Thursday, August 11, 2005

We are at Riverside State Park in Spokane, Washington (map). We are under cover of trees here, so there is no way to get the satellite working, even if it would work this far north, so I am blogging again to a file for upload later.

Yesterday we left Desert Aire and headed north along the Columbia until I-90, at which point we cut north-east through Ephrata and George, Washington (yes, that really is the name of the town), then north through the Coulee Corridor. The geology of this region, known as the "channeled scablands," is ablsolutely fascinating, and its discovery changed forever the way geologists think.

We passed Lake Banks, which is actually a massive tank created by damming both ends of a coulee and filling it with enormous pumps from Lake Roosevelt, and eventually arrived in Grand Coulee, home of the eponymous dam. We arrived in time to take the 4:00 dam tour. We had a good dam guide, rode down in the nifty inclined dam tour elevator, and toured the dam powerhouse.

As with Hoover dam, security everywhere was very tight. The tour was interesting, though, if less dramatic than the Hoover tour. Grand Coulee is the largest hydroelectric dam in North America, and one of the largest in the world, and the scale is difficult to comprehend until one actually sees it up close.

We were hoping to camp nearby at a federal campground on the lake, but, incredibly for a Wednesday, it was mostly full. None of the handful of spaces still available could accommodate Odyssey, so we decided to press on. There were several other public options along Lake Roosevelt, but each was a 20-minute drive from our main route, US-2. We decided not to chance any 40-minute round trips only to find, perhaps, that these, too, were either full or unsuitable for us. Instead we proceeded directly here, making for quite a long day.

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