Ultimate Road Trip

You wouldn’t happen to have any peanut butter and jellies, would you?

Ryan and I never really had to deal with the rain before this trip. There was maybe one weekend, early June, where we camped with Zach and had some rain in the afternoon / evening. It wasn’t a big deal; it was an overnight, and we had our tents.

Now that we’re in the Pacific Northwest, the rain has been chasing us. We’ve gotten accustomed to rain all night long and hastily packing up the tent in the morning. However, we still struggle with what to do with ourselves on days where the rain doesn’t fade.

We’re both such active individuals, it’s hard for us to find activities that involve being still — or at least, less intense. There have been several times that we’ll tell ourselves, “We’ll go see a movie. We’ll go bowling.” But we don’t.

There’s nothing wrong with going for a run or hiking in the rain. The trouble is, when you’re living in a tent, you don’t have an easy way to get dry. Moreover, you don’t always have clean clothes to change into when you get wet. We went hiking in Glacier on a rainy day, and though we loved the trail, it wasn’t very pleasant afterward — getting into the car soaked, then having to dash in and out of a restaurant to change. Cue hours of clamminess.

Sunday was a bit tricky since it was rainy when we woke up, meaning the tent pack-up scramble. We worked in a coffee shop for a couple hours until the rain cleared. Then we could run and go for a swim. We went back to camp that night and cooked dinner, but the rain returned as soon as we got back into the tent to sleep.

Now it was Labor Day and still raining. What do you do with a free day when you’re as restless as us? We slept in until 10, to start. Headed back to the coffee shop to work again. Two hours later, we were stuck.

We drove around a bit aimlessly, unable to commit to some indoor activity. Eventually I proposed we go for a short hike, which sounded better than spending too much on bad beer and mediocre bowling. The rain had stopped, but the trail we took was like a giant sponge — lots of moss and trees and brush that had been saturated with rain water. We ended up somewhat drenched, but thankfully the sun appeared. We laid out our clothes, ate, and threw around Ryan’s zip chip.

Viewpoint from hike
Labor Day sunset

Tuesday morning brought a bit of sun, so we could work productively outdoors. We transitioned into town for a few more hours, then went for a 10K run along the lovely greenway path on the coastline. We followed the run with a little bodyweight strength training and yoga at the park, then ate lunch and chilled. The sun was beating down in a wonderful way, so we went to the lake to swim and cool off. Afterwards, we walked about town and checked out the Bierhaus before going to camp to cook and sleep.

A lovely warning sign at our campsite

Wednesday morning brought good news — Ryan’s watch had been returned to Apple, so we could finally hit the road to Oregon.

We had a comical experience in the Apple Store. Ryan sat down to meet with a technician at a table already occupied by a woman named Lola. About 10 minutes after sitting down, a short old man in round spectacles, jeans, and a zip-up hoodie strolled in.

“There you are!” Lola exclaimed, exasperated. “I told you. You have to go a street over and come down.”

The old man was unperturbed. “Has a chairman been elected for this table yet?” Lola rolled her eyes. The technician continued working. Ryan and I laughed.

“I tell ya, there is no parking downtown anymore,” he continued.

“Well I told you that too,” Lola responded grumpily.

“Isn’t that capitalism? I stopped at a bookstore along the—”

“—of course you did,” Lola interjected.

The old man raised copies of Steppenwolf (“The hippies love this one!”) and All Quiet on the Western Front, both in German. He proceeded to read a passage from the latter in German, then translated, “It smelled of stinky feet.”

He handed me a piece of notebook paper that had typewriter print on it. It explained how the Great Moses (of Spokane) had the shirt stolen off his back by a grave robber and it was sold in Portland. “Hobby Lobby sells artifacts stolen from Jews, you know,” he informed me.

Another technician strolled up, looking for Lola. “You wouldn’t happen to have any peanut butter and jellies, would you?” The old man asked her.

We left as the old man started scrawling in a composition book, telling Lola that her phone could end up in the Atlantic Ocean. Maybe the Pacific.

Now it was on to Mosier, where my uncle Carey lives. Carey and my late aunt Debbie moved out here a while back precisely for the Columbia River Gorge. Carey loves to wind surf, and Hood River is the place to do it. Debbie, an accomplished artist in all formats (but primarily painting), benefitted from the exquisite beauty of the area to capture.

On the way out, we stopped at another Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives spot, miraculously halfway between Spokane and Mosier, in Kennewick. The place was called “Porter’s Real Barbeque” and it was quite solid. We both got the pulled pork special, which was a half pound of pulled pork that came with a side and a drink. They also automatically will give you a sandwich bun if you order at least a third pound of any meat. Guy Fieri recommended the pickles as a side, and they went perfectly on the sandwich with their homemade barbeque sauce and mustard.

Back on the road, we made our way to 84 West. The borderline of Oregon and Washington is effectively the Columbia River, and on 84, we were technically now in Oregon. However, my uncle Carey had recommended we take a slightly longer, more scenic route by crossing back over to the Washington side for the 20 miles or so between Biggs and The Dalles. A very good call — on the Washington side, you’re much more elevated, so you can look down onto the river and bridges. There are also impressive rock walls dotting either side of the road. And it only added 12 minutes!

We arrived around 7:30 to Carey hanging outside with his Australian Shepard, Bella. Ryan is enamored by all Aussies he meets, so they were quickly playing with each other. Fast friends. Carey welcomed us in and caught up with us on all things travel. He’s been out wind surfing over 60 days this year! He made some corn muffins and chicken chili for us for dinner and we talked about cooking, upcoming trips, running, etc. We were so appreciative to spend time with a fellow outdoor spirit, plus we were sorely in need of a shower and laundry. We went to bed tired and content, including Bella.

The gang’s all here

We’ll be in Mosier today and tomorrow, then making our way to Bend for some exploration and climbing at Smith Rock!

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September 6, 2023

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