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Over the Pass to Apple Country

Over the Pass to Apple Country

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.)


  1. Beautiful post – both the words and the pictures! We are so glad you were able to make the trip with us. The Lancaster family and their orchards hold very special places in our hearts and we were more than happy to share both with you, another of our special ones. You proved yourself to be a fun and accommodating travel companion – so you’ve made the list for next year!
    Much love,
    Scarlett & Nancy

  2. Tom,

    I was wondering if you might be able to share some Scion wood with me this winter. You seem to have a lot of the varieites I’d like to be growing, and since you’re close the shipping shouldn’t be so much of a hit. Please let me know if you’d be able to do this, and what you’d like in return.

    Much Appreciate the thought,

    Dominic Ebacher

  3. Holy cow, I can’t believe the size of those cherries and the apples look wonderful. You’re giving us “Washingtonitis” …we’re looking at Sequim right now for our future.

  4. Indeed, what a beautiful scenery & landscape!! Waw!! It looks that you had fun visiting & exploring over there!!
    I also tagged you @ my latest post with 10 culinary questions!!
    Come over & check them out!!

  5. Lucky you! Is there any way one could have a bin of these apples shipped? I love apples and most of the time I am disappointed with the ones available at the supermarket! What a beautiful state, and orchard and people!

  6. Wow, that looks like it was a really great trip; I, like some other posters here, am going to be disappointed next time I go to the produce section at the grocery store … the apples and cherries you’ve posted here look absolutely delicious!

  7. What a wonderful jaunt! Snoqualmie is a favorite place of mine. It’s fitting that giant cherries would beckon just beyond. HOW do they grow those cherries?

    And the apples? They would inspire art.

  8. I’m glad you had a great trip! I was just over there last week in Tonasket and it was beautiful. I was so sad though driving back to see the helicopters spraying all those apple fields on both sides of the river, knowing all those chemicals were going on people, soil life and into the river. It will be wonderful when everyone wakes up and starts buying organic produce because they realize just what spraying does to everything.


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