Go West Old Man - Fall 2005 travel blog

dust bowl

more dust

We left the Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho and coasted down to the flatness that is Spokane. On the radio we heard non stop coverage of Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast and this coverage suddenly became much more vivid as the winds picked up around us. The sky turned an eerie blue and after a few more miles the realization dawned that we were driving through arid, tilled soil that had been picked up by the winds and was rapidly flying north. In some areas wheat was still growing in the fields and others had meagre natural vegetation; there the sky cleared to a natural shade of blue. But as soon as we came to bare soil, the dust storms and tumbleweed swirled around us once again and we could barely see.

The last ten miles we cork screwed down 2,000 feet and found ourselves on the banks of Lake Chelan. Why are we here?

#1. Chelan is halfway between Idaho where we slept last night and Seattle, our final destination for this leg of the trip.

#2. Our AAA guide book raved about this area: "One of the most scenic areas is the Pacific Northwest, the 55 mile long lake extends between the semi arid orchards near the Columbia River towards the alpine heart of the North Cascades. At 1,500 feet deep, the lake is one of the continent's deepest. In places its bottom lies 400 feet below sea level. Snow capped peaks flank the lake's upper reaches, towering more than 8,000 feet above its surface."

We are camped on the shore of the lake and surprised that with the exception of two Candians and one camper from Oregon, everyone in this well attended park is from Washington state. This park has some unusual man made attractions in addition to the scenery. It boasts of a skate boarding complex, tennis courts, bungie simulation of a parachute jump, and nine hole putting green. The area around the lake is lush with irrigation, but the hills above us are yellow and as dry as the dust bowl we drove through. Tomorrow we hope to hop on a boat and take some good photos of this gem unknown to those east of the Mississippi.

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