Washington State Motels

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For a time, we visit old friends in Seattle, site of the 1962 World's Fair with its 520-foot Space Needle. Today, you can visit the fairgrounds and even ride to the top of the needle (as long as you plan on eating fast food that evening - that's one expensive elevator ride!). Seattle, capital of the Microsoft global empire, has crossed the threshold of its hip prime. The downtown is abuzz with the sound of people actually spending their money. You have to drive pretty far south to find folks still living under their desks and making midnight Costco runs. Still, touring Microsoft's Redmond "campus", you can still hear (well, imagine really) the echoes of "BillBillBill" bouncing off the brillo pad green of this high-tech compound. They're spinning out the future in this postmodern legoland, but we're sticking around for the motels.

We stop for a while at the Kanes Motel. Brick glass reflects the glow of red and green neon back onto the minivans that line the parking lot. Around the corner, the Eastgate Motel flickers a tentative welcome despite the "no vacancy" sign. Motion sensors detect my presence as I glance into the empty soda room and traipse past a vacant office. Deep blue doors cut sharp contrast with crisp white florescent tubes.

[camera]Eastgate Motel [camera]Alpen Inn

Out on US 2, we head east toward Leavenworth, a Bavarian themed city where every dwelling is a haus and every hill is alive with the sound of music. Naturally, we stop at the Alpen Inn Motel. But we also drop by the Timberline Motel with its stone cottages - each individually named for local trees like Juniper, Fir, and Cypress. Even this far east of Seattle, Washington reminds us that this state is the espresso capital of the world with its many roadside coffee stands and "chalets." Further along, the Valley Cottage Motel rests near the cascading Wenatchee river and an apple orchard. The new owner, a crew-cut dude with a laid back demeanor tells us that this year (1998) is the Court's 50th anniversary: "This old place had gotten pretty run down about 15 years ago, but we're bringing it back up."

Past Lincoln Rock State Park, Highway 2 empties out into a glimmering desert of scrub, heat mirages, and dust devils. Near Coulee City, we find the Ala Cozy Motel - where the pool is advertised as "our only liquid asset." No evergreen trimmings or freshly painted shutters at this site, the Ala features a weather beaten mini-golf city with its own saloon, jail, and chapel. Racing toward Spokane, the cool Pacific breezes have receded as the furnace heat pushes us toward Idaho. We don't have time to look for motels in town (suggestions for the next trip are welcome) but we do rest an hour at Riverfront Park, site of the 1974 World Expo. More than two decades later, you can still stroll under the wings of an artificial butterfly and peer up at the fair's clock tower. Nearby, climb an almost two story radio flyer sculpture commissioned by the town's Junior League. Locals offer knowing smiles but keep walking past.

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Last update: April 4, 1999. All photographs copyright © Jenny Wood. Text copyright © Andy Wood.