September 30, 2014

9/27/14 - Falls Park, Post Falls, ID

If you're I-90 heading east out of Washington, the first town across the state line is Post Falls.  If you're paying attention and look quickly, you can see Post Falls.  George pointed it out to me, but I missed it...more than once.  Hence, the day-trip to Falls Park.

There was some construction going on, so we missed the turn downtown.  The GPS didn't care much for the blocked streets.  George wasn't expressing loving thoughts about the GPS.  NOT the first time that's happened.

George hadn't been to the Falls in about 50 years, so the park was as new to him as it was to me. There are paths that wind around, and signs that point out the historical stuff, like this headgate from the 1880s. They've done a good job of preserving and explaining the little that's left.

The original dam across the Spokane River was built of logs in 1871, but that's been gone for a long time.  Then in 1906 this north channel dam was rebuilt of concrete.  Within two years they'd built two more dams across the middle and south channels as well as a power house.  Pretty good with only man and horse power.
Down river is Avista High Bridge, which goes across to the Avista Island.  George said they used to go over to the island and picnic, but the power company that owns the dam has it closed off now.
There's a pretty little fishing pond at the park too.  
This is the base for the control gate for the cable mill power plant.  I'm sure you wanted to know that.
For a few more pictures of Falls Park, click here.  I like the snowberries.  

September 29, 2014

9/17/14 - Coulee Corridor NSB

George's grandfather worked on Grand Coulee Dam back in the 1930s and he'd occasionally mention that the family went there when he was a kid, George and I have driven Highway 2 a lot between Seattle and Spokane, but never made the detour to the dam.  He decided while we were staying in Quincy, we'd go see it.

The Coulee Corridor National Scenic Byway goes from Omak to Othello, about 150 miles. We picked it up at Soap Lake and drove north 50 miles to the dam.
Lenore Lake
Perhaps you don't know what a coulee is, and what makes this one grand?  Well, I didn't either. (Apparently the definition depends on what state you're in, kind of like the difference between BBQ in different states.)  Since this is eastern Washington, it refers to the dry channels formed by glacial drainage of the Scablands quite some time ago. You have to have an appreciation of bare rocks, but the Grand Coulee does make for some wicked looking scenery.  There are rugged canyons, fascinating rock formations and lots of lakes.  This one is Blue Lake.
Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park marks the divide between the Lower and Upper Grand Coulee.  This 400 foot high cliff used to be a 3.5 mile wide waterfall!  Niagara Falls is pretty big--this one was four times that size. Now most of the water is gone and little Park Lake at the base and the rest of the Sun Lakes are all that's left of the Ice Age Wonder.
Dry Falls
There used to be a trail from the parking lot down to the lake, but it's closed off.  There's a road down to the campgrounds and boat launch, as well as a private resort in the state park.
I really like the way the basalt curves in this chunk of canyon.
Steamboat Rock State Park is at the north end of Banks Lake. From a distance it looks like an island, but it's actually on a peninsula.
We got to Grand Coulee Dam about 2:30.  After school starts, they do more tours on weekends than during the week.  This is Monday, and we msised the afternoon tour by minutes. The Laser Light Show didn't start until 8:30 so we were too early for that. (Maybe I can get George to come back sometime within the next 25 years; we can camp somewhere closer, get there earlier and stay later.)

At the Visitors Center we saw the movie and wandered the halls looking at the exhibits. Besides info on building the dam, there are displays about Woody Guthrie, commemorative stamps and post cards, a WattMeter, a Rosie the Riveter Quilt, and my personal favorite, a collection of water jugs with water from all the states and territories.
Check out the picture in the middle--that's the queen and 50 princesses from the 1951 Washington State Apple Blossom Festival symbolically pouring water over the dam.  Only in America...
On the way home, we stopped at the Gehrke Windmill Garden in Grand Coulee.  There are more than 120 whirly gigs built by Emil Gehrke.  They were in his yard until he died, then moved to a city park. Pity about the fence, but apparently even whimsy has to be protected from vandals and thieves.

A word about advance planning.  I'm usually pretty good about preparing for a trip before we leave.  Not only did I not check times for the tour and Laser Show, but I didn't realize until later that had we driven another mile past the dam, George could have gotten another Passport stamp.  Oh, well, one more reason to go back!

More pictures here:  Coulee Corridor Natl Scenic Byway

September 26, 2014

9/10/14 - Pendleton Round-Up

Can you believe?  George had never gone to a rodeo! When I found out that the dates for the RWSP association annual meeting synced up with those of the Pendleton Round-Up, I suggested that it be included as a special activity. I would have even coordinated it and booked the tickets for everyone...

No one seemed interested, but I still was.  (After all, George had never gone to a rodeo.)  Their meeting started on Thursday, so I made reservations to arrive at the RV resort on Monday. Wednesday was the first day of the Round-Up--and also Seniors' Day--so I got discounted tickets for two to the rodeo and the BBQ.  

