Day 26: Seattle to Idaho
Vashon Island, Washington—Lowell, Idaho
Everyone goes to work at 9 A.M. in this house so it's a crazy time in the bathroom in the mornings. Sharon, Seth, and Andy went to Bob's Bakery at 7 A.M. while I slept. I woke up at 9:30 and Andy and I decided to do our laundry here, since they offered. While waiting we wrote postcards and we did a little planning as to where we were going to sleep tonight. Some of the people who live here work at this place that's only a stone's throw away. They trickle in for a short break now and then. As soon as the laundry finished we were on our way off the island. Before leaving though, I thought it would be nice to thank them and thought it would be funny to use the magnetic letters (the ones that kids play with) on the fan cover above the stove to do so. We stopped at the post office and then caught the ferry from the north side of the island. This ferry dropped us just south of Seattle. We were so close that we figured we would go into the city.
We took WA 99 into the city and got off at the Seneca Street exit, it looked like it would take us downtown. It was about three in the afternoon by now and our plans to get halfway to Yellowstone were not looking good unless we drove into the night. The car needed an oil change so we looked in the phone book for the nearest Jiffy Lube to get the car serviced. We had to call them for directions since all the maps of the area were ripped out of the phone books and we didn't know where anything was.
We left Seattle on I-90 east, we were now officially on our way home and would be heading east from now on - I guess it had to happen sometime. We got off the highway a few exits outside of Seattle and went to a McDonalds to ask them what town we were in. They didn't know (unbelievable) so I had to guess from the maps in their phone book (this one had maps).
We decided to go to the Jiffy Lube in Bellevue and called them for directions. Talked to this girl working the register while we were waiting for the car to be done. I think she was an American Indian, she had that type of complexion and facial features. She was very interested in the Pine Ridge Indians and the incident at Oglala. I had heard of the Incident at Oglala because it is a movie I've always seen in the movie store and thought about renting. Never did though. It's about a shootout that took place in 1975 between the FBI and members of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Leonard Peltier was convicted of the murder of two FBI agents in a case that many believe was unfair and corrupt. The federal government approached the Indian activists of the 1960s and 1970s with that Hoover style of law enforcement, a similar case a couple years back was dismissed because of misconduct by the prosecution. Peltier still remains in jail and the incident has become a rallying point for Indian activists.
We left Bellevue after trying unsuccessfully to find a post office. Got back on I-90 east around 4:30 P.M. and headed into the Cascade Range. The highway took us through the Snoqualmie National Forest again, not too far from Mt. Rainier. On the top of one of these mountains was a large statue but it was so far away we couldn't make out what it was. After we passed through the Cascades, we were now back in the dry, hilly climate. We continued on I-90 until the Columbia River, where we got off and got on WA 26 east. Out here a field of green sage looked completely out of place. It's too dry for farming so irrigation is necessary to grow anything. Towns are 50 miles apart and the scenery is beautiful. The sun was on its way down which really accentuated the rolling, brown hills.
We stopped in Washtucna after traveling on a straight road for miles and miles. We would come to the top of a hill and hope that the road would vary a bit in its direction or there would be a store or something but there wasn't. For the longest time it was just straight road for as far as the horizon would let you see. But in Washtucna there was civilization, people walking the streets, living in this small town in the middle of nowhere. Here we turned south on WA 260 and then in a bit, picked up WA 261 east. This road was curvy and took us through country that looked similar to what we had seen in Utah. We passed the Snake River on its way to the Columbia. Now it was beginning to get dark and we couldn't enjoy the marvelous sights anymore. The only town on this 30 mile road is Starbuck. Not much to it really, but an interesting name.
At US 12 we continued east, this road was a bit more populated. The towns on this road were older looking with old style buildings. At Clarkston, WA we were against the Snake River again and crossing the Idaho border into Lewiston, ID, a small city on the banks of the Snake. We soon were in the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. This area was filled with history. The road followed the Clearwater River closely and the hills were becoming mountains once again. This area is the site of several Indian battles. Lewis and Clark came through here in 1805 making contact with the Nez Perce people and the Nez Perce lived peacefully with the white man for nearly 50 years. But with the gold rush in Idaho and more and more whites coming out to settle, their land was disappearing. By 1877, the tribe decided to take action. This was the year they were forced to flee their valley on the Clearwater River and engaged in battles with whites. It would have been nice if we could have stopped to see the two parts of the Nez Perce National Historical Park but it was late. We passed through Orofino, Kamiah, and Syringa, ID and stopped at a convenience store to get gas and food. There was this kid in there who had this little, tiny dog (the kind of dog you see with ribbons tied in the tuft of hair on top of its tiny head) with bright red nail polish on its claws. It was different.
We pulled into a campground in the Nez Perce National Forest outside of Lowell, ID to spend the night. By the time we got in, it was about 11 P.M. and we were now in the mountains. It was dark out and we didn't see the transition between the dry Eastern Washington and the mountainous Northern Idaho. The Lochsa River was nearby our camp site, I could hear the water. It was interesting setting up the tent in the dark, I wonder what we'll wake up to tomorrow?