Day 16 Drive Yakima to Walla Walla

Before I begin writing about today’s drive, a left-over from yesterday. David on front desk found us a ground-floor room very close to the wheelchair entrance so that we could trundle all our baggage straight from the car to the room without big detours.

One other note. People don’t seem to be responding to the blog much. It took Dave two tries to figure out how to post a comment – after you register with an email address and a password, you can write a comment, but when you’re finished, you have to click to post it, like an email. By registering, the blog knows the comment is yours, so you can edit or remove it. Or of course, my personal friends could drop me an email instead, I am checking my kmts account through their web portal.

Today’s drive was the shortest of our whole trip, excepting the days when we stayed in Healdsburg and didn’t actually travel at all, but just drove in circles looking for wineries. We were caught between a Yakima checkout time of 1100 and a Walla Walla checkin time of 1500, with only a two hour drive to fill the four hours of homelessness. We had plenty of time to detour to a Safeway to stock up on water, Pepsi and a Latte. It wouldn’t have been a good day for a long haul; there were strong wind advisories and the whole Yakima valley was enveloped in dust. When we started, the visibility was three miles or more, but by the time we reached Prosser, just down the valley, I think it was down to between half and three quarters of a mile. I’ll post one of the pictures if they turned out. To kill time, we decided to have lunch at Prosser.

When we stayed at Prosser a year ago, about the only restaurant within walking distance was ‘the Barn’. It’s something of a fixture in town, having begun life as, you guessed it, a barn. That was in 1920, and it’s been a restaurant of sorts since about 1960. They have a copy of their 1967 menu on display pointing out that the place is just 500 yards from the airport. This is no longer true, the old airport is now the site of the Airfield Winery. Hamburgers are no longer 55 cents, either, but they are still good. Caroline had a cheeseburger, I had a patty melt, both were excellent, and we were in and out in half an hour. Yesterday’s lunch at the Egg Harbor took a full hour.

Sadly, many more restaurants have sprung up closer to the freeway off-ramp: Starbucks, McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, you get the idea. Also, a whole mini-mall called Chardonnay Plaza has been completed, and offers Mexican and Pizza restaurants. I fear fewer and fewer people will drive the extra two hundred yards to the Barn. That’s a shame, ’cause they would be glad they did. The menu is something of a throwback, you can still get a ham salad sandwich there, for instance, or meatloaf. Little pumpkin tarts were complementary for dessert. Oh, and the furniture is something of a throwback too, and decor is rusty farm implements, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were original.

On to Walla Walla, stopping only at Ecole 41 to taste some wine. Apparently once known as Frenchtown, this area was settled by French Canadians long ago. This seems rather far west, but hey. Anyway, the county school in District 41 was French, and the original bell, now hanging outside the converted schoolhouse, really does have the word term Ecole 41 cast into the bronze. Nowadays, the tasting room occupies one of the old classrooms upstairs, and a meeting room the other. The boys and girls washrooms downstairs still retain some of their old character.

Moved on to our hotel to check in and unload, then went downtown in pursuit of Abeja. This is a local wine, but seems, like Swanson in Napa, to be unobtainable. Their tasting room is only available by appointment, and the only wine bar in town that might have some is closed today, and doesn’t open until tomorrow afternoon, long after we will be gone. That is the downside of the Walla Walla area: the wineries are mostly frequented by tasters from Seattle or someplace, and the tasting rooms like to open Thursday, Friday and Saturday. In the end, we went back towards Ecole 41 and dropped in at 3 Rivers and Cougar Crest. I always wind up wishing I would have bought more wine at 3 Rivers, so this time I did.

Our favourite restaurant here is the Creektown Cafe, but it is not open tonight. We will try T Maccarone’s instead. Italian, in case you hadn’t guessed.

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