So, as they say at the Round-Up... 
The Pendleton Round-Up is one of the 10 biggest rodeos in the world.  The arena isn't dirt like most rodeos, but grass.  And it's huge--longer than the length of a football field! It makes it a little more interesting (and whole lot less dusty!)  We sat directly across from the Bucking Chutes and watched the count-down on the scoreboard.
The Round-Up starts with a run in on horseback by the flag bearers, and then the Round-Up Queen and her Court charge in, make two jumps, then race around the track. Talk about making an entrance!
They started off with bareback bronc event.  These horses were scary, and the riders never stopped flopping.  After 8 seconds of the wildest ride I've ever seen, if the rider's not bucked off, pickup cowboys have to make sure he gets off safely.  Sometimes that's a bit tricky.  Even after the rider is off, they have to chase down the horse to get him out of the way.  (The brown horse in the last photo didn't fall; he made a really fast turn in the grass and then launched himself.)
The Indian Relay was run in two heats.  There were three teams of young Indians and nine horses. Saddles aren't included.  They start standing next to a horse, jump up on it and race around the track. When they get around the track once, they jump off and attempt to jump onto the second horse. By this time, that horse is all excited from the noise, so he's jumping around too.  IF the rider gets up, he has to race around again, then swap horses once more. One horse ran across the infield, but I don't think shortcuts are allowed.  
Next event was steer wrestling.  Not only does the cowboy have to chase down a steer, but then he has to jump off his horse and flip that critter to the ground and tie him so he can't get up.  Not everyone succeeded.  Those who did were able to do it in less than 10 seconds!
I'd never seen team roping before.  Two cowboys race off after a steer.  One ropes his head and the other somehow manages to rope his back feet.  I think it sounds really hard, and it looks even worse. Only a couple of teams even managed to do it.  (And these are professional rodeo cowboys!)
Then it was time for the bull-riding event.  Scary animals, these bulls.  And they don't like anyone on their backs, even for a measly 8 seconds.  They made the area smaller so the bulls couldn't run all over the whole arena.  I'd never have believed that PVC pipe would have kept a bull contained. Obviously the cowboys sitting next to the fence trust it.  The guys inside with the bull have to jump out of the way.
The Indian Show not only had a dance competition but also a Parade of the Chiefs, all in full regalia. The young men were a constant motion during the dance.  The women and younger kids sort of stayed out of their way while they moved gracefully around a big circle.  A good time was had by all.
Steer roping is similar to team roping, except it's just one cowboy.  He has to chase the steer, rope him, trip him, then tie him.  His horse has to keep the rope taut once the steer is roped.  In the top photo, the steer has been roped, and the cowboy is getting ready to put the slack in the rope around the steer's hips to unbalance him and make him fall down.
Barrel Racing is a women-only event.  They have to race around 3 barrels in a cloverleaf pattern. At most rodeos they do this in the center of the arena, but here they place the barrels on the track, one on each side of the mid-point of the long section, and one at the far end.  They really fly as they race across the big infield.  Wow!
The last event was the Wild Cow Milking Contest.  Two cowboys vs. one cow.  One guy roped it, then tried to hold it while the other tried to milk it.  I don't think they had to get enough for a bowl of cereal, and to be honest, I never did see anyone actually do it. It was pretty chaotic.
After the crowd cleared, they set up the BBQ down on the grass.  You just needed to be a bit careful about where you walked. There's more than one reason cowboys wear boots!  I think George enjoyed it--I know I did.  It would be nice if they'd include it in the itinerary for the meeting next year.  (My offer to organize it still holds, guys.)

Click the link for more pictures of Pendleton Round-Up

September 24, 2014

9/10/14 - Whitman Mission NHS

Whitman Mission National Historic Site is near Walla Walla, Washington--which is great fun to say! (Walla-Walla-WASH-ing-ton!)   We didn't stay very long--just long enough for George to get his passport stamps and a quick trip through the museum--so this will be a short post.

The site tells of the events at Waiilatpu from 1836, when Marcus and Narcissa Whitman established their mission, details of the tragic misunderstanding and "massacre" by the Cayuse Indians after a measles epidemic, up to 1846 when Oregon became an official territory of the US.  
Our timing was really bad.  We got in on the last 20 seconds of the video before the credits started rolling.  Ranger programs end after Labor Day weekend--two days ago. We had to be in Pendleton in less than an hour.
There's a museum in the Visitor Center.  This is my favorite exhibit:
Some interesting "firsts":
  • Marcus and Narcissa Whitman were the first Protestant missionaries to the Northwest (along with fellow missionaries William Gray and Henry and Eliza Spalding)
  • Narcissa and Eliza were the first white women to cross the Rocky Mountains
  • Whitman and Spalding printed the first books published in the Pacific Northwest--
  • After a trip back east in 1843, Whitman led the first wagon train to the Columbia River on what became the Oregon Trail 
A (very) few more pictures here:  Whitman Mission Natl Historic Site