California has a harsh, raw, majestic beauty, the Pacific Northwest is quietly beautiful, it lures you in in sips rather than gulps...
We flew into Spokane, Washington which is very St Louis-like at first impression but younger, livelier and a lot more evolved. The little hotel we stayed in had loads of character and was very affordable. At midnight, there were scores of bars open and places to eat, we even had time to catch the local Flying Spiders band-a lot of fun. Microbrew is abundant and cheap in the region while the local grocer sells grass fed beef for $5 a pound and colorful pasture-raised eggs in the fridge, a sort of local, more conscientious Whole Foods.
The river runs through Spokane with crystal clear waters and the whole region is just dotted with lakes and rivers of all sizes. We spent two days in Spokane and then headed for Panhandle Idaho where we camped for the night on Upper Priest Lake. There are pines and firs as far as the eye could see. More trees than we have seen in 3 years in Southern California.
Next day saw us heading straight for Roman Nose Lakes nearby where we backpacked into the Upper Lake, snacking all the way from trailhead to campsite on huckleberries growing abundantly on the trail. We had the whole lake to ourselves but tranquility broke at 6am (6am!) where a group of noisy old guys decided to park themselves on both sides of our camp to fish and talk over us.
We headed for Montana the next day after a lazy stroll in Bonners' Ferry. Kootenai River was splendidly gorgeous, a little teaser of Big Sky Country where we hope to come back for more! A token walk on the scary swing bridge and then it's off to seek refuge for the night. We ended up in Clark's Fork off Lake Pend O'Reille back in Panhandle Idaho where we stayed at a local rented garage room from a sign we saw on the side of the road.
Hit the road the following day after a greasy local breakfast and spent 2 hours getting out of LAX. Highlight of the trip? We saw a BEAR (Henry was sad that we almost didn't). From the safety of the moving car, fortunately. He/she is beautiful and in the album somewhere, don't miss the pic! An awesome trip all in all!
© Amy Tan