Monday, August 29, 2011

The First Real Weekend of Summer

It was kite weather, and not. Inland just a little it remained sunny; on the beach, the marine layer drifted in, rarely so thick you couldn't see the blue behind the veil, or sunshine-over-there. There were enormous numbers of people on the beach: 78 people and 7 dogs on the clicker for the Ellen Creek Beach segment, though by that time the fog had slipped in. All over NW Washington, people must have looked at the forecast, declared this the first real summer weekend of a cold season (as well as perhaps the last one), and bolted for the Outer Coast.

August 27, 2011. Soundscape for C. Note the fogbank in the west.

This was a COASST survey day. No dead birds to report, unless I was just too spacey to notice. One notable bundle of feathers, but no measurable parts = it can't be identified and doesn't count. A bit of wrack. On one stretch the beach was substantially reshaped, though there have been of course no winter storms. A handful of pelicans flying past and a few cormorants in the air, down along the Rialto Jetty segment.

Rialto Jetty Beach Segment, August 27, 2011 (Click for larger image.)
The Other Aspect: Kite Weather (Click for larger image.)

Another henge-builder with an interesting mind had been at work in the drift.

Climbing Cairns (Click for larger image.)
No Measurable Parts (Click for larger image.)

As usual, stopped at the pullout over the river to get online, this time the excuse was to check on my North Carolina friends just then having a hurricane. There were about three dozen mergansers in the river, flitting back and forth from shore to shore like they were playing some kind of water-soccer. Two eagles, moving more lazily from one side of the river to the other.

I need to ask Tim McNulty about these signs. How is the Wild Olympics Campaign progressing, and why is the only evidence that it is happening at all these (completely delusional) anti- signs on the West End? Maps and whatnot on the Wild Olympics Campaign website.

... (Click for larger image.)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pacific Logger

They made lot of progress yesterday. If they're working today, Pacific Logger may be filled up and ready to sail before I get back from the ocean this evening. I'll go down and try to get a working photo or two before I head west.

August 26, just after 5 PM (Click for larger image.)

Heading west soon...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Logship at the T-pier

Arrived: Pacific Logger, looking overdue for some maintenance. But she's here to load logs.

Might try to get some pictures of the peeler yard in action...

August 25, 2011 (Click for larger image.)

Right now am reading a book about the invention of the shipping container (The box : how the shipping container made the world smaller and the world economy bigger). Wouldn't mind seeing a fully loaded container ship this close up; also wouldn't mind reading a book about the log trade.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Travel Days

August 19-21. The ferry eastbound was chaotic, traffic heavy on Whidbey Island; and it was hot in the Fraser Delta. C and me mostly hung around inside, near fans, and let the world proceed without us.

Tagged along with J on his Sunday morning routine. Went for a bit of a walk with his walking group; we were on a boardwalk trail in the coniferous area of Burns Bog, squoze between the highway and the railroad tracks. The boggier areas are a Preserve not open for hiking.

August 21. From the Boardwalk in Burns Bog, Delta, BC (Click for larger image.)

On the paved path, before you reach the boardwalk loop, there were vast numbers of a mystery flower. It was elaborate and delicate enough to look like a runaway garden flower, and certainly must be invasive rather than native. But—after hours of online research, and much paging through plant books, by all three of us— it remains a mystery.

What is it? (Click for larger image.)

Sunday morning, part 2: off to the White Rock Farmer's Market. Wonderful produce from the Fraser Valley, gorgeous fruit and berries from the Okanagan. Music, cool breeze off the water, just perfect wandering weather.

Whale Wall at the White Rock Farmer's Market (Click for larger image.)
From the Okanagan (Click for larger image.)

Having drawn a false conclusion about summer weekend conditions from the trip north, I left early and allowed hours and hours of extra time for the border crossing, traffic, and mischance. Arrived on Whidbey with lots of time to spare, and detoured down into Deception Pass State Park, to see the bridge from below. Unexpectedly encountered people swarming the shore and the Pass to catch pink salmon (humpies, everyone called them, not pinks) (1)(2). It was slack tide, which I don't understand but I could see with my eyes: no visible current and the boats were just bobbin' around out there close enough to talk to the folks casting from the shore. They were catching fish.

