The Palouse of Southeastern Washington State

I’m sure that you’ve all heard about the Seven Wonders of the World, right?  Well, how many of you also know that there’s a Seven Wonders of Washington State designated as well?  Yep, that’s right and our next stop in the blog (or two posts) is probably the most beautiful of all.  I’m talking about the southeastern rolling hills and farmlands of southeastern Washington State known as the Palouse region.  This is not our first time out there … not even our second … but I believe our third.  We love it so much that we travel out there, from SE Florida, as often as we can.  Come along with us throughout some of the area and up to Steptoe Butte for a sunset shoot.

_DSC0622As you can see, simply the drive out through the farmlands is awe-inspiring.  Mind you, we haven’t even been in Washington state for more than a few hours at this point and we’re already in hurry up and get there mode.  LOL.  Luckily, on our way we cross paths with a beautiful great horned owl which unfortunately left its lush tree setting and opted for the power line instead.  I’ll have to have a talk with that owl about preferred photo op locations.
_DSC7517Steptoe Butte has an elevation of 3,618 feet and offers a 360 degree view of the Palouse area.  As you drive up to the summit, it’s difficult not to stop on every corner, for there’s so much “eye candy” out here for landscape photography._DSC0331As the sun began to drop closer to the horizon we were gathered in silence and full anticipation mode of what was to come._DSC0342Right about then I heard another photographer softly call out that we weren’t alone to come out to watch the sunset.  It was then I saw 2 deer venturing out onto the butte hillside to join us.  In addition, you could hear the yelps of distant coyotes and the calls of ring-necked pheasants.  I was so thrilled about having a few wildlife moments, that I almost forgot why I was there._DSC0400The skies were changing with every minute that passed … perhaps every second.  The colors and tones in the sky were gorgeous._DSC0413Eventually, the sun dipped below the horizon and the colors soon retreated nearer to the horizon as well.  It was quite unexpectantly cold up on the butte, but when you’re shooting beauty such as this, you don’t feel a thing, except the fresh air hitting your face and your heart racing for more._DSC0513-HDROf course, there’s more to the Palouse than rolling hills and farmlands.  We were also treated to several photo ops including old trucks, rusty cars, and of course, the famous barns that call the area home._DSC0572_DSC0609_DSC0634Such history abounds out there at almost every turn in the meandering road._DSC0648Some areas are still being used … some preserved … some dismantled, such as this old stripped down silo.  I found it quite interesting to photograph and Tom toured around it a bit.  I can’t tell you how hard it is to get that guy away from places with history.  🙂_DSC0653The vast picturesque landscapes that abound are primarily agricultural in nature and their appearance is dictated by the seasons.  In the late spring and summer, the landscape resembles that of a green carpet with some light brown or other color fields running through it.  By the fall, when the fields are ready to harvest, they turn browner.  No matter the color, the light plays a big role in producing the shadows which make the area comes alive in ever-changing views._DSC0621_DSC7519It’s so very beautiful to see and I find myself lost in the lines within the scene._DSC7531Lone trees, or patches of trees, add interest to the landscape as well._DSC0625_DSC0660In Uniontown, along the 208-mile Palouse Scenic Highway, we always make sure to visit the Dahmen Barn and the infamous wheel fence.  I was a bit sad this year when the barn happened to be closed and I couldn’t check out the gorgeous works of the local artisans._DSC0679The barn complex has been expanded since we last visited it._DSC0680By the end of day 2, we were treated to another beautiful sunset … this time photographed from the roads._DSC0686Next Up:  How about some kayaking?

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

The Palouse Mystique

In mid-June, I flew from the sunny beaches and cool breezes of the Coronado region of  San Diego, CA to the rolling hills and rich fertile farmlands of eastern Washington … specifically the Palouse region.  I had been there a year ago – loved it – and vowed to return at that time.  The time was now.  🙂

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Probably the most popular and photographed area of the Palouse is from the summit of Steptoe Butte.  From there, you can see miles and miles (and then more miles) of the rolling hills and farmlands that make the Palouse region such a favorite with photographers … and not just landscape photographers either.  🙂

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I mean, who could resist playing with the light, which dances all over the landscape, depending on the weather, clouds, and time of day.  It’s so hard to concentrate on one thing … your eyes catch the beauty from every angle.

