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  Driving Tours in Washington, USA
Moses Lake to Ritzville via Rosenoff Rd

 

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Overview  
Map  
The Route  
Vital Statistics  
Highlights 
 
Wheat Country  
 Critters  
 
 Cool Facts 

Overview
When was the last time you stood looking at a field of wheat that extends to the horizon?  A drive on Rosenoff Road offers this simple pleasure.  The road makes a nice alternate route for a small part of I-90 in Washington.  Those who are familiar with the run between Seattle and Spokane, and have time on their hands to try something different, will appreciate the diversion.  In addition, depending on which direction you are traveling, the city parks in Moses Lake or Ritzville offer pleasant lunch or rest stops. 

Map

The Route
Located in southeast Washington, Rosenoff Road runs roughly parallel to I-90, about one to three miles north of the interstate.  Rosenoff Road in Adams County extends westwards as Road 3 NE in Grant County. The road is an alternate route linking the towns of Moses Lake and Ritzville.  Crossing gently rolling hills, it is two-lane, mostly paved, and you can expect little traffic (until word gets out!).

Heading eastwards: take exit 179 to Moses Lake, turn north onto state highway 17, then east onto Road 3 NE.

Heading westwards: take exit 221 to Ritzville, and take the first left onto Division Street, which becomes Rosenoff Road.  (See maps above.)

Vital Statistics
One way trip: 1 hour driving at 50-60 mph with stops; about 41 miles (66 kilometers).

Highlights

Wheat Country
Rosenoff Road demonstrates that you don't need to stray far off I-90 to immerse yourself in agricultural Washington. This is a landscape of section lines (a grid of gravel roads placed at one-mile intervals), containing fields of neatly arrayed produce. Some fields follow these squares, and some are planted in circles as they follow the sweep of irrigation equipment. It is surely a landscape designed to be viewed from the air! For those on the ground, traveling the contours of the undulating hills makes a nice counterpoint to all this regularity.

Pass this way in July, and you will find fields of wheat in various stages of ripeness. Stop by the side of the road, and pull a single grain from the head of a ripened stalk. Roll it between your fingers to remove the husk, and pop the kernel into your mouth. As you crush the grain between your teeth you might make the realization with your mouth, that this is what the taming of the landscape is all about. Perhaps you will find something comforting about this orderliness on a vast scale, and being surrounded by so much edibility! (The latter is reinforced by the baking smells that waft out of the processing center at Wheeler.)

Noting your reactions to landscapes is part of the fun of traveling. As you gaze over the field and roll the grain between finger and thumb, does the inevitable question "crop" up?... "How many grains in a field of wheat"?

Other questions might also arise. What happens to all this wheat? What kind of wheat is this? How many harvests are there a year? What are the other crops seen on the way? The answers come as those lists of facts that could be rather dry and uninspiring before you stood before this field of wheat. It might be best if you don't read about the cool wheat facts until you have had the visual and tactile experiences described above!

Critters
We spotted a family of pheasants, and a huge hawk. These sightings prompt more questions. What other animals and birds are able to make their homes here. What are the relationships of the farmers to the various birds and animals? Which are tolerated, or encouraged, or deterred? What prevents the appearance of a locust (or squirrel!) for every stalk of munchable wheat?

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Revised: April 15, 2014.