Day 28 - June 29 Coulee City to the “The Dam”

OK, right off I’ll tell you that the dam-ed big coulee I’m referring to is the Grand Coulee Dam, located 19 miles north of Wilbur, WA. When you compare the Grand Coulee to the Hoover Dam in Nevada, they each top the other in one statistic or another. Let’s agree that they are both “really big”, for many years the largest in the world.

I started the day in the great Coulee City Community Park, where the walleye fishermen were up early and on the water. I was up early too, with sunny skies and temps in the 70s, so I visited a few folks in town, took some photos, and started east.

Following the YT route, I visited Hartline, stopped in Almira and met a few friendly residents, and as I neared Wilbur, I saw the sign to Grand Coulee Dam -19 miles, decided on the spot that this is a must see, and drove up there. Before I could even see the dam, I could see Lake Roosevelt.  Spring Canyon NFS camp, on the lake, caught my eye. This is 4th of July weekend, of course, and campsite and motel room vacancies are scarce.  I drove in, found a nice site ($10/$5 for senior), and then went to the dam. Good move, as the camp was packed full by early evening.

Wow, the dam! It’s almost unbelievable in its size and the volume of water passing through. My photos do not do it justice. The construction of this monster, consisting actually of three independent power plants, was started in 1935 and making electricity by 1949, but was not fully completed and commissioned until 1955 due to the massive earthmoving and concrete pouring required and delays caused by the manpower and material shortages of WW II. It is surely powering my laptop and the motel lights as I write this, with cheap and dependable electricity. 

My campsite was pretty nice, with an assortment of neighbors, some of them Ukrainian families celebrating the 4th of July. They moved here because of the wheat farming industry and who appear to be doing very well in this land of freedom and opportunity. That’s what Independence Day is all about.

The guy with the big travel trailer running two generators was not my friend though. From about five pm until lights out quiet hours at ten pm (that’s the NFS rule, when it finally does get dark), he had them roaring. I suppose he needed those loud and irritating generators to have all the lights in the trailer on, his microwave oven, his wife’s hairdryer, and big screen TV…plus his satellite dish. Oh, and the twinkling fairy lights, in broad daylight, that hung all over the awning. Stay home next time buddy, then you won’t need two generators.

Tomorrow will complete my three week “voyage of discovery” of the fine state of Washington.