S2S Days 7 & 8: Washington!

OK, remember my little trip to the West Coast I took earlier this summer? Here's a link to remind you about S2S 2007 and I'm FINALLY going to share the rest of my trip.

After I left Portland, I had to decide between heading over to the Oregon Coast (which I heard is absolutely beautiful) or drive along the Columbia River to Columbia Hills State Park in Washington to see the petroglyphs. Decisions, decisions. I didn't decide until the morning I left and headed east along I-84. Of course, I got lost getting out of Portland, that's because I went to look for the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden and found my way back to downtown Portland. I didn't find the sculpture garden, I THINK I knew where it was, on a school ground, but couldn't find a place to park.

But once I got going in the right direction, life was good...

The drive along the river was beautiful. Not much foliage so the cliffs along the river were exposed. A train track rang alongside the highway and every so often I took the Historic Columbia River Highway (US 30) for more scenic vistas over hills and through forested areas. I stopped at parks along the way, enjoying the river, waterfalls and stretch my legs.

I hadn't printed out specific directions to Columbia Hills State Park and had a map but the map didn't show it. Once I crossed the Columbia River I knew to head east on SR 14 and hoped I'd easily spot the park. Sure enough, it was easy to find.

The reason why I wanted to visit the park is because of the petroglyphs and pictographs around Horsetheif Lake. Because people have been destroying these artifacts, the park offers walks once a day on Fridays and Saturdays for up to 25 people during the summer season. I called the park a couple of weeks in advance but the walk was already full - darn! I was told some have been moved to a public area to be viewed and that's what I saw.

Video cameras monitored the area and I couldn't get close to them - unlike the time I went to Thermopolis, Wyo. and visited some petroglyphs there (this was many moons ago, maybe four years???).

I then hit the highway for Mt. Rainier National Park. While I was fine traveling by myself, the road seemed lonely. Like most of my road trip on the open road, I hardly saw any traffic. Every so often I passed a semi-truck or a car, but not much else. I drove over mountains, through valleys, through Washington's green countryside. And like the rest of my journey, it was nice to see all the undeveloped land still out there in the great U.S. of A.

Got to Mt. Rainier and this was my splurge for the trip, a stay at the National Park Inn. No TV, no bathroom in the room and no AC, but it was pleasant. Hiked a little, sat on the porch in a rocking chair and soaked up the scent of pine as the evening winded down, looking at Mt. Rainier.

Dinner was probably the most humiliating part of my whole S2S journey.

"Just one?" The hostess asked.
"Yes, just one." My reply.
"Follow me." Hostess.

We walk into the small dining room and she plops me at a round, five-top table in the MIDDLE of the room! I looked around and there were plenty of square, four-tops available, especially those nestled against the walls with picturesque views.

"Just one? That's odd," said my waiter.
"Yes, just one. I can see you're busy tonight and glad you could fit me in," I sarcastically replied to my waiter.

Although feeling weird about my solo status, I bucked it up, ordered my margarita and had a lovely dinner. Chatted with the waiter and other staff (it was SLOW) and one of them worked in the Everglades recently. Small world.

Next morning was off to find the snow at Paradise. I felt a bit out of place, loads of buffed hikers had skis strapped on and were hiking up Rainier to ski down. I continued to play tourist, visited the round visitors center, found my snow and headed to Olympia, Wa. to see my friend Jen.

I stopped in some small town because I saw a flea market sign. I didn't buy many souvenirs on my trip but here I bought a small leaf made from concrete, called Locady Leaves. The artist, Joyce Moore, takes a leaf imprint and creates a piece of art. I love it because I can see and feel the textures of the leaf. She even wrapped it up beautifully, too.

Continued through Mossyrock on Hwy. 12 and stopped at the DeGoede Bulb Farm & Gardens. Apparently this area used to be one of the top producers of daffodils. Fields of blooming flowers grabbed my attention so I had to stop and explore. Pretty cool.

Made my way to Olympia and driving through the neighborhood, I immediately spotted Jen's house: orange with purple trim. Jen is living in the hippie house I'd love to have. Barrels collect rain water to water the yard, which has been converted to a garden: hops, hazelnut trees, strawberries and other fruits and veggies.

The garage has been converted into a pottery studio. She and friends are brewing beer and bottling wine. She recently sent me an email telling me a brewer in Seattle may be interested in selling the beer. Fingers are crossed for her! Jen and I met in 1990 during my first summer in Yellowstone. Since then, we've kept in touch and have seen each other off and on throughout the years. She's one incredible gal!
We caught up, visited the farmer's market, grabbed a cup of iced coffee and sipped it while sitting on the grass in a city park. She showed me a community garden she's started in the neighborhood and visited a hostel the next street over which belongs to a friend.

And then it was time to head home. I never actually made it to Seattle, just the airport. Just gives me reason to go back. So much I'd love to see, like the Oregon coast, more of Oregon's wine country, the eastern, rugged part of the state and a return trip to Seattle. Someday...