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Be aware of rocks

The Reporter's Notebook


Last updated 7/8/2020 at 8:27am

A highway sign “beware, rocks” would have been better stating “be aware of rocks.”

Those of us who have lived here for a bit are fully aware that we live in a rocky environment that has historical significance.

My fascination with rocks could stem from the fact that my mother gathered a rock from every place she visited. The rock pile was in our mud room off the back porch. I think she could have told you where every rock came from.

I never get tired of driving our lake canyon picking out unique rocks and rock formations.

There are a number of rock towers just above Hometown Pizza, that are worth photographing, or the rock called “eagle rock” a couple of miles south of Electric City. Then there’s the granite-faced rock just inside the turnoff to Northrup Canyon. And one of my favorites is the vertical rock columns at Steamboat Rock.

The Grand Coulee that forms the canyon walls around Banks Lake produces many such views, and the light patterns during the early morning, midday and evening add a lot of opportunities to find hidden places.

Add to that the hundreds of little cozy and inviting spots behind rocky places alongside the road.

I have always been a sucker for rocky areas.

In Idaho, I have been fascinated by two “City of Rocks” locations. One is north of Mountain Home and the other is outside of Burley.

Both have large smooth and huge granite formations. North of Mountain Home you have to hike in, while out of Burley you can drive through part of it.

Then there is the Sawtooth Mountain Range just outside of Stanley, and the more popular Teton Range, near Jackson, Wyoming.

But you would be hard pressed to beat our rocks, tied to such historic periods of the Ice Age and Missoula Floods.

Need convincing? Just try to spade up the ground around your house and see how quickly you are into rock.

Now, retired, we often pack lunch and then we are off to one of the local sites that we have grown to like. No time clock, just the urge to stay as long as we like.

Even our dog loves the rocky reaches of the area. 

We seem to be drawn to rock formations in such places as Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Park to name a few, preferably in the mountains.

When we purchased our place some 30 years ago, we drove back and forth from Bothell for nearly a year before making the move. That was after my first retirement. When we entered the canyon just out of Coulee City, we knew we were home.

We now spend considerable time out at Steamboat Rock State Park, several times having hiked to the top. Those days of hiking to such places are now over, but that’s why it is important to travel and do everything you can, because you never know when you won’t be able to do so.  And memories can take you back.

I have often wondered how many of the thousands of tourists we have who come here have any idea that they are entering a special place when they drive into the canyon. Too often people just see the sagebrush, the lack of trees, and rocky canyon walls.

Maybe we shouldn’t tell them.

Remember to give your favorite rock a hug.


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