Since arriving in the Walla Walla area of southeastern Washington State on July 1, we've done a TON of road roading. In fact, we both had our highest monthly mileage total ever last month (1010 for me, 1549 for Barry). We've found some favorite rides that we do, with variations, again and again, and we'll be highlighting these in a series of "favorite rides" posts. We're actually staying in College Place, a small town that butts up to the west side of Walla Walla like a suburb, so most of our rides end up going west or south (into Oregon) for easy access and to stay in the Walla Walla Valley.
The rural roads in this area are lightly traveled and take us by gorgeous farmland, fields of wheat and corn, orchards, and all manner of farm animals.
First up, is our Touchet (pronounced Too-shee) ride. As with most of the rides we do, there are many variations on this ride. The route we take most often is mostly flat with one good climb but headwinds are sometimes an issue, as the way out is mostly straight west to the small town of Touchet.
Here are some of the sights we see on the way to Touchet.
Little Touchet's (population 421 at 2010 census) claim to fame is the large population of Alkali bees that inhabit the area. It is actually the largest population of managed Alkali bees in the entire world! (The hives in the photo above are for honeybees, as Alkali bees are ground-dwellers.)
Alkali bees pollinate the many fields of alfalfa flowers here, which are not attractive to honeybees. We saw many of the Alkali bees buzzing about on our rides in early July, but not so many now.
This blog post does a great job of explaining why the Alkali bee is so vital to the ecosystem of this area and why they are considered "the alfalfa specialists". The post also has some great close-up photos of the bees. There has been a thorny issue with highway expansion here in Washington and attempts to keep this development from harming the bees. I am not sure what the current status of this project is since most of the articles online are dated 2012. If anyone has any "scoop", please leave a comment in the comments section of the blog -- thanks!
There's not a whole lot to see in this tiny hamlet. A fire station, a handful of businesses, a convenience store, and a couple of schools, and that's it.
Since there's no park or public restrooms, we frequently stop at the one convenience store in town, where we buy something cold to drink so we can use the restroom.
On the way back, there are more of the same beautiful views of green and golden fields and distant rolling hills.
And cute cows, who often seem very curious to see us.
And there are plenty of birds, especially birds of prey, along the telephone wires.
On one recent Touchet ride, we spied this large flock of White Pelicans overhead. They were circling and swooping, and the way the sun illuminated them was just beautiful.
The photos above were all taken before the wheat harvest, but in the past couple of weeks, they have harvested most of it. On one of our many rides out to Touchet, we caught them in the act in one large field we pass.
Stay tuned for some more favorite rides in this beautiful part of the country!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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