It's as if Washington somehow is really two, maybe even three, different states. We only head to eastern WA once a year or so, the last time being on our way to Yellowstone. But this time, this year, Spokane itself was our destination. Matt was set for a three-day conference, and we anticipated up to five days of activities in the Spokane area with the travel days on each end included. Turns out, the trip went downhill fairly quickly, but I'll get to that...
If you start in Seattle, Spokane should be about a three hour drive just shy of the Idaho border. But somehow we managed to make it six. (Sounds exactly like our trip to Winthrop!) I'd planned a stop at both the Wild Horse Monument and the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park, but we decided to push through and save those stops for the return trip (spoiler alert– didn't happen). We made it to Spokane at dinnertime, grabbed a bite to eat, and checked in to our hotel.
DAY 1: MEAD, WA
• Dropped off Matt at his conference. Said goodbye and planned to see him on Sunday night for a Monday morning drive home. Isabella and I were off!
• Our first stop was Cat Tales Zoological Park in Mead, WA. The park was founded in 1991 as a sanctuary for rescued large cats (and some bears, wolves, coyotes, etc). The thing that struck me the most was how small the enclosures were for such large animals. Signage all around the zoo mention their non-profit status and how our contributions and donations help to build new homes for the animals. Methinks, "Ok, let's do the "Lion Adventure" and "Bear Adventure" to add a bit more money in their pockets."
First up was Oscar the bear eating some grapes through a stick in the fence (very high tech stuff here, folks), and second was Nala the lioness with her raw meat treats. Isabella had a great time and will have this story to share forever! Overall an interesting stop, but we probably won't return. Adults $10, kids $5, feedings $10 each.
• High up on a hilltop north of Spokane is an area known as Green Bluff, with over 60 small privately-owned farms. We stopped in at Walter's Fruit Ranch and gladly gobbled a piece of peach pie and bowl of vanilla ice cream. Afterwards you can play in the "pea box," walk the maze, or feed the sheep. U-pick is an option for a variety of fruit (mostly apples) but we passed on it this time.
• Back to the hotel. We were beat! Luckily a restaurant was literally next door called Moon's Mongolian Grill, which is one of our favorite types of food. It did not disappoint, but was a bit more expensive for take-out than dine-in which seemed unfair since you actually get less food with the take-out. At the hotel we logged in to Amazon Prime and watched 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (because we're nerds).
DAY 2: LIBERTY LAKE, WA
• 8am phone call from Matt to get picked up! Whaaa? Apparently the conference was a bust, and we were instantly on the move to get out and back in time for our 11:30am scheduled canopy ropes course at Mica Moon Aerial Park. Mica Peak was our destination and it was previously used as a moonshine smugglers route during prohibition, hence the name Mica Moon. They offer zip line tours and canopy adventures, and we used a Groupon for an all-day pass for the treetop ropes course (normally $49pp but we paid half that).
The tour began at the reception area in Liberty Lake, where we boarded a shuttle bus to climb Mica Peak as far as paved roads can go. From there we shuffled onto an ATV and drove up another few minutes to a training area where we got harnessed and practiced on the mock course. Then another ATV ride up the rest of the way to a drop-off point, and a short hike to the canopy itself. It really felt like we were being taken to the Hunger Games, I'm not kidding.
Almost immediately we realized Isabella was a tad too short to reach the ropes, and she would need help throughout the course. Yellow jackets followed our every move, and after about half an hour I was beginning to think we'd need an emergency rescue off the mountain! We completed seven obstacles and requested a return trip outta Dodge, which I think surprised the guides since we had an "all day" pass and it had barely been an hour. Here in this photo you can start to see the web of anxiety building up, about 30 feet off the ground... Take the damn picture, Mom...
• Time to hightail it back to Seattle at this point, as Matt was ready to get home and Isabella was a nervous wreck. At 4 o'clock I wasn't in the mood to start a long haul drive, but ok, here we go. Our one and only stop back was along the Columbia River just past the Gorge, where we imagined ourselves as Lewis and Clark. One of the most enjoyable parts of the drive was a section of I-90 between Moses Lake and Ellensburg where the fields of crops are labeled, so it was fun to watch out for the blue signs announcing potatoes, sweet corn, or alfalfa. Everyone was asleep at this point so I played this little scavenger hunt game alone, haha.
Bottom line– our five day Labor Day vacation became a whirlwind 48 hours out and back. I wouldn't want to do that again, but now we know our stamina for long distance driving ;)