Wednesday, August 18, 2021

After 20 months it was finally time to visit home...

COVID really messed with my ability to get up to Spokane and visit family, the last time I was able to spend time with my parents was December of 2019. Once we were all vaccinated—in early May—I was itching to hit the road and go visit. However a big family gathering was planned for mid-June so I waited. 

Then I broke my ankle. The day my family was finally gathered together in Spokane, I was having surgery here in Portland. Life can be unpredictable. Last week it was finally my time. Andrew and I hit the road to Spokane, as we headed east on Interstate 84 the skies turned smoky.

It was hot (the high in Portland that day was 103) and while the blue skies we left behind at home were also filling with smoke, we were driving into the worst of it. Those are wind turbines...

I can't tell you exactly where the smoke was coming from, there are several fires burning in the west. I know Oregon's Bootleg fire was partly to blame. 

This looks like damage from a past burn.

Andrew wanted to stop at the Yakama Nation Museum in Toppenish, WA—that's where I spotted this fabulous ride. It wants to haul plants don't you think?

In case you were wondering what that door sticker said...

In the back...

The view from the other side.

Unfortunately the museum was closed for a private meeting, so we were unable to walk through. 

We got a late start from home and didn't make the six hour drive to Spokane in a single day, instead we spent a night in Richland, WA: "along with the nearby cities of Pasco and Kennewick, Richland is one of the Tri-Cities, and is home to the Hanford nuclear site" (source). We stayed at the Holiday Inn and I was thrilled to discover they had a nice planting of Yucca rostrata...

Looking back towards the entrance...

I counted five different growing points on that crazy plant to the far right.

While I trim the old leaves on my rostratas, I thought the leaves left in place, and the resulting skirt, was a good look here.

Exploring more of the Holiday Inn landscaping...

The hotel sits beside the  Columbia River...

There was a lot of lawn.

I couldn't resist snapping a photo of the room's bathroom wallpaper.

The next day we set out headed east, the air was still miserable.

We eventually arrived in the small town of Colfax, WA, and headed north on Highway 195—toward Spokane.

All of these landscape photos were taken from the car, as we sped along the highway. For the most part I managed to avoid strange window reflections, but thought this image worth sharing even with the reflections, because the juxtaposition of wind turbines and the old wooden electric power line poles was interesting.

Finally we arrived in Spokane! Unfortuantely the air quality was still in the extremely unhealthy category, so we weren't able to be outside and enjoy my parents garden.

But that didn't stop me from snapping a few photos.

Things were looking quite lush along the north side of the garage.

Syneilesis close-up...

Out in the sunshine the liatris looks rather striking against the brick red of the fence.

Virginia creeper on the back of the garage...

Finally a peek at my dad's tomato crop. June's excessive heat (popularly referred to as the "heat dome") messed with his usual tomato production and things are running a little late. I'm sad to have missed the ripening of these tasty fruit, but oh so glad to have finally been able to spend a couple of days with my parents.

All material © 2009-2021 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. I'm so happy you finally got to visit your parents. 20 months is a long time!

    Too bad about the air quality. It really looks horrific. We were spared the worst UNTIL TODAY. Today our sky looks like your photos, except more yellow. Very apocalyptic.

    1. We've only had a few bad days here in Western Oregon, but the eastern half of our state and Washington have been hit hard.

  2. So glad you finally got to visit your parents again, after so much time apart. But man, those smoky skies! Do they affect you at all?

    1. Definitely. Sore throat, lungs that ache and itchy eyes... then the headache.

  3. I'm glad you got a chance to see your folks at last. The smoke was horrendous, giving some of your photos an apocalyptic sensibility. The photos of the Holiday Inn had an old-timey quality. Your parents' garden looks wonderful.

    1. The Holiday Inn was fabulous, remodeled well but probably built mid century. And yes, my parents garden is wonderful!

  4. Happy you got to visit with your M&D. Looks like that's where you got some of your gardening talent. :)

    N95's are good for smoke too. We had a box on hand because of the bad fires we've had the past several years including the three that got really close, so we were pre-supplied on masks when Covid-19 arrived.

    When even Washington looks dry, it's extra scary. My nephew lives in Bellingham now and they had their hottest day ever 98F a week or so ago. Yikes!

    1. Summer dry in Washington isn't unusual, but this year is extra crispy with the early heat.

  5. Love your route! We have taken that one a time or two, but usually opt for the I90 to Ritzville, then down to I84 along the river.

    1. Our usual is I-84 and then up through the Tri-Cities joining I-90 at Ritzville, it was fun to shake things up this time. Of course we came home the usual way...

  6. Glad you got to finally connect with your family after so long. The pandemic has been tough on so many levels, and this summer's heat and fires triple the challenge. I can't imagine trying to breathe and live with all that smoke, esp. for farmers that must work outdoors. Hope the rains come soon.

    1. A nice fire-drenching downpour would be fabulous!

  7. The air quality had improved greatly since last week, at leas in the west part of the state. The panoramic shots from the car look rather apocalyptic. The little "plant mobile" is fabulous!
    Nice photo of the Syneilesis, and whatever the companion plant bellow.
    It's good to know you can get around now, even if only a little bit. Is it very painful still?

    1. I remember my dad saying things were supposed to improve after we left, I hope they have. Yes! Still very painful. I want to be normal again!

  8. Really interesting to see the larger landscape as I am don’t have a clue. Love the ?? Plant with the Syneilisis. Great combo.

  9. So glad you finally got to see the family. The air quality photos are so sad. So frustrating being two hours away from you in early August! Exhausted new parents really needed backup, but next trip I'd love to visit Portland again. Just read an ER nurse in the south saying that if you need your ankle pinned right now, sorry, not enough nurses to go around -- yikes! Thank goodness you're on the mend.


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