Current Location: Rocky Point, OR Breezy and Pleasant at 69F
It was just over two weeks ago when we headed north toward Spokane for Mo’s reunion. Her family manages to get together every two years and with five siblings, Mo’s turn hasn’t rolled around for almost a decade. Our last reunion in 2012 was north of Denver in Colorado and we added on a great extended trip that time to visit South Dakota and Wyoming. Loved that trip that we shared with Mo’s brother Roger and his wife Nancy! If you want to check out our travels through the Black Hills and the Big Horn Mountains, the posts start here.
This time we decided to take advantage of the Inland Northwest location and travel north into British Columbia and do the beautiful circle route along Kootenay Lake. I was really looking forward to the trip. When I lived in Coeur D Alene, I would make the trip north every once in awhile and have a special place in my heart for Kaslo.
When we were packing up to leave, conditions around the compound here were hot and smoky from so many fires that were burning. Some are still smoking, but at least the worst of the fires are out. It was a bit disconcerting to drive off early in the morning accompanied by the strong smell of smoke and a red sun. We looked at each other and said, “Well, fire could come whether we are here or not, so I guess we will just have to trust that it will be OK”.
There is such a mixture of delight and frustration when I know we are heading out for an extended trip. Although two weeks isn’t anything like the three month sojourn last winter, I still hate to leave the gardens, the sewing machine, all the myriad life things that keep things interesting around here. Everything was looking fresh and the tomatoes were just beginning to ripen. Still, the road calls, and I was excited that we were actually getting on the road again, with some great plans waiting.
Once again we traveled north on Highway 97, though Bend, to the COE campground at the mouth of the John Day River at LePage adjacent to I-84. We could make the 529 miles to Spokane in a long day, but there is no reason to do that. LePage waits, with half price using our senior pass, and hookups to manage the hot temperatures that always seem to accompany our trips in that direction. I think the last time we camped here was on our way to Alaska in 2011, and it was something like 105F.
Of course the heat gave us the excuse to stop at the ice cream shop in Shaniko (Where the West Still Lives) for a cool tasty treat. I think that is some of the best home made ice cream I have ever tasted. I’ll have to be sure and remind Sherry and David to try it out if they ever get to Oregon.
When we arrived at LePage in late afternoon, it was only 104. Sure do like having hookups for the air conditioner! Dinner was simple, and indoors, since the hot wind that was whirling around outside made putting out the BBQ too much trouble. Time for quesadillas, my go-to meal when I want something quick and good. The hot wind was a great white noise and with the cool air blowing over us I slept very well.
The next morning we took Abby for an early swim, walked around the park after breakfast, and readied the rig to meet Mo’s brother Dan and wife Chere at the entrance to the campground. They were right on time and we caravanned north toward Spokane without incident except for a minor miss in Dan’s engine. Dan’s Class A is 30 some feet and being a great mechanic he takes care of it himself. He figured out the problem eventually, but in the mean time we stopped a couple of times to check it out.
Traveling north on 84 to 82, and then 395, crossing the river in Kennewick, and then continuing north towards Spokane is a bit of a puzzle if you aren’t used to the route. Having done the road a bazillion times, I still have to watch the GPS to remember which lane to be in to make the proper turns. Mo was sure there had to be a more direct way north, but there isn’t. Gotta get across the river and across a few interstates before 395 continues toward Spokane.
We never seem to spend much time in Tri Cities, just passing through. Pasco, Kennewick, and Richland are all clustered along the Columbia and Snake Rivers and are famous for the big jet boat races every year. The area has grown exponentially, with huge housing developments, lots of big shopping, and lots of traffic. Good wineries abound, and it can be hot in the summer. I know there is a lot to see and do in the area, but I have never had the inclination to do so. Deanna and Keith (trucker daughter and her husband) stay there when they are on home time, with Keith’s brother who has a beautiful house in Kennewick along the river.
We arrived at Riverside State Park in Spokane around 3, and it was 99 degrees F. There always is a bit of confusion about exactly how to get to the campground area of the state park, and if you use a GPS, don’t count on it. If you put in Bowl and Pitcher, you might have better luck, but either way the GPS will try to take you down through the golf course parking lot, down a very narrow street, around a very sharp right turn onto another narrow street to get to the campground. After being there a few days we discovered it was a LOT easier to go north to Rifle Range road and out Francis Blvd no matter where we wanted to go in town.
Brother Don and his wife Wynn were in charge of the festivities this year, and they came down to the park as folks began to arrive to make sure we were all settled in comfortably before bringing in something like 20 pizzas for everyone to share. It was great fun seeing more than 30 Oukrops all together in one place.
Next: The Oukrops descend on Silverwood and Boulder Beach Theme Park in Northern Idaho