31.08.2014 - 01.09.2014 25 °C
So, this was the last day of our travels together - about 370 miles. After a quick swoop through Moscow, which even on a quiet Sunday morning looked to me like a nice town, we went in and had a sneaky look at the University of Idaho, which is headquarted here. I have visited a few Unis in my time, but this is the first one where I have been so conscious of the Greek (i.e. fraternity and sorority) housing - there were whole streets of them. The University itself was founded here in 1889 with 40 students and one professor, so is actually a bit younger than my own Uni. I'm not entirely sure what happened to those 40 students as only 4 graduated. There was a major fire in 1906 which required a new Administration building, desiged by the architect who designed the State Capitol - the idea was to build a grand building in order to make people think it is a grand University.
Of course, there were also some significant sporting facilities, including a sports dome - of very little interest to me. Moving on, it was odd to find another country based University just 9 miles away - the Washington State University in Pullman. It must have been an odd sort of place to put a University, as there were no roads at all - the only way to get to Pullman was by rail, and from there to the Uni, instead of a yellow brick road, there was a red brick road - just a couple of blocks of these 100 year old streets still exist.
Driving through the campus meant we both missed Pullman and became very lost - the GPS lady was taking us into smaller and smaller country roads, but she was evidently correct because we finally got ourselves on the way to Lower Granite. To help resolve my brother's disappointment with Lewiston, I found that the locks he was interested in seeing were not actually at Lewiston - there is a sequence of about 15 dams and locks between here and where the Columbia river finally hits the sea - and a pretty flash rivercruise boat will take you through for about $3,000. Lower Granite is the first of the them. It is actually run by the Army, and we had to get security clearance to drive across the top of the dam and were under very strict instructions not to stop or take photos, so I have no photo of the lock (it had no traffic while we were there, so there wasn't much to see anyway. The dam had a Visitor Centre, one wall of which was glass, to allow people to see fish swimming upriver - there is a ladder which allows them to get through the dam. A woman was sitting in a wee concrete cubicle, knitting - my brother got talking to her: she actually sits there all day counting and classifying the salmon going through. When she takes a break, a video camera takes over - it ocurred to me that it would be so much more efficient to just video the whole time, rather than have people counting in real time, given that I think about three salmon went through the whole time we were there.
We didn't find much reason to stop for the next 320 miles, except for Yakima ("the Palm Springs of Washington"). This is a name legendary in one particular circle - the craft brewing movement, because about 70% of all hops grown in the US come from the Yakima valley. It also has about 100 wineries and is very big on other fruits and veges. I first came across the name Yakima several years ago in a bar in Westport, where I bought a dark beer called Yakima - I thought it was Japanese but was put right. Then a young fellow I talked to back in Port Angeles had left there to try his luck in Yakima and mentioned the hops - I don't think he liked it very much, because he described the area as a desert! Anyway, I made sure we went through and yes, there were hops (there were also cows in feedlots I was made to stop at). Every year (but not while we were there) Yakima has a Fresh Hop Ale Festival in October - it looks a lot like the one I go to in Nelson, Marchfest, where brewers make brews using the latest crop of hops.
Yakima town was actually a good place - we were only there for coffee but ended up walking through the whole town before finding any, so I didn't have my camera with me. Interesting fact about Yakima: the residents and the railroad had a huge fight in the 1880's which saw the railroad set up shop four miles out of town. The good people of Yakima had to accept the importance of the railroad, so moved the whole town (about 100 buildings) on rollers made from logs - I think the railrod won that battle. I'm not sure if that was the same rail station that is still there - it is where we finally found some good coffee, and a very interesting looking wood panelled restaurant/bar - but I do know the railroad has moved its station again. There were various old buildings clustered around the station we visitied - probably part of the big move.
After that, it was a simple matter of retracing our steps through to Seattle on the I-90, with a pause for dinner at Olive Garden - food was OK, but the service was outstanding. When we got there they told us there'd be an hour's wait, and gave us one of those wee discs that sings and vibrates. We wandered over to the mall - I managed to drop the disc thing in some water, and it started making these strangled beeping noises, but it turnd out that we were actually being summoned back to the restaurant - I hadn't realised they had such a range. Another night in the same Motel 6 we started in, and I dropped my brother at the airport at an extreme early hour and our shared trip was over.
This is the longest time I've travelled (or indeed spent) with anyone since I was a kid: before we left, we had both seen the same article about being careful who you travel with and how travel can test relationships - apart from one tiny squabble when I was barely awake and being asked to pay attention, all seemed to go fine - a lot of the time we wanted to see the same things