by Gayle Picken
Twisp – home to artists, cowboys, hippies and telecommuters, surrounded by rolling alpine desert hills with views of the North Cascades in the distance. It’s the place where the Twisp and Methow rivers meet and where wildlife abounds. I didn’t know much about the town before our visit except that one of my artist friends had worked at a gallery there and my sister raved about the local bakery called Cinnamon Twisp.
It was the third day of our adventure on the Cascade Loop Scenic Highway. Although Jerry had camped and hiked in the hills of the Methow Valley for over 30 years, he’d never stopped in to explore Twisp, so we were both eager to discover what the town was all about.
A Taste of Community at the Farmers Market
The Fall harvest provided a visual feast of color at the Farmers Market, which was in full swing when we arrived that morning in Twisp. All varieties of squash, chilies, onions and assorted fruits and veggies tempted us as we walked through the market, but the apples took center stage and we picked up a box to take home. People lined up for fresh sourdough bread and locally roasted coffee and chatted with friends as they walked up and down the rows checking out the offerings of local makers and artisans.
I met “Birdhouse Lady” Jain Johnson who makes super cute birdhouses out of cowboy boots. And local glass artist Marcus who was happy to tell us about the hot spots of Twisp. Everyone was friendly and trying to stay warm on this chilly October morning, which, as it turned out, was the last market of the season.
We stepped inside the100-year old Methow Valley Community Center, which houses the Visitor’s center, library and other community organizations, and picked up a few maps and brochures. Then we walked a block to Glover Street–Twisp’s charming downtown where the sidewalks were lined with colorful chairs and water bowls set out for the pups.
A Cultural Hub Downtown on Glover Street
We quickly learned that Twisp is the arts and cultural hub for the Methow Valley. The Confluence Art Gallery had a beautiful exhibit of plein aire paintings on display. Across the street The Merc Playhouse offered live theater and performances. The busy Glover Street Market was bustling with foodies buying healthy, local, natural, gourmet and organic food.
Even the garbage and recycle bins on the street were pieces of art!
We were on a mission to get to the Cinnamon Twisp Bakery, As soon as we opened the door, the smell of fresh pastries had us drooling in anticipation.
A fun combination of folks inside made for great people watching. Locals sharing lively conversations having come into town for the Farmer’s Market. Weekend outdoor recreation seekers from the city donning puffy jackets, beanies, and sturdy hiking boots, with kids and dogs in tow. October hunters in camo and bright orange, and a collection of aging cowboys with braided silver ponytails and well-worn cowboy hats. All of us stood patiently in line, smiling and chatting as we scanned the delectable selection of pastries behind the cabinet.
NOTE: The infamous signature “cinnamon twisp” did not disappoint. Trust me, this pastry alone is worth the drive!
Views of Methow Valley
We took a drive around the Methow Valley, snapping photos of Fall scenes along the river and up in the forest roads, then came back to town to check in to the Methow Suites Bed and Breakfast where our host Sandy greeted us like family.
Sandy and Bill Moody have lived here for 50 years and opened their bed and breakfast over 12 years ago. We immediately took to Sandy – she is the president of the local Chamber of Commerce and super knowledgeable about the area and local who’s who. After visiting and relaxing living room with a beautiful view, we headed out for an evening on the town.
Local Live Music on the River
On Saturday evenings, the Twisp River Suites hosts Live Music with Emele Clothier, John Evans and friends. We met up with my artist friend Karen and new friends Jamie and Ryan, and shared an enjoyable the evening with light appetizers and drinks around the table.
The music ranged from toe-tapping blues and sweet harmonies to stirring renditions of classics like “It’s a wonderful World” and “I can’t help falling in love with you” when owner and singer Joe Marver took to the stage. The audience sang along and cheered for all of the musicians. It was a great night and we felt a special connection to this place, experiencing its culture with visitors and locals alike.
Viewing Wild Turkeys from our Deck
After a blissful sleep on seriously one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in … we had a wonderful home cooked breakfast by Sandy and met the other guests staying at Methow Suites. With three ex-firefighters at the table (our host Bill Moody is a retired smokejumper, guest Brenda was a wildland fire rappeler, and my Jerry is an ex-firefighter) our breakfast conversation was filled with stories!
We all became fast friends and exchanged phone numbers before we left. Sandy says that’s typical at her bed and breakfast. Guests have a chance to relax and get to know each other over breakfast while comparing travel stories. Sandy and Bill joined in and spoiled us with their hospitality. The wild turkeys we watched from the deck were a bonus!
So we said our goodbye’s for now, but we’ll be back. Twisp is known as the “heart of the Methow Valley.” And with its happy confluence of characters and adventure seekers all sharing their community, we heartily agree.