Saturday, July 11, 2009

Yelm Again

This time it was harder getting out the door; we left an hour or so later than I meant to. I think I probably stayed up too late and didn’t have enough of the packing done when I finally turned in. No matter, it was a beautiful drive and we got here . . . eventually.

There are a few different ways to get to Yelm from Richland and this time we went by way of Vantage and I-90. Between home and Ellensburg there’s a lot of the same but I’ve grown to appreciate the stark beauty of the landscape. The Hanford Reservation to the right, Snake Mountain on the left, treeless sagebrush dessert everywhere I look. Look closer though and flowers break up the tans and sage green. Orange barrier fencing runs in rows between me and the mountain and I think of The Gates by the artist Christo. Eventually we cross the Columbia and follow its cobalt banks along basalt columns and sand dunes until we cross it once again to Vantage. Every time we go this way I see places I’d like to stop and rest for awhile. Walk around and explore. But this is getting there, never the destination.

The mountains rise in front of us as we approach Ellensburg and to the right Josh points out the more ragged, snow capped peaks. Usually some pigs and horses as well, off to the side of the freeway. At Snoqualmie Summit it feels like we’re almost there but we’re really still more than an hour out. Left on Route 18 and south down 167 then 512. We make it past Puyallup and then take the exit leading to Parkland and Spanaway. I always hold my breath here; will this be the time the kids finally read the sign at Foxes? “ALL NUDE REVIEW!!!” Nope, not this time. We were just about 20 miles from our destination when the kids began to laugh out loud. We’d come across cyclists by the hundreds. They were riding all manner of bikes, wearing all manner of costume. I felt stupid for coming this way; I was caught in the middle of the Seattle to Portland race. Perfect. We hadn’t hit a rest stop on the way over and this wasn’t the time for joy riding. But joy ride we did. At 20-40 mph from Spanaway to McKenna, we had time to check out the scenery. We really got an eyeful.

Somewhere along the way I got word from Nickie Muller that there would be a YHS reunion of sorts at the Pit Stop in Yelm tonight. Who would join her? It sounded dicey but I wanted to see her and I figured Tom would come too. As he put it, “Sounds like an adventure”. We shall see.

Just past Stewart’s (the best meat market around) I was able to veer left from the pack and head to Grandma and Grandpa’s. Finally. On the way in the driveway the kids remembered that Grandpa filled and stocked his new pond since our last visit. They piled out and ran past Grandma to see, expecting huge Koi like they have at the garden shop. They laughed when they saw only tiny goldfish. Maybe less temptation for the great blue herons.

My brother Tom and Dad arrived later and the kids had a good time getting reacquainted. We celebrated Kenny’s birthday a second time with ice cream cake and Kenny helped Tom pop the cork on a bottle of champagne. We don’t drink the stuff but he got a kick out of that. Later Tom played with them till they were exhausted and isn’t that the gift that keeps on giving? Good night, sleep tight!
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