Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Spring Break - The Finale

Early Morning Steamboat Rock

The next morning my morning coffee time was consumed with watching my eagle tree. 
 I got a great view of the nest but no eagles.  

 No coming, no going......

 Is that a head I spy?

We waited, and waited, and waited......

No eagles to be seen.

Finally we decided to move on.  As I started up the engine a large shadow went over us.  I stepped out of the van and snapped parting  picture.

I could have sat for days staring at THE ROCK and the nest all day,  but I think the eagles were glad to see us go.
Take good care of those babies.

So we found our eagle....and we found the ticks too.  Last count 4 ticks , all on me.  That is what I get for loving the outdoors.

We found showers at Northrup Canyon Point Fishing access.  We each had a glorious hot shower for $1.00.  It is amazing how wonderful a hot shower feels. Ahhh, it is the little things in life that are most appreciated.

We head out for a new location  Pot Holes State Park and I am wanting to explore the Columbia Wildlife National Refuge...... and I'm on to a new search....for Sand Cranes.  

Before arriving at our destination we take a wrong turn.... and image.... found interesting history!

Out in the middle of No Where surrounded by farmers fields ready for spring planting we found the remains of a days gone by community center.   All that remains is the community center which appears to still be in use.

On down the road is one of my favorite old abandoned one room schoolhouse.

My Maternal Grand mother was a teacher in one room school houses in Eastern Washington in the 1920's so I always consider it a special find when I come across a school house that is still standing.


We checked out a few dispersed campsites but ended up landing in Pot Holes State Park for the night for $25.00.  This place is really hopping during the summer months with boaters, fisherman water skiers, jet skiers.  On the opposite side of the Reservoir are stand dunes and the boater head out to the dunes for a days fun...... So much activity!! 

 A sky full of color.

We scored another beach front property.  Good Morning World!

I'm up before dawn and ready to explore the Wildlife Refuge.   

It has entrances near our campground so we get an early start and enjoy the solitude in Refuge. 

During early spring the Refuge and nearby lakes and farmers fields are a stop over for approximately 17,000 Sand Cranes where they eat and store up energy for the remainder of their trip to Alaska and points north.

 As we drive and hike through the Wildlife 33,000 acre refuge, I am stunned by the wildness and the quietness.   I am reminded of the recent Wildlife Refuge in Oregon that was held hostage by out of state protesters.  Ranchers and farmers may have issues with the government as they hold vast expanses of wild territory in trust.    am thankful for the opportunity to experience these wild places. 

While there is very little evidence of man in this area.....There is evidence of use and abuse by man. 

 Why? Why? Why?

The sign is riddled with bullet holes.

 I for one am thankful for the opportunity to experience these wild places.  A part of my soul  is set free in each of these remote spaces and I am grateful that the National Refuges remain open for creatures large and small. 

There are more roads to explore in the area and I will be back for a gals camping weekend in the fall and look forward to many more jaunts exploring this wild place. 

Sad note, the only sand cranes seen were birds immortalized on signs. 

I shall find my cranes......Another day......Another Challenge

We headed to Palouse Falls, a beautiful wonder that we enjoy each spring runoff when the volume of water is tremendous.   Nice idea but the reality is horrible.  There were a few hundred other folks with the same idea on a sunny weekend morning.  I could not find a parking spot.... so we moved on.  Lesson learned.....AVOID high interest places on weekends at ALL costs.
Rather than camp at the Falls for the night in all the bedlam....we waved good bye to all the idiot drivers crawling like ants in search of their next meal, we decided to head on home.  

It is a nice drive through sage covered coulees and the rolling farm lands of the Palouse.  Two wonderful campgrounds that were nearby have been closed due to state cost saving measures, leaving only fishing access point to camp along the river.  Very disappointing to not have available camping in the area. 

Heading on home we found one last site worth investigating in the tiny town of Dusty.  We drove on past, and circled back for a closer look. 

Sorry for the poor quality of the inside pics.  I loved seeing this tiny house that is made all green products.  I could definitely see myself settling into one of these when my traveling days are done.

Thus ends the Spring Break Adventure......Come on Summer!!

~~ Happy Trails ~~

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Spring Breaking - Act 2

  I awoke to a surprise gift compliments of one of the kitties.....

I am amazed by these resourceful critters..... We always keep the doors closed since there are kitties on board. But it found a way in.   Fatal move little mousey!

After breakfast we visited with our neighbors from the last campsite across the bay.   While enjoying morning coffee and sitting in the sun we watched a bald eagle circling across the bay and landing in a tree..... above where our camp site is.  We shall have to watch closely and see if we can get a better look!

