– Hope, British Columbia to Caldwell, Idaho –

Today was the first of our three big driving days. The weather was hot, and the trip was long. We are really racking up the miles now. At least the scenery was nice in places.

When we started out in Hope, the weather was cool, but not cold. It was the coolest weather we saw all the day. I know that later in the day, their temperatures were expected to skyrocket. I guess it must’ve been the heat wave we’ve been hearing so much about.

We woke up at 5am and hurried out of our hotel. It was 6:15am when we left. Our goal for tomorrow is to leave even earlier. Ideally by 6am. I think the day after, we may have to get up at 4am. I am not looking forward to it. At least I am never expected to drive (since I’m not insured on the rental agreement like Mark and Dad), so I can take a nap any old time I please. Still, it cuts into our reading time, and it makes my listeners sad.

We stopped for our final visit to Tim Hortons on our way out of Hope. Mark practically begged me to hug the sign for him so he could get a picture, but I was stubborn and wouldn’t do it. I was afraid it would be a little undignified. I like Tim Hortons, but hugging the sign won’t get me anything. Going into the restaurant got me a donut.

Goodbye Tim Hortons
Goodbye Tim Hortons

Forgive me if my description of today is a bit less exciting than some of our previous days. We couldn’t make as many stops if we wanted to make it to our hotel tonight at a reasonable time.

We had some confusion when we were trying to get to our border crossing. We were heading to one that is open 24 hours, but without our iPhones to guide us, we took the wrong road and ended up going through a different crossing that didn’t open until 8am. Luckily we only had to wait about 15 minutes, but it was still a bit inconvenient. If only we’d remembered to map it before we left the hotel.

Across the border, Washington smelled like cows. In fact, we smelled a lot of cow smells today. It smelled very much like back home. I can’t say I missed it, though. We saw a lot of fruit stands today, too, but we still didn’t stop, despite being across the border. We just didn’t have the time or the inclination.

Mt. Rainier in the distance
Mt. Rainier in the distance

Seattle was supposed to have it’s hottest day of the year so far today, and July has been their hottest month of the year, according to the news we heard last night. It was pretty warm, and Mt. Rainier was completely visible as we drove through Seattle and crossed Washington just the the north of the mountain. We captured a few pictures, but they weren’t great since we were far away.

The area we drove through looks pretty dry. The lakes are down and the grass is withered. The temperature was rarely under 100 F all day. It made for clear, beautiful views, but it was really hot. Outside Seattle, the landscape changed to desert-like hills which were filled with grapes and hops, all watered by irrigation ditches that connected the local rivers.

It's so very dry in Washington here
It’s so very dry in Washington here

We finished our book today and picked another to read: The Testament by John Grisham. We’ll see if everyone likes it. It isn’t as action-packed as our previous reads. I guess if my listeners look bored we can just switch to something else.

We stopped in Yakima, Washington for lunch and gasoline. We had Jimmy John’s, which worked out great for Mark and me. Mom’s sandwiches had ingredients she hadn’t asked for, so she was a little disappointed. Yakima is a cute little town, but it was blisteringly hot, We couldn’t even get the dogs out because the grass was dead and the pavement was sizzling. After we got gas, we changed drivers and Mark and I got in the back.

Sculpture at Jimmy John's
Sculpture at Jimmy John’s

After lunch, the landscape flattened out into scrub-steppe (which I learned the name for from a ¬†sign) and the temperature rose several degrees. Mark popped Ripley up from her seat in the back to sit in our laps again for a little while. She really likes it, but I’m convinced it isn’t safe. It’s also really difficult to keep her from getting nose prints on the windows.

Definition: Scrub-Steppe
Definition: Scrub-Steppe

As we crossed the Columbia River near Umatilla, we headed over to McNary Dam for some photo opportunities and a nice place to get the dogs out. Around the river and lake there, the grass was green. The dam had a visitor center, which we happily visited. They even had salmon ladders, which we’d been wanting to see.

The visitor center has a metal bridge that you can take the stairs up to look out over the dam and the salmon ladders. I had to cart Ripley from the car over to the grass to protect her little feet from the pavement. The stairs were in shade, so we didn’t have a problem there, and at the top we stood under the part with an awning while we looked at the salmon ladder. Unfortunately Mark and I didn’t see any salmon.

Part of the Salmon Bridge
Part of the Salmon Bridge

Meanwhile, my parents went into the visitor center and looked around. They got to see a few salmon traversing the ladder on a live feed from one of the crossing chambers. It wasn’t too many though, so either this isn’t the busy season or they were difficult to spot or something.

We drove over to the Spillway Park to take some distance photographs of the dam. It’s a big one, and even has some locks so boats can pass through. The Columbia River is huge as well. The whole thing is quite impressive and appears to be heavily staffed, from what I could tell.

After our little adventure, we escaped back to the air conditioner in our Suburban, which cools off really quickly. I’m really going to miss that thing when we turn it in. We read for a bit after that, and then I took a nap. We didn’t stop again until Baker City, Oregon, where we pulled off into a Dairy Queen for “dinner.”

Ice cream melting in the heat
Ice cream melting in the heat

Everyone basically had ice cream for dinner. I guess mine wasn’t big enough, because I’m a little hungry now, but I can wait for breakfast. I figure if nobody else is hungry I must be crazy or something. Maybe they are hungry too and just don’t want to admit it.

We ate our ice cream at a little picnic table behind the ancient Dairy Queen while the dogs sniffed around on the grass. It is cooler in the shade; cooler than you’d expect for how hot it was. I guess the sun is the real problem.

We didn’t do much of anything between Baker City and our final destination for the night in Caldwell, Idaho. The time changed, so we’re an hour later than we’d like. It really stinks to lose hours as you come back home. It seems like that is all Mark and I ever do, we travel to the west so much.

Finally stopped for the night in Caldwell
Finally stopped for the night in Caldwell

Our La Quinta in Caldwell is fine. We saw a cat on a leash being lead into it while we unpacked, which was interesting. Ripley was a good girl and didn’t even bark. Breakfast here doesn’t start until ¬†7am, and we’ll be gone by then for sure. I’m not sure what we’re going to have.

Tomorrow we drive to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Another long day, and the last before we make it back into Texas. If you’re missing us, we’re almost back!

– Trip Total : 8,879 miles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *