Saturday, April 23, 2011

Wild Horse Wind Farm

Maybe because it was Earth Day, I felt obliged to pay homage to hydroelectric dams and wind turbines. It probably didn't make up for the carbon footprint of today's 500-mile road trip! I drove up to the visitor's center, although it had closed at least an hour earlier, and I had the hilltop all to myself. The view of the windmills was spectacular in the late afternoon light. The only sound, besides a few birds, was the slow whoosh=whoosh-whoosh of the blades turning.

Grand Coulee

As long as I was so close, I decided to drive up through Electric City and take a look at the dam. The lake was pretty low and any water coming through the dam was doing so in pipes and tunnels, not over the spillways.

Steamboat Rock

Steamboat Rock is a basalt mesa that rises from Banks Lake, near the north end of Grand Coulee and not too far from the dam. It's about 800 feet to the top and there's only one trail up, which makes use of a break in the cliffs above the State Park campground on the southeast side. I spent two or three hours wandering the summit. The sun was shining and the temperatures were probably in the high 50s. The flowers were starting to come out, but the rattlesnakes were probably still sleeping.

Eastern Washington

It was Good Friday and Earth Day. I had been thinking of taking the day off since it was D's break week, but it turned out he had already made plans to see the Mariners Friday night. The weather was looking great, so I decided to do something anyway, and by 7AM I was on I-90 heading east.

My main objective was Steamboat Rock, but I managed to swing by Grand Coulee Dam, Dry Falls, and the windmills above Vantage, too.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mt. Erie

The sunny day on Whidbey was a wonderful break after a cold, damp spring. The Beach Watchers class went well (or at least I hope it did). I subjected them to the normal Beaches 101 and then through some fairly loosely organized earthquake and tsunami material (in high demand after last month's disaster in Honshu), before heading to Ledgewood Beach with the group for the field trip.

My afternoon stops took me north and I didn't make it to Deception Pass until very late, but not too late to decide to head up to Mt. Erie before heading back to Seattle.