Summer Road Trips

June 9, 2010

Highway 2 across eastern Washington

“Here in the disappe5aring prairie
I finally understand
how some infinities can be larger,
others smaller; how certain endless
quantities move closer to no end
faster than others.
Aleph Null — countable though infinite:
grass, sun, treelessness.
Aleph One — uncountable and infinite:
dust, wind, fire.  The distance
between here and God.”
     — from “A Pilgrim’s Guide to Chaos in the Heartland: 1. Road Trip Poem” by Jessica Goodfellow

Car trips seem like a quintessential American experience.  We never vacationed when I was growing up — all nine kids wouldn’t have fit in one car, and we couldn’t take a break from the responsibilities of caring for farm animals and crops.  So long driving trips feel like a treat to me.

The long drive across the state from Seattle to Spokane seemed greener this time than on any previous trip.  We took in a full day of sightseeing along the way.  We stopped first to hike up to the horse sculpture near Vantage, and then we left I-90 for Dry Falls to see the basin of what was once the largest waterfalls in the world.  We ate a picnic lunch there and then drove north along Banks Lake to the Grand Coulee Dam.

This part of Washington, east of the Cascade Mountains, is generally arid.  It’s agricultural land (Grant County is the country’s largest potato-producing county according to one sign along the highway), but it depends on irrigation. You get a sense of wide-open range, big skies, sagebrush and prairies when you drive here. 

Clouds provided a dramatic backdrop to our drive.

Luckily, we missed the rain during our sightseeing stops.

Tidy farm in eastern Washington

Red barn in green field

We saw lots of lupine growing wild amidst the sage.

Old-fashioned windmill

The drive home along I-90