WHEN WEST IS EAST

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,

dry, and

spacious.


48 comments

  1. 😀 Having lived in high desert country (Utah), I think just the opposite. To me the “West” is the coast… Not as thrilled with the eastern ends of either of our states…. except for the high mountain peaks. But it’s all about different strokes for different folks, ain’t it?

    • It’s funny isn’t it? Just goes to show you that it’s all relative. I haven’t ventured very far east in Washington, just over the Cascades. I have a fondness for the dry landscape, and whatever the “West” was to me when I was young, it certainly didn’t look anything like Seattle. Not to say I’m not liking the Pacific northwest, ’cause I am. I guess I like a multitude of different habitats, and am glad to be able to explore them more easily than I could when I lived in NYC.

  2. I’m loving these views of my old home. Going there in June/July. The guy on the tractor…my grandfather, a Dane, used to do that all the time…just stop, lay back, soak up some sun, start it back up and go on. One of the only TV shows I like was filmed in Roslyn – Northern Exposure – which was supposed to be in Alaska. Hope you got to go to Omak. If not, do plan on it…wonderful lake, dry, hot in the summer, skip the winter, unless you’re into winding mountain roads covered in black ice.
    Later…

    • I’m glad you liked them, Scott! I knew about Northern Exposure but never really watched it, so… Anyway, I want to take Rt 20 through the N. Cascades, on over to Omak – definitely a summer/early fall trip with that mtn. pass and all. I’m glad you’re coming up. Who knows, maybe we’ll have lunch.

      • Yes…don’t even try that north Cascade Highway during winter. The better-kept ones are difficult enough. I bounce all over the state when I visit, but I’ll post a blog or two, and see if we can make for a day which is commonly convenient.
        later…

    • I think comparing the Puget Sound area with your part of Michigan would be really interesting. Much in common, but very different too. The dry side of the mountains – much less like Michigan I think. BTW, we have had a Pileated woodpecker come to suet not two feet from a glass door this spring. In the NYC metro region seeing one was always an unusual occasion.

  3. Wow – what a stunning collection of images. Each and every photo is so beautiful in its own unique way. Such crispness too.

  4. Oh Lynn, these are fabulous once again. I love the one with the vintage vehicle and the boy relaxing on the riding mower with the snow-capped mountains and wind farm in the background. All the old weathered buildings and the rolling hills, the mountains ~ you are so good at capturing the essence of a place. Fantastic. 🙂

  5. Oh I just love your trips and am so very grateful you take us along! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! 🙂

    • Cool! I try to balance the post so there aren’t too many images or words, but there are still enough so you get a sense of the place. Yeah, it’s like getting the chance to be a tour guide without dealing with the tourists! ; )

  6. How beautiful! That’s a part of the world we (2geeks) don’t get to see. Thanks for taking us there. Really love that photo of the mountains + wind farm + guy snoozing on the tractor.

    • Maybe I should take more random photos out the car window, blow them up, and see what’s lurking in the frame? ; ) Thanks geeks! A long was from your part of the world, and a nice complement to it.

  7. you’ve composed with your gallery a great tribute to rural life! My favorite:
    “There are many vintage vehicles around; some are well kept up and others are left to rust…”

  8. Now I remembered a quote from Buddha : “In heaven there is no difference between East and West. Each person creates their own differences and then believes’em to be true.”
    Great set of photos!

  9. Seattle is awesome, there are many things to love here. Winters aren’t among them. But I’ve had the same thought, I keep going east (not very far, mind you) to find what most people think of as “the great American west.” The eastern slope of the Cascade Range is heaven.


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