Saturday, August 25th, was the day of my nephew’s wedding and we still had a little over two hours left of our road trip, so we couldn’t dawdle. We passed the turn off to Grand Coulee Dam, a sight worth seeing if you ever have the time. As a rule, I don’t like dams, especially on the Columbia River, where they have so tampered with salmon habitat. But, as far as spectacles and examples of civil engineering, you’d be hard put to find a more awe-inspiring hunk of concrete. Built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from 1933-1942, it is a tourist attraction, in addition to being a producer of hydro-electricity.
American folksinger Woody Guthrie wrote this song about it in 1941:
“Grand Coulee Dam,” words and music by Woody Guthrie
Well, the world has seven wonders that the trav’lers always tell,
Some gardens and some towers, I guess you know them well,
But now the greatest wonder is in Uncle Sam’s fair lang,
It’s the big Columbia River and the big Grand Coulee Dam.
She heads up the Canadian Rockies where the rippling waters glide,
Comes a-roaring down the canyon to meet the salty tide,
Of the wide Pacific Ocean where the sun sets in the West
And the big Grand Coulee country in the land I love the best.
In the misty crystal glitter of that wild and wind ward spray,
Men have fought the pounding waters and met a watery grave,
Well, she tore their boats to splinters but she gave men dreams to dream
Of the day the Coulee Dam would cross that wild and wasted stream.
Uncle Sam took up the challenge in the year of ‘thrity-three,
For the farmer and the factory and all of you and me,
He said, “Roll along, Columbia, you can ramble to the sea,
But river, while you’re rambling, you can do some work for me.”
Now in Washington and Oregon you can hear the factories hum,
Making chrome and making manganese and light aluminum,
And there roars the flying fortress now to fight for Uncle Sam,
Spawned upon the King Columbia by the big Grand Coulee Dam.
From here, we followed Highway 2, past the turnoff to fascinating places we surely would have wanted to stop, ordinarily. We’d only been to the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park once and, then, only right before it closed. The pictographs are amazing, but we’d yet to see ancient trees turned to stone. Maybe next time! No sooner had we passed that turnoff than we crossed the mighty Columbia River, gem of the ocean. From there, we passed through a series of small farm towns, some with civic pride, like Davenport, others suffering neglect, like Reardan. I remember when it was a bustling little farm town, but that was in the 70s and the years since had not been kind to it. Along this route, columnar basalt is visible along the roadside. It looks like rusty iron, corrugated, and stood on end. The tall, hexagonal shapes are caused by thick, cooling lava that swells up and contracts. It’s amazing stuff! For the rest of the way, it is pretty much flat, save a hillocky area that I like because it breaks up the monotony of driving in a straight line. Spokane is the second largest city in Washington state and, just on the outskirts, the terrain becomes treed with Ponderosa pine. It towers over the landscape, yellow, with rugged bark. We take a back route to Mom’s to save time and, as we pull into her driveway, the dogs start barking. I walk to the front door, stepping on acorns under the huge oak tree which shades the whole front yard. She gave me many, which we’ll plant soon. I’m hoping one or two will survive our little black squirrels and their fall foraging.
Because we arrived at 11 a.m., we had time to settle in, visit and get ready, as the wedding wasn’t until 3 p.m. Finally, we were heading north, to the little community of Elk, Washington. A wooded rural area, it has a post office, a community hall and considerable community spirit. As we sped by its park on a back road, Mom told us the formerly state-run park was taken over by the people in the locale. She said the rural community used it for town picnics and celebrations. Very nice to hear and it was a charming park. We continued driving through land that was slightly hilly, traveling up rises, around corners, down into little valleys. It took us about 45, all told to reach Camden Ranch, the venue.
Many people were attending Jeremy’s and Jennifer’s wedding and it was the coming together of four families. There were guests from Texas, Colorado and New Mexico, in the United States, and we’d come from British Columbia, Canada. Others came from the coastal areas of Washington state and many more were local. Five bridesmaids, five groomsmen and three flower girls led the procession. It was a fairly big wedding. I’ve created a gallery of photos of the wedding venue for you to show how lovely it was there. My nephew and his new wife are on their honeymoon and haven’t seen their photos, so I’m holding back on photos of them until they see them first.
After the event, we trundled back to the car and headed down the road, opposite the way we’d come. Mom wanted us to see the Camden Creek Lavender Farm, so we drove on through the shadows and vales, as the sun was over the ridges. I got out to take a look. It was the first time I’d seen so much lavender in one place and the breeze carried the scent. Ecstasy! As we left, Mom commented that it always seems to take less time to return home, and the country, towns, city flashed by. Soon we were back home and resting…we had to drive all the way home the next day. (Last installment on Wednesday)