Saturday, September 09, 2017

US12: The Town So Nice They Named It Twice

Leaving the coast, the first 50 miles of US12 heads east, then southeast around the Black Hills. The morning was overcast and offered some much needed rain, but not so much for viewing of the vast woodlands. After a short stint south conjoined with I5, the skies cleared and US12 turned east again for almost 150 miles of wilderness beauty, including a touch at southern Rainier National Park.

It was slow going: 1) Due to the fires raging on the Columbia Gorge, I84 is closed and many truckers have chosen good old US12 as their bypass; 2) Road construction continues at a furious pace in preparation for winter, including several multi-mile single lane sections; 3) Hordes of Pacific Northwest nature lovers were out for some last minute hiking and rafting, parking their cars in every available roadside nook and cranny, plus more than a few vehicles sticking out into traffic lanes!

Up and over White Pass, US12 is a winding downhill affair that starts among high alpine forests and lakes, eventually working its way down to a rather intimate race with the Tieton River.

In Yakima, WA, the highway joins I82 for another brief stint, thankfully one of the few times on it's route that US12 is cosigned with an evil interstate. At high speed, though, you're in the "TriCities" before you know it. Smoky haze from the forest fires is still quite heavy.

Back on a more leisurely piece of road, it's a nice drive through vast farmlands to Walla Walla -- "the town so nice they named it twice" -- where Happy and I have stopped for the night... Stay tuned!

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