Saturday, 31 May 2008

A very short trip

Good grief. We have been back for WEEKS, but I have been so busy in the garden and with a few other things that I only posted half our small adventure on Multiply, and never did get it on here. Just duplicating often results in weird looking posts. Here goes, posted on Multiply May 5th.

Sunday already, and we have been back since Thursday. The trip got cut short because of vehicle trouble, alas! But I have that nice refreshed 'been away' feeling anyhow, and I am just itching to get into the garden.
We set out on Sunday April 27th. Normally by this time of year there is a spell of warm weather, the trees are that luminous early green, and the spring sunflowers are in full bloom in the drier parts of the Southern Interior.
This year everything was still bare, even South in Washington State. We covered some of this ground several years ago, at the end of March. Everything looked exactly like it did then, a full month behind schedule.

We crossed the border near Grand Forks. I hate getting questions about where we intend to go and why. It makes me want to make flippant remarks about free countries. It doesn't pay to antagonize border guards whose job description includes paranoia, so I bit my tongue.

When you cross from Canada into the USA, you go from the extreme South of one country to another's extreme North. Grand Forks is a thriving, fast growing town. Cross into the USA and suddenly the scenery is more rural and laid back. It reminds me of the Kootenays when we first came here.

May I put in a plug for the neighbors? Washington is such a neat little state. The incredible variety of landscapes never ceases to amaze me. You can cross the state in any direction in a one day drive.
If you can’t decide between dramatic rainforest, huge sandy beaches, volcanoes, the gentle warm mountains of the North East and all sorts of lakes and even open prairie type landscape, Washington offers it all. The system of State parks is excellent and reasonably priced.
The trip along the Kettle River, which merrily crosses the border several times, is a relaxing pleasure. Hills, small towns, lakes, woods. We drove through the Colville federated territory (there is no such thing as a Colville Indian, but that's another story) and took the free ferry across our very own Columbia river. There is a state park on the other side where we spent the night. Note how bare the trees are.

The view from the campsite over Lake Roosevelt, which is the Columbia River, dammed to within an inch of its life. The water was really low to make room for the spring runoff.

Chris, my "Old Dutch" enjoying a simple but sustaining meal of brown rice, black beans, salsa and early kale greens. Why is playing house in a tiny space so much fun? I still get a kick out of transforming the dining corner into a bed and vice versa, every time.

We woke to an icy cold but clear morning, and climbed up to the plateau. This is the Washington wheat belt. Bingo, my prairie fix! I need to see wide open spaces and big skies now and then. This picture was taken a bit later near Ritzville but it is typical of the wheat belt.
Inside the farm land is a surprise: a wild area of sage brush and weird geological phenomena. We stopped to walk around the Cache Crater. 
 Alas, in order to show the shape of the crater with the flowering Saskatoon bushes in it, I had to shoot against the sun, and I haven't figured out how to correct the overexposure yet. Or rather, I haven't figured out how to get into the program that allows one to do that. No patience right now.
 There were flowers blooming that we don't have at home.

By this time it was around 9, the wind had shifted and turned warm. We spent a pleasant hour or so poking around the desert landscape, taking pictures and feeling like we really were away from home.
Alas. The joys of travel were short-lived. Somewhere past Odessa something went "clunk", and the engine stopped driving the wheels.
Fortunately it happened within sight of a travel center, a half hour walk at the most. We consulted phone books there and eventually called Pete's garage and towing in Ritzville, who came to the rescue.
For the next two days the spot behind the garage was home. By the way, these are the nicest guys. If you ever get stuck in that region, call Pete's Garage and Towing in Ritzville. They made sure we could stay at "home" while they waited for the needed part, hooked us up with electricity, got us as level as possible and provided water. It wasn't their fault that the train tracks ran close by and the engineers really enjoy tooting their horns every hour or so in the middle of the night.
Next installment: The unexpected joys of getting stuck in small towns.
I DO want to write it, but right now, the garden takes priority.