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Methow "Camp"
posted by John : July 11-13, 2008

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Didn't we just do this? Kids in the back watching movies as we fly over Snoqualmie and then Blewitt Passes? Wait... how many kids are back there? Five? Oh, yeah... we'd added the Lyman boys (Lex and Jack) to the pack for a weekend at Grandpa Jack's cabin in Methow.

I was actually in the Lyman-mobile with Daryl while Michelle was helping corral the kids in the truck. We had started early to get a jump on the three day weekend that had a four hour drive on each end of it so the sun was shining right in our faces as we headed northeast.

It really was just like the previous weekend's trip to Chelan right up to Wenatchee when we took the highway on the other side of the river... right through the fires.

Ok, so maybe the fires weren't actually burning when we drove through, but the road had been closed the day before and the helicopters were still flying overhead dropping water from the Columbia on the blackened hillsides. In fact, you could see the flames of the Badger Mountain fire from the road even in the bright sunlight.

We only had to make one stop for gas on the way there, though we tried to stop at a number of fruit stands only to realize fruit stands of 2008 ain't like the fruit stands of our youth. They're all refined and fancy now. Who wants that? I want to have to wash my fruit for fear of all manner of nasties before I consume it. If I wanted shrink-wrapped cherries I'd go to Safeway.

We almost drove right past our destination. Methow is a "town" of 13 families so you can understand why we might have missed it. Grandpa Jack's directions seemed far too simple when he gave them to me in downtown Seattle, but looking down the main street (aka, the only street) in Methow it didn't seem that far a stretch that I had gotten only two directions. If there was any doubt it was allayed when we found the branch office of Grandpa Jack's firm or at least an old sign mounted on a dillapidated shack on a hill overlooking the Methow River.

Grandpa Jack always refers to his place over there as a "shack," but I've been in full-time houses that aren't as nice. It had the quaint charm of a tiny house that's been added to over time and then that had been added to. Two bedrooms downstairs, a loft up, kitchen and living room, everything we could need. If you're thinking that nine of us and a dog in such a small space might be difficult never fear! Daryl and I would be camping in the yard with all the kids save Henry. Well, maybe you should fear for us.

We spent mch of the first day setting up. Amy and Michelle each got their own rooms, Henry got the loft, and Daryl and I each got tents in the backyard. Clara's a tent-sleeping expert, but Lilly hadn't been in a tent since the infamous Cle Elum trip when she screamed for the entire weekend. (Coincidentally, the Lymans were with us then, too. You'd think they'd have learned by now, but...)

Daryl set up the mother of all tents that featured two bedrooms, a living room, porch, and even indoor plumbing. I stuck with our trusty three-man tent that is just barely small enough that I can take it backpacking if I need to. (Don't let that stop you from gifting me a bivy sack or a smaller two-man tent.) It'd be just barely big enough for me and the girls. We went out on a limb and trusted my father who said dew wasn't an issue. No rain flies. Truly living on the edge.

Amy and Michelle disappeared to the local (30 miles away) grocery and arrived back just before Grandpa Jack and his friend John (is everyone named John?) stopped by to see how we were getting on. We convinced them to stay for dinner and had a busy evening before starting up a fire for 'smores. The kids had a LATE night that we hoped would translate into a late morning. (Yeah, wishful thinking.)

When we were planning this trip we looked at a bunch of different destinations. Before we figured it'd be a good idea to "camp" at a cabin we thought about the trusty Salmon La Sac area and even somewhere in the Olympics. Daryl, though, had a burning desire to visit Winthrop. Since he'd moved to Washington he'd never been there and for some reason it was high on his list.

As a result of Daryl's itch we packed everyone (minus Tokul who was quite content to hang in the surprisingly cool house) back into the truck and headed north. First was Twisp for their farmers' market and then on to Winthrop itself. It hasn't changed much in the nine years since I'd been there last except to become perhaps a little more touristy. Of course, since we were touring it was probably just as well.

It was hot so we did the usual browsing through air conditioned stores before taking a deep breath to fight the heat outside. It was the heat that scuttled a tiny hike to Falls Creek Falls just north of Winthrop in favor of a stop at the confluence of the Twisp and Methow Rivers in Twisp. There we found rocky beaches, sticks, and plenty of water to splash around in. Henry had a lot of fun sitting in the stream watching the water flow around him while the bigger kids chased leaves and threw rocks.

We also stopped at Sun Mountain Lodge so Michelle and Daryl could marvel at the overpriced luxury. Amy and I ate there on our one year anniversary trip (we actually stayed at the far more sensible and cozy Freestone Inn) and it was good, but the brochure they brought back was a tad on the high side.

Naps weren't on the agenda so when we returned home we were still in high gear. Grandpa Jack and John came back with clearly made-up stories about their fishing exploits in a bay on the Columbia. Big fish? Lots of fish? Hardly. Would you believe a fishing lawyer? Not me. (They did present proof in the form of a fish for dinner, but I can't believe my father would have actually killed a fish. If he did that it wouldn't be there to catch next time.)

I suppose I shouldn't bad-mouth them so much. They did bring and install fans and an air conditioner. It almost made me want to move from the tent into Henry's loft, but there's something special about sleeping outside with your kids.

We tried to have a nice adult fireside chat after the kids went down, but a couple of glasses of bucket and I was half asleep in my chair. Amy convinced me (without having to try too hard) that it was time for me to go to bed so I retired to my tent. I think they might have stayed up a while after that, but I didn't notice.

And yes, Lilly had more freak-out moments each night. It's become so commonplace that it hardly registers when I think back on a trip like this.

Sunday morning was our last and was spent mostly getting ready to go "fishing" at Alta Lake. I say, "fishing," because it's a beautiful lake that would be great for fishing if you happened on it in the woods. Unfortunately, though, it's popular with the motorized boating crowd so there's never a moment of peace and waves rush from shore to shore threatening all but the most mighty of vessels.

Nonetheless, I took the girls into the raft and paddled across to the other side with a fly in the water. Jetskis buzzed by (one even split the 30 feet between me and the shore) making fishing a farce and souring my mood. The girls had fun, though, so even though we didn't catch any fish it was a success.

Back at the "shack" we cleaned and packed and prepared for the four hour ride home. The plan was to have dinner and let the kids sleep their way across the mountains. Like all good plans, though, it was complicated by the fact that the kids had no intention of sleeping. So by Wenatchee (via Starbucks in Chelan) it was time for a potty break in a last ditch effort to put them down for the next two hours.

We rolled into North Bend late, but not insanely so. We quickly moved the Lyman kids into the Lyman car, then the Lyman gear, and finally the Lymans themselves. Another trip in the books and even time for a few hours of sleep before work the next morning. Ah... summer.

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