I just returned from a short hop over to central Washington. That’s a new area for me to explore. As a result, we spent a few days doing just that.
Sister needed to spend a couple of days with her eldest, which left me with plenty of time to peruse the local color. I have to admit, there was little color to investigate in the traditional sense of the word.
Our 1960’s hold-over motel left little to the imagination and had only its nightly prices to recommend it. Still, people standing out in pouring down rain have small chance of being picky. I figure dry accommodations have their own rewards. Microwave and fridge did a bit to reconcile impressions. Cable TV helped, too, and a new air conditioner didn’t hurt.
We won’t go into the bathing facilities, however. Least said, best mended.
Local friendliness put us at ease. The only decent restaurant in this little town sat beside the best motel, which we hadn’t discovered earlier in the afternoon. I happen to like family restaurants that serve hearty, tasty meals without fanfare and attitude. Unless, of course, the patron wants to pay for attitude. We don’t.
Rain continued throughout our stay. Tent. Oh, yeah, we had intended to use the tent. Between saturated ground that wouldn’t hold a tent peg to unrelenting rain, hopes of going to a campground without an RV attached to us was a dismal proposition.
So cheap motel became our home away from home for our stay. After all, we had planned on camping.
Once we decided to call it quits and head for home, the skies cleared and sunshine prevailed. I know. That’s our luck, right?
Still we had plenty of time to get back home. We really wanted to camp on our way back. We took a most direct, though far more scenic highway on the return trip.
One piece of advice. If you ever decide to stop in Walla Walla for a meal, beware who you ask for directions to a restaurant. We were starved since we hadn’t had breakfast. We never did find a restaurant serving that meal, even with directions. Pretty town, though. I recommend the old historic district for its attractiveness.
Back on Highway 12 we made our way east looking for something to eat. We passed thousands of acres of grain fields being harvested and shipped to the local granaries in tiny towns dotting the edges of the highway’s asphalt. It’s amazing what you can see when you take some of these smaller roads. We had a blast discovering all the architecture types, veggie stands, etc.
Sometime around noon, we had to stop wherever we could find a place. We came into Orofino, Idaho. One the north side of the river we found the Ponderosa, which was an historic restaurant with great food in ample portions and friendly people. Seems all the locals go there after church for lunch.
We left those wonderful people and moved back onto the highway and our return journey. We’d entered the mountainous portion of the drive. With the river flowing nicely on one side of the road or the other and opposing mountainsides, the road wound its way through a hundred miles of the Rockies.
*NOTE: Please remember to fuel up at Orofino before heading toward the Montana line.
In many ways we were pushing the clock heading east. The forecast was for heavy rain and snow in the passes. Lolo pass is one of the worst around in the snow. By the time we hit the summit, the rain had begun and we had 36 more miles to go before hitting the small town of Lolo, MT on the down slope and a fuel stop.
We managed to get down from the summit without hitting anything other than rain which was a blessing. Once we got to Missoula we headed for Outback Steakhouse for a well-deserved dinner and rest from the road.
Getting home before midnight became out goal. We made it with a bit to spare, though rain followed us the entire way.
HOME! We could sleep in our own dry beds and be out of the cold. We’d had nice warm weather right up to the point of arriving in Montana. That’s when the thermometer showed numbers we hadn’t seen in a long while.
But now we’re back and clearing all the work that piled up during our absence. Our friends missed us. So many little things to clear up. It’s good to be back, but being on the road is a simple life.
I think we might just have to make a long trip next spring.
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