Closer To Home: Methow Valley Ciderhouse



IMG_9773Heading to far off places in September makes a lot of sense.  It’s the end of the season, rates are lower, and the multitudes have gone back home.  For retired teachers traveling in September is the realization of a deferred dream.  It also gives you a place to put the energy you had always put into your classroom.

There is a distinct smell in the air when the end of summer comes rolling around.  It creates that Sunday afternoon feeling for people who work in education.  It’s a signal telling you it’s time to gut up.  You won’t take a deep breath again until the last kid walks out the door in June.

Donna and I have been escaping the country for the months of September, October, and part of November ever since she retired.  It has been liberating, but we haven’t experienced a Pacific Northwest autumn for awhile.  We had almost forgotten what we were missing.

The corrective action was a series of karmic accidents.  For a brief instant in my youth Richard, John, Carl, Ric and I formed a band called Hale’s Angels. We practiced the hits of the day and performed two of them at our Sophomore talent show.  We were slated to perform everything else we knew in the lunchroom.  We were out in the hallway when a pie fight erupted.  The event was canceled.  I have never been sure what the greatest disappointment was…not playing, or missing pie fight.IMG_9962Fifty-two years later we decided to have another go.  We were practiced and scheduled to play at our 50th High School Reunion.  The thing about schedules is they have a tendency to slowly, quietly, and inevitably expand.  The extra minutes kept adding up, and in the end the Hale’s Angels figured not playing would only disappoint the four of us.  The folks who came to dance were not to be denied.  Watching them out the dance floor proved that point.  Everyone could still bust some impressive moves.  Nothing less could be expected from Franklin Quakers!

A tentative plan was made for the Angels to regroup up at the Methow Valley Ciderhouse in late October.  Richard, our percussionist and former bassist, is the Ciderhouse’s proprietor.  The rest of Hale’s Angels surviving members couldn’t make it, but Donna and I decided we were due for a road trip.

Some casual figuring told us neither one of us had been to Winthrop for 35 years.  Our eyes told us this was a huge mistake.  Highway 20 is one of Washington State’s natural wonders.  In autumn it’s a feast of yellows, golds, and reds.  The highway ends at Methow Valley Ciderhouse, and Winthrop.

Richard and his wife Lynne are the Ciderhouse’s owners, cider makers, and marvelous hosts.  In no time at all we were sampling their entire menu of ciders.  All of the ciders are made from apples grown on their property.  It was difficult to pick a favorite.  That meant it was necessary to order another King Cougar, and a Town Deer.  While we were sipping a crowd of celebrants arrived in Steampunk attire and decided to settle in for cider, brats, ribs, and sides.

The musical entertainment, Jerome and Sara, weren’t slated to perform until later in the evening.  So, there was just enough time to explore the Riser Lake Loop with Richard, Lynne, and their dogs Trip and Bree.  Autumn in the Methow is worth the drive.

IMG_9781Later in the evening Jerome and Sara played us back to the days of yore.  This means they played the stuff Hale’s Angels listened to back in high school.  Old pop songs have become folk music. After Jerome and Sara were done for the night I borrowed a guitar from a local folkster.  Richard and I played a couple of tunes.  In the following lull the folkster belted out Me and Bobby McGee.  Donna belted out Mercedes Benz and Sara joined in.  The Methow Valley Ciderhouse then experienced an impromptu flash mob Hootenanny.  Magic happens up at the end of Highway 20!

We took the route through Wenatchee on the way home.  Traveling to far off places during the autumn still has its appeal, but there are plenty slices of heaven closer to home.

Thanks to Richard and Lynne, and the folks up at the Methow Valley Ciderhouse!


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