Day 15: Eastern Washington & Coeur d’Alene

Late last night, Ashwini and I were watching a movie, when I discovered something stuck in Tako’s paw between the pad and his toes. Knowing one of us was going to pitch a fit about the removal process, I crept off to my room hoping to avoid a scene. I thought Tako would be uncomfortable; I thought he might throw a tantrum; but I did not think he was going to fight me like a wildcat. He didn’t try to bite me or anything (he never would), but he was all paws of fury and twisting so hard against my grip I was worried he was going to dislocate something. Eventually, I gave up and had to ask for help.

I think it’s a sign of true friendship when someone is willing to help you pull piece after piece of petrified sap out of your dog’s toe fur.

Tako & I left Seattle mid-morning today, heading east. Our ultimate destination was Coeur d’Alene, but tonight is just a stopover to break up the drive to Missoula.

On my way through Snoqualmie, I called my dad to see if he could provide any help solving the nigh-on impossible decision in front of me. He’s a musician and toured for almost forty years, so he’s usually my go-to resource for any city on the planet. Every once in a while, he’ll say he hasn’t been somewhere — and I swear everyone goes quiet with shock; like a pin could drop, and we’d hear it quiet — but for the most part he’s got a few pointers for anywhere you can think to ask about.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t much help on this one. His stance is that most of the Midwestern Plains (from Canada on down through South Dakota) looked pretty much the same when viewed from a tour bus. And he didn’t really have time to hike through national parks on tour (ha), so he had no idea how to advise on my Banff vs. Black Hills conundrum.

He did say that Jackson Hole sounded exciting if I could find a place to stay this close to the dates. Excellent point…but I’m too tired to think about it all right now.

On a ridge above I-90, in (maybe next to?) a town called Vantage, is sculpture entitled Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies — known as Wild Horses Monument according to the state of Washington — overlooking the Columbia River. I’m a tad obsessed.

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I have a video up on my Instagram story right now of them as well. When the wind hits the steel horses, it whistles through them like music.

Here’s what it looks like from the viewpoint:

Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies

That pathway to the left is what you have to climb to get up there. It looks harder than it is, but the soil is pretty loose — and hot, hot silt — and the climb is steep, so I recommend close-toed shoes.

Apparently, Govedare’s original design included a giant basket with two horses still inside, but the project ran out of funds. I think the basket is still a hope for the future, but the 15 horses on the ridge were erected in 1990. So maybe not?

You can read a bit more about the sculpture and original concept on Wikipedia.

These horses might be my favorite public art piece ever. It’s hard to see in my photos, but the way they’re designed and each of them is placed gives this sense of fluid movement, that they’re actually galloping past you on the ridge. Climbing to the top, I had my head down, watching my own steps as well as Tako’s balance — each foot placement was pretty important for not slipping in the silt and sliding down the hill — and when I looked up, the illusion of movement was disorienting at first.

Or maybe I just have two different astigmatisms and depth is hard for me. Either/or.

Before we left the site, I attempted a selfie with a very unenthused pug.

Unenthused Pug Selfie VantageJPG
Nailed it. Sigh.

By the way, I found that strange I mentioned I was looking for from my nature experience. Eastern Washington is very different. It effortlessly slides from high desert to Pacific NW style lakes and evergreen forests and back again.

But it was mostly the below, interspersed with corn and wheat fields that seemed to run endlessly in every direction.

Eastern Washington

At one point, an actual tumbleweed danced around in the road in front of me for a while before crossing to the other side of 261. I am not kidding. I hadn’t seen anyone else on the road in an hour, so I was able to slow to a crawl and watch it for a few moments.

We took a detour from I-90 to visit Palouse Falls. It’s gorgeous and loud. You can kind of see the rainbow on the righthand side of the photo.

Palouse Falls

The Palouse Falls State Park is a campground — though you’ll need a Discover Pass to camp — and picnic area. Everything else is cordoned off, so, sadly, you can’t get closer to the falls than this overlook.

Making our way back to 90E, we came across this. It’s parked (strong word choice, I know) in a lot marked “Motel and RV.”

Devin's Bus 2

Sorry, guys. No rates were posted.



Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies



We wound up driving around 8h today. We saw a lot of cool things, but it was way too much.

How we started the day…

Ready to God
Ready to go!

…versus how we finished the day.

Too Tired
Ready for bed!




Driven: 2520mi

Hiked: 35mi

Written: 3k

Listening to: “Sideways” Citizen Cope

6 thoughts on “Day 15: Eastern Washington & Coeur d’Alene

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