Thursday, June 7 – It has gotten much warmer in the past few days. Feels like summer is about to descend upon us. The storms that have been passing by have been dry, which means much wind and clouds but no rain. The mosquitos that have been eating us alive in the Moscow campground were reason enough to move back to the Colfax fairgrounds, but we also want to be back in the area because the terrain seems more conducive to this unusual landscape we want to photograph. The long line of cottonwood trees at the Colfax campground will provide us plenty of shade for the heat of the day, and make life much more comfortable without having to use the noisy air conditioner much. Our only plan for today is an evening photo drive through the hills.
We again had an early dinner and were out by 6 P.M. Our plan was to cover the area southwest of Colfax, so we headed first back to some of the backroads near Kamiak butte that we had scouted out a couple of days earlier. Mary kept us on an interesting course through the hills, very gradually moving us further south and west. I wanted to finish up the evening at one particular point where I thought the long evening shadows would make for interesting photographs.
We got there via another of our favorite roads, Pat O’Neil. The road runs along a narrow ridge with wonderful views at various points on either side. It did not disappoint again. The lowering sun was backlighting what we think was a cottonwood tree. It was absolutely glowing, and set against the vibrant greens of the rolling hills, was something to see. When I finished photographing the tree, I turned around and saw how the sun was side lighting the wheat against another wide expanse of green. This whole road provides views that are different each time we pass.
It was a bit unfortunate that the few clouds that were present happened to be clustered right along the horizon where the sun was setting. This meant we lost our light about 30 minutes before sunset. But I still wanted to head over to my favorite spot on Almota Road. We got there pretty quickly, but the sun was gone. It was still an impressive view though so we set up and shot away. About 10 minutes before sunset, the sun dropped below the clouds and lit up the entire area. It was good to have been ready. We could just shoot away without having to scramble. Once the sun had finally set, we decided to drive just a little higher for a different vantage and were treated to glowing clouds from the last light of the day.
Friday, June 8 – Another very warm but windy day. It seemed like a good time to do a scouting drive with Don & Dorothy. We wanted to check out the northwestern area around Colfax, so Mary plotted a long drive through the hills to Rock Lake. As usual, along the way we stopped often to photograph. Some of this area seemed to be devoted to growing hay – something we haven’t seen anywhere else in the Palouse. Farmers were in the process of harvesting and the passes the machines made created some interesting patterns in the fields – different than we have seen elsewhere. The wind was doing something really cool in some of the more mature wheat fields. As it blew across the fields, it created waves of ever shifting patterns in the wheat. I photographed it, but the short video I shot is really the best way to convey it.
Driving on, we found about the best barn to date to shoot close up. It sometimes feels like a step back in time traveling these roads. All of the towns are very small and sleepy – seemingly deserted. But look inside the post office, there are people doing business, the schools have kids in them and the cafe has patrons. Driving along one road, we passed an old Texaco service station completed with several 50’s era trucks and even a cop car! Time travel for sure. We made it to the lake and had lunch. We were all pretty tired from the long drive, so we pretty much just headed home for the evening.