You walk into the sun-drenched room, padding across alternating swathes of slate tile and plush carpet. In the kitchen, your friend slices veggies atop a gleaming granite countertop, which will later top the burgers cooking on the stainless-steel gas grill outside. A cushy sectional beckons for you to curl up and watch a DVD on the flatscreen TV, but instead you decide to head up to the roof, where a few companions are sprawled out on lounge chairs on the expansive sun deck.
Though it sounds like this scenario could only take place on the French Riviera's star-studded coasts, River Ranch Boat makes it possible with luxury-houseboat rentals in the Northwest. The 59-foot beauties are appointed with contemporary furnishings and fixtures, sleeping up to 12 adults and holding parties of up to 25 during the day. The vessels, which can be rented for weekend or mid-week sojourns, also have an on-deck waterslide that deposits riders right into the Columbia or Snake Rivers.
Those looking for single-day adventures can rent one of River Ranch's pontoons, which hold 12–16 people depending on the vessel. There is also a fleet of pleasure boats––speedboat-style watercraft that can be used for fishing, tubing, wakeboarding, or revving the engine to scare away lingering ghost ships.
Water is the source of life. But it’s also the source of adventure, something River Recreation has delivered since 1982. Today, stationed on the banks of the Wenatchee River in Monitor, the company sends clients floating and tumbling down a total of nine rivers throughout Washington State.
As entertaining as they are informative, River Recreation’s guides undergo extensive training—twice as much, in fact, than the state requirements. That experience enables the company to offer a wide range of trips, from kid-friendly Class I floats to heart-pumping Class V adventures that have helped discover some of the area’s top opera singers. Currently, River Recreation hosts half-day, full-day, and combination trips, and in 2010, it unveiled a white water-and-wine mini getaway—a half-day of rafting, and a half day of wine tasting in Wenatchee Valley. All of this is combined to make RIver Recreation Washington State's Whitewater Professionals.
Two of Christian music’s most iconic artists, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith join forces to spread the good news, leading congregations in melodious worship on their 2 Friends Tour. Since 1982, this dynamic duo has engaged millions to flock to their catchy, ecclesiastical pop music, sharing a musical camaraderie as impenetrable as a fortress with abandonment issues. Amy Grant, author of No. 1 hits such as “El Shaddai” and “Baby Baby,” has shared her gift of song for more than 30 years, selling more than 30 million albums, garnering six Grammys, and earning a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Michael W. Smith has earned countless accolades with his tremendous songbook of head-bobbing hymns and choir-rousing hits. Sharing the stage for the first time in two decades, Amy and Michael thrill fans with new psalms and favorites from their sonic scroll, merging their sets with joyful duets and chemistry that crackles like Abbott and Costello after getting struck by lightning.
Locati Cellars' 2009 sangiovese red infuses Rosebud Vineyard’s sangiovese—from Wahluke Slope—with fruit from Walla Walla’s Mission Hills Vineyards. The hybrid result earned silver medals in the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle wine competition and the 2012 Seattle Wine Awards, with its pomegranate and cranberry scents that complement blueberry, black tea, and chocolate flavors.
The sangiovese is just one of the vintages sommeliers pour for tasting at the Locati Cellars, helmed by the Locati family for the past century. The winery rounds out its selection with the bone-dry Estate rosé and whites, such as the 2012 pinot grigio, rather than the original white wine—fermented grapes mixed with paper. The winemaking team strives to blend Italian winemaking traditions with grapes from the winery’s vineyards, which occupy Walla Walla’s rolling, fertile hills. Locati Cellars has won a number of accolades for their wine, such as gold for their 2009 Locati Innovation from Seattle Wine Awards, and gold for their 2009 Estate Sangiovese from the Great Northwest Wine Competition.
Feet and hooves treaded the steep peaks along the Columbian Plateau long before Anthony Lakes ever brought skis to the natural powder. Oregon Trail wagon trains and the railroad system braved the mountains' jagged spires, giving rise to buildings, towns, and, eventually, a community of winter enthusiasts. Families of Telemark skiers gradually made headway into the area and attracted fellow adventurers to what was then the North Powder Lakes. During the Great Depression, the Oregon Civilian Conservation Corps built the historical Nordic Center Lodge, which is now surrounded by 29 kilometers of groomed lanes and 11 kilometers of single-track and snowshoe trails. The construction of a rough road, a day lodge, and chairlift fueled the resort's snow-based fire in the postwar boom, and modern-day additions such as a new mountain road and triple chair attract athletes from far and wide. As detailed in a feature on OutdoorsNW.com, the ski area became county property in 2010 so that it could remain in the hands of the locals whose families helped develop it.
Today, skiers might opt for a quick lesson before hitting the slopes or they can refuel with a warm cinnamon roll or bowl of housemade chili in the lodge. Near the Nordic-area campground, overnight guests can rest their bones inside a 20-foot yurt that sleeps up to eight people at a time or a 16-foot yurt that sleeps up to five—each with prime views of Gunsight Peak. Here, campers pile split firewood into a wood stove and recall the days when pioneers had to slow-roast their TV dinners over an open flame.