This morning’s dusting of powdery, fluffy snow converted the drab November landscape into a winter spectacle.
My morning drive to the sanctuary cuts through open farmland into desert hills furnished with towering wind turbines. The highway then plunges into the Yakima River canyon and winds upstream along its forested banks and basalt cliffs. Closer to the sanctuary, the roadway climbs just enough to peek out of the canyon to see the rolling foothills of the Cascades with their thick coats of evergreens: cedars, firs, hemlocks and pines. One last curve leads into a quaint pastoral valley flanked on either side by steep hillsides speckled with woodland, upon one of which the sanctuary was built.
There are many days when this scenic commute feels like an unadvertised employee perk, offering us sweeping views of quintessential northwest landscapes with nonexistent traffic. Of course, there are contrasting days when this highway becomes a nightmarish gauntlet of hazardous elements. Depending on the season, the perils may include black ice, crossing wildlife, reckless country drivers, wildfire haze, whiteout snowstorms, stray boulders, surprise farming equipment, and never-ending bridge repairs. Despite driving the course thousands of times, none of us can reliably predict what each driven mile will entail.
This morning, we were all treated to a stunning frosty landscape bathed in warm sunlight. I think the chimps must have rushed to the windows to take it all in. I pulled off the road on my way to the sanctuary to take some photographs with the intention of sharing the experience with you all. The pictures don’t do it justice, but hopefully they convey some of the wonder.