At the end of last month I turned 30, so to celebrate the big birthday we decided to take a little road trip to parts of Washington and Oregon that I hadn't ever explored before. After running some errands the day we left the island, (and driving through Fir Island where I added snow goose  to the year list) we spent the night in North Bend, Washington before heading east over the Cascade Mountains. We were so close to Snoqualmie Falls, our first stop in the morning was to check those out:
Heading over the Cascades, we got to see some nice fall colors. Overall, it was pretty dark and gray though, so we didn't make too many stops.
As we reached Yakima, the sun was shining. Ahhh, eastern Washington - that's more like it! Having crossed over the mountains, it didn't take long to add black-billed magpie (187) to the year list.
|It almost looks like the mgapie is in the grass behind the cow, but he's actually sitting on the cow's head|
Instead of staying on the major highway, we took a smaller side road that followed the Yakima River Valley. Good decision! It was beautiful. We stopped at a little river access where there was a hike that went up a side creek. It ended up being one of my favorite walks of the trip, perhaps because it was totally unexpected.
|Suspension foot bridge crossing the Yakima River|
|Beautiful fall colors - and sunshine! - in the Yakima River Valley|
We also made a brief stop at the Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge, but it was a bit of a disappointment bird-wise. The only birds we saw in about half an hour there were two white-crowned sparrows! It was, admittedly, the worst time of day in the middle of the afternoon, but still!
I was very excited to continue across the Yakama (yes, it's spelled different from the town) Indian Reservation. We headed up the Toppenish Ridge and across the Lost Horse Plateau, where I was hoping to see some wild horses. I read about it a bit ahead of time, and knew that there is a rather large population of horses there - an estimated 15,000, which most people think are way too many. When we started seeing groups of horses right away, I really wondered if we were seeing the wild ones. Turns out, we were!
|Wild horses on the Lost Horse Plateau, along Highway 90 south of Toppenish, WA|
A few groups were even pretty close to the road!
They were so cool to see! Day one of the real road trip was an absolute success, and we hadn't even reached the region where we planned to spend most of our time yet. There would be many more sights to come!