Friday, September 9, 2011

Maps and Mileage

Day 12, Sept. 7, 2011

After a really good (long!) night’s sleep, Roxy and I started our day with a walk in the park along the Snake River. We saw some deer, and had a wonderful view of the state of Washington across the river, with houses perched up high on yellow hills overlooking the river and the park (and I presume, the city of Lewiston.) It was a very nice place to start the day.

Once we packed up, we stopped off at the Visitor’s Center and looked at their exhibits about the Lewish & Clark Corps of Discovery expedition. We watched a 30-minute movie which taught us a lot about the excursion, especially focusing on the trip through the Idaho Rocky Mountains, over the Lolo Pass which we’d taken yesterday. It took them months to get over the mountains, and they would have never managed without their Indian guides, Sacajewea from the Shoshoni tribe, and others later from the Nez Perce nation. It’s impossible to imagine how they made it through the snow. One thing the exhibit mentioned was that no matter how difficult the day had been or how tired they were, they wrote an entry in their journals, which were kept in a waterproof tin box. So I have no excuse not to write in MY “journal”, even though it sometimes feels like homework. I just know how much I enjoy rereading about our trips long after they are over.

We left the park at about 10:45 and immediately crossed the Snake River, heading west--which meant we drove into Washington and could officially add a sticker for the state. We followed the road about five miles along the river to the town of Asotin, a tiny little place which would not be worth mentioning except for one thing: we took the photo that starts this blog! We bought gas, then pulled off the main highway through town and poked through the back streets for about a mile, until all those zeroes came up on the odometer. How could we resist taking a photo of that? I think when we bought Mo, the odometer read something like 44,000, and I know it read 47,113 on Sept 1, 2007. It is amazing to think we have put that much mileage on.

After that we hit the road again, following it away from the river, switchbacking up the same yellow hills Roxy and I had seen on our walk. We drove through beautiful farmland (and a very small town or two).
Then we started switchbacking down again toward the Oregon border. I wish we had a dollar for every switchback we’ve taken on this trip! What I have figured out is, when you are climbing moutains via switchbacks, if you drive, fx, 100 miles, you actually have moved westward only about 50 of those miles! The rest of the time you are backtracking--no wonder it takes so long to get anyplace out here! We crossed into Oregon somewhere in the mountains, thus collecting our final sticker for the northwest corner of the United States.
The views were beautiful (and scary) until we came down near Enterprise, OR, which is on the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway Loop. Ironically, this doesn’t take you terribly near Hells Canyon. In fact, after studying the maps and talking to people for the past few days, it becomes apparent that to get to Hells Canyon is quite a feat, and basically a full day no matter which approach you take (there are only a couple of ways to get to the canyon, or even within sight of it, other than with jet boat excursions. Sadly, there were no excursions from Lewiston today, thwarting our plan for a boat ride this morning. As soon as Labor Day is over, options become limited.) After considering our options, it became obvious that we simply would not make it to the scenic overlook or road to the dam. The roads to the former are unimproved (read: unpaved) Forest Service roads, and the road to the dam requires a major detour which takes you there, but that’s the only place it DOES take you, requiring considerable back-tracking on the Idaho side.
So instead, we enjoyed our afternoon on the scenic byway loop. By the time we got to Enterprise, it was well past lunchtime. We stopped near the city park for lunch, then drove through the town. I took a photo of the historic city hall, but we were two days too early for the annual Hells Canyon Mule Days, which is this weekend.

From there we drove to the town of Joseph. The town is named for Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, who is famous for leading his people in their final years before they were forced to live on a reservation. The modern town of Joseph is a lovely little art community, with flowers and bronze statues on the corners, and funky stores and restaurants.

We stopped first at Mad Mary’s Soda Shop for ice cream and free wifi, and I uploaded yesterday’s blog. Then we walked around the town a little bit, looking in some of the shops and just enjoying the flowers and art. We picked up a few staples at the grocery store and then drove a few miles outside of town to Wallowa Lake State Park, which is where we are spending the night.

We walked down to the lake after we checked in, finding another group of deer grazing. So our day was bracketed by deer in state parks--but in two different states.
Tomorrow, we plan to head west toward the Oregon Coast.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Roxy don't pee on the flowers.

I see that Dr. Joe's new glasses are now chained around his neck.

Really enjoying following along.