Boxelder bugs were all over the base of the trees at Levey Park.
The highlight at this park was a family of river otters swimming in the channel. At the next park we were startled when we flushed Barn Owl after Barn Owl from some tall trees near the bathrooms. They would circle and land in nearby trees but were still hard to see.
Also of interest, this big mushroom:
As often happens, all of these distractions put us way behind schedule and we had to make a new plan for that evening's camping. We decided to head straight to Palouse Falls to camp rather than heading farther east to the Blue Mountains. This worked out well, though we arrived in the dark after nearly hitting a small deer. After setting up the tent, eating dinner, and putting the dogs to bed in the tent when the coyotes started yipping, we tried out some star photos. Since we forgot the tripods on the kitchen floor, it was a bit of a challenge.
Still fun. We woke to a light rain that was not bad at all, and walked over to view the falls. Pretty.
We made some coffee and planned to walk a trail to the upper falls but the trail was closed, and not just kind of closed. There was a chainlink fence stretching across it as far as we could see. We could have gone through a gate that wasn't locked but I wussed out.
Instead we wandered the opposite way, enjoying the stunning canyon and getting away from the folks that had started arriving.
After exploring we made our way back to the parking lot which had really filled up, making our lonely tent look extra ridiculous. We packed up and headed out.
I pulled over here because the stand of trees to the right looked good for owls, thinking Great Horned or maybe Long-eared. Chris made it only a few steps downslope when something flushed. It took twenty more minutes of poking around before finding a couple of Barn Owls. No photos. The ground had lots of scattered feathers, most surprising of which were Golden Eagle!
The rest of the feathers seemed to be likely owl kills, but eagle? Maybe road-killed and dragged into the trees for feasting?
On our way west we noticed a sign for Columbia National Wildlife Refuge and drove in to check out the scene. This place would have been fifty times radder if the mosquitoes weren't so terrible.
We continued past Potholes State Park, stopping only briefly, and carrying on west through Royal City. The fields were beautiful here, made more awesome by the huge flocks of Sandhill Cranes flying around.
Camping options were limited near here with the best option we found online being in some desert areas along Dodson Road. This area turned out to be not as remote as I had hoped, along a residential road. Then there was the stray dog.
We really wanted to help this dog, but at the same time found him pretty intimidating. Attempts to get close either scared the dog too much, or scared us too much, and eventually we gave up on that plan. As we drove past he stared us down before actually chasing us up the highway a quarter mile, perhaps because Jake and Ralph were barking at him or perhaps it was that herding instinct. Either way, we left a message with the Grant County Animal Control and hopefully he found his way home.
Camping along this road was out of the question. A dead beaver, on the other hand, was not.
I gave up on the camping plan and suggested getting a motel in Moses Lake. This worked out fine and Chris even cooked us dinner on the camp stove on the balcony without getting busted.
In the morning we got back on the road to head west, stopping for something called Wild Horses Monument Viewpoint. The view of the Columbia was great though we were disappointed the "Wild Horses" name was related to the name of a nearby wind farm, not actual wild horses.
Our route was taking us super close to the Gingko Petrified Forest so we decided to check out the trail there. It was basically a big hill with a couple loop trails where some petrified logs were protected by stone walls and grates on top.
It was kind of cool, but the lack of wildlife made it a bit of a yawn. We drove past the Priest Rapids Dam where later in the day there was an electrical explosion that made the Portland news in the evening. Random.
We hopped on highway 97 to head south back towards Oregon. The Goldendale Observatory was closed but the fall colors were fantastic.
Our second to last stop was an abandoned house near here. Not a very interesting one, but it made for pretty pictures.
The memorial overlooks the Columbia...
And that was the trip. Lots of pretty scenery but not much wildlife. Very few deer, no elk, no small mammals, not even many birds. Plenty of apples and onions though! This inspired my first homemade apple pie a few days later. Good times!!