We are moseying through
We appreciate her athleticism even more as we continue down the mountain for another five steep miles, and try to imagine ourselves pedaling up this grade. No way! Even if I was physically capable of handling the grade, I don't think I could ever get mentally capable -- there are too many places with no shoulder, no guardrail, and a steep cliff drop-off at the edge of the road, where it doesn't take much imagination to visualize being forced over the cliff by a logging truck or some other road hog trying to pass too closely.
Leaving the Cascades behind, we abruptly enter the dessert to their east, then fields of grain, apple orchards, and vineyards. Is there a state in the union that doesn't have vineyards and wineries? We haven't kept strict track, but we think we have seen wineries in every state we have visited on this trip so far.
We visit two dams that make this dessert bloom, and generate a huge share of the power used by the
Our next stop is Grand Coulee Dam, which is the world's largest concrete structure, as well as our country's highest hydropower producer. Here is my favorite mind-blowing statistic about how much concrete is in Grand Coulee Dam—it is enough concrete to build a sidewalk four feet wide and four inches thick and wrap it twice around the equator. Or you could build a highway from
The dam took eight years to build, it supplied a lot of people with government jobs during the Great Depression, and it was completed in 1941, just in time to aid the war effort. Beyond an exhibit of war propaganda featuring the dam, I am interested in an exhibit on music Woody Guthrie wrote about the dam. The Bonneville Power Authority contracted in 1941 to pay Woody $266.66 to write some songs glorifying hydroelectric power and the dam. He wrote 26 songs! I am amazed at his prodigious output on such a seemingly uninspiring topic, and that he worked for just ten dollars a song.
Just a mile south of the dam, we stop in
fading from the desert sun, and rusting from what little rain they get around here. The artist who made the garden, Emil Gehrke, died in 1979, and it appears that no one has enough interest in preserving his work to get out there with an oil can and some Rustoleum to keep the pieces moving. It really is a shame, because this place needs a little fun and fancy to balance the big serious dam just up the road.
We get to
We continue east to Wallace (pop. 960), where we are looking forward to a most extraordinary bike ride tomorrow.