Tuesday, October 29, 2013

On the road again...

The Farmer and I went on a little vacation. We had hoped for greater things, such as a trip to Utah to view the natural wonders there, but circumstances conspired against it. Our available time kept getting shorter and shorter, and then, the government shut down…which meant that people couldn’t go see those natural wonders that have been set aside for us. But we could still keep paying our taxes and wondering what percentage of the government actually IS essential.

Why our military and law enforcement agencies had to be deemed non-essential, I don’t know. I don’t mind paying my taxes for that! I do mind paying taxes for the National Endowment for the Arts, and for grants to study why elephants get aggressive (we have such an elephant problem here in the US!) and frankly, I think a lot of the farm subsidies have long outlived their usefulness to the country…and there are a WHOLE bunch more agencies and grants and programs that I could enumerate.

But I won’t, because the people who can do anything useful about them won’t…and because I was really going to tell you about our little vacation.

In lieu of a longer trip to Utah, we headed to the Eastern side of our fair state. But not before spending a day learning about the history of Seattle while traipsing underneath it. I highly recommend the Underground Tour. Though I knew some of the challenging beginnings of Seattle, this tour taught me so much more. What an amazing effort was put into lifting the city above the tidelands! What interesting characters and visionaries were Seattle’s founding fathers! If you have the opportunity – go! And rest assured, it was not creepy or yucky down below. Actually, you are just walking in the basement of a lot of the buildings…It’s just that the basement was once the first floor…

I’ll explain no more…Just go! It’s a great story!

Of course, I left there with books: Bleed, Blister & Purge: A History of Medicine on the American Frontier by Volney Steele. The title says it all, in a way. If you were sick in the American Frontier, you would be bled, blistered or purged…That was all they had in their arsenal against disease. In many cases, the cure was worse than the disease – and was the cause of death! Interestingly, the prevailing philosophy was that sickness must be caused by some toxins in your body that must be purged. Nowadays, they do a “cleanse” which sounds much more pleasant, and probably is, compared to the violent purges they prescribed back in the day. In fact, some of the pills given for purging purposes were called “thunderclappers”…I feel I don’t need to elaborate further. Just the kind of thing you want to go through when you don’t feel well…

Anyway, I found it interesting that the toxins concern persists to this day, and though a gentler method is used, the results are not that different either.

Lucky for you, I haven’t read the other book yet: Sons of the Profits by Bill Speidel, the founder of the Underground Tour, and preserver of local history. I can’t wait to read more about the founders of Seattle. Perhaps another time I will regale you with that information. But now that I have written so much about just the first day of our trip, I will just hit the highlights of the rest.

Because, have mercy, this could otherwise go on forever!

At our tour guide's suggestion, we went to the observation deck of the Smith Tower, the first skyscraper in Seattle, built in 1914. The observation deck on the 35th floor gave us some stunning views of the city on this beautiful day...and for a lot less money than the Space Needle. We had dinner with Jess in Bellevue that night, after killing some time by driving around Mercer Island…had never been there before.

The next day’s highlights included a beautiful drive over Cayuse and Chinook passes…Snow at the top, and vibrant fall colors on the hills! We stopped in Pasco to see Country Mercantile, and were overwhelmed by all the food products and treats you can buy there! From now on, Pasco must be an on-the-way-home stop so we can take home some of that refrigerated food (think tamales!).

We parked ourselves at the Marcus Whitman Hotel in Walla Walla for a couple of days, and loved the town and the accommodations! We did the downtown walk of historic buildings, and didn’t have enough time to exploit all the cute restaurants and shops that were there. We enjoyed the Fort Walla Walla Museum, and driving around the farms on the outskirts of town.

Since the Seahawks were on Thursday Night Football, we had to find a sports bar where we could watch the game. At the recommendation of the hotel staff, we ended up at Red Monkey, and made it in time to get a decent seat. We chatted with the friendly people next to us, and when some friends of theirs came later and had trouble finding seats, we offered the two empty ones at our table. Chris and Amy were lovely company, and since Amy works in her family’s winery, Randy had lots of questions to ask. We chatted all evening, and enjoyed the game, all the while ordering more appetizers, drinks and even desserts!

I’m gonna watch a game that way again!

After Walla Walla, we traveled on to southeast Washington, and more specifically to the Palouse, as I have never been there. We passed through Clarkston and up the Lewiston Hill, which has gorgeous views from the top. We had ice cream at Ferdinand’s on the WSU campus. It was tricky to get a room in Pullman so we ended up in Colfax, and had dinner at the little Mexican restaurant in town (practically the only restaurant in town!) with all the friendly locals.

The next day we drove up Steptoe Butte, at my request…even though by the time we were getting to the top, I was subconsciously leaning far to my left, away from the edge of the road, and finally had to avert my eyes from the precipice.  The narrow road wrapped around the corners, and you could not see where it went…I’ve had dreams like that, and they are never good. If I were rational about these things, I would be calmed by the fact that The Farmer does not have a desire to drive over the edge any more than I do, and he can control the truck.

But, I do not claim to be rational in these things.

Once on my feet at the top, I could gaze out on the miles and miles of beautiful Palouse. Steptoe Butte is an elevation of 3500 feet, and you can see the undulating hills until they disappear into the horizon. It was worth the irrational trauma, I can tell you that!

We had decided to get home yet that day, and once I had seen the Palouse, I told the Farmer to take any which road he wished…and a couple of them turned out to be unpaved…But the countryside was beautiful, and the farms along them, amazing. I did not complain…well, at least not until I needed a rest area stop, and there were none.

Fortunately, not long after that we came to Washtucna and were able to stop for lunch at the only place in town, Sonny’s Tavern. We had a nice visit with the owners while they cooked their chicken special, as we were the only customers in the place. Nice people, who had tried to retire, but got the tavern back after the gal who bought it foreclosed -- but not until running it into the ground. Bless their hearts they starting over at this late stage of life, and hoping to get to retire, for real, again soon. Now that they’re making their special chicken again, the locals are flocking back and the chances are better. That chicken is yummy!

We rolled into Lynden in time to have a late dinner at Bob’s, and then returned home to Daisie, who was also happy to be home again as well.

The days away were a lovely little break, with beautiful weather, and scenery…And my compliments to The Farmer who was quite solicitous of my lower-than-his tolerance for sitting in the car. He was quite careful to break up the road time with rest stops and entertainment stops, and I thought it was perfect!

Which is different than what I’ve thought some other times…

This trip made me quite hopeful that our varied interests can intersect and we can both enjoy a road trip once in a while.

Compromise…we should try that more often!
It certainly worked well for us on this vacation.


Sam Crawford said...

Great travelogue! Did you by any chance get to try the locally-smoked bacon at the comp. breakfast at the Marcus Whitman? Their bacon is AWESOME.

Robyn Burke said...

Oh Leslie, you had me giggling just as much as I was ahhh-ing and oooh-ing over the places you went. I just love exploring our home state- so many treasures right here in WA. And funny that you were in Colfax-- my niece and her family live there!
Anyway, what a fun trip you had, thanks for sharing!

Tami said...

Your trip sounds as though it was wonderful, so happy for you.
Sam is right about the bacon. Their breakfast sausage at Marcus Whitman is no slouch either. It is made especially for the hotel. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
My apologies as I forgot to mention breakfast to you prior to your trip. It's a great excuse for a return trip!

About Me

Needing an outlet for various thoughts rattling in my head, I've created two blogs -- One about my real life (leslieisverbose.blogspot.com) and one where I can vent. (leslievents.blogspot.com)