Friday, September 30, 2011

Chewing Right Along

Both dam removal teams are making great & visible progress. It's still hard to imagine what will happen when the work at Glines Canyon Dam gets down to spillway level. The lake is surely too deep there to move the flow out of the way with cofferdams, as they did down at Elwha Dam, and they somehow have to be cutting notches in the dam face to lower the water level. Or something.

Glines Canyon Dam, September 30, via the DamCams (Click for larger image.)

Elwha Dam (Click for larger image.)

Ships and Ships

From the window of the OCNMS office where I am picking away at the database project, things look pretty quiet. There are two Polar tankers in port, and both the submarine support vessels, HOS Eagleview and Arrowhead.

Quiet in the harbor, September 29, 2011 (Click for larger image.)
Polar Discovery (Click for larger image.)

Of course Global Standard was not going to Europe. Scratch, a great source of photos, as a source of tracking information. David Sellars, who writes about the harbor for Peninsula Daily News, says she went to Lanshan, China. Mr Sellars had the great good fortune to watch the lashing down of Global Standard from on-board, and wrote a most informative article. Global Standard was followed at the T-pier by Cook Strait. She was fully loaded but still at the dock when I flew in over the harbor on Monday evening, but then sailed. The log yard is empty at the moment.

Yesterday there was a mystery ship which I was too stupid to put the binoculars on, or to look it up last night, and the photo is useless, and it's gone now. Rats. Who is this and where was she going, or coming from.

Mystery Ship (Click for larger image.)
Ocean Cape has been at the city pier for weeks (Click for larger image.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

You Can See the Strait (But Not Canada)

It's an absolutely beautiful morning. I'm so glad to be home.

A bit misty over the Strait of Juan de Fuca. No islands out there. (Click for larger image.)
Fall morning in the alley, September 28, 2011... (Click for larger image.)

This post is for @heidigoseek.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Harbor Full of Ships

The harbor is full of ships. Earlier today there was even a container ship, which we don't usually see in our harbor. According to the tracker sites, NYK Artemis came in off the ocean having sailed from Oakland, not carrying much, spent a night anchored out in the harbor, and then sailed for Busan, Korea. We'll never know why.

NYK Artemis with Polar Adventure, looking ghostly, 09/19/11 (Click for larger image.)

At the T-pier there's a log ship, but it too is mysterious. It's not one of the Pacific Basin line ships, which all the others have been. It looks entirely different. Global Standard came through the Panama Canal on August 30, and when it leaves here it is headed back through the canal en route to Brussels. Huh? Logs to Europe? At midday there were a dozen or so fully loaded log trucks lined up and waiting, no logs in the cradles, and the cranes were not working. I'm leaving in the dark hours for a family visit, and will not get to see what happens next: whether they load it to the tops of the stanchions, or whether like Artemis she'll set forth mostly empty; nor will ever know why her itinerary brought her here.

Global Standard, looking idle, 09/19/11 (Click for larger image.)
The harbor, evening, 09/19/11. I bet they all have a story... (Click for larger image.)

Humble Handmaiden of the Muse of Science

I've begun working on a 'library' project for Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. I say library in quotes because they call it their library but it's entirely intangible: a database of articles and reports in PDF form, which is in a neglected state and has hundreds of papers (i.e., PDF files in several different directories on the network) that need to be entered. NOAA in Washington had to set me up with a NOAA email address (OMG I have a noaa email address!) so I could take an online computer-security course that everyone has to do once a year. Now I have my own login, a PC set up for me and a spot to work in an unoccupied office (hey they must REALLY want me to make progress on this!); until a visiting scientist bumps me, I get to sit up on the 3rd floor of the Landing building with a view over the harbor, being a humble handmaiden of the muse of science. Whee. (There doesn't seem to be such a muse, exactly, but I know who I am.)

It first came up when I was out on the Tatoosh for the pelagic bird survey at the end of July. Liam, the OCNMS scientist who was running the survey, overheard me telling someone I was a librarian. Oh, says Liam, we need help with our library. Hooked, just like that. Helping anybody with their library is what I was born to do, you know... Besides, I am piling up the volunteer hours and earning a spot on one of the boat trips next summer. Besides besides, messing around with a digital library is new librarianly turf for me, and interesting. In a boring way.

The only problem is, I go back to work at the college on the 27th. College, tribe, OCNMS office. I now have THREE places I'm supposed to be! Well, I'll just work out a pattern of life during the quarter that includes a couple of two-hour sessions in the database every week, or most weeks, or something. At that rate I'll be working on this project for the rest of my life, but in truth my brain goes out of gear at about the two hour point anyway...

It does call into question exactly what retirement means. I have a microscopic paying job, and two volunteer gigs, and much of the time I imagine I'd really rather be lying on the couch reading.

This post cribbed almost intact from an email to a friend. It's hard to write something twice and have the second one be at all fresh...