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This particular visit to the butte, we hit very different weather than last year.  Rain, heavy clouds, and varying winds were present, which was causing a challenge for me.  I fluctuated between getting broad landscape shots one minute, then more focused to a particular feature observed in the landscape.

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At some points, an even tighter, almost cropped view, was used.  In the Palouse, it really doesn’t matter … it’s all beautiful in my opinion.

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While hanging out on Steptoe, there were even wildlife opportunities, as the marmots seemed to be just about everywhere!  Of course, then I became even more confused as to what to shoot!  LOL

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On one of the days that we were visiting, we drove over to Uniontown and visited the Dahmen Barn and the artists’ workshops as well.  It was there that we got a lesson in the importance of all of this rain we were experiencing.  See, though for me (at least at the moment) the rain was an unwelcome guest, we learned about the importance of the rain to the farmers in the area … see these farms have no man-made irrigation systems and desperately depend on nature’s rain.  “Liquid gold” is what they call it.  I guess I can live with it, in fact embrace it, now.  It’s all about perspective and mine was “adjusted”.

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The perimeter of the Dahmen Barn is a work of art in itself … a fence encompasses it entirely – made up of wheels only … a virtual trip down memory lane and a way of life for the years gone by.  I can’t help but think the stories that could be told by each wheel or cog.  Mind boggling, I say.

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To my delight, the farm land immediately next to the barn was covered in newly bloomed canola fields, ironically courtesy of the recent rainfall.  It was amazing to see and in my opinion, impossible to capture the beauty through the lens … but of course, I had to try.

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As if it wasn’t already exciting enough, we happened to notice a nest nearby.  After careful inspection, we noticed it was occupied by 2 red-tailed hawk young ones.  Older than babies, but not yet ready to do much else but test their wings.  At least one of the parents flew over the nest periodically.

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Also a must to visit are the area small towns that dot the outskirts of the farmlands.  Such history in the area … it was hard to get Tom to leave and head back to the rolling hills again.

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If you ever find yourself in the area, please do yourself a favor and stop for a day or two.  You’ll be glad that you did!

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Stay tuned for more blogs shortly … Canadian Rockies and Montana!!

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© 2014  Debbie Tubridy @ http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Palouse Region 2013

As I mentioned in the last post, there was a trip that I took in 2013 that I never fully gave it the attention that it deserved.  Being that it was almost one year ago exactly, I thought that I would go down memory lane and share some of the sights and stories behind my experience.

Before we would visit Oregon, I insisted that I would visit the place that I had dreamed about ever since several of my photography friends posted images from there.  I was so excited as we arrived into Spokane for a few days of the Palouse.

We drove to the infamous Steptoe Butte for our first glimpse of the rolling farmlands of the region.  I was pretty much speechless (a difficult to accomplish state for me) as I looked out.  I hurried to set up my gear and my tripod … you know, because the light was just perfect._DSC0569

 

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What I didn’t realize is that the light does move around with the day, but it always seems to give such a lovely glow on the landscape.  The shadows actually helped to make it more interesting, varied, and beautiful.  I felt that I could stay there all day, night, and through the morning.  Of course, we didn’t but I sure took my share of images!

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The actual Palouse region, which is highlighted by the Palouse Scenic Byway, covers quite the massive area … 208 miles of the most incredible beauty.  I wanted to see each and every mile along the way!

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One of the more interesting areas within the region that we had a chance to visit was Uniontown, WA.  In particular, there was a place known as Artists at Dahman Barn, which was photographically interesting on the outside and fun for shopping on the inside – all while supporting the work of the local artists.

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Eventually, we traveled over to Palouse Falls State Park, home to one of the most spectacular and beautiful waterfalls in the state of Washington.  The falls seems to come out of nowhere … and drop ~ 200′.  I wished we had been there at a better time of the day, but our schedules were hectic and we did the best that we could.  In addition, the skies were threatening with a nasty storm that appeared to be heading our way.

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One of the more entertaining residents of the park were the yellow-bellied marmots, which seemed to be just about everywhere once your eyes became adjusted to their presence.

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I knew that we needed to make our way out of Washington state and into Oregon, but I vowed to Tom that I would return to the Palouse again.  I think (fingers crossed) that will be in 2014.  🙂

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