Putting new skills to use

Last weekend, we went car camping with friends in central Washington, which was lovely but crowded as all get out. More on our quest for solitude later.

This was our first camping trip with Penelope, our 6-year-old rescue dog. We had to practice.

We all slept in this tent on our living room floor.

First we headed to Lake Chelan, where we camped for a few nights, and I was the firemaster.

Everyone was jealous of our fire.

We dabbled in wine tasting along Lake Chela, where generous portions of crafty wines made everyone *s0* happy!

Le sigh. The joy of wine!

After camping, we went out to the Grand Coulee Dam and got ourselves a cabin on Banks Lake. It was adorable.

View from our cabin at sunrise (4:30am!)

Banks Lake is beautiful.

Unfortunately, the weather decided not to hold out for us, so the first day/night we were mostly relegated to this 9’x9′ cabin with four people and a dog. Good thing we brought board games.

It looks like we’re beating the game, but we’re not.

We took a road trip to the Dry Falls, carved into the landscape after massive Ice Age floods 10,000 years ago.

Formerly a gushing waterfall 300′ above where we stood to take this photo.

We explored historic areas of long-forgotten mining towns, saw cities built for the tens of thousand they’d hoped would come after the building of the dam, only to become nothing more than sprawling towns of abandoned storefronts home to only a handful of families. We watched the laser light show (cough-propaganda!-cough) at the Dam and went to the worst “festival” ever complete with $7 cheesy fries topped with cold canned mushrooms. *shudder*

T and I were aching for solitude after such a social trip. On the drive home, then, we decided to take a long detour to the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, where we were mostly alone.

We used our new Audubon field guide and a set of binoculars and went about IDing the flora and fauna there, including Great Egrets, red-wing blackbirds, mule deer, showy milkweed, and yellow bee flower.

T uses the Field Guide to ID a wildflower

Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)

Yellow Bee Plant (Cleome Lutea)

By the end of our five-day and four-night excursion, Penelope was exhausted. She basically kept this same sleeping posture the whole way home.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

There were other sights that didn’t make it into this post – like Soap Lake and its sundial monument to Native Americans who used the lake for its healing properties, the intense beauty of Snoqualmie Pass on the way home, and the sweet backpacking meals we made (never thought we could do so much with ziploc bags!)

For our first trip since Alderleaf, though, I thought it was a great blend of social and wilderness.

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