Cars lining up for the ferry, Sealth Arrow preparing to pull out, etc.: view from the OCNMS offices. (Click for larger image.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

The First Bite

The dam cams are up. And OMG, yes, they took the first bite out of Glines Canyon Dam yesterday.

End of First Day's Work on Glines Canyon Dam, September 15, 2011. (#6 webcam) (Click for larger image.)

Peninsula Daily News has a good little video. Olympic National Park has begun a dam removal blog. It's really happening.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Actually, You Can... (Dambusting, II)

The Park has moved the entrance station on Olympic Hot Springs Road out of the middle of the road and onto a little loop off to the side. This is to facilitate big pieces of equipment moving by; the biggest piece, the crane as tall as Glines Canyon Dam itself, has already moved up there. You can't drive up to the dam anymore on the main road, and the Whiskey Bend Road is still closed to cars since a landslide last winter. (The Park shows no particular inclination to repair the road, I mean, they say they will but the season is almost over. Probably they're just as happy to not have people back in there on either side.) But you can walk up the Whiskey Bend side, and in about half an hour be right there on the east buttress of Glines Canyon Dam. Love those late-1920s light poles. Hope someone is going to preserve a few of them... The date on the USGS benchmark on the concrete stairs there is 1929.

The crane, as viewed from the East Buttress, Glines Canyon Dam, September 3, 2011 (Click for larger image.)
Benchmark, 1929. (Click for larger image.)

From there you can hear but not see the water coming through the gates of the spillway. You can't see any of the dam face, or put your nose and camera through a chainlink fence and look down down down to the river 210 feet below.

West buttress and spillway, Glines Canyon Dam, September 1, 2010 (Click for larger image.)
Lake Mills, September 1, 2010 (Click for larger image.)

This is not romance, but industrial-scale work, and the ugliness too will be industrial scale. I won't live to see it healed, nor see the salmon find their way upriver and make new redds. But the only way to get there is to begin.

Lake Mills is being drawn down, September 3, 2011 (Click for larger image.)
... (Click for larger image.)

Saturday, September 03, 2011


It's been a year since I last took a houseguest to visit the dams which are leaving, freeing the Elwha. The run-up has been ongoing and slow—whether you count the decades of political struggle, or the several recent years of major prep: water works, greenhouses raising native plants in vast numbers to plant out in the naked former lakebeds, new hatchery on the rez, new diking on the rez (as they are at risk of flooding when all the sediment now behind the dams raises the river bed several feet), road work, experiments in drawing down the lakes, baseline science along the river and in the nearshore part of the Strait, and all.

Salmon, come home.

This is a huge big deal, the largest dam removal/ river restoration project ever. Now we are having a long tedious run-up to the official dambusting ceremonies being staged by the Park and many local and national stakeholders later this month. It's hard to care about gala dinners and rock concerts and invitation-only bigwig ceremonials at the lower dam because in fact NO ACTUAL WORK WILL BE BEING DONE to mark the moment, not even symbolically. Meanwhile you can no longer get anywhere near either dam, and I simply didn't notice when the long-term road closures meant I'd missed a last chance to take a set of 'before' photos, not that I don't have plenty...

Glines Canyon Dam and Lake Mills, June 30, 2009 (Click for larger image.)

Then on Sunday the newspaper said, "A 200-foot crane, the largest piece of machinery planned for the removal of the two Elwha River dams, was being installed last week at Glines Canyon Dam. The 4100 Crane will be used in tearing down the 210-foot structure beginning Sept. 15." Aha. The real work will have already begun on the upper dam a few days before the bigwigs foregather at the lower dam. OK, then.

The other thing the paper said was that a new public viewpoint had been established overlooking Elwha Dam, the lower dam. So I went and looked. Not a whole lot to see unless they take down some trees (which why would they, this is a restoration project, not a further-depredation project). But there it is,

From the New Viewpoint for Elwha Dam, September 2, 2011 (Click for larger image.)

and three years of careful work from now it will be gone, and the river running free.

Salmon, come home. This is all for you. Salmon, come home.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Sailed for Shanghai

Monday afternoon Pacific Logger was still loading. It sure looked full to me, but none of the load was lashed down. I asked a couple of truckdrivers who were in waiting position, shooting the breeze together, when she would sail. 'Tomorrow,' said one. 'Supposed to be at 5 PM today,' the other said, 'but it's not lashed down yet, and they sure won't bring on another gang this evening...' Sure looks full to me, I said. 'The wood is very dry, no weight. They can pack a lot more on,' the second driver answered.

August 29, afternoon, loading Pacific Logger (Click for larger image.)

(Saturday morning, got a nice video of the logloader at work, the machine that SA calls 'Biter'.)

August 27, morning, loading

Tuesday afternoon sometime, she sailed for Shanghai. You can't find out where she's going until she sails and one of the tracking sites shows the destination.

Image from (Click for larger image)