Having wrapped up my business in Grand Coulee and Nespelem, it occurred to me that in all my travels around the state, I had never driven State Route 155 from Grand Coulee to Coulee City. I always opted in the past for the quicker 174 to Wilbur.

Taking that road less traveled may not have changed my life, but it certainly added to it.

First, the whimsy of Emil Gehrke’s creations in the Garden of the Wind just a couple of miles down the road from the dam. “I wanted to make something pretty for the young people to see,” said Gehrke, who died in 1979. “We throw away too much. I like to show that practically any object can be reused.”

And then, the sublimity of the Grand Coulee, even drowned, shrouded in fog on a late winter day.

Emil Gehrke’s Garden of the Wind near Grand Coulee
Emil Gehrke’s Garden of the Wind near Grand Coulee. (Randall Pugh)