Celeste being in town, we drove across the state to Spokane to visit Neal, their uncle. Rockwood had changed quite a bit the last time we were there, so we were looking forward to how much else was different.
Having returned a couple days prior from Vancouver, it was nice to not do very much for a while. We didn’t rush out of the house in the morning but still got a pretty good start on our drive. Traffic in Seattle had died down by that time.
After lunch in Ellensburg, we stopped just after crossing the Columbia River to make the short walk up to the Wild Horses Monument. It's one of those things that you see every time, thinking it would be interesting to walk to. The last time I was up there was almost 15 years ago, and Melody and Celeste hadn't been there at all.
The walk up was quite steep, but once at the top, we had a great view and enjoyed seeing the horses up close. Going down was a bit slower, making sure we didn't slide down.
Other than a new coat of paint, the outside of Rockwood looked the same as we pulled up. Once we stepped in, however, things did look quite different. The original front desk was just a small table the last time we were there a couple years ago, but this time it was a regular, staffed desk. Instead of the old library and gathering room was a huge workout room.
After that quick glance at the entryway, we went up to our room. Apparently, Neal went downstairs not long after we went up, so after settling into the room, we went back down to say hello.
We caught up for a bit then went over to the dining area to have dinner. We ended up sitting with a couple of Neal's friends, including Ed, whom we've seen each of the last several visits.
After dinner, Neal showed us not only the workout room, but another workout studio just past it, and further down the day spa. We then went to the top floor of the new tower to take a look at the city from the balcony. It was a great view, but we didn't stay out there very long since the temperature was quickly dropping.
We were able to chat more with Neal after going to his room, and it's interesting to see what new memorabilia he had put up.
Back downstairs to check out the new exercise room. There was a pretty impressive array of machines, including a whole series of weight machines. We all did our own thing, then went back upstairs to retire for the evening.
Neal has a normal breakfast routine, but he's always generous enough to change it up a bit so we can eat with him a bit later than he usually does. He did have plans for the middle of the day, which worked out well since we were able to look for a trail to hike.
We ended hiking on the Iller Creek Trail, a loop of about 5 miles. It was a gradual climb and descent along the whole trail, so the 1,200 foot gain wasn't very strenuous. We took an extra loop to get a closer look at the Rocks of Sharon and took a break at the peak of the trail which gave us a great view of the Palouse.
Having gotten started not very late, we were planning on having lunch after we finished. Although there's a soup restaurant we like in Downtown Spokane, we opted to eat at a café near Rockwood, then went back to hang out for the rest of the afternoon.
As it got closer to dinner time, we went back downstairs to chat with Neal and Barbara (their dad's widow). Neal's friend Jerry was going to go but was still recovering from an illness. It was sad to have missed him, but another friend we had met the night before, Bea, was able to join us instead. We had a great time talking with everyone over dinner.
We once again had lunch with Neal, and Ed joined us towards the end. As usual, there was plenty of food and we had a great time chatting. After that, we finished packing, said goodbye to Neal, and went onto the road.
Not long after we left, we let Jean (their mom) know when we were planning to be in Ellensburg so we could meet up with her. After we ate, we transferred Celeste's things to Jean's car since they would be spending a couple nights in Snohomish with Keith and his family.
After that, we worked our way home for the weekend. We saw everyone again on Sunday for a big family dinner before Celeste flew back to New York on Monday.