Crossing Washington 6/30 – 7/7

Ellensburg, WA:  Population =  19,786, elevation = 1,542 feet, Average January low temp = 18.6º, Average July high temp = 82.7º, Average snowfall = 22.6”

From Spokane, we find ourselves on Interstate 90 again, rolling toward the sunset.  We are past the Rockies and onto the High Prairie.  The land rolls and undulates, here and there sprouts of scruffy pines, over there a little water.  Moses Lake flashes by, surprisingly vacant of human settlements.  Then suddenly, the bottom falls out.  Just off the highway, there is an enormous gorge.  The Columbia River has spent millennia carving out a deep valley here.  The sheer cliffs show layer after layer of rock deposited here then sliced by the patient river.

Pines and ponds on the High Prairie
Columbia River Gorge. That little white spot near the cliff is a motorboat.

Our first stop is Ellensburg.  Kind of in the middle of nowhere, but a nice town for a little break in the driving.  We find a couple of nice breweries and some good food, so we are content.  On Saturday, there is a farmer’s market with wonderful arrays of fresh produce and handmade foods and crafts.  It would be great to have a kitchen so we could cook up some of these treasures.

Death by beer at the Iron Horse
Saturday at the farmer’s market

Strolling around town, we find the Kittitas County Museum.  They have tales and artifacts of the old cowboy settlers, of bankers and bank robbers.  Over in this room, antique cars and a very quaint bicycle.  Over here, samples of petrified wood, identified by species of tree.

Being a cowboy was a tough life
1923 Ford Model T Speedster
The Bear bicycle features stamped metal wheels
Several species of trees, all petrified

There is another “must see” in Ellensburg; the Dick and Jane Spot.  Artists Dick and Jane, and many others, have been decorating this house and yard for the past 35 years.  If something decays, something new goes in its place.  There are over 10,000 bottle caps and thousands of reflectors incorporated into the artworks.

Puyallup, WA:  Population = 38,670, elevation = 46 feet, Average January low temp = 37º, Average July high temp = 77º, Average snowfall = 39.36”

Our route takes us up and over the Cascade Range to our next stop in Puyallup, WA.  This is a suburb of Tacoma, just a quick run through twisting, turning construction detours to get downtown.  The last time we visited Tacoma, there was enough mist so that we never really saw Mt. Rainier.  This time the air is crystal clear and the mountain is stunning in its size and proximity.  Cloud banks actually dash against its lower slopes, leaving the peak afloat above.

Looming over the landscape. And 58 miles away.

We are only visiting for a few days, so we make the best of our time.  My old pals, Kay and Butch, live nearby so we visit with them on the Fourth.  Great seeing you guys!  Then we ran over to Tacoma for food, beer, and another peek at the glass bridge.  We took a look at the State History Museum too, while we were there.

Great happy hour!
Glass creations by Chihuly enliven the Glass Bridge
Ancient petroglyphs tell a story
An amazing bit of engineering… a fish cleaning machine
Pacific Brewing Co. makes a fine red lager

We kind of flew over the Northern states to get to the West Coast.  Now that we are here, we are going to slow down and try to get a real feel for the cities.  We may even settle down in one of them someday so we want to be sure.

But first, a nice touristy visit to Victoria, BC


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We are two recent retirees who decided to sell the house, pull up stakes, and explore North America. We are both being tourists and looking for the right blend of people, place, and geography that makes for the perfect place to retire.

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