'Dissimilar' sums up a pair of mid-summer day trips


Dissimilar comes to mind.

The two have little or nothing in common as mid-summer day trips: Lewis Hollow, stifling and sun drenched among rolling hills west of Dayton; Wallowa Lake State Park, cool and shaded below looming Eagle Cap Mountains south of Joseph.

Nevertheless, in the span of one July fortnight, Darlene, Nora the Schnauzer and I toured both areas.

Darlene and I enjoyed Lewis Hollow.

Nora, mostly a captive in the truck, moped.

A heavy storm dampened the Wallowa Lake outing. Before it hit, however, Nora frolicked along the shore at the south end of the lake.

Ironically, we left home with no aim to visit Lewis Hollow. We drove slow to Dayton, Patit Creek Road and the Tucannon River.

Along the way, we scrutinized the landscape for deer, elk, turkeys, coyotes and badgers.

With the sun high and the hot air thick, however, we didn't see anything interesting and turned back at Camp Wooten.

We stopped a couple times, at Curl and Watson lakes for Nora to sniff and go.

I pondered a drive down the Tucannon River Road to take Highway 12 back to Walla Walla.

At Morengo, however, I turned onto the Morengo Grade, for the view of the Tucannon valley from above, and back to Highway 12 on State Route 126.

We saw five mule deer and a hawk on a rock (a hawk on a rock, not five deer) as we climbed the grade. We took in the scenery, passed a skinny brown grouse sprinting along the road, and headed for SR 126.

Then, at the King Road junction, two svelte whitetail deer dashed across a sun-gold field and over a hill. I followed King Road and saw the deer again, along with three equally svelte mule deer.

Hooked, we continued to a junction with Lewis Gulch Road and, eventually, Patit Creek Road and Dayton.

On the way, we saw a velvet-horned young buck, two coyotes, a great horned owl and about 200 elk, or more elk than we could count. They spread out in bunches and in a line with many calves.

After Patit Creek Road, we stopped for sandwiches.

A few days later, we went to Wallowa Lake. We left town in a rain so heavy that we hydroplaned toward Wal-Mart. We probably should have known better.

The sky cleared on Weston Mountain, however, and we hit a few modest patches of rain after Elgin.

No rain fell as we drove south along the lake below the famous glacial moraine, although misty clouds hovered over Mount Joseph and Mount Howard.

We drove to the boat-launch area and to the Eagle Cap trailheads while I pondered a gondola ride to the top of Mount Howard.

"It's up to you," Darlene said.

She doesn't ride gondolas.

A camera-soaking rain threatened the two-hour trip, leaving Darlene reading and Nora snoozing in the truck.

I eschewed the gondola and walked along the lake with Nora.

We shared the lake shore with half-a-dozen spotted sandpipers. They flitted among and on the driftwood and deadfall along the shore. They didn't flop like killdeer, to draw us away, but they tweeted and scooted as if they had nests nearby.

A sprinkle of raindrops fell as we hurried back to the truck. Near Joseph, the sky fell. We drove home in a cascading rain without stopping for lunch. We never do that.

So, dissimilar sounds right.


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