By Laurelle Walsh
Two years after purchasing an abandoned RV park slated for condominium development, Pine Near RV Park and Campground owners Glen and Anna Kominak are happy to chat, but barely pause from their daily tasks of maintaining and upgrading the Winthrop landmark and travelers’ destination.
The once-neglected campground has undergone a transformation in their hands. The formerly waist-high brown grass is now deep green lawn; the trees that neighbors had feared were in decline now appear to be healthy and thriving.
The Kominaks reopened Pine Near just in time for the 2012 ’49er Days weekend, and for the past two summers have welcomed travelers back to the campground that was started by Don and Phyllis Johnson in 1972, followed by John and Connie Moe in the late 1970s.
“I am having so much fun meeting new travelers and visiting with return guests,” said owner/manager Anna Kominak. “Some folks who stayed here years ago are finding out that the Pine Near is up and going again. Of course it is gratifying to hear their comments on the upgrades.”
Since reopening in May 2012, Glen Kominak has completely redone the interior of the Pine Near’s original log cabin that housed the park’s aging laundry and bathrooms, and put the building on a new foundation.
“Glen saved the historic log cabin,” Anna Kominak said. “It was literally rotting into the ground.”
Pine Near’s office is now located within the log cabin, along with new coin laundry equipment and counters, showers and restrooms – all open to the general public, as well as campground guests.
The Kominaks plan to add additional showers, restrooms and a group gathering area where the “Mobily Mansion” – the park’s first and final mobile home – now stands.
Pine Near has 24 RV sites with full hookups and 12 tent camping sites. In addition, the Kominaks have added three rental tipis, and last spring began construction on two small cabins designed to reflect the look of Winthrop’s early settlement and mining years, situated on the hillside above the log cabin office. Two more cabins are planned for next year, all with modern amenities.
Last month the park gained a camp host in the person of longtime Winthrop resident Shannon Cramer, assisted by husband Ron, recently returned from a 14-month road trip in their own RV. After visiting 10 states and 37 national parks, “You could call us campground experts,” said Ron Cramer.
With the goal of offering a place for group events, Anna hosted two large gatherings of vintage travel trailers last summer – the travel club Sisters On the Fly in June, and the “Wheel Into Winthrop” vintage trailer show at the beginning of September. The park is already booked for both events next year, she said.
“The vintage trailer show was a hoot!” said Kominak. “The folks who made it up the hill from the Vintage Wheels Show one block down could not believe how fun and well-restored the trailers were. Every bit of effort that people put into their vintage cars, these people put into their vintage trailers – all the way down to the toothpick holder.”
While Pine Near’s owners value the restoration of old relics, that doesn’t mean the park is living in the past. Just last week, Plug-In North Central Washington installed the Methow Valley’s first electric vehicle (EV) charging station just outside Pine Near’s log cabin office.
Some of Pine Near’s campers had already been trickle-charging their electric vehicles overnight, Kominak said, so when a representative of Plug-In NCW scouted the RV park as a “location of interest,” Kominak decided to partner with the organization to get a charging station. Pine Near’s new “Level 2” charger will add 15 to 30 miles of driving range per hour of charging free to the public, said Kominak.
“It’s my goal to keep this an old-fashioned, small, quiet and inviting green grass park,” said Kominak. In keeping with her commitment to a healthy environment, “much to some folks dismay, [due to her tolerance of some weeds in the grass] I plan to allow it to be ‘fleur de lawn,’ herbaceous, flowering, natural, and chemical-free as much as possible,” she said. “It’s nutrient-dense for the resident deer and honey bees, and healthier for campers’ pets, not to mention other animals, soil and water.”
Pine Near RV Park and Campground is located at 316 Castle Ave., in Winthrop. For more information go to www.pinenearpark.com.
Electric vehicles welcome here
Pine Near RV Park, in partnership with Plug-In North Central Washington, is pioneering the Methow Valley’s first electric vehicle (EV) charging station. Another station is planned for the Mazama Country Inn later this fall, according to Jennifer Korfiatis of the North Central Washington Economic Development District.
New EV charging stations have also been installed in Chelan, Pateros and Omak, with the goal of making the Highway 97 corridor “electric vehicle friendly” all the way to British Columbia, said Korfiatis.
U.S. Highway 2 from Everett to Wenatchee is already termed “the world’s first EV tourism corridor,” with the installation of charging stations in Monroe, Sultan, Skykomish, Stevens Pass, Leavenworth and Wenatchee, according to the website www.plugincenter.net.