Saturday, June 28, 2008

Where The Water Comes From

The City of Port Angeles says:

The Water Utility maintains the city drinking water system from a well on the Elwha River to the meter by your house... The water system has approximately 189 miles of pipe ranging from 2 to 30 inches in diameter, 3 water booster pump stations, 5 reservoirs with 18 million gallons of storage and about 7,928 service connections. The water is disinfected using sodium hypochlorite (household bleach) and no other chemicals are added. The water supply is obtained from a 60 foot deep Collector Well next to the Elwha River which is a few miles west of town. The well and pumping system is designed to provide 11 million gallons per day (mgd).

Newspaper article from the Peninsula Daily News helps clarify the question of the PA water supply and the construction projects which are prerequisite to the Elwha Dam removals. Aha: this very recent article amends the question of what chemicals they are using, and says the water treatment plant completion dates are 2009 and 2010. (The dams don't come out until the plants are operating, you understand...)

Friday, June 27, 2008

All Over the Map

M.C. is visiting. Thursday we went to Rialto Beach, and walked to Hole in the Wall in a light rain that gradually let up; on the way back we saw something neither of us had ever seen before: a deer on the beach. Then for geographic thoroughness we went around to the river mouth on the La Push side, and watched the bald eagles perching around on snags and drift logs, waiting for fish.

Always the same place
The space between the rocks

Across the hills and back along the Strait by 113 and 112. Lots of cow parsnip and foxglove on the roadsides. Also stupendous lots of Scotch broom, but that's highly invasive and pernicious, and it's bad form to appreciate it. We detoured to try to get a glimpse of Salt Creek Farm where our veggies come from; but fierce dogs chased us away.

From there bypassed home and straight out onto Ediz Hook where we shipwatched gleefully, watched the harbor as the pilot boat whisked out to Alaskan Frontier very nearby, watched the pilot go up the ladder, watched the anchor chain slowly pulled up, watched the tug push the ship 180 degrees around so it was heading in the right direction, and watched the tug and the ship start slowly towards the harbor mouth and the Sound, too busy with the binoculars to think of taking pictures...

NOAA boat near the Quileute River mouth

Map begins in town because we had a post office errand before we could start, and ends out on the Hook, and shows us larking all around the West End in between.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Woke up this morning about 4AM and the birds were chirping. I shuffled to the front window to try to get a compass bearing on Polaris, but there was already lots of light and color along the horizon, officially too early for civil twilight or no.

" Wednesday 25 June 2008 Pacific Daylight Time
Begin civil twilight 4:34 a.m.
Sunrise 5:15 a.m.
Sun transit 1:17 p.m.
Sunset 9:18 p.m.
End civil twilight 9:59 p.m."

I missed the actual solstice day and several following—variously due to sleepiness, clouds, breakdowns in the brain/compass interface, and loss of the scrap of paper on which I wrote the bearing the day before yesterday—but it doesn't change much right around the solstices. Earliest sunrise was several days earlier anyway—as often as I almost grasp it, the geometry gets away from me, but I know I am at 48.12N or so, and I know where the sun crossed the horizon this morning. Pointed the compass at it, decided that was irrelevant, memorized the spot.

Today's sunrise spot (photo taken in the afternoon 10 days ago)
Today's sunrise spot in relation to Mt. Baker (same photo)

Yes, Mount Baker is really there, over the house with the red siding on the right side of the picture. Look for a white ghostly pointy shape. You need industrial strength lenses to get a good picture of it from here.)

Not getting enough sleep. Impossible to think it's sleepingtime as long as the long blue dusks are filling the apartment, well after ten PM before I can bear to close the curtains.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Solstice + 2

Yesterday was glorious. Warm, bright. A couple of resident eagles launching from the trees and cruising around and then landing back. Even over the sound of the waves you could hear one when it called. I stopped for a long time on a drift log as perfectly shaped for sitting as one of J. B. Blunk's redwood benches, to listen to the whoosh of water displacing air as the waves reached higher up the beach and seeped in among the pebbles; and the sound of the rocks clattering against each other as the withdrawing waves rolled them down the shore, stopped, rolled them back up.

I decided early on that it was warm enough for shoes that can get wet, and warm enough that on the way back I needn't bother dodging too hard to escape the tide. I let the waves catch me if they would. Misjudged slightly. Wet to the waist and nearly got the camera wet. Oh it was glorious.

The only thing missing was pelicans; they're around, I saw some last time, but none yesterday.

Rialto Beach, solstice weekend
Tide coming in, pulling gravel and cobbles down the shore

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Dam Removal

This week the River Restoration Office at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe sent around a link to an Oregon Public Broadcasting video clip about the removal of the Marmot Dam on the Sandy River, a tributary of the lower Columbia. (location map). Zowie. The removal of sediment didn't happen exactly as they expected, and salmon began reclaiming the river right away.

