The Great Brew Crawl

Beer, beer and more beer. That was the theme of our trip for our finale of summer. Washington State is known for coffee. There is a Starbucks on every corner (there really is!). Well it is also known for its abundance of micro breweries. Our trip around the beautiful Cascade Loop also included a micro brewery at every stop. This time we had two trailers in our caravan. My father in law, who was visiting from Florida and my dad decided to come along as well. Who can resist a week of good beer? So it was myself and 6 boys on this week long adventure. Thankfully I had my two girly pugs in pink to balance it out.

Our first stop on our week long adventure took us to Rasar State Park, a nice state park on the Skagit River near Concrete, WA. This was not our first time at Rasar State Park, in fact this was our third time here this year. We love this park as it’s only an hour away from our house which makes it a convenient campground to stay at. This time here was not as eventful as the last however as the 1-5 bridge going across the Skagit River did not fall into the river. On our last trip to Rasar State Park we had crossed that bridge just 3 hours before the bridge collapsed into the river. We arrived at Rasar State Park in the early afternoon and set up our camp in our double site and enjoyed the fantastic weather with a walk down to the beautiful emerald-green river. The blackberries were plentiful along our walk so when we returned to camp we had full bellies but not too full to enjoy some beer and some Norwegian Aquavit that my Dad brought along(ok they enjoyed it not me, I think it’s gross!).

For the first day we enjoyed some quiet relaxation at the park but planned on getting the party started with our first micro brew stop at the Birdseye Brewery the next day. The Birdseye Brewery is a family owned and operated micro brewery almost within walking distance from the park. It is a small brewery in a quaint location right on Hwy 20. They offer 10 brews on tap all made on site. In addition to the beer, they have a small deli menu. Our favorite beer is the SasScotch Ale. With growlers in hand, fully refilled, we returned to camp to enjoy some card games and a walk before we fired up the grill for some raspberry chipolte chicken. A nice campfire at the end of the day accompanied by some good campfire games (Black Magic anyone?) rounded out our day until we were forced indoors when a sudden thunderstorm moved in.  We left Rasar State Park the next day happy, full of beer, blackberries and good food and headed on out to our next destination, Twisp and Riverbend RV park.

To get to Twisp we got to drive over the most beautiful drive in Washington, the North Cascades Highway. We actually were fortunate to be able to go this way as just the week before massive mudslides closed down the highway. You can see some of the devastation here. Fortunately for us they reopened it just in time for our trip. The North Cascades Highway is closed in the winter so if you are ever in the area when it is open I highly recommend the drive. Just like White Pass this road is well maintained and easily navigated with an RV as long as you take your time and enjoy the views. There are several viewpoints along the way make sure you stop and check them out. The Diablo Lake viewpoint is absolutely stunning.

Our home in Twisp was at Riverbend RV Park. We had stayed here back in 2011 and liked it so we gave it a go again. The park is about 10 minutes from Winthrop and 5 minutes to Twisp. This is a typical RV Park (Good Sam Park) on a nice setting on the Methow River. We were led to our side by side sites and we set up camp once again. We had plans for the evening as another micro brew pub was calling our name, the Twisp River Pub, home of the Methow Brewing Company. This pub was much bigger than the last one and located in a beautiful setting right on the river. They didn’t have a large selection of beer but the food on the other hand was amazing, especially the chicken chipotle wrap. We sat outside on the deck overlooking the river along with our friends the yellow jackets(should’ve read the warning signs). With our bellies once again full and growlers filled up once again we headed back to camp to rest up for the biggest day yet, our trip to Winthrop and the Old Schoolhouse Brewery.

Before we headed into Winthrop we decided to kill some time and hit the State Fish Hatchery. It was cool to see all the baby salmon in the hatchery and learn about the process. They had a rainbow trout pond as well just loaded with trout which the kids could feed. They really enjoyed doing that. After the fish hatchery we headed into town starving and ready to hit up the Old Schoolhouse Brewery. This was the highlight of the trip and also the biggest disappointment. We got our growlers and headed on up only to find out the Old Schoolhouse Brewery was closed. It was not just them either, every restaurant in town was. There was a water main break and they shut off the water. It was so disappointing and also frustrating as there was no notice on their website or the town of Winthrop’s website. That pretty much sucked, especially for people who drove hours to come there only for the Brewery(yes it is that good). We however tried to find some positive in the day and we did so when we stumbled upon the East 20 Pizza. They were the only restaurant open just outside of town and the one which was now totally swamped with people. The one waitress there had a smile on her face the whole time in spite of the influx of customers. They also had really good calzones. Our day wasn’t a total bust and we headed back to camp to get ready for the Seahawks last pre-season game which we watched in full high definition over the antenna(they won! Can’t wait for football season).

