Spokane is in the rearview mirror for now and we are headed to western Washington. This morning, we were not sure where we would be by nightfall. We had been unable to make reservations anywhere since we did not know how long we would be waiting at the dealership in Spokane. We finally got everything approved and a date set for our return. Now, we had to decide what direction to head.
We had planned to spend a few days in the Lake Chelan area before we go on to North Cascades NP. We had researched some campgrounds in advance. Some were “first come, first served” and others you could reserve. The problem was that it was Friday morning and we needed a reservation for tonight. It is prime vacation season so it was doubtful that we could secure anything this late. It so happens that we had met some fellow campers in Grand Tetons and we had told them that we were planning to go to Lake Chelan. They were from the Seattle area but had camped a lot near Lake Chelan. The man whose name was Dave told us that we should consider staying at a small city park in the town of Bridgeport, Washington.
He said it was nice and that is where he would stay. He also left us a business card with the name and phone number of the current park host, Joe Gillmer. So David and I said, “Why not call him because you never know.” David called and explained our situation to Joe. He said that he had a place that we could camp that night and that it was 50 feet from the Columbia River! We booked a three-night stay at that campground. Joe said, “Come on! Sounds like you need some time to decompress after being at the dealership for a week.” He was so right and we are enjoying being near the river. It is very peaceful and relaxing – just what we need!
The Grand Coulee Dam was right on our way so we decided to make a stop there. I had been to the Hoover Dam when I was younger but this dam was significantly larger than that one. The Grand Coulee Dam is the world’s largest concrete structure and it was completed in 1941. The Dam itself is 5223 feet long and almost a mile high. It weighs more than 24 million tons and is as tall as a 46-story building.
The Grand Coulee Dam is an amazing feat of engineering and it is even more amazing when you consider that it was built in the 1930s. President Franklin Roosevelt supported this project which provided work to many men during the Great Depression. About 7,000 men worked day and night for eight years on this project. They blasted rock, polished bedrock for the foundation, and poured millions of yards of concrete to create the dam and power the generators that continue producing the majority of the electricity for the Northwest United States. In fact, the Grand Coulee Dam generates more electricity than any other dam in North America.
Several lakes were formed when the Dam was built across the Columbia River. The one at the Grand Coulee Dam is called Lake Roosevelt and it extends some 151 miles to the Canadian border. From a pumping station at Roosevelt Lake, water is pumped to another lake, Lake Banks. This secondary lake connects to a series of canals that serves to irrigate the dry and arid land in eastern Washington. Many of the delicious Washington apples and other fruits grow in this region.
Now as then, the Grand Coulee Dam provides electricity, water for irrigation, and also flood control for this region.
After eating a picnic lunch at the base of the Grand Coulee Dam, we moved on to Bridgeport, WA. On the way, we saw a second dam, the Chief Joseph Dam, which is also located on the Columbia River. This particular dam was named after the leader of the Nez Pierce tribe’s Wallawa Band. It is the second largest producer of electricity in the United States. (I think that we have a theme for today!) It produces up to $1,000,000 worth of electricity every day which is enough electricity to power the city of Seattle for a one day.
We finally arrived in Bridgeport, WA and found the campground at the city’s marina. This is our view from our campsite.
It is a small, well-maintained campground on the banks of the Columbia River. Joe greeted us when we arrived and got us settled in. We had several conversations with him about the area and places we might want to explore. I believe that the park host is right about this location. I think that it will be a perfect place to decompress!
Many thanks to Joe for the warm welcome and to Dave for the great tip!