This past Saturday was a typical spring day in Western Washington – “Rain Turning to Showers”. Of course, if you never lived in Washington, you may be puzzled by such a forecast. I wanted to get out of the house and do something outside so I checked the statewide forecast for Washington. The coast was supposed to clear up that afternoon and Eastern Washington was going to mostly cloudy but only a 20 percent chance of rain. Sweet, over the Cascades we go.
With no real destination in mind, my son Steven and I loaded up the dog, camera gear and some basic emergency supplies (sleeping bag, tools, water, food, etc. in case the unexpected happens) in the Land Cruiser and left our home in Edgewood, Washington and headed east on I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass.
Our first side trip was up Highway 903 through the towns of Ronald and Roslyn, Washington and past Cle Elum Lake. It’s been a long time since I took the time and ventured up that direction. If you never visited the area, the two towns are old mining towns full of historic buildings (you may recognize a few from the television show Northern Exposure). The area is also being developed into multiple high-end summer home developments/estates.
We drove a few miles past Cle Elum Lake until the road was blocked by snow and open only to snowmobiles.
From this area, we turned around and drove through the town of Cle Elum, Washington on towards Ellensburg, Washington on Highway 10. Highway 10 was the main route across the central portion of Washington state prior in the 1920s ans 1930s. After fueling up in downtown Ellensburg, we headed northeast of town towards the Colockum Wildlife Area.
Knowing that much of the area will still be under a blanket of snow, we took a chance and drove up Colockum Road to about the 4600 foot elevation level before there was too much snow (well we may have been able to go further if we were with another vehicle). After letting the dog run, a bite to eat and some photos of the snow covered meadows and the surrounding landscape, we headed back down to the Vantage Highway towards Vantage, Washington on the Columbia River.
On the way, you’ll notice some large wind turbine generators. This is PSE’s Wild Horse Wind Facility which will be open to the public later in 2007. Close up, these wind turbine generators are quite large pieces of machinery.
A few miles before the Columbia River is the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park. On a short walk, you can see various species of petrified trees as they were found. The park and surrounding trails were constructed during the 1930′s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). After more photos and a hike around the park’s trails, we were again heading east toward Vantage.
Just prior to reaching Vantage, we followed a road to the left that is the remains of the old Vantage Highway as it led to the old bridge crossing of the Columbia River.
Prior to the building of the Wanapum Dam in the 1960s, the Vantage Highway crossed the Columbia River on the Vantage Bridge which was completed in 1927. Today, the bridge has been replaced by the modern Interstate bridge which I-90 crosses. You can still drive down where the old road goes straight into the river (now flooded by the dam). We took a short walk along the river North of where the road ends, following the base of the cliffs.
From Vantage, we drove south along the Columbia River past Wanapum Dam and an old abandoned railroad trestle (now part of the John Wayne Trail) at Beverly Junction to roads end at private property (possibly the town site of Levering, Washington). This area is also the eastern border of the Yakima Firing Center.
If you ever decide to visit the Wanapum Dam, according to the map, the visitor center is located on the east side of the Columbia River off Highway 243.
After exploring this area, we headed back to Vantage and visited the Ginkgo Petrified Forest Interpretive Center Park for additional views of the Columbia River.
By this time it was 7:00 P.M. and time to make the 2 hour journey back to Edgewood. Of course, as soon as we passed Easton, Washington, it started to rain.
See more photos of this adventure at http://www.flickr.com/photos/locked4low.