I rolled into town and was immediately sad. Familiar features and landmarks seemed all wrong in the strange, smoke-diffused atmosphere. Fewer cars lined the streets and only a handful of people were out and about. I made straight for Copper Glance to check in with the folks there and chat about wine and spirits. As we conversed and laughed, we spied an old friend outside and called for him to join us. He did, and we had a blast.
Someone sighed and we all knew what she was thinking... it really is lovely up here. Relaxing, full of friendship and great experiences. On one hand, the fires were scaring travelers away; on the other they were mostly missing out—and so were the local businesses.
And while it is certainly prudent for some to avoid any health risks associated with smoke—outdoors is mostly off limits—there is still much to be tasted and seen and enjoyed in the Methow Valley. I often wonder, as I assume many others do, how to best support communities and businesses and individuals when times such as these are upon them. Here are a few options that really will make a difference and, quite honestly, are also rewarding in and of themselves.
1. DRINK THE METHOW
You don't have to be there to drink the product of their labors—Coffee, Beer, and Wine—from the comfort of your own home or a restaurant or cafe near you. For morning vibes, buy a pound of Blue Star Coffee, better yet: buy a subscription. Order a craft brew from Old Schoolhouse (if you are lucky enough to find it on tap), call the brewery or check here to find where you can purchase bottles in local markets around the state. When sitting down to dinner, order a glass of Lost River wine: first rate and locally produced (in fact they start crush at their Winthrop winery the next few days). If you can't find a restaurant that carries Lost River, but are already a fan of their wines, why not become a member?
2. SHOP THE METHOW
As it turns out, we live in a digital age and you don't actually have to be physically present to buy goods direct from shops and studio. A great example is EQPD Gear, a micro manufacturer of way cool, multi purpose totes and bags they even ship for free. Other great Methow products include printed materials from Door No. 3—printed on old fashioned presses—their stationery is truly unique and meaningful. Foodies should call Thomson's Custom Meats and order their amazing ribeye steaks or peppered bacon. They'll ship it straight to your door. If you're in the valley, stock up on beef jerky (teriyaki) and landjager for on the road, which brings us to number three...
3. ROAD TRIP THE METHOW
That's right, actually drive up there. Stick to the main roads, of course, and give the heavy equipment trucks a wide berth on the highway, set the A/C on recirculate and visit the Methow Valley this weekend. It is one thing to sympathize with someone, but it is entirely another to be able to empathize, which requires actually being there with them, seeing what things are really like, truly understanding what their lives are like. So, hit the road and visit them. Tune in to K-Root (97.5-AM) as soon as you can get the signal, and drive from Twisp to Mazama and explore the valley from your car. Stop in at Twispworks and take in the artistic styles of Culler Studio and Keyser Studio. Enjoy breakfast or lunch overlooking the Methow River at 3 Bears. Eat dinner at Tappi (go for the wood fired pizza and order a bottle of red wine for the table). Don't forget to stop by The Wine Shed and pick out a unique spirit, wine or beer to take home. If you want to grab a late drink, as well as some more eats, hit up Copper Glance and shoot the breeze with the proprietors over an Indian Summer.
4. PLAN ON THE METHOW
Not the road-trip-adventurer type? Then book a trip for late (Indian) summer instead at Sun Mountain or Freestone Inn. When the smoke lifts it will be a great time to experience the outdoors with minimal traffic. Stop by Methow Cycle & Sport and pick up extra gear, tune up your bike, and hit the trails. If you want to be poised (and flexible) to take off at a moment's notice when everything does clear up, call now and secure a gift certificate for the cost of your lodging, that way you've actually committed yourself to going, but can still remain flexible.
More than anything, just do something, anything, to bless the Methow Valley. These four items are a great start to doing so in a meaningful way. You'll have a blast, guaranteed.