I feel like I’ve been a little grumpy in this space lately, not my favorite demeanor. So this week I thought I’d have some fun by imagining what various valley residents might like to find in their trick-or-treat bags on Halloween, as if we could just knock on the right door and get exactly what we want or need. Costumes optional.
• A Zamboni — or any other reputable brand of ice resurfacing machine — for the Winthrop Rink. And by the way, wouldn’t it be fun to ride on one? I’ve been told that’s a liability issue. Better on top of it than in front of it, I would think.
• A perfect plot of land for the new Winthrop public library building that Friends of the Winthrop Library (FOWL) is raising money for. Because once the town commits to finding and buying a site, FOWL is hinting, suggesting and implying so we may infer that major donors are poised to support the project. We’re going to need a bigger bag.
• Flawless Internet service for those folks out in the valley’s nooks-and-crannies that defy the best efforts of local providers.
• A winter forecast that calls for just enough deep, lovely snow to guarantee a wonderful recreational season, but not so much that we are constantly digging out. Our Halloween treat for you is the Methow Valley Winter 2018-19 magazine included with the newspaper.
• We’re a bit early to look for a happy resolution of the Methow Headwaters campaign to prevent mining in the upper valley, as the big public meeting to take comments on the proposal is coming Nov. 13. Let’s put it on our early wish-list for Christmas.
• A happy outcome for every participant in the Give Methow campaign. Asking for money is sort of like bobbing for apples at a Halloween party — you have to be patient and persistent, and not shy.
• Enough federal funding — loose bills would be OK, but a hefty check would be better — to cover the improvements and upgrades needed at the North Cascades Smokejumper Base.
• A perfectly crafted revision of Winthrop’s Westernization code that makes everyone deliriously happy with the outcome. But you might get more than one of those, each claiming to be the real deal.
• A bunch of affordable housing units, suitable for sharing with your friends around the valley.
• A long-term solution for funding operation of the Wagner Memorial Pool in Twisp.
That’s a lot to hope for and we’re always being advised not to overdo it on Halloween goodies. Fortunately, most of those treats would last a long time rather than be consumed immediately.
Speaking of Halloween — and isn’t it convenient that we were? — I found it a little spooky the other morning when, from the porch of my Cub Creek cabin, I could see snow on McClure and Lookout mountains to the south. Snow has of course already been accumulating at higher elevations, encountered in manageable amounts on late-season hikes, but now it’s getting close.
As if that’s not harbinger enough, I nearly forgot to note that Thursday (Nov. 1) is the first day that you can legally have studded tires on vehicles in Washington state. I did a little research about that and came across some rather stern language of an admonishing nature on the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) website:
“Those traveling into higher elevations should carry chains and have approved traction tires year round. Studded tires do NOT satisfy state chain requirements. If chains are required on your vehicle, you’ll have to install them even on studded tires. 4WD/AWD vehicles do not need chains installed during ‘chains required’ notices, but drivers must carry chains with them and put the chains on if the status changes to ‘chains required on all vehicles.’ This applies to all tires, whether they have studs or not.”
Well. “Must” seems rather unequivocal, which means I have been in violation for decades. And I’ll wager that many of us have been and will continue to be traversing the passes in defiance of the WSDOT directive on chains.
I have my reasons. Many years ago, I wrote a column for another publication titled “Fool of Chains,” relating my history of catastrophic experiences with chain installation. Even the idiot-proof ones are beyond me. If I see “chains required on all vehicles” conditions looming, I won’t be out there anyway.