Week Four: Eight Bulls, an Old Growth Forest and an Active Volcano
Thursday, June 28/18
The plan sounded great. We were going to take the Scenic Byway around Lake Coeur d’Alene, come home for lunch and after, check out the town.
The drive was spectacular, at first. The road twisted and turned up and down the mountains along the shore of the lake. The views were amazing, gigantic homes lined the shoreline, a lonely sailboat, a kayak and a fishing boat dotted the lake.
But after an hour-and-a half, we were tired of the view and the sharp turns and bumpy roads. We wondered how close we were to the town of Coeur d’Alene. Looking at the map, we realized we were about halfway. We should've done better research, checked out the distance. Finally, after three hours of driving we arrived at the Tourist Information Centre.
The friendly gentleman at the Tourist Information Centre, first explained how the town was named by French Canadian fur traders. Legend has it that they found the first nation tribes skilled and experienced in trading and called the place ‘Coeur d’Alene’, Heart of the awl.
He also mentioned that Lake Coeur d’Alene was 40 km long with 220 km of shoreline. He suggested we take a three hour cruise on the lake as dogs were allowed to sail on the cruise ship. We really couldn’t do that to Bijke. First three hours in the car, and then another three hours on a boat, surrounded by water and not allowed to swim. We also had enough of the beautiful lake for now. We decided to have lunch at one of the restaurants on the Main Street. Bijke was allowed on the patio with us. We enjoyed our pizza and Bijke made many passersby, smile.
Bijke: The food A and M ate smelled so good, but I didn’t get any. I did get petted by little humans, who were on the sidewalk.
Back at the snail home, we took Bijke for another swim in Lake Coeur d’Alene. In this lake is the World famous floating golf course, for CEOs and celebrities to enjoy.
Bijke: When I smelled the lake, I pulled and pulled so that A had to run. M couldn’t keep up, she was too slow. But, she carried the swimming leash so in the end I had to wait for her. After swimming, I rolled and rolled in the mud and M called me her ‘Mud Boy’.
Friday, June 29/18
There were eight bulls in the pasture adjacent to the campground at the Yakima River, near Ellensburg, in Washington State. There were also warning signs on the campground, to not let your children or pets play in that same field.
We had left Camp Coeur d’Alene this morning, following the I-95 to Spokane. The sky was a clear blue, outlining the mountains in the distance.
At a rest area, where we stopped for lunch, a tent trailer had blown a tire and made a terrible racket before it came to a halt. While the men changed the tire, one of the women liked a tour of our snail house. She said she was really impressed, by all the conveniences it had, despite its small size.
After lunch, the landscape changed. The farmland was desert like with huge irrigation installations to water the crops. Hills became mountains and in the distance we noticed rows and rows of wind turbines. Closer to Ellensburg, farmer’s fields showed large mounts of stacked hay bales.
The campground at Ellensburg had spacious sites, a view of the mountains, including the wind turbines, but no facilities, due to its low-lying area.
Bijke had a swim in the Yakima River.
Bijke: The water in the river was a little too calm. I could roll in the sand after, but I decided to roll in the loose gravel instead. There are so many yapping little dogs at the campground, they never want to play, but I saw a rabbit and that made my day.
No trains, no transports, but eight noisy bulls kept us awake. They were outdoing each other and one sounded like a cow in heat.
We visited the local Farmer’s Market in downtown, Ellensburg, on Saturday morning. It was hard to restrain ourselves and not buy all the fresh berries and produce we liked, as our fridge doesn't hold all that much.Tourists, locals, musicians, dogs and vendors created a pleasant atmosphere.
Bijke went for another swim in the river and this time he disturbed a couple who were reading and enjoying a quiet afternoon, until our barking little swimmer arrived.
We had our first shower in the tiny bathroom, which involved a bit of planning.First, the water in the tank needed to be heated, next the toilet got a special cover. The shower curtain was packed into a small cabinet and was difficult to get out and hard to pull around the small room. Those were the preparations. Next came the shower experience. A quick rinse, shampoo, lather and another quick rinse before the water turned cold. There was a twenty minute wait between showers, so the water had time to heat up again, but it worked and we did get clean.
We also tried to wash some items in our Lee Valley Washer Bag, but that procedure used way too much water and we won’t use it again.
We finished the evening with a long walk and a frustrating game of scrabble.
July first: Canada Day!
The Art Walk in downtown Ellensburg turned out to be a surprising experience. The downtown’s historical buildings had all been nicely restored. The garbage cans, flower containers and bike stands had been turned into pieces of art. What a difference from when we entered Ellensburg, where just like any other city we’ve visited, the streets were lined with big, box stores, franchise restaurants, gas stations, casinos, rundown buildings and junk.
The first piece of art we met, was the statue of the Bull, holding a cowboy hat, a cast aluminum sculpture by Richard Beyer. In the brochure it said, that grandmothers like to have their picture taken with the bull. Two homeless men, who were sitting on a park bench, gave us a lesson in history about the local gallows, where they lynched people up until the 90s. In Friendship Park we met the bronze statue of Washoe, a chimpanzee, that was the first non-human to communicate in the American sign language. He learned 350 signs. Washoe thought sign language at the Human Communication Institute, formerly at Central Washington University.
Our final stop was ‘Dick and Jane’s Spot’. The house and the yard were decorated with thousands of reflectors, hubcaps, bottle caps and other devices. Dick and Jane Elliot spent 40 years collecting 263 pieces of art by 65 different artists. It was an amazing place. We went around the house and yard several times and every time we discovered something different.
Later, Bijke was back in his happy place - the Yakima River.
I finished rereading, ‘When the War is over’, for my presentation at the bookclub in Duncan, on July 10. I hadn’t read my novel since the International Writers’ Conference in Winnipeg in 2004.
