Ah, vacation. We woke to the most gorgeous fall day. Cool and crisp and literally not a cloud in the sky. We still had a lot of packing to do, but we’re in no rush. We did a little packing, then walked down to our favorite neighborhood bakery for bagels and coffee. When we got back, our friend Miriam, who is watching our house while we’re gone, was waiting for us with a bunch of books for us to borrow. More on them as we read ‘em…
By the time we had everything packed up and ready to go, it was after noon. No worries! After a quick stop at the Post Office, we left town heading generally north at about one. It wasn’t until a few minutes later that we realized we didn’t know where we were going beyond the “big picture.” We decided to take route 9 up to the North Cascades Highway. Route 9 a its way north from the Seattle area along the Cascade foothills. It made for a great start to our trip. The urban sprawl gradually giving way to suburbia, then rural farmlands, and finally the wilderness of the North Cascades.
At Sedro Wooley (great town name, eh?), we turned east on the North Cascades Highway and started the climb into the mountains. The road was clear of snow, but they were definitely gearing up for winter; every guard rail and edge was clearly delineated with those really tall markers to guide the plows and prevent them from going off the road. The light was fading fast, but Brad managed to get some nice shots of the surrounding mountain peaks as they caught the last of the sun. Just after we exited the park, we got to see a group of deer bound across the highway in front of us.
The first town of any size after the wilderness is Winthrop, which is where we were planning to have dinner and stay the night. Winthrop is a real town with a fake “old west” facade and way too many people. It didn’t help that a big mountain bike festival is going on there this weekend. Anyway, we wandered past all five restaurants in town and decided to try our luck further down the road. Off we went to Okanogan, 30 miles east over Loup Loup Summit.
As it turns out, there isn’t much to Okanogan, but its neighbor, Omak, has several motels. Omak is best known as the home of the Omak Stampede, an annual rodeo that, up until this year, featured the “Suicide Race.” The Suicide Race was a horse race across a prairie, down a very steep bluff, and across a river. It was a favorite target of PETA and other animal rights groups. What finally did it in wasn’t their protests, though, it was a disagreement between the Colville Indian Tribe and the town of Omak. Anyway, there isn’t much in Omak, either, but we did manage to find a place to stay (at the Omak Inn).
By the time we checked into the motel and brought our stuff into the room, it was close to 9 and most of the restaurants in town had closed or were about to close. We decided to go out to the grocery store and grab some dinner there…
We finally settled into the motel room at about 9. After eating our dinner and viewing the day’s digital pictures, we started watching “12 Monkeys” on TV. A few minutes later… Holy Crap! The loudest sound one could imagine hearing in a motel began blaring from our wall. Perhaps another guest was using her in-room jet engine? Actually, our upstairs neighbor was filling their jacuzzi.