It’s been a few days since my last post, and we’ve packed a lot into that time. We’d officially arrived in the Pacific Northwest when we crossed the state line at Spokane. We stayed one night in civilization at the Davenport Hotel before heading into the forest of Ashford, Washington.
On the way to Ashford, we got to see a little of eastern part of the state, which is very different from what we’d pictured, but beautiful all the same.
I’m stopping a minute here because I’ve been meaning to give a plug for Roadtrippers. It’s a little gem of an app that a friend clued me into before we set out, and it led us to some of the great scenic byways and restaurants that have made an appearance in my posts. One of the great finds was this roadside restaurant in Ritzville, WA. According to Jason, they serve the best bean soup anywhere in the country. And they make a tasty little reuben.
Onto Ashford. Ashford sits on the west side of Mt. Rainier. It’s a tiny town with tiny little motels and campgrounds for people visiting the park.
When I first started looking at routes back in June, the first place I booked was a tree house on the outskirts of Ashford. We knew booking this one destination would define our entire route west and all the rest of our stops along the way, but we wanted to stay here desperately.
The gentleman who answered the phone when I called to book is the same man who built the tree house 17 years ago. Bill Compher is from Tennessee. He moved to Washington and bought five acres of land 38 years ago when he was just 26 years old. He built the tree house to live in himself, and he actually did live in it for a couple years, until marriage and kids made it a little impractical. So he built a house on the ground a few yards away. He then started to rent the tree house and found that there was an audience for his little pet project. It’s been featured in Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Outside magazine, and a host of others, and because of that press and word of mouth, it’s stayed pretty well booked.
I mailed Bill a check for the reservation and he mailed back a copy of a hand-drawn map showing how to find him in the woods once we hit Ashford – the last of the instructions being: “when you get to this point, honk your horn really loud and I’ll come get you”. We didn’t know what to expect beyond that, but what we found was a little slice of heaven.
We didn’t really have a plan of things to do once we’d gotten to the cabin (we just fantasized about spending days doing nothing but sitting by the creek and gazing up at the stars at night). And we did plenty of that, but we also managed to get out and see the area.
Our first morning, Bill gave us a tour of the other two tree houses he’s built on his acreage. He doesn’t rent them, but uses them as observation areas more than anything. Bill’s little compound sits at the foot of Mt. Rainier National Park – less than 20 miles from the mountain. And on a clear day, you can see Mt. Rainier (and the mountain goats who live up there, but true to form of our Montana experience, they weren’t to be found).
After our tour Jason and I drove just a few miles up the road to the Copper Creek Inn for a pretty hearty breakfast that we’d need for our hike up to Glacier Point on the mountain that afternoon – biscuits and gravy for him, pancakes for me.
The mountain is so large that it creates its own eco-system. More on that here. But the very base of the mountain (and in the area around the tree house) is very lush. The ground is soft to walk in because moss covers everything and the creeks are higher with the ice that’s melting from the glaciers at the top of the mountain. As we went up the mountain there were acres of wildflowers and waterfalls – even in the glacier areas themselves.
On the way back, we stopped at a Nepalese restaurant Bill recommended called Wildberry. Neither of us had ever had cuisine from Nepal, but we both loved it (momos are highly recommended…and of course, huckleberry pie for dessert). The evening’s entertainment consisted two sets of sisters from tables beside one another who decided to have a cart wheel competition while waiting on dinner.
We’d spend another full day at the tree house, visiting the towns close by, wandering in and out of general stores, craft stores and diners. Then we’d return to the tree house in the afternoon to sit by the creek under a canopy of cedars and firs until sunset.
The morning we left, we learned we had a bit more adventure ahead of us than we’d counted on.
Originally, the truck carrying our furniture, clothes, etc was supposed to beat us to Oregon. We’d timed our trip so that we’d arrive a day or so within the truck’s arrival. Now here we were, just a five hour drive away, and we found out that the truck was still in South Carolina and wouldn’t arrive until Tuesday, Sept 2.
But we enjoyed the drive anyway. We passed farmland and vineyards as we made our way south through Oregon.
We’ve been in Eugene for two full days now, and we’re sleeping in our house – on an air mattress courtesy of friends in town. We’ve already met our neighbors, friendly people who immediately walked over when we arrived – and who have offered us everything from pots and pans to sheets to help get us settled while we wait for our things. Saturday we walked a couple blocks into town for our first Farmers Market. We meandered through produce, meat and craft vendors, and purchased three bags full of fruits, veggies and eggs. We’re learning the route to the grocery store and to our favorite new spots downtown, and learning to navigate our way to the home of friends in town. This afternoon we’ll head over to their house for a Labor Day cookout.
While we wait for our furniture, clothes and all our belongings, life begins again. Back to a new job I’m loving – and a new job with old friends for Jason. Back to normal meals…for the love all things holy. And back to a working our way into a new little groove in a cool town.
Thank you for indulging my need to share our excitement of it all. We’ve loved seeing your comments and having you all along for our journey!