ILX Trip to Washington Part 2: Boise to Moses Lake
Odometer (Legend): 522,728
Odometer (ILX): 52,211
Leg Distance: 430 Miles
Welcome to ‘part deux’ of the 3,300 mile road trip with the fam damily in the Acura ILX. We didn’t linger for very long last Friday night in the state famous for its potatoes. Back in the car we went, bright & early the following morning! Wildfires east of Boise left the sky looking ominous as the sun peeked out.
Fitting four adults and their luggage into a compact car is a lot like playing Tetris. It’s a good thing we were so skilled.
It only took about 50 miles until we entered Oregon via Interstate 84. This marked the first time my Acura ILX has been in Oregon (its 15th state visited since I took delivery of the car in June 2012).
I couldn’t help but become reminded of one of my favorite computer games from elementary school: Oregon Trail.
Thankfully, our mode of transportation was quite a bit more advanced than a covered wagon. And nobody suffered from dysentery or anything of the sort, as far as I know. In all, we would be spending about 200 miles on Interstate 84 westbound in Oregon.
An important milestone took place as we were nearing Baker City. I captured the 50,000 mile rollover on video which you’ll soon see. It’s hard to believe I’ve already been enjoying the ILX for 1/10th of 500,000 miles!
Did you know that it’s illegal in Oregon to pump your own gas? Fueling up in Oregon feels like taking a step back in time to when stations were full-service. We rolled up to the Shell station in La Grande and I lowered my window. The attendant approached me and took my credit card. “Fill it up?” he asked. “Yes, 91 octane please,” I replied.
The attendant left my gas cap hanging against the paint which was a pet peeve of mine. There’s a reason why Acura put a cap holder built into the inside of the fuel door.
Soon we were climbing the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon and the grades became steep. Truckers are warned multiple times to check their brakes before the downgrade heading into Pendleton. I used my 6-speed transmission to its full capacity as we reached the 9,000 foot summit. For being loaded with passengers and gear, I was surprised to have plenty of power from the 201-horsepower motor.
State #16 came shortly on Hwy 395 northbound. The Washington state line follows the Columbia River, so the welcome sign was on a bridge. Unfortunately, this kept me from being able to pull over for a picture.
Focus & dedication!
We had one more destination on our trip back in time to rediscover some places of my grandma’s youth. We headed east on Highway 260 near Connell, Washington toward to the tiny town of Kahlotus.
The last time my grandma lived here was in the mid-1950’s. It brought back a flood of memories for her to be back in the area.
Though established in 1906, Kahlotus had been settled as early as the 1880’s.
The Town Center is really not much at all to look at. The buildings are old and run-down and there are abandoned vehicles sitting here and there. Today, the town is home to fewer than 200 people.
Oddly enough, though, it’s also home to two Acura Legend coupes! I spotted this 1987-89 coupe right away, and it was the first Legend I’d seen the entire trip until this point.
Not even 5 minutes later, I spotted a second Legend. This one appears to be a 1991 in Golden Glow Pearl.
We had a mission, though, and it wasn’t to seek out Acuras. We were looking for a house that my grandma rented in 1955. Below is a picture of her, my grandpa, and my uncles. We didn’t have an address to the house (in fact, house numbers weren’t added until many years later when they became required for emergencies), so the only way we knew we’d be able to identify it was by its 4 rounded front steps in the picture.
We’d almost given up. There were only a few streets in town and we carefully scrutinized the entry steps on every home that we drove past. There was only one road left to check out: Martin Street. Seconds later: “There it is! There are the steps! Stop!” I hit the brakes and backed up.
I’ll be darned. There was that house. Excited, grandma went to the front door to see if anyone was home. I stood with my mom for a quick picture to celebrate our investigative success.
A family photo was in order, taken by the home’s current occupant.
The most exciting part of the story was the conversation that ensued with the home’s owner. We started talking about who might still be in Kahlotus from the time when my grandma lived there. As it turned out, the man knew my great-grandma and her husband. “Oh, Frank and Reta were good friends of ours!” he said.
The world is just too small. The black & white photo I was holding in the below picture was dated September 1955.
With that mission accomplished, we roamed around town a bit.
I couldn’t tell if the jailhouse pictured here was for real or some type of movie prop!
The only store in town is called Farmer’s Daughter. We stepped inside to find some refreshments and it felt like we’d traveled back in time 50 years.
Hey, one-stop shopping!
Jodi picked me up a root beer float that was most refreshing.
Most of southeast Washington looks like this. Rolling wheat fields as far as the eye can see. It’s quite a contrast to what I’d perceived “The Evergreen State” to look like.
Another fun spot of civilization lies just a few miles to the east. We looked around Washtucna but things were eerily quiet. It’s approaching ghost-town status.
Sitko Chevrolet Co. I wonder how long it’s been since this dealership was functional?
Ted’s Garage looks to have closed its doors long ago, too.
Even some of the homes have been left abandoned and are wide open for entry. Washtucna is an urban explorer’s playground.
I took a peek inside this home but I got spooked by a swarm of bats that came flying out of the ceiling.
By this time, we needed to make our way toward Moses Lake where we’d be attending our family reunion.
And, we made it! Moses Lake is located along I-90 in central Washington.
See the red “A” marker on this map.
The town was named for an Indian chief who had originally owned the land.
The city was originally named Neppel, after a town in Germany where one of the original settlers had lived.The first settlers established fisheries and farms — some of the first exported items were carp, jackrabbits and fruit — but irrigation attempts failed and settlers left at about the same rate as they came. When the town was incorporated and renamed Moses Lake in 1938, the population was estimated at 301 people.
I’d seen 91 and 93 octanes, but I don’t know that I’d ever pumped 92 octane premium gas before. It was time to refuel the ILX as well as our bellies after a long day in the car. I got 34 mpg average that day..
Our catered dinner at Porterhouse Steakhouse was accompanied by a number of family members who I’d never met before but who I instantly felt comfortable with.
Most importantly, Grandma was reunited with her older brother who she hadn’t seen in a couple of years. Finally we were able to take a breath and relax after couple of long days on the road!
Coming up: A trip to the country’s largest hydroelectric project: Grand Coulee Dam. Trust me, it was a “dam” good time. I think you’ll agree after reading tomorrow’s blog post. See you soon.