With the heat wave continuing we got another early start and had an enjoyable ride on back roads to Winthrop, where we holed up at an RV Park.
Once the heat of the day waned we took a walk to town. On the way we passed through an open air museum with a great collection of artefacts from the region during the early twentieth century. Our conclusion was that being a homesteader in this area must have been rough. Even living out of a tent is luxurious compared to the hardships people used to endure to survive. We’ve got it good.
In town we walked down creaky wooden sidewalks in front of buildings that could easily be used as a set for an old western flick. They smelled of cedar and pine. When you peak into the small windows you expect to see the furnishings of businesses you’d find back then. Perhaps a barber’s chair. Maybe a hardware store full of shovels, picks, and pans. Or small card tables and a bar to one side with a single shelf of whiskey bottles. Instead you see what you’d expect to find in a tourist town. A glowing glass case full of irresistible baked goods. Pillows, small wooden signs, and magnets with homey phrases. A thumbnail grid of photos of cute cabins that are selling for more than you could imagine.
As we walked we passed a wooden patio overlooking the Methow River. It was full of parents licking ice cream while their children were using colored chalk to temporarily deface all of the flat surfaces in their wake. The town seemed to be thriving. I’m not sure why some of the small towns we’ve passed through over the last few weeks appear nearly deserted while a few towns like Winthrop and Sisters, OR, are big tourist draws. This may be a coincidence but it seems the hot spots have mountain bike trails nearby.