There_is_something startlingly familiar about the Palouse in eastern Washington. It’s not the landscape (we just said goodbye to the Rockies and it’s unlike anything we have seen thus far on the road), vineyards, or wineries. Rather, it’s familiar because it reminds us of home. Everything about it – the friendliness and warmth most small towns hone, agriculture, back roads to explore, open skies fit for sunrises and sunsets, home cooked meals of meat and potatoes, and so much more – seems to remind us of North Dakota.
Between Spokane and Walla Walla, we traversed rolling stubble fields of harvested wheat on dirt and gravel roads. Rolling along, we had plenty of opportunities to pick apples from abandoned farmsteads, wave to farmers working the land, and chat with country folk after their dogs chased us down. In the small town of Diamond, WA (a town very similar in size to Starkweather), we found shelter from the rain in a family’s garage. At times, I wondered where we were and why we were climbing some of the steepest grades we have seen thus far (on a mud-tracked prairie road, too), yet I felt at home.
As we ride closer to the Oregon coast along the Columbia River in the sage brush-covered desert land of southern Washington and northern Oregon, the Palouse, a gem in the Pacific Northwest, pulls me back. It is a place I won’t soon forget.