Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wenatchee South

Wenatchee/East Wenatchee on a Sunday evening in May from the Cascade foothills to the southwest.

A wider view showing more of the Columbia River valley.

Closeup, relatively speaking.

What it looks like farther upriver, Rocky Reach Dam at left center.

My parking spot.

Although there are three state parks in or near Wenatchee, there isn't much of anywhere to go from Wenatchee, if you want to get into the hills, especially to park for the night.

The first night I was there, I drove north, past Entiat (far past), and then up a torturous, winding dirt road that is really fit only for four-wheel-drive, high clearance vehicles, even though I did make it up there four years ago in a Toyota Yaris, and repeated that trip this year, in a Nissan Versa Note. (Though I have to disclose that the road had been freshly graded in 2018, for some reason, though I did appreciate the improvement.) That trip is around 37 miles (60km) each way — a long, long way to go for a sort of sketchy parking spot.

Going south, the situation is worse. There are three roads up into the hills, but two of them were, at least as recently as two years past, impassable for ordinary vehicles. The third is paved all the way up, but that only gets you to the mission ridge ski area.

The trick is not to miss the undistinguished turnoff two or three miles before then, and then to drive a twisting and extremely dusty road until you can't go any farther, and then to look around for any possible place to park.

Sunday night was crowded, but the place was empty coming out on Monday morning. I'd hate to try going in on a Friday or Saturday.

Back in town Monday morning, I washed the car, picked up some food, and then stopped at Wenatchee Confluence State Park for a shower and for breakfast.

Over in the day-use area there is only one shaded parking spot, and it was open after I finished my shower, so I parked there. While noodling around in the back of my car to pull out food and my home-made backpacking cook kit, a van backed in right beside my car, inches away. There must have been 100 to 200 free spots in the area, all equally sun-blasted, but this person decided to take a chance on rubbing fenders with me. Arrr.

So, despite being chosen as a neighbor by someone of dubious sanity, I went about my business. The other person was a barrel-chested woman who went out walking her dog. She passed me a couple of times and eventually left. In the middle of this, a state park pickup truck approached from the other direction, and stopped in the shade, sitting there with the engine running in a no-parking area, facing me. Made me wonder if I was under surveillance.

Eventually the woman, the dog, and her van left. More eventually, the park vehicle left. By this time I had finished breakfast, which consisted of heating water, adding it to a ziplock bag of pre-assembled ingredients, and then kneading and shaking the bag to mix it all, after which I let it cool before gnawing off one corner of the bag and sucking breakfast out of it, my meal technique for backpacking.

The woman and her dog returned, seemingly out of nowhere, without her van. She asked me in a gravelly alcoholic/heavy smoker voice why I'd been wearing rubber gloves. Not rubber gloves — I had hot food — protecting my hands while making breakfast. "You look like you were making a bomb." "No, I made breakfast and then ate it." Then she left, again.

My best description is to imagine Popeye after a sex change. Big barrel chest, big belly, voice like a bulldozer, walks like a truck.

Then I went to a picnic area where I thought I'd find a water tap. Just after I got there the park truck came back and two armed rangers came to question me. About a report that I was making meth in the parking lot.

Yep. Same woman. Said I was making meth (by mixing my powdered meal with hot water) and/or making and then eating a bomb.

They said she was in the office practically jumping up and down with frightened excitement and all, but no, that wasn't me.

Or it was me but different — I was the person, but the person just making and eating breakfast while you two guys sat in your truck about 30 feet away with me in full sight.

Yeah, uh, right.

Arrr again.

They were pretty cool about it all, and I was too. I had some wine in the car, some rubbing alcohol as a hand sanitizer, and some Heet for stove fuel and that was it. No meth, no explosives, no guns, no secret decoder rings, no dog pornography.

I showed them my second, unopened bag of Soylent, which is what I had been test-eating that day (finishing off the first bag at breakfast that morning). I offered to dig my garbage out of the can if they wanted to look at it but they didn't seem that enthusiastic, so things didn't get that far.

Shortly after that they left, and so did I. Who could know what weird shit might hit the fan next?

I drove east and north. Everything looked disappointing. The sun was full out. The land was hot. The day dragged on.

More info:

Rocky Reach Dam (Wikipedia)

Wenatchee Confluence State Park (Wikipedia)

Soylent (meal replacement) (Wikipedia)