Stehekin Eating

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Wally Animalistic.When we arrived in Stehekin, Wally and Eddie's first concern was to find out where the food supplies were located. For some reason they believed there was an All You Can Eat Buffet at this isolated place! Durango know there were plenty of good dining options. Maybe Durango misled them to this erroneous concept. Wally and Eddie were near tears when they returned from their infosearch to tell us they had learned there was only one restaurant at the landing, the Lodge's restaurant. A few vittles were available at the Lodge Store, very few. Up the road a piece, 1.7 miles to be exact, there was supposedly some sort of eating option called Stehekin Pastry Bakery, which had a very good reputation that it more than lived up to. 

And 9 miles up the road some ranch served food in a bunkhouse sorta deal. Wally and Eddie were in near panic, worrying they were going to starve during their 4 days in Stehekin. This proved to be an erroneous concern.

Stehekin's Restaurants & Bakeries.
 Great eating surrounded 
by a scenic wonderland.
Wanda waiting for a sailor. Stehekin Landing

Wanda in foreground

Stehekin Lodge Restaurant on left

Stehekin Lodge General Store on right

Stehekin Lodge Restaurant

This was our closest dining option, just a few feet from our rooms, which incidentally had great views of Lake Chelan. Three of the rooms were on the second floor. One room, a suite actually occupied a corner of the ground floor with wrap-around windows, sofa and chairs and a bathtub. A bathtub was not an amenity the second floor guests enjoyed. It's not quite clear how it happened, but somehow Durango managed to occupy the enormous luxury suite. There seemed to be some resentment over this fact, the most noticeable manifestation being when Cleo demanded to use Durango's bathtub to soothe her sore hiker's muscles.

The Lodge Restaurant had perfectly fine food. We ate one breakfast there and a couple lunches. The breakfast menu had only one type omelet. A four cheese thing. The lunch menu had a soup of the day and several burger variations. All served with potato chips. Several of the Durango Group expressed umbrage over those potato chips. The most interesting part of the Lodge Restaurant was the waitress. A mouthy, sassy, sorta 1940's gangster moll-type named Veronica. We speculated as to why she was in this isolated outpost. After awhile we realized that all the employees did different jobs all over the valley. On the second day, Wanda and Durango were surprised to discover that after the breakfast shift our gangster moll became our maid. 


Stehekin Lodge General Store

The General Store is where you picked up your room key, bought a carton of milk (when available), and asked questions. Such as, isn't there a grocery store here?? To which it was explained that the locals mail a blank check and a shopping list to one of the grocery stores in Chelan. For 5 bucks the supplies are shipped to Stehekin on the Lady of the Lake. One of our daily entertainments was to watch the daily shipment arrive and the Stehekinites driving up to the landing to pick up their supplies. On our last day in Stehekin a Gateway Gateway2000 Boxes. 2000 computer was delivered. It sat on the landing, amongst the groceries and other supplies. We watched as all the other stuff was picked up. When we boarded the Lady of the Lake, for our return to Chelan, that Gateway computer was still sitting there, alone, unpicked up. We were very troubled by the computer. It seemed to contradict the general atmosphere of Stehekin. No phones, no TV, no radio, erratic power. No Internet. But a computer?? Who are they going to e-mail?

While we were in Stehekin the Lodge Store was manned by a woman who we also saw driving a bus and whom we suspected of being one of the locals wearing bear suits to entertain the tourists. This woman took umbrage at Durango when he asked several questions regarding the seating attributes at a Ranger's talk which the woman was trying to convince us to attend. Finally, she turned Mae Westish and told Durango "You're mighty particular for a man of your stature!!!"


The Bus to the Bakery. A large group, fresh off the Lady of the Lake, going to the Pastry Company, or possibly Rainbow Falls, or a combination of both, with a possible Buckner Orchard sidetrip thrown in to see a Bear, or two...

Stehekin Pastry Company

The Pastry Company.Our first day in Stehekin we rode our bikes up the valley for a few miles. At the 1.7 mile mark we came  to a cabin-like structure in the woods. A bakery. We went inside and bought a few goodies. Very good goodies. It was late afternoon and we were told the best selection is available early, that they open at 7 AM. The next morning Wanda, Eddie and Durango braved the cold mountain air and rode to the Pastry Company, early. We could smell it a mile away. Inside were huge cinnamon rolls, croissants stuffed with onions, sausage and cheese, huge raspberry scones, a tempting selection of the best bakery items any of us remembered. And we are a picky group. The Bakery did espresso, so Wanda could indulge her Seattlish fixation by ordering some double tall vanilla triple shot thing. Trips to the bakery were made throughout each day of our visit, up to the end when Eddie and Durango made an emergency run to stock up before the Lady of the Lake departed, taking orders for those unable to make a quickie run. A bus makes regular runs to the Bakery, as well, for a dollar, each way.

