So, our real journey began on Saturday March 8th, after a 36 hour stop back in Langley, following our brief but delightful Phoenix trip.
We spent the day Friday figuring out what we might want to take for an 8-10 week road trip, and by Saturday morning we had everything assembled. Two small bags each, a small box of paperbacks and travel books, one carry bag of crochet and knitting projects (no, not mine), another small box of oddments, and finally, a laptop bag, a camera case, and most importantly our two favorite pillows.
I loaded up the Grand Cherokee while Mary went off to one last Tai Chi class and at precisely noon (PST), we were backing out of the driveway. A short 20 minute drive to the Aldergrove crossing and a really short 7 minute wait in the border line-up and we were in the United States, and heading east to pick up the I5 at Bellingham.
Driving conditions weren’t ideal, but we weren’t deterred too much as we viewed Saturday as a chance to put some miles behind us, and our destination was Kelso, Washington, about 45 miles north of Portland at the Washington-Oregon border. Oh, and when I say the conditions weren’t ideal, we almost got side-swiped by an 18-wheeler that was swaying in the wind around Olympia, Washington. It was only Mary’s quick reaction time and a sudden veer onto the shoulder that saved us from what would have been an unfortunate start to the trip.
Finally, after about 5 1/2 hours of driving and 396 kms, we pulled off the I5 at Kelso, and the first thing we spotted was a Red Lobster restaurant. There aren’t any locations anywhere near where we live, so when we see one, we don’t need much of an excuse to head there. I could make a meal out of their Cheddar Bay biscuits alone!
In case you are wondering, we didn’t randomly pick Kelso as a stopping point. We have stopped there on more than one occasion over the years, usually on one of our trips down the Oregon Coast. If you head due west from Kelso, you arrive at the mouth of the Columbia River where it meets the Pacific Ocean, and you find yourself at Astoria, Oregon, the kick-off point for any journey down that spectacular coastline.
Anyway, after far too much food, we got back in the Jeep, and headed to our room for the night, at the Red Lion Hotel. The lodgings at Kelso are not high end – a Motel 6, a Super 8, and a couple of others of a similar ilk. The Red Lion was somewhat of a random pick but it was the only 3 star hotel in town, and we booked the room online while we ate dinner. Pretty handy having the ole iPad with me. We unpacked in the pouring rain, while being buffeted by high winds. It was a relief to get into our room and while the hotel was old, the room was clean, and the bed was comfortable. We were however really glad we had brought our own pillows. It didn’t take long for us to nod off after our first day on the road, and we also knew we were losing an hour as the clocks would be “springing forward” that night.
We were happy to have our trip underway, and were looking forward to day 2!