Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Voyage of the Glaciers (2015)

Across the Idaho panhandle to Washington

I had breakfast in the hotel, checked out around 0830 and was ready to hit the road for another long day of driving. It was already clear (so to speak) that conditions were very hazy indeed as a result of the recent wildfires.

I drove initially south and then southwestwards, via Flathead Lake and Plains, before turning towards the northwest and making a short stop in the small town of Thompson Falls. Enduring memories from that morning break included little groups of wild deer wandering around the town and a train carrying a partially constructed aircraft fuselage, presumably bound for the Boeing plant at Redmond.

ABOVE: Sunshine spoiled by smoke and haze at Flathead Lake ABOVE: A plane takes the train!
BELOW: Thompson Falls, Montana, named after British-Canadian explorer, geographer and trader David Thompson (1770-1857)

In due course I continued on my way, crossed the state line into the Idaho panhandle, and picked up the shoreline of Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced pond-e-ray, apparently).

I stopped for lunch at an independent burger place in Sandpoint, which proved to be a much more pleasant experience than any of the various fast food chains. After that, my route once again took me southwestwards, first with a bridge crossing of the lake and later with a fast run along I-90 into Spokane, Washington. (For anyone not familiar with the city, the name is pronounced spoh-KAN.)

I was feeling rather pleased with myself for managing to exit the freeway at the correct junction and then drive without a hitch to the Davenport. Pride comes before a fall, however: there were no fewer than four Davenport hotels in Spokane and this was not the correct one! At least the driving route from the Davenport to the Davenport Grand was nice and straightforward, and very soon I was handing over my car keys to valet parking guys at the Grand.

RIGHT: The Davenport Grand, Spokane

This turned out to be a fabulously stylish and modern luxury hotel. I thought at the time that it would be up against The Morrison in Dublin for the accolade ‘hotel of the trip’, but of course I was forgetting that Salish Lodge and a member of the Fairmont family were still to come. Once I had settled into my very acceptable King room, I set out for a walk around Riverfront Park, setting of the Expo event in 1974.This gave good views of the Spokane Falls on the river of the same name. I rode the Skyride, a rebuilt gondola-style cable car that gave good views of the falls and also passed under the historic Monroe Street Bridge.

ABOVE: Enjoying an excellent early dinner at 'The Grand', in the Davenport Grand

Having returned to the Davenport Grand, I decided to go for drinks and an early dinner at The Grand lobby bar and restaurant. I opted for a seat in the restaurant and enjoyed some genuinely wonderful food and drink, consisting of a Vanilla Bean Old Fashioned cocktail, a cream of mushroom and sherry soup, grilled wild Alaskan salmon (which seemed appropriate for the trip) and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, followed by a cappuccino. Truly superb!

The day had not achieved its full potential due to the widespread smoky haze shrouding the Montana and Idaho sections of my journey. The aftermath of the recent wildfires, this had spoiled almost all of the potential for grand, scenic views during the drive. In contrast, however, things had ended very well indeed when I set about the task of getting to know Spokane on foot.

Monday 24 Aug

Miles driven: 275

Road trip to date: 584

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