Oinks and Boinks

Andy Clarke

One of the nicest aspects of a road trip in a motorhome is that when you feel like changing your itinerary, you can. And that’s exactly what we did today.

Waking up in a cold, wet Washington and feeling that the weather was dampening our mood, we decided to speed up our return to the sun and scenery inland. Parts of Northern Washington are beautiful, especially the area around Wenatchee on the route towards Seattle. Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic Peninsula are stunning too, but the more we stayed in the developed parts of Washington, the more I craved the big, open skies and spaces I love so much about Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.

Our original plan had been to spend today making our way to Portland, Oregon for a two-night stay at Pheasant Ridge Resort and a day in the city with my friend Petra acting as tour guide. Instead we decided to miss out Portland and speed on back to Idaho with two long days of driving followed by two long days of resting and sunshine.

We pulled out of spot 13 at Elwha Dam RV Park, filled the propane tank to three-quarters full and waved at Mike and Lynn who had been so hospitable the night before. It was an easy hop onto i5 and then around fifty miles south to the turning for our next volcano-related stop at a viewing area overlooking Mount St. Helens.

We parked first at the visitors’ centre for a short look around and to data roam while I cancelled our reservation at the campground in Wilsonville, south of Portland and rearranged the few days ahead. Making a last minute cancellation always incurs a one-day charge but wasting $35 seemed worth it to get back into the sunshine. I let Petra know we wouldn’t be stopping by and drove another forty miles inland and uphill along the Spirit Lake Highway to the Johnston Ridge Observatory viewing point for a windy hour hoping to see the mountain that was completely covered in cloud.

Mount St. Helens, Washington

Luckily, a park ranger was on hand to explain the events of May 18th 1980 when the mountain last erupted, including horrifying tales of landslides, mudflows and shockwaves that demolished trees across an area the size of the city of Chicago.

My ears were ringing with the cold wind, so before too long we were back down the mountainside, filling up along the way with $100 of unleaded fuel for the RV and coffee and PayDay bars as fuel for me. The remainder of the drive was going to be a stretch of almost 160 miles.

Pulling out of the gas station, I put Girlschool on loud and we were all set for the drive south down i5 and past Portland and onto i84 east. Girlschool gave way to Motörhead and then to Rush and as we crossed the mountains east of Portland, the sky lifted and immediately so did our spirits (Of Radio). i84 follows the Columbia River Valley and the river route of the old Oregon trail and I was still singing as the green of the landscape gave way to rusty browns and golds. This is the type of landscape I love and it looked beautiful as the blue sky faded towards sunset.

I could have driven on further east, but at the junction with i84 and highway 97, we crossed the Columbia River, swung a sharp right and a mile down the road were pulling into our campground for the night, Peach Beach. Stood looking out over the river, I poked $20 for a one night stay into a slot in the self-pay station and felt warm and happy that we look like we’ll end this trip on a high after-all.

Gleesome Threesome

Route i5, 504, i205, i84
Miles driven 230
Campground Peach Beach
Tune of the day Race With The Devil by Girlschool

Feed the bears

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