Wednesday, March 5, 2014

An Offer to Paint a Mural

The retired apple grower who ran the motel where I stayed in Washington's Okanagan Valley assured me he had the cheapest and quietest lodging in town.  I suspected he was right about quietest.  When I had looked over his only competition at the junction of the two highways that lead into Tonasket, a motorcycle pushed his hog to the limit as he tore up the hill next to that motel.  I took that as a omen and didn't even bother inquiring.

                              My first view of Tonasket in Washington's portion of the Okanagan Valley

The owner, Chris, turned over a bunch of wrinkled pages to see what my options included, scratched out a few of his previous scribbles, hummed and hawed a bit and announced he could fix me up.  Wow, I thought, a motel owner who doesn't use a computer or the Internet.  You're certainly not going to book a room here online.

It turned out Chris, who was born and raised in New York City and has a photo of himself finishing that famous marathon on his wall, has a taste for art.  Soon he was taking me into every empty room in his motel, proudly showing me murals on the concrete walls that had been painted in 1981 by one Don Harris.

When I showed interest, he took me into his apartment to show me paintings he had purchased in New York forty years ago.  The paintings showed a refined sense of taste -- painted by artists I could even find on the Internet under categories like, "what is this guy's art worth."  I showed Chris what I found on the internet and even he was impressed.

Before we were done, I showed Chris my latest plein air effort.  I didn't think he was impressed until he offered me the opportunity to paint a mural on the side of his motel.  I wonder if I should accept the offer.  I could see plenty of painting subjects in all directions from Tonasket.

While we were discussing art, a heavily tattooed guest came in to close a deal to sell Chris his cell phone.  In earlier discussions they had agreed to $50, but in their ongoing discussion, the seller (not Chris) negotiated down to $40.  I'd like to do business with him.  That night, as I ducked into my room after dinner, I noticed the door of the tattooed guy's room ajar with a recognizable scent wafting through the air.  Pot!  And here I thought all of Chris's rooms were non-smoking.

That night in room 24, using a key with a number something like 53187 ("you can't be too careful in case the key is lost," Chris told me) I got one of Karen's foot soakers. It seems that when I flushed the toilet, not all the water to refill the bowl went to it’s assigned location.  I dreaded telling Chris the news so I just wrapped a towel around the base of the toilet and wrote him a note -- after washing my foot -- sort of.  It seems Chris must have been concerned about guests burning themselves in hot water.  Such was not a concern in room 24.

Would I stay there again?  Of course -- although maybe not in room 24! You'd never collect these kind of memories at The Hilton.

Driving west from Sherman Pass, openings created by the 1988 White Mountain fire afford one their first glimpse of the Okanagan Valley.

Leaving the Colville National Forest, westbound travelers encounter farmland Farmland east of Tonasket, Washingotn.

While I explored parts of Tonasket as suggested by Chris, Karen -- with her cousin Connie -- savored memories of summers growing up on the shores of Four Mile Lake near Three Lakes, Wisconsin.

                                               The Groth family dock on the shores of Four Mile Lake.

A descendent of generations of chipmunks that Karen fed over many decades during summers at the Groth family cabin.

While Karen has been a surrogate mother for generations of rodents (squirrels and chipmunks), snowshoe hares lack interest in her offerings of peanuts and sunflower seeds.

A garter snake was as surprised by Karen as she was by it.  Interestingly, although northern Wisconsin has colder winters than much of coastal Alaska, and our northern-most state even has a few amphibians such as salamanders, frogs and toads, Alaska has no reptiles. 


Dana Konings said...

Amazing nature, and creatures, and weather! Here it's windy and therefore colder than I'd like it to be ;). But it's lovely to see your beautiful surroundings, it eases my stormy days :). Have a good weekend you two :)!

Don and Karen Cornelius Artwork said...

Thanks, Dana. I just looked at a Bergen webcam and see it's night where you are. The cam showed the city lights from a high location and I must say, your city looks very beautiful all lit up at night.

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Cindi said...

That sounds like quite an adventure, if not an establishment! Enjoy your trip. Cindi