Storm at Coulee City

Approaching Coulee City, Washington, I was impressed that the highway seemed to be what was holding back a huge piece of water that once was part of the Columbia River system.

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To the north, Grand Coulee Dam has diverted some of the river’s water to form Roosevelt Lake to the east (not shown here) and, to the south, Banks Lake (seen here, and named for the construction supervisor at Grand Coulee Dam). At the south end of Banks Lake is the small town  of Coulee City.

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The land to the south of the highway is nearly dry, with small amounts released to form a trickle of water over what is called the Dry Falls. Banks Lake is used for irrigation of areas close by.

Way at the other end of this causeway, where Coulee City begins, is the town RV park. Just turn left at the end of the road that is holding the lake back, and you’re in the community park.

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It was a breezy day but I didn’t worry about it too much because I remembered it being quite windy in this area when we came through here last year. However, the coots that had rafted up at the far corner of the lake knew that bad weather was coming. They made sure to be in the lee of the wind, and out of reach of the coyotes that would start yipping as soon as darkness set in.

DSCN4039I remember thinking how pretty it was, parked under the branches of the Russian olive tree, right by the beach. I looked out the window in the gathering darkness and admired glimpses of the moon reflecting on the water.

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But the gusts grew stronger and the trailer shook ever more vigorously as the evening wore on and the wind rose until it was howling like a speeding freight train. Lying in bed, I wondered if we were in an earthquake.

The  Russian olive tree that I had admired earlier was now a bony fingered skeleton tapping on our trailer walls. When we ignored the tapping some of its fingers broke off and skittered across the roof. Then whole arms of the whipping tree beat on the roof and the captain said, “I’m just waiting for the wind to get into a crack and rip the skin right off the trailer. I think we should move. It might be more sheltered over by the shower buildings.”

My ego isn’t big and I can admit now that I didn’t believe there was any place to get away from this near hurricane, but I have to give credit to the captain. He stepped outside as I called from the bed, “Hold onto the door so it doesn’t rip off.” As an afterthought I added, “And don’t … get blown … away….”

A few minutes later, the captain stuck his head in the door and screamed against the wind, “You stay in bed and I’ll drive us up around the buildings.” Slam! went the door, as the wind caught it.

“Okay … ” I whimpered. I looked down at the dogs on their mats. Two sets of eyes bugging out of  furry faces looked back at me pleadingly.

I got up and cuddled one on each side of me as we bounced along in the trailer while the captain towed us to higher ground a  couple of hundred feet  away from the lake and behind a building.

When the truck engine shut down and the captain came back into the trailer, he said, “That’s better. 40 years of commercial fishing has at least taught me something about where to anchor in a storm.”

21 thoughts on “Storm at Coulee City

  1. That’s a wonderful tale, and didn’t I laugh at the end? The Captain’s words took me right back to a stormy night in Offatt’s bayou in Galveston, when we spent the entire night resetting the anchor to avoid ending up on the rocks. You fared much better.

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    • I really didn’t think there was any point in moving. The wind was so powerful, I thought it was impossible to escape it. But trust an old sea captain to know how to find “an island to anchor behind.”

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  2. Forty years of his experience of being a commercial fisherman has really come on handy in handling storms and a big amount of other challenges along the way in your life together. Anchoring “down” is like a good word for handling disasters, Anneli. ♡

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  3. Pingback: Ghost Town | wordsfromanneli

  4. This reminded me of our days living aboard our boat (for eleven years). We always had an eye on the weather. Now, we live in our motorhome and really don’t think about the weather nearly as much. Of course, we do listen to the wind and roll the awning in when the wind picks up.

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