Day 8: Grand Coulee Dam, Conconully & Curlew
I woke up at 6:00 as it was clear skiea and expected to reach 85 degrees today. I started to walk the trail to the Lake Lenora Caves that would lead up the basalt rock and overlook the valley. After about a fifteen walk you would see natural incisions that were about ten feet high and about six feet deep wher the basal rock had left a natural cave. I also came to an enclosure of a larger cave that you would have to walk down into. The indians would live herein the winter to stay warm. It is more interesting from a geological stand-point as it's commmon sense that people would use this as shelter during coldl weather.
I left the caves around 6:00 and would start driving back towards Grand Coulee Dam. It was a nicer drive in the morning with the sun shining on the rocks across the lake. I did stop to take a picture of Steamboat Park as it was quiet and many people were bringing their boats to launch this morning. There were also nice places to have picnic with ducks swimming in the lake. The steamboat rock is a large rock that sits right in the middle of Banks lake. There is a trail that will take you to the plateau on top of the rock.
Next are the towns of Electric City and Grand Coulee. As you enter Grand Coulee you see the Windmill Garden which is at the city park. There are many different types of windmills all twirling as the wind is blowing. It was a colorful and intersteing piece of art. I was here last night so I went straight to the visitor center for Grand Coulee Dam but it would not open for another thirty minutes. There were squirlls running around the ground and one was patient enough for me to get a closeup picture. I did drive over the dam and took a couple pictures, but didn't want to wait for the visitor centerto open. I continued on state 155 along the Colville Indian Reservation and would drive into Omak. This was a clean little town with one main street of business that had many small shops. there is also a newer part fo town wher there is a Wal-Mart and shopping center off of the highway. About one mile sourth is also the town of Okanagan
Conconully was the next little town that was about fifteen miles west as this is a small resort area. The town is in the middle of a reservior, lake and state park. Most of the sights looked like they were full at the state park. I decided to take a back road and try to find the China Wall that was build back in the early 1900's. This is about 30 ft high and goes on forever and was to be used for a building mill in the late 1800's. The mill never got completed but the wall is stil left standing after 100 years with the nickname 'China Wall'. I first saw this about fifteen years ago when my grandpa took me on backroads to see it and I've always been curious about it since then. I took Salmon Creek Rd as this had many nice farms and a creek running beside it. After ten miles is where the old town of Ruby use to be. Thie was mining area about 100 years ago and this place was booming. Nothing remains now but a couple signs to explain the past hisotry.
There was a gravel road that went up Ruby Hill as it was not real steep but was one lane overlooking a cliff the whole way. I finally came to a Y intersection of Bazard Lake Rd that lead to mining areas and Loup Loup Creek Rd, which is where the China Wall is. Both roads looked like they required 4-wheel drive as it was steep and still wet in May from melting snow. I decided to turn around and go back to Conconelly. On my way down I started having porblems in 1st/2nd gear as it was rumbling and now bouncing up and down. I shifted into drive and kept the brakes on all the way down and didn't have any futher problems. Once on Salmon Creek Rd. again I turned left and took another gravel road to Green Lake and Brown Lake. These were small lakes surrounded by hills and just a couple houses around them. I had to turn around at Brown Lake as the road was flooded and I would have got stuck in mud since it wasn't paved.
I finally got back to Conconnelly and would look for the China Wall some other day. I continued north and woudl pass Fish Lake, Blue lake and Palmer Lake. I was almost at the border at a samll town of Nighthawk when I saw an old mining outfit along the Simlkameen River. There were private property and no tresspasssing signs all along the propety as it looked like it had been deserted for quite some time. There were also many old barracks here. I continued on and took the Loomis-Oroville Rd east and went to Oroville and looked at Osoyoos Lake State Park. This is the southern part of the lake as the northern part extends into Canada where there is a large tourism area. This was nothing spectacular as there was access for boating on the lake here.
I drove south to Tonasket and then went east on highway 20 towards Republic as I was still having problems with the truck when I drove in towns, but on the highway I was ok. I then went N on W Curlew Lake Rd and would drive to the small town of Curlew. I stopped in the local store in Curlew to get something to drink. While I was there somebody came in and asked if they could see the chicks in the back of the store. The cashier called out someobdy's name who then proceeded to have the customer come to the back of the store. There were also live turkeys for sale at the front of the store in a cage. It doesn't get much more laid back country living than this. I continued N to Danvilles and found a small town that didn't seem like it was worth stopping at. I drove back south on the east side of Curlew Lake this time and had decided I should get to Spokane tonight because of the problems with the truck.
I did stop in Republic but everything was pretty much closed down at this time of night. I drove west to Kettle Falls and then S on 395 until I reached Spokane around 10:00. I stayed at Liberty motel on N Division St for $35 and ate at the Tomatoe Street restaurant which had good Italian Appetizers for a reasonable price.
I drove 500 miles today, 2500 total