We woke to another gorgeous morning on the river and walked up to the beach to let Abby take in a morning swim. I was excited about the day ahead. We had only little more than an hour’s drive north on 97 to reach the town of Toppenish, Washington, not far from where my daughter and her husband are doing some home time. They have a big rig and haul jet engines around the country, but spend home time every few months with his mom in Mabton, a short jaunt from Toppenish. Since much of their hauling is on the east side of the country, or to Alaska and Canada, I don’t get to see her very often.
The Yakama Nation has a casino and a great RV park in the small town of Toppenish, and we easily snagged a nice spot at the edge of the park with full hookups and a tree shading the grass if not the motorhome.
By 11 AM, Deanna drove up to visit, and we hugged and laughed and decided that the two of us should go check out the town while Mo relaxed in the cool shad with the animals.
Deanna did professional wedding and portrait photography for a time, and has some very serious lenses and equipment in her collection. She brought a couple along to share with me and we spent much of the day playing with my new camera and testing out my lenses and then using some of hers on my camera. Yup. I am taking HER lenses to Alaska. There is no comparison. My lens is a Nikkor, but made in China. Hers is three times as heavy, twice as big, and was made in Japan. She has a monopod to hold up the lens, and we spent a lot of time fiddling around with the process of changes lenses, using the monopod, using my tripod, and fiddling with settings.
I had no idea that the town of Toppenish had murals, much less that it was famous for them. Mo and I enjoyed the murals of Eureka, but you had to have a map to find them. In Toppenish they are everywhere! All you need to do is walk down the street and look in any direction and there they are. The quality is amazing, truly beautiful art. Here is a link to the many photos I took of The Murals of Toppenish.
Deanna and I punctuated our hot afternoon walk with a visit to the local soda fountain, complete with a bar and stools. The root beer floats were made with truly good root beer and hard vanilla ice cream, served with an extra small glass of root beer to add as you wanted. Amazing.
After exploring the town we drove back to camp to pick up Mo for a drive east to Mabton where Deanna’s husband Keith was ready with the bbq going. It was a treat to see Keith’s mom, Ruth, 89 years young and fit as a fiddle. Ruth was raised in this valley, and Deanna drove us past the old farm that belonged to Ruth’s grandfather who relocated here from Iowa. Keith was raised here as well, and it was a good childhood, filled with rivers and frogs and farm chores in the summers at Grandpa’s farm.
It was interesting to hear some of the issues that are plaguing the valley now, with gang activity and shootings and such. Driving through the placid agricultural land, there was no indication of any of this unless you looked closely at bridges to see the tagging on every surface. Sad. Many people live here, the Yakama people are here, many immigrants and migrants working the extensive fields, and farmers like Deanna’s in-laws who have been in this valley for more than 100 years. It’s a rich mix of cultures, with some clashes of course.
We sat in Ruth’s front yard enjoying the stiff breezes while trying to keep our hamburger buns from blowing away and laughing and telling family stories. Deanna and I had so much fun playing again with the cameras, and Keith and Ruth and Mo were patient and long suffering as we ran around the yard laughing and snapping long into the evening. Hopefully all the practice will serve me well as I travel north. Keith also had several thoughts on our trip. He lived in Alaska working for the park at Denali for several months as a young man, and he and Deanna have driven the highway several times in their big truck. Of course, they did it in the winter on ice and in early May when the tourists were few and far between. I have my own version of an ice road trucker! My tiny sweet daughter!!
Mo and I drove back to camp in the setting sun: (explain to me why we are always driving due west at sunset??!!) Jeremy was happy to see us return. He was waiting in the front window watching for the car. He is sooo funny. The minute we get home he jumps up and eats and then uses the potty. I often wonder if he eats or drinks at all when we are gone.
Next: Day 3 July 8 North to Oroville WA
A link to the rest of the photos is here