Monday, July 20, 2015
Chapter 29 - Oregon to Walla Walla, Washington
We said goodby to Joan and Terri early this morning and we were "on the road again" by 7:30 am headed for Walla Walla, Washington. We learned last evening that the temperatures in Oregon were again on the rise and a quick check of what we were to expect in Walla Walla revealed the same, highs expected in the mid-90s. You know this is ridiculous. The high temperatures in Estero, Florida on Saturday are projected to be lower than in Walla Walla, Washington. Who would have thought. Anyway, our drive to Walla Walla will take us a little over 4 hours and most of the drive follows the Columbia River. This photo was taken only a few minutes before we finally left the Interstate and the Columbia River and we turned east on to Hwy 12 that soon took us into Walla Walla.
Our destination in Walla Walla was the RV Resort Four Seasons which thanks again to Garmin we easily found. While this RV park was a highly rated, full service, and very clean RV park it was a bit of a disappointment visually particularly after spending two weeks in scenic Oregon. Nevertheless, we were determined to get back into the rhythm of staying in nice places and moving every several days. Incidentally, in this photo of Kathy next to the fountain our travel trailer can be seen way in the distance behind and to the left of the red car.
We spent most of our early afternoon studying a list of the historical and other tourist sights in and around Walla Walla as frankly, I had never heard of Walla Walla until recently. Kathy on the other hand knew that Walla Walla onions were famous. Really? What we learned about this city in our brief study was quite interesting. Walla Walla has a population of around 32,000 much larger than we assumed. The name Walla Walla is Native America and means "place of many waters." The Lewis and Clark Expedition passed through the area in 1805 and the area was first settled by fur traders back in 1818 and by missionaries in 1836. Many of the downtown area businesses and stores occupy buildings that were originally constructed in the late 1800s and early 1900s and the buildings still retain the charm of the original architecture. And finally, in 2013 Walla Walla was recognized by Fodor's as one of the "10 Best Small Towns In America," and in 2011 Walla Walla was voted "America's Friendliest Small Town" by USA today and Rand McNally. We also learned that there are a few historical buildings in the town including at least one historical museum. What a surprise Walla Walla.
One of the brochures that we picked up yesterday at our RV park was a "Downtown Historic Trail Guide" which basically consisted of a detailed description of a 1.5 mile walking tour of the downtown area of Walla Walla. The guide gave us the age and a brief history of some of the older and more historic buildings. We were also informed by the guide that the Sunset Magazine had named Walla Walla as having the Best Main Street in the West. Even I, the proverbial I hate shopping guy, was a bit gunned up. Fortunately we started our walk around 10 am Sunday morning before many of the stores had opened so that our walk was just an historic tour.
I remember when I was in my early 20s in Niagara Falls when the New York State Urban Development Corp sponsored the demolition of almost all of the old buildings in our downtown area in the name of "urban renewal." I was working for a general contractor at the time so the prospect of lots of new construction projects should have uplifted me, but it did not. What was built to replace the old historic and charming buildings was awful especially architecturally. Niagara Falls never recovered from this huge error in judgment.