On Friday and Saturday, August 21-22, 2009, we drove the length of Washington State Route 26, straight across the heart of the Columbia Basin.
State route No. 26:
A state highway to be known as state route number 26 is established as follows:
Beginning at a junction with state route number 90 in the vicinity of the east end of the Vantage bridge, thence southerly, parallel to the east bank of the Columbia river for a distance of approximately two and one-half miles, thence southeasterly to the vicinity of Othello, thence easterly to a junction with state route number 395, thence easterly by way of the vicinity of Washtucna and Dusty to a junction with state route number 195 in the vicinity of Colfax.
As the sun is heading down, we begin our journey on SR 26, crossing under I-90.
Quite before 2.5 miles is up, we arrive at the junction with SR 243 and begin up the hill to the farmlands of the Columbia Basin. Why do you think the legislature was so specific in the mileage, and why doesn't the road take that route? I guess this northerly canyon was more appealing for the highway.
Since the sun has sunk below the horizon, I must stop the car to take a proper photograph at the junction with SR 262. We then turned north (um... east) on Highway 262 and spent the night at Potholes State Park. Soon after the sun woke us up the next morning, we continued east on Highway 26.
Miles of farms later, with the sun in our eyes, we arrive at Othello and the junction with SR 24.
And soon thereafter, SR 17.
Out in the middle of nowhere, SR 26 crosses US 395. The signs tempt us with big cities, but we press forward.
Passing miles of farms, we drive straight east till we reach SR 21, then we keep driving straight east.
Eventually, though, we cross the flatlands and reach a land of congregated coulees which force the road down into valleys, till we reach Washtucna and the junction with SR 260 and SR 261. South, north, west, east, west. . . it's only a four-way intersection.
And right about where the sign welcomes you to Whitman County, the land around you does certainly appear to be The Palouse. Gently rolling hills, farmed with the help of technology: a non-tipping tractor. At the tiny town of Dusty, we find this junction with SR 127, as well as the Dusty Country Store, which you must visit. Very friendly folks. And the architecture!
Before we know it, we're at Colfax and US 195, which is also the end of Highway 26. Left to Spokane, right to Pullman.
A fast straight road for most its length. It's no wonder WSU students take it to school. Classes start tomorrow!