It’s time for a daytrip. This column suggests a trip out of the immediate area every year during this week, if the roads are ice and snow free. This year the weather is prime for such a trip.
The second reason for a trip through the area this time of year is the amount of wildlife available for viewing. Well, the weather is cooperating and the critters should be viewable. Of course, there is no guarantee travelers will see wildlife, but it would be unusual not to see hawks, turkey, deer, eagles, ducks, geese and more.
Be sure and have extra clothing along, coats and such, in case standing outside the vehicle is warranted. Also, hot coffee, water, hot chocolate, sandwiches and other food will make for a more pleasant day. Take a binocular or two and a bird identification book. Keeping a journal of some sort would be beneficial.
Today we will begin at Soap Lake, but head east on Highway 28. The first wildlife encountered should be hawks looking for a meal or perched on a power pole or tree.
The first community encountered will be Stratford. Notice the abandoned gas station at the east end of town. This building was featured in the movie, “Always.” Also, look north and notice an earthen dam. This holds Billy Clapp Lake, a reservoir containing water transferred from Banks Lake by a canal and siphon.
This is deer country, so keep a sharp eye out for the critters. The next town is Wilson Creek. It is a short distance from 28 and worth the trip to take the loop to and from the highway. This town held a railroad division, with roundhouse, back 80 to 100 years ago. If the town hall is open, be sure and take a look at the museum located in the same building. This building was a bank at one time and was robbed twice.
The distance from Wilson Creek to the next town, Odessa, is 24 miles. A bunch of the German-Russians settled in this area, thus the name Odessa. People wanting to experience many of the German traditions, music and food should plan to attend Deutschesfest in September.
Travel another 26 miles to the town of Harrington. This is another older town on the highway. A drive through the town is worth the experience of viewing the old buildings.
Again, keep an eye out for deer between the towns. Hawks will be plentiful.
Drive another 16 miles to reach Davenport. Turn left on Highway 2, which cuts through the town. You should be heading west, but not for long. Three blocks on Highway 2, take a right on Gunning Road and you should be heading north.
Travel several miles north on Gunning and the road will take a 90-degree bend to the left and head west, still on Gunning Road. Stay on Gunning for several miles and Gunning turns north again, but you stay on the road heading west, which is now Hawk Creek Road E. Yes, a little confusing, but, hey, I didn’t name these roads.
Eventually this road will bend to the northwest and drop into a canyon. You should now be in timber. Look for deer, white-tailed and mule, plus turkey.
After traveling several miles on this dirt road will have you at the intersection of Hawk Creek Ranch Road. You will also cross over Hawk Creek at this point.
Wildlife spotted in this area over the years include deer, ducks, hawks, turkey, bear and cougar. Several more miles down the road and Hawk Creek will be crossed again. The valley to the left has produced several turkey, quail and deer for me. This is all private land, so permission is needed to hunt the area.
When a house and barn on the left is spotted, look to the right. This is the spot where Rudy Lopez and I counted a flock of 300 turkey three years ago. The Miles-Creston Road will be encountered in a couple more miles. Go straight across this road and drive to Hawk Creek Campground to view Hawk Creek Falls. This is a good place to stop for lunch.
Use the Miles-Creston Road to climb out of the canyon to the west. This will take several miles of travel, but wildlife can be abundant. This road ends at Highway 2. Take a right and travel a mile or two to the Town of Creston.
Travel another nine miles to the Town of Wilbur. On the east edge of the town is the Billy Burger Drive In. Great burgers.
A mile out of Wilbur is an intersection. Take a right and another right will take you to the Keller Ferry and across the Columbia River. Take the right, but stay on the road, Road 174, and you will end up at Grand Coulee Dam. Stay on Highway 2 and you will come to Almira, a 12-mile distance.
The engineers and surveyors for Grand Coulee Dam stayed in Almira when work on the dam started, because there was nothing at the dam site.
Nine more miles on Highway 2 will put you at Hartline. Take a left on Range Street and travel south for 19 miles and you will be in Wilson Creek. Range Street will eventually turn into Road R 3 NE.
Many cougars have been spotted in and around Wilson Creek, because there are so many deer in the area. Take the Wilson Creek Loop back to Highway 28 and head for home.