Friday, 26 November 2010

Trip to Washington and Oregon, October 2009 Day 1


I wrote these day-to-day travel blogs as a detailed memory for ourselves. They may be rather boring for an innocent bystander.

Day 1
After some typical Mercury retrograde communication mixup (each of us was waiting for the other to be ready) we finally set a date for departure: Monday October 5th. It ended up being the 6th since the Thing needed some last-minute work. That suited me fine.
I love road trips once we are on the way, but always have a hard time tearing myself away from home and garden. Believe it or not, thanks to the handy "Perpetual Thing List" I was actually packed and ready to roll! But the last day was brilliant and warm and I welcomed the chance to stay outside to finish some garden chores. I even got the garlic planted, the one task that must be done in fall whether we feel like it or not.
Finally, around 9 AM Tuesday, we were OFF. The weather was perfect for travel. Bright with some cloud, but not so gorgeous that I would resent being inside a car instead of feeling the sun on my face.

The first picture shows Frog Peak in the Slocan Valley, taken earlier in September. The mountain is sacred to the Sinixt. There is a story that explains why, but it is not mine to tell.
We crossed the border South of Rossland, just North of Northport, Washington. The next picture shows Roosevelt Lake, another dammed stretch of our very own Columbia River, a bit further South. This mighty river is managed to within an inch of its life, which explains why the water level seemed higher than at home.
One thing that we notice every time we cross the border: how quiet it is on the other side, how smooth the roads are, and how clear the signage is. This state does tourism well.

When one travels from Canada into Northern Washington, at least East of the Cascades, one goes from an extreme South, the most densely populated part of the country, to an extreme Northern backwater. The contrast between bustling Rossland with spanking new condos in the Red Mountain ski area and barely-there rural Northport is quite striking.
We took highway 20 West from Kettle Falls over Republic to Tonasket, where we'd turn South again. Because the mountains remain sort of gentle and rounded in shape, more like hills really, one doesn't realize how tall they get. Sherman Pass, seen above, is actually 5.575 feet.
  The views are disappointing because there are too many trees in the way. Some better pictures and more information can be found here:
The burnt trees in front are the remains of the White Mountain fire of 1988.
The last picture was taken from a driving car.

Notice the faint reflection of Chris' hands on the steering wheel, :).
The rest of the way was pleasant hill country, alternating range lands with forest. The further West one goes, the drier the land becomes.
We had stopped in Republic for new camera batteries and some groceries, poked around at the Sherman Pass viewpoints, and by the time we got into Tonasket on Highway 97 South it was time to look for a place to park for the night. When we are traveling from here to there we are not too picky, and don't mind just pulling over by the side of the road. Easier said than done in some places. Highway 20 had been quiet but the few pullouts were needed for traffic. We crossed the river in search of a secondary road and lucked out. Just when we had decided to follow the directions to an RV park, we noticed a perfect spot, right on the Okanagan river. Home for the night!

We ran into a snag the first night out: the battery that supplies the lights for the household suddenly died. One can't blame a vehicle that dates from 1982 for having some aches and pains now and then, but meanwhile we had no lights and no heat.

A guardian angel must have been on duty. Right when we were leaving, on a "just in case" impulse, I had tossed in some cute candle thingies from IKEA that hold tea lights, really safe and secure. Cooking and cleaning was accomplished by candle light, entertained by Public Radio on the battery. Thus ends Day 1.

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