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Central Washington trips

It must be summer because I’ve been spending some time on the dry side of the state. I don’t get over there much; not much incentive during the other seasons. But summer seems to send you in all directions of the NW, picking up little memories here and there from this and that, usually spur-of-the-moment trips or invitations to join others’.

So that’s how I found myself at a resort on the other side of the Cascades recently. Resorts really aren’t something I “do.” But Diamondback had their annual week-long sales meeting (read: rally party) here and I came on out over the weekend to keep Billy company while he was off duty in between attendee groups.

I admit, it’s hard for me to stop and smell the lazy R&R. I’ve got too much tingle in my toes to let them simply dangle in the 4-foot pool while the sun bakes my ghostly complexion, feeling the hours turn over one after another—all while knowing that there are trails to be hiked in those hills right over there. But that’s what Central Washington is for–slowing down. Relaxing. Breathing in warm pine-filled air—warm air in general. Letting the sun infuse little bits of vitamin D into your pores. Letting the body and soul regroup, uninterrupted by the chaotic mind. Not saying anything. Letting the squinty-eyed smile say it all.

We did do a few things: rally-partied one night at a local bar, where we all let loose like one only does in hodunk dives where the drinks are shitty-but-stiff and the dance floor is the center of the room. Back at the resort, we ate way too much over-fancy, under-tasty hotel cuisine. And… we went to the driving range. I found out that I am absolutely unskilled driving a golf ball hundreds of meters into the air—or into the air at all. Golf has never interested me, but I’m also not saying that those questionably-dressed folks who have mastered it shouldn’t be given credit for their skill… I retired quickly, content to focus on the surroundings more than my swing.

Billy and I did manage to hike down to the river in early evening. It’s the day’s bookends when one should be by the water, for the sake of its beauty. It’s like an ever-so-slowly evolving picture by Nature that you emerge into, stepping lightly so as not to disturb its delicate elements.

Still, the water was moving quickly, carrying away secrets, swirling them in miniature swim holes, then sending them off downstream. Billy and I had none to offer, other than the fact that yes, Central Washington holds the kind of peace that sort of goes along without you in the rivers and woods, and if you want to experience it, you’ve got to shush up, slow down and step lightly.

We rode the Rat Pack trail, a dry-side single track, that would be ideal after one day’s rain. But it was thrilling none the less. Not technical, but plenty of surprises to keep you on your guard—sudden steep sections, sharps turns and off camber faces. I rode a 2011 Diamondback Scapegoat and felt like I was more on a Pegasus than an contraption of mechanical parts. Billy then put on a show at the lake. It’s what he does. And it’s always a pleasure to watch.

Weekend after, I was among friends on the Columbia in Wenatchee. I’ve been here a lot—every summer since moving to Washington. Why not? This is my friend’s backyard and when you’re here, you’re family. This time we were celebrating the engagement of my best bud and her fiance. Here’s to love on summer days, the river lapping it upon the shore, and us floating in it.

The beer forest was a popular hangout because, well, that’s where the good stuff was—three kegs. That’s a lotta love. It’s hard to get everyone together anymore, but what a place to make it actually happen.  There was boating, bocce, volleyball, but mostly, those catch-up questions: “How’s the job?, etc.” It’s bringing everyone up to speed while letting the booze sink into the bloodstream. And then, all loosened up and somehow feeling at least five years less mature, we start remembering why we’re all friends in the first place.

And then this happened.  A big boastful thunderstorm came through, checking out the party and sending us inside to continue shooting-the-shit and drinking. Nobody cared about the weather, because it was beautiful and it was still warm. Eventually it cleared up, exposing a sky vast with stars, nearly akin to the Arizona sky—nearly… Those who were camping in the yard surely found it romantic.And then you have mornings like this in Central Washington that greet you at 6:30 in the morning after a night of wild drinking and dancing and you can’t even be mad that you’ve been stirred from slumber so early. Because the scene is stunning and there’s not a toxic care that makes it this far out from the city. The water’s edge is beckoning, the sun is warming the grass for your toes and it’s just another idyllic day in Central Washington—where time moves slowly, the trips are usually spontaneous and those little memories are just as cherished.

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