Tag Archives: Asotin County WA

Road trip: Anatone and the plateau country

Anatone, Washington, boasting a population of 38, is Asotin County’s third-largest city. Anatone is also one of the county’s three most celebrated ghost towns. My husband and I have taken to making Anatone a road trip destination, and even a hub in our high-country explorations.

I woke up with a migraine this morning, and feeling a little whooshed after the Imitrex, I managed to make toast and tea and cut up an apple, and stared at them, trying to regain memory of facts, memory of how to walk, and other responsible essentials associated with basic life, like eat the toast, eat the apple, drink the tea. My husband’s suggestion of road trip therapy seemed a good one, and the hope of actually seeing Anatone Butte activated me from a state of near-hibernation to one of motivated slow-motion.

Asotin County is hardly alpine; I suppose technically we are highland prairie with plateaus. We live at about 1200 feet, and on this particular road trip we climbed to 3965 feet, according to the sign at Fields Spring State Park. We saw a flock of wild turkeys, lots of mountain bluebirds, a loggerhead shrike, a bald eagle, and a coyote. We were equipped with our trustee gazetteer, and the topo maps showed lots of primitive roads that would probably get us to Anatone Butte in the summer, but even with our tough Audi Allroad’s four-wheel drive, those roads were all impassable on this sunny spring day. The County thoughtfully placed “Road Closed” signs at strategic points several muddy miles along; so, having driven the muddy miles in good faith, we had to turn back and select another route. At least two primitive roads were open to the extent that we could make our trip a loop; we just had to miss out on Anatone Butte.

The plateau country is beautiful. The landscape of farms, uncultivated prairie, coulees, and palisades suggests harmony rather than contrast. One senses that colors blend, barns belong there, and all works together for the land and the lives that sustain and are sustained by it.

Not being much of a city person, I never really sense this kind of harmony and synthesis in a city much bigger than Anatone. That said, we swung through Lewiston to hit the car wash on the way home.



Filed under People, Places, & Things, Photo Galleries


I have taken to daily flights from home, exiled by the nerve-stripping sound of a manual floor nailer, which to the untrained phonophobe sounds suspiciously like a pneumatic nailer. The happy thing is that the Valley is an exceedingly exile-friendly place. There are always people to see, places to go, and things to do.

Day One on the lam, my first stop was the drug store. I had an errand there, but my higher purpose was to ask Candace, my resource person who works there, if she knew someone who could cut my hair. She referred me to a hairstylist in downtown Clarkston, who actually trimmed my hair in layers, to the length I specified, while carrying on an intelligent conversation. Candace was so enthused to make the referral that she actually called Linda for me while I was at the pharmacy and made me an appointment for an hour and half later.

My next stop was the small branch library that serves Clarkston Heights. The Heights branch has two adult sized chairs. I read the Lewiston newspaper, secured a library card, and began reading Sacajawea’s Nickname: Essays on the American West, by Larry McMurtry, before heading downtown to get my hair trimmed. I had been wanting to follow Elm Street to its end, and returning home by my exploratory route, I discovered I had nearly 3/5 of a new floor in my study.

The second day, my normal housework routine plus a new monthly window-cleaning regimen occupied the morning, and I listened to a continuing legal education presentation on patent law while my husband used an ordinary hammer in some tight areas of my study closet. When he was ready to pick up the ear-splitting nailer, I headed to Home Depot for more flooring. I am still deciding whether it’s worth it to become a Home Depot gender-propriety advocate, but I was honestly nonplussed when the female customer service representative, unable to get a male employee to answer the page to load the flooring into my car, loaded it herself. Each carton weighed about 40 pounds, so she hefted a cumulative total of 500 pounds. I thought this was gender equity to a fault, especially given the fact that she wheeled my flat cart between two male employees who were standing around conversing with folded arms. When I asked her what they were doing instead of loading my flooring, she said they were department heads who didn’t really do anything. I suggested if she needed to put up with that, the Army probably paid better.

After I returned home and my husband unloaded the flooring, I picked up my friend Rosemary and we drove to a small bakery in Asotin for coffee. The bakery reminded me of Hemingway’s Paris, with pictures worth looking at on the walls, and good coffee for half the price of a cup at Starbucks, including all the refills and cream we wanted. Vibrant ruby and gold foliage shone in the sun along the banks of the Snake River near Swallows Nest Rock as we drove the 10 minutes from Rosemary’s home to Asotin. I love the Valley for its pleasant places to go and its beautiful ways to get to them.

Over the next few weeks, my husband will be noisily, albeit not pneumatically, installing our floors, and there will be some days that I will likely have to resort simply to playing tourist. That should not be difficult; the Valley caters to tourists, but my idea of touring is seldom along the beaten path. There’s a cemetery to check out; and I’m thinking of making it something of a blood sport not to cave and go to Starbucks on any of my jaunts. And next week, maybe I’ll help Rosemary take down some of those obnoxious campaign signs. After all, Election Day was over once I voted, wasn’t it?


Filed under People, Places, & Things


In the 11 days we’ve lived here, it has rained one full day. My inner desert rat is comforted. After 10 months of darkness draping Puget Sound last year, I’m beginning to unfold. I’ve not yet seen dark clouds suspended over the entire landscape here. On our very rainy day, a light veil of cloud striped the hills very prettily. The sky was cloudy but light.

Whenever the barometer dropped in Tacoma, the pressure differential always made me ill. Here, the barometer can drop to 29 and I’m fine. I don’t know what the difference is, but the pressure difference in the Valley doesn’t seem to bother me at all. I find the sun invigorating, and our first week here the 80° weather revived energy sufficient to the adversities of chaos and restoration of some sort of routine in its midst.

The Lewis-Clark Valley is my valley of encouragement. I have enjoyed everyone I have met, because they seem the sort of people who are sustaining, the way the weather is. They’re the sort of people I can unfold with. I met my new doctor today for the first time. I praise God that I have lived long enough at last to find what we used to call a doctor: a comprehensive thinker with compassion and knowledge and good humor and earnest concern about the interface of every variable my system presents. His nurse used to work in Seattle and she could sympathize with my experience and frustration as I consistently failed to find competent care in Seattle and Tacoma. And we met Smitty this week, who is going to build our pole-barn shop and carport. He is excavating for the project as I write. Tomorrow Coolidge and I will meet Coolidge’s new veterinarian. We have been to Schurman’s Hardware, and met their friendly staff and enjoyed their wry conservative humor. I came away with a new pocketknife from which I have been inseparable, and we purchased a functional toaster and a few items for the house. The store has been here virtually forever, and fits in with the rest of the climate perfectly. And of course, my husband and I have met a dozen or so of our eternal mainstays: our church brethren.

I have four more sludgy windows to clean, and then we will have turned the corner for real, from cleaning up our predecessors’ grunge, to merely overhauling and redecorating what at last feels fully like our house. Today, my husband applied Kilz to the entire area of seasick-green ceilings and walls of our living room and hallway. I applied the first coat of Midsummer Gold to the frames of the four dining room windows. We’re home, and the weather is fair now and ahead.


Filed under People, Places, & Things