For my 75th birthday, I decided a camping trip to the San Rafael Swell would be a great way to celebrate. Also, my son and daughter in law were anxious to try out their gear. So the Swell would be a good way for them to get some experience and also discover why I love this area so much.
Someplace to Go
After a year+ waiting out the plague, and fully vaxed, and the antibody period up, I looked for some way to get out and about. With Miriam tied up with progeny issues, I decided to venture forth on a road trip. After contacting vaxed up friends in Washington and Montana, I gassed up the buggy and headed out.
First stop, for the night, was Baker City, Oregon. Always liked the town, it's well cared for and attractive to tourists. The next day I decided to drive to Walla Walla via Hells Canyon and Joseph, Washington... the LONG way around. After a 70 mile drive, I arrived at a dead end! The road to Joseph was still closed by snow. Why couldn't Oregon DOT provide some sort of sign or notice about this...
At least the dead end drive was very pleasant in the early morning. And I discovered this Oregon Trail Vistors Center (still closed due to the plague). I thought the buildings were perfectly designed for the location. High on a bluff, the location provided great views of the area. Here are some shots:
One advantage of retracing my steps and driving the Interstate towards Pendleton was the incredible view from Deadman's Point, before descending out of the mountains into the vastness looking westward.
Walla Walla, Wa
Love that name... fun to say. Arriving in this Eastern Washington city, I was greeted by my friend, the poet Charles Potts who now raises Appaloosas on his horse ranchette. Besides Potts, this guy was part of the welcoming committee.
A couple more of Potts horses... check out the amazing patterns on these horses.
I've always loved Walla Walla. Formerly known for its onions, there are now 120 wineries producing some premium, and expensive, reds. The cuisine has also evolved... lobster ravioli anyone?
There's some interesting architecture in Walla Walla, several by noted architect Henry Osterman. Here's a shot of the downtown old theater with its Dutch influence.
I was also taken by the silhouettes advertising a gym in this old building.
Speaking of sweets, onions that is, it's an appropriate name for the local baseball team.
Visiting Walla Walla would not be complete without visiting one of my favorite record stores. The inventory of this place, recordings, guitars, and lots of other stuff, boggles the mind. I got the t-shirt!
Onward and Upward
From Winthrop, I decided to drive to Missoula, Montana to visit more friends. On the way, I passed two of the major dams on the Mighty Columbia River. First, the Chief Joseph:
Finally on an Interstate, I zipped over to Missoula to visit Larry and Prudence, the latter I hadn't seen in a zillion years (always had a sneaker for her...).
We spent time checking out record stores (3! indies in town). I also had some time to myself one morning so I explored downtown. Some great old, and new, buildings in the area. Here's the old Wilma hotel and theater:
And an example of Art Deco architecture:
The labor temple:
An old building formerly housing an early telco company:
This old apartment house, definitely in need of updating, held some sort of intrigue over me, like somewhere Robert Carver or Charles Bukowski would end up drinking and writing at the end of their days.
And, of course, Missoula would have some great old bars.
Then there was this downtown parking garage. One may enjoy or dislike the design, but it's so wonderful to see such a normally mundane and boring structure done with some class:
Since the plague may have eased but not ended, masks are still recommended in business establishments. I like how a bakery provided masks:
We had a great time talking over old times and our untamed, radical youth. Many of the old gang are gone, but the memories live on.
Finally it was back home to Miriam, the kids, and the dogs... Just finally getting out in the world again was thrilling. Now if we can get to Europe sometime soon...
Thanks so much to Charles, Richard, Lynette, Larry and Prudence for their hospitality and friendship.