Travel Stage: After Glacier, heading for Whidbey Island on the Washington Coast
Date Range: September 3 – 17, 2016
Summary: We enter Eastern Washington near Spokane and continue on to the middle of the state to a town called Quincy. While at Quincy we tour Hanford and enjoy the Columbia River Valley.
We learned that “Eastern Washington” is considered everywhere from the Cascade Mountains to the eastern border with Idaho. I was surprised to find that most of this area is arid desert for as far as you can see…that is, until you reach any of the many reclamation project areas – areas where water from several mighty rivers that curve across the state is used to “make the desert bloom.” Columbia River at Sunset
We entered Washington about 50 north of Spokane. Our route from Kalispell took Highway 2 through the mountains and past the cute towns of Bonner’s Ferry and Sandpoint, Idaho. We overnighted at a Thousand Trails campground near Newport, WA called Little Diamond. Little Diamond Thousand Trails The next farm down was Big Barn Brewing Company, where live music and a full parking lot lured us in to try a flight of their home brewed beers. Just down the road we happened to stop at Townshend Cellars to taste some of the best wine I’d ever had, and all were older 2003 or 2005 vintages!
Then we proceeded to a Harvest Host just north of Spokane in the town of Mead. It was a Fruit Ranch, but as we made our way there we became acutely aware of the fact that we had entered fruit country! And we found more than just apples growing in the Green Bluff farming community. We stayed at Walter’s Fruit Ranch where we rode the tractor cart out into the orchard to pick big beautiful apples ourselves.
These were just a few of the dozens of farms, wineries, and breweries in the area. We wished we had more time to spend here, and will definitely be happy to come back sometime!
Our next stop was completely dictated by our Thousand Trails membership. Quincy, Washington is a small little town in the very middle of the state. Our campground sat alongside the mighty Columbia River, and all around us were the fruits of the Columbia River Reclamation Project. Apples, pears, peaches, grapes, cherries, and more were everywhere as we arrived. We had no idea what to expect of this remote location, and we ended up learning a lot!
We spent 2 lovely weeks here along the Columbia, watching the Naval fighter jets zoom by in claps of thunder. Crescent Bar RV Park is located on Crescent Bar, a large spit of land that sticks out into the Columbia at one of the river’s sharp bends. There was a little resort community down here with a couple of golf courses and lots of vacation condos.
The small agricultural town of Quincy is also a big server city – big tech companies like Microsoft and Amazon have huge server warehouses out here due to the cheap electricity from the Grand Coulee Dam along the Columbia just 80 north of there. Weekend warriors from the Pacific Coast ventured out to the area to recreate on the huge river. While out wine tasting one day we were told about a fireworks show later that evening. It was Farmer-Consumer Appreciation Day and every year they have a great big fireworks show put on by the Northwest Pyrotechnics Association. The members need to earn their hours, and the town of Quincy benefits! The show was spectacular – easily the best show we had ever seen!
Grandfather Cuts Loose The Ponies
AKA the Wild Horse Monument, this is a public art sculpture created by David Govedare in 1989–1990 and situated near Vantage, Washington. It consists of 15 life-size steel horses which appear to be galloping across a ridge above the Columbia River. Presented as a gift for the centenary of Washington’s statehood, the sculpture was conceived as a memorial to the wild horses which once roamed the region.
We stopped to see this sculpture on our way back from the Hanford Nuclear Clean-Up Site one day.
One day, we took a 4 hour’s drive down to Hanford, one of the 3 sites that make up the Manhattan Project. We had visited one already: Oak Ridge, TN. The next one is Los Alamos down in New Mexico. Driving thru the middle of Washington to Hanford. About Hanford:
The Hanford Site sits on 586-square-miles of shrub-steppe desert in southeastern Washington State. Beginning in 1943, the site was used to produce plutonium for the bomb that brought an end to World War II. After a short lull, production was ramped up in 1947 to meet the challenges of the “Cold War” and continued until 1987 when the last reactor ceased operation. Weapons production processes left solid and liquid wastes that posed a risk to the local environment including the Columbia River. In 1989, the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Washington State Department of Ecology entered into a legally binding accord, the Tri-Party Agreement (TPA), to clean up the Hanford Site.
We visited the site and took the Hanford Site Cleanup Tour. This 4.5 hour tour was very fascinating and thorough. They are working to clean up many different types of waste with varying levels of contamination. Much has been done, but much more remains, including currently leaking holding tanks of liquid waste. Learn more about it all here: About Hanford Cleanup. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take any photo or video on this tour.
Ancient Glacial Lakes
One of our final adventures around the Quincy area was to some ancient lakes formed from glacial flooding.
It is a product of erosion of lava flows by glacial floodwaters. The many layers of basalt are exposed in towering 800-foot cliffs, isolated mesas, stair stepped benches, box canyons and potholes. Several of the potholes are filled with water that has seeped from the irrigation of the Quincy Basin farmlands upslope.
– WDFW Lands
This place was really cool, and the color of the water was unreal!
This day happened to be our anniversary! Check out the video of our Anniversary Adventures here:
Crossing the Cascades
The two weeks we were at Crescent Bar RV Resort along the Columbia River had been wonderful. The weather was perfect nearly every day at a sunny and dry 75-80 degrees. We found local entertainment and learned a lot about where our food comes from and where all our pictures stored in “the cloud” really live.
But time had come to leave the desert and cross the Cascades to the rainforest. Of course, the day we left, it rained. We figured we might as well get used to it; we were heading into the Pacific Northwest, after all.
Watch the Video here!
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