According to Australian David Morley, “…if your road trips wind up anything like mine–by the time you get home, you’ll have had an adventure.” This was especially true of our recent 27 day odyssey. On our 2nd day, Ruth and I returned to The Palouse.
Ruth had a relative, great in every way, by the name of Aunt Ollie. This great-aunt followed her husband to The Palouse, had 13 children, became the local midwife, and lived to be 103. We visited her as often as we could. Her sons, with one exception, became Palouse wheat farmers. One year they let us help with the harvest.
The Palouse covers 4,000 square miles mostly in southeast Washington State. On its east side are the forests of Idaho. The Snake River is its southern boundary. North of it is the city of Spokane. Walla Walla, a fantastic wine region, is in its western reach. The Palouse is a land of steep hills and deep gulches. Wind blown dust and silt formed them. These hills look like vegetation-covered sand dunes when they are green in spring and early summer and gold in late summer and early autumn. Wheat farmers have to use specially designed, self-leveling combines during harvest. It’s a landscape like nowhere else I’ve been and can be a land of extreme heat and dust storms in summer. One time it took me 5 hours to drive from Lewiston, Idaho, to Walla Walla, a distance of 102.5 miles, because of blinding dust. See the 2014 blog “The Palouse Mysteries” for more details.
It took Ruth and me most of a day to drive from Walla Walla to Boise. In the morning we explored the quiet Palouse town of Dayton, and we were in the intensely busy and beautiful resort town of McCall, Idaho, by late afternoon. A boat show was in progress. Although we saw some distant combines around Dayton, most of the wheat harvest was already in. The Palouse remains the world’s #1 producer of soft white winter wheat and memories.