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To Glacier, Via Walla Walla, Coeur d'Alene, Kalispell

Sept 5-7, 2015
Written September 8+

Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,

I was running way behind on diaries when I learned that the next three days in Glacier National Park will be without internet or cell phones.  Horrors!   I quickly threw up pictures and short captions from the trip.

September 5, Drive from Portland to Walla Walla. 
We left Portland early, before breakfast even.  We were heading into the Columbia Gorge and had decided to  start on the Washington State side because it gives a better view of the Oregon side!
Unfortunately, that better view is mostly blocked by trees, at least until we came to Cape Horn.  From this height, the view up and down river really was spectacular, even on a cloudy day.
Marianne was nice enough to stop and let us tour the northern (Washington) side of Bonneville Dam. I enjoy these industrial tours and we will become experts, sooner or later.  (We did NOT try to tour the dozen or so other dams we would pass on the drive.)
The fish ladder was more interesting, as we watched fish, from eel-like lamprey to large salmon, negotiate their way upriver.  The migration is hand-counted in order to set fishing limits.
After Bonneville, we crossed to the Oregon side over the Bridge of the Gods to Hood River.  We drove through town, but decided we could not stop - too much to do.

  East of Hood River, we went uphill to the viewpoint at Mitchell Point.  Nice view and the first of many panoramas on this trip.  The scenery just calls for long and horizontal shots.

Past Mitchell Point, we took a nine-mile scenic detour over the old Route 30 and made it up to Rowena Point.  The view was spectacular and the wind was enough to keep Marianne inside the car!  Down from Rowena Point, the road had twists and turns as good as any Alpine road.
Eventually, we watched the Columbia turn north as our road stayed easterly, along the Snake River.
We finally made it to Walla Walla, just in time to take advantage of one of the several dozen wine tasting rooms in the center of town.  We had never seen such a variety and selection of tasting rooms for sampling the products of the 130+ area wineries.   After the work of wine sampling, we stopped at a simple-but-good restaurant called Olive Marketplace and Cafe .  A recommendation.

September 6  Walla Walla to Coeur d'Alene. 
There are at least two routes between the towns, and we took the slower route.  We do that often.
Walla Walla was quiet when we left, as were the roads through the recently harvested wheat fields.  We were going along the route Lewis and Clark had used in the supring of 1806 coming back from the Oregon Coast.  We have been following parts of their two-and-a-half journey since leaving 
Along the way, we stopped at Indian Timothy Memorial Bridge, named in honor of a local Nez Pierce chief who led one of  the most peaceful and helpful of the tribes when Europeans first moved into the area.
A few miles further along, we stopped at Lafe and Peggy Johnson Produce, where we bought a few apples and learned about the local history from Lafe Johnson, a descendant from those original European settlers.  He and his wife had taken over a State Park visitor's center when the park was closed.  They then noted that the history on display was in fact their family history.  Lafe identified the people in the black and white pictures as parents, uncles, aunts, and grandparents.  Nice local touch.
Unfortunately, the stop did not end well.  Lafe had rigged a practical joke with a fake jumping animal and when he released the fur ball, it startled Marianne so much she stumbled backwards and landed on her bum and her head.  (Not good, and something we are still monitoring ten days later.) 

A nice couple came over to help console Marianne in a slightly-accented English.  Despite the pain, Marianne was curious enough to ask if they might speak German. Barbara and her husband were indeed Germans, from Wasserburg am Inn, Marianne's Bavarian birthplace!  It is a small world.

A few miles more and we passed through Clarkston (WA) and Lewiston (ID).  On the far side we ascended the 2000 foot Lewiston Hill to look out over the whole community.  Another panorama of course.

Our goal for the day was Coeur d'Alene, an Idaho panhandle tourist destination where my cousin Tom, his wife Kathleen, and his mom Helen live.  It has been a decade or two since we had last seen each other and we looked forward to catching up on family and other stories.

First, we went to the care home where Aunt Helen lives and found her as sharp and lively as I had remembered, despite the impact of a stroke a couple of years ago.  At 93 years old, she still wants to see and hear more from visitors.  Charming little lady.
Tom and Kathleen were vary gracious hosts, both at dinner and in their condo, right in the center of Coeur d'Alene.  We chatted for a couple of hours and I was reminded of some the the varied Trotter family stories.  We hope to hear more when we meet with family in Seattle in a couple of weeks.

September 7, Leave early.  Desination: "near Glacier National Park".
Our host and hostess fed us breakfast and saw us off on our way toward Glacier National Park.  Thanks fr everything.
As before, we took a long route toward the park. North, almost to Canada, and then southeast.
Our path was along Highways 95 and 2, following original river routes of the area.  We drove past dozens of lakes, from small to the very-large Lake Pend Orelle.  Eventually, we made it over the border into Montana and along the Kootnai River.  Unfortunately, the wild, glacier-fed, river remained mostly out of sight, since I was not interested in the quarter-mile hike into a better viewpoint.
Along the way, we drove through Libby, Montana. Back in college, 50 years ago, I had visited Libby a few times with friend Sandy Uithof.  The town seemed little changed, but I suppose my memory was not so accurate.  (I need to find out the story of the tire marks along Main Street!  It has been decades since Sandy's brother Rob was tearing up these same streets.)

By now, we had decided that we would overnight in Kalispell, 20 miles or so from the West Glacier entrance.  We chose the Kalispell Grand Hotel in downtown Kalispell for that old west feel.  A recommended establishment.

We had skipped lunch, so by now we were hungry and the hotel clerk recommended Desoto Grille at The Forge building, an historical landmark.  The barbecue was tasty and the atmosphere authentically western.  Another recommendation.

d150907_90_nearglacier.jpgToday (Tuesday, the 8th), we will drive into Glacier Park, over the Great Divide, and around the eastern side to the Many Glaciers Lodge.  We look forward to it for sure.

Our contact with the outside world will suffer, however.  Reports are that there is neither cell nor wi-fi coverage in the park or lodge.  That will be a change from our ever-connected travel style, but we will keep track in any event and fill in the details as we reconnect with the world.

John and Marianne


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