Saturday, August 6, 2011

Backyard geology

We had all manner of fun while Grandpa visited, bringing in friends old and new to share the fruits of a very local food chain and enjoy the perks of island living in the summertime. But perhaps the highlight of the trip was a 36-hour detour to the Scablands of Washington. We figured a geologically-focused jaunt was in order to take advantage of my dad's expertise and throw in some home-grown science for Dylan.

What I don't think we were qui
te prepared for was just how stunningly beautiful it all was. Like my reaction to the 12-hour drive to Yellowstone, I couldn't help feeling frustrated with myself for letting such a close and easy destination go unexplored for so long - especially one that offers a breathtaking number of recreational options and decidedly different weather than our side of the state.

The Scablands are an area in
north central Washington, roughly south of Grand Coulee Dam, that was formed during a massive flooding event, so exhibits some fascinating - and beautiful - geology. The result of this ancient event is an area covered almost entirely in basalt, with giant boulders and ribbons of granite that sort of got dropped in. The practical result for us non-scientists or rock-hounds is a vast area covered in what must be hundreds of lakes.

Deep azure lakes surrounded by golden grasses and rugged, striped canyons and cliffs - a stark departure from the lush tanglewood of our misty isle.

We made lots of roadside stops, includin
g to the Petrified Forest state park we've zoomed by a hundred times as we cross the Columbia. Turned out to be just off the road (a fact you'd never gleen from the highway sign) and offered up vast vistas, very cool geology, and a little kitsch to boot.

We drank in sight after sight, marveling at the lack of population and sheer volume of parks and other publicly-owned lands, and finally decided to make it an overnighter, ending the day at quaintly-named Electric City near Grand Coulee and scoring a jaw-dropping motel room for the night.

Perfect. Scablands - you'll see more of us when the clouds come back to Vashon in the fall.

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