Washington’s a pretty weird state, geographically speaking. You go from lush woods near Spokane straight into very flat, very burnt scrubland, with stumpy little mini-buttes and mesas butting up, then into a sort of rolling desert (if you ignore the obviously heavily irrigated farmland), which eventually becomes a series of high, roasted ridges bookending valleys that look like they’re made of ironed cardboard. It got nearly to 100 degrees near Yakima, which wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Southwest, for all that it’s nicknamed itself the “Palm Springs” of Washington. And then you go up into the mountains and you’re back into dense pine woods.
Spokane is more or less right over the border from Coeur D’Alene, with a distinctive waterfall that’s only been somewhat smoothed out by a hydroelectric plant. As the story goes, the waterfall is the result of a temper tantrum by Coyote over being denied a wife by the local Native American tribes. The city smartly made it the centerpiece of the most extensive riverfront green area I’ve seen, with everything from ornamental gardens to an antique (working) carousel to zip cars you can ride out over the falls via overhead wire. I really wanted to try the zip cars, but they weren’t going to be open for another three hours. Not sure why they were running the empty cars out over the water anyway.
Yakima is a long (and ultimately, not really worth it detour, since the local attractions are largely vineyards–I should have saved it for when entropyenator or my mother come along) tangent off I-90 on I-82, but just before the two interstates split off, there’s a really beautiful scenic overlook by the Columbia River. Right across the river is the Gingko Petrified Forest State Park, which is worth a trip for the petroglyphs they’ve relocated to right under the visitor center. The petrified wood trail is neat, too, but it’s encircling a hill and on a scorching hot day, I didn’t feel up to walking more than a third of it. Also, they have the wood in locked cages, I guess so no one steals a piece; it’s a bit more fun to touch the samples in the visitor center.
Ended the day scrambling around the outskirts of Seattle looking for a hotel room. Airbnb didn’t pan out–two places tried, neither even responded to decline–and it’s only thanks to an extremely helpful front desk person at the Holiday Inn Express (who was willing to phone up competitors) that I got a room at a different chain for under $150, not including tax. Graduation season and everything was booked up. I was tired, so I sighed and paid.