Friday, July 5, 2013

Epilogue: The Palouse in the Evergreen State

Our last Motel 6 stay of the journey, Clarkston, Washington
I didn’t expect the drive through Washington to be so amazing, but it’s clear now where it gets its nickname, The Evergreen State.

The first part of the drive was through The Palouse Scenic Byway. As near as I can figure, the Palouse is a region callously named for the native people that were murdered and robbed of their land. The land itself is mostly grass-covered hills. The vegetation that covers the hills might be hay, might be sage, and might be some other type of grass. I did pass a street called Hay Road and one called Sage Road, which is where I get my presumptions, but in any case, the hills are covered with a thick, lush grassy like plant that ranged in color from yellow, to golden amber, to light green to dark green.  I tried to capture the palouse on camera, but once again, I'm not a photographer, and I didn't seem to capture the true splendor of the grass.

When the wind hit the grass it gave it a rippling effect like liquid. It was delightful and covered hundreds of miles. I drove through these colorful hills for a couple of hours.

We stopped at a Rest Area and I saw a situation that I’ve also seen at some other Rest Areas and it rubs me the wrong way. Most of them are great, but some seem to have been built by and maintained by animal haters. Or at least by someone who doesn’t appreciate the love of pets. I tried to capture on camera what I'm talking about. Notice the lovely, green grassy area with the big “NO PETS” sign, and then compare that to the harsh, uninviting, dry and prickly area marked “PET AREA”. I protest this unfairness and demand that our pets get access to some grass instead of just wild, unkempt wasteland.

I defied the rules and we played on the grass. I picked up his poop, which is more than some previous dog owners and fellow rule-defiers had done. I suppose it is these poop-leavers that ruin it for everyone.

After playing for a while and relieving ourselves, we hit the road again.
River, asleep in the passenger seat

The green palouse spectacle ended just about the time I reached the Columbia River. And this is also the place where we officially closed “the loop” that The Mountain States Tour took us on. Three weeks ago, after crossing the bridge of the Columbia River going east, I turned left and continued north onto Spokane. Today, I approached the bridge from the south and turned left to get into it and cross the river going west.

When I first crossed, going east, I had both front windows open in the car and felt a strong gust of wind coming off the water. This wind almost took my hat off my head and I imagined how sad it would have been to be given that hat that very morning for my birthday, only to lose it to the Columbia River hours later. Fortunately, I was able to save it.  And now, today, I had all four windows down as I made my way across the bridge again. I had forgotten the hat-stealing effect and once again, felt it loosening from my head and imagined it could have been whisked out the window into the river.  But once again, I managed to keep it on my head.

Once passing the Columbia, there was a little stretch of uninteresting farmland highway but before long, I entered the Mountains to Sound Greenway; A very appropriately named stretch of driving considering it was the exit from my Mountain Tour. And also very appropriate because of the green. Not only were the trees green, but the ground cover was a different shade of green. I had gotten used to seeing forests with a dirt and rock and dried pine needle ground cover which was basically brown. The grassy ground cover made a big difference in the look and the green was quite prominent.

As I entered King County and headed back into Seattle, I was reminded of the gorgeous region I live in. I have been gawking and enjoying the awesome splendor of all of the places I was visiting, but it is also nice to return to this unique beauty of the pacific northwest.

In the end, this trip put 4650 miles on my odometer in three weeks. I saw lots of incredible places and met lots of wonderful people and River and I had a great time. 
But, as always, it’s great to be home. 

The Great Pacific Northwest

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