June 19 – Cheney to Ellensburg, WA – A Beautiful Drive

Today's drive to Ellensburg in central Washington was unquestionalbly the prettiest day we've enjoyed on this trip. Leaving Cheney, the land was rolling and appareantly used for grazing.

Occaasionally bordered by small lakes,

Subtle red and orange hues became noticable.

Teardrop Travel Trailer

An isolated house on a hilltop miles from any neighbors

Church steeple in a town which seemed little more than an exit ramp off I-90

Gradually, the landscape began to include rock outcroppings which we'd not seen and soon disappeared.

We stopped at a rest area not to long after getting on the road as they were offering "free coffee.  As it turned out, a delightful mother and daughter not only serving fee coffee but also homemade cookies … asking for donations … as a fundraiser for the Daughters of the American Revolution (which I discovered from talking with them uses the moneis to support veterans and veteran organizations, inlcuding ROTC programs).  I can personally attest that each of the types of cookies they had were EXCELLENT!

Then we began to see evidence of widely separated farms and fields of varying colors and patterns.

Occasionally iinterrupted by mile-long freight trains crossing the landscape

Over the course of our trip, it appeared that hay, corn, canola and potatoes were the  main crops … although there were likely others we couldn't identify.

We skirted another larger lake,

Sprague Lake

a crane of some sort beside a cell tower

and several eighteen-wheelers hauling hay.

A stop at another rest area gave us a chance to watch a pair of birds nesting just above our coach.

Then, back on the road again.

We have no idea what the "boxes" in the fields were used for

White cattle

Horses, of course

Corn

Not certain about this crop

Moses Lake

Lake Moses

Potatoes

More potatoes

Canola

Hay storage shelters

Hay

A horse of a different color

The town of "George", Washington … really

Winery vines

Then, we rounded a bend and the green scenery we'd seen since leaving Cheney was replaced by a near barrren landscape.

Gazing down into the canyon we got our first glimpse of the Columbia River since our trip out west two years ago.

Below, near the river are the remnanats of the of the originl road which ran through the area

Genista Tinotonia … a noxious weed is the only color above the river

Directly across the Columbia River is Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park, covering 6,000 acres.  Although the petrified wood had been reported as early as 1898, the first indication of its presence in quantity in this vicinity was realized in 1927 during the construction of the highway between Ellensburg and Vantage.  The park represents one of the most unusual petrified wood area in the world.  Few localities yield a flora so diverse and only rarely are they preserved in lava flows.  Well over 2,000 varieties of wood have been identified including Ginkgo, the “sacred” tree of China; although Ginkgo no longer exists in the wild.

From the outlook, the road descended

to the I-90 bridge over the

at just over 600 feet above sea level

Vantage Ferry across teh Columbia River (circa 1920)

Vantage Bridge over the Columbia River near Completion (circa 1927)

we entered the

and began a nearly 2,000 foot climb

Each of the 149 wind turbines stands 351 feet tall from their base to the tip of a vertical blade.  Each turbine weighs approximately 270 tons.  The turbine blades are 129 feet long, 11.6 feet wide near the rotor’s center and 1.6 feet wide at the blade tip.  Each blade weighs more than 7 tons.  The diameter of the theee-blade rotors is 264 feet – wider than a Boeing 747’s wing span.

over just seven miles to top out at

As always what goes up … must come ultimately down.  Thus, we began a long, slow descent to Ellensburg …

back through farm country.

Off to the north, some of the high snow laced peaks of the Wenatchee mountain are clearly visible.

We're staying at the Ellensburg

for the next two nights.

Late this afternoon, we had to go to the local post office and then made two emergency stops for Debbie.

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