Over the past couple of days, we forgot about our normal schedules and took a couple of road trips over the mountains into eastern Washington. Lest you think that our snow is gone, Dick took this photo up at the pass. I would guess that lots of folks will go skiing over spring break this year!
On Sunday we decided to drive over to Ellensburg for lunch and for old time's sake as our older daughter graduated from Central Washington University. During a four year span, we made many trips there. Enroute, we took a few side roads and checked out Easton, Rosyln of Twin Peaks fame, Cle Elum, and a new resort called Suncadia. But we forgot the camera, and worse yet, when we got home we read about the Sandhill Crane festival in Othello. So, yesterday we again hopped in the car on a quest to find some sandhill cranes. Until now we'd only seen them before in Florida and Wisconsin. In Othello a very nice lady at City Hall directed us to the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge with the warning that the road was rather "primitive." That it was and slow going also.
We knew we were in the right spot!
Well, we saw a few bits of wildlife, a bunny, a couple of magpies, some mystery ducks, but not one sandhill crane. We decided they must have all been resting up from the previous weekend's festivities.
Just in case you think that all it ever does in our fair state is rain, Dick took this photo. East of the Cascades the geography and weather are both very different. It is farm country, thanks to an adequate supply of water for irrigation. This is where our famous apples are grown along with lots of other things including wheat and hops.
What are you doing here?
Much to our surprise, we saw lots of cattle grazing in the refuge, including this critter who was lounging beside the road until we stopped. Since the afternoon was almost gone, and our teeth had been jarred loose by the primitive road, we decided to take a different route back to Othello, a road that crossed on the north side of the refuge. We drove a short way in on another turnoff which was a much better gravel road and then headed down another road toward highway 26. Guess what?
Dick was the first to spot them! We saw a huge flock fly in and land in a farmer's field right off the road, so we stopped to watch. I would guess we saw at least 50 of these big birds in the field, and I counted about 38 in the sky. Our bird books says they have a 6-7 foot wingspan, so that will give you a feel for their size.
Dick caught a few photos before they figured out what he was doing and took off. Our quest was over, and we headed home. After having dinner in Ellensburg at the same table where we ate lunch on Sunday, we headed back over the pass and none too soon. It was snowing hard at the Pass and the radio said they expected a foot of new snow by morning. Thankfully, at the time the snow wasn't sticking and quit about 17 miles east of North Bend. Today it's back to our usual routine.