Saturday, May 28, 2005

Ginko Petrified Forest State Park and more

Today we drove from Soap Lake to the Ginko Petrified Forest State Park near Vantage, WA. While we didn't explore the park itself (it's over 7,000 acres!) we did stop to explore the visitor center and its exhibits and watch the short film on the theory of how so many different varieties of trees were fossilized in lava. This area is unique in the number of varieties of trees found petrified as scientists have identified at least 30 types of trees in the area. There are seven areas of petrified forests in the US and Ginko Petrified Forest State Park has the greatest variety of trees of any of them. They have also salvaged some Native American petroglyphs from some of the basalt cliffs that were going to be lost when the river was dammed. Denny and I spent some time trying to create stories from the various images.

Heading south from Vantage we drove to the Wanapum Heritage Center at the Wanapum Dam. This is a small museum dedicated to the local Wanapum tribe that was displaced when a new power plant was built. To "honor" them, the new dam was named after the tribe. The museum itself is nicely done, with local costumes and clothing typical of those warn by tribal members, arrow heads, woven bags and implements, plus several video cassettes of the history of the tribe and the area. It was very informative and it appears the displays are carefully monitored for humidity and light to preserve this wonderful heritage of the Wanapum tribe. According to the videotape, there's only about a dozen members of this peace-loving tribe remaining in the area. It's the kind of place you have to look for, but it's well worth the search if you're interested local history and people.

Finally, we stopped at Vista View Point (exit 139 on I-90) to get a picture of the sculpture "Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies" by sculptor David Govedare. This line of horses outlined against the sky represents the first horses on the earth. You can see the sculpture easily from both sides of the highway but you have to be watching!

All in all, the perfect day. We learned a great deal about local geology and history and saw some great scenery, all without having to drive for hours.

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