The last leg of our trip took us around the rest of the Cascade Loop to Lake Wenatchee State Park. My family has been coming to this park for years since I was a little baby. It is a sentimental place and one with a lot of memories. We made our reservations 9 months in advance to get in here and met up with my aunt and uncle for the finale of summer, Labor Day weekend. We arrived at Lake Wenatchee in the early afternoon after stopping at the Safeway in Leavenworth. Just an FYI, Safeway is packed on the Friday before a holiday weekend. Trying to get RV’s into the parking lot was a lot of fun. We picked the same campsite at Lake Wenatchee that we had the year before. It is a huge campsite which was good as we were expecting company over the weekend, some more family. Shortly after arriving the campground  the host came around letting us know there had been a bear sighting inside the park just that week, in the middle of the day and also to let us know we were under a campfire ban(which was lifted about 15 minutes later). The bears are nothing new for Lake Wenatchee. When I was a kid the bears were a big problem at this park. I remember spending an evening locked in the car with my aunts while bears lumbered at the nearby trash can. This time we didn’t get to see the bears however we did see evidence of them on some trees just off the beach trail.

The next day my mom and brother met up with us as well as our extended family, my other aunt, uncle and cousins. Good thing we had a huge campsite because we now had a party to host. We lucked out with the weather again and on this sunny, warm day, we took the walk to the beach to enjoy the weather. Lake Wenatchee State Park is split up into two parks, the north side, and the south side. They are on opposite sides of the Wenatchee River which begins at the Lake. The North Side of the campground is the only side with hook ups and suitable spots for bigger rvs so that is why we stay on that side. The official swim beach and the day use area is on the south side of the park. At first I missed all the action of the south side campground but now am thankful to be on the side of the park that has the quiet beach. The beach on this side is perfectly suitable for swimming in spite of it not being the official swim beach.  This is  also where the dogs go to enjoy some play time. While they technically are supposed to be on a leash there were several enjoying some ball and stick time while we were there.  After some fun in the sun we headed back to camp and settled in for a nice potluck dinner with the family. We bid farewell to our family that was up for the day later that night and we settled in for some time by the campfire and then bed. Our plans for our Sunday included a drive into Leavenworth, Washington’s own Bavarian village, and yet another brewery.

Heading into Leavenworth is a family tradition for holiday weekends. Sometimes I wonder why we pick holiday weekends to do so as it is always really crowded in town. This time however we went early enough and beat most of the crowds. We even got a good parking spot. On our agenda for the day was a visit to the Icicle River Brewery. They have only been in town since 2011 and we had not been here before. Earlier in the week I had arranged a tour of the brewery but we arrived a lot earlier then we originally planned. They graciously got us into the earlier tour when we arrived. We toured the facility and learned a lot about the brewing process including a tour of the walk in fridge which is every guys dream fridge. After the tour we headed on out to the other side of town to Gustav’s Grill and Beer Garden, another family tradition. We come here every time we are in Leavenworth(next time we are trying something new). The chicken courdon bleu sandwich is fantastic. At Gustavs we ran into some more family, another set of cousins coming up for the day with their 3 month old baby. We met up with them later back at camp for another evening potluck dinner with some fresh caught halibut and salmon from my uncles fishing trip to Alaska. Before we left Leavenworth however we did not forget to go back to the car to get the growlers, all 3 this time, to get filled up at Icicle River Brewery.

What a great vacation this was to round out our summer. We were very fortunate to be able to take my father in law on this trip. He got to see more of Washington State then he ever has before in just one week. My Dad also coming was icing on the cake. The kids will remember this trip with both grandpas forever. Not many kids get a chance to do this and I am thankful that ours did. If we get to do this again hopefully my Mom will have retired and be able to join us for the whole week and not just part of it. We’ve had a great summer and want to thank Washington State Parks for having so many great parks to go to. We are not putting the trailer away yet however and have a couple more small trips planned for fall until we let the trailer rest for winter.