Day 1 – 2015 Transcontinental Trip

By the numbers:

  • 271 miles from Seattle to Walla Walla.
  • highest temp:  95.
  • highest elevation: 3022 feet at Snoqualmie Pass crossing the Cascades out of Seattle.
  • 2 states : Washington & Oregon.
  • licence plates spotted:  15 different states and provinces.
  • 2 National Park sites:  Whitman Mission & Oregon Trail.
  • 2 major rivers crossed:  The Mighty Columbia – 3 times – The Snake.

Today was an easy day for the start of our travels.  We were surprised to find the Whitman Mission open today as the website says they are only open Wednesday to Sunday.  Glad we stopped as it will save some back tracking tomorrow.  The area around Walla Walla is very pretty.  It is on the edge of the Washington Palouse region which is geographically very similar to Western Iowa, where I grew up.  There are high rolling hills and very erodible soil, though the climate is dryer so there is more irrigation than in Iowa.

The historical story of the Whitman Mission is a very sobering story.  It is part of the general story of the poor treatment of Native Americans throughout history, but is specifically the story of the consequences of arrogant and misguided good intentions.

We have seen many parts of the Oregon trail on prior trips, but never this section of it.  Many people stopped here for respite before completing the last part of their journey to the Willamette Valley.

Tomorrow we stop at the Nez Perce National Historic Park.  We will learn of the story of the Nez Perce (Nimiipuu) people in this part of the country.  The Historic area is huge, covering land in 4 states and includes 38 specific historic sites.  We will just be stopping at the main park location and will have to see more of the park on some future trip.  Then onto the Boise area.  A bit longer day tomorrow but we should see some beautiful country driving south through Idaho.  The most exciting part of this trip is that we will be seeing so much of the country we have never seen before.  Except for the first hour today and a few hours on Thursday, the entire trip of about 10,000 miles up til we get to Kansas City next month will be on roads and through areas we have never seen before.