Travel Diaries: Washington

I finally realized why it’s taken me a year and a half to write the last few posts about my Summer 2013 road trip across the United States: every time I thought about my drive through the Western states (which are the ones I haven’t written about yet), I was overwhelmed by the feeling of sheer exhaustion that was a constant companion in those days.

By the time I drove into Spokane, WA, I had already spent 8 weeks on the road and put more than 9,500 miles behind me. I had essentially been bone tired since Atlanta, GA, at the end of week 2. That was the rough part of the trip. If I ever do this again, I won’t drive alone, and I will allow myself way more time at each stop.

But let’s talk about the state of Washington. I had never been there, so I was looking forward to visiting. Washington, like many of the states in the Western third of the US, offers majestic views of unspoiled nature.  I came away with a sense of wonder at the vastness of mountains, rivers, lakes and wildernesses.

True to its reputation, it was foggy and raining when I coasted through Coeur d’Alene, ID, into Spokane. I had heard of Coeur d’Alene’s beauty, but I wasn’t able to see much of it due to the weather. I spent the night with a friend and we went sightseeing the following day.

Downtown Spokane was a fun place that reminded me of Austin: the eclectic coffee shops, the cyclists and pedestrians, the evidence of creativity in every nook and cranny. I loved it there. We took a gondola ride across the Spokane river, and I was a little sad that I didn’t get to ride the vintage carousel in the nearby park. Next time, I guess.

I visited my friend’s flight school and admired the different types of small airplanes. Had the weather been better, she would have taken me up for a different kind of ride. Alas, that must wait for another day as well.

The following day found me on the road again–to Seattle. The sun shone just for me while I was there, an unexpected and welcome gift. While being touristy, I got stuck in downtown traffic for hours due to construction, but I enjoyed the landmarks I visited, like the Space Needle and the Armory. Chihuly’s blown glass art was on display at the Seattle Center–a bonus, since I like his art so much.

I visited with friends and held a poetry reading on the second day. Old friends, from way back in the day, drove down from Vancouver, Canada, just for that. We had a grand time catching up, making music together, and eating nyama choma–Kenyan barbecue. They filled me up with love and wonderful stories as I got ready to leave for my final stops on the way back to Los Angeles, and I still smile to think about it. Despite the exhaustion, I was glad that I had pressed on to the West Coast and not settled down on the East Coast as I had fleetingly considered doing.

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