Sunday, July 10, 2016

Washington then Idaho, back to Washington, and then Idaho again

My previous whiny post was in Leavenworth, WA, a town too adorable for words.  A bit of history:  Apparently when the logging business went bust back in the 60s, the town nearly faded away.  But a few bright people decided to capitalize on its Alps-like setting and created a tourist haven by remodeling their buildings to look like a Bavarian postcard.  So smart!  Now tourists swarm onto their streets and into their shops, restaurants, and hotels.  We need more towns like this!  One cannot have too many sources for fudge, apple strudel, and tacky wooden clocks.  (I'm perfectly serious.  Who doesn't love this??)

Think of the possibilities!   The economy boost.  The jobs.  The shopping!  Many societal problems (and a lot of boredom) could be solved, if more towns would pick a theme and raise the charm bar.  (Just my two cents.)

But I digress.....

Before Leavenworth, we spent a day on Mt. Rainier which, in my opinion, is a well kept secret.  I say that because I grew up in the Pacific NW and I discovered it only a couple of years ago.  I've been to Banff and Jasper in Alberta ... Yellowstone and Glacier in Wyoming and Montana, but little did I know that we had this breathtaking beauty practically in our backyard.  It truly stacks right up there with its more famous counterparts.  (Sorry, fellow Oregonians, it beats Hood.)  That and the canyons surrounding it are .... WOW.

It was startling each time I looked up from my phone-camera.  It was just so big and right THERE.

After Leavenworth, we went east to the always-lovely Coeur d'Alene, ID, which I am thoroughly sick of spelling.  Every internet search or map inquiry creates mental stress trying to arrange the vowels and apostrophes.   But it does roll off the tongue nicely, as most French words do.  Google says it means "heart of the awl" ..... (?)

Husband had read of an area in eastern Washington called The Palouse.  It's miles of rolling farmland, and it attracts photographers like cats to tuna.    So we went down to check it out.  It turned out to be a highlight.  (Hint -- If you go, take off your sun glasses.  The greens and yellows will pop even more.)

Have a look ....  (Fresh out of Husband's camera.)
(He got up reeeeealy early to get these shots.)

(Oh well.  Gotta take the bad with the good.)
And not only that, but the small town of Palouse (where we stayed a couple of nights in a no-nonsense little city-run RV park) was a treat.

We're the one in the middle.  The ugly retaining wall behind us is actually historic from the early 1900s involving an early railroad system.  What you don't see is the lovely tree-filled park in front of us.  The following pictures were taken just a block away.

Believe it or not, there were several shops selling quilts and fabric, antiques and gifts, and/or other knickknacks.  Plus a few funky (in a good way) cafes, and a decent little grocery store.  But, sadly, most of them are only open Thursday - Saturday, when we weren't there.  Palouse (the town) didn't need a theme.  It pulled it off with genuine character.

And then there was this treasure .... parked a short distance away.  What do you think .... should we upgrade?  

We did a long motorcycle ride through more of the show-stopping fields, in an attempt to find a waterfall called Palouse Falls.  Our route took us to the Granite Dam on the Snake River.  To go south across the dam, we had to show ID and be escorted, which the nice official man on the north end offered to do for us even though it was 5:00 and they were about to close for the day.  As we were riding across the dam, a large Mark-Twain-type paddle boat (like you'd expect to see on the Mississippi) full of happy vacationers, was entering the locks.  So I pulled out my phone and took pictures as we rode along.  The passengers cheerily waved and we waved back.   Then Nice Official Man (following behind) started yelling. "No photography!" ..... Oops.

At the other end, he politely apologized for not informing us of that one rule (there were NO signs) and then made me erase my pictures.  Oh well.  Now I guess I won't be plotting any terrorist attacks on a federal dam.   (Pictures taken from from outside the gates are okay.  Honest.)

We crossed from left (in the photo) to right.  Nice Official Man locked the gate behind us and, unsure where to go, we turned left heading upstream(?) along the river where the road soon dead-ended.  Uh-oh.  The dam gate was now closed and Nice Official Man was probably headed home.  I had brief thoughts of spending a long night on the banks of the Snake River waiting for someone to escort us back across the dam the next morning.  I even wondered if I could sleep with my helmet and gear on and whether it would protect me in case the river was named for reasons other than its curving shape.  Probably not.  And why would Nice Official Man NOT tell us the road didn't go through??   But fortunately the road going down river took us out of the ravine and back into more remote farmland where cell coverage continued to be non-existant, rendering us completely lost.

We finally came to a spot where we found enough signal to feed our phone maps and we eventually rolled into Lewiston, Idaho.  By the time we got back to our motorhome, daylight was gone and it was cold.  But it was a good day, even though we never found the waterfall.  (Note to self -- Get a GPS device.  Cell phones can get lost too.)

Next -- Glacier National Park, huckleberry pie, and beyond.

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