Loose in Palouse

You’d think, after four posts and dozens of pictures in a series called “Loose in the Palouse”, that we’ve actually been to Palouse. But we haven’t.

How can that be? Have I been lying to you this whole time?


What we’ve been visiting, so far, is the Palouse region. The region is quite large, extending into and beyond Moscow.

Moscow, Idaho, that is.

While I’m uncertain of where the regional borders fall, and I think the definitions vary, this map segment should be in the ballpark. Think southeast Washington, northern Idaho, and maybe northeast Oregon. In general, it’s an area of fertile hills and prairies.

Approximate Palouse region. Steptoe Butte is where we often visited, and where I shot the panoramas in the last post. The yellow push pin star is the location of Palouse Falls featured in the post before that.

The heart of the area led to the development of four towns: Colfax (where we stayed), Palouse, Pullman, and Moscow. Pullman and Moscow are more developed these days, thanks to being the homes of major agricultural colleges established in 1871: Washington State University and the University of Idaho.

But however you define the region, it’s the small border town of Palouse that we haven’t visited yet, and where we’ll focus today.

Why? Maybe because it’s the sort of place that the tornado of time seems to have mostly skipped over, only dipping its current day toe here and there.

Old time advertising
A brick wall that’s seen better days
Garage Door

I suppose it was an antique store where I found this old, beat up wheel adorning the side. An eclectic collection of various other items of questionable value joined it. The common theme, a rusty patina that spoke of years of exposure and neglect. Oxy-coating with a water chaser does that to bare iron – not something it should become addicted to.

One thing that really emphasized the old timey feel of the place was the old vehicles scattered here and there. We started with a car parked on the main street, an old Hudson. I think it’s an early 50s vintage Hornet, but I’m not really a car guy.

Appropriately somehow, our workshop leader’s name is also Hudson, albeit of a later vintage.

Just down the road, parked in a small lot between the main drag and a small river, we found an ancient bus with the name “Gene Autry” festooned across its top. Gene goes back before my time. He first gained renown back when radio was king and movies were black and white as “The Singing Cowboy.” From 1934 to 1953, Autry appeared in 93 films, and between 1950 and 1956 hosted The Gene Autry Show television series. He’s also the original owner of the California Angles MLB team.

1948 Tour Bus

Who knows how it ended up in the small town of Palouse.

Whilst in Palouse, our little workshop group scattered in various directions. I wandered solo, and ended up chatting with a local for five or ten minutes. My guess is he wondered why a stranger was roaming around town taking pictures of stuff. When I mentioned I was part of a photography workshop group, and that we came to the Palouse because of its beauty and uniqueness, he said, “I’ve lived here my whole life. It doesn’t seem all that unusual to me.”

60s era grill. Say cheese…

I suspect there may be a lesson in that. We may think we have to go far afield to find beauty, or character, or things of interest, when really all we need to do is to look at what’s around us with fresh eyes. Is there something in your neighborhood you take for granted that a traveler might find unique?

This will be the last of the Palouse posts. Perhaps a good way to summarize the set is to show you a video I put together. It’s part slide show, part drone video footage. I’ve never built a video before and have just started learning drone photography, so please don’t expect perfection.

And as this Palouse series fades off into the fog of time, a parting shot…


37 thoughts on “Loose in Palouse

  1. I smiled at your mention of staying in Colfax. When I was a high school kid in Iowa, there was a little town called Colfax about twelve miles from my home town. There was a quarry there, and all the high schoolers went there to party. I wondered if there was an association between the towns in terms of names, and there is. Both were named for United States Vice-President Schuyler Colfax.

    The Gene Autry bus reminds me of the Bob Wills touring bus. Wills was from Turkey, Texas, and at one point his bus was parked there. My favorite photo is of the door, but I have a thing for old doors. Your video was great, too. You’re certainly right that ‘right here, right now’ can be as intriguing as ‘long ago and far away.’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I was a high school kid in Minnesota, we also had a quarry (maybe more than one) that drew parties. I didn’t know about Colfax the VP or the connection with an Iowa Colfax, but then when are VPs ever remembered?

