Wednesday, September 3, 2014

First Stop on the Cross-Country Dash: Soap Lake, Washington

Soap Lake, Washington State (photo by Simone Cannon)

After we left Roslyn, WA, we faced a ten day drive cross-country, hopefully arriving in time not only to help my stepmother with my hospitalized dad, but also to arrive for his 80th birthday. As Luis would say, nos posimas las pilas, (we put in the batteries) and got going. We needed to get some highway behind us, so we got back on I-90 and hit the gas. Our first night was spent in a small municipal campsite in front of Soap Lake, WA a little-known, but ancient mineral lake similar to the much more famous and costly spa in Baden Baden,GermanyThe water contains over 20 alkaline minerals and is purported to cure or mitigate the symptoms of arthritis, psoriasis, circulatory issues, etc. 

Statue of Chief Joseph (photo by Simone Cannon)

There, we met a lovely Russian couple who lived in Seattle, but vacationed every few months in their little well-appointed van to take in the scenery and soak in the therapeutic waters. Before we left Seattle, a friend had given us a bag of apples from her tree and we brought some over to the couple as a gift; they quickly returned the favor by bringing us some smoked salmon that their son had caught and prepared. I’m constantly blown away by the kindness of strangers. Still, that’s quite a return; note to self: must buy more apples…

Soap Lake guide sign (photo by Simone Cannon)  

Our first night in our new RV was to be a hairy one: we were parked only few feet from the lake and the winds were some of the strongest that we've ever experienced. The waves were incredibly choppy and splashing over the edge of the lake onto our camper. As our little motorhome rocked back and forth that night, I seriously thought that we would be blown into the water; I just hoped that we floated.  Long before European settlers arrived, the lake was regularly visited by Native Americans who treated the lake and surrounding area as a vacation retreat: they spent their time gambling, visiting the local racetrack, soaking in the heavily mineralized waters for health reasons (Smokiam, the original name, meant "Healing Waters") enjoying the sunny, warm weather and getting a well-deserved rest; it was basically the Miami Beach of the West Coast tribal nations. Chief Joseph’s statue still presides over the Soap Lake Park: perhaps the rough weather was his way of exacting revenge for the commandeering of his favorite get-away spot. Can’t say I blame him. 

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