I just got back from Lake Chelan in central Washington. It was a combination Labor Day and belated birthday celebration for a friend. Technically, she’s my ex-fiancee, but that’s a story for another day. Suffice it to say that it took a few years to get to the point where we’re actually pretty good friends.
But why would I drive almost four hours to a place I’d never been, stay in a very small house with people I barely know, and push myself well beyond my comfort zone (both in terms of “beach activity” and social interaction)? Well, this blog’s subtitle says it all. Trying new things is the essence of learning and accomplishment. Earlier this year, I resolved to try new things and ACCEPT ALL THE SOCIAL INVITATIONS! as a way of getting out of my rut. Staying in a 3 bedroom, 2 bath (small) lake house with seven people was a no-brainer.
Naturally, most of Seattle decided to take I-90 Eastbound on Friday afternoon, so what would be a 3.5 hour drive turned into 6. That pushed my arrival well past dusk. Having never driven in the area before, and having never driven significant distances at night post-PRK, along with the fact that 50% of the drive is winding rural roads with no street lights made things especially difficult. Luckily, I was driving with my ex-fiancee’s old college roommate, and she was able to keep me sane during the ride. Given the amount of time we spent at a dead-stop on I-90, it was only natural that we needed to stop in Cle Elum. If there was ever a slice of 1960’s America, this was it. The bulk of the town exists along highway 903. Most of it was closed by the time we got there (around 6:30 PM). The one place that seemed to be open was the tobacco/liquor depot: Chew-N-Butts. I’d imagine most people in town know most other people, and the entire street shuts down on high school football game nights a ‘la Varsity Blues. I’d love to live in a town like this one day.
When we finally arrived, it was well past dinner. They warmed-up some leftovers (food I had prepared the previous night and sent ahead with some people who went out early), I downed a few beers, and everyone crashed early. Except me. Insomnia again. Probably related to being in an unusual situation. The two couples had their own rooms. The two other girls shared a room. That left me on a cot in the living room. After all the lights were out, I was left wondering if I had made a mistake coming here.
The sun came up the next morning, as expected. I probably had four hours of sleep. I’m usually no good with less than 8, but in the interest of trying new things, I soldiered on. Having forgot to close the blinds on both sides of the living room the previous night, I was awakened bright and early with this view:
The day didn’t start too bad, I suppose. An hour later, everyone else was up, too. We went a mile down the road to the famous Blueberry Hills Farm for breakfast (read: coffee). Having pre-Yelped the area, I determined to try something new for breakfast. The Eggs Benedict was highly recommended. Personally, I found the hollandaise sauce to be too sour. The reaction at the table was, “it’s not supposed to be sour.” Was I going to be sick? Maybe. Was I trying new things? Yes! Fortunately, I didn’t get sick – maybe it’s just the way they make their hollandaise? Sour cream based? Lots of lemon? Who knows. At least I got a good cup of coffee (three good cups of coffee). The cinnamon rolls that everyone else had seemed like the better choice – maybe next time.
The rest of the day was spent grilling, hanging out by the lake, and drinking beer. Lots of beer. It turns out that I was the only one in the group really dedicated to beer. Everyone else was having margaritas (which they assured me wasn’t a ‘girly’ drink, but I’m not convinced). I was finally acclimating to the situation. I was comfortable around the group – many of whom I had only met once or twice previously. Perhaps the alcohol and the lack of sleep helped a bit. Either way, day one was complete – and I actually had a good time. So good, in fact, that I started to wonder if my self-diagnosed introversion was correct.
In hindsight, I really wish I had taken pictures of the food I prepared for everyone. I made (as requested by the birthday girl) my famous Lemon Pepper Shrimp. I also used flap steak – a new cut for me, in lieu of my regular inside skirt steak – to create two different marinated steak dishes: a more traditional vinegar-worcestershire steak, and an Asian/SouthWest fusion steak that I’m pretty proud of. I’ll make them again before the year is out, and I’ll be sure to post the recipes and pictures here.
Part two tomorrow!