13-Nov-1999 -- Well, I started out a little late. We
went out the night before, and I wanted to sleep in. So, I did.
That was something of a mistake. I meant to find two confluences
today, and just bolted from the house with my bag of junk without really
thinking about it much. I drove out I-90 without checking a map as I
left, and didn't realize quite how far away
was. In fact, I drove past the confluence near Cle Elum (at 47N 121W) without
even considering stopping there!
I-90 snakes its way over the Cascade Mountain Range, which divide
Washington State east and west. The west side of the mountains are only
about a quarter of the area of the state, while the East side makes up
the rest. The mountains hang-up all the moist air from the ocean and
cause all of the stalled fronts that bring our rain, here. The
convergence zone and the chinooks form in the winter, and make everything even
East of the mountains, the terrain is much flatter. And, accordingly,
I-90 is almost as straight as an arrow. Here, the farmers grow almost
everything. Alfalfa, potatoes, apples, cherries. Eventually, I-90
crosses the Columbia River. The town of Vantage is on the west shore,
and the river runs almost north-and-south at this point. The bridge is
really quite long.
On the west end of the bridge, I-90 cuts north and WA-26 goes south
and then south east towards Pullman. The interstate has to climb out of
the ancient valley carved by the river. About three miles from the end
of the bridge, there's a turnoff and a little rest stop for The Wild
Horses Monument. You can see the Wild Horses in Photo #2. They're way up
there; I fooled with my zoom lens for a while trying to get even tighter
shots. That picture is facing uphill from the parking lot.
Facing the other way (south-southwest, say) from the parking lot, I
snapped a picture of the highway coming up the hill and the Columbia
River. The I-90 bridge spans the mighty river in Photo #3.
I drove back onto I-90 and bailed out at the next exit. That same
exit leads to The Gorge campground and ampitheater, so I was familiar
with at least the roads immediately around the edge of the highway. I
needed to go off on Vantage Road towards the river. Oddly, the road was
named Vantage even though it would never get you to Vantage.
There were lots of beautiful vistas and sharp canyons. The terraced
land forced lots of waterfalls, too. At one particular spot, I thought it
might be possible to pull off the highway and jump to a mesa that was
about four feet from the road. I wondered how many drunk campers stumbled out
of the campgrounds after the show and fell to their death--or, at least,
a few serious injuries. I leaned over the edge and took pictures of the
cars broken in the valley below. That's shot #4.
Another mile or so back towards the river, the road ended and there
was a boat launch. Right here was 47N, but I couldn't get any closer to
the actual confluence because it lay right in the middle of the river.
My best reading is 47 degrees, zero minutes flat North by 119 degrees,
59.454 minutes West. That's in picture #5. The confluence was about 2800
feet across the river, just east of the middle. The view I had to the
west from the boat launch is in picture #6. Out there, on the other
side of the river, was the
Ginkgo Petrified Forest
From here, the I-90 bridge is almost barely visible. It's less than
five miles away, so I pointed my camera North. You can see Vantage Road,
which I followed into the boat launch area. There's a brief rock
outcropping, and the mighty Columbia flows by me.