Walla Walla WA to Missoula, MT

We were anxious to get going early today because this is one of our longer drives. Usually we take a more direct route, but although it is shorter, it takes longer because it winds through the mountains. It would be a gamble at this time of year – if you got stuck behind a slow vehicle you might be staring at it’s mud-flaps for hours. So we decided to do the Interstate route even though it means backtracking to Pasco.

So anyway, we were all motivated to get up early and eat breakfast at the crack of 0600 and go for a walk, and we talked ourselves out of the walking trail that was recommended to us when we checked in and tried instead to drive to Fort Walla Walla and do a shorter walk in the big park there. This did not work out well, as construction crews had closed the main road into the park. After a lengthy and frustrating detour through a bunch of dead-end suburban lanes, we tried the alternate route to the main gate and found that the whole road had been closed. A final attempt to reach the other end of the park brought us within sight of it, only to find that there is no parking or stopping at any time. By now I’m grinding my teeth as we retreat towards our hotel to try the first path. Which we found, and then promptly lost. After just five minutes of walking we arrived at the entrance to a football field and golf course and could not figure out where the trail went. There were some people walking the track around the football field, so I walked in circles for forty-five minutes. Worst walk ever! Did I mention it was hot?

In the end, we got on the highway about a half hour later than we hoped. The very first thing we had to do was negotiate a huge single-lane work zone. When we came to Walla Walla yesterday, we sat for eight minutes there. This morning, we arrived at the tail end of a convoy that took us straight through.

Sensing that this was not enough to improve my mood, Dingbat played no head-games today. He said we could make it to Liberty Lake for lunch at about 1220, and lo, it was so. Peak lunch-hour rush at Hay J’s, of course, but while Caroline waited ten minutes for a table, I gassed up the CRV and squeegied off one layer of bugs. Excellent lunch – we both started with the clam chowder and then Caroline had the Seafood Cobb salad while I had the Hay J’s steak sandwich, which comes on a toasty bun with onion rings and I think some kind of aioli. Also fries, which I only had a few of. I ate a little too much, but Caroline was feeling really full. And then the owner came by – she remembered us from last week and brought us a complementary slice of key lime pie as a treat! We had to take it away in a doggie bag.

Back on the road to hurtle through the mountains at Lookout Pass. Whee! Then into Montana to Missoula. The fires are out. A few hot-spots are still smoldering along the ridge, but there’s no fuel left for them. No pictures today.

We have two nights in Missoula, so tomorrow we will do a longer hike along the river before taking care of laundry and shopping. But first, dinner at the Pearl tonight.

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