Thursday, August 16, 2012


Washington Road Trip

The idea was a good one when we planned it in early June, but we began to doubt the wisdom of our planning when the temperature peaked at 102° two days before we were to leave.  The forecast wasn’t bright either (actually it was too bright) with hundred degree heat to continue in the eastern Washington area we were scheduled to visit.  It didn’t help matters that I had to visit the ER for heat exhaustion after the first round of our golf club’s championship tournament in that 102° heat.  Our Washington golf Road Trip included golf in Pendleton, Walla Walla, Spokane, and Leavenworth, all predicted to be 95+.
The only course we’d played before was Wildhorse GC at the Wildhorse Casino and Resort just east of Pendleton.  The course is a nice example of desert golf with wide fairways and plenty of sand.  But at 100° at 1:00, even riding in a cart was hot, hot, hot--especially after my recent bout with dehydration.  We pulled our cart back into the parking lot and abandoned golf after thirteen holes.  For the rest of the afternoon the air conditioned casino brought welcome relief from the scorching sun and luckily didn’t lighten our wallets.
The next day, Tuesday, we had a tee time at a relatively new course outside of Walla Walla on our way to Spokane.  

The four-year-old Wine Valley GC is links-like in design and can be a fair test from whichever of the five tees you decide to play.  I hadn’t heard of the course before but our club assistant pro Bruce said we should try to play it if we could. His recommendation was spot on.  Although we only had time for nine holes, at 10:00 in the morning with a nice breeze the Dan Hixon design was fun with fast fairways and greens. Besides the nice course, the staff in the golf shop make a visit here very memorable.
Our lodgings in Spokane turned out to be fantastic, Five Star, at barely above Motel 8 prices.  The Northern Quest Resort and Casino in Airway Heights, a suburb of Spokane, was quite a find--lovely rooms, good eateries, and machines that left something in our wallets.  Do you notice a definite trend to the trip--golf, casino--a great combination if you can control the urge to over spend.  
It was the pro at Wine Valley who suggested our next golf venue. 

The 1930s designed Indian Canyon GC, a Spokane municipal course, is a grand tree-lined course which fits naturally into the land.  The course was even a little Scottish in the way you played with tees close behind previous greens and open fronts to the greens so that you could run the ball up--in Scotland golf is played mostly on the ground rather than the air game played in America.  It would have been a perfect day of golf (we played early and there was plenty of shade) if it weren’t for a group of three in front of us who were loud enough that we could hear their conversations on the greens when we were 350 yards away on the tee.  If they weren’t all partially deaf before they started their round, I’m sure they were after the round.  
That night we accomplished another one of our Road Trip goals: dinner at one of the recommended eateries from one of our favorite Food Channel TV shows, Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  

We chose Waddell’s Neighborhood Pub and Grille in southeast Spokane.  Beside our choice of the over 50 beers and ales on tap, 

Anne and I split two of the pub’s signature dishes: Super Cheesy Lobster Mac and a Lamb-Strosity (shredded braised lamb on a giant hoagie with lamb au jus).  Sinfully delicious!
Wednesday was a touring/travel day as we moved from Spokane west to Leavenworth.  We decided to find breakfast on the road and grabbed a latte and scone at Starbucks to hold us until we could find a real breakfast.  As had been the road from Pendleton to Spokane, the road from Spokane toward Leavenworth, US 2, was rather featureless--miles and miles of rolling wheat and alfalfa fields--not really boring, but not very picturesque either.  We also discovered that our plan to have breakfast on the road was ill thought out.  Aside from a few road-kill birds, the little spots on the road we passed through offered up nothing in the way of breakfast.  Finally, turning before Wenatchee we came to Monitor where I spotted an open drive-in named Tom, Dick, and Harry’s

A true drive-in Guy Fieri would be proud to display on his show!  The hamburgers were huge and homemade and the shakes made with real ice cream.  Since we’d had no real breakfast and it was now after 1:00 we pigged out.  Thankfully, we left room for our next stop, Liberty Orchard’s  Aplets and Cotlets Factory in Cashmere, WA.  

We nibbled the samples, took the short tour, browsed the shop, bought boxes of the special candy for gifts and for us.  I’d give this stop an A for apples.  I’d only give our lodgings in Leavenworth, 

the Evergreen Inn, a C at best.  Inexpensive and clean is the best I can say of it--a throwback to the 1950s motels styled to fit the Bavarian Village motif of Leavenworth.  Leavenworth itself was a bit of a disappointment.  

Tourist shops and German restaurants, the village took about 20 minutes to see the whole thing.  The one exception was the Nutcracker Museum which was fascinating. 

Anne has ten or twelve nutcrackers that get displayed in the holiday season.  The museum displayed thousands upon thousands of nutcrackers from all over the world--from beautiful to garish, including a Hillary Clinton model which cracks nuts between her legs--look out, Bill!  To be fair to Leavenworth, others we’ve talked to say that the town is best in the autumn and winter, decked out for the holidays.
Our golf on this leg was an early Thursday morning nine holes at Leavenworth GC.  

A 1920s designed course set along the Wenatchee River, Leavenworth GC is a beautiful, tight, tree-lined test of accuracy with lovely mountain views.  It was a test I enjoyed taking.
The last part of our Road Trip, from Leavenworth to home with an overnight stop in Issaquah, was with the exception of a side trip though part of Tumwater Canyon

 like the airplane ride home from Scotland--just a way to get home.  Photographically the trip was rather a bust.  As a golf trip it was a huge success with fun rounds at three new courses--all of which I’d love to go back to.  For a food trip it was quite successful with good buffets at the casinos and some great diner/drive-in stops.  Our next Road Trip will be quite different, though.  It will be to the southeast of Scotland along the Solway Firth.  That trip to Scotland in two weeks will also be fodder for the next entry to this blog. 

A Trip Advisor Advisory

I contribute to Trip Advisor, the website where attractions, eateries, and lodgings are rated by visitors.  I use Trip Advisor as I plan what to see, where to eat, and where to stay.  Something I learned recently, though, has tainted the image I had of Trip Advisor.  Friends who own a B&B have told us that if an establishment buys advertising with Trip Advisor they get a higher ranking on the website regardless of what raters say.  You can check it out for yourself by looking at reviews and seeing that sometimes establishments with fewer reviews or not quite as good reviews will get a higher ranking  than others with actually more and better reviews.  I’ll still contribute to and use Trip Advisor, but I will use it with more caution and pay less attention to the rankings and more attention to the comments by raters.