Doug Grosjean's
Alaska Trip Report

June 1999

Day 5; Wednesday, June 2nd, 1999
Start: Arco, Idaho
End: Edmonds, Washington
730 Miles

We leave the motel fairly early, westbound on US Route 20, get breakfast in the next town, and then enter ďCraters of the MoonĒ National Monument.

Fascinating...! Ancient lava flows have left huge black boulders all around, it all looks as though it happened very recently. Not much vegetation. The gravel underfoot in the scenic pullouts is black, some sort of volcanic material. This entire area looks alien. The campground and visitor center both look very nice, but it's early and it doesn't look as though the visitor center's even open.

We continue on, and into rain. Heavy rain. And it rains, and it rains, and it rains. Joe pulls out under a roof in a small town, maybe meant to cover hay, and we get into our rain gear. Joe and I are similarly outfitted, but on our semi-naked bikes in our Gore-tex riding suits we wonít be dry forever without real rain gear - and it doesn't look as though this is going to let up anytime soon. So we get into our rain gear, and continue on.

We intersect I-84 at Mountain Home, Idaho; and then head northwest on I-84.

We motor on through the pouring rain.... and on, and on, and on. Joe has to get to Portland tonight, Wednesday night, to teach a computer class for a client Thursday. And I want to get to Seattle tonight, look up a girlfriend from my distant past (and her family), and take care of any last minute stuff on Thursday before boarding the Alaska ferry on Friday. Maybe get an oil and filter change, if possible.

Eventually the rain stops, somewhere in eastern Oregon. We motor on.

Joe and I split up at the intersection of I-82 and I-84. He gives me his toll-free voicemail number, heís got my e-mail address and Iíve got his, love these modern communications, and we split with my job being to make the ferry arrangements, let him know what's up, and maybe get him some bar-backs for his GS if they exist. Adios...!

Eastern Oregon is dry, it turns out. A desert, just like Arizona or eastern Colorado. Interesting.... Iíd expected a rain forest, thatís the stereotype and since Oregon wasnít my ultimate destination Iíd done no reading on the area whatsoever. My loss.

I cross the Columbia River into Washington state.... almost there! The bridge across the Columbia is neat, high above the water, it carries me across the river and into another dry landscape that looks more like Arizona stereotypes than what Arizona does!

I pull into the Yakima Valley around supper time and it smells great; the air has a fruity smell to it. And not just fruit, but the smell of farming, of damp earth and plants and maybe pollen..... am not sure what all goes into the mix; but I like it. There are orchards and farms all around, and these are the source of the wonderful smells.

Now, not having done my map-reading very well, I somehow thought that the Yakima valley was almost on the coast. Compared to Ohio, it is, but it's a big disappointment to find I'm still a very long way from my destination when I hit the Yakima valley. I'm tired, but I continue on.

Am just amazed at the scenery! Since I didnít really care what was between home and Alaska on the outbound leg Iím constantly being surprised at how beautiful the rest of the country is that weíre passing through on our way somewhere else! The stuff weíre passing through, Yellowstone, Craters of the Moon, Seattle... any of these places would be an excellent destination in itís own right, and I canít help but feel guilty at just going on by, as though Iím not even acknowledging that they exist. And I realize that Iím still not really appreciating it, that in the hurry to get somewhere else on time Iím not completely in a touring mindset, Iím not quite on vacation yet, in spite of the fact that Iím well beyond 2000 miles from home.

What a waste, and all because I couldnít mentally shift gears when I left work the previous Friday.

After the Yakima valley, I-82 intersects with I-90. I take I-90 westbound into Seattle.

Snoqualmie Pass on I-90 coming into Seattle is cold at 8:30 PM, and very pretty, lots of pines and large patchy areas of deep snow cover. Long sweeping downhill curves as the interstate drops and drops and drops some more into Seattle. This is very reminiscent of coming into Denver on I-70 out of the Rockies, the way the road just swoops down out of the pine forests and into the city.

I pull into Seattle, take I-5 northbound until Iím very tired, and then get off the Interstate and find a cheap motel in Edmonds, Washington; just outside Seattle. A very, very, very cheap motel. Eccentric residents and eccentric owners - but there's a Kinkos within walking distance with net access, and car dealerships, a sporting goods store, and restaurants. Good enough for what I need right now.

I'm whipped - but I go over to the Kinkos and send emails out to people who might be worried about me. Then back to the motel and into bed.

Doug Grosjean
Pemberville, Ohio