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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On Friday morning we slept in, and then Paddy made eggs benedicts.
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.
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.
That evening it was taco night. Tacos, drinks, and a fabulous sunset to end another fun summer day
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:
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.
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.
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.
We then headed back to Chelan, taking in views of the lake and local vineyards along the way.
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.
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.