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The Road Bell Traveled: Spokane (WA)


Coeur d'Alene (ID)

ELEVATION: ~ 1,843 feet

VEHICLE: 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer

TRAILER: 2016 Jayco Jayflight 174BH


WEATHER: Clear, sunny, and very very hot

TEMP RANGE: low 47º – high 110º

DATE ARRIVED: Friday June 11th

DATE DEPARTED: Wednesday June 30th


6/10/21 Ontario, OR for a couple of nights. Best breakfast burritos ever from Cafe Zapate. Decided to try a sushi joint for dinner and Bell discovered a love of California rolls.

6/11/21 Stopped briefly at Four Rivers Cultural Museum on our way out to Pendleton, OR for the night. Very nice museum and worth more time than we could spare.

6/12/21 Arrived in Kennewick, WA for three days. Pool, laundry, sleep. Watched The Murders in the Rue Morgue.

6/13/21 Drove a few blocks to Columbia Waterfront Park to eat breakfast along the Columbia River. Were the first and only visitors at the REACH Museum to learn more about Hanford Reach and the Manhattan Project.

6/14/21 Quiet day trying to figure out where to go next. No plan in place at the moment, but eventually found an extremely expensive last resort option in Mead (just north of Spokane).


6/15/21 Light rain during our drive north to Spokane. First rain we’ve seen in weeks. Set up at new RV park. Tight spaces but amenities are nice- swimming pool, pool table, horseshoes, etc.

6/16/21 Drove downtown to get familiar with the city. Picked up breakfast and groceries. Talked with someone at a campground in Leavenworth to secure two full months at the end of the summer.

6/17/21 Visited the Northwest Museum of Art and Culture, unaware of a new John James Audubon exhibit. We were excited for it, but it failed to live up to expectations.

6/18/21 Decided to check out Mt Spokane State Park but there wasn't much to do except backcountry hiking. Disappointed but a beautiful drive!

6/19/21 DAY 100 on the road. Visited Cat Tales Wildlife Park, a very small zoo dedicated mostly to tigers, plus a few extras (bear, lion, and wolves). Bell fed the Oscar the black bear and Koshka the Siberian tiger, but she was sad about their small cages. (Download our tiger printable)

6/20/21 Father’s Day. It’s beginning to get rather hot, so we picked up a small window AC unit. Matt has a new favorite restaurant and ordered garlic parmesan wings (for about the 10th time since our arrival).

6/21/21 Impromptu drive after an early dinner, ended up 75 miles away in Kettle Falls!

6/22/21 Back to Walmart for two more fans and insulation materials. Despite the heat, we figured being outside was better than inside, so we visited Riverfront Park to ride the Looff Carousel and Skyride gondolas.

6/23/21 Green Bluff Growers. Two stops at Walter's Fruit Ranch (ice cream and apple pie) and Bodacious Berries (strawberry picking).

6/24/21 The heat is unbearable. It’s hotter in the trailer than outside.

6/25/21 Back to Walmart for one more fan. All they seem to do is push hot air around though.

6/26/21 Couer d’Alene today. Glad we didn’t pick tomorrow as they were setting up for an Iron Man race. Quick stop at the Museum of North Idaho and a small drive in for lunch. Very cute town and I wish we'd had more time to stay a few days.

6/27/21 Decided to stay at a nearby hotel to beat the heat. Stopped at Lilac Bowling Lanes to use up some time. (Download our bowling printable here) Arrived at our hotel and walked next door for Hawaiian kahlua pork for dinner. Decided to risk seven dollars on something called ice cream rolls…. and were promptly in heaven!! So cool! (Watch a video here)

6/28/21 Up early to visit Manito Park before the heat of the day. Had a Dutch breakfast at the Old European and arrived at Blue Zoo Aquarium just as they opened. Fed sting rays and parakeets. Hottest day ever on record.

6/29/21 Drove back to RV park to get packed and ready to move along. Tried frying an egg on the sidewalk but it mostly dehydrated instead. Still fun to watch.


