Sunday, April 17, 2005

whither winthrop in winter?

according to local legend, winthrop, washington is a winter wonderland.

this is a seasonal designation, interestingly enough, generally occurring during the winter months.

but not this year. this year there was no snow in winthrop. no cross-country skiing. no snowmobiling. no horse-drawn sleigh rides. no winter retail. no more fun of any kind.

and so, predictably, the locals turned to cannibalism.

no, not really. but given the slowdown in the local economy, it wouldn't really surprise to read tales of the dark side in the methow valley news, would it? instead of reading about how udell and georgia sanders were grand marshall and grand lady of 49er days, we might easily imagine how georgia cooked up old udell in a vat of barbeque. mightn't we?

georgia and udell in happier times.

okay, i hyperbolize. but the fact is, without tourism, the towns of winthrop and twisp (8 miles apart, according to the road sign, but really only 5 miles separate), are sunk. bereft. desolated.

or so one would think. as it turns out, these twin towns of different fathers have more going for them than is obvious at first or even second glance. particularly if the glances are cursory or dismissive (i speak from experience in those areas).

in winthrop, the kitschy neo-faux western town, you can dine on excellent thai cuisine at the topo cafe. at least i think you can. we had take-out from the topo recently, and received the last entrees of the evening...because the chef cut herself and had to be rushed to the emergency room. prior to this unfortunate event, however, the food was excellent.

twisp counters with the II bees cafe. it's a breakfast joint, it's an art gallery, no's both. totally non sequitir in this burg, this outpost, i thought. before thinking again.

then there's the duelling brew pubs.

the winthrop brewing company and the twisp river pub. both with a river view, and both serving up home-made beer. if you like that sort of thing.

and we do.

the ultimate head-scratcher, however, is the sun mountain lodge, just outside winthrop. if at first you thought there was no reason for either of these towns to exist, you could be excused. but the sun's out there. way. out. there.

looming out of the fog, with a presence like the overlook hotel, the sun mountain is a stunning destination resort. it hosts a 5-star restaurant, plush accommodations, and an array of activities for anyone interested in activizing.

keep in mind, seattle is the closest thing to a city anywhere within a 5-hour drive. so the market for these businesses has to come from far away. i don't know how they turn a profit. but i do know this: the food at the sun mountain dining room is as good as the view. and the view is spectacular.

sure, alferd packer was the head chef, but i wasn't concerned...i had the halibut.

winter in winthrop is over, as if it never happened at all. okay, this year it didn't happen at all. despite that, the locals seem to be getting along nicely. whether we know about them or not.

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