Look Mom No Trees – Day 102

Look Mom, No Trees!

Day 102 – July 11, 2003 – Friday

Very few people would look at the three photos at the top of this page on our website and guess that we spent the day in Washington state. Central and eastern Washington state along Highway 2 don’t look anything like what I expected — NOTHING like western Washington. While there were apple trees and cheery trees and your regular run-of-the-mill roadside and forest trees, there were also many miles of wheat fields without a tree in sight. There were even areas that looked like desert.

We drove half way across Washington state today — from Wenatchee to Spokane — almost to Idaho. It was a short, relaxing day — only on the road for about 8 hours.

The morning was spent catching up on some website work. We hit Dusty’s In N Out Burger for lunch, regarded as the best hamburger in Wenatchee. Dusty’s has been in business since 1949, and we enjoyed their “sloppy” Dustyburger. Traditional hamburger bun filled with a hamburger patty topped with mustard, ketchup, red relish, cheese, onions, and lettuce. We both enjoyed our goopy but good Dustyburgers.

In Wenatchee, we visited the Washington Apple Commission to learn more about apples. Beulah was very nice and very informative. Wenatchee is the apple capital of the world. Beulah advised us that we should have eaten that pie at the Cottage Inn or the Windmill. She looked like she would know. She’s lived there all her life. A little trim lady, but I bet you she knows her apple pie.

We stopped and saw both apple and cherry orchards as we drove east through the Wenatchee Valley. Orchards for miles. A huge percentage of the apples grown come from Washington state.

Reluctant photographer, Bozzie Jane, had her creative juices flowing as she took artsy photos of cherries growing on a Washington cherry tree. She got a good close-up, even though we didn’t have a lens designed for extreme close-ups. It’s interesting that George Washington cut down a cherry tree, and cherries are a big crop in Washington state, the only state named after a President.

We really enjoyed the scenery as we left the Valley and went up into the mountains. Then we were blown away when we saw flat wheat fields for as far as the eye could see. Wheat fields cover much of the area from central to eastern Washington. Later, we saw a deep gorge, and in the eastern part of the state, some of the terrain is desert-like. Boz and I competed to see who could get the best wheat photo; I think Bozzie Jane won. She was on a roll today.

We passed through a few small towns and saw some colorfully painted barns. I took a photo of a painted barn outside Waterville. I also took a photo of the homemade rest stop in Waterville. It is a tiny little town, but it had a drive-thru espresso shop. In the little spot called Douglas, we took photos of the Douglas General Store with classic old west architecture, as well as the Farmer’s Community Hall with not one but two outhouses.

The town of Coulee City advertises itself as “The Friendliest Town in the West,” so we decided to drive through town and see for ourselves. We saw very few people, and no one was friendly to us. We chalked it up to false advertising. Of course, it was over 100 degrees today, so perhaps all the friendly folks were inside on this unusually hot day in this part of the world.

From Coulee City, we headed for Grand Coulee Dam. The Dam is the biggest public works project in the history of the world and the largest concrete structure in the world. Very impressive. We met a delightful group of dam workers at the Visitor Center — Molly, Beth, Jeremiah, Clayton, Shery, Craig, John, and Allisha.

We learned that the visitors to the Cooley Dam are the strangest in August. For some reason, they come in with really stupid questions and do stupid things. People ask, how do you get electricity out of the water? Or they’ll ask if the electricity in the water hurts the fish or if removing the electricity hurts the fish…things like that.

The Dam folks gave us some interesting facts about the dam and how it works. When they added a power house back in the 60’s, it tripled their electrical power capacity. And prior to that, the water came down a cement fall area, and it was always a white…almost like Niagara Falls. It would cool, just like an outside air conditioner. It would cool the entire the town of the Cooley Dam area. No one had or needed an air conditioner. But when they added that other power structure, it reduced the need for so much water, and depending on the level of the lake, the level of need in the area for irrigation and just what they do in the power plants, it’s pretty much just a trickle down the cement right now. When the water is flowing over the dam, it lowers the temperature by 20 degrees over a huge area.

Between the Dam and Coulee City, we stopped in the town of Grand Coulee and saw the Gehrke Windmill Garden. The life’s work of Mr. Emil Gehrke — hundreds and hundreds of windmills and whirlygigs that used to reside in the yard of his home. Thank goodness someone saved this amazing collection. Grassroots art again.

Mr. Gehrke was really proud of his windmills and whirlygigs. He had them in his backyard and when he was getting quite elderly, he contacted this city to ask if they would like to have them set up in a park area for everyone to enjoy. Turns out that not only did they say no, but they said, “hell no.” The city had been trying to get him to remove them from his backyard even while he was building them enjoying them himself. After his death, there was some land donated and some folks voted to put his items all in one place for people to enjoy.

We hope Mr. Gehrke is looking down from heaven and realizing that his work is being appreciated.

A few more small towns, and then we hit Spokane. We checked into the Marriott Courtyard to grab some computer time and get to bed early. The next few days will involve longer drives than we’ve had lately — wide open spaces across Montana.

I guess the lesson for the day is that it’s hard to be friendly when it’s really hot. It’s also hard to write a lot about a pleasant, relaxing day when not much exciting happened.

Random Comments:

Boz and I were surprised by the temperature in Washington State. Bozzie said if anybody ever told her it would be 100 degrees in Washington, she would have told them they were nuts. We were also surprised by the diversity of the landscape from western Washington to eastern Washington.


The Daily Journal of Round America:

Each day, we collect our thoughts on a web page just like this. We drop in some of the photos from the day. Our goal with the Daily Journal is to write about the towns we visit, the sights we see, the people we meet, and the pie we eat. We write about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going, but we also make observations about what we’ve seen and done as well as about life in general.

You can follow our travels from the Daily Journal section of this website. Other pages of interest include the running report of “vital statistics” on the Trip Scorecard, our nominations for the Best & Worst of the trip, as well as a rating of the pie we eat. If you’d like to see information for a specific state or town, click here, and then click on the state of interest, and the full itinerary is shown.


More Information on the Sights Visited Today:
Wenatchee Washington — Dusty’s In N Out Burger — Washington Apple Commission — Coulee City Washington — Gehrke’s Windmill Garden — Grand Coulee Dam