After an interesting evening in Kennewick, Washington, followed by a long, slow drive to Moscow, Idaho, we woke up the next day ready for more. It was now Saturday morning, and our day would start out in the parking lot of a Walmart.
I recall trying to find breakfast in the little downtown area, which was pretty much all closed up. Maybe it was a college town thing. Whatever the case, we found something that was open and got something mildly satisfying.
All fueled up, it was time to head south. The plan was to get to the intersection of Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. From there, we would head west, eventually following the Columbia River to Portland.
A quick search on the internet turned up a strip club along the way. It sounds cliché, but it just seemed apropos for the trip. We punched it into the navigation and started driving.
Passing through Culdesac, Idaho, we spotted a place to stop for a drink; Jacques Spur Café. The town was named for the railroad that ends there. It seemed like good beer struggled to make it to the end of the railroad, as the beer selection was pretty lame. In the spirit of being lame, we all opted for a Miller Lite Chill (i.e. lime beer).
They had a ribeye steak on the menu, so our two steak eaters ordered it out of obligation. It was served with toast, which pairs well with steak from a bar. The beer wasn’t great, but it was cold and tolerable as we all chatted about the night before. Overall, it was a nice little stop to break up the day. Good company really is greater than bad beer.
To the strip club
More driving, more stops, and a hint of satan’s butthole was the story until we finally arrived at the strip club. When the RV pulled up on the side of the road to park, some locals approached us. Whoever was driving rolled the window down to talk to them.
“What brings you to town, are you guys a band or something”, the guy asks.
I kid you not, he asked if we were a band that was touring.
My buddy plays along and tells him we are a band. We all started laughing as the guy walked away. Crap, how do we act now as we exit the RV and try to look like a rock band? We unloaded and walked across the street to the club. It was right in the heart of town, which was a little strange for a strip club.
As I opened the door, the first thing I noticed was all the lights. Not colorful lights, but actual, fluorescent lights. The entire place was lit up like a Denny’s.
I scanned the room for “dancers”. There was a small stage in the corner, but nobody was on it. What the heck? There were kids sitting at tables with their parents.
It was so disorienting. Did I have the wrong address?
Just then, a guy walks up and welcomes us. He obviously noticed how lost we looked.
“Hey guys, what brings you in”, he asks with a half-smile.
All of us collectively stuttered incoherently before the guy says, “did you guys think this was a strip club?”
“Guilty”, we replied.
He laughs and tells us that it was a strip club up until about six months before. Apparently, people have been stumbling in since then to discover it was now just a family restaurant.
We asked if they served beer, he confirmed they did, so we were obligated to stay and have a drink. Too funny. On further inspection, you could see the place was still very much set up as a strip club. Most of the “features” of the club had been converted into something else, like a karaoke area, darts, etc.
What a surreal experience. Rock band posers and a faux strip club.
Replenished and refreshed, we loaded back into the RV to start our journey west. Our route would take us down the north side of the Columbia River on Highway 14.
At some point, we decided we wanted to stop and do some target practice. One of the guys brought along a pistol and a rifle for just such an occasion. A few of us are big gun guys, so this is not out of the norm.
Before we could stop, I decided to open a window and shoot out of it like James Bond. It only took one shot to realize that was a bad idea. Even though my hand was all the way out of the window, the noise inside the RV was ear shattering.
Ten seconds later, we were stopped on the side of the road. Everyone’s ears were ringing. This was a good a time as any to shoot off a few rounds outside the RV. There was a nice little hillside next to the road. A magazine or two later, it was out of our systems and we hopped back into the RV to continue west.
There was a river crossing near Maryhlll, Washington. We planned to cross there to get into Oregon. Shortly before we got to the turnoff, there was a sign:
“Stonehenge – Left 1/4 Mile”
What? We had no choice. In a quarter mile, we turned left at Stonehenge Drive and parked next to a giant rock garden. Who knew?
Sure enough, there it was…a replica of Stonehenge…on the northern bank of the Columbia River in Maryhill, Washington. It was dusk and nobody else was there.
Apparently, it’s a war memorial originally built for those that died in World War I. It was commissioned in 1918 and completed in 1929. There is nothing else there, as the town burned down during construction, and was never rebuilt. Worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Time to leave Stonehenge. The night was not getting younger, and we were ready for some dinner. One of the guys suggested we stop at McMenamins Kennedy School in Portland. It sounded good to us.
If you’ve never been to a McMenamins, it’s worth stopping for a moment to explain what they are. McMenamins has made a business out of converting old, run down or abandoned buildings into topnotch restaurants and hotels. The Kennedy School is one of their coolest properties, though, I haven’t been to all of them.
When we got to McMenamins Kennedy School, my buddy skillfully got the RV into the parking lot and parked. I was impressed. Anything bigger than a pickup truck is more vehicle than I’m mentally prepared to deal with. Props to those with large vehicle skills.
The property used to be a school campus, so there were multiple buildings. From what we could tell, there was a hotel, along with a few bars and restaurants.
We headed in and found a bar. It was a chance to quench our thirst and ask the bartender about the property. He gave us an overview of the campus, along with where to get dinner.
Being Saturday night, the restaurants were super busy. The first place we found was in a larger building. It took some navigating to find it up some stairs in a pretty quiet area. There was only a 10 or 15-minute wait, but the menu was a bit more highbrow than we wanted. We decided to keep looking.
In our attempt to get back outside, we found ourselves lost. The building we were in used to be dorms, and was now a hotel. What seemed like it should be a hallway out of the building ended up leading to a communal bathroom. Not the exit.
We turned around and found a stairwell. One more floor down and the front door was just around the corner. Seriously, are we that directionally challenged? Oh, well.
Free from the maze, we decided we needed another drink in preparation to find the other restaurant. There was another pub stashed away in what looked like a large toolshed. It was a pretty cool little place, with just enough room to huddle for a drink. Our tanks recharged, we set off to spelunk for the restaurant.
There was a sign that led to another sign, which ultimately led us down another hallway and finally the restaurant. Enough time had passed that the wait time was relatively short. We got a nice little roundtable in the middle of the restaurant.
You’d think my mountain of tater tots in Kennewick would have ruined me on the little potato cylinders. It didn’t. I found a tater tot appetizer and promptly ordered it. Good service and tater tots, that is all I remember from that meal. I swear the steak eaters got steak, but it’s all a bit fuzzy.
Once we finished with dinner, we found our way out of the restaurant and back to the RV. We found a place to park for the night and sleep.
The next morning, we got up and rallied back home. No real stops, just sleeping and driving for the few hours back to Seattle.
It was a great trip.