I've lived in Washington for long enough to be somewhat sheepish about admitting how many huge swaths of the state I've just never been through. Yesterday gave me the chance to get out there - from west to east with enough north to south to really stir the pot. I beat the snow accumulating at Stevens Pass just as my worries about leaving the chains for the car back in Seattle reached a fever pitch. I saw the fruit trees especially around the vicinity of Wenatchee exploding with blossoms. I took huge visual gulps from the Columbia River, as our paths crossed and crossed again a few times based on my itinerary. I was all alone on the road more often than a car was anywhere within sight. I stopped and asked directions from a dingy convenience store within downstream sight of the Grand Coulee Dam - not really worth the trip, but the locals are fabulous even when you let it slip that you're from Seattle. I actually fueled up and chatted up some of the friendliest people I've met in years all along the way. My northern trajectory peaked well into Stevens County - past the Spokane Indian Reservation, but not yet within spitting distance of British Columbia (not that I would ever do such a thing). Then I backtracked and hit the two-laned glide path through the green fields (alfalfa? jeez, I should know such things...) of eastern Washington all the way down to Pullman. The summary takeaway? A sincerely awestruck double-header - 1. Road trips still connect me with America and I expect to always be romantically yet inexorably tied to that heavy carbon footprinting, and 2. Washington, whether big, hairy and wild or in the smaller town bites, holds its own very ably with any state across the nation in terms of awesomeness. No pollyanna cheese is required to say that. I mean it - drop dead gorgeous and inspired, from the Coast through the mountains to the flattest of flatlands. If you can say that after clocking nearly 500 miles all within the borders of a place, it surely was a good way to kick off a week on the road. There's more of it ahead for me today, but I at least wanted to get that off my chest before I head out to chat up some folks. Rock on.