Our last meal in Washington State last night as at Chuckanut Manor. This scenic B&B overlooks Samish Bay, and as we feasted on local seafood, orioles, humming birds, and red-wing blackbirds feasted on seed just outside our window. (Laura just pointed out that the previous sentence sounds like we were eating seafood AND birds. Oh the power of punctuation.) The tide came in just ahead of the setting sun, as a bald eagle checked the receding shoreline for tasty morsels.
The morning was cloudy, our first really cloudy day since getting here. I guess I shouldn’t burst the illusion of a rainy Seattle so more people won’t move up here. Thie first time I came to this area, I heard a new weather term – widely scattered “sun breaks”.
We managed to get everything – dishes and luggage – packed into the car, and were on the road by 7:00 headed south toward Seattle. Traffic was heavy as we approached the city, but when we turned onto I-405, we moved over to the carpool lane (two passengers or more, we qualified) and cruised past bumper-to-bumper traffic. We got safely past Seattle and headed east on I-90. As the road ascended, we entered the clouds we had seen from the island, and a heavy mist began to coat the windshield (yes, the roof was down.)
I saw a sign for Snoqualmie Falls and thought a side trip was in order. The falls were were about four miles off of the interstate. These were the most dramatic we had seen so far, and the overlook was just about as dramatic as the falls themselves. The overlook extended over the gorge, and the view downward was dizzying. The falls originated from a single point, but split into twin cascades that fell nearly 270 feet. The cliff wall is undercut, so the water falls through mid-air into the pool below.
Back at the car, we left the top up to ascend on I-90 through the mist. There must have been dramatic views al around us, but we couldn’t see much of anything. We reached Snoqualmie Pass at 3022 ft, and on the east side of the mountains, the mist immediately cleared,and the car roof came down. The flatness and dryness of Eastern Washington was once again upon us. At Ellensburg we had to make a choice. We could continue on I-90 to Spokane and basically retrace our route out here, or we could turn south on I-82 and see new roads. We chose south.
I-82 covered more flat farmland, with Mount Adams looming in the distance. We crossed a low ridge, and passed through Yakima and I-82 turned southeast along the Yakima River. By noon, we reached the tri-cities of Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick. These cities are located at the confluence of the Yakima, Snake, and Columbia Rivers – one town for each river. Non-descript lunch at Pasco,through Kennewick across the Columbia, cross another ridge, then back across the Columbia and into Oregon.
If possible, this part of Oregon is even flatter than Eastern Washington. At this point the interstate follows both the Lewis & Clark Trail and the Oregon trail. We ascended another ridge through a low pass, down, then across more endless flatness. Another ascent, this time up to Dead Man’s Pass. The rest area at Dead Man’s Pass had country music piped in, and the urinals had plastic pads with concentric rings marking 10 points, 20 points, 30 points, and Bullseye. Back down. More flatness. Snow covered mountains tempted us to the north and south, and we knew the Rockies had to be around here somewhere but we never really reached them. Mountains would have been nice, given the 90-100 degree temperatures we were driving through.
Across the Snake River again, into Idaho, and into Mountain Time. It occured to me that we would be losing an hour almost ever day as we crossed time zones in reverse order, presenting even more of a challenge to making it back on time. Just outside Boise, the air filled wit the smell of mint. Mint everywhere. Apparently they raise it here.
We found a place to stay for the night and went to look for dinner. We found a place called Goodwood Barbeque, and thought it looked suitable. It was full of cookie-cutter franchise goodness, but smelled right. They brought out a wine list, which seemed just wrong for barbeque. Laura had Heineken, and I tried an Alaskan Amber, which was wonderfully smooher, better than the Moose Drool in Wyoming. Laura had a beef brisket sandwich, and I had a combination with beef brisket and smoked turkey. Translation: “Smoked slowly over mesquite” = prepared ahead of time. Which means quick service, and high volume turn around for the restaurant. Doesn’t matter. It was still very good.
Another long drive tomorrow, so back to the motel to crash.
Laura got better at taking self-portaits in the rear-view mirror.
2 thoughts on “On the Oregon Trail (Going the Opposite Direction)”
We’ve had ‘scattered’ sunbreaks in SC all week. When you get home you will have a standing (or sitting) appointment behind (or on) your lawnmower.
I forgot to mention that we crossed the 45th parallel, and a sign let us know that we were half way between the equator and north pole.