      Seems like lots of folks are into doors. I’m not so much, but this one seemed like it had character. Glad you liked it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You are certainly correct that we often don’t appreciate the places [and people] we see often. We didn’t get to Palouse, but we drove up the Columbia River Gorge in 2012 and then took 12 through Wala Wala on to Lewiston, ID. At the time, we noticed the roads west of the mountains, the wet side, was marked scenic but east of the mountain, the dry side, the roads weren’t, but like you, we really enjoyed the scenery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most people don’t realise that Oregon and Washington have wet sides and dry sides, as the rainy side gets all the press. Maybe that’s just as well, we already have more people than affordable housing…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dave – enjoyed the whole album, the rolling landscapes…and a rusting clockwork cow(?) The Penna.Dutch hex sign on a barn was unexpected. I’d say the whole photo project was a great success.
    Also surprised to see “steptoe butte” on the map, pretty sure that’s a medical condition, resulting from a swift kick to the posterior, ain’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, a new variation on turf toe. Sometimes it causes suffering when in the presence of a pain in the butte.

      Overall, I’d have to say it was a good workshop. I’ve done two with this guy now and have quite enjoyed both of them. But I have to admit, a lot of the fun is purely being able to be a photography first tourist, in the company of other like minded people. Frequently my travels are tourist first, photography second outings – especially the guided tours.


  4. Truly a blast of old town culture with this post ~ love the Old time advertising shot (well done with the processing)! Great post to end your Loose in Palouse series… and especially the video. I’ve wanted to get into both drone and video creation, but I think I’m part intimidated by it and the oft-used excuse of ‘too busy’. Nice work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m a bit intimidated by video as well. I ended up using a free but sophisticated editor called Da Vinci Resolve, and found an inexpensive course on Udemy to learn how to use it. I still haven’t shot much video, so lots to learn there. Guess I gotta stop being so lazy and get out there…


  5. Some great finds, Dave. I already wanted to go but I didn’t know about all this and now I’m more tempted. I have to ask – do you think “West Virginia” is on that sign because it was where the tobacco was from?? It looks like you had a good time. There are lots of nice images in the video. The drone footage gave me views I hadn’t seen before of the area. It was a good idea to bring the drone, much as they can annoy me – but that’s when they’re in smaller spaces. The final photograph is beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’d guess it’s for tobacco from West Virgina. I use a DJI Mini 2 for a drone, and as small as it is it’s not terribly noisy. I haven’t brought it to Deception Pass as you can’t generally fly in State Parks. I think most of Fidalgo is ok.

      Video and drone stills are quite new to me, and as yet the video in this post is still the only one I’ve done. Room to learn, I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Dave, I always enjoy your posts, but this may be the best. I love old towns. There is never a lack of things that capture the imagination. The wagon wheel was sheer poetry. And I have long felt there is a class to old automobiles that new cars lack. Does my age have something to do with that. I’m old enough to remember when Gene Autry was on the radio, and the Lone Ranger. I thought your video really captured your journey. The country was familiar to me as well. Peggy and I drove through it farther to the north last fall in the Grand Coulee area. . I was fascinated by the look and the geology. The massive floods that hit the area during the Ice Age left an incredible story behind. If you haven’t been up there, I highly recommend it. It’s one of about 30 blogs I have yet to write. 🙂 Anyway, thanks for your fantastic job. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Curt. Sounds like I really struck a chord there for you, I’m glad. The wheel is easily my favorite shot from the town, although I kinda like the garage door too. The video really summed up the overall trip well. As often as I’ve watched it, it still taps strongly into my memories. I think I may have been through the Grand Coulee area back in ’77, but those memories are dim – guess you’ll need to remind me…


