[Mile 130 to 335]
Washington is a very unusual state. Along the western coast the weather is extremely wet and mild. The high mountains trap the moisture and creates a special climate that’s rarely too warm or too cold. But once over the mountains, there is a long rain shadow where moisture from the ocean never passes over the tall peaks. The change is nearly instant. Going from lush forests to a desolate rocky landscape. The weather here has broad extremes from blazing hot to snowy and cold.
But then after a few hours of driving, the landscape slowly turns to green farmland, then a whimsical hilly farmscape that kind of looks like the Teletubby world. And then eventually back to forests. I don’t think I’ve seen a state with such diversity.
Today we pretty much drove the whole thing. We started just after the downside of the pass and then down into the hot desert. Then over the impressive Columbia River Gorge and on to Riverside State Park in Spokane, WA.
Today was Katy’s turn to drive.
Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia River Gorge is something to see. It looks as broad and still as a lake with steep rocky cliffs on each side and a host of curious geographic features. One of which is a petrified forest.
Ginkgo Petrified Forest
On the banks of the Columbia River near the town of Vantage is a petrified forest site that boasts the widest variety of trees of any petrified forest and the only site to have ginkgo trees. The area was once a dense marsh and had lush palm trees nearby. But massive lava flows millions of years ago covered the area in hundreds of feet of volcanic rock. This area was later washed out by a massive glacial flood exposing the trees. The wind was so strong while we were walking around it could almost pick you up and take you away!
Roadside Dinosaurs – Vantage, WA
Spotted these guys on the way to the forest. Couldn’t resist.
Riverside State Park
Another short day. We booked a primitive campsite on the banks of the Spokane River. There’s a massive suspension bridge near our campsite with views of the river and massive boulders alongside criss-crossed with trails. Humans look like tiny specks next to these giant rocks but it’s hard to communicate the scale in the photos. If you look close you might see some tiny people specks.
We also got to use our levelers for the first time today.