Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Weekend Warrior Road Trip

It's easy for me to forget that my normal isn't everyone's normal.  I take green grass, trees, hills, mountains, and water - lots of water - for granted.

A walk in the park with Gunnar

"Our" lake

Boys in a maple

Spring thunderstorm

Potluck at our friends'

It isn't until we hit the road (even just across the mountains to the "dry side" of our state) that I'm reminded of how much variety there is!  So I took lots (and lots and lots) of pictures to show you.

And yes, we did hit the road last weekend, traveling to Eastern Washington to pick up Wyatt from Desert Eagle Flight Academy, in Ephrata.  But one step at a time... first we had to get over the Cascades. That's no problem in the summer, and with views like these right out the window it's a gorgeous drive.

Up to the right you'll see the ski area at Snoqualmie Pass.  This place is swarming with skiers in the winter because of the easy access from Seattle.  I-90 is a major interstate and they keep it open all winter.  (Other higher passes close for months because it's too much work to keep the roads clear of snow.)  See the ski lifts up to the right?

Not exactly an award winning photo, but do you know what that funny tunnel is for?  It's a snow shed. In avalanche-prone areas it keeps the snow from accumulating on the road.  (They'll close the east-bound lanes and divert both directions through the tunnel if necessary.)

Once over the pass, it's like being in a whole different world.  A very, very dry one.  But there's lots to see, and I wanted to stop at the...

You can read all about it here.  In short, several varieties of petrified wood have been found in this area of Washington and are on display at a museum in Vantage, WA.  You'll also get a great view of a part of the Columbia River known as the Wanapum Reservoir.

I know, I know, it's a river.  But it looks like a lake.  There are fourteen dams on the Columbia (which several years ago led to the boys innocently referring to one summer's trip as "Our Dam Vacation") providing clean hydro-electric power and irrigation.  And - bonus! - lots of recreational opportunities :D

I know it's clean and I've swum in it many times, but I have to say that the weeds creep me out.  It looked like if you could just get a run at it you could jump off the cliff by the visitors' center and go for a swim, but it's just a bit high for that!

Inside the museum we saw lots of crosscut and polished petrified wood.  Some of them looked like animals or scenes.  We liked this cute little owl.

We also saw several Indian petroglyphs that had been relocated before one of the dams was built.  They would've been submerged.  The boys remembered the same thing happened in Egypt, and the Abu Simbel temple was moved at the building of the Aswan Dam.

It's hot.  About twenty degrees hotter than we're used to.  All that water sure looks appealing!

Here's another stone log, with a tumbleweed growing behind and over it.  Saw plenty of those...

And of course we had to stop the the oh-so-kitschy gift shop just outside the park :D

And then, onward, past George (get it, George, Washington?).  Kerry and I had our first date at George, WA.  Went to a Jimmy Buffet concert at the Gorge at George - an amazing natural amphitheater that is a concert venue.

Thanks to all that wonderful irrigation plus a dry (ie very sunny) climate, Eastern Washington is famous for its crops - apples, wheat, corn, potatoes, and hay... lots of hay.  We were also watching the clouds.

We stayed the night in Moses Lake (not exactly a major destination, but close to Ephrata) and watched a gorgeous sunset, probably made more beautiful by the smoke from a couple of brush fires burning somewhere in the area.  Took this right out our hotel window.

Tate and Gunnar were not thrilled to have to share a bed for the night, so Tate put up a pillow-fence to maintain personal space.  *sigh*

And tomorrow, on to Ephrata...


dlefler said...

I love living vicariously through other people's trips! I had no idea there was a petrified forest in Washington State - I learn something new every day. My kids would have loved the dinosaur at the gift shop!

melanie said...

Oh yes! I took the train into Spokane I think... it was 20-some years ago :-) My brother was living in Moses Lake when he got married. Some of the family took a side-trip to see one of the Columbia dams nearby.