      1. I’m so far behind on posts, Dave, I don’t have a clue when my post on the Grand Coulee will come up. But a fact that stood out in my mind was when the huge glacial damn in Montana gave way, the amount of water that went flowing through eastern Washington was the equivalent of all of the rivers flowing today.
        I’ve been thinking about listing all of the potential blogs I have, cutting up the paper, and putting the list in a paper bag. I’ll draw one a week and write about it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I didn’t even realize there was a town of Palouse; always just assumed the name referred to the region. My bad. I love ghost signs like the Palouse News one you captured. Actually, the Hudson’s pretty cool, too…and I’m not a car guy either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’d think if a town and region has the same name, the town would be of a decent size. But I think I read Colfax is older and it looked bigger than Palouse, and of course Pullman and Moscow are university towns now.

      On the other hand, I think Oregon City was the capital of the Oregon Territory for a while, but then that upstart Portland took over.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. There seems to be a lot of old stuff in the Palouse region. I suspect that may be in part due to the climate being dry enough to only do slow-mo destruction, and in part there being a somewhat rough living causing stuff to be abandoned. In any case, it has character.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ya gotta kinda wonder how that wheel came to be so bent out of shape. It does seem to say, “you think you’ve had a tough day…” But then, that gives it character, much like the lined faces of old folks who’ve spent their lives outdoors have more character than those of pretty, young supermodels.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Trying to catch up here after a computer crash and the struggle to retrieve long treasured images from days long gone….

    This post was utterly amazing! (It’s why I saved it!) The video really gives a marvelous feel for the countryside there. The sunset and waterfall and clouds and lichen are all so very beautiful… well, all of it is. Your drone footage is superb. My partner needed to slow down when he first started panning hills or landscapes, but looks like you got it right! He tried to get me to shoot a bit with the drone, but I very quickly discovered I’m just not coordinated enough to handle more than a few minutes. It takes some talent to come up with great footage like yours.

    Thanks for sharing this. It was great and I’m so glad I managed to find my way back to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The video did sum things up nicely. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      One thing that’s forced me to slow down on panning the drone is the quality gets jittery if I go too fast. I’m still trying to figure out the drone thing. I’ve mostly flown it for fun so far – haven’t done much photography or video. We’ll see how it works out over time.


  9. Hi Dave, Thoroughly enjoyed your Palouse series and your old-timey images of this charming town are a great capper. You have a good eye for detail. Humorous (oxy-coating) and insightful (local’s reflection on his “ordinary” town) and ending with a terrific slideshow – a culmination of your hard work and excellent photography. 🙂👏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jane. I suppose that’s proof I should get out more. The Palouse was a bit of a change for me. I haven’t done much rural. And while good weather and light in April can be a bit of a crap shoot, we eventually had some luck.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Nice journey into Palouse! The foggy shot is my favorite. There’s a old timey feel to the pics, the ones where you are playing with the color.

    Can you help me get a read on the situation in Portland? I found a map that marks the homeless encampments and it doesn’t make me feel safe to walk around downtown. We feel fine in NY but we don’t have vast encampments, ours are sparse and very spaced out. I walk everywhere, anywhere from 2-7 miles spurts and don’t see any encampments. Our homeless also aren’t as aggressive like west coast ones. Like we can go blocks and not see any homeless. This map looked like it was peppered in and out of downtown and the Pearl district which is where we’d be staying. I like to map ideas out. One day, I’d like to have my Seattle cousin meet me in Portland. I’ll let you know when we make our way to OR.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In truth, I haven’t been downtown much (and rarely went even in the “good” days), so I don’t really have a feel for how bad or overrated the dangers might be. If you pay attention to Fox, it’s the ninth circle of hell. Their technique is to show the worst as Portland’s considered a liberal town, and ignore anything that doesn’t support that view. Other sources suggest it isn’t an issue at all. We definitely have a homeless problem, but I think the majority of them aren’t all that dangerous if you don’t engage.

      Liked by 1 person

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