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I’VE GOT THE TRAVEL ITCH, so last Thursday we headed for the other side of the Cascades to explore the Potholes Reservoir, in the Columbia Basin and the national wildlife refuge. Just just three hours away from home the weather was near 80°. We camped at Potholes State Park, went looking for birds and did some short hikes in the refuge south of the reservoir.

Some fair bird watching although most of the spring migration is over. We did see quite a few yellowheaded black birds which we do not see on the west side of the mountains, so that was exciting for us. Also, at the north end of the reservoir is a very large rookery for Great Blue Herons, Great White Egrets, Black-crowned Night Herons, and Cormorants. The rookery area is closed at this time of the year and the birds can be viewed only with binoculars or a good scope.

This is rumex venosus, or winged dock and we spotted it growing in sand dunes and near the rookery. This was new to me and I was able to identify it and other flora spotted on this trip thanks to this website, a real find with beautiful photographs of wildflowers found in the Pacific Northwest. A common culinary variety of rumex is sorrel, a perennial, tart garden green.

Before we left I picked enough fava beans for a salad dressed with lemon juice, a fruity olive oil, and some shavings of pecorino cheese for our first night out. They were sweet, small and green…heaven! Today, I was scanning DigginFood and saw a way to use the green fava leaves—new to me—so I will give them a try since I have two long rows of plants.

Since I am interested in plants wherever we travel, this trip was no exception. The plant life in a shrub-steppe-desert environment is vastly different from the wet side of the Cascades. A lot of sagebrush, many types of grasses, and wildflowers. On Sunday we hiked up to the Goose Lakes Plateau for a splendid view of the seep lakes and channeled scablands. Vertical basalt walls rise about two hundred feet above the marshlands and lakes.

Salvia dorii. On the left the pre-bloom stage, on the right in bloom.

As we pulled up to trailhead parking on the Morgan Lakes road we saw these tumbleweeds piled up at the bottom of east facing cliffs. Where did they come from? We saw no evidence of tumbleweeds growing in the vicinity. It was a curious and oddly beautiful tableau.

Alas, the weather turned on Monday and we headed back west to Vantage for a side trip to the Ginkgo Petrified Forest, only to meet rain from Vantage to the east slope of Snoqualmie Pass, but found sunshine at home in West Seattle. More to see around the Potholes in another trip. Maybe some fishing next time too.

This afternoon we we’re back to spring rain.  Good for the garden and indoor art projects.