WA Day 6 - Petrified Wood, Peculiar Houses, and a Cherry Pie That’ll Kill Ya
Today started out with a Whopper of a hangover from clubbing with Jacques the night before. I said a hazy but heartfelt goodbye to my friend, who had been incredibly kind to give me a couch and also come out to all my mics in Seattle. It really meant a lot, and even if he almost broke me the night before, I was super happy to have had the chance to spend the time with him.
To ease my throbbing head, I drove to the first coffee shop I could find which happened to be Bellevue’s branch of Honor Coffee Roasters. It was just as good as the one I’d been to in Seattle, and it helped make my brain work again which was much appreciated.
Fueled up, I began driving most of the width of Washington State to set myself up to be in Idaho tomorrow evening. My first stop along this lengthy route was in the town of North Bend to see a place near and dear to my heart, the real life Double R Diner from Twin Peaks!
Twin Peaks is one of my very favorite shows, and I’m one of those weird few who think it only continued to get better after the murder got solved and David Lynch got to embrace his weird true self. I was pleasantly surprised and thrilled that the 25-years-later revival not only continued the spirit of the original but may have just been the best thing of every one involved’s career. It felt like a culmination of themes and symbols that David Lynch had been working through since Eraserhead, and Kyle MacLachlan doing triple duty in three hugely different roles, ranging from abject horror to slapstick comedy, was a tour de force.
Another happy thing to come out of the revival series is that when they began filming in 2015, they recreated the original interior of the Double R Diner. The current establishment, Twede’s Cafe, had completely redecorated after an arson in 2000 (maybe the show wasn’t as totally fictionalized as I suspected) which had been a disappointment for fans looking to make a pilgrimage. After the show wrapped, they decided to keep the new scenery, which has been great for them as a tourist destination and also made at least one traveling comedian so stupidly excited.
Naturally I had to get Dale Cooper’s signature order for my brunch, so as the very endearing non-judgmental waitress has probably heard way too many times, I got a cherry pie and damn fine cup of coffee. I’m more of a wimp than Coop though, so rather than order my coffee black as midnight on a moonless night, I did get a splash of whole milk in there. I also don’t actually love fruit based pies either if I’m being honest (though if I had to pick, Cherry is my favorite), so I also got the pie a la mode which was a less authentic but very tasty substitution. Regardless of whether or not your an obsessive fan of the show or not, I would have to recommend Twede’s to you because I do not exaggerate when I say that it was the best cherry pie I’ve ever had, sweet but not too sweet, perfectly textured, and only enhanced by the addition of some soft serv vanilla.
Leaving the cafe full of pie and fandom, I was struck by how ruggedly pretty the scenery was, and I get why it struck a chord in David Lynch’s imagination, because it really doesn’t quite look like anywhere else.
The next stop on my cross-Washington drive was a little folk-art mecca in the small town of Ellensburg called Dick and Jane’s Spot. The Spot is the actual home of married artists Dick Elliot (who has since passed away sadly) and Jane Orleman, who decided to use their yard and house as a blank canvas to create and collect a dizzying array of public art. While they both collaborated extensively in art and in life, in general the wooden sculptures are Jane’s work while Dick specialized in making impressive abstract color bombs out of found objects such as bike reflectors and soda bottles. Besides the power couple themselves, the yard and walls also feature art work from over 40 other Northwestern artists. The house itself is still a house, so all the public art is in the yard and doing a full loop around is truly a unique and impressive experience. There’s so much whimsy of various different styles, and I think as weird as many people might find a lot of the pieces, you’d be hard pressed to not find anything that connects with you on some level. I just like knowing that so much talent is just a free fun surprise for anyone who happens to stop at a little Washington suburb. You never know where things like this will turn up, and that’s been one of the biggest highlights of my trip so far.
After taking in the spot, I got some coffee at a place called The Yellow Church Cafe which really lives up to all three parts of that name. They are more of a sit down and eat kind of place, but in some classic Northwest Hospitality they really didn’t mind at all making me an iced coffee to go and I was extremely appreciative. It didn’t hurt that it was very good coffee, and I think that if I had been sticking around a bit longer, I probably would have eaten there too because the food looked mighty good.
