According to good ole’ Miriam-Webster, Wanderlust is to move about without a fixed course, aim, or goal. For me, it’s about wandering freely, visiting unknown places, and enjoying even the smallest attractions they have to offer.
Some people prefer to fly to their vacation destinations and enjoy the comfort of fancy resorts with pools, luxurious spas, and tropical drinks with tiny umbrellas. I will admit that type of travel calls to me during the cold rainy NW months. But for the most part, I like driving. As a writer it’s a time where I my characters speak to me and I create their stories from the places I visit.
My love of traveling backroads has been a lifelong joy for me. If there is a side road, I take it. Imagine the friendships with fascinating and welcoming people you’d miss if you sped on by. I’ve taken many a road ‘less traveled’ over the years in the U.S., England, and Ireland, and because of it, I’ve seen fascinating places, formed lasting friendships and added plenty of great memories along the way.
Last month I had the opportunity to travel with a group of approximately sixty like-minded women from Sisters on the Fly (SOTF) to one of their yearly events called the “Flamingo Races” at Sun Lakes Park Resort in Eastern Washington. Eastern Washington is as stunning as the West side of the Cascade Mountain range but drier and warmer in the spring and summer and less populated. Making it a great place to vacation.
Pre-planning for food and supplies was a must for me to attend this event. Over the years, I didn’t have the heart to part with certain family camping supplies, and they definitely came in handy for this trip. What I didn’t have, I purchased from local thrift and second-hand stores. By the time I was done stocking up and packing, I was exhausted. Not to mention my living room looked like I’d robbed an outdoor adventure store.
Currently, I don’t own an RV, and at my age, I’m not one to pitch a tent in the pouring rain or sleep on the ground amongst the forest critters that take the opportunity to wander into sleeping bags. So I bit the bullet and rented a twenty-five-foot RV from a well-known national company. If you were driving nearby you probably saw me heading down the highway looking like a billboard on wheels.
If you have or know of the perfect RV for me, let me know! My special doormat needs a home.
This trip brought back great childhood memories of when my family camped in a tent at the same resort in the early ’60s.
Not much had changed regarding the scenery, but it was nice to see the resort had completed many upgrades to its camping and RV sites since last I visited. Even though I can boondock with the best of them, once in a while, it’s nice to have the convenience of full hookups (water, electricity, and sewer), saving me from running in my PJs and robe to the common shared facilities on a cold morning. I can tell you that it isn’t a pretty picture to see women (& men) running from their camp sites to vie for lukewarm (at best) showers.
June 17th I started out early on a cool and misty NW day, typical for June on the west side of the Cascades. Taking scenic Highway 2 through the forested landscape and over Stevens Pass, I followed alongside the Wenatchee River’s raging waters from the spring snowmelt. My first overnight stop was in the Northwest’s very own Bavarian town of Leavenworth and home to Infuse Organics,
Despite an unusual early June 90-degree day for this side of the Cascades, staying here was the best decision I could have made. Sarah and Scott Michels, Ohio transplants, purchased this ten-acre farm five years ago. They offer weary travelers, through Harvest Hosts, a one-night stay on their organic farm. Free to wander their acreage, I found them to be the most welcoming couple raising three children in their little bit of paradise. Sarah is the main force behind Infuse Organics. Her and Scott’s farming practice use a no-pesticide and non-tilling form of gardening. Instead, it uses cover crops and black tarps to compost the soil over the fall and snowy winter months. In the spring, they hand till the earth in hopes of maintaining the earth’s microorganisms vital to organic gardening. Their onsite store is open to the public, and products are available online and at various sites nationally. I came away with many gifts for myself and family.
June 18th Off again driving the short distance to Cashmere, home of Liberty Orchards and the Applet & Cotlet (Turkish Delight) capital of the U.S. Next, it was traversing road construction and bypassing Wenatchee, home to world-famous apple orchards. A wrong turn outside Wenatchee (an 18-wheeler blocked the sign), I meandered through beautiful neighborhoods situated high on a hill above Wenatchee. Something I wouldn’t have experience without taking a wrong turn. You don’t make a U-turn in a 25-foot RV, so it took some time to find a good place to backtrack and head in my desired direction.
Finally, back on Route 97, I drove past the town of Entiat and it’s namesake lake. Then back again on Highway 2, heading towards the quaint and oh-so-quiet town of Waterville in Douglas County. Here I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to capture these two barn side advertisements.
Douglas County is home to miles and miles of rolling wheat fields. This scenic byway’s landscape is breathtaking. I’d never driven so many miles without seeing another vehicle.
Old farmhouses sparsely dotted the countryside along with weathered and abandoned barns. Causing me to think how their ancestors handled being so isolated in truly the middle of nowhere during the harsh winters this area experiences and with nothing but a horse and wagon to get to the nearest town miles away. I sense a story there?
Moving on, I stopped at Dry Falls (observation point). This site, where once during the end of the last ice age, the world’s largest waterfall fell over what are now dry cliffs, leaving expansive views reminiscent of a miniature Grand Canyon.
Finally, the park entrance was a short drive away where it was time to find my assigned site, settle in, hook up and relax.
Legs stiff, I slid out of the rig despite several stops along the way, I was instantly hit with 80% humidity and 94-degree temps as the ‘snow’ from cottonwoods drifted by.
Oh, did I not mention the vampire mosquitoes were on their greedy quest for fresh blood my entire stay. Bug spray applied, and with the help of fellow SOTF Sister, Renae, I was set up and able to crank up the RVs air conditioner and escape inside from the mosquitoes.
After hydrating and relaxing, it was time to join the ladies who wandered the back roads like me for three days of laughing, forming new friendships and renewing old, and making great memories to talk about through the damp and cold NW winter months which are just a blink away.
Thanks to SOTF Sister Connie, Dawn and I were given a guided side trip to nearby Jamison Lake. Another of my Dad’s favorite fishing spots from my past. What a beautiful & peaceful site to camp. The views of the surrounding hills made me feel as if I’d stepped back into a time and place where dinosaurs roamed.
Until next time, I wish you safe travels and may you never loose your wanderlust for adventure and making new memories.