Earth and Wind, Fire and Water

Trip Start Aug 31, 2012
Trip End Sep 10, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Oregon
Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Erin got up early and went to work. I slept until  7:30 and Larry until 8:30.  By the time we ate breakfast, got packed and ready to go it was 10:00.  First we went to the grocery store to get a few things we needed for lunches.  Then we headed back to Snowqualmie and stopped to see the Falls.  There weren't many people around and they are still working on the improvements.  So the trail to the base of the falls is still closed.  They are working at the top and the bottom to improve the water power they get from the falls.  We stopped in North Bend for gas and then headed east on 90.  Once we got past Cle Elum where we had got on 90 W last night we started to see the scorched EARTH left by the summer FIRES.

The scorched area stretched for miles and even engulfed a whole ridge of WIND turbines.  The further east we got the fewer and fewer trees there were until there were only trees in low places where there was WATER We could see ridge after ridge of almost barren EARTH.

We headed south on 82 toward Yakima and stopped at a scenic overlook at Manastash Pass.  You could see all the way back to the scorched EARTH and WIND turbines on 90.  There were places in the median of the road where FIRE left black tree skeletons in place of greenery.   The further east and south we got the drier the EARTH got.  We went down out of Manastash Pass and then started climbing again, this time over Umtanum Pass.  As we came down the other side we crossed the Selah Creek on a huge bridge for the middle of the desert.  We stopped at Selah Creek Rest Area for lunch.  From our covered picnic table we could see Mt. Ranier and Mt. Adams.  On the way out of the rest area we stopped to see Selah Cliffs.  It was at this point that I wished I had brought the Geology of Washington and Oregon with us.

From the rest area we drove down into a little green valley where Yakima is located.  As we drove out of Yakima we could see a great gap between two very barren mountains.  As we crossed the divide we saw a sign that said it was Union Gap.  Just south of Yakima we got on 97 which would take us all the way to the Columbia River.  It was here that we entered the Yakama Indian Reservation.  We stopped just south of Toppenish at the Toppenish National Wildlife Area.  We walked out to a viewing gazebo but the only wildlife we saw were lots of wasps. When we left there we drove for miles until we saw a ridge in front of us that seemed impenetrable.  As we got closer we noticed the road turn to the west and take a long low incline up the side of the ridge.  As the road again curved back south, we cross over and things began to change.  The EARTH got darker and darker.  Gradually there were more and more bushes and trees.  We wondered if it was the elevation change as it seemed we were going down and down.  But then we decided it was because there was more WATER on this side.  Gradually there were more and more trees until we were driving through a forest.   We crossed Satus Pass at a higher altitude than any pass today except Snoqualmie Pass on 90.  We stopped in a little town recommended in the information I gathered about the Columbia River Gorge.  I was intrigued by the write up of two of the stores in Goldendale.  We stopped at the Information Center and the ladies there were very helpful.  We found the street where the stores were.  Well, it was advertised as a western town with two general stores.  It wasn’t that great.  We spent less than two minutes in the first one.  It was a cross between a hardware store and a Goodwill Store.  It was called 98 cents & More General Store.  The second general store was McCredy’s.  It was slightly more unique.  I had read they have secondhand books and I am going to need another one.  So I picked up a Nora Roberts book for a couple of bucks.    When I paid, the owner was helping a man buy a hand gun.  Then I felt I was in a western town.  Time to go!

We drove south until Larry noticed a sign beside the road.  The sign pointed out that we could see Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Ranier from that spot.  Mt. Ranier looked like a small cloud on the horizon but you could see it.  There were also hundreds of WIND turbines as far as we could see.  And from here we started to see the WATER of the Gorge.  We drove south to Rt. 14 and turned east where we found Stonehenge, a War Memorial to the soldiers from Kiickitat County who died in WWI.  It was built by Sam Hill, in Maryhill.  So where in the 'Sam Hill’ really has meaning here.  The memorial is very similar to Stonehenge and is supposed to be how Stonehenge would look if it hadn’t fallen apart.  It was impressive right on the bluff above the Columbia River.  We decided we didn’t have time to make it to the Maryhill Art Gallery before it closed so we headed back down 97, across the bridge into Oregon.  We headed west for 19 miles and came into The Dalles about 5:00.  We drove right to our hotel, The Dalles Inn, downtown.  We got registered and into our room and decided to eat next door at Clock Tower Ales, next door to the Inn.  It was a court house at one time.  Larry had Armageddon IPA which was on special and I had a local Pear Cider.  Larry had a Wheat Rancher Cheeseburger and I had a reuben and we both had shoestring fries.  It was good food but nothing special.

After supper we went back to the room to look for a place to walk as we had spent most of the day in the car.  We found a couple of city parks but then I remembered that there is a relatively new river walk.  The map showed it just a couple of blocks from us.  So we walked toward the river and under a very nice underpass that goes under Interstate 84.  The path is over 8miles long.  There was a short pier that went out into the river and some kids were jumping off it into the WATER.  It was 12-15 feet high.  We decided to walk east and hope that the sun would go behind the hills before we turned around to walk back west.   We had to walk right along the interstate which was very loud but at least it stirred up a little WIND as it was still almost 90.  We walked for about half a mile.  We came to a place where there are houseboats moored together.  They are protected by an iron fence in the water on one side and a levee on the other side.  There were lots of boats moored beside the houses and in garages on the WATER.  It reminded us of a mini-Lake Union in Seattle.  (Like in Sleepless in Seattle).  We walked until we got to a parking lot for people who lived in the houseboats.  We had to wait there a little while until the sun set.  While we were waiting we saw some Cedar Waxwings (birds) on and around the iron fence.

Once the sun set we walked back to underpass and were surprised to find a treat for us there.  The sides of the underpass are lined with glass block and behind the blocks is a light show.  It was amazing.  On the way back we found two murals, one of a Sahaptan Medicine Man, whose job was to make sure there were plenty of salmon, nusook, for the people.  The other is painted on the end of The Dalles Inn and depicts a very famous hotel/restaurant called The Umatilla House.  When we got back we planned for tomorrow, looked at email, and I wrote the blog.
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