My next stop was a very unique state park and National Natural Landmark (but not a National Park because classifications are weird) called the Ginko Petrified Forrest. What makes it unique is that unlike most forests, it’s in a desert (I didn’t know Washington had those) and it looks mostly like this:
Dig a little bit into that arid nothingness though and the fossil record reveals that this was once a lush and magnificent wonderland of diverse foliage which through time and pressure has now been transformed into the weirdly stunning petrified wood you can find throughout the hiking trails. Researchers combing through the park have discovered over 50 species of petrified woods on the site (!), including sweetgum, redwood, Douglas fir, walnut, spruce, elm, maple, horse chestnut, cottonwood, magnolia, madrone, sassafras, yew, witch hazel, and of course the namesake Ginko. They found so much petrified wood in this seemingly uninhabitable spot that it’s been named the official gemstone of the state of Washington! The blend of minerals and organic patterns is really breathtaking, but all the samples are covered in grates that sort of ruin the photos but I guess do protect the petrified wood and ensure that this hidden treasure trove lives on for future generations to be surprised by.
From there, I brought my driving day to a close in the major inland Washington city of Spokane. Spokane has a weird soft spot in my heart because when I was a freshman in college that’s where the Harvard basketball team got sent for NCAA, and me and my tuba got to go with ‘em. In a bracket-bustin’ upset, we ended up spending an almost full week there. When the band was waiting to find out where we’d get to travel to, I don’t think Spokane was on the top of anybody’s list, but we ended up having such a fun time there. A lot of that was just getting to spend a week hanging out with my band friends, but there were also so many unexpected and quirky spots (and a beautiful public park) in Spokane that I was really looking forward to coming back even for a short while.
My first stop in the city was to get some more coffee at a cozy spot (and one of the only ones open late) called Rocket Bakery to perk myself up.
Reinvigorated, I went to funky bar called Garageland, where I initially just set out to have a quick pint and play some pinball, but after seeing Beer Battered Salmon Fish and Chips on the menu I was powerless to resist. Add to that a lengthy conversation with a cute bartender about the Tom Waits discography and it was basically the perfect pub going experience. I got a rich and tasty porter from Scuttlebutt Brewing in Everett, WA (I absolutely picked it based on the name), and the the salmon fish and chips were out of this world. I never expected to have one of my new favorite meals in a divey bar in Spokane, WA but life is full of surprises. Also despite some dirty looks from some parents who felt like their children should also have a turn at pinball, I did get my own personal high score at Monster Bash Pinball so it was a pretty successful outing for me.
Less successful were my attempts to check into my Air BnB, which as it turns out did not in fact exist. After some lengthy phone calls with Air BnB customer service (they never really figured out how this non-existent place got there, but it wasn’t the person I talked to’s fault and she was very nice and helpful), they apologized and were able to get me a place that ended up being much cooler. It was in a place called the Funkey House, which prides itself on being the most eclectic of Spokane’s Air Bnbs. The room I stayed in was called the House Boat, because it is in fact an extension of the house that is shaped like a giant boat (see the listing photos below if you can’t picture that). I slept in the galley of the boat, and had a lovely night being slowly rocked by the imaginary waves.
Favorite Random Sightings: Dru Bru (I have no idea what this was); Thorp's Fruits (kinda fun to say out loud); “Give smoking the Byrd, Byrd by space jam” (there’s a lot to unpack in that ad); a furniture storefront ad boldly claiming "You'll be pleased" ; Whiskey Dick Ranch (this was a real ranch and I lost it)
Regional Observations: I made it through almost a whole week in Seattle without rain, so that’s one regional stereotype busted
Albums Listened To: Summer of Love: The Hits of 1967 (Disc 2) by Various Artists; The Sunny Side of the Moon: The best of Richard Cheese by Richard Cheese (very funny lounge covers of songs that you would never picture as crooner numbers); The Sunset Tree by the Mountain Goats (one of their best); Super Bad Sounds of the 70’s by Tim Wilson (just the insanely dumb song Booty Man); Super Hits by the Charlie Daniels Band (just The Devil Went Down to Georgia); Super Taranta! by Gogol Bordello
People’s Favorite Jokes: One from the old internet:
A lady went to the bar on a cruise ship, and ordered a Scotch, with two drops of water. The bartender gave her the drink, and she said,"I'm on this cruise to celebrate my 80th birthday, and it's today."
The bartender said, "Well, since it's your birthday, this one's on me."
As the lady finished her drink, a woman, to her right, said, "I'd liketo buy you a drink, too." The lady said, "Thank you, how sweet ofyou. OK, then, Bartender, I want another Scotch, with two drops ofwater."
"Coming up," said the bartender.
As she finished that drink, a man, to her left, said, "I'd like to buy you a drink too." The lady said, "Thank you very much, my dear. Bartender, I'll have another Scotch, with two drops of water."
"Coming right up," the bartender said.
As he gave her the drink, this time, he said, "Ma'am, I'm dying of curiosity. Why the Scotch with only two drops of water?"
The old woman giggled, and replied, "Sonny, when you're my age,you've learned how to hold your liquor. Water, however, is a whole other issue."
Songs of the Day:
Bonus Twin Peaks: