The canyon beckoned. In the distance, the howl of a dog reminded us that this place is all too real. Did we imagine the dog? No, we didn’t. Because at the time, KK said “You should write about that dog howling in your blog”. But I am getting ahead of myself. The dog will need to be patient.
Spokane, America. Two days of driving, two nights staying at a Quality Inn. I am noticing a trend. The staff at Quality Inn are exceptional. This morning at the breakfast buffet, I could not find any condiments to put on my eggs. I asked an attendant if they had any salsa. She nodded and disappeared for a moment. She comes back with a container of salsa and says, “If anybody asks you, you got this at the pub last night”. They gave us a free beer at the pub last night, so why not salsa?
The dining room was large. The windows were framed by large curtains and valances. I mentioned to Scott how nice the drapes are. He tells me, “We finally have French doors!” That’s true. Our room was actually a suite that separated KK’s room from ours with a set of double French doors. We will now look down our nose at any establishment that is not adorned with the sophistication of the “Quality Inn” brand.
First stop – Gonzaga University. A small-school, basketball powerhouse for the past 20 years. We did not realize until last night that Spokane was the home of Gonzaga. Better stop and check that out.
Our only objective today was to visit the North Cascades National Park in northern Washington, and pick up PK, Erin and Ellery at the airport. Everything else was flexible.
To get to the National Park, as you leave Spokane, we got on a two lane state highway and start heading northwest. Farmland covered the rolling hills. We were not technically in the Palouse, but we got a hint of what that might look like.
The landscape would change quickly. Farmland was everywhere, then we would top a hill, and everything was covered in lava rock as far as you could see. Large valleys that we drove through appeared out of nowhere.
A lake appeared. Our highway took us right alongside it, and we discovered that the lake is there because of the Grand Coulee Dam. We stopped! We had all heard of the Grand Coulee Dam, but couldn’t say exactly why it was famous. Turns out it made a name for itself because when it was built, it was the world’s largest concrete structure. It was built over an 8 year period, completed in 1942.
One thing that struck us is that considering it was Independence Day Weekend, it was strange there were not more than a few boats on the lake. The weather was perfect and the water was still. Maybe for the same reason that Grand Coulee had a lookout parking area that would hold 2,000 vehicles and there were only 3 cars in it. This place is off the beaten path and not very well populated.
As we stood steps away from the empty parking lot and looked down at the dam, the silence of the morning air was broken by the howls of an earnest dog. KK advises to capture the moment by mentioning the dog in the blog. I like that idea. The dog made a big impression on us!
As we continued our drive toward the North Cascades, we were in for a treat. Apple farms! When I would imagine a Washington apple farm during my entire life, up until this day, it would be a peaceful, green and lush farm covered in trees. The apple farms we drove through are about as different from that as is possible.
The irrigation from the several dams in the area provide all the water necessary for the apple trees, and other crops too, I am sure. A plot of trees can sit right next to the natural landscape, full of low-growing scrubby bushes. Almost desert-like. But they make it work! We pulled over and checked out one orchard sitting right next to the highway.
The drive continues. The North Cascades National Park was one of the few “want to see” items on KK’s list on the drive to Seattle. This park promises scenic lakes and glaciers. The main lake, Diablo Lake, has a very pretty color and the pull-off viewing area was packed with people.
The highlight of our visit was a planned hike on the Thunder Knob Trail, providing different views of Diablo Lake. It was classified as “Easy” and was a little over 3 miles round trip. We completed the hike in 2.5 hours.
After the hike, it was time to head to Seattle. We stopped at the Visitors Center, but it had closed for the day. No Cascades memorabilia for us.
We continued our drive on the two lane roads for another 90 minutes. If you like ridiculously tall pine trees (which I do), then you would like this drive.
We finally reached Interstate 5. We drove the entire width of Washington on two-lane state highways. We saw the real Washington!
During the last hour or so of the drive, Scott got on the two-way radio and shared how much fun he had on this three day drive from Oklahoma to Washington. KK and I are in agreement! This was a spectacular part of the trip, and we need to make an excuse to do something like this again sometime.
Tonight, we met up with Miles & Peyton, and PK, Erin and Ellery. Everybody made it safely, and tomorrow we tour the town together.
In the distance, a dog catches his breath. He prepares to howl.