Day 10, October 20, 1997: Riverside, WA to Leavenworth, WA

Not many miles today. Partly that is because of a late start. Partly it is because I took a computer's advice uncritically (will I never learn?).

I left Karen's and Denny's place a bit after noon. This morning I helped to feed and water her critters as well as those of a neighbor (up in this area, neighbor means somebody ½ mile down the mountain). Karen keeps three dogs, four cats, seventeen chickens, two ducks, and two horses. A few weeks earlier and there would have been a steer and a pig to take care of but they have recently take up residence in the freezer. There are also six sheep but they tend to wander away looking for greener pastures on the mountain and return when they feel like it. Then again, since there are numerous cougars in the area, they sometimes don't. Two years ago Denny said they lost seven sheep to a single cougar. Guess that the sheep are the natural version of Purina Puma Chow when the deer prove too difficult to catch on the mountain. The neighbor has even more chickens as well as chukars, pheasants, turkeys, and a sheep.

I packed up and went down the mountain and back to town. After the trip over so many miles of dusty road the car needed a wash so I did that. I then entered my desired route into the computer (shortest route between Riverside and Poulsbo), started up the GPS, and then followed the instructions the machine gave me to the letter. I finally got a little concerned as I found myself going up the Mad River Canyon and on to progressively more narrow and winding roads and eventually onto a gravel road that headed out into an area that looked essentially untraversable. THEN I checked what the computer was telling me to do. Oh well, I winged it after that and made my own way over the Cascades following more conventional routes. The computer was, it appears, giving me exactly what I asked for but not what I really wanted or needed.

My route put me into the town of Leavenworth, WA at about quitting time so I decided to stay here. Have you ever been any place that just makes you nauseous? That is the effect this town has on me. First off, as a ploy to attract tourists, the whole town (yes, even McDonalds and Burger King) is done up in a very phony Tyrolean theme. As tacky as this is, they have an attitude on top of it. The first, rather modest-looking motel I stopped at quoted a price of almost $100 a night. The second one was going to charge me $0.25 a minute to make 800-number calls. The third, where I finally decided to stay, had reasonable rates and free phones despite being old-fashioned and having the mandatory pseudo-Tyrolean decor. Oh well, you can't have everything.

It strikes me that a few towns on my route have these pseudo-ethnic themes. Besides this one, there is Poulsbo, WA with a Norwegian theme and Solvang, CA with a Danish theme. At least those two have the distinction of actually having populations largely of the claimed nationality. It strikes me that this town might be the actual explanation of those Nazi war criminals that didn't make it to South America. I can just see them landing in the mountains of Washington in 1945 and hatching their plot to prey upon tourists for generations to come.

Back to more pleasant stuff: last night at Karen's was an experience! The house is a log cabin originally built by homesteaders in 1898. There have been additions over the years (yes, telephone, electricity, and TV) but the ambiance is still very old. The house has settled at an odd angle over a century giving it a dynamic feel. The heat comes from a wood-fired cooking stove in the kitchen as well as a cast iron stove in the living room. I slept in the loft/upstairs that normally act as Karen's craft and sewing room. The bed was an iron beast left behind by the original builder and the mattress appeared to be an actual feather bed.

I slept pretty well once I got into bed but with a few unexpected interruptions. First it was cats. Two of them apparently were hiding upstairs. One jumped onto the bed immediately after I got in and proceeded to groom herself noisily. I picked her up and put her down the stairs and closed the door. An hour later, a second cat jumped into bed with me. This one turned out to be a virtually wild cat that hangs around and deigns to be fed with the others. Karen said that the cat hides for days on end and is seldom seen. In the middle of the night I was awakened repeatedly by barking dogs and yipping coyotes. The dogs make it their business to keep the coyotes away from the chicken coop but are not quiet about it. Finally this morning I was awakened by the rooster outside and the approaching light of dawn (that and a temperature around freezing in the bedroom. I was comfortable under a thick layer of blankets and a down comforter but was totally unmotivated to get out of bed).

Picture of the day is Karen's 1898 cabin in the mountains, slightly edited to remove the temporally jarring TV antenna.

Tomorrow morning I will press on through Poulsbo to make my pilgrimage to Sluys Poulsbo Bakery and then on toward the Olympic Peninsula. And we continue on the next leg of our 12,000 mile solo tour driving on the edge of the US.

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