Sunday, July 31, 2011

Waterfalls in the High Desert?

Although we are about 28 miles from Kennewick, WA, there are three other similar sized cities with about the same population as Kennewick, about 50,000. The Tri-Cities consist of Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, and West Richland. (I know, I know, that's four, but they count West Richland as part of Richland. There is a LOT of history here with the Lewis and Clark expeditions along the Snake River, and the Columbia where they meet, at the confluence of these two rivers. (I learned a new word today!) There is Sacajawea State Park in Pasco that has some interesting artwork by Maya Lin, a famous artist, some engraved basalt Story Circles that we might check out this week. She reinterprets the history of Lewis and Clark's expedition from a Native American viewpoint.  Here is a link to the park's history and the story circles...Sacajawea State Park.  There is a 23 mile continuous bike trail along the Columbia River that connects the tri-cities that I'm going to try and see if Eldy will check it out with me. The heat is just so debilitating that neither one of us feels much like venturing out in the hot sun...

The Columbia River Valley shares the same latitude as the Burgundy and Bordeaux regions of France, so great wines are being made here. We heard that Walla Walla has tons of wine tasting storefronts and that's something else to check out if you are in this area. You can visit more than 160 wineries within a one hour's drive from here! Holey Moley! We'd never make it back home! (Hmmmmm....maybe an overnight stay in a hotel is called for here!)

There are also ten golf courses in the Tri-Cities area, but we haven't checked out prices---too hot!
Hanford Reach
OK, if it's too hot to ride bikes, too hot to hike, too hot to play golf,  and too hot to go play, (Geez, sounds like a Dr. Seuss book!) we could just check out any one of EIGHT National Wildlife Refuges and Reserves that have nature trails and shoreline viewpoints in the tri-cities area. The area's best known wildlife viewing area is Hanford Reach National Monument, north of the tri-cities. This was designated as a national monument in 2000, by President Bill Clinton. It is the only free-flowing non-tidal stretch of the Columbia River unaffected by the hydroelectric dam system. It's a 51 mile stretch of unspoiled river.....check out this stock photo of the Hanford Reach Monument....

After some deliberation and being a little bored after laying low for a couple of days, we decided to take a road trip today....Highway 395 north to highway 260 east to highway 261, off to Palouse State Park where we heard there were some unusual geological formations of basalt and a pretty big falls, Palouse Falls which are 185 feet tall....The drive was there was through high desert country--barren and sparsely populated. The drive into the state park was more of the same. At the end of the destination, you come into a beautiful little park with hiking trails from the top of the trail down to the canyon valley and the bottom of the falls. And there are some spectacular formations of basalt rock which have been deeply carved out by previous ice age river floods. We had a nice picnic lunch there, then explored the canyon walls at the top. This was a beautiful little gem of a park in the middle of high desert country! Being high desert country, it's snake country as well, but we didn't see any! (Thank goodness! exclaims E. What is it with this woman wanting to see rattlesnakes!????)  The park's unique basalt faults and basins and river were formed by ice age floods that roared through the canyons eons ago......They water the park picnic areas so it was like a little oasis in the middle of the desert......

We did a loop drive so on the way back, we headed back from Palouse Falls State Park through Walla Walla by way of highway 12, then highway 730 back home. We heard a LOT about all the wineries in Walla Walla Valley, but the grapevines were harder to spot than the wineries! We didn't stop in Walla Walla although there are plenty of tasting cellars to be found there....Instead, we just continued to meander through small towns and little burgs and wheat fields after wheat fields after wheat fields. I swear, it was like the Sahara Desert---amber waves of grain a plenty! Washington must be a huge wheat producer from the miles and miles of wheat fields we saw on the way back...

We passed through the little town of Dayton, Washington, which has a historical train depot there. It was closed, but it looked very interesting!  Then, as we were driving through town, we saw three deer at the very side of the road, a doe and two fawns. They boogied as we pulled up along side the road to try and catch them in a photo. As we were pulling out, something caught my eye on the other side of the street--some silhouetted signs pointing to something. I told Eldy, "Let's go check that out! I seem to remember reading something about a whole field of silhouetted figures and I think it's here in this town." He patiently does a 360 turn and back we go down a country road...I'm thinking, oh, boy...maybe this is  nothing and I've just led him on a wild goosechase for nothing..." (Wouldn't be the first time Sparky has done THAT! says E.) And here we come to a historical marker.....and this is what we saw......

Sculptural silhouette representations of Lewis and Clark's encampment at Patit Creek in 1806.....with a plaque that tells who the actual 33 people were and what they were doing the night of the encampment, according to Lewis and Clark's notes, right down to details like "resting his sore back".

Very interesting! Dayton also had some interesting small town about this lawn bike? I saw this right next to a tiny little general store where I bought some sweet Walla Walla onions. Heckuva way to get some exercise!

Had to take a photo of the railroad car slots while Eldy got gas for the car........

We also saw a couple of mountain goats on the way back, too! I couldn't help thinking about the Billy Goats Gruff story we learned as little kids when I saw these two high up on the rocky mountainside....Eldy did his fast stop on a curve---then backed up at the side of the road to a safer spot so I could get my photos--what a guy!

We went from high desert barren country, to basalt rocks, canyons and waterfalls to the Columbia River all in one day!  Whew! Never a dull moment on a road trip with Eldo! Tomorrow the Gorge!
Sailing on the river

1 comment:

  1. You sure have got some great photos here. Mountain goats on the side of the road. WOW.
    And the Lewis & Clark encampment that must have been really great to see. I'm impressed that you remembered it and just ran right over there. Sorry it is so hot there. Seems to be hot everywhere except where I am at the moment, which is of course why I'm here. :-)

    Are you moving on to a cooler spot in Washington? Or is your frother getting married in the heat?