If you haven’t already, you might want to read Part 1 and Part 2 before reading this. This post focuses on our time in Washington State and the journey home. At this point it feels like so long ago, it’s nice that I have my travel journal to help fill in the blanks in my memory. It might be a bit long, but I knew I didn’t want a Part 4!
The track and field championships were over (at least for us) and it was time to head north. Our plan was to drive I-5 through Oregon and Washington, with a few stops along the way.
Our departure time was set to get us to Salem around lunchtime because Tim found out they have an In N Out Burger there. Nearby was a Michael’s shop which came in handy as he had forgotten to put a pair of scissors in my knitting bag and would need some. Just what he wanted: more scissors. Oh good.
As we drove through Portland, we were surprised to see so many homeless shelters along the interstate. It was a sad sight. But we could see the west side of Mt Hood from here. If you remember, we saw the east side as we were driving on I-84 along the Columbia River on the way out.
About an hour into Washington, we took the Castle Rock exit towards the Mt St Helens visitor center. This was only five miles up the road, while getting to Mt St Helens would add at least two hours to our journey. We were able to see it in the distance and learn about its history in the visitor center. I remember when it broke out in 1980.
Several times during the trip, we saw trucks carrying logs. Not something you see in Iowa!
We continued on I-5 until we reached Olympia, where we exited on Highway 101. It was a beautiful drive, but there were too many trees to take any decent pictures. We saw Mt Ranier a couple of times. We finally made it to our destination in Washington in time for dinner.
My cousin and his wife live in Sequim, a nice little town along the Dungeness River and at the foot of the Olympic Mountains. He had been there once before, ten years ago, but this was Tim’s first time in Washington. Although he wanted to visit Seattle, I think he enjoyed our quiet time in this part of Washington. Rick and Paulette were the best hosts, they gave us fabulous meals and took us everywhere. It was much colder up here so we had to wear jackets and sweatshirts.
On our first day there, we went to Hurricane Ridge for great views of the Olympic Mountains. We also went north to Dungeness Spit. It stretches almost seven miles north into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and continues to grow by about 13 feet each year. It is the longest natural sand spit in the United States. There is a lighthouse at the end, which can be reached by walking across the spit. We didn’t do that, but we went down into the water.
The second day, we went to a farmer’s market in Sequim and then to the John Wayne Marina for lunch at the Dockside Grill. I swear, I had the best crab sandwich I’ve ever had! We also splurged on dessert. It was a great lunch!!
Back in Sequim, we visited a quilt shop and I had to buy fabric. I bought the fabric to make this toddler apron, as well as some Christmas fabric, which was 25% off.
On our last day, we went to the Crescent Lake Lodge for lunch. It was a fun atmosphere and we were lucky to get in. We hiked the trails and made our way to Marymere Falls. It was quite a walk uphill, but it was actually harder going down!
On the way back to his house, we stopped at a lavender farm. There are a LOT of these farms in this area and it was the best time for lavender. When we got back home, Paulette dug up and potted up some lavender that had sprouted from her existing plants. We brought home four small pots and plan to plant them in our garden next spring. Supposedly lavender can grow in Iowa, but I wonder if it needs to be a certain type? I guess we’ll see!!
To the east
We started early so we could catch the 9:40 ferry to Seattle. After parking our car, we got some snacks and then found seats near the front. Tim spent most of his time on the outside terrace. The ride was fast and scenic with many views of Mount Ranier.
Once in Seattle, it was easy to get to I-90 for our tour of Washington. Temperatures started to rise as we headed east, much like what we experienced in Oregon.
One thing we noticed throughout the trip was the trains, long trains. We don’t see so many trains at home anymore and I wonder if we saw as many on this trip because all types of transport have to take the same route due to the mountains. So the roads, trains and rivers are very close together.
Our stop for the night was Spokane. Although we chose a hotel located right off the interstate, I don’t think it was the best part of town. Just like in Eugene, we had to fight one way streets to get anywhere. After dinner, we drove through the city and found Gonzaga University. Since we are huge basketball fans, we knew we wanted to visit.
The next day we quickly made it to Idaho, taking about an hour by car. But the views were gorgeous! Lots of mountains and Lake Coeur d’Alene. Montana didn’t let us down either.
I wish I had done a better job noting all the mountain ranges and national forests we passed through. He had no idea there were so many. We also follow several rivers. Everything is so beautiful.
This is the part of the trip where we found Greycliff Mill, which I talked about in detail in the Hooked on History post.
We spent two nights in Hardin, Montana so we could visit the Little Big Horn Battlefield, also known as Custer’s Last Stand. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I’m so glad I went. Tim has read several books about this battle, so he was especially interested in making this stop. He was in the middle of nowhere and partly on the Crow Tribe Indian Reservation. The ranger, who was a member of the Crow Tribe, spoke to the crowd before we explored the area on our own.
Almost at home
At this point, we were on day 14 of our trip. On the way to the Black Hills, we visited Devil’s Tower but did not go into the park. We didn’t want to take the time and spend the money. (Eventually we hope to get senior passes to enter the national parks).
We stopped and took a few photos and then had lunch at the store just outside the park. We then headed to Custer, South Dakota for our last night on the trail. We had just been to the Black Hills three years ago, so we didn’t feel the need to review things again.
We killed some time on our last day so we could have lunch at the Black Hills Burger and Bun. Have you noticed a pattern here? It seems that we program things to eat! As a result, Custer started a bit late.
We stopped at Wall Drug on the way home but could have easily skipped it. It was a long day of driving and not too exciting. Until today, we had avoided driving at night, but we didn’t get home until midnight.
things we learned
Many things are important when you are away for two weeks. I didn’t think of a couple of things until it was almost time to leave, but I’m glad I did.
I decided that we should have a large laundry bag, so as not to dirty our suitcases with dirty clothes. This was a great decision and I know the bag will come in handy for future trips.
It was also important to have a clear stadium bag at the track meet. I found one at Dick’s Sporting Goods and it was a lifesaver for us. It will also come in handy in the future as many events require clear bags now.
I used my phone a lot on the trip, although we used the car’s navigation system for directions. This meant data surpluses. I’m not sure how to avoid that. I am not going to change our plan to cover these types of trips. I guess we just have to factor that into our travel budget!
We also had outdoor plants that were not watered. We tested these spikes that fit on water bottles and are supposed to gradually drip water for up to 15 days. But they didn’t work very well. Surprisingly, all of our plants survived even if they looked a bit gaunt. Next year I think we’ll try something my cousin does where you hook up a line to your hose that uses a timer to periodically water your pots.
Yes, we have plans for a similar trip next year, but heading east instead of west. Tim is currently planning it!
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