Day 2 : Chasing the Sunset
The plan for day 2 was very simple. To get to the pacific coast in time for sunset. There were not many planned stops on the way. Even the navigation was straight forward. From my Location to Stevenson, then Long beach. It was to be a 430 mile drive and most of it was on roads I had not been on before and remote as well. After fueling up from the nearby gas station, I started the drive at around 9:00am.
The first main point on the way was Washtucna and the drive till Washtucna was quiet and uneventful except for the fact that my phone started refusing to connect to the car’s navigation. The day was hot and the roads in the area were devoid of any kind of cover. Just plain open land and a road which cut straight through it. By the time I reached Washtucna, I started considering visiting Palouse falls as well and was looking around for a place from where to pull over to so that I can add Palouse falls to the navigation. As I was looking around, I spotted a curious looking abandoned bus which was painted over in all sorts of colors. It looked so out of place in the landscape and I thought to check it out. I learned that the attraction is called #thatpnwbus from a board nearby.
I took this chance to add Palouse falls to the trip and also a small town called Starbuck as well. I could not find my way to this the last time I had been here and the name of the town had me curious about it for a while.
The drive went on and soon I was at Palouse falls around 11:15 AM. It was blazing hot at this time and very crowded as well. I managed to find a parking spot with the help of a ranger at the park. I had been to Palouse falls for sunrise before and I still feel that falls is worth waking up early and driving here, I took some pictures still and I noticed that there were people at the bottom of the falls. There were no maintained or obvious trails here leading to the bottom so that raised my curiosity, but either way I decided to move on as there was a schedule to keep.
Next stop on the way was Starbuck. This time since I had the route preset, I reached there without losing my way, however, sadly I found nothing special about Starbuck. It was a tiny community with a few houses and lots of trailers. A little bit disappointed, I got back on the road. No more detours or distractions, next stop is going to be Stevenson, from where I will have some kind of lunch.
Time passed quickly as I passed by Pickard, Eureka and then eventually Kennewick. Washington Route 14 which will take me right along Columbia River on the Washington side starts near Kennewick, however I missed the exit and ended up in Oregon on I-84 (Vietnam Veteran Memorial Highway). I felt too lazy to turn back and just kept going. I got to say, this road is beautiful if you like roads like me. I84 at this point with Columbia river on one side and the Gorge’s high wall on other side is such an amazing drive. It really makes one feel small. Windmills can be seen all over the mountains while driving on the road and the blue waters of the Columbia river glistening under the sun.
This drive was short lived however as soon I entered Washington again after crossing a bridge, and this time I was quite near Washington’s Stonehenge memorial and well, I decided to have a quick stop here and get some rest. Stonehenge had also attracted quite a crowd at the time. I just stopped at the place to step out of the car and stretch and get some fresh air.
The road from here was familiar to me from my winter drive along Columbia River Gorge. After taking the pictures, I took my time getting back on the road. The drive along WA14 is one of my favorites, even better than I84 because WA14 takes one right along Columbia River Gorge with loads of tunnels and windy roads and some spectacular views of the Columbia River and mount Hood. Soon I reached Stevenson and I stopped near the Subway there to grab something to eat. I was famished by then.
While reviewing the route to Long Beach, WA, I noticed that I will be driving right by where I planned to stay the night. It was a hotel in Astoria, in Oregon. Everything around Long Beach was either full or expensive and the best place I could find was in Astoria, which was not a bad thing as Astoria is not very far from Long Beach. I figured I might as well stop by, checkin and then go to Long beach. Having a place of stay secured will give me some peace of mind. Soon after lunch, I continued on WA14 towards the west..
Around the town of Longview, I cut back into Oregon again. As I was driving towards Astoria, the sun had started its descent and the trees were casting long shadows down the road. I was honestly starting to get a little worried by this time wondering if I can reach the West Coast in time. Around 8:00 PM, I reached the hotel, quickly checked in and occupied the room.