We spent a layover on a houseboat on Hayden Island in the Columbia River. These look like houses but move with water levels, some say as much as 15′. The morning was spent shopping and 4 prized hats set the mood. Most of our day was spent on the deck watching boats go by with a beer in hand. The final conclusion was that the bigger the boat, the better looking the women on it. I’m not sure if that holds true for sea kayaks.
Brutal day. No place to hide from heat or traffic
Were still traveling along the Columbia River on the Washington Side, tracing a submerged culture.
Hard, hot day.
Were on the home stretch. We made it into Oregon and had our first view of the Columbia River today.
We joined Barry and Scott in Walla Walla at Barry’s cousin Gayle’s house. This is clearly a home of 2 master landscapers who have created a work of art in their backyard. No, that is not a statue. It is Chuck & Gail’s dog. This is a very artsy town with a sense of humor. Our timing was such that we were able to have dinner at the annual Rotary Indian Salmon Bake. Even in this blistering heat they diligently filleted the salmon, removed their backbones and placed them in the same structures that the local Indian tribes used to cook their fish. They then cooked them slowly over an alder wood fire and served them to hungry locals. The proceeds go towards local education. Tucker and Polaris got both fish skin and ice cream treats today.
We are ahead of schedule so we have become very flexible with our plans.
Bill, June, Don & Audrey took a jet boat up the Snake River from Lewiston, OR. Two major contributors to the flow of the Snake River are the Clearwater and the Salmon Rivers from Idaho. The Snake River is a key element of the massive Columbia River Watershed, with the Columbia River itself is being the largest river that empties into the Pacific Ocean. This entire watershed is heavily dammed for hydropower, irrigation, flood control and enhanced navigation. The jet boat put-in is essentially a lake that formed above the Lower Granite Dam, one of 15 on the Salmon River alone. The trip took them 100 miles up the river through Hell’s Canyon and over most of the major rapids. The whitewater section through the Hells Canyon Gorge has a gradient about 16’/mile as compared to 6’/mile downstream and has the obviously high excitement level of an amusement park ride. Private trips along this stretch of river are regulated and permits have to be granted. The jet boat passed many multi-day trips that were coming down the river and camping along its banks. We were lucky today since it was overcast and the temperature barely hit 100F. The driver deliberately turned the boat into the waves to drench Bill and Don. Their smugness of keeping their beers in their hands was quickly diminished when they realized the beer cooler went overboard. The Snake is not as remote as the other permitted trips in the area and signs of modern and ancient inhabitants abound. Native Americans lived here for thousands of years and steamboats even traveled these waters to supply the miners, ranchers and homesteaders living along its banks. Although it still known for its fishing industry, the dams have drastically reduced the legendary spawning runs of its salmon, steelhead and sturgeon. There are no fish ladders on Snake River dams while only the last few dams of the Columbia River have them. Deer and elk thrive here and a bighorn sheep reintroduction has brought the herds in the area to over 700 after they were completely eliminated by 1945. June ended the day with what was described as either a Corona-Rita or a Marga-Rona by her kids.
We entered Washington State today.
Big route change to the Pacific. We decided to follow Lewis & Clark’s route to the Pacific in order to travel along the Columbia Gorge. There are always trade-offs. This will be a shorter trip with strong headwinds but it will be very scenic and good for Barry who can visit family in Washington. Kooskia is our fork in the road.
We took a day off in order to doing laundry, catch up on electronics, running errands, eat and sleep. What made it most interesting was the trip to Missoula, MT to visit the Adventure Cycling Headquarters and to see the hand-made carousel in Caras Park. The 3-seater is for dad and two kid while the ring in the dragon’s nose is what everyone tries to grab in order to get a free ride on the carousel. We also wheedled our way into an invitation to a private party in celebration of the opening of the first Lolo Brew Pub. We all piled into the car to find our way there, only to find out it was directly across a side street a few hundred yards away. Montana is unique in that the ability to produce alcohol on site is much easier to obtain than getting a formal liquor license which is based on population and becomes available only rarely. To avoid having craft beer industry take away too much business from the taverns, there are very firm rules about how many beverages can be consumed in the “tasting rooms” that they are allowed to have (wine and hard-liquor have their own set of rules too). In a craft brewery, each person can have a maximum of 3 pints/day between the hours of 10:00-8:00. We Pennsylvania folk found these rules perplexing. While all the locals kept within their limits, we kept our eyes out for unused tickets and had a roaring good time until heading home promptly at 8pm. The fish embedded in the cement table is a bullfish and Scott even did his Laurel and Hardy imitation.