In 1847, a measles epidemic, brought by the emigrants, killed half of the Cayuse tribe. The survivors blamed Whitman and killed him, his wife and 11 others on November 29, 1847. 50 others were taken hostage and later ransomed to the Hudson Bay Company. That ended Protestant missions in Oregon. But the Cayuse took pieces of the Whitmanís bodies, put them in little boxes, and gave them as Christmas presents. Thus began the Whitman Sampler.
Okay, I made that last part about the samplers up. But it sounded good. The Whitman Mission National Historic Site marks the location of the mission and contains a grave site. They donít sell Whitman chocolates, but they do have an NPS Stamp.
200 miles of boring Washington farmland later, with small roads and lots of 18-wheelers, I reach the Grand Coulee Dam. One of the largest concrete structures ever built, the dam is almost a mile long and 550 feet high. It is truly awesome. 12 million cubic yards of concrete were used its construction, which began in 1933. Thatís enough concrete to build a 4-foot wide, 4-inch thick sidewalk 50,000 miles long, or twice around the equator. The dam is the largest producer of electricity in the U.S., with three separate powerplants.
The resultant damming of the Columbia River created Lake Roosevelt and the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area. President Franklin Roosevelt authorized the building of the dam as a WPA project, and $63,000,000 was allotted for the construction. Water from the lake provides irrigation for Washington farmland, which had been a dust bowl during the Depression. The salmon canít swim up the Columbia anymore, but people enjoy boating and fishing on the 130-mile long lake. Land locked white sturgeon can grow up to 1800 pounds here.
I press on, turning northwest. If I can make the coast tonight, Iíll have completed four planned days in three, giving me some extra time to visit Seattle. The good weather in Idaho let me get ahead, but Iíll need some clear roads to keep up the pace. North of the dam, the trucks and traffic disappear and the road starts to twist again. Iím entering the Cascade Mountains and soon the snow capped peaks come into view.
By mid afternoon Iím in the heart of a wilderness mountain kingdom where jagged peaks and cascading waterfalls surround the highway. North Cascades National Park contains some 300 glaciers, 1,500 species of plants, and half a million acres of breathtakingly beautiful scenery. Within the parkís boundaries are Ross Lake National Recreation Area and Lake Chelan NRA. You can hike, boat or fly to Lake Chelan, but you canít get there by car. The boat ride is four hours each way, so I wonít be going today, and I wonít be earning the stamp, although you can get it at the North Cascades Visitor Center in Newhalem.
I reach Anacortes, in the heart of Puget Sound, by sunset. The smell of ocean waters brings back that old familiar feeling. It took me 45 days, and over 14,000 miles, to reach the West Coast. Thatís got to be some kind of record.
Happy Birthday today to my dear Aunt Eva, my motherís sister. Iíd tell you how old she is, but she would kick my ass.
Click. The pump shuts off after giving me eight cents worth. EIGHT CENTS. And it wonít turn back on. I press all the buttons, but nothingís working. I go inside to speak to the attendant. DAMN IT. F*&%ING STUPID GODDAMN PUMP!
"Excuse me, but Iím having a problem with one of your pumps."
"Oh yeah. That oneís not working. Try another one."
"But I already put my credit card in that one."
"Oh, yeah. It will show up as 8 cents."
Iíll try another pump all right. Another pump at the Shell station across the GOD DAMN STREET. What the hell was I thinking anyway, going to an Exxon station with their lousy uneven concrete and their lousy broken pumps? REMEMBER THE VALDEZ!?! No more Exxon stations for me.
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