Our time together was coming to an end. Kathy was flying home and I was going to be on my own again. Six weeks that went by in a flash. Six weeks that went better than I had expected and a sign of great things to come.
Kathy was flying out of Spokane so we left Priest Lake and headed into the heart of Spokane, opting to stay at Riverside State Park which is on the Spokane River.
Riverside State Park
It’s not the actual park that turned me off of Washington State Parks. The river was very gorgeous (more on this soon). The campground was not bad. I have a big issue with the price. I booked 2 nights and ended up paying over $40 a night. For dry camping. No water. No electric. No sewer. Usually you pay half this cost at most for a similar site. But not in Washington. $40 is pretty much the most I have ever paid for a site and for this money you expect full utilities and room service.
Washington State Parks are expensive to start with, which I suspect has something to do with budget cutbacks so the parks are trying to find revenue. The base rate was $35 a night for the dry camping site. Then you pay the online reservation fee (which is pretty much standard everywhere). Then you pay the out of state resident fee. Yeah, they nail you for visiting their state. The result it an outrageous cost per night to get a dry camping spot. Not happy.
Not only does Riverside State Park offer great access into Spokane, but it is in a pretty setting right on the Spokane River. There are miles of trails and an interesting suspension bridge across the water.
The Bowl and Pitcher campground is named for the rock formations on the river nearby that resemble a bowl and a pitcher. So they say. I guess, if you squint hard enough.
We spent a good amount of time down at the river. It was hot in Spokane. Very hot. The kind of hot where we wished we had electrical hookups so that we could run the A/C so my poor Fantastic Fan wouldn’t get burned bearings from being run so much. The kind of hot that made the river very inviting. To Kathy. Not so much me. Kathy fully submerged and floated in the river. I stood in it up to my knees. Yeah, I live life on the edge like that.
Spokane River Centennial Trail
The Spokane River Centennial Trail is a 37.5 mile multi-purpose trail that follows the Spokane River and goes through Riverside State Park. This would be Kathy’s last opportunity to ride her bike before it was shipped back to Austin, so we rode.
The trail was on the other side of the river from where we were staying, so even though it was about 2 blocks from our campsite, we had to drive a few miles to access it. Once we arrived at the trailhead we went north about 6 miles until almost the end of the trail, and then back. The 13 or so miles we did was just a warmup for Kathy, but it had some good hills. Plus she had to go at a pace that I could keep up with. I like that she humors me when we go bike riding!
After the ride we took her bike to a local FedEx store to have it packed up (that was a bit of a snafu, but bottom line is that it arrived back in Austin unscathed).
While it was a bit of an expense to ship her bike both ways, Kathy got the opportunity to ride in some spectacular locations which made it all worth it. It also gave her the opportunity to work on her patience when I joined her for the occasional ride. 🙂
Spokane is a city that has never called me, but in this part of the world there aren’t that many airports for Kathy to fly out of. So Spokane it was. Kathy was only in Spokane for a day before she flew out, which meant we didn’t have much time to explore.
We checked out Riverfront Park that is exactly what it sounds like. A park on the Spokane River. This 100 acre park was created for Expo ’74, which was a World Fair event (you know, that thing they don’t do anymore). We checked out the falls on the river and did some people watching.
Next on our exploring was the Steam Plant for dinner at Steam Plant Brewing Co. The Steam Plant is a really fascinating and cool facility. It was the central steam plant supplying steam for heat to downtown Spokane for 70 years. It was shut down in 1986 and plans were put together a decade later to refurbish the building for commercial use.
The Steam Plant is now a multi-story open structure that houses a brewery pub and various businesses. Much of the old plant was kept and you can wander around the various floors checking out the history of the place. One incredibly cool feature was that the huge coal bunker (it was a coal fired steam plant) that is suspended from the ceiling was turned into offices. I love when old buildings are rehabbed like this!
Then Kathy was headed home and I was traveling alone again. Sniff, sniff.