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Posts Tagged ‘steptoe butte’

It’s hard to keep the days straight out here. Every day involves driving. On Friday, we headed onto the southern roads in the area. Dave found a particular area he remembered from 2011. We saw a coyote loping across the wheat fields. Dave fumbled for his camera but it was gone. There’s no place to hide in this country which I guess is both good and bad for a coyote. I found a farmhouse tucked into a hollow that I remembered. It did not entrance me like it did in 2011. It’s a visual exercise when we’re driving, looking at the surroundings and deciding if they are image-worthy. Sometimes Dave calls a stop, sometimes I do. A red-and-white piece of machinery, a certain color in the fields, a tree at the top of a hill – any of them can say something to our eye. Sometimes Dave will make photographs for 15 minutes while I stay in the car and sip coffee or vice versa. We usually review the day’s collection together and marvel at how many identical compositions we’ve made as well as how many totally different images we’ve recorded. It’s endlessly fascinating to both of us.

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Back at camp, it was pleasant, so we sat outside with Dorothy and Don, enjoying the weather. There is a long line of tall Cottonwood trees along the west edge of the campground and the cotton is flying. At the slightest breeze, it looks like snow and we have to cover our drinks to keep it out. As we lounged, a huge furrow-maker (I don’t know the proper term) started furrowing on the hill next to us. One edge of it was spitting out pink balls. We figured that was so the driver would know where to pick up where he left off on the last go-round. Why he was doing it was a mystery to us because the field was already planted with growing wheat. A couple of cropdusters started buzzing by periodically. We hauled out the cameras and shot away.

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The weather look propitious for a Steptoe Butte so we hung out with Don and Dorothy for a while, ate an early dinner and headed north. Dave said we had time to take a back road on the way up so I fiddled with the Garmin. We headed off down a road and found it dead-ended. This was the second time that we’ve followed a road that has ceased to be. We took off on another road and began to climb past pines, looking down at basalt cliffs and the Palouse River. Suddenly, we were looking down at an oxbow, where the river makes a 180-degree turn. What a surprise. After that, it was getting late so I maneuvered us to the nearest highway that turned out to be about 1 mile away from our campground. Surprise!

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Since it was still about 18 miles to Steptoe Butte, Dave stepped on it and we sped up there around 7:20. The lighting was marvelous; the wind non-existent. Perfect conditions. D&D had decided they would go as well in their Jeep and got there before we did. We met them coming down as we were stopping on our way up. As the road spiraled up, there were loads of photographers at each pullout. There was a photography workshop at one pullout. Don later recited some of the conversations he overheard: “Next time tighten your camera on the tripod.” “Do you know you’re shooting two stops under?” He said the instructor was providing commentary in a supportive manner.

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The shadows increased and lengthened on the vista below. We were surprised that the sun still hadn’t set by 8:30. I guess being at 3,618 feet and being farther north than usual makes sunset later than we expected. We stopped shooting and began descending. On the way back, in the deepening dusk, we could see white-tailed deer grazing in the wheat fields. It was a good day.

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On Saturday, we piled into our Rav with D&D and took off for the Rat Rod and barbeque in the town of Palouse. It was bigger than we expected and a lot of fun. There were ratty old cars and beautiful shiny old cars. There was a souped-up Volkswagon Beetle and a gorgeous pick-up truck with a canister of nitrous oxide attached in the bed (to help it laugh?)  And there was kid with “kid” on the back of his t-shirt. His mother said that’s what he chose to put there. A unique sense of humor at age 5.

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