About this time during a Washington winter, I begin to crave escape. The feeling is visceral, like I will begin to peel out of my skin if I must endure one more fog filled day of dreary Northwest winter. I start to plan spring vacation escapes and my pinterest board turns more and more tropical (this year I am thinking Palm Springs: vintage bikinis, old men in fedoras, Joshua Tree, poolside margaritas.) I betray my native city by beginning to long for any glimpse of wide open blue sky.
This is in stark contrast to my feelings at the end of the summer, when I crave with equal strength the changing of the colors, the quiet cozy nights indoors, fireplaces and cocoa. I think most native Pacific Northwesterners experience a similar nostalgia and appreciation for Fall. We look forward to a time of hibernation, rainy days with a good book and a comfy couch, celebrating the holidays, and the small sprinklings of snow that will inevitably shut down the city. But the feeling is fickle, and after the glow of Christmas and New Years have faded and all that is left is grey, I need to get out of town.
This weekend we attempted to do just that, with a day trip to my favorite place in Washington, Lake Chelan. As I wrote about briefly before on the blog, Chelan is our summertime home away from home but I had yet to go in Winter.
In a cruel twist of weather, the capital of blue skies was covered in a low hanging fog during our trip, but still the change of pace and fresh air did us good, as did the Lakeview’s Patty Melt and fries we stopped for after hiking around my uncle’s property for a couple of hours. I loved seeing the Eastern Washington brush, sage, and wild flowers covered in frost. We tromped around Union Hill with our ecstatic lab, Leupold running ahead and sliding on the ice all over my uncle’s newly purchased 20 acres.
Afterward we warmed up at the Lakeside and then walked through the Winterfest: Fire & Ice Festival happening downtown. The festival celebrates the wineries that line the hillsides outside of town and encourages guests to check out all of the shops downtown by selling a wine glass ($30 this year for unlimited tastings) and then offering tastings with each wine maker stationed in a different downtown business. Lining the downtown area and the lakeside beach are bonfires for people to gather around, drink and talk (fun fact, they even use recycled Christmas trees for the bonfires.)
S’mores are sold by local girl scout troops and live bands played throughout the night on a central stage. The ice component of the Fire & Ice festival is a contest, with the international artists using chainsaws and drills to create their sculptures from blocks of ice while the crowds look on. Some of the artists were clearly inspired by the upcoming game, as the 12th man was well represented with 4 different Seahawks ice sculptures. The night ended with a polar plunge into the lake to celebrate the New year.
Between the music, the wine induced jolliness of the crowd, and the Christmas decorations that still festooned the light posts downtown, the festival was a welcome extension of holiday spirit. Here is what I am thinking for next year: a group of girlfriends, some straight classy thrift store fur coats, and a motel to crash in walking distance from the bonfires. The chance to drink wine while shopping for work boots at the Ace Hardware like the guy pictured below did, is just too tempting to pass up. I do think I’ll pass on the plunge into the lake though. I’ll be saving that dive for a ninety degree day this summer.