We drove out I-84 through the beautiful Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area. To our jaded eyes (having traveled this road approximately 3 million times), there is nothing to see except trees. However, I did hang my head out the window long enough to snap this image of Multnomah Falls. The image is not very impressive. You'll have to take my word for it, however, that the falls are definitely worth a trip should you ever find yourself in Portland.
Trees pretty much line the road on both sides until you reach Hood River, Oregon, where the landscape starts to clear out. There's a wide place in the river here that is well known for its windsurfing.
You may recall images of John Kerry windsurfing here during the 2004 presidential campaign. Here's one of the more iconic images of Mr. Kerry.
When you get to The Dalles, Oregon, the landscape is almost devoid of trees, and becomes much more arid.
The Dalles has an interesting place in Oregon history. You can read more about it at that link I've given you.
There is a lot of wind power here too. With such flat land, the wind does blow.
We stopped at a rest stop here to give the kitties a skritch and stretch our legs. Gracie seemed pretty comfortable. We found her sleeping on the bed. Smitty was a little more freaked out and was hiding behind the bed. Recall that the last time he rode in the trailer, he got chased by some bad woofies when he jumped out of the door unexpectedly. Believe me, we're being super careful when we open the door this trip. (Smitty wrote a blog post about his excellent adventure there at that link I've given you.)
And because we're really roughing it when we go camping, we made ourselves some espresso while we were stopped,
and snacked on the pile of cherry tomatoes I picked just before we left.
We crossed the river into Washington around Umatilla, Oregon
The bridge is less than thrilling there,
but you can get a good view of McNary Dam as you cross over. There is lots of hydroelectric power being generated along the Columbia River.
You cross over again near Kennewick, Washington, although this is an area where the river sort of loops back on itself. It heads north in Washington, and ceases serving as the border between the two states.
From there you can look off in the distance and see this really swell modern bridge. (We like bridges as much as we like tunnels.)
From there we traveled up US 395/I-90, which is at the edge of The Palouse. (You can read about previous travels through the heart of The Palouse right here. We traveled along seeing idyllic little farms like the one in the image below.
I posted the image below to Facebook and told folks you'd have to be crackers to live here. Ha! (Sorry to put you through that again, Facebook people. I'll warn you to close your eyes next time by saying, "Caution: Bad Joke ahead." It was really too good not to say it again, you know.)
When we travel through these little towns, I like to pull out the AAA tour book to see if there's any information about the place. The town itself isn't all that remarkable except for the fact that it is just south of the area known as the Channeled Scablands. This is actually quite interesting (to me, at least). I watched a documentary program about it once. This is an area that was essentially denuded of all of its topsoil during the cataclysmic Missoula Floods that occurred when an ice dam burst during the last ice age. If you have any interest in geology, you'll enjoy reading more about this area at that link I've given you.
When we started getting into the landscape more representative of the "scablands", we stopped at a rest stop to try to get a picture of it. It's an area better seen from the air, but I can show you what we saw. Look to the left, and you see this:
This is just below the town of Sprague, Washington. That's Sprague Lake in the picture. Look to the right and you see this:
I took a panorama of the area, but these end up fairly small. Remember that you can make the image larger by clicking on it.
What I really wanted you to know about the landscape is that it is yet another take on the shapes of valleys and how their formation determines their shape. Valleys formed by rivers are V-shaped, like the Grand Canyon. Perhaps you recall that when we traveled to Glacier National Park in Montana, I showed you how valleys formed by glaciers are U-shaped. Here's an image to demonstrate what I'm talking about:
They look a little as if they've been scooped out with an ice cream scoop. By contrast, in the scablands, the valleys are rectangular in shape, characterized by steep walls and deep flat floors.
We were fairly close to Spokane at that point, and we continued on to our the space we reserved at the KOA before we left home. And there, I was delighted to meet up with Kate, who blogs at Katie Mae Quilts. Kate and I met up just for fun. She was so helpful in giving me information about quilt shops and road conditions in the area, that I repaid her kindness with a jar of pasta sauce.
You can tell which one of us is Kate. She's the one who doesn't look like she's been sticking her head out of a moving car taking pictures of the landscape.
She brought along her two energetic little men, William and Russell (Russell is the one on the right). Russell is just about to start the 4th grade. William, at age 2, is the one who keeps Kate's days from ever being boring. Kate also gifted me with one of her NewFO's for August, this cute cat quilt. Take a look at that fabric that says "I love birds." She couldn't be referring to anyone in my family, could she?
It was great fun meeting up with one of my bloggy friends.
And after Kate & Company left, we had dinner and pretty much collapsed. It had been a long day, and we were hungry and tired.
Smitty wanted me to end by telling you that he wasn't "freaked out" as I reported earlier. In fact, he wanted everyone to know he'd been in Spokane, and so he snapped this selfie.
Oh yes, I included this picture of us traveling alongside the train (sorry about the glare) to remind myself to tell you that campgrounds tend to be built in one of two places: along the shoulder of the interstate, or along the shoulder of the railroad tracks.
During the evening, we could hear a far-away train whistle (horn...whatever), and we congratulated ourselves for choosing a park that wasn't too close to either the freeway or the train. Ha! Around 9:00 the real train experience came when a train rumbled through not 50 yards from where we are. And let me tell you, it was loud and long. Approximately one hour later, it went through again. We wondered if it was going to go through all night long, but we didn't hear it again. I'm not sure if that was because it didn't come along, or because we were so tired we were sleeping like logs. In any case, I just wanted you to know that the freeway/train track rule still applies.
Before the day is out, we will have traveled in three states. And with that, it's time to get moving.