Rainy Summer Days on Lake Chelan
The clouds had finally rolled in. After almost a month of sun, a bit of heat that had Seattle-natives crying for relief, and having to water my garden just to keep the plants alive, the clouds were finally coming in to pour a little rain on us. Of course this had to be the day I was leaving for the Washington summer playground of Lake Chelan. Everyone had warned me about the heat we would encounter. This was eastern Washington after all. They got far less rain than we did in Seattle. Apparently I bring the clouds with me. Old man weather drizzled, blew some cold wind, and tried his best to dampen our first trip to the lake. Ha! I laugh in your face weatherman. You won’t stop my boys and I from finding the fun wherever we go.
I’ll admit it. As we pulling into the parking lot of the Mountain View Lodge in Manson, WA, just down from the more popular town of Chelan, I was not excited. It looked like a motel. It wasn’t on the lake and I wasn’t even sure where the lake was. I knew it had to be close. These doubts melted away as I met Kim the owner, was welcomed as if I was a long-lost family member, and shown to our room that really had the perfect set up for our little family and my babysitter who had come along to play with us. The chocolate chip cookies made by Kim’s uncle sure didn’t hurt either. They are in the lobby ready to greet guests every morning. If you are lucky there will be a few left when you arrive in the afternoon.
Our room looked like a standard motel room, although much bigger. This was a family room with King-sized bed, kitchenette, table with 4 chairs and a full bathroom. Better yet, there was a bedroom off of this main room with a queen bed. I could easily throw both kids into that room if Mike was traveling with me. My sitter was gracious enough to share her room with Ty so I could close the door to his room for his naps, while Dek slept with me in the main room. This also allowed my lovely teenage babysitter to sleep in a bit each morning when the kids were up with the sun.
Kim, the owner of the lodge, loves to describe the motel lounge as more of a big family living room. Each night we were there they pulled down the projector screen for several families to watch movies on. They flipped around the couch, rearranged tables, and brought their own snacks to enjoy while the motel provided coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. Families were encouraged to make this their home. Mi casa es su casa seemed to be the motto of this warm home away from home.
Outside there was a communal pool with hot tub. Plenty of lounge chairs circled the pool making it easy for parents to watch older kids as they splash around. The outdoor fire pit was popular with adults as they sat chatting, enjoying that bottle of wine they picked up at the local wineries and tasting rooms littered around the lake. Several grills were available for guest use if you wanted to grill up a few burgers or a steak. As Kim put it, this has all the fun of camping, but with a much softer bed and amenities parents (like me!) might enjoy.
Food and fun on a rainy day
Our first day we did get lucky; we were able to walk around town for a little bit and even check out Manson Bay Park where a public swimming area is set up with lifeguards. Unfortunately the water was still way too cold to jump into in late June, especially on a cold and cloudy day. On the second day of our visit is when the rain really tried to take us down.
Breakfast stayed dry, but cold at Blueberry Hills Farm. Dek was able to run through the blueberry fields with other kids before we all parted ways. I was on the hunt for Willow Point Park, a spot Kim had recommended I take the boys as it had a fabulous beach view, a bit of sand to walk on, and a playground. The park was deserted when we arrived. Dek had the place to himself. It started to sprinkle, but when did a little water ever stop Dek. We combed the beach for shells and sticks, but when the drips turned into larger drops we headed back to the motel for a nap.
Next up on the agenda was a bike ride. We met up with Merrick, owner of Chelan Electric Bikes, in front of the Riverwalk Inn. Merrick is amazing. He knows a lot about the area and is very passionate about bike tours around the region. He provided us with a map and pointed out a few routes that would be best with the kids. My babysitter and I each hopped on a bike to give the electric bikes a test spin before Merrick hooked the boys, who were seated in a carriage, behind my bike. Let me tell you, I may never pedal again. Hauling about 60lbs of kid behind a bike isn’t easy. I’m also not in great shape. As soon as we hit a hill I would turn that little wheel on the bike handle and the motor would roar to life. The boys and I went flying up the hill. I’m sure we were clocking 4 maybe 5 miles per hours. Real dare devils over here!
Dek enjoyed the ride, even though he was longing for a nap. Ty wasn’t so sure. They both had helmets on, which really didn’t make Ty happy. As long as I kept moving he remained calm. Eventually he fell asleep. Phew!
After all that “hard” work my appetite was back with a vengeance. We parked our bikes with Merrick and headed into the Chelan Evening Farmers Market. It wasn’t large, maybe about a block long, but it had quality vendors that offered more than enough for a hungry mother and her sugar-seeking toddler to enjoy. Larkhaven Farm had ample samples of their goat cheese, while Dek finally got his treat in the form of a perfectly baked blueberry buckle (the bane of my baking existence) from The Okanogan Bakery. I loaded the family up on Rainier cherries, deep-red cherries from Tieton, WA, organic strawberries that Dek tried to finish before we even got back to the car, and a loaf of rosemary bread that would later be paired with brie, prosciutto and tomatoes. It also went well with a bit of fresh mozzarella I picked up on my way home.
As if we hadn’t had enough food, we were due at the Lake Chelan Winery for a BBQ dinner that would turn into one of the best meals of the trip. The blackened salmon was very good, so good that Dek ate most of my helping with his brother begging for any scraps that were left behind. The pork ribs are what really made my babysitter and I melt though. They fell right off the bone. The coleslaw wasn’t quite as vinegary as I like it, but that is a very personal taste for me. I like my vinegar. My sitter loved it as is. My glass of Lake Chelan Winery 2010 Sweet Gewürztraminer soothed out any rough edges I had from my day as a traveling mom, and the strawberry shortcake tipped us from savory into sweet to end our meal. Apart from our Blueberry Hill breakfast, this was quite possibly my most leisurely meal of the trip. Dek didn’t care that it was raining. He was out there playing with a little boy and a pile of hula hoops the winery provides. Our tables were covered with portable heaters warming up the air around us, but the whole area had open sides for the kids to run back and forth between the grassy lawn leading to the grapevines and our table.
We wrapped up our three-day stay with a visit with friends who came up from Wenatchee. I am getting more mindful of Dek and his need to play with other kids when we travel. I had scouted out the Don Morse Park playground for the kids to play while I caught up with my friend. It was perfect. We wore the boys out, grabbed a pizza at Local Myth (a must stop on your visit!) and I packed up my boys to head home.
Of course the sun had started to poke out on our last day. Why wouldn’t it? I was leaving so the clouds could go too. As you can see we still kept busy. We may not have been playing in the lake, but from what I hear the water would have been too chilly for me in July even. I’m such a wimp when it comes to swimming in cold water. Brrrrr!
Many thanks to Lake Chelan for arranging our itinerary for this trip. We were blessed with hosted visits at the Mountain View Lodge, Lake Chelan Winery, and Chelan Electric Bikes. As always my thoughts are my own; when they aren’t you will be the first to know.
walking on travels: keep traveling, keep moving forward;
take your kids walking on life’s path to adventure