Travel Tips

Deadman Pass lookout, south of Pendleton, OR

Eastern Oregon and Western Idaho share a scrub-steppe landscape, often barren and prairie-like, with occasional rolling hills and oases of dense forests. You can easily imagine with Oregon Trail pioneers would have felt like, except our modern horse-drawn carriages gallop through the terrain in a matter of hours.

Most of the north-south drive on Interstate 84 is straight, with moderate curves and dips. The exception is a short stretch of the freeway just south of Pendleton, known affectionately as Deadman Pass. From Drivers attempting to negotiate the pass (84 km / 52.2 miles) are in for a challenge: heading northwest, you're forced to climb more than 2,000 feet in elevation that's chock-full of double-hairpin turns, as well as 6 percent grades. Heading southeast, the scenario flip-flops, and your brakes need to be operating at their full potential.


Activities Nearby

Not to be missed is the Green Bluff Growers, just north of Spokane in Mead, WA. All summer long there is a bounty of you-pick fruit and veggies, and plenty of extras such as jam and honey to peruse in individual farms' shops. To our dismay, the recent heat wave destroyed most of the year's strawberry fields.

Cat Tales Wildlife Center, also in Mead, is a small and somewhat struggling zoo specializing in large felines. They need more visitors and donations to really bring funds to this park, so they can build bigger and better enclosures for these majestic creatures. We loved seeing the impressive tigers, and Bell had the chance to feed a Siberian tiger named Koshka. A few years back we stopped here and fed a lioness named Nala. Toward the back of the zoo is a good-natured black bear named Oscar, which we've met and fed twice as well. Worth a visit!

Riverfront Park in downtown Spokane is a spot for a fun afternoon. Stroll along the river, ride the Skyride gondolas, spin around on the carousel, and test your balance at the skate park. There's something for everyone and the views of the Spokane River and Falls are great!



• Our trip through Kennewick was a treasure trove of history. The nearby Hanford Reach area has been untouched by development or agriculture since 1943, and was declared a National Monument in 2000 (tours were closed during our visit). During World War II, this area along the Columbia River was designated a perfect location to manufacture plutonium for the war effort, along with sites in New Mexico and Tennessee. Workers at the Hanford factory had no idea what they were helping create– material for the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Many great sites online help tell this story, and a few standout documentaries are available to bring the tale to life:

Oregon Experience: Hanford (episode 801)

PBS: The Bomb

• In Spokane, we visited the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, which had a brand new exhibit about the life and art of John James Audubon. All in all, it was a lovely museum but the exhibit wasn't the most entertaining one we've seen. However, it did prompt some questions and curiosity both into the life of Audubon and the birds he so painstakingly documented. As Audubon's life in both American and Britain spanned the late 1700s and early 1800s, it is impossible to ignore that he lived in the time of slavery and exploration (i.e. exploitation). Even the National Audubon Society published an article acknowledging Audobon's shortcomings in the spring of 2021. If you look past the man and focus only on his work, then he remains a celebrated figure in the world of ornithology and fine art. Numerous books with collections of his paintings have been published, and original prints sell for thousands of dollars.

• On the science side, we were pleasantly surprised by the Blue Zoo Aquarium in Spokane. The admission price is steep ($48 for two adults and one child) and an additional $10 for four feeding tokens, however it was well worth it. The first tank you encounter at the Blue Zoo Aquarium is the stingrays and yes, you can feed them. We ended up using three of our four tokens here because.. well... they're stingrays!! Velvety soft and oh so cute, these little marine critters delivered little nibbles on your fingers when they'd eat directly from your hand. We had to do some research on types of rays, which was overwhelming, because rays are the largest group of cartilaginous fishes, with well over 600 species in 26 families. Thanks Wikipedia! This fun video from Brave Wilderness shows how amazing and huge these rays can be!


Bell's Eyewitness Report


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