An Odd Stranger.

After a short time in Stehekin it seems you see the same people over and over again... but it seemed the odd red-nosed guy in the above photo was virtually everywhere we went, including each time we were at the Bakery, which is where this photo was taken...

Stehekin Valley Ranch

We've saved the best for last. We first heard the name Courtney* while in our motel in Manson. The daughter of a Stehekin pioneer, Barbara Stevens, told us we simply had to have dinner at the Courtney Ranch. At that time we didn't know it was one of only two places to eat (besides the Pastry Company). Upon arrival in Stehekin, when we asked where the Courtney Restaurant was, we were told that it was the Stehekin Valley Ranch, a 9 mile bus ride up valley, requiring reservations and 2 bucks for the ride. The day we arrived, Sunday, was chicken dinner day. We made reservations. We had to be on the bus by 5:15. Our driver Sunday night was a ponytailed gray haired wild man who drove the bus at speeds far in excess of what either the bus or the road could, or should, handle. At one point when we hit some enormous bumps, Durango saw at least 2 feet of air between his butt and the seat . The back pain was excruciating. Once at the Ranch we didn't really know what to do. No one tells you anything. We walked inside the cookhouse, or whatever it was called. There were people in line for what looked like a buffet! We got in line. After loading up on food you sit at long wooden tables in a cozy room with sawdust for flooring and a huge fireplace blazing, upon which coffee brewed. The food was very good, the atmosphere was fun. We all liked it. A lot.

So the second day in Stehekin, Monday, we decided to go to the Ranch again. We were told reservations were not needed, that it was Flank Steak night. This time our ride up was much more sedate, the driver was the guy who had told us how to get to Buckner Orchard. He told us Stehekin info all the way to the Ranch. At one point we stopped to gawk at a big black bear busily eating blue elderberries at the side of the road. It was the closest we were to get to a bear during our time in Stehekin. None of us had remembered our cameras. Dinner that night was good. Again. Cliff Courtney drove us back to the landing. We took a sidetrip into Buckner Orchard. More bears.

Stehekin Valley Ranch.

Wanda and Clarence can't keep their eyes off Durango when they should be eating their dinner at the Stehekin Valley Ranch

The third night at the Ranch we did not make reservations due to the hiking constraints detailed in 'Hikin' Stehekin'. One thing which had grown quite endearing, and somewhat disturbing, was that everyone seemed to know who we were. The Durango Group. When we got onboard the bus, the driver told everyone that some in the Durango Group had been on a brutal hike and had been terrified by a rattlesnake. Earlier that day Wanda and Durango were queried in the Lodge Restaurant as to where the rest of our group was. These little incidents occurred everyday to varying degrees. Stehekinites are very friendly, and they all know who the tourists are. They also are very laid back about things urbanites get tense about. For instance, we were told that they were all giggling because the maids said we had all our bikes inside the Durango Suite. Ironically, by about the 3rd day we finally began to understand we were in a crime-free zone. But the bikes still came in at night.

So, because we did not make reservations, this night, the Ranch ran out of Lasagna. It was a little embarrassing. On the ride back, Cliff Courtney was our driver, again, and he asked "would the Durango Group mind seeing the orchard one more time? I understand some of them are tired from a big hike today." We all hollered our assent to one more bear run to Buckner Orchard. When we got back to Stehekin Landing, Cliff Courtney told us it was very nice having us in the Valley and that he hoped we would come back some day. How did he know we were leaving the next day?

*We were in Stehekin for only 4 days, so our impressions may have led to false conclusions. Having said that, it seemed to us that the Courtneys are to Stehekin what the Cartwrights were to Virginia City. Except the Courtney's live at Stehekin Valley Ranch, not the Ponderosa.

The Courtneys seemed to be everywhere. Right at Stehekin Landing there is the Courtney Log Office which was central control for all the Courtney Operations. We suspect it may have been here that the Gateway 2000 computer was to be located.

In addition to the Stehekin Valley Ranch, we believe the Courtney's own the Bakery, Stehekin Valley Wagon Tours, Discovery Bikes, Cascade Corrals, where the Courtneys have the corner on the local Norwegian Fiord Horse market, Tom Courtney Tug and Barge, in case you want to get one of your horses to the mainland, and the Stehekin Adventure Company, if you want to do just about anything else. We suspect the Courtneys control the Stehekin Guidebook publication because the cover photo is by Rene Courtney, Clifford Courtney writes an article about hiking and Esther Courtney shares her famous cinnamon roll recipe.

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