After our wonderful time visiting with John and Sandy we headed along the Columbia River to finally cross over into Washington. The vistas of Mount Saint Helen were beautiful. The drive was not long as we were staying with Mark and Cathy Wanick for the night. They are old friends of John’s family. Mark went to high school on Long Island with both John’s brother Will and his sister Carol. They used to live close to us in Florida and we had not seen them since they moved to Washington a few years ago.
We enjoyed a great dinner and wine and talked well into the evening. In the morning we said our good byes and drove to Renton, Washington where the United States Golf Association was holding a qualification for their first Women’s Senior Open. Janice wanted to try and qualify so they let John join her for a practice round since he was going to be her caddy the next day. We enjoyed a great round at Fairwood Golf and Country Club. The club was kind enough to let us park at the club overnight.
Janice had the qualifying round in the morning, she played great except for 3 holes where she thought she was asleep! A fun round with two very nice women. One of the lady’s 11 year old daughter caddied for her, what a cute girl, they were from Hawaii and she had just won her age group national surfing championship in Orange County, California!
John’s brother had some surgery and unfortunately had a complication from some previous surgery and was still in the hospital in Everett, Washington. We drove straight to the hospital and his wife Cathy met us outside. We had a great conversation with Will, he was doing better. We left the hospital and follow Cathy to the ferry for Whidbey Island where they had their home.
Cathy sister Beth was staying with Cathy to help get the house ready for Will’s return from the hospital. There next door neighbor was very kind and let us use their home for our stay. We took the ferry into Everett each day to spend some time with Will.
Friday night Will and Cathy’s son Chris came to the house and spent the night. We were thrilled to find him when we came over for coffee in the morning. Chris is about to retire from the US Coast Guard. His current job is like an air traffic controller, except for all the shipping traffic in the Seattle/Puget Sound area. He has taken the Polar Star ice breaker several times to Antarctica, so has had some great experiences. That afternoon, Chris’s brother Stephen came out to say hello. We missed not seeing their wonderful wives or Aiden, Chris’s son. We did have the pleasure of Bullet, Chris’s dog that was staying with Cathy at the house.
On Saturday we had some BBQ in the afternoon. Lee Taylor, a childhood friend of John came to visit. The fun story of Lee and John’s friendship was the closeness of their respective families. John’s grandfather and Lee’s grandfather were great friends which was passed on to their sons. Lee’s dad was John’s dad’s dearest friend and was known as Uncle Frank within the Wilson family. Lee’s mother Phil and John’s mother Jean were dear friends and played a lot of bridge together. John and Lee had not seen each other in 20 years, so it was a great evening of old stories.
Monday morning we got an early start and drove north on Whidbey Island over Deception Pass.
The bridge, which is actually two bridges connects Whidbey Island to the mainland. The bridge was built in 1934 as part of the CCC projects. The views from both sides are stunning.
Chris had suggested that we take the Cascade Loop over the Cascade Mountains on Highway 20.
North Cascade National Park
North Cascade National Park is referred to locally as the American Alps. The drive is extraordinary with a number of lakes created by dams along the way. Chris mentioned Diablo and Ross Lake as being great. They were!
We then stopped at the Washington Pass Overlook and walked the 1 mile trail up to catch the views.
There was a plaque on the ground honoring Jack Wilson for his part in building the highway through the pass John’s dad was known as “Jack,” so we thought the plaque was fun. He had nothing to do with the pass!
We continued down through the pass into a few towns and made our way to Grand Coulee Dam.
Washington State has many dams and we passed Chief Joseph Dam in the small town of Bridgeport. it is the second largest hydropower producing dam in the United States and the largest hydropower producing dam operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The single powerhouse is over a third of a mile long and holds 27 house-sized turbines. Alone, it produces enough power to supply the whole Seattle metropolitan area.
Grand Coulee Dam and the Columbia Basin Project
As we drove into view of Grand Coulee Dam we were taken back by the size. Grand Coulee Dam, on the Columbia River west of Spokane, Washington, is one of the largest structures ever built by mankind–a mass of concrete standing 550 feet high and 5,223 feet long, or just shy of a mile. Grand Coulee contains 12 million cubic yards of concrete
The Columbia River Basin Project is nothing short of amazing. The Grand Coulee Dam was built from 1933 through 1941 giving many jobs during the depression. Including the third power plant finished in 1980, it is the largest producer of power in the United States and one of the largest in the world. The average yearly power production is 21 billion kWh with power distributed to Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, California, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Arizona. In addition, Canada receives power under the Columbia River Treaty.The Columbia River Basin Project consists of 330 miles of major distribution canals, lakes and reservoirs, and about 2,000 miles of laterals that currently irrigate approximately 670,000 acres of land. The economic values of the Columbia Basin Project include irrigated crops valued at $1 billion annually, hydropower production of approximately $1.2 billion annually, and the prevention of more than $206 million in flood damages since 1950. The Columbia Basin Project also resulted in the creation of vast wetlands and riparian areas, and provides recreation benefits to about four million visitors each year. National Park Service
We continued our drive north thru Eastern Washington on our trip to Waterton National park in Alberta, Canada. Not far from the Canadian border we stopped by the Box Canyon Dam, The Box Canyon Hydroelectric Project, completed in 1956, is located on the scenic Pend Oreille River, ninety miles north of Spokane, Washington. The Pend Oreille River feeds into the Columbia River and is one of the few rivers that goes north.
On to Canada
We headed up back roads to cross the Canadian border. We have been in and out of Canada many times with the RV and are generally asked a few questions and then sent on our way. We were greeted by a Canadian Customs Agent that got out of bed on the wrong side that morning! He asked us 5 different ways if we had firearms with us. We guess being 70 year old “red-necks” from Florida, that would be expected! We told him no, so he asked us to pull over, wait in the building and then proceeded to search every part of the RV for 30 minutes, even our dirty laundry. When finished leaving a mess, he told us that we lied about the number of bottles of wine we had. We told him five and there were seven. We were very incensed by the search and John said, we could just turn around and go back to the United States. We told him we had never been treated that way by the Canadian Border Agents. He said we didn’t understand, this was normal and then he told us he had been searched the last three times he went to the United States. Like we said, “wrong side of the bed!”
We left and drove through some of the most beautiful parts of British Columbia along the U.S, border entering into Alberta and ending up at Waterton Lakes National Park. On the way we stopped to view some vista’s one was many barn swallows feeding their young under the bridge.
Waterton Lakes NationalPark
Waterton is the Canadian side of Glacier National Park and was just beautiful. We stayed in the town of Waterton Lake at the Townsite Campground.
We walked around the town into many of the stores and stopped for a ice cream cone. One thing is the cottonwood trees were blowing away the seeds, there were huge amounts of cotton all over the sidewalks and streets! This campground was in a beautiful setting, many ground squirrel holes all over the grounds and a beautiful lake surrounded by the mountains. In addition there were hundreds of ground squirrel holes with squirrels poking their heads out and chirping constantly.
Our golf adventure was fun, not the greatest course, but beautiful vista’s and enjoyable.
When we reached the tee for the 16th hole, a park ranger on his bike, pulled up and asked us to skip the 16th hole. A brown bear and her club were out in the fairway grazing. Now that was worth the price of admission!!
In the morning it was back to the United States and our week in Montana.