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Resigned to Their Fate; Roast Yak? Centennial Trail; Plant Quiz; Hooters or Bratwurst?

Yesterday was a monthly bath day. No, not for Your Intrepid Reporter, who bathes at least weekly, but for Rudy and Gretchen, who were “less than enthusiastic”, shall we say? The process starts with removing and washing their harnesses, which they wear 24/7. Naturally, they get a bit dirty, so I scrub them in the sink while the puppies watch and figure out “we’re next!” Here is Rudy looking a bit concerned about his bath; I think he’s trying to say, “Dog-Dad, can we negotiate this?” 

Gretchen, on the other hand, has found a good hiding place under the bed. Well, she thought it was a good hiding place until I found her… Rudy goes first because he dries much more quickly, and I have to use Suzanne’s hair dryer on little Gretchen. (That leads to an interesting story… how many times have you ladies found the air inlet on your hair dryer clogged with dust/lint, and asked your hubbies to clean it? It happens here every couple of years, and yesterday it happened to me… not while I was blow-drying my hair, for you Smarty-Pants who want to make fun of me, but while I was blow-drying Gretchen. I had to take the hair dryer apart and do maintenance before I could finish the critical job of beautifying our little girl.)  

While I was washing the puppies, Suzanne and her mom Ruthie were enjoying dinner with Jan and Bob Blythe, our friends and neighbors back in The Villages. Here is Jan setting the table and Bob slicing roast yak… oh, maybe it was pork tenderloin… my bad. In any case, Suzanne said it was a delicious meal. (So, Bob, are you sending me some?) 

On Thursday I met a new campground friend, LtCol Bill Willburn, (USAF-Ret), for a bike ride on the Centennial Trail east of Spokane. This “rails-to-trail” bike and walking path runs along the beautiful Spokane River. Here is Bill showing me our route (Bill is a former B-52 pilot and past commander of the Air Force’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) School. At age 71, and in perfect athletic shape, he has been through every survival course the Air Force offered!) . Of note to both cartographers and map-lovers, this was the first map I’ve ever seen with an “upside-down” orientation… note the N for “north” and arrow pointing down! I’m not sure what desk-bound bureaucrat decided that the map looked prettier upside down… must have been a Democrat.  😉   

We rode 28 miles in 90+F heat and sunshine, with precious few shady areas, unlike the trails near Seattle which have precious few sunny spots. Anyway, there were several scenic vistas, the first of which was at this bend in the river after only a mile on the trail – the tan building at the top of the hill is a winery… (I wanted to ask Bill why they didn’t have a tasting stand on the bike trail, but I thought he might think I was more interested in wine than the bike ride… Well, what’s wrong with that, I ask you?)  

We then came to this cable car contraption used to ferry folks across the river during Spring flooding, before a bridge was put in. The land across the river had been owned by a paper and timber company which had a number of employees that lived on the other side of the river. To ensure their mill kept operating, at times it was necessary to “highline” their workers across the raging Spokane River. 

At our turnaround, just across the Washington/Idaho state line in far western Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Bill used this hand pump to refill his water bottle. The water was cool and some of the sweetest I have ever tasted. The sign on the pump read, “May require 20 strokes to prime”. The sign was accurate. 

We also stopped at this hysterical sign. It commemorates an incident in 1858 when Army Col George Wright was sent from Walla Walla to suppress an Indian uprising. He captured about 800 Indian horses, and to keep the Indians from mounting any more attacks, killed all the horses near this spot. Evidently his actions were quite effective in stemming further bloodshed, if not humane by our 21stCentury standards.  

Okay, we haven’t had a quiz in quite awhile… the first person to email me the correct answer at wins a breakfast for two with Your Intrepid Correspondent and His Lovely Bride. What is the popular name of this plant and to what use did the pioneers/settlers of the 19th Century put it? (Note, it is sometimes used for the same purpose today, but I did not take the opportunity to try it!) 

Finally, Suzanne was somewhat concerned about my eating well while she was away. (Do some “geographic bachelors” eat bratwurst and nachos when their wives are out of town?) She called me this afternoon and asked what I was going to do for dinner. I thought about saying, “Well, Hooters has a special on wings…”, but I know she would prefer that I not spend time at that establishment while she is away… or while she is here, for that matter. (Something about the scenery… I dunno…) Anyway, when I told her that I was making my own dinner of homemade Caesar salad with zucchini and “stoplight peppers” sautéed in olive oil, she thought I had shifted from carnivore to vegan. She insisted that I needed more protein, so I whipped up some boulettes de viande… along with some nice Mirassou Pinot Noir, it was a great meal.  

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