The honeymoon phase of my move to Spokane and start of work at The Spokesman-Review in April continues three months later. I cannot get enough of the Inland Northwest’s great outdoors and abundance of farmers markets and breweries.
I never took advantage of these benefits while a student at Gonzaga, and, to be fair, there weren’t that many breweries in the area back in the day. Returning to the Lilac City has given me a second chance in Spokane, and I am soaking up every new experience.
Last Sunday in Spokane couldn’t have been more splendid. The leisurely day started with a drive to Mount Spokane State Park, my first time, with two friends. The area reminded me of my upbringing in Montana. It was an unexpected and sentimental trip down memory lane.
We stopped at Bear Creek Lodge, near the base of Mount Spokane, for lunch. Surly-at-first proprietor Sam ended up being a big Teddy bear who gave us helpful tips for picking huckleberries on Mount Spokane – “You won’t find huckleberries at the very top,” Sam said.
Matthew enjoyed the Yeti burger with beef, sausage, ham, bacon and cheese – “Our most popular item,” Sam said – while James and I ordered “healthier” options of deep-fried chicken strips and fish with fries. The cider tasted like apple pie – lunch was a solid start.
After paying $10 for a one-day Discovery Pass, we wound our way up to the top of Mount Spokane, where we checked out Vista House built in 1934; tested a drone camera with little success; took tons of photos for this story; then drove partway back down before stopping.
So my first experience picking huckleberries? Observations: They’re so small! I thought they would be the size of grapes or at least blueberries. Um, more like the small metallic projectiles from BB guns. It was … let’s use the word “fun” … but I was over it after about 20 minutes.
Driving the 24-mile route back to Spokane Valley, we stopped at Beck’s Harvest House in Green Bluff, and I was charmed by the beautifully manicured outside and the variety of jams, sauces and produce inside the store. The employee “forcing” us to try three varieties of peaches didn’t hurt, either.
Interesting note at Beck’s: Our modest huckleberry yield on Mount Spokane would’ve retailed for about $100. The tiny berries were $25 for a quart-sized sandwich bag and $80 for a gallon-sized freezer bag. Day-um.
The picture-perfect day ended at Millwood Brewing Company in Millwood, where a bourbon peach cider was followed by an Air Monkey Stout … on overdrive. Our server suggested adding a Beckett’s Cream Soda and vanilla ice cream, and the beer float was the best I’ve ever had.
It’s reportedly common here, but Millwood Brewing was my first experience at, well, a brewery where food is allowed from outside. The menu even suggests ordering from Uber Eats, as the only food on the menu is snack mix and chips and salsa. Taco Time was at the next table.
Bear Creek, berries, Beck’s and breweries. Let the adventures in Spokane continue.
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