When it happens here, it will be on a very different scale. Marmot was 50 feet high, and its lake contained 900,000 cubic yards of sediment. The dams on the Elwha , scheduled for removal in 2012 (location map) are much bigger. Elwha Dam is 108 feet high and walls up 5 million cubic yards of sediment; and Glines Canyon Dam is 210 feet high and walls up 13 million cubic yards of sediment.

When W.C. was here last week we went out to look at the two dams, and try to imagine the river's future. He took the pictures. (Lots of links about the Elwha.)

This one is leaving...
and so is this one.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Point Wilson Light, Port Townsend

Yesterday evening I was in Port Townsend with W., who had come to give a reading. There were ships, and an eagle, and lots of plants, and quiet water. Later it poured down rain.
Fort Worden Park shore. Click for larger image.
Which languages, what peoples would be coming here?
Nootka Rose
W. on the Shore

Reading News

There hasn't been a piece of fiction I'm actively interested in, or one I'd been on the waiting list for, since the beginning of the month. I wander around the public library hoping for inspiration. Nope. I check my online record about thirty times a day in case any of my requests have come in. Hope? Nope. So in the mystery realm I read things that aren't even what P.W. used to call "acceptable material"; some of them so awful I'll never admit I'm reading them.

Meanwhile there are several non-fiction books in hand. I had to return The Great Warming unread, as people were waiting for it and it couldn't be renewed; and I'd gotten stubborn about finishing John Leland's little Kerouac book. One person waiting for the whale song book, so I'm working on that one next.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Morning and an Afternoon

Hurricane Ridge (click for larger image)

Rialto Beach (click for larger image)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Mrs. Anna's

Hummingbird yesterday, towards sunset. On the feeder by the front door, not the new one. A female, maybe an Anna's. The first in a couple of weeks. Birdweb says,

Migration Status. Anna's Hummingbird migration has been described as a succession of movements and temporary residences wherever suitable flowers and feeders are found. In Washington, Anna's Hummingbird appears throughout the year. It is unclear whether this is due to migration or whether the birds we see in January are the same as those we see in June.

Conservation Status. Historically limited to western California, in recent years Anna's Hummingbirds have dramatically expanded their range northward as far as British Columbia. This expansion has been attributed to hummingbird feeders and gardens with exotic flowers that provide the birds with a year-round food source. Climate change may also play a role. They are currently very common across much of their range, and because they adapt well to suburban areas, should continue to thrive in the future.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Need a better camera. It's filling up with dim distant thumbnail images of cruise ships queueing up to drop off their Puget Sound Pilots at the end of Ediz Hook on Sunday evening, having all left Seattle for one-week cruises four hours before; and freighters and tankers and ferries and mystery ships. What kind of ship, if you please, was CSAV Rio Grande, which looks rather like a black helicopter of the sea and was inbound past the Hook Sunday evening? Oooh look, it arrived in San Francisco yesterday from Tacoma. Didn't take it long; into Puget Sound, out of Puget Sound, chug chug chug.

Alaskan Frontier, who came in a week ago, is still in port here. For several days she's been at the dock— no doubt it has a correct name— between the K-Ply plant and where Silverstar and Gemstone were parked. It's hard to imagine what kind of work or repair is being done to Frontier which could take so long that still it makes sense to do here instead of in some larger port.

MV HOS Gemstone and Silverstar were making their way back along the shore, and came back into port while I was out there this evening. I looked them up just now and whoa nellie!! Are they really still leased by the Navy as submarine escorts? What are they doing spending any of their their days docked at the bottom of Cedar Street off Marine Drive? I'm prepared to swear they had a handful of containers on them just now...

The tanker Sonangol Namibe is the only ship presently anchored out in the middle of the harbor, by far the most exotic name I've scribbled down lately.

There were half a dozen small boat trailers parked by the boat ramp. I asked some guys going out what they were going to catch, they said ling cod and sea bass. I asked some guys coming in. They said halibut (but they hadn't caught any.) There were mystery ducks. Black all over except some white bits on the wings. Beaks were wrong for scoters. Mysteries.

Norwegian Pearl and Holland America Westerdam queueing up to drop their pilots
Fisher guys, pilot station, Coho in background...
Frontier at the dock
Returning pilots going off duty. Click for larger image.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Small Tidal Range, Not Much Surf

Receding Tide, Rialto Beach. Click for larger image.

Three weeks since last ocean visit; such a relief to be there, listening. Listening to a fairly quiet slosh of water coming and going. People walking. One eagle. One duck barely sighted (first glance seemed to be a grebe, but the beak looked like a merganser, disappeared before sorted out). Walked along in the swash, unwilling to run away from the waves, eventually getting wet well above my boot tops.

Sitting on a pebble dune, reading; dry to the knees, then damp to the hips; book in one hand, the other sifting the small cobbles, adding one ever-so-smooth seductive stone after another to my shirt pocket. Brain engaged, but fingers in love with fine-grained dark rock.

Receding Tide, Rialto Beach