The Many Murals of Toppenish, Washington (& An End To Many Days' Wandering)
✍️ • 🕑 September 26-27, 2021 • Series: Go West, Young Lad • Tags: street art • Toppenish • Washington State • Mt. Rainier National Park • Places: Toppenish, WA • The Edge of Mt. Ranier National Park
I wish I had a bit of better timing for the last day of my trip, but hey, what can I do.
Much of the "in between" from Boise to Seattle is highway, or mountain. An easily accessible hiking trail seemed off the cards, because many seemed like they were more of a detour than I was willing to take.
Meanwhile, Oregon is home to the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute -- the only Native American museum along the Oregon Trail. I wasn't super interested in going to hear any settler accounts of the Oregon trail, but this sounded like a nice stop, and a place that could be really interesting.
But, I my drive was on a Sunday and the museum was closed. Instead, I decided to visit Toppenish, Washington, with the hope of getting some Frybread Tacos for lunch.
To my dismay, the restaurant opened only in the mid-afternoon, and I wasn't going to hang around for hours, but the detour meant I got to check out... *erm* the many murals of Toppenish.
Toppenish bills itself as the city of murals. The city put up its first mural in 1989, to commemorate the Washington State Centennial. Since then, they have put up another 80-90, all of which depict the west in a manner described by the city as "historically accurate."
Apparently, you can also book covered wagon tours of the murals.
As a photographer, I opted to do make least sensible lens choice for photographing these murals and stick to a fixed focal length telephoto. This made framing challenging, but rewarding. I supplemented these photos with a few cellphone snaps, all since lost.
From Toppenish, I plotted a course to my next campsite, at the American Forks Campground.
Since it was next to a wildfire and appeared to be closed, I did not stay there. I drove through mountains, skirting the edge of Mt. Rainier National Park, and eventually made my way to my friend Chelsea's place in West Seattle.
The next morning, I drove to my apartment, got my keys from my landlady, and had finally arrived.
Oh, and because I love giving myself breaks, I also planned to put in a full day's work.
And so, my journey finished, and my time in Seattle began instead.
I had an absolute blast driving across the country. There are so many things that I would have done slightly differently, places I would have loved to spend more or less time at, and tires I wish I hadn't popped.
To be perfectly honest, my enthusiasm had waned a little bit around when I was crossing into Idaho, and thus I was eager to move into my unfurnished apartment... and immediately buy a bed.
But, even with that said, my trip across the country was full of unforgettable moments, old friends, delicious foods, spectacular natural beauty, and only the occasional unpleasant encounter.
I got to fall asleep to the sounds of howling coyotes, elk mating calls, and drunken abusive motel guests, of which the latter was easily the most terrifying. I got to traverse mountains, watch water explode from the earth, and struggle to find the jack for my spare tire. I enjoyed cheese curds and croquettes, and the soreness of my back from a day's hike or a day's drive.
If I had to do it over again, I would in a heartbeat. And, if anything, I'd plan a longer trip. There are so many wonderful things that I saw, but so many more things left undiscovered.
Perhaps, it's unsurprising, that I soon found myself missing life on the road. Because, as long as I have a car of my own in this country, my appetite remains whet for more road trips!
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