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15 September 2014

Going For A Walk: Spokane, Washington

Spokane is a located on the eastern side of Washington State, approx. 20 miles from the Idaho border and 230 miles from Seattle. Personally, I never heard of it until I married Scott over 20 years ago (Scott’s family lives in nearby Coeur d’Alene, Idaho). Spokane is the “big city” in the region and is known for being the home of Bing Crosby, Expo 74 and Gonzaga University (my father-in-law loves the Zags!). It probably isn’t on your vacation bucket list, but maybe you should rethink that. It is one of those places that can surprise you and it is definitely worth taking a walk through, like we did the other day. You can spend hours poking around Spokane and before you know you’ll find you’ve walked over ten miles and there is still plenty that you missed.

They have these handy maps strategically placed on the sidewalks throughout downtown Spokane. You can see my feet on the map. I’m one of those people who has to turn maps around in my hands so that it is facing the way we need to go. It is the only way I can tell my left from my right and figure out which way to turn. Putting maps on sidewalks is a brilliant idea for people like me. You can just step right onto the map and position yourself facing the way you want to go. 

Spokane Map

We kicked off our walk in the theatre district. It cost us around $4 to park our car all day on the street. In most cities it usually costs you and arm and a leg to park your car, but not in Spokane. You should come here just for the cheap parking meters. 

We started off the day with Scott taking picture of old signs. We ended the day with him taking pictures of old signs. We spent most of the day with Scott taking pictures of old signs. You get the idea. Oh, look. I just happen to have a picture of an old sign from the theatre district.

Otis Sign BW

When we set out it was chucking down rain, so we hid out in a coffee shop for a while. There was a woman there who decided that it was an ideal place to do her entire morning beauty routine while sipping on a coffee. By the end of it, she had some really big hair and a lot of mascara and eyeliner on. Hopefully, it was all waterproof as it was raining cats and dogs.

After coffee, we headed over to the Spokane Cathedral where we met a guy who told us about the pilgrimage he made to Lourdes. I thought he had kind eyes and he probably has an even kinder soul. I imagine he isn’t the type of person to write a snarky comment in his blog about women with big hair and lots of makeup. 

Spokane Cathedral

Next, we headed down to the river to look at the Spokane Falls, a series of dams and waterfalls which are used for power generation. You can take a gondola down the river to have a look at the falls or just walk along the path like we did.

Spokane River

The falls are located in Riverfront Park which was created after Expo 74. The Expo was a big deal for Spokane. Nixon even showed up and made a speech to cries from the audience, “Jail to the Chief!” (Watergate forced him out of office shortly thereafter). Scott remembers the Expo from when he lived in Coeur d’Alene as a boy. The structures they built have that classic 70s look – what people imagined the future would look like one day. It reminds me of Tomorrowland at Disney World in some ways. Today, it looks a bit kitschy and tired in some places, but there are plans to revitalize the area. 

Expo Gondola

In one of the Expo structures (the United States Pavilion), you can find kiddie rides during the summer. Some of them have seen better days. 

Tilt A Whirl

I have no idea what this pig is supposed to be about. Poor thing is just sitting there all on its lonesome wishing some kids would come by and say howdy.

Piggy

After walking through the Riverfront Park, we headed over to Domini’s to get a sandwich. We only needed one sandwich between the two of us as they pile on more meat and cheese then you can possibly imagine onto bread as thick as your average phone book. The sandwiches are huge, even by American standards, and that’s saying a lot! Domini’s has been in business forever and haven’t changed at all over the years. And why should they change? Once someone’s been to Domini’s, they become a lifelong customer. Every time Scott’s dad was on business in Spokane, he would stash away a bunch of sandwiches in his suitcase and bring them back to North Dakota for Scott and his brothers. When their dad walked in the door after a long trip, the boys ran right past him, grabbed his suitcase and started scarfing down the sandwiches as fast as they could. 

Like Hudson’s Burgers in Coeur d’Alene, they keep ordering simple. You choose your meat, chees and type of bread. No lettuce, not tomato, no nothing except a pickle on the side if you’re feeling adventurous. But there is popcorn - lots and lots of yummy popcorn.

Dominis Sandwich

Of course, even though the d├ęcor at Domini’s hasn’t changed over the years, the conversations have. While we were there, I overheard some folks at another table talking about places to buy marijuana now that it is legal in Washington State. Not a conversation you would have heard a year ago. I even saw a sign on a building advising how many feet you had to be away from the building in order to smoke marijuana. You used to just see those signs for cigarettes.

Dominis Inside

Our next stop was the Davenport Hotel, an iconic landmark in Spokane. It originally opened in 1914 and was quite the cutting edge place back then with air conditioning, a pipe organ and central vacuuming. Anyone who was anyone in the Northwest spent time at the Davenport. The hotel shut down in 1985 and lay dormant for years. Fortunately, it was renovated in 2000 and you can pay a visit today to see the stunning Spanish Renaissance lobby, the Hall of Doges, the hand painted frescoes and ornate woodwork and marble. 

Davenport Old

Davenport Hotel

After imagining what it would be like to have stayed in the Davenport in the olden days, we headed back out to hit the pavement and take some more photos of old signs. There are a lot of them in Spokane. Scott wants to go back for another walk so that he can document all of them. I think I’m going to need to create a Pinterest board just for his photos. In the meantime, here are some final shots to hold you over. The Merlin is one of my favorite signs - high class, neat and clean apartments on offer. And if you can’t afford an apartment, you can always get a low rent but strictly modern single room.

Rex Flour

Cresecent Machine Shop

Ketchum Sign

Merlin Hotel

Coke Sign

Walk on 22 August 2014

Linked up to Travel Tuesday with Bonnie  CamilaJessi, and Amy

9 comments:

  1. Isn't it always raining in Washington? Looks like a nice place, but it was that sandwich that made me a bit nostalgic.

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    1. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous. I think it has only rained one time since we've been here. Fingers crossed that summer sticks around for a while longer!

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    2. Grew up in Spokane. The rain is concentrated primarily West of the mountains (West coast). In Eastern Washington, the weather is very pleasant and the landscape is beautiful. 4 distinct seasons, and not nearly the rain Seattle gets because the clouds have to dump the moisture to get up and over the mountains. Which keeps Eastern WA moderately dry. It's beautiful, and the snow is gorgeous!

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  2. Awww it looks lovely! We were suppose to go there for a wedding but had to cancel last minute due to a family emergency? I remember thinking, what's in Spokane? Now I'm sad I didn't get the chance to go there but thanks for sharing these pictures so I get a glimpse of what's it like there!
    Hsiao-Ting (www.shoutingchow.com)

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    1. Hope you manage to make it there one day - great city!

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  3. looks very nice, thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks Diana! Appreciate you stopping by to check out our blog!

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  4. I'm from Montana (Bozeman) and Spokane does not have a great reputation with us--but your photos make it look really nice!! I suppose I should give it a chance one day :)

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    1. I think Spokane is one of those underrated cities, especially compared to some of the larger cities in the region, like Seattle. If you do get a chance to visit one day you should. It might just change your mind about its reputation :-)

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