2010 USA Roadtrip Okanogan, WA to Winthrop, WA

We left Okanogan, WA at 8:45 a.m and went 50 miles through desert scub and sagebrush to Winthrop, WA, a town that had been highly recommended to us. We were going to check it out and stay if it lived up to the hype it had been given. After we found accommodation (at a higher price than we wanted to pay), we were favorably impressed. It was quaint and charming and we decided to stay two nights.


We stopped for a snap in front of the Information Office in quaint Winthrop

Unfortunately, all of the hotels were over-priced and under-valued and we were under-welmed. Even the America's Best Value Cascade Inn wanted $72 for a small king room with almost no view. Next door (also with no river view) was The Winthrop Inn (owned by Gene and Jane Westlund), on the green in Winthrop, WA , tel. 509-996-2217, e-mail: wininn@winthropinn.com  We saw a small and awful queen room there for $77.42.

We decided to stay our two nights in Winthrop right on the river at the Hotel Rio Vista (285 Riverside Ave., Winthrop, WA 98862, tel. 509-996-3535, 800-398-0911, e-mail: info@hotelriovista.com, web: www.hotelriovista.com) for $88.56 per night for the king room #24. Nanette the designer took us around to see the various room types. She was an enthusiastic guide! Dale Peterson, the GM, was quite nice. We negotiated the price as much as we could with the two of them (it was the shoulder season after all). The hotel had recently been burned in a fire and had to be rebuilt. It looked new and very well maintained even with its "old west" design. The furnishings were nice and, while the rooms were small, they had a table and two comfortable chairs (which we used as a desk for the computer and as a breakfast table as well).

There was a balcony with chairs and a low table right over the river. And the weather was good while we were in Winthrop so we used the balcony.
Audre on our balcony over the Chewuch River at aperitif time

The room had a long sink and counter area on one side of the room where we could make coffee in the electric coffee maker and store our snacks. There was also a refrigerator for our breakfast food and a piece of furniture with two drawers so we could completely unpack and store our suitcases out of sight in the closet area. The room was designy and well-appointed. There was also storage at the hotel where we could lock up our bikes. But best of all was the Rio Vista's outdoor Jacuzzi which we used each evening (and didn't have to share with anyone).
Dimitri in the Jacuzzi by the Chewuch River at Hotel Rio Vista Winthrop

Our view was not only of the raging river but also of an eagle's nest that actually had eagles in it. Audre loved to use the binoculars (that we also carry) to watch them. One problem with the Rio Vista was that they do not provide any breakfast. We could use our table and chairs and provide our own breakfast if we had one cereal bowl (for Audre, we carry Dimitri's favorite cereal bowl) and utensils. Dale was able to provide us with a bowl, plates and silverware so we were all set.

We had wonderful biking excursions in the Winthrop area. The afternoon we arrived we went on a 11 mile loop on Bear Creek Road past the Bear Creek Golf Club. The views were terrific.
Our first bike outing to Pearrygin Lake with [Billy] Goat Peak in the distance

Along the way, Audre's new Giant bike developed some noises. There was a constant low-quacking sound when she pedaled and a clicking sound. The bike store in Helena, Montana would have provided us with a free 30-day tune up to tighten the gears and stuff but we weren't conveniently located near Helena. So we went to Methow Cycle and Sport (tel. 509-996-3645) in Winthrop where Joe (the mountain bike racer) said that he fixed the break pad rubbing and the gear rattle for $16.16. He didn't.

Winthrop was an historic town that had deteriorated. When Washington State proposed to route WA 153 through Winthrop the merchants were energized by a woman resident there in the 1970's. Today there are boardwalks, cowboy boots and sometimes strolling musicians.
Winthrop, WA is awfully cute

We went to dinner on our first night in Winthrop at a wonderful restaurant. It was practically next door to our hotel. It was called Arrowleaf Bistro, Winthrop, WA, tel. 509-996-3919, web: www.arrowleafbistro.com. We spent $47 and had a very good meal. The house it is in is historic and the rooms for dinner cheery with interesting art. There is also an outdoor deck with tables but we chose to sit inside. We shared everything as usual. We started with an order of smoked steal head and quinoa patties ($9) served with a tomato caper salsa fresca. We liked them. For our main, we had free range organic chicken stuffed with wild arugula lemon pesto and served with roasted polenta and wilted Filaree Farm greens ($23). We each had a glass of naked chardonnay ($5 each) and we enjoyed the meal; the service was lovely and so was the room and the food. We we getting the impression that Winthrop was a class act. After dinner we had decaf coffee (that we carry) and Dimitri had a sweet (that we carry in our larder) back in our room.

For breakfast the next morning, we decided to venture out. Three Fingered Jack's Saloon had been recommended by the nice woman in the Information Office (www.3fingeredjack.com tel 509 996- 2411). Our breakfast cost $17 and was not worth it. They have margarine (better known as plastic) only, no butter and fake maple syrup. The pancake was mushy, the eggs were dry, the hash browns were yucky and the coffee was weak. The bacon was good.

For our second bike outing in the Winthrop area, we decided to climb to Sun Mountain Resort. Joe at the bike shop told us about an off-road trail we could take but even the Master Trail Finder, Dimitri, couldn't find it (it turns out Joe wasn't any better at giving directions than he was at fixing bike noises). So we took the road up which didn't have much traffic and was pleasant.
We felt a great sense of accomplishment when we reached the top of our climb to the Sun Mountain Resort--we'd only had 4 days of training so far that season

We were at 48.48°N and above 2000' but spring had sprung for sure. The yellow flowers (arrowleaf balsam root) and chokeberry trees were in full bloom. The Sun Mountain Resort hotel has a lovely setting and we used one of their (unused) decks to have our picnic lunch of crudites and fruit. We talked to the activities desk and the man there gave us a detailed map and instructions on how to return to Winthrop on the famous off-road Winthrop Trail. It was a fantastic single track ride back down!
Dimitri biking on the Winthrop Trail, down from Sun Mountain Resort, amidst the arrowleaf balsam root wildflowers

After our bike ride, we stopped for ice cream at Sheri's Sweet Shoppe (tel. 509-996-3834) where (we read) everything is home made. We had 2 delicious and well deserved cones ($2.25 each). For dinner that night we went to Duck Brand, Winthrop, WA and sat out on their deck. We spent $31.17 + tip and shared one Halibut with pesto and penne for $18.50. Our server, Brian was good and we had a pleasant and good meal with three glasses of wine. After dinner we went back to our room where Audre made decaf coffee and Dimitri had one of our sweets.


The next morning, after breakfast in our room, we pushed off to see the Famous Cascade Loop Scenic Highway and to get to the Canadian border by mid-afternoon.

For those who are as interested in accommodations as we are, on our first day we also looked at:
River’s Edge Resort, 115 Riverside Ave., Winthrop, tel 509-996-8000 www.riversedgewinthrop.com The room we saw was nice and large with kitchenette and sitting room space but it was $121.77 with huge negotiated discount. Some of that hotel's rooms were on river; the one we looked at was not but had its own hot tub on it's deck.

The Chewuch Inn, 223 White Ave., Winthrop, WA 98862, tel. 509-996-3107, e-mail: innkeeper@chewuchinn.com, web: www.chewuchinn.com $90 + tax for the cheapest room. It looked nice but it was not near river.