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>The Road to Boise


It won’t surprise anyone who knows the Northwest that our drive began in clouds and rain. Here we are crossing out of Seattle.

The mountains are full of lakes and with all the rain and snow melt, they are all brimming right up to the ditches by the side of the road. It’s no fun to drive in the rain but we have had such great weather on this trip we decide not to complain. (That’s because John is driving.)

Then look what happened! Sun. Suddenly it’s the Wonderful World of Color.

I had my first good idea of the morning which was to take the Scenic Drive marked on the road atlas with ………… We left the highway (I-5?) and drove onto Rte 621 through Yakima Canyon. Follow me.

Stay close.

The Yakima River is right up into the trees.

I don’t think you can see the hundreds of swallows that swoop down to the water.

See the train?

No signage, no cars, one or two houses. One fly fishing camp.

I hope I never forget Yakima Canyon.

All vineyards and fields on the other side. This is southern Washington State.

We cross into Oregon, so different from the other side of the state with its big trees.

Wind breaks to protect the grape vines.

Fields are vast and irrigated. Wind turbines by the score. Makes sense to me out here.

Dreadful picture, but it’s all you’ll see of the Roll On, Columbia River, so I have to include it.

In the distance we see four structures whose roofs are covered with the same ground cover we see growing in the wild. Pink.

Big sky and we speculate again on what weather lies ahead. It’s never boring to travel this way. Moving as fast as we do, there is always something new to see, and then, what lies ahead?

The answer is Pendleton, Oregon. Really good choice for our early lunch. This is where it’s good to have the AAA Travel Guides. We gauge the miles and figure out where we’ll be around lunch and look in the guide for a place near the highway (but not ON the highway, NO) where there’s a likely restaurant and maybe a little local color. Pendleton is the home of the Round-Up, a big rodeo, and also of the Pendleton (blankets) Woolen Mill.

The bias of the AAA Guides is family/predictable. They also can be out of date, not surprisingly. We check out one venerable tourist restaurant and go instead for the Prodigal Son Brewery. Wouldn’t you?


I have a tasty burger from a local butcher Hill Meats, with Oregon’s Tillamook. John has a fancy ham sandwich from the same butcher. And I have the Prodigal Son Beer Sampler.

Maybe you can see that the sampler comes with a menu and the glasses are placed on a tray with a wheel of numbers so you can keep track of what beer, ale, porter and stout you are sampling.

I liked almost all of them. John drives, to the Cookie Tree Bakery. They made the bread at Prodigal Son.

Apparently there’s an underground of shops left from the old days, a tour now for tourists. This place is on the tour too.

I am planning my next trip to Pendleton.

I nap in the car. It’s the sample catching up with me.

The land is an amazing combination of colors including the new green of Spring and deep rose.

We pass ranges of snow covered mountains all day, from Washington, through Oregon, and into Idaho.

Everywhere we see that the rivers and ditches are full. And the final snow in the mountains has yet to melt.

This is not the only cement plant we see.

A Stegosaurus is asleep under this pink and green hill.

We reach our day’s destination, Boise Idaho and the Modern Hotel and Bar. I have been looking forward to this stop since I talked to Mary Portser who acted in Boise recently and recommended the hotel.

It is a groovy renovation of a 60’s motel. Very successful in my opinion. Later on we’ll dine here on smoked trout (local) and a salad of faro and feta (local). Are you surprised? Boise IS a surprise.

We asked McSweeny’s if John could sign stock in an independent bookstore that wasn’t on the tour. Wally at Rediscovered Books had heard John Sayles might come by to sign, but I don’t think she thought it would really happen.

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