Over the Pass to Apple Country{13}

Apple orchard along the Columbia River View from the Lancaster’s apple and cherry orchard on the Columbia River.

Last weekend, my friends Nancy and Scarlett invited me to a cider pressing east of the mountains, the mountains being the Cascades.  I eagerly accepted.

I’ve lived in and traveled to many places, but Washington state holds my heart. A land of stark contrasts and jaw-dropping  beauty, a two-hour drive from Seattle can transport you from the cloud-draped mountains of the coast to the rugged granite peaks protecting the Columbia River.

farm fresh fuji applesBig bin of Fuji apples, just as sweet as the folks who grew and picked them.

I liken the Cascade mountain passes, Stevens, Blewett, Snolqualmie, and Chinook, to magic portals from one Lost Horizon to another. The minute the incline becomes a decline, everything changes. Where west-side clouds reign supreme, east-side sun budges for no one. Where coastal forests blanket from sea to sky, valley vistas harbor brush and sage.

Orondo-cider-pressingWe arrived in Orondo, Washington ready to press apples, spike some cider and eat way too much.  Our hosts, the Lancasters, sure know how to grow some fine fruit and genuine hospitality. I’m down to my last quart of their cider, so I sip it like fine wine to make it last, something I won’t have to worry about when it comes to my fond memories of this fine weekend over the pass to apple  (and good people) country.

Rainier Cherries, commercial and homegrownAnd if you think the Lancasters know how to grow apples, you should see their Rainier cherries. (Theirs are the three hulks on the left, mine are the three mini-me amigos to the right.)