On our way south on Interstate 93 a sign for the National Bison Range Visitor Center lured us in for a short stop. A tour to see the herd takes one and-a-half to two hours because it is via a one-way road and once started must be completed, but because of time constraints, we decided to skip it.
Just a short distance away was the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas near Arlee, Mont. I think it is worth a detour, but space limitations for this article prevents me from discussing the site in detail http://tinyurl.com/gncds7q. We drove by beautiful Lake Coeur D’Alene with its famous floating golf hole. If you are a golf nut, you might be tempted to stay overnight to play this famous course (http://www.cdaresort.com/discover/golf/floating-green).
Fortunately, I never became “hooked” on golf because I could never get my ball past the windmill, so we continued into Spokane, Wash. for our overnight stay with Affordable Travel Club hosts who have a large home in an affluent area overlooking the city. They recommended nearby Ambrosia restaurant for dinner and the accolades the restaurant receives were well-deserved.
(The portion of the trip to Metaline Falls, Wash. and meeting with George Kubota Jr., published in the June 9, 2016 issue of the Nichi Bei Weekly was originally here but as mentioned previously was published as its own separate column).
We returned to Spokane to tour the town. Spokane’s Davenport Hotel built in 1913 was considered one of the finest in the world. It was the first hotel with air conditioning, a central vacuum cleaning system, ballrooms had crystal chandeliers using 75 pounds of sterling silver costing more than $30,000 each.
Average homes at the time cost around $8,000. The hotel was named for the first proprietor, Louis Davenport, who is also credited with inventing Crab Louis, which is named after him.
Riverwalk Park alongside Spokane Falls is a pleasant area with interesting sculptures. The restaurant called Anthony’s at Spokane Falls has a coveted location overlooking the falls. Unfortunately, they must believe this permits them to charge high prices for mediocre food. Freshly picked peaches were touted to be available only during this short season. They were bruised but tasty. Have drinks here for the view but I recommend eating elsewhere.
After a sumptuous breakfast prepared by our ATC hosts, we traveled toward Portland, Ore. following the Colombia River. I recommend making a stop in Maryhill, Wash. to see the museum founded by a wealthy railroad magnate, Sam Hill. He also commissioned a replica of Stonehenge created as a memorial to fallen soldiers on a nearby bluff. At that time, he did not realize that Stonehenge was a worship center for ancient people and that it was an archaeoastronomical site to predict the seasons of the year. Consequently, it is a few degrees off, so it cannot be used to accurately mark the summer solstice as does Stonehenge.
We continued toward Portland and our overnight ATC host home was right on the river with a great view. They recommended Soho, a Japanese fusion restaurant that was below average, and then I discovered the kitchen staff weren’t of Japanese descent. I am always leery when I see the word “fusion” used for a cuisine.
The next day our destination was in Ashland, Ore. with a detour to Medford, Ore. to visit the Harry and David factory tour, but we were too late for the tour. We did buy some overpriced items in their store and made it to Ashland in time to buy tickets to a performance at the famed Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Unfortunately, nearby forest fires were causing serious air pollution, so the outdoor production was canceled. Our Plan B was to choose an indoor production of a world premiere musical production called “Unfortunates” about a group of World War I prisoners scheduled to die. I don’t know if our exhaustion from the long drive contributed to our being confused by the convoluted plot. It did receive a standing ovation from others in the audience and garnered rave critical reviews.
The next day’s target was Reno, and our drive included scenic views of Mount Shasta, Mount Lassen and other volcanoes before arrival at our next ATC hosts.
He was the construction manager for Steve Wynn’s hotels, including the one in Macau, and he regaled us with inside stories. Reno was crowded with classic cars for the “Hot August Night” weekend. Reno also has the National Automobile Museum with what remains of Bill Harrah’s collection that should be visited by any auto enthusiast. The International Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame is also located in Reno.
My travel companion owns a chalet in Arnold, Calif. in the Sierra Nevadas. On our drive there, our lunch stop in Markleeville at the Wolf Creek Inn proved to be a pleasant interlude. We learned there was a fundraiser at the Markleeville Museum, so we decided to contribute by visiting. Volunteers were baking pizzas in a Basque oven and there were also desserts galore.
We tasted a little of each and though they were delicious, our tummies were full from the lunch.
Our drive to Arnold, Calif. was along streams where fly fishermen enjoyed themselves in pristine surroundings. However, the reservoirs were extremely low. An overnight rest in Arnold was enough to rejuvenate me for the drive through Yosemite via Tioga Pass. A Mobil Gas Station at the Tioga Pass connection with Highway 395 has the Whoa Nellie Deli attached and it used to have very good food, but on this visit was average. I recommend it for the great view of Mono Lake and its tufas (types of limestones), but I have visited these many times in the past and I was anxious to get home. The route via Highway 160 was new for me and it had little traffic.
It was a wonderful trip but as Steve Wynn said to me, “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”
The Kaeru Kid lives in Las Vegas and hopes readers will send him comments at KaeruKid@yahoo.com. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.
Las Vegas Tidbits
Hachi, 3410 S. Jones Blvd, (702) 227-9300, is one of several Asian eateries that now occupy the Mountain View Plaza located on Jones just north of Spring Mountain. It is an izakaya type that boasts its yakitori skewers are cooked over binchotan charcoals. I wish I could do a blind tasting to determine if one’s taste buds can indeed notice the difference in using these expensive charcoal. I do have to admit each skewer of chicken and beef tasted delicious. They do have to charge more than most similar neighborhood restaurant for using more expensive materials but it is worth the cost. I just wish the pleasant waitresses would be more prompt with simple requests.