May 8, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend, A memorable weekend-Palouse and Steptoe Butte

It was a Memorial day weekend and we decided to drive around Cascades. I and my little one was accompanying my sister and her then boyfriend (Tiju), leaving my husband home while he was preparing for his PMP. We had no hotel reservations done because we did not know where we want to stop overnight. But that's how Tiju rolls. I hate trips like that where there isn't any planning or for that matter not even knowing the destination. But I must say with the element of surprise, there is always something exciting that you unfold on such trips.

We drove on US-20 and stopped at a shack like restaurant, where I would have never set my foot in. The name itself made me not want to enter. I had imagined some negative picture about it.
But I was wrong. A perfect example of don't judge a book by its cover. They had a garden restaurant on the inner side and it was beautiful and quiet, with humming birds flying around.  The food was good too. They had a couple of vegetarian option. Besides what else do I need when they have steak fries and ketchup :). Give it up for the potato!

On our way we stopped at a couple of viewpoints and gave a treat to our eyes (easy boardwalks).
The weather was perfect.

Further driving towards cascades we decided to take a 3.8 mile roundtrip trail (Thunder Knob) with seemingly easy elevation. At the end (top) we had a glimpse of the turquoise color  Diablo Lake.

Adjacent to the trailhead is this amazing spot (probably an extension of the Diablo lake, not quite sure) where you can have your little picnic or just skim the water or have some quiet time soaking the view.

We decided to go east from there. On our way we stopped at a Dam outside of the town Coulee Dam. It was close to dusk and enjoyed the scene of setting sun. This is different than the actual Grand Coulee dam.

But actual Grand Coulee Dam have a nightly laser show (open air, free of cost) which is entertaining enough I guess. The show is seasonal (starts memorial weekend), and starts as late as 10:00 pm. Makes sense if its not going to be pitch dark before that isn't it? We did watch the show but we drove a little farther away and was good enuf for the naked eye but not for my tiny digital camera to capture in night mode (sorry no pictures).

From there we drove towards Palouse and decided to crash at a hotel in the next decently big enough town that we see. Unfortunately for miles there was nothing decent/safe enough to call it a day. Finally my sister decided to call some 1-800 number to check for any hotel availability that would be on our way. It was dangerous, scary and foolish, but hey thankfully we lived to tell the story.

The next morning two more friends were joining us driving all the way from Seattle. I am not even going to bother to tell their share of journey - Don't ask, Don't tell!

Following morning we woke up to a sunny, dry weather (thanks for the rain shadowed region). It was my first time towards this region and couldn't believe that we were still in Washington W.R.T the climatic shift. It was a beautiful day with beautiful people.

We stopped at a curvature to take shots of the winding roads.

At Palouse Falls State Park, we could sight the falls easily (without much walk or hike). The gushing water down the rocks with cute little rainbow in its well was admirable (reminded me of Snoqualmie falls). The pic below is not the one with a rainbow.

There is a 2 mile round trip trail down some uneven, steep, sand-slip path to get to the coulee spot below the cliff. Halfway through there is a railway line (very much in use). It's an amazing spot for some fashion photography I would say.

At the bottom, enjoy soaking your feet in the stream, have a picnic, relax and enjoy splashing water.

Next stop was Steptoe Butte State Park. Where should I even begin to describe this luminous landscape. I am sure most everyone who have used Microsoft Windows XP would have seen a picture of this beauty in their very own desktop theme (just a little pic to remind you). Yes, it's that famous :)

The bald edged hills and prairies are picturesque. The green fertile wheat fields makes a wavy pattern giving a dramatic look. 

We drove (alternatively you can hike) up the hill that looms through the fields for a breathtaking aerial view with a fiery setting sun backdrop.

Perhaps this could help you decide where and how to spend your memorial weekend if you haven't decided yet.

Note: Just like any other farm land the wheat fields look dry/barren after they harvest later during the year. The terrain is drastically different. IMHO, April may be a better time if you want to see greenery.

Click Here For More pictures.

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