Sunday September 26 through Friday October 1, 2021
Taking the long cut to Walla Walla only adds a few miles but adds many new places to visit so the long cut it is! We head south on US 95 towards Moscow Idaho (23,800 souls) transitioning from green mountain forests to golden rolling hills- the Palouse. No one knows how Moscow got its name. Conjecture says it was named for a Russian dude’s home town who had established a trading post here.
Moscow is the home of the University of Idaho, the state’s land-grant institution and primary research university. The city also serves as an agricultural and commercial hub for the Palouse region. Miners and farmers started arriving in the area after the Civil War with the first permanent settlers coming to Moscow in 1871.
A scant six miles to the west is Pullman Washington (34,000 souls) and Washington State University. The town was incorporated in 1888. Like the University of Idaho, Washington State was established as land-grant school back in 1891 and opened in 1892. Of note a very young Jil, like barely able to remember young, and her family lived in Pullman for a couple of years while her Dad taught at the university.
Pullman is noted as a vastly fertile agricultural area known for its many miles of rolling hills (The Palouse) and the production of wheat and legumes.
Heading towards Walla Walla we come to Colfax, WA (2800 souls). It is situated amidst wheat-covered hills in a valley at the confluence of the north and south forks of the Palouse River. The town started as a lumber town back in 1871 with the establishment of a sawmill. The area is geologically interesting, lying in the midst of the fertile Palouse country in the middle of the Columbia River Plateau.
Downtown Colfax, WA
Walking along the main street of Colfax we spot a monument of sorts. A couple of locals tell us that its the Codger Pole, continuing to explain that back in 1938 a high school football game was played in cold winter weather on a frozen field. One of the players decided that he would get both teams together to replay the game some day. And that they did- 50 years later! The Codger Pole commemorates all the players who by then were in their 70’s.
Quote from the memorial plaque-“Master Carver Johnathan Labenne’s superb talent and whimsy captured the warmth, fun and love Colfax and St. John shared while we Codgers cavorted about the field in school colors wearing our numbers from a half-century ago. The ghosts of our youth revealed glimpses of gridiron briliance. Unfortunately brief and few but even so that glorious afternoon of fun gave us guys a chance to fulfill that dream every seventy year old kid secretly hangs onto- playing one more game. And how many old rascals ever get to do that?”
We head southeast out of Colfax on very rural country roads, Washington Hwy 127 comes to mind, mostly following canyons through palouse hillsides and canyons. The wheat fields have been harvested as evidenced by the yellow stubble left behind by farmer’s combines. The road is pretty rough and relatively slow going. Eventually we arrive in Walla Walla and settle down in the RV Park Four Seasons.
Marcus and Narcissa Whitman arrived here in 1836 and established a mission in an unsuccessful attempt to convert the the Walla Walla tribe to Christianity. Following a disease epidemic both were killed in 1847 by the Cayuse who thought that the missionaries were poisoning the native peoples. Whitman College is named in their honor. The Catholics attempted to establish a Diocese but fled after hearing of the Whitman’s plight. Fort Walla Walla was established by the Hudson’s Bay Company Fort Nez Perce fur trading post. Several of the original buildings still exist. The US Army extablished its own Fort Walla Walla in 1856. The city was incorporated in 1862. After a gold rush the community experienced rapid growth as an agricultural area. The Baker Boyer Bank was founded in Walla Walla, the oldest bank in Washington State.
RV Park Four Seasons grounds and menagerie
The RV park is immaculate but management is maniacal in enforcing frivolous rules. I guess like most rules they are made from one bad experience. The lady in the office meets us outside the office door so we don’t contaminate it with whatever. We’ve not been in states that enforce mask wearing until we arrived in Washington and that’s what she’s wearing when she greets us- outside in the open air. But like I said, the park is immaculate!
We planned on spending two nights in Walla Walla, aka, “The City So Nice They Named It Twice”, with a day trip to town. Downtown is sorta unique in that the main street is not straight but curves so it gives it a unique look to the buildings that line it. We’ve heard that the area is big on wineries but had no idea that fully one half of the storefronts would house wineries and tasting rooms.
Wine tasting is not our cup of tea but the business district is a nice, neat, clean place to visit. After visiting so many states that don’t require masks this state has kinda gone nuts on their use. Can’t wait ’til we get to Oregon where mask wearing is required out of doors……..
The morning we end our visit our right rear tires go over a low curb as we leave the RV park and all hell breaks loose. Gosh, the curb wasn’t that high. As we proceed it feels like the rig no longer has springs as it is riding really, really hard. We stop after a half mile or so in a parking lot, Mike inspects the undercarriage and determines one of the air springs has broken. Crap! We’re not going anywhere anytime soon. A call is made to the only heavy truck repair shop listed for Walla Walla, a mobile mechanic is dispatched, arrives and confirms the broken air spring.
He OK’s a limp back to the RV park and management has room for us. Mountain Hi Truck Repair goes on the hunt for a replacement air spring which is not unlike a big rubber air bag. Considering the thousands of Freightliner chassis like ours that are on the road they should be easy to find but that’s not the case. The company finally finds one in Pendleton, OR, at a Peterbilt dealer no less, and has it delivered the next day.
OK, we have to cool our heels for a while so we head over to Fort Walla Walla and the municipal park. Fort Walla Walla was established in 1856. The soldiers from the fort were involved in several battles with hostile Indians. Most notable was the Battle of White Bird Canyon during the Nez Perce War where 30 soldiers were killed. The soldiers from that battle and others are buried the fort’s cemetery. The fort was closed then reopened to train WWI soldiers in the art of field artillery. The fort was turned over to the VA in 1921. Fifteen original buildings remain from the military era. Today the complex contains a park, a museum, and a VA medical center. The park is really nice and has a couple of very large dog parks within it.
The repair of our RV takes less than 1/2 hour. Its too late to travel so we spend a total of four nights in Walla Walla. We are thankful that management at Mountain Hi realized the plight a couple of travelers were in and went above and beyond to find the part and get us back on the road as soon as possible. It actually took four times longer to find the air spring than to install it. So thanks again Mountain Hi and a big thanks to Jeff in the office who hunted down the part and Steve for his efficient diagnosis and repair job.
So after a two day delay we resume our trip. Hopefully our extended RV warranty will come through and pay for the repair without too long a delay.