We were invited for a boat ride around Steamboat rock.  We didn't hesitate for a moment.  It was a lovely ride and we went ashore on the other side which had an beach and walked along the shore while he continued to fish.

As we walked along the beach it turned from sand to pebble and rocks. 

Where the bluff joins to the beach (in the shadow of the above picture),  I was fascinated by the rocks layer upon layer in the sand.

The far northern point of Steamboat Rock

After our boat ride we said goodbye to our new friends from Cashmere, Washington as they headed back out for more fishing.....And we prepared for our afternoon hike.

SteamBoat Rock sits like an island at the north end of Banks Lake,  that fills the upper Grand Coulee.  You can't help but be impressed with the gigantic rock of basalt left behind from volcanic beginnings and violent carving of the landscape from the Missoula Floods.

Today's visitors are often surprised to learn the water surrounding the huge steamship shaped basalt formation has not always been there.  After the Grand Coulee Dam was constructed, water was diverted through huge pumps from the back waters of the Grand Coulee Dam.     

Our hike (3.7 miles) begins near the waters edge in the center of the rock and zig zags up to the top of the bluff. The hike begins with a gentle incline but there is a 800 foot elevation gain so it is a strenuous hike, the steepest area on loose scree (loose basalt rock that falls from the face of the bluff). 

 During this section a loose rock fell as Hailey went up before me, falling and it hit my finger.  Small injury in the scale of possibilities but it swelled bruising my finger and throbbed throughout the rest of the hike. But we hiked on.....

 The sweeping views from the top are beautiful.

Looking to the north.  Snow covered mountains off in the horizon were visible with the naked eye but did not show in photos.

Part of Steamboat Rock State Park Campground (to the East)

We choose a late afternoon hike as the views to the east had the most interesting rock formations making photos in other directions difficult due to the bright sunlight.  


More views from out beach side camp at Jones Bay.

That night in camp we felt a new awe for Steamboat Rock.  As my back condition progresses, I celebrate each victory and this one was sweet. 


~ Happy Trails ~

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Spring - Breaking Act 1

After a  long, long winter, I was ready for a break away.  Though weather reports had a dubious forecast I was ready for Hailey's arrival from school heralding the beginning of Spring Break.

No great plans just experiencing nature with a few new goals in mind. 

We headed out to Spring canyon where we started our Spring Break last year.  Once again we had a choice of campsites ($4.50 senior discount winter rates) and quickly settled in for a bought of poor weather.  Since the weather reports were for freezing weather each night I left the Roadtrek winterized so we brought along bottled water.  It was a minor inconvenience but we stayed toasty warm with the furnace at night.

We had one rainy day and another windy day but was able to get out each day for short hikes.  Spring Canyon sits at the bottom of the Canyon overlooking the back of Grand Coulee Dam which makes a scenic view from camp complete with twinkly lights at night.   We went on the trail to the top of the overlook one afternoon (see the center peak in the above picture) and found a number of spring flowers peaking out for their first spring appearances.

 View from the top of the canyon, an easy climb.  The smell of sweet mock orange and sage was in the air.....a heavenly scent.

With sunset views like this....who can resist!!

As long as I have been coming to Central Washington camping I have wanted to climb Steam Boat Rock.  The timing never seemed right.  It was too hot, rattlesnakes were out, hip or back were hurting.  I always had a reason.  This year I decided I was going to do it,  if I couldn't make it I could always return.  But I reasoned,  If I don't do it now, would I ever be able to?
So we made plans to move to Steamboat Rock Area.  

After a wonderful barbecue dinner with a camping friend and her husband.  She told me of an eagles nest nearby so we would be searching for the nest and be moving camp to our new beach front property at Jones Bay the next morning.  It was previously a BLM campground but now is managed by Washington State.  ($7.50 senior/winter rates)  No services but great views! 
The first night we stayed on the south side of the campground as the north side was still closed from winter.  We didn't have a view of Steamboat Rock but had a 'private beach'.

A sunset hike was beautiful....staying for the sunset meant a precarious hike back to camp with fading light.  Not my best planning but I can't help myself 'I need five more minutes', seems to be my motto.  We chatted with nearby campers who were at Banks Lake for fishing. 


The next day we went for a drive and scoped out the SteamBoat hike and talked with the rangers and found out the best route for the hike.  We were told the snakes and ticks were not out yet.
 No snakes....this is the year!   Tomorrow is the DAY!

 ~ Happy Trails ~