Sunday, January 20, 2008

Spokane in January

Spokane, WA is a very cold place in the winter (and I’ve been told, very hot in the summer). Thursday morning my boss (D) and I flew to Spokane (about a 50 minute flight) for meetings. We left Seattle and I would say the temperature was in the upper 30s and no snow in sight. Well flying over the rest of the state showed that weather conditions were not similar to my home. Snow covered the ground all the way from Mt. Rainier to Spokane. While it wasn’t snowing while we were there, it was cold enough in Spokane that snow stays on the ground once it lands. It never got above freezing Thursday or Friday. Our meeting Thursday was fairly short, so D and I checked into our hotel early and relaxed in our rooms for a couple of hours. (And I have to say, I had been looking forward to watching cable again. I was disappointed. Nothing good was on. I guess there’s a reason that we decided it wasn’t worth ordering cable in WA!) Then in the late afternoon D and I went on a walk so he could show me downtown Spokane.

The city is much prettier than I thought it would be. The Spokane River goes through the city and our hotel sat right on the river. You can tell that in the summer it would be nice to have a drink in the outdoor seating area of the hotel. We walked along the river and crossed one of many bridges to go into downtown Spokane. It’s a sleepy-feeling city compared to the hustle and bustle of Seattle. D told me that I had to see the Davenport Hotel. He described it as a luxurious, old hotel that housed many a foreign dignitary in its day. We got to the Davenport and walked into the lobby and the place took my breath away. I have NEVER seen a hotel so elaborately decorated before. This place looked like one of the many castles I toured in Europe. But this was no castle; it was a hotel that people pay to stay at now. The pictures I’ve posted below really don’t do it justice, the detail of the trim was incredible. And you walked into a room and just felt glowing gold everywhere. We walked around the public areas and looked at historic pictures of when they first opened. After leaving the Davenport, we then walked by a building that is named after Bing Crosby. Apparently he went to college in Spokane (Gonzaga University, a Catholic college) and the city is quite proud of their claim to fame. We also saw an impressive monument to runners. Spokane is home to the annual Bloomsday Run. This 12 kilometer run has boasted more than 60,000 participants (in a single year) in years past. I was told that it was one of the largest races in the United States. So we came across a series of statues in mid run, obviously racing. That was pretty cool.

That evening D was tired so I went to dinner by myself. When researching Spokane earlier in the week I had read something about a restaurant called The Mustard Seed, and we happened to pass it earlier that day so I knew where it was. So I took the rental car (which I could drive, even though I’m not 25 yet, because I’m a state employee…ooh the perks of being a state employee!) and went to dinner alone. It was a nice restaurant that had modern Asian fusion food. I had the Beef and Mushroom. It had several awards posted in its doorways, claiming that Spokane had voted it as best Asian food in several different years and publications. It was very good, but nothing special. Nevertheless, I’m always excited to try local restaurants.

Friday was filled with meetings and we left Spokane in the afternoon, just as cold as when we arrived the previous morning. I’m very glad to have seen a different part of the state and to be so pleasantly surprised at the beauty of the city.

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