HLWT Day 1 – Seattle to Baker City, Oregon; Falls, Hills and Old Roads

Oh, it was a long day, well over 500 miles. But we saw a lot of great things and explored a few old highways and towns.

No trip can possibly get off to a good start without picking up a few Mighty-Os vegan/organic donuts. These were voted best donut in America by the Food Channel and there’s a reason. Simply amazing. But we didn’t gobble them down right away. Oh no! We waited to savor the amazingness.

That day started on the west side of the Cascades as incredibly rainy. The previous night, we were kept awake by a strangely-violent thunder storm. We just don’t normally get them out here. But for the past several weeks, it’s been a regular thing. We’re pretty thrilled about that.

But after the pass, it was mostly sunny.

Our first stop was at Frenchman Coulee, carved out 10,000 or so years ago by a gigantic flood caused by Glacial Lake Missoula bursting. If you don’t know about the Missoula Floods, look it up and prepare to be amazed.

We ate our donuts at the Coulee. I’m not sure why I don’t look happier. I was actually really excited. This is apparently my excited face.

One of the great things about driving in the Palouse is that the roads follow the contour of the land. And the land is awesome. A lot of the morning was spent driving through the swales of eastern Washington, also created by the floods. Previous to this, it was mostly volcanic rock.

Washtucna is a small town on the way to Palouse Falls, our next stop. We gassed up and took in the scenery.

Palouse Falls!

I explored places to watch for trains (there was a mainline Union Pacific track nearby), while Smartz took pictures of flowers. Pretty typical, actually.

Leaving the falls, you have to pass under a huge trestle. I was impressed, but sadly, no train.

Near Dayton, Washington, there’s the old campsite that Lewis & Clark used back in the 1820s. A local artist recreated the camp with huge iron cut outs.

In Dayton itself, there’s an old train station with a statue of a station agent and his dog. I gave the little pup a head scratch.

Crossing the line into Oregon, we decided to leave whatever two-lane we were on to explore towns that used to set on the two-lane before they were bypassed. We discovered Athena, a quaint little place with the great old buildings and ghost murals.

A little while later, on Old US Route 30, near Immigrant Hill, I finally got a train shot.

Somehow or another, I’ve discovered that I like old bridges. Don’t ask me how this happened, but I really was excited to find a 1924 concrete arch bridge that used to be part of Old 30. It was completely refurbished a few years ago and, aside from the goofy iron railing they used, it looks great.

Farther along Old 30, we found a great hotel. I’d love to stay in a place like this sometime, but for this trip, we’re camping.

Arriving in Baker City, only sparingly by the use of interstates, I couldn’t be happier!

And after a bit of dinner…

We tried to catch the sunset at Flagstaff Hill, a landmark on the old Oregon Trail. It was, however, gated off after 6pm. Boooo!

We made it work a little farther down the hill though.

An amazing first day!

To see many more photos, click here!

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