I spent some of the night wondering if that was an owl... but it was the Park Ranger's dog barking from the other side of the highway. I did get Nighthawks again, though, and I was up and packing up a tent at 5 AM.
|Brooks Memorial State Park|
I finished walking both sides of the campground. Another beautiful morning - I'd been really fortunate with weather on the trip - and I had chosen to wear shorts.. It was cold now, but it was a good call down the road. Once I was all packed up, I went back up to Satus Pass and took the little Ski Lodge Road as far as I could go. It was not nearly as far as I had hoped, but still found a House Wren, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Bushtits, to make it 25 species before breakfast.
Goldendale to Bickleton
The views were big coming down the hill. Mount Hood was in the distance, and the sun was already shining brightly at 7. I stopped in Goldendale for a Sausage McMuffin with Egg, filled up the hot water for coffee and oatmeal, filled up the water bottle, and hit the Bickleton Highway. Before I got in the car, I saw my first Western Scrub-Jay of the trip. They're making their way north, but aren't so common up there yet. Here, they're all over!
|Oak - Klickitat County|
Along the side of the road, oaks were the common trees, and I stopped every mile or so hoping to find some of the birds above. I finally did find some - two Ash-throated Flycatchers and two Lewis' Woodpeckers at the same stop. I wish they'd all been closer to get some better pictures, but it was fun to watch the pair of flycatchers working from the same tree - darting up after bugs and returning to their perch. The Lewis' Woodpecker I'd seen in Seattle had actually been flycatching when I saw it - something they'll do when it isn't acorn season! I enjoyed the birds for a little, and eased on down the road.
|Carousel Museum - Bickleton|
|Sweeeeeet lunchbox collection! They even|
had Mork and Mindy!
|Rock Creek Road - Klickitat County|
There were so many factors coming together here to make this one of the most traumatic moments on my trip. 1) I have a fear of stinging insects. This fear is sometimes modified by other factors, all of which were not in my favor today. 2) If I have somewhere to run... I'm okay. This wasp, however, was in my car, and I was on Rock Creek Road. Do you know where that is? Exactly. Nowhere to run, and even the geography of the place (river on one side of the road, steep cliffs on the other) worked against me. 3) If I don't know what it is, it must be worse. This may not actually be true, but trying to get my brain to believe this when there is an Ammophila thread-waisted Wasp in my car is pointless. I was going to be stung, and probably killed by an unknown creature in the middle of nowhere. (I have read now that they only kill caterpillars.... really, it would not have mattered if you had told me).
I finally got out of the car - weary of driving with the back windows down, half-watching the road, seatbelt off (so I could run). I got out and thought of how to kill it. It wasn't flying out... I grabbed a notebook from the passenger seat...dang, won't reach. Then I saw exactly who was going to save the day. Mappy, my Washington Gazetteer. Mappy had spend much of the trip sulking because I had been using the new GPS to get where I needed to go, but this was his shining moment. "Can you do this?" I asked Mappy. "Bring it on." he replied coldly. One shot with this oversized gazetteer, and the wasp didn't even have a chance to get pissed off and charge me. In taking this swing, though, I accidentally tightened the other hand, which had been holding my car keys, turning on the alarm.
The video replay on this would have been hysterical during that brief moment where my brain was thinking about danger, and my ears were suddenly presented with alarms. I turned off the alarm, looked around to make sure nobody had seen this, high-fived Mappy, and cautiously got back into the car, watching the back corner to make sure The Creature did not reemerge. I was relaxed again when I got sight of the Columbia River ahead.
The Lewis and Clark Highway
|Stonehenge replica - Klickitat County|
http://www.takemytrip.com/06glacier/06_07a.htm gives a nice summary of Sam Hill, his life, and how he followed the path of many people late in life - building something really big out of concrete. I checked the grassy areas around here for Lesser Golfinches - not quite sure if I had them, so I went back up the hill to the shady trees around the Maryhill Museum of art to have my lunch.
|Maryhill Museum of Art - Rodin, Orthodox |
icons, and chess sets!
|Umm... email me and tell me which tree it was..|
(Balch Lake Road)
|Note the license plate collection on the wall.|
I had a crush on a girl from Trout Lake back in high school, but had never made it down. Seeing a recent trip report from Klickitat County that highlighted the huckleberry ice cream cones eaten in Trout Lake, I had to go, if only to break the spell this place had on me... KJ's Bear Creek Cafe provided the yummy cone while I tidied up my lists for the day, and looked over maps to plan out the end of the day.
|Mount Adams reflected in Trout Lake - Klickitat County|
Beacon Rock State Park
|That rock is even bigger than it looks here..|
Bre and I travelled so much of the state together, and this is a stop we made years ago. We enjoy so many of the same things, but this magnificent monolith standing guard over the Columbia is not one of them. "It's a big rock..." Bre would say. Our stop had been brief last time, but I wanted to take a couple hours here: to hike to the top, and to find one more first-of-year bird, a Canyon Wren.
"Well... I guess I should give up on it."
"What, your inkpen?" she replied. (I had dropped my second favorite pen over the side of the railing.)
"No, there was a bird I was listening for, and I figure I'm not going to hear it sing today. Another day!"
"Are those the ones on the other side? The ones they protect because of the nests?"
Then I heard a song that I hadn't heard yet on my trip. Hermit Warbler! I wasn't expecting this one here, but this would be a life bird for me, and it sounded like the song described in my Sibley guide, so I pished... the bird came closer... again... and I got one of the best views I've ever had... of a Black-throated Gray Warbler. Stupid warblers! I took this as a signal that it was time to call it a day.
Back in the car, I sent Bre a text: "Near Beacon Rock right now. Sleeping somewhere awesome tonight! Can't wait to see you."
160 birds or so during the trip. 10 life birds, and ten more counties complete. I'll probably revisit Columbia and Benton when I head out for Franklin County in mid-November, my last planned trip of the year. A loooot of counties down, and trips are planned out to finish the ones I'm missing by mid-November. There will be other trips in between, but none like this one!