It turns out that I moved so far west, I have to travel east to experience what I think of as the American West.
So last week we drove east over the mountains to explore a few old mining towns and a pretty creek that paints the canyon whose bottom it traces a rich, vibrant green.
An hour and a half east of Seattle it’s such a different world. Far less rain falls here because the Cascade Mountain Range blocks the rainclouds that ride on the prevailing westerly winds (those are the clouds that hang around too long, like bad guests, on our side of the range). The ecosystem we visited is called the shrub-steppe – a “cold desert” – a semi-arid region with its own flora and fauna. There may not be much rain, but snow melt from the mountains delivers water in rivers and creeks, and irrigation provides good growing conditions for fruit trees, pasture, and other agricultural enterprises.
Traveling east on Route 90 at 70 mph, the mountains of Snoqualmie Pass shine and beckon, but today we’re going to dart through the Cascades and on down to the other side.
A wind farm and snowy mountain peaks draw my eye as we drive along.
I take a picture from the car and when I get home I blow up the image find this timeless moment preserved.
I didn’t even see him when I took the picture! But there he is, soaking in the sun and letting the clouds’ changing shapes loosen the grip of any cares he may have (yes, you might say I’m projecting!).
Muscular folds shape the hills along the Yakima River.
In the nearby old mining town of Roslyn, corrugated steel roofs and weathered wood perfectly mimic the landscape’s colors.
There are many vintage vehicles around; some are well kept up and others are left to rust.
I picked a sprig of aromatic sage to bring back to the wet side of the mountains.
It will be comforting to smell that distinctive fragrance when the weather turns cloudy and cooler here in the fall.
And when overcast days begin wear on me, I know I can hop over to the east side of the mountains,
where it’s sunny,