Life at the Running Y

Life at the Running Y
Life at the Running Y

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

August 24 LePage to Spokane

LePage_to_Spokane (2)Wonderful to have such a great night’s sleep and to wake up to fresh breezes and a view of the water.  LePage Campground is a delightful little treasure tucked away on I-84 and a good overnight stop.

LePage_to_Spokane (4) The trip along the Columbia River is the best part of the route, and once across the river into Washington the landscape becomes barren and boring unless you look deeper into the rest of the story.

LePage_to_Spokane (10)

We settled into Riverside State Park close to Spokane early in the afternoon, just in time for the arrival of Mo’s brother Don, who lives in Spokane.  The Centennial Trail winds along the river through the park and we unloaded the bikes for a nice little  afternoon ride. It’s great to see the Bowl and Pitcher area again with it’s wild waters, basalt columns, and to walk across the swinging bridge over the Spokane River

LePage_to_Spokane (8)

Photos from the rest of our day are linked here

Be forewarned, the following is my own personal journaling, much too wordy for a blog, but the more important reason for this blog, keeping track of my feelings and memories while we travel.  I  write here mostly for me and for Mo, and for my kids, and of course, anyone else who wants to know more.

Sue’s JOURNAL:

What a difference a day makes, AND! a good night’s sleep. AND a computer that works properly. AND! the allergy medications worn off.  Whew!  The sun is gorgeous this morning, coming over the brown hills to the east, framed in green locust trees and accented by the blue waters of the John Day River, fat and lazy due to the John Day Dam just west of us here at the mouth of the river.  This little campground is a treasure, and we enjoyed this mornings cool breezes, and a good night’s sleep.  We didn’t even have to unhook last night, and our site is right on the water.  The campground is unassuming, but we look out over the water from our awning side and are on level pavement pull through.  In the distance we can see the freeway, the railroad, and the hills around us are punctuated by the brilliant white and graceful windmills.  Power and transportation, all right here, and yet so rural and very peaceful.

The drive from this park to Spokane is pleasantly uneventful, without much to see except the river itself, huge and wide.  I have traveling it far too many times, however, to pay much attention any more to the charms of Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington, especially the area around the Tri-Cities.  The most entertaining part of the trip was watching what the NUVI was telling us, and seeing her calculate the same routes I have used since I first started traveling these roads in 1972. We knew company would be coming for dinner so stopped at the huge and fabulous Kennewick Fred Meyer for supplies before continuing on into Spokane. 

I looked at the very brown, very dry fields all around us and tried without much success to see them with new eyes.  I know the story of wheat in Eastern Washington, the levels of precipitation and the depth of the soils increasing exponentially with the bushels per acre harvested as you approach Pullman/Moscow on the Washington-Idaho border.  I know the amazing story of the Great Missoula Floods that 13,000 years ago emptied a lake that covered a large part of Montana in what some say may have been as little as two days.  These brown scabby hills to the west of Highway 395 between Richland and Spokane are actually part of what is called the Channeled Scabland.  However, as a tourist passing through on the highway, none of this story is visible unless you know the tiny details and what to look for.  Today, it  just looked incredibly brown and boring.  The only good thing to be said is that the 100 miles or so from Tri-Cities to the Interstate 90 is now all four lanes, a good highway.  I traveled it for years as a 2 lane pain in the neck road full off slow truckers and furious people who couldn’t pass them.

We arrived in Spokane by 2 in the afternoon, and this time used the NUVI to negotiate the river and the bridges that make getting around sometimes a bit difficult in this town.  Of course, we found out again why everyone thinks that Spokane has the worst roads of any large city in the west.  Huge potholes and construction was going on everywhere, and we negotiated red flags and orange barriers all across town.  Another issue is the fact that Riverside State Park is sometimes hard to find, with the headquarters actually several miles north of the campground.  The Garmin Girl kept trying to make us go very far north.  If I hadn’t known the city, we could still be wandering around out there.  Once in the campground, however, all quieted down.  No one was in the kiosk, and we had no clue what our site number was supposed to be, but thankfully the telephone worked and after a call to headquarters, we settled into space 12 right next to the river.

We unhooked the Geo, only to discover that the battery was completely dead.  Somehow we had managed to park in a way that worked well, and we backed the MoHo into the site, and pushed the Geo off the road facing the front of the MoHo, thinking a jump would do the trick.  We were not so lucky, however, since it only clicked a bit before we gave up and called AAA.  Funny part about all this is that Triple A in Oregon had to route us to Triple A in Washington, and no matter how hard I tried to explain to the operator that we were NOT in Nine Mile Falls, she still sent the assistance to Nine Mile Falls, insisting that was the address of Riverside State Park.  We were especially lucky that the cell phone still worked down in the river canyon, because when the mechanic called me, he knew exactly where I was and drove back from Nine Mile to find us.  His charger had enough power to start the little car up, and after letting it run a bit, we were just fine.

:By this time, Mo’s brother Don had found our campsite to join us for the rest of the afternoon.  I also called an old friend in Coeur D’Alene who agreed to make the long drive to the west side of Spokane to visit.  While we waited for Laura to arrive, Don and Mo and I went off for a bike ride on a small portion of the Centennial Trail that is in Riverside State Park.  This trail extends from Nine Mile Falls through Spokane east into Idaho ending on the east side of Coeur D’ Alene Lake.  I remember when the trail was just a gleam and a plan, and before I left the area almost ten years ago it was fairly well developed.  It is a great place to ride.  In fact, there are several trails in this part of Washington and Idaho that have been developed for biking, many from old railroad right-of-ways.

When we arrived back to camp from the bike ride, Laura arrived with a huge bowl of fabulous veggies from her garden to add to our supper.  We cooked the pork chops and corn on the cob outside, while I did some rice and a salad in the MoHo.  It was wonderful having some time to visit and catch up on our children, families, and doings over the last couple of years.  Laura and I haven’t seen each other since she visited me in Klamath a few years ago, so this was an extra special treat.  It was nice having Don there as well, and he and Sharon took Abby down to the river for a swim.

The moon was full and clearly visible through the trees and the park was dark and quiet except for the faint sound of the river below us.  It’s really dry this time of year, so even if we could have found some firewood, there were no fires allowed. By the time everyone left it was close to ten after a hot shower when we got to bed.  I love how well I sleep in the MoHo, with fresh air, all close and cozy, and wonderful dream time.