How do you eat an elephant? Right. One bite at a time. So, how do you drive a complete lap around America? One mile at a time. It felt a bit odd this morning, as we left Orting, then Enumclaw. Those little towns have been our home for a long time, and when we return, we’ll be living at the ocean. So, today was the beginning of our trip and the end of this last chapter.
First, here is the official beginning mileage for the trip:
When we get home, we’ll take another picture and see who the winner of the “Guess the Miles” challenge is, and who gets a signed copy of the book “A Lap Around America,” as soon as it is published. If you haven’t entered your guess yet, go to this post.
Our first day went pretty perfectly. For one, I was in a car with Dawn for the entire day, which makes me happy. That may work better for me than it does for her, since she might eventually get tired of my pop culture trivia questions along about California, if not sooner.
We stopped and had a picnic lunch here:
Yep, life is tough. A piece of french bread, some cheese, and a little trail mix tastes much better when surrounded by scenery like this. This is a little lake just off Highway 410 as it passes by Mt. Rainier.
As soon as we started to descend down into Eastern Washington, I was reminded how markedly our state is divided by the Cascade Mountain range. On the west, your biggest businesses are Boeing and Microsoft. On the east, it’s apples, wheat, hops, and beef. The west is exceptionally liberal in its politics, while the east is very much conservative. It would be easy to make a case for dividing Washington in two, and I’m pretty sure the eastern half of the state would be good with that. They have more square miles, but the population is in the west, so Washington is always a blue state, which is probably frustrating to the red eastern half.
The geography is also markedly different. The west is all green, all the time, where the east is one brown, rolling hill after another.
We took two little side trips off our main path today, one of which was pretty cool. We decided to make about a 50 mile detour to see the Gingko Petrified Forest state park. I’m not going to speak ill of a state park, and I’m sure if you’re into petrified wood it was heaven. I was just petrified that we drove an hour out of our way to see it. It does sit on the banks of the Columbia, though, so the scenery was very pretty.
Pretty, yes, but like most of the eastern half of the state, very brown.
Much better was Palouse Falls State Park. We had to drive a twisty, winding little road a few miles after we left the main highway, but it was absolutely worth the trip. The landscape was so flat as we approached that we couldn’t imaging there would actually be a waterfall ahead, but when we came to the end of the road, there it was:
A 200 foot waterfall, right in the middle of the Eastern Washington desert. It was pretty warm, so if it hadn’t been about a three hundred foot drop from where we were, I might have attempted a cliff dive.
Right after Palouse Falls, we drove to a tiny town of absolutely no importance to anyone unless you happen to live there: Starbuck, Washington. It was only important to me, because I had lived there briefly in the late sixties and wanted to see if I could recognize anything there. And… I couldn’t!
I also lived in Dayton, Washington in that same time period, and Dayton is remarkably unchanged. I had told Dawn all I could remember about the town, and as soon as we hit the city limits, I recognized landmarks. I absolutely loved living in Dayton, and I’m looking forward to driving around the town a bit before we depart for Oregon in the morning.
Here are our stats for the day:
Miles driven: 328. (One bite of the elephant.)
Pop culture observations: How much the lead singer for Level 42 sounds like Joe Jackson. If you’re not familiar with either of both of those singers, I wouldn’t worry about it. Also, I noted that our satellite radio station thought I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor came out in 1979, but I was sure it was released in 1978. Mama Google proved me correct – it was released in 1978. Dawn wanted to go on the record that she didn’t care either way. As you can see, I’m a real pleasure to travel with!
Thanks for following along on our journey. Day Two tomorrow will include a few interesting and unusual spots that I am looking forward to sharing with you. Cheers!