So it’s my last day of total freedom … taking detours, exploring byways, eating or not eating whenever I please, sleeping in a campground or in a motel for however long I want; pulling into rest stops to take a walk, eat a sandwich, parking under a tree to read a book; skipping breakfast, kayaking on inviting lakes, having martinis at 3:00 in the afternoon, hitting the road at first light, no makeup, anything I want. I’ve never experienced having absolutely no responsibilities for anyone but myself; no consideration for anyone else’s wants or needs. Does that sound selfish? After 68 years, it didn’t feel selfish. It felt wonderful. I was somewhat reluctant to re-enter the “real” world.
I decided to kill a couple of hours in Couer d’Alene, Idaho because everyone raved about it and I didn’t want to arrive in Seattle before my kids got home from work. Couer d’Alene struck me as a mini-Lake Tahoe. The downtown area is sparkling clean, well-maintained, youthful with a vibrant, exciting air. There is a spectacular lakefront playground, a marina with restaurants, boat/kayak/paddleboard rentals and gorgeous hiking paths. The people are young, well-dressed and healthy looking. Kind of reminded me of Lake Woebegone, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” It is a lovely city in a Stepford wives kind of way. I wanted to stop for a cup of coffee or lunch but feeling a little “frumpy”, I decided to hit the road instead.
Five hours to Seattle. After the majesty of the land I’d seen, the farmlands of eastern Washington proved a bit unexciting. Beautiful, and I appreciate their bounty, but not as spectacular as I’d grown accustomed to. I knew I was gaining some altitude and drove around a curve to the splendor I was craving … the Columbia River Gorge. Wow!
The next three hours were eye-popping. Climbing, climbing, climbing through the Cascade Range and then I hit the Snoqualmie Pass. Breathtaking, heart stopping beauty. Lush and green and wet. No photos since I was busy controlling my descent traveling between huge 18-wheelers. The whole experience was unexpected and exhilarating. There was no place for me to stop due to the heavy truck traffic but, wait til next time. I plan to spend time at Snoqualmie Falls to really explore and possibly camp in the area.
And now the conclusion. I had driven over 3,200 miles alone with little to no anxiety but the thought of driving through Seattle to my daughter’s home made me break out in a cold sweat. I got lost in Seattle the last time I visited and almost had a coronary. I plugged her address into my phone and prayed for guidance. Literally. Siri delivered me to a parking space right in front of Laura’s front door.