Eastward Bound – Hells Canyon
Starting with Hells Canyon, WA, we began following the Lewis and Clark Trail.
Southeast Washington – Hells Canyon
Sunday morning, August 23, we finished the final packing and headed to Hell’s Canyon, located in Clarkston, WA. We decided after dry docking for a week, we were due to stay at a nice RV park so we made a reservation at the Hells Canyon RV Park which had been recommended to us. The drive across Washington to the southeast part of the state was not at all what was expected. The landscape quickly turned brown and the further east we went, the smokier it got so everything was hazy. Waste forest fires in that part of the state.
Traffic was good and we did not encounter any problems other than boredom. I had no idea that so much wheat was grown in Washington but they are actually the 5th largest wheat grower in the US. The wheat had already been harvested so what we saw were miles and miles of brown hills where the wheat had been already been cut; it went on for hundreds of miles.
We arrived at the RV park which is also a marina about 6:00 PM. It had been a long day but the space is very nice and we set up and took a walk around the marina. The amount of smoke in the area is not so bad that you can’t go out and do things; however, we decided not to take the Snake River boat excursion as planned as with the smoke, the views would be limited so we will put that on hold until our next time around. The view from our RV spot is very nice, we are facing the river but the view is limited by the smoke. The temperatures are in the high 80’s but without the sun, it doesn’t feel too bad. There is no breeze at all which is keeping the smoke low.
We welcomed the big hot showers so took advantage of those and settled in for the evening.
We drove into all of the surrounding small towns to check them out. There was not really anything distinguishing, they are all pretty much farming communities and we drove through acres and acres of brown wheat fields and not much else to see. There are several very deep gorges in the area that are quite impressive or would be if you could see through the smoke. In addition to Hells Canyon the other thing we wanted to visit was WSU (Washington State University) Creamery located in Pullman just a few miles away. We have been ordering their cheese online since we were given some as a gift from Ralph and Joan several years ago. We than learned they have an ice cream store called Ferdinand’s so we decided that we would have lunch at Ferdinand’s and buy some cheese. We have limited space so we could only buy what we had room for, but we were able to get some sharp cheddar, cheese curds and their newest ghost pepper cheese. Dinner was grill cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.
We had made reservations for 3 nights, however since the smoke is so bad and we can’t do the Snake River ride, we had an extra day. We decided to just relax and spend some time at Starbucks downloading some large files, sending out last weeks blog and doing some general maintenance around the RV. I hung out at Starbucks trying to get all of my photos loaded into Flickr while Steve took the Jeep through a car wash. We stopped in a pizza place called Fazzaris in Clarkston for a late lunch/early dinner and had some great pizza, thanks to Ralph’s recommendation. There is a little bit of a breeze so some of the smoke has cleared so we can get a better view of the hills around the park. I spent the evening doing some of the laundry, we will finish up everything in the morning before we head east. Our plan is to dry dock for 2 or 3 nights as we work our way to Sioux Falls, SD. We haven’t looked to see what is in the route that we may want to stop and visit, the smoke and the weather will play a part in our decisions.
We got up a little later than planned but began preparation for heading out. We didn’t get on the road until about 11:30. Our original plan was to head south first and then east so we could see more of Hells Canyon. We were parked at the northern end and it looked like the grander view was south of us, however the smoke eliminated that as the canyon was so full of smoke, we would not have been able to see much. We then thought we would take a northern route, again on what was to be a scenic drive, however after about 20 miles, the smoke got worse instead of better so we headed back to pick up Hwy 12 east. Hwy 12 is part of the Lewis and Clark route and the road traveled next to the Lochsa river all 200 miles. I would love to take that drive again but as you will see from the pictures, there was so much smoke that the view was diminished extensively. We passed a couple of fire fighter staging locations, fortunately no fires in our path but it was obvious they were not far away. We saw a lot of earth moving equipment en route to support the fires.
We arrived at our destination, Walmart, in Missoula, Montana. We parked among the other RVers and took a stroll around our new site. There was a very nice park adjacent to the parking lot, the sun was setting but even though the smoke was better, we had not yet escaped. I cooked a dinner of a rib eye steak, 3 bean salad and a side of Parmesan Alfredo. We had dinner, cleaned up and after not finding anything to watch on satellite, we walked over to Walmart and rented a movie.
We first checked out the Missoula Carousel. It is a hand carved 1918 merry-go-round that was restored and maintained by volunteers. We then walked through Caras Park that borders the Clark Fork River and directly across the river is the University of Montana. We proceeded into the historical downtown area and visited a few of the unique little shops and the local artwork on display.
It was still early in the day so we decided we would head for the next little town on our route, so keeping with the Lewis and Clark route, we headed east on Hwy 12 to the town of Helena.
I will close this as I have so many pictures just for this part of our journey, I don’t want the file to be too large. I’ll pick up with Helena on the next blog.
Thanks for reading, Margie and Steve