At the end of our first day here, we ate a delicious dinner of salmon baked in a pastry shell, served by the same friendly restaurant staff we met at breakfast. We retired to the lodge's cozy, common living room and worked a jigsaw puzzle of a covered bridge, but I could not pry my eyes off the scenery. It simply swallowed up the lodge's great wall of picture windows.
By our last morning, we only had enough time for a bit more sightseeing. From rented bicycles we watched ducklings riding their mother's back and received waves from locals who sell small-crafts work in a dockside shop. When we boarded the Lady II to go back to the real world, we still had the Stehekin Valley in our sights. It was hard to look away.
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GUIDEBOOK: Into the Cascades
Getting there: To reach Lake Chelan, visitors can fly to Seattle (via Alaska, United or Delta airlines; fares begin at $234) and drive about 3 1/2 hours to Chelan, or take commuter flights from Seattle to Wenatchee, 40 miles from Chelan. The community of Stehekin is reachable by boats operated by the Lake Chelan Boat Co. (telephone  682-4584) or floatplanes run by Chelan Airways (tel.  682-5555).
Where to stay: North Cascades Stehekin Lodge (tel.  682-4494, fax  682-8206), with 28 rooms (some with kitchens), overlooks Lake Chelan. Rates: $75-$105 for two people in a room.
Stehekin Valley Ranch (tel.  682-4677, fax  682-4705.) is a rustic guest ranch with tent cabins nine miles from the lake shore. Rates: $60 per person per night, including meals, $10 more for cabins with bath.
Silver Bay Lodging and Cabins (P.O. Box 85, Stehekin, WA 98852; tel.  682-2212) offers three bed-and-breakfast rooms ($80-$135) and two cabins ($145 per double).
For more information: Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, Golden West Visitor Center, Stehekin, WA 98852; tel. (360) 856-5703, Ext. 340.