Friday, June 29, 2012

Olympia, Washington-Wallace, Idaho (June 28-29, 2012)

Our destination on this part of our journey will be Wallace, Idaho with an overnight stop in Ellensburg, Washington. We chose Ellensburg for we knew it would take us quite a while to get from our current location, through the Seattle-Tacoma Metro area, onto Interstate 90, up and over the steep mountains at Snoqualmie Pass and then down the mountain to the town of Ellensburg.

The day was clear and crisp and we departed the RV park after 9 AM so that we would miss most of the rush hour traffic around the large  Seattle-Tocoma Metro area. Our plan worked out for the traffic, though a bit heavy was moving well.

We bypassed the cities by taking WA SR 18 which brought us onto Interstate-90 about 20 miles west of the pass. The weather remained good and we began the steep ascent over Snoqualmie Mountain (6,278 ft /1,914 m). The highest point on this road was 3,022 ft. /921 m. with the last 7 miles climbing over 2,000 ft./607 m. Didn't have a single problem. The auxiliary radiator fan did not even kick in. Good ole truck of ours.

Once over the top the most concerning part began, the descent through the Snoqualmie pass into Ellensburg, WA. Going down a hill is always harder, for us, than going up. I had checked the brakes a few days earlier and knew they were in top shape, but there is always that nagging little thing in the back of your head wondering "what if?"

As on steep descents before, I switched the transmission to manual shift, shifted down to 4th and maintained a steady 50 MPH speed without using the brakes too much until the road leveled out.  It took about 5 minutes to get there, but we did not destroy the brakes or ourselves.  Thank Goodness it was a two lane road.

As the road started to level out we came upon a rest area and we immediately pulled in to check things out and give everyone a stretch. Although we had only traveled about 85 miles since leaving it has taken us over 3 1/2 hours to get to this point. But, the good news is we only have about 45 miles to go so we are now taking our time.

We pulled into the Ellensburg KOA around 2 PM and began to do a quick setup.  When we do an overnight like this we try not to disconnect the trailer from the truck and put out all the creature comforts as when we stay in one place for a while. This allows us to depart the next morning without too much of an effort.

The park was very nice, as most KOA's are, and it was located right on the Yakima River.  We had hoped we would find a nice spot on the river where Guinness, at least, could go in and play for a while, but the river was too high and flowing way too fast. The next best thing was we could hike a bit in the surrounding woods.

When we returned to our site we saw the entire area, including our RV, was covered with fluffy looking stuff.  Reminded me of dandelion fluff balls, but bigger and messier. I asked one of the camp attendants what it was and he told us it was from the Cottonwood trees.  Because they have had a wetter than normal spring they were blooming heavier than normal.  We had seen these before in Zion National Park in Utah, but nothing like this.  It was like a blizzard. What a mess.  Now I know why they are called Cottonwoods.

The next morning we woke early and departed quickly.  We had about 260 miles to our next and final stop in Wallace, Idaho. It looked like it was going to be an easy drive and it was. We experienced some heavy traffic around Spokane, Washington, but not bad. Once into Idaho the highway ran around a portion of the Coeur d'Alene Lake.  Very picturesque and very touristy.

Once leaving the lake area the Interstate entered the mountains again and traversed several valleys before reaching Wallace.  It was a flat, beautiful and quiet drive.  We arrived at the Wallace RV Park ready to enjoy an entire week of staying in one place with nothing to do but see the sights and enjoy the surroundings.

No comments: