What a great, memorable, excellent day this was!
I began it with a run in Spokane; there is a 23 mile path called the Centennial trail that runs along the Spokane river, and it was gorgeous. Lots of Canada geese with goslings of various stages of development, from tiny yellow hatchlings to half-grown, gangly adolescents. Spokane also seems to have a fair amount of 'campers' (vagrants?) living in tents or under tarps. But everyone was very friendly.
We drove through Washington State on I-90 and I-84, and I was surprised by how much of Washington is prairie land. I was expecting all mountains, all the time. We took several people's advice and did the I-84 drive along the Columbia River gorge, which is simply spectacular. Today it was incredibly windy, to the point that the river had whitecaps on it, and the car was buffeted by gusts of wind as we drove along. From time to time we caught glimpses of Mount Hood, a snow-capped peak standing tall and alone, with its head poking up above the clouds.
We stopped off at Hood River to meet up with someone I've always wanted to see in person, and somehow knew that this would happen. D is a photographer friend, a retired English teacher and basketball coach in Oregon, who has been called back to teach because he's one of those inspiring people who have a true gift for educating and inspiring others. He and his beautiful wife J drove from their place in Oregon to spend some time with us; they suggested a marina and beach right off the highway, and the dogs had a fantastic time playing in the shallows of the Columbia. D&J had brought us a bag of local cheese, meat and wine to take along with us. They are such kind, thoughtful people, and I feel a real connection to both of them. It's definitely another highlight of this trip.
We had another three hours on the road, taking us into the Cascades, a mountain range very different from the Rockies, though equally awe-inspiring. These mountains are lush and verdant and sculpted, with waterfalls nearly everywhere you look.
Through Portland, and another 90 minutes took us out to the coast, for our first, magical glimpse of the Pacific ocean and Haystack rock. We arrived at about 17:00 and we took the dogs down to the beach to run and play to their hearts' content. It's doggy heaven here, with no restrictions about leashes or hours when they can be there. And everybody else on the beach seems to love dogs. We even had a woman approach us and ask if she could give our dogs a biscuit, because they'd left theirs at home and were missing him. Arwen ran into a game of boules and made off with one of the balls, and all the players did was laugh and say they wondered how long it would take for that to happen.
We have a full day here tomorrow, and the weather forecast is good. My only worry is running out of camera memory cards!