Monday, May 30, 2011

Kamiak Butte and Pullman Nostalgia

With this three day weekend, I had it in my mind to go looking for wildflowers. One reference I use states that the last weekend in May provides ample opportunity for such an exploration.  I had my doubts since Spring started several weeks later than normal. My first plan was to visit Steptoe Butte, but as we started driving south, we decided to hit it on the way back. We kept driving with the intention of going to
Kamiak Butte, but then we were so close to Pullman, we made another spontaneous decision to show the kids daddy's Alma mater.

But to make this story complete, I need to back up to another hidden motive of mine.  I wanted to show the kids how beautiful the rolling hills of the Palouse are, especially in Spring. They were not immediately impressed. "This is boring. How long are we going to drive?" My favorite commentary came from Baby Dragon who remarked, "this trip is taking my whole life." So maybe they weren't as close to the age of scenery-induced introspection as I had hoped. Mom and Dad tried to talk it up. Nothing helped until we got out of the car on campus at the grizzly bear research station.

About the only way I'd like to be close to a bear.

Um, bears smell! Really bad. We watched a female bear play with a ball in her metal tub, and 4 cubs play with tire swing. I think there were close to 8 adult grizzlies in various containment.
Bubba holding his 2 dollar bill.
After striking out trying to get ice cream at Ferdinand's Creamery on campus (on a Sunday, duh) we headed to the grocery store remembering that they give $2 bills out when you need change and we thought the kids would enjoy that. It was a total coincidence that Bubba wore his Cougars hat that day, but it looks like we're posing big time for some contest...  Other stops included Carpenter hall where Grant spent his youth chasing an education in architecture under ideal client situations (as in, no real client or economic conditions) and our first apartment where I came to believe I had married architecture too. Ah, young marriage; ah, early twenties...

I digress.  So we finally headed north a few miles to Kamiak Butte.  We didn't get far because even though Droid informed us where to turn, I spotted a field of ewes and lambs that we had to circle back for. I got out of the car and spoke sheep.  They answered. White lambs, twin lambs, spotted lambs and even a lamb like Biddy that we had just read about in Mountain Born.
My baa-ing was unconvincing- they wouldn't come to the fence.
The scenery was starting to impress the kids.
OK, finally we pulled into the park managed by Whitman County. The summit trail was just a mile round trip and was smooth and wide, great for a stroller. It was a bit steep and I think we both wished we had brought the Ergo, but we can't complain when we don't want to prepare (internal lecture I gave myself). My wildflower obsession came into full swing and I wasn't disappointed.  I took pictures of many new plants to identify.

This herb made the whole summit smell wonderful.
It's a beautiful walk that starts in Ponderosa/ Doug Fir mix forest and ends in an open summit overlooking the southern Palouse hills and the towns of Pullman and Moscow.

"Where's Boo? Here's Boo!"

It's looks sweet, but he's actually trying out the Swiss Army knife...

Is that introspection?

Almost 13 (lucky) years together!
After hiking back down, we checked out the playground.  It's a pretty awesome siting for some playground equipment and had some fun and risky elements sometimes missing from modern parks. I want to bring some friends back with me to enjoy it again.
Drive by barn sitings...
It was a beautiful day for a short road trip and a nature hike.  The kids got a glimpse of rural life in the spring and a feel for the land, literally, as we zoomed up and down over gravel roads tracing the hills and valleys while Droid pronounced Palouse like "palace". Another trip idea emerged from this one; around the town of Colfax- on Fugate and South Palouse roads are some amazing barns and we never get tired of finding them and admiring them.  Maybe next time we'll just go barn hopping... without the kids.

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