool and hot tub area
Grandview on the Lake Chelan waterslide
Main deck and waterslide at The Grandview

 

Day 1:

Paddy and I arrived in the afternoon and found a primo parking spot right near our room. Check in was easy, and we unpacked. Our friends Cass and Devin weren’t going to make it until later that evening, so we walked around town a bit. The resort is in walking distance from everything in town, which is super convenient. We looked at some restaurant menus, but ended up just picking up a frozen pizza at the nearby Safeway along with some other items we forgot, and relaxed in the room. Cass and Devin showed up later on, and we made it an early night.

 

Day 2:

Thursday was the Fourth of July. The weather was perfect and in the high 80’s, and I was anxious to get Large Marge the Party Barge (our 10 ft diameter inflatable raft) out on the water. In the covered parking lot on the base level (around the corner from the pool) there is an air pump for guest use for floaty toys. We got Marge blown up quickly, and rolled her out to the dock and set sail. The anchor wasn’t working so well, but we found a free bouy and tied Marge up. The water was cold but refreshing in the heat. We had an inflatable cooler full of beer in tow, which was awesome.

Grandview on the Lake Chelan Fourth of July

Grandview on the Lake Chelan

Chelan fourth of July weekend

Chelan fourth of July weekend

Chelan fourth of July weekend

Chelan fourth of July weekend

Chelan fourth of July weekend

After a good float and some lunch, we deflated Marge and spent some time by the pool with some cleverly disguised (maybe not so cleverly, but no one cared) beers and screwdrivers in patriotic sippy straw cups. The cool thing about the Grandview is that as long as you’re not being a dumbass and blatantly walking around with booze, no one seems to care.

Chelan fourth of July weekend

For dinner, what would Fourth of July be without a BBQ? The Grandview has a couple community BBQs down on the main deck, but we brought a small travel BBQ with us to use on the deck. Below us some of the Seattle Seahawks and a gaggle of bikini-clad ladies were using the community BBQ. Richard Sherman was running the grill, and I think he cooked piles of meat for three straight hours. Paddy had to get a photo with him.

Seahawks Legion of Boom Lake Chelan

Richard Sherman Lake Chelan

Poor Sherman was being hassled for photos all day while BBQing, and I don’t think he was super stoked to pose for another one, but he was a good sport and turned around and smiled for a quick shot. We made hot dogs, potato salad, Asian watermelon salad, and lemon drop martinis.

Chelan fourth of July weekend

Chelan fourth of July weekend

Chelan fourth of July weekend

Chelan fourth of July weekend

Chelan fourth of July weekend

That night we heard that nearby Manson has fireworks at night on the Fourth, and we were hoping we could see them from the deck as we didn’t want to drive anywhere. We waited until dark, playing cards on the deck. But alas, we couldn’t see them over the big hill blocking the view.

 

Day 3:

On Friday morning we slept in, and then Paddy made eggs benedicts.

Chelan fourth of July weekend eggs benedict

Chelan 4th of July 129

Cass and Devin decided to go paddle boarding. We skipped it and went walking around town. They rented them from Lake Rider Sports, and they had a good time.

Paddle boarding Lake Chelan

Paddle boarding Lake Chelan

Paddle boarding Lake Chelan

Paddy and I explored downtown Chelan a bit more. Lots of boutique shops, little restaurants, etc. When Cass and Devin returned, we set sail again on Large Marge for the afternoon.

Lake Chelan Fourth of July weekend

Lake Chelan Fourth of July weekend

That evening it was taco night. Tacos, drinks, and a fabulous sunset to end another fun summer day

Lake Chelan Fourth of July weekend

Lake Chelan Fourth of July weekend

Lake Chelan Fourth of July weekend

Later that night after a few drinks, Cass and I decided we were tipsy enough to head out to Señor Frog’s for some dancing. This is the place that all the Fireball whiskey guzzling 22 year olds go, along with hoards of tourist bachelorette parties. Paddy and Devin were not interested in the least. Normally this isn’t our type of place, but we wanted to get our dance on and just went with it. A group of people in various patriotic costumes showed up, providing some good entertainment. We talked to one of the girls and she said that they do this every Fourth of July–have a contest to see who can be the most “patriotic” and then get wasted and go out dancing. I think this guy wins:

Lake Chelan Fourth of July weekend

 

Day 4:

Saturday was our last day, and we thought we’d take a break from the lake for a little while and go wine tasting. If you like wine, you won’t find a shortage of vineyards and tasting rooms to visit.  Chelan has a ton of wineries. Our first stop was Vin du Lac, a beautiful vineyard on top of a hill with stunning views of Lake Chelan. They also had a restaurant that had a very nice outdoor patio and an enticing menu. The parking lot had plenty of apricot trees and pear trees, and there were trails up through the vineyards that most likely lead to even more stunning views. Given the heat and the uphill climb through the vineyards, we didn’t attempt the hike. I’d like to go back to eat there someday, and maybe catch a sunset from one of the vineyard trail viewpoints.

Vin du Lac winery chelan

Vin du Lac winery chelan

Vin du Lac winery chelan

Vin du Lac winery chelan

Vin du Lac winery chelan

Vin du Lac winery chelan

Next we visited the Lake Chelan Winery, which had very good wine but not a great spot to sit and taste. The tasting room is in a store that sells gourmet foods and locally made items. It is a great stop off to buy some things for a nice picnic, however.

Lake Chelan Winery

Lake Chelan Winery

Our last stop was Wine Girl Wines in the nearby town of Manson, owned by a former Seattle Rat City Rollergirl. Cass was also a Rat City Rollergirl, and she was excited to see her former league-mate’s winery. We both purchased a bottle of the 2013 My Derby Wife rose, which was a nice rose that wasn’t too sweet.

Wine Girl Wines Chelan

Wine Girl Wines Chelan

We then headed back to Chelan, taking in views of the lake and local vineyards along the way.

Lake Chelan Fourth of July
The Grandview as seen from the other side of the lake

Lake Chelan Fourth of July

Lake Chelan Fourth of July

Lake Chelan Fourth of July

The rest of the afternoon we did some more sunbathing and swimming on the swim dock at The Grandview. That evening Chelan had it’s fireworks show, so we didn’t miss out. We had a great view of the show right from our deck.

Lake Chelan Fourth of July fireworks

Lake Chelan Fourth of July fireworks

Lake Chelan Fourth of July fireworks

Lake Chelan Fourth of July fireworks

The next morning when we checked out, we were supposed to do all the dishes (dishwasher provided) and take out the trash. We had separated out our recycling and I went out to find a recycling bin, but found none. I went to the front desk and asked where their recycling bin was, and the lady told me they didn’t have one. I was appalled. I gave her a long, quiet, judgemental stare and then left. It is sickening to think of how much beer and soda are consumed at that hotel with no recycling. I later learned that Eastern Washington in general doesn’t have much of a recycling program, which is ridiculous. However, according to the Washington State Department of Ecology, there is a recycling drop-off station in Chelan and in Manson. So The Grandview has access to recycling centers, they just don’t recycle. Hopefully they will catch up with the rest of the state someday……very sad.

I think if we return to Chelan, it will be to rent a rental property instead of a condo. The Grandview keeps “changing management” and raising it’s prices, and it would be nice to have our own space. Unfortunately, most of the properties I looked at have a one week minimum in July and August, and are pretty expensive. We shall see. Chelan is a great summer destination though and I think we will be back someday for sure.