Showing posts with label Snoqualmie Pass. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Snoqualmie Pass. Show all posts

Sunday, June 23, 2013

WAWeekend: Having a blast on Snoqualmie Pass

It was a blast on Snoqualmie Pass that led to this post.  Quite literally.

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Snoqualmie Pass, about an hour east of Seattle, was once the hunting ground and homeland of the Native Americans tribe, the Snoqualmie (snow-qwal-me).

It now the highest point on  Interstate 90, Washington’s major east-west link.

Road improvements near the pass’s 3,022-foot high summit are prompting sporadic road closures of an hour or so and reduced speeds. 

Thursday evening’s blasting tossed and tumbled so many boulders onto the roadway that crews were still feverishly working hours later  to open the roadway by mid-Friday morning. 

That would be the same Friday as my scheduled one one-day road trip to Eastern Washington.

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I was among the hundreds of travelers who were waiting for the road to open. The good news was that I’d reached the summit’s recreation/rest area just minutes before the backup stretched beyond its exit.
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Ellensburg 009The summit at one time had little more than a Rest Stop.
Today,that same rest stop has been joined by ski areas and their lift stations, a vacation home development, a hotel and several coffee shops, one of which is located in the historic rest stop.

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That cafĂ©/store, Red Mountain Coffee, (pictured above) was doing a brisk business. 

Next door, in the entry hall to the public restrooms, the state has mounted a framed narrative of the history of Snoqualmie Pass. And quite a history it has:  

In June 1858: Seattle area men, believed to be miners, cleared a trail to Lake Keechelus,  ([pictured below) just east of the summit.
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1865– 1867:The trail was widened and could then accommodate wagons, although weather destroyed it regularly requiring it to be rebuilt. It also required travelers to ferry across Lake Keechelus.  (Some on-line sources say portions of the old wagon road can be seen from the area’s Denny Campground.)

1884 – 1887:  An Ellensburg company improved the road further – but travelers had to pay a toll when using it.

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1905:The first auto drove over the pass on what was then called, Sunset Highway.

1934: the roadway was paved.
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Roadway improvements continued and in 1981 the roadway lanes were split with west bound opening west of the Snoqualmie River and Denny Creek on a bridge span 200-feet high.

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2005 – 2017:  The state Legislature approved the  Transportation Partnership Account gas tax, which secured $551 million to improve the first five miles of the corridor to the east of the summit (notorious for snow slides that often close the road in winter).

The work involves adding a lane in each direction, replacing deteriorating concrete, adding and replacing bridges and culverts, extending chain up/off areas and replacing the snow shed (think open air tunnel over the freeway) just east of the Snoqualmie Pass Summit with another structure to reduce winter avalanche closures.

This portion of the project is scheduled to be complete in 2017.

If You Go:

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Expect delays and reduced speed areas when traveling over Snoqualmie Pass.  Blasting continues and schedulesfor closures resulting from it  – as well as road conditions – can be found at the Washington State Department of Transportation, click WSDOT.

Have you ever hit a road block on a road trip?  What did you do while waiting to resume your travels?

That’s it for this weekend. Hope you are having a good one what ever road you are following. . .come back soon!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

2010 Memory Lane, Yakima, Washington:

Yes! You can go home again.  Earlier this week I speculated about my trip to Yakima and the claim made by someone long before me, "you can't go home again".  Wrong. You can.  I did. I recommend it to anyone who has been putting off  making that personalized trip down memory lane. 

In my case it was as simple as sending a few emails and making a few phone calls to friends I'd stayed in touch with over the years, a couple of whom I hadn't seen in 20 years. We set a date, planned an itinerary and carried through -- despite Mother Nature giving us a few tense hours as a late season storm swept through the state closing Snoqualmie Pass twice on Thursday and leaving in its wake blowing snow and slush on the roadway Friday. This is how the pass looked at 9 a.m.

And this is how it looked at 5 p.m.:

The time spent between 9 and 5 was better than I could have imagined.  Mary, with whom I had shared my childhood, and I traveled down memory lane slowly driving up and down the roads that made up our old neighborhood.  We remarked on the changes, laughed at memories and challenged each other's brain cells with names from the past.

Our lunch gathering of college girlfriends was one we will remember for years to come.  The photo albums filled with somewhat fading photos prompted shrieks of laughter and puzzled looks as we tried to recall associations we had with faces of many in the photos.  Old photos mixed with new ones as we were introduced to adult children - grandchildren! - homes and recent travels. The conversation never stopped, food got cold, the years between college and the present seemed but a blip.  We've vowed to stay in touch: next gathering this fall in our college town, Ellensburg.

For those who read the earlier post, Mary and I did ride the elevator to the top of the Larson Building for old times' sake.  This time I'd read up on it and knew that it had been built during the Depression and the designer had designated that several floors be equipped for medical and dental offices (no wonder our dentist had been there).  The lobby of this Art Deco building is incredibly beautiful with its black marble and brass.  The building is on the National Register of Historic Places - definitely worth a visit if you are in Yakima. 

(Tip: Ride to the 11th floor, head to the left and from the window to the north side of the elevators you'll have a sweeping western view of the Yakima Valley.)


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