Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Day 15 - Ellensburg to Seattle

Day 15 was our shortest driving day yet but probably involved the most traffic and navigation boo boos of the trip.  We didn’t leave Ellensburg until 10:00am because check in time at the Seattle KOA wasn’t until 2:00pm and we didn’t want to just hang out in a parking lot somewhere.  So everybody slept late and we took our time about getting ready.  The weather was beautiful again so we were afforded more wonderful views. 
First stop was for diesel.  It was a few cents cheaper per gallon on the left side of the road so that’s where we went.  I’ve noticed that as the trip goes on, Brett is bolder about going into tighter spaces with the whale attached.  On our first few outings with a 5th wheel, we only went to super large truck stop bays.  Now we circle around to the back side of Conoco Stations where all the dead pickup trucks are parked.  

Ellensburg was still under an extremely poor air quality alert due to an inversion that was trapping smoke for the wildfires in the area.  The morning air looked much better than last evening’s.  We did see at least one of the fires causing the problem.  

Today we passed through the Cascade Mountains on our way into Seattle.  I90 goes through the Snoqualmie Pass which is at about 3000 ft elevation.  They need some nice Maine names out here (like Mattawamkeag).

  • Cle Elum is a city in the region.  It looks like one of the letters fell off the sign.  It was named after the Indian word Tie-el-lum meaning “swift river”.
  • Many of the rest areas in this area have RV dumps stations available for free for the RV’ers who need them.  It really messes up your mileage when you carry all your black water over the mountains with you.
  • We are into the Falling Rocks portion of the road again.  Comforting, I suppose, is the sight of the sturdy wire “netting” covering much of the rock faces.  I suppose the idea is that the wires hold the rocks on the side of the mountain rather than having them bounce off the top of your car. 
  • The funniest GPS instructions today were “turn southeast on North East Bend Ave” and the ever popular “navigate off road” as we come to a KOA entrance driveway. 
  • Today is National Talk Like a Pirate Day  (Aaaargrrrrr says the grizzly bear).  Lowell wants to institute a National Talk Like Gollum Day.  This would involve sitting very close to somebody saying “precious” fairly often and making them extremely uncomfortable.  

We still had some time to kill so we stopped at the Country Pride restaurant about 40 miles from Seattle for brunch.  I’d say the median age of the customers in the place was about 90.  The lady running the cash register looked to be about 92 and she had the job of cutting the fudge at the candy counter too.  For some reason, our waitress greeted us speaking with some kind of an accent.  Then she giggled and said it was her English accent and she was just trying it out on us.  Okay…

Since this would be one of the last meals Lowell would get to eat without paying for it, he ordered the truck driver special which was pancakes, eggs, sausage, biscuits & gravy AND seconds on anything you wanted more of.  So he had seconds on eggs, bacon and the biscuit with gravy (which I admit I may have helped him eat).  He said if he’d tried to eat more pancakes he would have exploded.  Glad he didn’t.  

I5 in Seattle probably has the most traffic of any place I’ve ever driven.  At 1:30 in the afternoon it looked like rush hour.  A bit of white knuckle driving and navigating got us to the KOA.  We got checked in and drove to our site only to find another camper already in it.  Back to the registration desk I went and we finally got settled into another space.   This campground is full tonight.  A camping caravan just returning from Alaska is staying here.

We got set up and then packed all of Lowell’s possessions into the truck and headed over to the University of Washington to get him moved into his apartment.  The GPS earned its keep today!  There were several lane changes that I just missed but we got where we needed to be without too many tears.  We were able to park in the garage next to his apartments and then Brett & Lowell got all his stuff moved up into his room.  The other roommates have already moved in – one from China (electrical engineering, PhD student, one from Taiwan and one from San Francisco (English major) who couldn’t believe we’d driven all the way from Maine.

Lowell wanted to take us out for dinner after the move.  First we traipsed around campus for a while.  It is lovely but I’d worn my shopping shoes rather than my walking shoes so I was getting a bit winded.  

After our look see, we stopped at The Banana Leaf café.  I had a delicious pad thai.  It wasn’t much more walking to get back to Lowell’s apartment where we said good bye.  I know that we’ll be seeing him again before we leave but it was still bitter sweet.  It’s been fun having him along for the journey and I hated to see this part end.  But I know he’s going to have a grand adventure during his year out here.

 Pad thai!!!
There are a lot of Asians in Seattle.  I wonder if that means that there are a lot of really good Asian restaurants?

We thought we’d get a break from the traffic by returning after 7 but it was still pretty thick.  I tried to take a picture of Mt. Ranier as the sun set.  It’s a bit hazy but I think you can make it out. 
We are home safe and sound and plan on a bit of down time for tomorrow.  Then we’ll consider what to see next.


  1. I recall similar bittersweet emotional au revoir when leaving my son at his preschool in Windham. I looked back to see him enjoying his new school friends and realized that i was not abandoning him. It was me who was abandoned.