Wilbur, Washington, was our first stop back in the states on July 16, 2017, where we checked in at Country Lane RV Park.
Our main objective, besides getting forty winks, was to visit the Grand Coulee Dam. We dropped the trailer and drove the 23 miles to the visitor center in time to catch the last tour of the day.
The volcanic rock terrain reminded us of Craters of the Moon, only several thousand years later after the rock had broken down and soil had covered the surface allowing trees and bushes to grow. Farmers made use of the land by arranging their fields around the larger rock formations.
Grand Coulee Dam
The visitor center tells the story of the dam, and the guided tour gives an up-close view of the generators, the pumps, and top of the dam. The tour starts here, not at the visitor’s center, but they provide directions.
A concrete gravity dam, Grand Coulee Dam contains 421 billion cubic feet of concrete, enough concrete to build a highway across the United States. Operated by the Bureau of Reclamation, it is the largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States and the third largest hydroelectric facility in the world.
The dam’s twenty-eight generators within four power plants can produce up to 6,809 megawatts annually and are the primary source of electricity to many Northwest states.
In addition to the power plants, the dam also provides irrigation water through the Pump-Generator Plant located on the east bank of the Columbia River. Twelve pumps lift water up the hillside to a canal that flows into Banks Lake, the 27-mile-long reservoir for the Columbia Basin Project.
I asked the guide a couple of questions that went unanswered, like what is the purpose of that Honeywell gizmo down there? The tour guide said he either could not tell me or did not know the answer due to security measures. However, he did not prevent me from taking a picture.
We drove through the Town of Coulee Dam—The Green Oasis at the Foot of Grand Coulee Dam—which was populated with quaint cottages, plenty of trees, green grass, and flowers.
I would love to see these trees ablaze with yellows, reds, and oranges during the fall.
The town, founded in 1933 by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, served as headquarters for construction of the Grand Coulee Dam. One part of the town, known as Mason City, housed the lead contractor. The other part was known as Engineers Town and owned by the government. In 1948, Mason City was incorporated in Coulee Dam, and by 1959, the government had completed its process of selling the town to the public.
A Short Jaunt to Poulsbo, Washington
We left Wilbur, Washington, the next day for a six-night stay at Cedar Glen RV Park in Poulsbo, Washington to visit friends. As we decided on what to do in our spare time while near Seattle, miles and miles of wheat fields and other grains mesmerized us. We would crest a hill, and all we could see in a 360-degree radius were fields of wheat and other grains. No cities, no buildings, not even an out building in sight. Some of the fields had recently been cut, others newly plowed, while others still contained stalks standing tall. About every ten or fifteen miles, clumps of trees, shimmering silos, and barns, would appear in the distance. The acres of agribusiness was a side of the Washington State I had never seen before and was as amazing as its coastline and waterways.
About two hours before we arrived, the RV Park manager called. Oops! Our six-night stay was now only two nights, so much for seeing a couple of sights. At least we had a good visit with our friends in Silverdale.
It was probably a good thing we only had two nights. I didn’t think I could take the road noise another night. The large evergreen barrier that separated our space from the main road did little to muffle the roar of nonstop traffic to and from the naval base and ferry in Bremerton and other populated areas.
One more word about the State of Washington: The state grows the friendliest toll takers we have ever encountered. The woman who took our money smiled at us and wished us a good day. After fighting the traffic to get to the bridge, her attitude made the rest of our daily journey pleasant.
Next up: The Tri-Cities Area of the State of Washington along the Columbia River.