"I had no idea Washington state had any topography like that, even in the East"
E WA is nothing like W WA! Furthermore, E WA is at least 3 times as large as the area W of the Cascades, same for OR. If you like twisties, you will like E WA and E OR!
"A satellite two-way texting with GPS could save one's bacon"
True, but my soul has been tied to a cell phone for so long that I'm fine with intermittent freedom!
"261 is a great road until you end up behind the traffic that stacks up going out to Palouse Falls"
Ever since Palouse Falls became WA States' official Falls, traffic has increased A LOT, but with a 1600 GTL, passing it is usually not a problem. The N Cascades Hiway is also very beautiful, but there are so many people on that road that it makes no difference if you can pass them or not....