We just returned from a road trip, the first we’ve taken in years. I suppose three days qualifies for one of the shortest road trips on record, but some places don’t require a long stay, especially if the accommodations are…well…challenging.
We drove to Central Washington because that’s where my novel is set and I wanted to absorb local color. We’ve been there before, but always moving through to get somewhere else. This time we wanted to stay and explore.
I also wanted to understand a bit about the geology of the area. The trip has already saved me from inserting multiple embarrassing factual errors into my book, but equally important, it gave me a picture of a part of our state I’d never seen, one that was unusual in its origins and quite beautiful. If the cliffs had been red I’d have thought I was touring northern Arizona.
We took two exhilarating hikes, snapped several hundred photos of the basalt rock formations because they were so interesting, and drove through the main streets of every small town to get the flavor of small town and rural life. Sadly, boarded up buildings, thrift stores and social service agencies occupied many storefronts in the small towns we visited.
Despite the warning in the Roadside Geology book we carried with us, that several mineral water lakes in the dry part of the state were “extremely unpleasant bodies of water,” we took the plunge and soaked in the waters of one. When it comes out of a bathtub spigot it seems so innocent.
The trip exceeded my expectations in every sphere but the lodgings. Our room, though comfortable, would have felt more spacious if we hadn’t shared it with a diorama of two stuffed pheasants under glass, a large-steer horn, several hanging pots of plastic ivy, a super-shiny slab table, two fishing creels, a large bird’s nest, a box kite emblazoned with a Boeing logo, an eagle made out of an indeterminate substance, and a wagon wheel suspended from the ceiling. Our second night there, after spending an entire day out of doors under an expansive sky, my husband shouted, “I’m going stir crazy.” It may have been the room.