Two of my sons and a grandson took me on a fishing trip for a weekend. They took me to a place that only one of my son’s had been before. It was a 2-hour ferry ride up Lake Chelan to Stehekin, the land that time forgot.
By saying this, I don’t mean we entered into a place with dinosaurs (though that would’ve been cool) and horse buggies, but rather a place you could only get to by ferry or seaplane or hiking in for about 30 miles. There were cars, but many are unregistered and stay only there. I saw 1946 Chevrolet pick-up trucks with the original plates, an old C10 Panel Truck, and various other old vehicles still running. Kids and grown-ups were riding in the back of the pick-ups along the road and everybody…I mean everybody, would wave greetings wherever we went.
They have some modern amenities like a restaurant, lodge, gift shop with food and beverages, a bakery 2 miles down the road, ice machine, etc. We opted for a campground although we did get a room to shower in and store some of our stuff…mostly things like food because even though the campsite had a bear locker (which we used) we still figured the bear would have to work a little harder to get into our room at the lodge.
To get around, we were able to rent bikes and even a bike with a buggy so my 4-year-old grandson could ride. I was pretty shaky at first (it’s been a few years) but soon got the hang of it again and biked around all day while the boys went fishing. Normally I would have fished with them, but I really just wanted some time to look around.
The first night we had steaks and baked potatoes (thanks to one of my sons) and I showed my grandson how to start a fire with just pine cones. After that, we sat around, enjoyed the sunset, and then enjoyed the remainder of the fire. The most surprising part of our night was when I only ate a couple bites of steak and I watched my grandson eat the rest…this after eating one of his own. He’s very tall for his age, but none of us saw that coming. The outdoors really whet his appetite!
The next night we ate at the restaurant and the food was excellent. While walking back to the campsite, my grandson regaled us with his “rat song.” He would shuffle around, then put his hands on his head, then say “squeak, squeak.” He did this the whole walk back and by the end, we were all busting up with laughter. Even other people walking by were cracking up.
Almost all the cabins in Stehekin are log built. Many are rented out, but there’s also a permanent population of about 100 people that live there year-round. After just a weekend, I really want to join them. Obviously, there’s no cell service and internet is private or costly at the lodge, but if someone made the trip so they can stay attached to those things, they made the wrong trip. There is a public phone by the showers that is free, but they ask that you keep calls limited to 10 minutes or less. Hmm, the two times I went to make a call, I just happened to pick the time the rule-breakers made their calls. That’s okay, the scenery was so beautiful, I didn’t mind waiting.
There were a lot of boats at the public dock. I imagine they came up the lake from the more accessible towns further down. They also waved greetings like crazy. It was like we entered a place that people could all get along and let people live their lives the way they want to. The closest thing to the law were the park rangers…and they waved like crazy too!
All I can say is that this place was like magic for me. It took a little while for the stress to wash off of me the first day, but by the second day, I was enjoying life. The third day I still enjoyed life, up until we boarded the ferry to go back home. If it weren’t for having a wife I love very much, I would’ve stayed.