I’m typing this on Wednesday afternoon, as our bus drives south past the Columbia River near Vantage, WA. It’s surprisingly easy to type as the bus moves.
It’s been another terrific day.
We started off with a continental breakfast in the hotel – which honestly was no thrill but at least they had hard boiled eggs for me! I ate cold eggs with salsa, fixed a bagel + peanut butter for later and headed out to the bus.
Our first stop was about 100’ from the hotel – LOL – we stopped at a Starbucks! Apparently someone had requested a stop (not me!) and the bus driver and tour guide wanted to stop too. Out of the total of 30 people on this tour, only five of us got off for coffee. I don’t think the rest of the folks were very pleased to have to wait for us, but it sure felt good to me.
BTW, the air conditioning in my hotel room at the Shilo Inn was amazing – I almost froze all night but I was hoping I could soak up soak of it for today’s trip.
We headed south from Moses Lake and our first stop was at the O’Sullivan dirt dam – it was pretty long dam (200′ high, 20,000 feet onbg) but I understand that the builders of the dam way back when did not consider the problem of seepage, so there are now many ponds of water on the down side of the dam. The ponds are actually pot holes left from the flood – even though now they’re full of water.
We continued to head south and then turned east at Othello and drove through dry channeled land. The ponds did give a nice variety to the land and there were even pelicans in one of them. I sure didn’t expect to see pelicans so far inland.
We crossed the Columbia River near Vantage for a quick rest stop (the five of us who had extra coffee sure needed it!), then back across the Columbia again and headed north a bit along I-90.
Make note of this if you’re ever in the area. Get off I-90 at exit #143 (before the town of George) and go down the old narrow road toward the Columbia River. You’ll be going down the old Vantage Highway that used to be about the only way to get across the Columbia for miles and miles. You’ll also be going through the Frenchman Springs Coulee (AKA the Frenchman Coulee) which is just wonderful as you wind down. This coulee (channel) was one of the many that carried flood waters toward the Columbia. You can even look across the Columbia and see where the water flew across and dug out part of the cliffs on the opposite side.
Part way down the road on the left are a group of rocks that reach toward the sky – called the Feathers. You can climb up a bit, walk through a gap in the feathers and see a smaller coulee on the other side. The Feathers are also a popular rock-climbing site and there were two rock climbers while we were there. Looked a bit scary to me! Continue driving down until the road ends and you’ll see the end of the road as it enters the Columbia – the yellow center line disappears. It was all very picturesque and worth lots of stops and picture taking. And some of us were getting a little goofy by this point.
Next it was back to I-90 to the town of George, Washington (ha ha ha) where we got off the freeway and headed directly north on 281, then left on 28 to return to Crescent Bar. We were going to stop here late yesterday but ran out of time. Crescent Bar is a resort area, but across the Columbia River you can see the West Bar and the ripple marks left by the glacial waters. The ripples are 25-35′ high and separated by about 200. You may have to click on the picture to enlarge it so you can see the ripples better.
We also had lunch a little further on and apparently the Road Scholar folks are trying out a new company for our picnic lunch today. My veggie sandwich was fantastic! It was at least a 2-hander. And you should have seen all the meat in the non-vegetarian sandwiches. Very nice! This also helped make up for the day before when there were no vegetarian meals packed, so the two of us veggie-folks had chicken wraps for lunch.
Right now as I type this we’ve headed back, retracing our route to Vantage where we continued further south on 243. We’ve got a long ride ahead of us to get to Walla Walla and I’m no anticipating many more photo ops for the day.
I’m now in my hotel room – a Best Western with the AC temp set to 60. I’m getting goose bumps and loving it. We did have one last stop – at a very tiny park with a “2-hole” fancy port-a-potty. But when there’s a bus full of, well, older folks – sometimes ya just gotta stop! I went wandering off for a while and found an old abandonded bridge. Apparently the city folks decided to keep part of the old bridge and turn it into a fishing spot – very picturesque!