USA Road Trip Spokane to Salmon and travel advice
So many interresting places to explore
Spokane to Salmon and six things we learnt about a road trip.
We continue to be surprised by something almost every day. On Sunday we arrived in Spokane, to find a bustling city and you guessed it, the last camp site in the Riverside State Park, and this right in the middle of the Labor Day long weekend! “The last site and only for one night”, the young man working in the booth said when he took our $21 and allocated our number. Audrey chatted to El, a young woman camper when she went for a walk along the river and El kindly offered us her paid for site for Monday night, as she was leaving earlier than expected.
The story of the storm that produced havoc in our campsite has already been told and so we will move on. The river and walk along the nature trail that runs next to it, is great and it looks like a perfect place to do some fishing. We enjoyed some good birding with a couple of Ospreys doing a great display and some interesting ducks in the river which we captured on camera. They will be identified later.
We finally got out of Spokane much later than expected due to some urgent calls we had to make in response to e-mails received and some last minute shopping we had to do. Blissfully, we started on the 90 East for Missoula, thinking that we could easily get to Salmon and our visit to Jessie’s friends, Lauren and Patti, planning to get there by late afternoon. They had visited with us 20 years ago while they were on an around the world road trip. Every day as we start our journey on the road, Audrey starts to look at the maps and brochures and planning starts in earnest. While in camp there seems so much to do that we never really get to the finer details until we are underway – not a really good idea but then who lives in an ideal world?
In spite of our first 75 miles per hour speed limit on the double high way 90 East (all highways marked with a number ending in an even number run West/East, while ones ending in an uneven number run North/South), it soon became evident that we were not going to make Salmon that evening. “Missoula 187 miles”, told us we were in trouble with our calculations and when we found that Salmon was another 168 south from there, we knew it was impossible. As we were also travelling across a time zone it was even an hour later.
At the next rest stop, as we entered Montana, we phoned to let our hosts know the bad /good news. A further hiccup in Missoula, where we disagreed as to what State we were in, we started back towards Spokane for about 12 miles before we realized our mistake. This got us thinking about travel tips that we can pass on to anyone coming on a road trip to the USA (“things we learned” or perhaps it should be “things we did not learn”). Anyway, here are some valuable pointers:
1. Distances in the USA are enormous! This is compounded by the fact that for some strange reason they still measure distances in miles and it is difficult to avoid thinking in kilometers, but actually it makes a big difference as the two are not really the same. Miles are longer and therefore take more time. The fact that your speedometer also reads miles for some strange reason does not really seem to help.
2. Distractions abound and so it is almost impossible to keep going for a long time. Who could possibly have thought that a little dot on a map that you have never even heard of can be a mine of interesting historical and present information? Wallace is just such a place. A small silver and lead mining area, the town has its history, and insights into the silver mining industry, beautifully displayed in a park/museum.
3. Don’t believe everything you see on adverts and billboards – the fine print always seems to change the facts. “Accommodation $39”, is actually for one person and not for a room. “Accommodation at $45 is what we advertised on the coupon”, the desk clerk/owner tells us, “but all those rooms have been taken and we can offer you one at $65 with breakfast included”. “Sorry that is not in our budget so we will move on”. “Please wait, (big frown of concentration on face) I have just remembered we do have one non-smoking room at $45!”
4. Always know what State you are in as this helps with map reading and finding places and distances, etc! You may think that this is ridiculous, but when in one day you could leave Washington State and arrive in Idaho and then leave Idaho and arrive in Montana and then travel south into Idaho again, it is no surprise that the only State we are certain we are actually in at any given time, is a state of confusion. No wonder Ian says we should not be allowed to travel on our own! But then a State boundary is just a line on the map and so it should not really matter.
5. Listen to the locals, they usually know better than you do about almost everything in their town, in spite of what you and your map reader/driver may feel or think you know! Listen and don’t be afraid to stop and ask. People are always glad to help, Write down what they say as you will nod and say “okay” and then forget an important detail like which way to turn at the 4th light after you turned left on 204th Street and north on Promise Boulevard …..
6. Unless you want to go to many places no tourist or even locals have ever gone to, or even thought of going to, buy a GPS – they only cost about $225 …. Wimp!