Monday, June 20: Sorry, readers- I'm heading out right now to the set of a TV show that is filming all night in downtown Portland, so I'll have to wait until tomorrow morning to unlock and post the rest of my previously uploaded pictures here. Update: Photos added!
All but two of the recent vacations to be featured each month in my new Top 5 Blogspot countdown series were international trips to overseas destinations. So what makes Banks Lake, and the adjacent Coulee City, so special? Family tradition!
Yes, I know. This is a positively awful picture of us. But hopefully you already know how we look when we're NOT tent camping :)
Back when my sister Summer and I were little kids, Banks Lake replaced Oregon’s Lake Owyhee as our family’s annual summer boating getaway of choice.
Banks Lake has sunshine, hiking trails, and miles of wide open water to speed our boat across for wakeboarding, skiing, knee boarding, tubing, and jet skiing. Avoiding other boats’ wakes in the pursuit of glassy smooth water is never a problem.
And then, there’s always the family fave Steamboat Rock climb:
The immense size of the lake sometimes requires us to alternately cruise our boat or drive a car to climb hot, dusty Steamboat Rock ...or visit the massive Grand Coulee Dam for a laser light show at dusk (photo to be added, possibly Grand Coulee Dam from Crown Point State Park?).
We typically stay in a campground in remote, tiny Coulee City. Aside from the year that I brought a carload of joyously rowdy students by on the drive home from CreationFest in the Gorge Amphitheater, the campground is typically a peaceful, quiet area with a boat launch and a couple of desert county stores nearby.
The streets of Coulee City, a small grain and livestock community, are marked by grain silos and pavement that gives way to dusty dirt roads. There is a friendly, cozy Presbyterian church that we visit whenever we are in Coulee City on a Sunday morning. We kids have also been known to wander into town to catch a show from a regional rock band, or sneak over to Big Wally’s to snag some truck stop stomach-stuffers.
Our family often caravans to Banks Lake or rides over together in my parents’ RV, but our busy schedules (especially now that Mike and Summer have tied the knot!) usually dictate that we take whatever means necessary to get home.
The Hamiltons say goodbye at Coulee City's newly modernized coffee shop with Summer’s then-fiance, Mike Sorensen, as Bo and I prepare to hop on his BMW motorcycle to head for the Greyhound bus stop in Moses Lake.
Over the years, I’ve driven my own car home, carpooled... ...rode with Bo on his motorcycle, taken the intercity bus... ...and/or caught the Amtrack train for all or a portion of the ride home from Banks Lake (the photo above shows a tearful Kathy picking up a happy Garth from the Portland train station last year).
Most memorably, one year's return Greyhound bus ride had me sitting next to an engagingly sincere ex-convict who was catching a ride home after being released from the Walla Walla State Penitentiary. She shared at length some heavy life experiences with me, and then enthusiastically allowed me to share some passages of Scripture that I believed would speak to her heart.
To sum it up, Banks Lake is a refreshing oasis in the middle of a vast, dry, desert-like landscape. Every year, our family looks forward to spending time together during our weeklong Banks boating trip. I’m especially thankful that my parents are scheduled to return next month from their cross-U.S.A. motor home roadtrip, just in time for this year's week at Banks Lake. This is one family tradition worth keeping!
Coming next month on Blogspot… Top 5 Recent Trips- #4!