I’m sorry if this blog is getting a little tedious and repetitive. It seems each post revolves around me gushing about how wonderful the people in my life are. I do sincerely apologize. I will try to meet worse people in the future.
July 12 (my birthday)
It felt bad to leave Vancouver. It felt good to be in motion once again. It also felt good to have a functioning cell phone.
The goal for the day was to get to Trout Lake, WA where I have an Aunt and Uncle. By this point, dear reader, you probably think that I could write my own version of the song called “I Have Family Everywhere, Man.” (This gives me a good idea for my next trip.)
I crossed the border back into the US. I had a new tire waiting for me at a shipping center there. The only question was how to add it to Annie’s load. This works I guess:
There was a part of me that wanted to stop into Seattle. I’m sure there are some neat things there. But after getting a small taste of the I-5 parking lot, I decided to bypass it. I had spent nearly two weeks in a big city, so I was eager for some countryside.
I had not done any sort of geological or climatalogical research of the state of Washington, so I was really surprised at what I found on the east side of the Cascade Mountains.
Washington is known as “The Evergreen State” and while its true that a lot of the countryside looks like this:
There’s an awful lot of it that looks like this too:
All of a sudden I was in the desert. Needless to say, I was a bit confused. Did I take a wrong turn and end up in Arizona? Shortly after this I passed by Ellensburg, the next spot in my song. I had not done any research about what to see there yet so I decided to visit there on a day trip from my Aunt and Uncle’s instead. It felt weird to drive by a place in my song without stopping!
Suddenly, my nose sent a message to my sub-conscious: “Corn!” I did not know that I knew what a cornfield smelled like, but around the next bend were those distinct waving leaves. The field was about shoulder-high. I realized that I had not seen a cornfield in about a month. This is a strange experience for a Nebraskan. All the crops in this area require irrigation and many had systems from Nebraska-based Valley Irrigation.
In conferring with my Uncle on the route to take, he had strongly recommended my chosen course. Some of this was due to the exciting Klickitat canyon road. It was a great ride.
I arrived at my destination around 8:30. I was greeted warmly by both of my hosts before I even had a chance to deploy my kickstand. In lieu of a bottle of wine, I presented Doug with my partially used blow-torch that I purchased for my bearing job. I couldn’t budget the space to keep carrying it along. (I think I might try to make this a tradition.)
Supper had scarcely concluded before I was presented with a birthday cake. I never really make much of my birthday, but it felt good to be remembered. I was greeted so very warmly.
Trout Lake is a neat little community. It sits right at the base of Mt. Adams (which is basically in their backyard). Doug and Janet moved here about 15 years ago after they “retired.” They are both gifted musicians, which gave us plenty to talk about. Doug was a choral director and literally wrote the book on vocal jazz. Janet is an exceptional pianist and teacher. She still gives lessons and shares her talent at their church. I put retired in quotes above, because they still both seem so busy. They are very active in the community.
Doug is involved as a “trail angel” for those hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, which passes near Trout Lake. He helps with rides and other random requests from those on the long journey from Mexico to Canada. We began our morning with hiking a section of it.
(Note: That is a walking stick, NOT a cane) 🙂
Doug showed me numerous places where ash from the Mount St. Helens eruption still lingers. Crazy to think about, considering the eruption was 37 years ago.
We then went up to Eckert Point, which is a high elevation overlook. From this vantage point, Mt. Adams sits right in your lap. The other 3 major peaks of the Cascades are visible as well: Mt. Rainier to the north, Mt. St. Helens to the west and Mt. Hood to the south (in Oregon). It was a beautiful view. My only regret was not having Annie there for the perfect picture.
Back at their house I sat at their piano and stumbled clumsily through a couple of Bach preludes. Janet was her ever-encouraging self. Though Annie’s trunk is capacious, I did not have enough room for a keyboard. 🙂
That night there was a community dinner at the Trout Lake school. Doug was the MC, so he invited me up to share what I was doing. His recording of the song didn’t play so I offered to sing a verse (wasn’t super clean in the La Paloma-Bangor transition, but not a bad performance). I got to meet a lot of neat people and felt like an honored guest.
A nice laid back day. I did some planning of my Washington song stops and did quite a bit of writing. Janet wanted to make sure I had a chance to see the Columbia River Gorge while I was there. They needed to go to the area anyway to do some banking and shopping, so we took a picnic and made a (partial) day of it.
The river is a really impressive sight. I enjoyed learning more about it (I’ll probably talk more about this in a later post.)
Doug and I took one other interesting side trip: Visiting an ice cave in the area. It got really cold really quick!
As has been the case with other family that I have visited, the enjoyment went way beyond just the things that we did. It was so nice to just sit around the table and talk. I learned so much more about their lives and heard stories I had never heard before. In addition, I was being well fed, I had a big soft bed and (most importantly) Annie had a comfortable garage stall. It really was a cascade of goodness.