Road Trip Day 9: From Idaho through Washington

La Quinta InnThe La Quinta Inn in Coeur d’Alene was quite decent overall. Pluses: soft, comfy beds; excellent breakfast bar selection; good customer service; easy-to-find location off the highway; clean. Minuses: slow internet connection; hot tub not hot; shower curtain was hung in a weird way so that it didn’t close all the way. Really not much to complain about.

We were up by 7:45 am; made it to the breakfast bar around 8:45 am (and thankfully it didn’t close promptly at 9 am, the advertised time); and were on the road around 9:30 am.

We crossed into Washington State and fairly shortly got off the highway in Spokane Valley to do a bit of shopping. When we got back on the highway, Dave commented on how much traffic there was. We shortly found out why: there were several State Patrol cars driving around enforcing the 60 mph limit. Yikes! I then remembered from previous experiences that the speed limits in Washington State are diligently enforced.

The tally of State Patrol cars we saw today: 11. And most of them had someone pulled over.

Washington State is a fascinating place to drive through. At Washington’s eastern edge on I-90, you drive through typical suburbia in going through Spokane. Outside the city are forested gentle hills for a bit, which then give way to miles and miles of wide open spaces. In some places it is almost desert-like. Most of it is pure farmland – cattle grazing land and lots of wheat and other grains.

Crossing the Columbia RiverWe drove for a long time, carefully driving no more than 5 mph over the speed limit, with no incident. Around quarter to 1 we stopped at a “scenic overlook”, not really knowing what we would see. It was a good stop -an excellent view of the Columbia River Gorge. We will see the Columbia again when we cross from Washington into the Portland area.

Carol's - Yum!About half an hour later we stopped for lunch. It was a place called Kittitas, and if there was a town there, we didn’t see it. There was just a gas station and this place called Carol’s. We just barely saw the billboard for it 1/2 mile before the exit, which said “eat in – take out – drive thru”. We didn’t know what to expect, but we figured it would work. Well, it was quite delicious. It was basically a diner but the service was quick enough to beat Wendy’s for brevity-of-stay. I had probably the best biscuits and gravy I’ve ever had. Dave had a BLT that was good, and they served us Pepsi. I love the ubiquity of Pepsi (as opposed to Coke) here in the Northwest.

Cascade MountainsBack on the road, we drove through a bit more farmland, then crossed through some hills, drove through another valley, then finally got to the mountains. We also drove through some road construction, but it didn’t slow us down much. Two of the highway construction projects had stimulus project logos; and all of the Washington road construction signs say “Washington Jobs Now”.

We stopped at an outlet mall in North Bend to do some shopping around 3 pm. When we got back on the highway, we were only on I-90 for a bit longer before we turned off on to Rte 18 to start heading south.

It was at this point that I remembered that the Seattle area has some of the worst traffic in the country (though not #3 as I had thought), and here we were, traveling just as rush hour was starting. It took us an hour and a half to go 47 miles.

Finally we arrived at Puyallup at 4:30 pm and were greeted cheerfully by our soon-to-turn-4 niece Madison and her mom Kim. We hung out and played in the backyard with Madison. We went out to dinner at The Ram Restaurant and Brewery, a small chain that recently opened a location near Kim’s house. Then home to read Madison some bedtime stories and call it a night!

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