The wind was blowing like crazy. The campground was down in the wind alley between the mountain ranges. That’s why it is the perfect site for the Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility and Renewable Energy Centre. We decided not to visit this site, Albert thought it would make him think about his own wind turbine and tower lying in the front yard.
We left the Yakima River Campground and the eight howling bulls behind. The wind was strong and pulled the trailer to one side on the mountain highway. As we climbed higher and higher, we watched the temperature drop and by the time we reached Snoqualmie Pass, elevation 1000 metres, the temperature had dropped to 10 degrees C. It started raining and the mountains were hiding in the clouds, including Mount Baker.
As we approached the I-405, close to Seattle, traffic became really busy and road construction made it only worse. Hungry and in terrible need of a bathroom break, we desperately looked for a place to stop, but we had no luck. We followed the turnoff to the town of Lacy and decided to lunch at some box store parking lot, but to our surprise we stumbled upon a sports park, with soccer fields, baseball fields, play structures and… bathrooms. We took our time and went for a long walk with Bijke. The temperature had climbed to 20 C.
Back on the highway, we were happy to see the sign, Lewis & Clark State Park. The campsites had full hookup, but no facilities, no wifi and no cellphone service. The tent area was across the road in the old growth forest. We had a whole field for Bijke to play in as there were only two other trailers, of which one was unoccupied. The man in the other trailer was busy placing his satellite dish in the right spot and once he found it, we hardly saw him outside again.
At night, it cooled down quite a bit, so we turned on our small space heater to make the snail house more comfortable.
After a quiet night, we took a drive to Mayfield Lake. It was the perfect spot for Bijke to swim, but not for us as the shore was rocky and the stones were slimy and slippery.
The tourist information lady in Chehalis, provided us with maps and directions to Mount St. Helens, our planned trip for tomorrow. Mount Saint Helens is one of the two active volcanos in the area. Mount Rainier, which is higher, is too far a drive from our campsite.
We went for a walk into the old growth forest, where the trees are enormous. They reminded us of the Cathedral Forest at Port Alberni, on Vancouver Island. Albert took pictures of a Western Red Cedar and a Douglas Fir, that were both hundreds of years old. The trees were majestic, their trunks huge and straight, towering over us, reaching for the sky. Walking in the park, where plants and trees are green and lush, we felt calm and at peace. It was just us and the sound of the birds and insects. We loved the giant ferns and wondered how gorgeous it must have been in the spring when the Rhododendrons were in bloom.
Beside our campsite was the Equestrian Campground, but so far we didn't see any horses.
It was only the third of July, but fireworks started early. No firework allowed in the park, but all the small towns around us took turns showing off their fireworks. It lasted till midnight and Bijke was not happy.
Bijke: Shots, bangs, ra-ta-ta-ta! I didn’t know where it came from and what it was. Sometimes it was so loud, I jumped on the bed. A and M told me, I was okay and hugged me. It did make me feel better.
July Fourth: Independence Day!
Under a cloudy sky we drove up to Mount St. Helens. Before we entered the park area, we had a good view of Mt. Rainier.
As we continued our drive, we were shocked by all the clear cutting. Hillsides were left a mess, looking like battlefields with many casualties. The devastation was caused by no other than Weyerhaeuser, the company Albert had worked for in Sturgeon Falls, years ago, and still receives a small pension from.
At the Forest Learning Centre, we stopped to admire the view of the volcano. The wind was strong and it looked like dust clouds were blowing from the mountain. We learned from one of the Foresters, that the clouds were actually ash clouds and the prevailing strong wind came from the east which was unusual.
On May 18, 1980, a 5.1 magnitude earthquake triggered a violent eruption and one of the world’s largest landslides. Thirteen hundred feet of mountain tops collapsed into the Toutle River Valley. The disaster claimed 57 lives and devastated 150,000 acres(± 60,000 ha) of forests. Mudflows and flooding caused further destruction to properties downstream on the Toutle Cowlitz Rivers.
Weyerhaeuser who owned much of the land and forests, lost 68,000 acres. The company started replanting that same summer and slowly renewed the moonscape by hand planting 18.4 million seedlings. 45,000 acres were reforested and will be ready to be harvested by 2020.
When we reached the Johnston Ridge Observatory, which is closest to the crater of Mt.Saint Helens, the wind was so strong it blew Bijke off his feet in the parking lot and I struggled to stay upright. The ash clouds were thick and we decided not to climb the ridge as we wouldn’t see much anyway. We drove down the mountain and had lunch back at the Learning Centre, where Bijke ate something we couldn’t identify.
On our way back we stopped at the town of Winlock, where the World’s largest egg stands in the centre.
When we got home, Bijke went inside the snail house while we stayed outside, which is unusual. He didn't want to play in the field or eat any treats. Finally, he jumped out of the trailer and threw up. After a walk in the park, he was back to his own self.
Fireworks started early and we decided not to go to bed until it was over. At one point Bijke just wanted to sit on our lap, which was a little tricky. Our benches in the dining room, are just big enough for one person.
We have been on the road for four weeks and we are amazed how quickly we have settled into a routine to make our nomadic life more efficient. Even Bijke has adjusted well to the forever changing situations. We often have to play the game ‘Twister’, when all three of us are inside the small space. Bijke is always in front of the fridge when we need access to it, blocking the bathroom door, when we need to use it or right in front of the kitchen cabinets, when we need something. We step over him, turn and stretch to whichever place we need to be.
On traveling days, Bijke has figured out the routine. As soon as we hook up the trailer to the car, he already sits in the backseat and that for a dog, given the choice, doesn’t even like car rides. But, he has us figured out and resigns his fate.