Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Long Day's Drive

We made a conscious decision whe we left Yakima to take the long route.  Our eventual destination was Burlington, WA, but we decided that an extra hour or so of driving was worth it to see the Grand Coulee Dam.  We made the right decision.  In spite of the extra miles, the experience was well worth it.
We headed north toward Soap Lake and Blue Lake and followed the eastern edge of Banks lake to arrive at the dam.  As we left Yakima we glimpsed Mt. Adams once again. And Mount Rainier peeked from between a couple low hills.
 The landscape became arid and bare.  Buttes sculpted by wind and water rose in the distance. We crossed the Columbia River once again.

 At a scenic overlook the Northern Cascades rose in the distance, high and covered with snow and glaciers.  On a nearby butte an installation called "Wild Horses" rose against the sky.  The silhouettes of a dozen horses reminded us of a time when horses roamed wild over these hills.The canyons rising on either side of the three lakes were dark and forbidding. 
When we reached the Grand Coulee Dam we found a picnic table in the shadow of a tree at the foot of the enormous concrete structure.  Small birds dipped and soared at the foot of the dam.  It was large and impressive, but not beautiful in the way he natural sites have been.
After lunch we found the North Cascades Scenic Highway, Rt. 20, which leads through the mountain passes.  It was a long drive, but the views were stunning.  High peaks rose on both sides as the road wound up the slopes.  Waterfalls spilled down the rock faces as the spring warmth melted the snow.  
We climbed until we reached the Washington Pass, over 5000feet high.  We stopped to follow a trail leading to an overlook.  The path was still partially covered by snow, but we picked our way through the slush to reach the platform overlooking the valley we had  just left.
From the Washington Pass we gradually descended on our way to the coast.  We kept looking for Mt. Baker but the other enormous peaks stood in the way. The Diabolo Lake was a green gem along the way.

 We finally started to see houses and little towns.  We started looking for a place to eat.  We were  when we saw towns named Rockport and Hamilton, but there was nothing to choose from.  The next town was named Concrete.  We did not stop ther for dinner.
In fact we made it al the way to Burlington for a late dinner.  Our long day was over.  We were tired, but pleased with our choices.   

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