North from Richland we drove through yellow ochre plains and miles and miles of miles and miles. On the map it looked like the road went through a succession of small towns, so I left Richland with only a quarter tank of gas. After many of these miles and miles, the red warning light came on and there was not a sign of human habitation anywhere around. Just as I was starting to panic a teeny trifle, I saw an offramp for a cross road marked "gas", took the exit, and drove a couple of miles to a teeny town I could see on the horizon. The town was no more than a handful of houses, but it did have a BP gas station. Drove up to the pump, which was full serve; waited for someone to hop and and fullserve us; and no sign of life occured in the completely empty and closed gas station. And we had wasted gas leaving the highway and driving over here, too! Fortunately a local came walking along and Pat accosted him; "Is there any other gas station anywhere around?" Well it turns out there was a card-operated pump at an industrial yard that the locals were allowed to use. If we had not encountered the local, we would have never known there was an available drop of gas for miles. As it was, we were able to fill up and drive on towards Spokane. Pat says to be sure to give proper credit to the Lord for this providential meeting, since she sees his hand in everyday occurrences.
We changed drivers while we were stopped for gas, and I took a nap. When I woke a halfhour later, the golden plains had been magically replaced by evergreen-covered hills, and we were approaching Spokane. Both Pat and I have to say Spokane seems a really nice place! A beautiful, well-kept city (at least the part of it I92 runs thru) in a lovely setting. Wouldn't mind moving there if they didn't have winters.
From there eastward, things got prettier and prettier. Coeur d'Alene is a beautiful city set on a scenic lake, and towards Montana the mountains rose higher and higher and more and more richly forested. After crossing the path our followed the course of what started as a rushing mountain stream and eventually became a broad placid river near Missoula.
We turned north just short of Missoula though, up the Flathead Valley, with a stunning view of high snowcapped peaks, and then along the shore of the immense Flathead Lake in the pink-to-violet dusk. We stopped for dinner in a Chinese restaurant on the shores of the lake with a stunning view, and reached our reservation in Whitefish at our usual 9 PM -- I thought! Until I looked at a clock and realized that I had forgot about the time change!! It was really after 10. Arghhh!