Geoff and Jenn's 1997 Glacier NP Trip
Day 6: Northern Washington
We awoke to a mostly blue sky and uneaten sunflower seeds in the car. Perhaps the our nightly visitor did not travel with us but, given that the car was completely packed, he might have just had trouble finding the seeds we left for him.
We repacked ourselves in Metaline Falls, talking to the locals about the recent movie that was filmed there (The Postman). The town folk seemed ambivalent towards the influx of Hollywood. One older fellow explained how incredible the amount of money that was spent, saying "people will spend a foolish amount of money for foolish ideas". He talked of how every day they would repaint the downtown to get the perfect effect. They built an entire postoffice, "very well built" by his estimate, only to knock it down with a few quick swipes of a backhoe two weeks later. Every resident expressed their joy at seeing the fictitious town of Pineview return to real world Metaline Falls, population 170.
Then the trail of frustration began. After deciding the previous night to stay around Metaline for Gardner Cave, we headed up the road back towards the border to cross the Boundary Dam to the caves. The road, however, turned out to be closed due to landlsides. By taking another 15 mile detour, however, we could still get to the caves. Geoff was close to calling it quits, satisfied with the endearment of the town of Metaline Falls for this stop along our journey. After much waffling, Jenn suggested the "Well, we've come this far..." line of reasoning. Thus, 20 minutes later we arrived at Crawford Park (after passing through Metaline Falls for the 3rd time). There, we find out that we missed the last tour by only 20 minutes, and would have to wait another 2 hours before the next one. Much wailing ensued, mainly from Geoff. Jenn suggested a consolation prize of the Boundary Dam itself, but yet again we were thwarted by a road steep enough that we had strong doubts Cav would make it back up, especially with only a quarter tank of gas. We gave up completely, and moved on westward.
The scenery of Northeast Washington was most beautiful -- and so rarely mentioned. It of course can not stand up to Mt. Rainer, but these foothills of the Rockies have their own subtle beauty. The valley lakes surrounded on all sides by densely forested covered mountains spoke to us not with an overpowering voice, but a calming voice of centuries. Colville National Forest would be our "little secret" of the trip.
At Republic, we had to decide whether or not to make a quick
trip to the Coulee Dam, or to head on towards the North Cascades.
The former was chosen, and we took poor Cav up and down several
passes. On the way we saw a few wildflowers, including a first
timer called "Blazing Star" that, being covered with
needles of microscopic thorns, stuck like Velcro to everything.
It amazed us, looking through the Audubon book of just how many
of our favorite wildflowers were not originally native to an
area, or even this continent. Most often when we think of our
generation's "One world, one community" belief, we
think of it purely on a homo sapiens level. For instance, the
Internet is breaking communication barriers across national
borders. But, in many ways the ecological world is going under a
similar transformation in a negative way. Now, given a certain
climate, you are apt to see the same plants no matter which
continent you are on. Just as humans loose their diversity,
nature is loosing its biodiversity.
|At the Grand Coulee Dam, we were amazed at actually how short it was, despite it being one of the largest concrete structures in the world. If it backed up enough water to make a 100 mile long lake, how come it was only 500 feet tall? We missed the National Park Service visitor center by a half hour, depriving us of a stamp for our NPS Passport. (You would not believe how far out of the way we go to get those stamps). We did, though, take a quick tour of the Bureau of Reclamation visitor center for the dam, where we watched a blatantly propagandistic film on the damn dam, complete with songs celebrating the dam. Obviously, we were of a different generation. Jenn and I came close to standing up and yelling "What about the salmon!!!?" Our penalty for the bitterness was not being able to get the 1984 like song out of our heads for the rest of the day. "Roll on Columbia, roll on, roll on. Your power is turning our darkness to dawn. Roll on Columbia roll on, roll on!" We opted to not stay for the laser show, feeling a little depressed about the 60 mile detour.|
Worse, the weather started to shadow our moods, and in the light of the increasing rain, Jenn began suggesting to simply head home from where we were and bypass the cascades. Geoff eventually, though, convinced Jenn to hang in there, and the vacation continued.
|We then went through the nano-opilises of Omak, (Osh-Kosh-by-) Okanogan, and Twisp (and Shout). At one point we ran into a head of steer busily crossing back and forth across the road. Geoff tried the slow and gentle approach to moving the huge pack of 2 ton beasts. But, after hearing the alarming moos from the cows in front and beside the car, and the beeping horn of the car behind us, Geoff waved the waiting cars and watched them perform the more bulldoze approach to getting the cows of the road. We almost got trapped again from the cows because we did not follow quick enough behind the plowing and noisy little Metro.|
The day continued its frustration as we approached Winthrop. Being travel tired and given the steady rainfall, Geoff offered a $100 dollar limit on a hotel room for the night. With dreams of a nice room and a hot tub in mind, we soon found out that the Franklin bill was the going rate for most rooms in Winthrop. We tried to get a small cabin in 14 mile away Mazama, complete with a wood stove and firewood, only to find out that they were all booked. This began the 2 1/2 hours of searching for a spot to bed, repeatedly moving from Winthrop to Mazama (about 10 miles between), and repeatedly finding no vacancy and a smaller and smaller tank of gas. Even the state park, with its manicured lawn camp sites appeared to be completely booked. We eventually settled in, with raining pouring down, us dead tired, at a forest service campground north of Mazama.
Thus ended a frustrating day.
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