Monday, July 28, 2008

Grand Coulee Dam, the largest dam in the US

After leaving Seattle we headed east. Along the way, a sign pointed to Grand Coulee Dam, the largest hydro-electric dam in the US and the largest concrete structure. Since we'd already seen Shasta Dam, the second-largest, we thought, why not? We were slightly surprised to find it was a 75-mile detour, but totally worth it.

Grand Coulee Dam blocks the Columbia river, a really wide river bordered by gorges in a desert setting. We stopped at the Wild Horses Monument, an iron sculpture above the river made by David Govedare. The actual title refers to an Indian legend, called "Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies", and is only half-finished. From the bottom, you could almost see the horses' tails blowing in the wind.

It was incredibly windy at the parking lot. The steep trail up to the horses was extremely slippery, especially in the hot wind. Dust swirled around and into our eyes. Brendan lost control of the Fat Kiwi's driver's door, which now needs a solid slam to close it.

The land here was desert, which had been tamed for farming by means of irrigation from the river. The small towns were a good example of rural America, with their little lettered signs advertising hamburgers or motel rates. (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

The desert scenery on the way to Grand Coulee Dam was gorgeous. The rocky cliffs of the gorge loomed on one side of the road, and the blue waters of the Columbia River lay on the other. We saw tumbleweeds!

We arrived at Grand Coulee Dam just as the sun was setting, but left before the advertised nightly "light show" started.

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