Roadtrippin’ the Palouse – A Wanderer’s Guide to the Rolling Hills of Eastern Washington

This was Days 16-20 of a fabulous Fall road trip a couple of years ago. This leg was Seattle to Ellensburg to Pullman, Washington — 289 miles. If you fly, Spokane is the closest airport.

Holiday Inn Express, Pullman, $121/night with a AAA discount + $20/night pet fee. Nice, recently-renovated hotel. Big room; lots of green space to walk the dog, and they don’t mind if you leave the dog in the room (they even give you a tag for the door that says Do Not Disturb/Dog Napping) (love that!). Located close to Washington State University, so be sure to book in advance on football game weekends. This is football country!

I’d wanted to visit The Palouse, famous for its photogenic landscapes, for years and finally made it part of my long roadtrip home (the move from California back to my home state, Missouri).  Most photographers visit in the spring when the rolling hills of eastern Washington are like green velvet, but I think Fall in The Palouse is absolutely gorgeous, in a whole other beautiful way. I was there towards the end of October, long after the wheat harvest, and I used Pullman as my headquarters and spent 4 days wandering aimlessly around The Palouse, which I highly recommend. If your time is more restricted there are lots of local photographers there who offer photo tours, but I really enjoy wandering.

Fair warning: I include a LOT of highway shots from behind the wheel. I do it to remember the journey, and hopefully share the thrill of discovery. You can discover the beautiful red barn when I do, resting peacefully just off the highway in a beautiful field, or perched precariously near the highway curve because it was there long before the highway interrupted.

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Day 6- Dinosaurs, Crabs, and Another Lighthouse

Gold Beach to Bandon-by-the-Sea, Oregon,  55 miles

Another beautiful day on Highway 101…

Photo by Stephanie Roberts, ObsessiveHobbyist.com


PREHISTORIC GARDENS
http://www.prehistoricgardens.com/
This one was a surprise. I automatically stop at all roadside attractions — just can’t resist the kitsch. But I didn’t expect an education. The gardens here are so well-maintained, and the information about the gardens and the dinosaurs is presented on friendly, easy-to-digest signs along the way. The most fun thing was to see the real size of dinosaurs in person (yep, they were huge).

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Day 5- Gold Beach, Oregon

Gold Beach is really all about the beach. Make sure you find a hotel with an oceanfront view and access (I loved the Pacific Reef Inn), and spend your time beachcombing and watching gorgeous sunsets.

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Day 3- Samoa Cookhouse and an Indian Casino

Eureka, California to Klamath, California
65 miles
Gas $3.02/gallon (why is it going up?)
Holiday Inn Express in Klamath (great, brand new hotel attached to a tiny Indian casino)
$117/night + $25/pet fee

Just north of Eureka is the Samoa Cookhouse – I love finding unique places like this (thanks, Roadtrippers). It’s off the beaten path, but worth the 15-minute drive from Highway 101. Built circa 1893, it’s the last lumber camp-style cookhouse still in operation in North America. Established by the Vance Lumber Company, Samoa is one of the last company-owned towns in the US, and the cookhouse was operated for the working lumberjacks.Today, they still encourage you to eat like a lumberjack. It opened to the public in the late 1960s and meals have been served here continuously for over 122 years. It’s all-you-can-eat, family-style. The menu changes daily and you have no choice whatsoever (you can, however, call ahead and find out when they’re serving pot-roast). For lunch today we had a fried pork-steak, peas, baked beans, and country potatoes, with chocolate pudding for dessert, plus soup, salad and homemade bread. So leave your vegan friends at home. It’s friendly, fun, and interesting, with photos of trees and lumberjacks on the walls, plus a small logging museum. Next door to the cookhouse is the Humboldt Maritime Museum.


KLAMATH
Klamath is a tiny town in the mountains, but the hotel, a brand-new Holiday Inn Express, was surprisingly nice (for the price) and Vickie at the front desk was so helpful. There was a great restaurant at the hotel, so I didn’t have to leave once I checked in. If you have kids, there’s a nice indoor pool. All I care about is Wifi.


The casino, run by the Yurok tribe,  was just slot machines, which is fine with me. I almost laughed out loud when I overheard a middle-aged woman talking about dating in a small town…“It’s hard to find a man with a full set of teeth.”

I’ll leave you with that.

MY PHOTO GALLERIES

The Long Road Home… or…Mid-Life Evolution, part 2

Why??? That seems to be the universal question when I tell people I’m leaving California’s central coast to move to Missouri. But they all understand the answer: for family. What they don’t know is that Missouri is a beautiful state, the people are nice…I mean really nice. My parents are getting older and I want to spend time with them while I can — I left Missouri for California 34 years ago, so…it’s time.  The worst thing about Missouri is the winters. When I first moved to Los Angeles in 1981 I thought…what took me so long? And…if everyone has a choice, then why doesn’t everyone live in California? And it was a blast…33 years in Los Angeles, and the last year-and-a-half in Pebble Beach. Pretty good. (Someday I’ll insert a link here with more details).

And now I’ve really done it. I’ve quit a perfectly respectable job in a beautiful coastal town, and am packing up my car… (You can’t ride in my little red Prius…my camera and my dog and my car will free us) (sorry, Miranda) …and hitting the road.  But you’re only middle-aged once, and since it’s so easy for a pudgy middle-aged woman to find a job…why not??? (Oh, yeah…I need a job when I get to Kansas City). But first…a roadtrip…Carmel to Seattle, then across to the Palouse, then…???

IMG_2674

GOIN’ TO KANSAS CITY…

KANSAS CITY, HERE I COME. GOT SOME CRAZY LITTLE WOMEN THERE, AND I’M GONNA…

BE ONE.