The season started early this year. We watched the weather and discovered Saturday, March 2 was supposed to be a mostly sunny day in the mid-50s in Central Washington. And while this didn’t turn out to be exactly true, we made the best of it along with two of our friends, whom we dragged along to show them some coulees.
Both Sarah and I have delved into film photography. She shoots a bit of 35mm (though she mostly sticks to digital), while I shoot a lot of 120 using mostly vintage cameras. Sarah’s photos, along with her take on the day trip, can be found on her personal blog. My photos, along with my own thoughts on the day are right here.
Our first stop – and this is becoming fairly normal – was Frenchman Coulee. Neither Jeff nor Jamie, the friends we convinced to come, had been there before. The day was thus far cloudy and the true beauty of the canyon was simply not with us. We didn’t remain too long. I have to admit, the lack of promised sun was getting me down.
Shooting film at these places can get kind of strange. Though the sun was hidden behind clouds, you could still see its glowing outline through them. The film I was using, an expired slide film made by Fuji in the 1990s, somehow picked up the light and turned it a proper golden hue.
Though we generally avoid it, the interstate is an easy way to get from point A to point B if there are no other roads. Even so, we usually find ourselves exiting as much as possible. We needed gas, but found this fruit sign as well.
We’re never really sure how to travel with other people. We both understand that how we travel isn’t really how most others go about it. Many miles are driven without stopping, yet when we stop, it’s often at strange or seemingly unimportant locations. There’s rarely much to “do,” but rather much to see. Our trips are usually based around photography, and so driving around with two other people who don’t particularly take a lot of photos was a bit of a challenge.
Thanks mostly to Sarah, we were able to have a nice lunch at Dry Falls State Park. We bring along some (mostly) Indian food packs that can be quicklyish heated up in boiling water. We tote along a Coleman stove, some pots, and some water, and before you know it, we have a meal. For some reason, we can only find Indian food packaged in this way, but that’s pretty okay with us.
Dry Falls (shown above in an incredibly blurry photo) is a place we visit often, though we’ve never truly explored it. We plan on remedying this come summer, and I’m pretty excited. It was formed 10,000 or so years ago by the Missoula Floods. Dry Falls was a three and a half mile wide waterfall that was, in its day, ten times the size of Niagara. The water is gone, but the cliffs over which it plunged are still there.
I’m having a hard time remembering how we discovered Moses Coulee, but it must have something to do with following an old alignment of US Route 2, also known as the Yellowstone Trail – one of the first coast-to-coast highways. From the mid-20s to 1930, it ran along this path, though at the time it wasn’t paved. US Route 2 took this winding road climbing in and out of Moses Coulee until the 1980s (or 1990s?) when they instead blasted a gigantic cut through the cliffs.
Apart from the road and the scenery, the only “attraction” is the abandoned car, left rusting in the sun decades ago. Nearly everyone who has ever visited us has seen this car. It’s quite possibly our favorite stop on Route 2. In the photo above, you can see Jeff and Jamie exploring. I really hope they had as good a time as we did.
One of the problems we’ve run into throughout our journeys is that since we don’t usually travel with others, we never get photos of ourselves together. Yes, there’s the timer on the digital camera, but as far as film is concerned, these vintage 120 cameras simply don’t have them. After a bit of pondering, I think I’ve come up with a way to do it.
We first set up the shot with the camera on the tripod and both of us placed wherever we’re supposed to be. Then one of us leaves our spot, walks to the camera and takes a photo. Then, without advancing the film, the first person walks back to their original position while the other leaves their position (already captured on film), walks to the camera and takes the second photo. You can read more about it on my photoblog, if you like.
One of the great things about being off the interstate is that when you see something interesting (which is rare when you’re driving that big ugly superslab), you can pull over and get a few shots of it. This old homestead was on an abandoned section of US 2, a short ways south of the modern route – which is itself still a nice road. Sometimes you not only have to leave the interstate, but leave all modern roads behind.
That’s how we ended our trip, by leaving modern US 2 in Lone Pine Canyon, to visit Old US 2. It’s no longer drivable due to washouts and land slides, but you can still hike it. If we had more time, we probably would have.
And that’s about it. The trip home was fairly uneventful, as trips home should be. Aside from nearly dying in a surprise white out snow squall, we made it back without incident.
Thanks for reading and looking! If you want to see more film shots from the trip, go to our Facebook page.