I believe many of the visitors to The Palouse travel the same route: a flight to Spokane, WA and then a drive south on US 195 to Colfax. A delightful trip...if one watches their speed carefully. The State of Washington however is quite geologically diverse containing a handful of distinctly different areas, The Palouse is one of them, so are The Scablands.
In prehistoric times as the ice sheets withdrew, the giant lake Missoula formed behind an ice dam and covered much of what is now Montana. I'm told that when the dam loosed itself from the rocks 500 cubic miles of water rushed through carrying much of central Washington to the Pacific Ocean. The flood had 10 times the force of all the earths rivers combined. My son the geologist tells me this happened perhaps 90 times. Somehow this water spared The Palouse...a few miles west though the story is different. The western edge of The Palouse is bordered by harsher land.
Called the Channeled Scablands in the northern section, south of the east/west I-90 they tend to drop the fancy first name. The life, the land and the people are different from their eastern cousins. Where it's common practice to leave the keys in the ignition in The Palouse..."in case someone needs to move it" here I am very wary of trespassing. 84 degrees and breezy in Colfax?, the gauge tickles 100 in the Scablands and the breeze is never called that. Wind! and wind with grit for teeth. Anyone who has spent extended time "in the field" knows that grit, it gets everywhere. Any body parts that touch each other while you walk grind grit between them. I swear sometimes it even gets under the fillings in your teeth.
Where Hwy 12 crosses the Lower Dry Creek Road is the town of Lowden. Decent hardworking folk. That they grow crops here is testament to their toughness. I stop for a few snapshots, and a few jokes with the lovely smile that refills my coffee mug and aim the headlights east again.