Sunday, August 14, 2016

Travelogue – Spokane

I indeed returned home last Tuesday morning. I immediately had a hectic week. First were all the things that weren't attended to while I was gone. Then my performance group is searching for a new Artistic Director and the committee, of which I'm a part, interviewed five candidates. Add to that a trip to handle things at Dad's house – which I hadn't visited since the end of June.

A sister-in-law (the one caring for Mom) asked, "So when are you coming to visit?" Huh? I just got home!

So, uh, where was I? Oh, yeah. The tale of my adventures left off in the town of Chelan, Washington, after a boat trip on Lake Chelan.

Friday, August 5
From Chelan I drove across the Columbia River and through rolling wheat fields to see Grand Coulee Dam.

I wasn't quite in time for the noon tour, so took the one at 1:00. The tour started with a security check, instituted shortly after 9/11. The tour buses (seats for 15) took us around to the other end of the dam to go inside and down to see the huge pumps that pump water up to Banks Lake, the reservoir that supplies water to irrigate western Washington. The water is for 90 different crops, apples to zucchini – but not marijuana.

We went back up and outside and back onto the buses. They took us across the top of the dam. Up until 9/11 anyone could come onto the dam and many fished from the lake side. Now only tours are allowed on the dam. Halfway back we got out to look over the side of the dam. And that was it.

I had lunch in the town of Grand Coulee, then again drove through wheat fields to Spokane. My niece (Dan's younger daughter) has a three-room apartment in an old house. She was on the porch playing her harp when I drove up. We took my stuff up the stairs and she showed me around. She describes the narrow kitchen as "one-butt" – there isn't room for two butts to move past each other. Though the space is tiny she managed to cook a pretty good supper.

We settled in to watch the Olympic Opening Ceremony on her laptop. Her internet service isn't the swiftest, so the video frequently froze. By 10:30 we were still not halfway through the alphabet for the Parade of Nations and decided that was enough. I didn't see the lighting of the cauldron.

Saturday, August 6
Niece took me to the Moore-Turner Heritage Gardens on the hill south of downtown Spokane. We walked through the gardens, then sat and talked. After a while we got hungry, so got back into the car. We parked it downtown and searched for a place for lunch. It took some doing because so many roads downtown are being torn up and redone.

After lunch we walked through the public areas of the fabulous Davenport Hotel. It was built in the first decade of the 20th Century and has been beautifully restored. There are many photos on the walls of several high-society parties.

As we walked from the hotel to River Park Square, a mall, niece told me that she sometimes put her lap harp in a satchel on her back, hopped on her bike, and set herself outside the main doors to this mall and played. Sometimes she made pretty decent money for an hour or so of effort.

We went on through the mall and into Riverfront Park to see the various falls and rapids on the Spokane River. Then back to the car, a stop at a grocery store, and back to her apartment.

When two people stand side-by-side the tiny kitchen is tolerable. She helped me make a stir-fry for supper. After eating and talking we watched Star Trek Nemesis, again on her laptop. Neither of us had seen it. Perhaps this video supplier was of better quality because it didn't freeze.

Sunday, August 7
I had checked for a reconciling United Methodist church in Spokane. Seattle has maybe a dozen. Spokane has none. Niece suggested a couple churches, one had some encouraging words on its website. This morning she rode her bicycle to her church (of a denomination too conservative for my comfort) and I went to Central United Methodist. I got there at 10:25 for the reported 10:30 service. I glanced into the sanctuary and saw maybe a dozen people. Nobody was at the door to greet me. I decided with a congregation that tiny I didn't want to stay. I doubt anyone saw me during the two minutes I was there.

I went back to Riverfront Park, parked, and took photos of the falls – I didn't have my camera with me yesterday.

I reclaimed my car and met niece in the Davenport Hotel lobby. She had locked her bike outside. We hurried up the south side hill again because she wanted to show me The Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. The place was already locked. We got inside through the kitchen door following a woman who had left her glasses in her pew. It is very much in the style of European cathedrals, though not as huge. A moment later another woman politely said she needed to lock up and we needed to go.

We had a lovely lunch at a Thai restaurant a block away. The mood may have been gloomy because we talked about how Dan, her father, is in an in-between place, not yet able to move forward, especially since doing so meant Karen was no longer around.

Niece took me to the Steam Plant. It had been exactly that, a facility in downtown Spokane that burned coal to create steam for downtown buildings. It now houses a restaurant (a bit pricey for her wallet), a bar, offices, and classrooms. What makes this space fascinating is that many of the original fixtures, such as the coal bin near the ceiling, were kept and the useful space was created around or inside these fixtures.

We went back to the apartment, then took a walking tour of the neighborhood. This area is known as Browne's Addition, west of downtown. It has many old houses. To the north is the Spokane River. To the west is Overlook Park and the valley of Latah Creek. This house is not where niece lives.

We had supper in the apartment, then she and I talked until bedtime.

Monday, August 8
Niece was up and out for the first of her two jobs by 7:15. I lingered a bit and soon had my bags into the car. On the way out of Spokane I had NPR on and the news reports had a lot to say about Delta Airlines having a power outage, canceled flights, and a giant mess. I thought to myself I'm sure glad I'm going back to Detroit on Alaska Air.

I took I-90 to Ritzville and the road to Washtucna, then through town and on to Palouse Falls State Park. The park wanted a $10 entrance fee done on the honor system – fill out a form, put part of it in your car, stuff the money into the envelope and put that through a slot. Problem: I had a twenty and six singles. I wasn't about to stuff my last twenty into the envelope (even if I was feeling generous towards a state park system) so put in the six singles – and left my license plate off (I certainly didn't want to get the rental company involved).

The falls are beautiful. I'm surprised at how vertical the canyon walls are.

I went back to Washtunca and picked up Route 26 heading west. There wasn't much until I got to the little town of Othello, where I stopped for lunch. Back on the main road I took it to the Columbia River, where I picked up I-90 again. I went on through Snoqualmie Pass (didn't see much due to low clouds), and on into Seattle – arriving about 4:30 in time for rush hour.

I took I-5 north past Union Lake to the Wallingford neighborhood. There is a little travel shop and Google had told me it had neck pillows. I replaced the one I lost the week before. From there I went to Ivar's Salmon House. In previous trips to Seattle I've had many fine meals here. But when prices are $25-35 I'm reluctant to pay that much and eat alone. So I went to their cafe on the north side of the building. I may have eaten with plastic off paper, but my salmon, wild rice, and cornbread was only $12.

On to the airport to fill up and return the rental car. Once in the terminal I had plenty of time for my 9:50 flight. I checked the departure board for flights to Detroit. Three Delta flights were listed as on time. The fourth, at 5:30 am., was canceled. I was still glad for Alaska Air.

This was a big plane and took a while to board. I had a seat in the back. We pulled away from the gate and sat for several minutes. We pulled back to the gate and sat for a half hour. When we pulled away again the captain said, "We thank you for your patience while we handled the little incident, which you probably saw." No, I didn't see it. I had my nose in a book. I have no idea what the incident was.

I did get a couple hours sleep on the four-hour flight to Detroit. I found my friend waiting for me (he hadn't checked for the half-hour delay so had been sitting there for quite a while). I got home as the sky was getting light. It didn't take long for me to get into bed for some more sleep.

I woke to my sister, the one living in Dad's house, leaving a phone message. When I called her back she said the stove wasn't working.

Welcome home.

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