Palouse Revisited

The Palouse is located in southeastern Washington. It is the designation given to an area with rolling hills that have been formed over thousand of years from wind blown dust and silt. The best view of these rolling hills can be seen from Steptoe Butte. We love The Palouse. So do so many other photographers! The place to set up your tripod to get the ‘classic’ Palouse landscape is up on Steptoe Butte. This butte is a big thumb right in the middle of it all. It is a Washington State Park (annual fee for a statewide permit is $30). The road winds up and around and around and around. There are several prime spots and you can count on having the company of many other photographers on any evening to photograph the deep shadows on hills of wheat and canola. From Steptoe Butte the rolling hills look like giant sand dunes, no surprise since they were formed in much the same way.

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You might have noticed that some of these hills are pretty steep. You might also have thought that the usual straight line farming would no work well (think errosion of soil). So, how do farmers plow and harvest these hills? Well, I checked into it and found out that at one time that was a serious problem. The hills are, in fact, steep enough to cause tractors and combines to tip over. An innovative solution was found by Raymond Hanson (age 19) in 1941. He invented the control mechanism that then lead to the development of a self-leveling combine!! This system allows the chassis and cutting part of the machine to follow the slope of the hill while the body and cab remain vertical. This is the number one wheat producing area of the country.

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When we first arrived in Palouse the canola plants had not started to produce their flower which gives the landscape that gorgeous yellow that we love. By the time we left it was just beginning to show up in some fields. There was just a hint of it in some of the first photographs above.

When we first arrived in Palouse the canola plants had not started to produce their flower which gives the landscape that gorgeous yellow that we love. By the time we left it was just beginning to show up in some fields. There was just a hint of it in some of the first photographs above.

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Someone has quite a collection going!!

Someone has quite a collection going!!

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Coeur d'Alene to Colfax

Dreary would be an apt description of the day.  It felt like winter approaching.  I decided early on that Tom is just having way too much fun clicking from the right seat! With the intention of pulling off the road, if I could, to get a shot in once in a while . . . this was the first site I selected!  Hahahaha! This drive thru had two drive thru lanes and an outhouse to meet your most minimum bathroon needs. The barista was a young lady of 18 years named Kayla and she served up one very good hot chai tea! Perfect stop to counter the dreary, cloudy blahs!

A bit further down the road I spotted another reason to pull over.  

As I got climbed up an embankment to get close enough to capture the wagon I saw something else. 

We though a side trip down a gravel road would be interesting.  It was.

The reason we drove through 'The Palouse' as this valley is called was to photograph an area that has received a great deal of attention of photographers.  The best times to visit the Palouse area is in the late spring and summer.  Harvest time in August or early September is not too bad.  At this time of the year the landscape is not nearly so interesting.  We knew that would be the case but wanted to scope it out anyway as we headed to the Columbia Gorge area.  The lack of good light has made the photography more challenging.  You might do some searching for photos from this area to better understand the attraction the area has for photographers.

The photos below were taken as we drove into Colfax or later in the afternoon when it had started raining. 

 

 

 

 

Not all is brown or straw/gold.  Every once in a while we still saw green.

Steptoe Butte is reputedly a photographer's favorite spot as it allows 360 degree views from the top. We drove up to the top in rain and drove back down in more rain. Definitely sets a different tone to the colors!

How about a lonely tree standing in the rain? 

Tis all for yesterday.  We went out early this morning, hoping the sun would peek through while still low on the horizon.  No such luck!  Looks like it might rain this afternoon as the clouds are building up.  Regardless of what we get now, we will be back next year in late May or June.  This is just a gorgeous place to be.

Hope your Monday is shaping up just perfectly.  If it is not, take a break and go photograph flowers or fountains. It will cheer you up.