Time during this trip has been a bit of a paradox for me. In some ways it has been going very fast and in some ways very slow.
The morning of the 24th, we woke up at the Holiday Inn in Bozeman, Montana. Dad, Mom, and I were trying to come up with a tentative schedule and route to get us into Seattle by the afternoon of August 29th as my mom and little sister were booked to fly home early morning on August 30th. If you aren’t aware, there are a lot of wild fires burning out west this year and so each major jaunt that we take driving from one state to another, we’ve checked the government website documenting the number, location, and approximate extents of current wildfires.
If you didn’t know, we were planning to spend some time up at Glacier National Park in northern Montana. However, during our discussion on where to go, how to get there, how to get back, etc., it all just started to become very complicated. Looking at our Atlas map and google maps, there are main roads that go up the east side of Glacier NP and the west side. There are only one or two main roads that cross Glacier (east-west direction) north of I-90. The one that does (known as Going to the Sun Road) cross through the park was in close proximity to one of the fires burning in the park. The road was open to traffic at the time, but it would have been quite smokey and very problematic to us if it had to be closed before we were able to head further west.
We toyed with the idea of seeing Glacier from the western side which avoided the need to drive by the fire on Going to the Sun Road and also generally avoided a wild fire burning southwest of I-90 near Missoula. That could have worked but it was going to be 2-3 hour drive north of I-90. There are no good state routes or Interstates on the northern border of the US to get to Seattle. It would have been a quite in-direct route. It was pretty stressful trying to work all that out that I finally introduced the idea of skipping Glacier NP altogether and just going directly to Seattle. We’d have more time to spend in that geographic area, we could see Olympic National Park, possibly Mount Rainier… there were definite possibilities. Dad, Mom, and I all felt relieved with this plan and so, that’s what we did.
We ended up traveling from Bozeman, MT to Post Falls, Idaho where we would stay for the night. We stayed at the Red Lion Templin’s Hotel on the River. Dad wanted to find a place a little extra nice as it was his and my mom’s 32nd wedding anniversary. Love them both so much…
We continued our drive and were shortly into Washington State which proved to be a very beautiful state! We had to cross the Columbia River which is in a deep gorge. There was a nice pull-off right off the highway so we stopped to take in the scenary. Wow, words and pictures won’t do this place justice but I’ll try to share how beautiful this was. The land was generally vegetated and rocky. The vegetation however was bone dry. the canyon and surrounding rocky landscape were a dark gray, and the river was deep blue. The combination of colors was amazing.
An interesting fact about I-90 in Washington State: they maintain the roadway by putting down “fresh oil and loose stone.” Do you know what this means? This means that they resurface the Interstate in the same fashion that they do our tiny country roads in Madison County, New York…. ON THE INTERSTATE!!! I was shocked to say the least.
We were going to find a camping spot coming into the area slightly east of Seattle. We wanted to find a place between the wildfire(s) burning north of Cle Elum but outside of Seattle. So, I called one place near the highway and they had camp sites available, surprisingly (or not). So we pulled into the site; there was a house, a few slightly decrepit and creepy looking camping trailers, and the weirdest part – there was a livingroom style rocking-chair/reading chair thing just sitting outside, not even facing the water on the nearby pond. It was admittedly slightly creepy. But the bathroom and shower facilities were nice. Anyway, my family wanted to move on and try to find something less creepy. So we got back on the highway. A campground that I had seen on google maps but had dismissed due to the location ended up being a beautiful spot!
This campground was called Deny Creek Campground; it’s located directly in-between but below I-90. The road to get there is very narrow, no guard rails, and sometimes a little hairy, but otherwise beautiful. We pulled into the campground and there was a sign that we were all too familiar with at this point “Campground Full”…. our stomachs sank. We asked the camp host if they had anything left and after a minute he said “Oh wait…. site 9 might be open… it’s a first come first serve site. So he ended up guiding us to the site and IT WAS OPEN! So we backed in, and set up camp!
There is a nearby creek and a nice trail lerfall after dinner. It was really, really pretty. The water was so crystal clear… and COLD!!!! Brrrrr.
Anyway, I was able to set up my hammock between to trees and slept in there both nights.