Small dust storm blowing across highway near Othello, Washington. 

I read that the Palouse Hills were formed by dramatic events in geology.  During  ice ages, big ice dams blocked the columbia river.  They backed up  lakes into the valleys of what is now western Montana.  Geologists refer to a giant "Lake Missoula."

Along State Highway 26
Every once in a while, as the ice melted, the dam would break letting go a horrendous flood often called the Great Spokane Floods.  Water would have problems getting through a bottleneck now called Wallula Gap so it would form a temporary lake and deposit silt west of the Palouse.  As that lake dried, the silt would blow forming sand dune like hills.

The Great Plains of Washington State

Image taken 2002.

Heading west from canyon lands of the Palouse and Snake Rivers,  I called this area the "great plains" of Washington State.  It's an area of fairly flat wheat fields that stretch for miles.

East of Othello, 2002.

Crossing vast, irrigated fields of the columbia basin, Highway 26 had a good shoulder; until Royal City.  After that it was narrow and busy with potato trucks.  I found a road that took me north to I-90 with it's wide shoulder.  Sleeping one night in an apple orchard, no campgrounds or motels nearby, I was awaken several times by the sound of potato trucks lumbering by.  The orchard had a thick windbreak which was easy to hide from everything except for the noise.

Along US Highway 2

Along Highway 2 west of Creston, WA.
Excess grain stored on ground near Wilbur, WA. Image taken 2005.

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