Deception Pass, August 21, 2011. (Click for larger image.)
Fishing at Deception Pass (Click for larger image.)

About the currents: Thanks to JL for finding me the Currents at Deception Pass. If I stare at this long enough I almost get it. The animation at was no help at all.


Those fish had a job to do, to get on through the Pass and up the Skagit River to spawn. They fought against the lines. They flapped and wriggled determinedly trying to get themselves back down the shore into the water again. I'm not sure I want to eat salmon anymore.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Places To Go, People To See

Long weekend in another country. Arriving mostly by land, well, except for the ferry ride from Port Townsend, and the bridge over Deception Pass...


Um, yeah, you've seen this map before. If it seems like I'm getting around a lot, it's true. I don't work at the college during summer quarter, and this year am managing not to waste it. Time to get ready to get moving.

There Were Librarians

Washington State Tribal Librarians meeting. This year we met at the Port Gamble S'Klallam reservation. Fourteen librarians came. Well, maybe 11, three of the people were from the State Library. The library itself is a wonderful and busy place, stuffed full of local art and vast amounts of materials. It's a branch of the Kitsap Regional Library system. County provides materials, computers, employees. The tribe owns and maintains the building; it is embedded in their increasingly well-devloped campus of buildings. Their resident rez population is about the size of Elwha's, but the library serves also a wider population off the rez.

We had an agenda, but the main purpose was connection. Everyone brought something to share—lavender from a neighbor's garden, dreamcatchers that a bunch of schoolkids made but they were really messed up so she remade them into objects of beauty (thankyou LR!); a gorgeous calendar with native foods recipes, joint product of the Colville Tribe and WSU; a booklet describing the results of Jamestown S'Klallam's digitization projects; and so on. We got a tote bag (librarian conferences always get tote bags), lunch at the Port Gamble casino, wonderful baked goodies for our snacks, a tour of the library and of the Port Gamble tribal center complex.

In the Longhouse, Port Gamble, August 18 (Click for larger image.)

In the library, Port Gamble, August 18 (Click for larger image.)

It all worked as intended. A week after the meeting emails are still flying back and forth with followup questions, thankyous, lists. ("What was that book people were talking about at the end of the table during lunch?") Let's do it again soon.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


"Protocol: Traveling ; 70.0 mile(s)." Before we left the Tatoosh on July 25th, Ryan Merrill took a copy of the pelagic bird survey data from the Seebird program on Liam's laptop, and entered it into as checklist #S8599880 , He includes not just how many were reported to Liam or me or Chris at the keyboard, but others seen outside the survey quadrant. Like, "4750 Pink-footed Shearwater; 2633 in survey area, a few large rafts and many smaller rafts outside survey area."

Other highlights:

  • 3850 Sooty Shearwater ; 1932 on survey
  • 1050 Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel ; 761 on survey
  • 2 Leach's Storm-Petrel ; both on survey, crossed close to boat and seen well
  • 300 Black-footed Albatross; 169 on survey, most associated with the hake trawler/processor and in the wake trailing behind them for miles
  • Go to the ebird entry to see them all.

I don't see how to get to his comments from the link above. But he emailed them to Liam, and gave permission to use them here: "Comments: OCNMS NOAA survey from La Push - Forecast was 7 foot swell at ten with 10-20 knot winds but reality was more like 5-6 foot swell with max 10 knot winds, overcast at first clearing to mostly sunny, dodged some dense rain showers. Mammals included 6 Humpbacks, 15 Dall's Porpoise (bow riding), 15 Pacific White-sided Dolphins (bow riding), 50 Steller's Sea Lions (all but three at Sea Lion Rock south of Carroll Island), 2 Fur Seals, 1 Gray Whale (south of Carroll), and 4 Harbor Seals. Big highlight was encountering a hake trawler and processor with thousands of tubenoses (mainly fulmars) behind it, most of which were in the survey area! only a couple hundred of the PFSH were here - Good numbers of birds seen throughout the survey highlighted by tremendous numbers of Pink-footed Shearwaters (4750)! Several rafts of 50 or more Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels seen sitting on the water were fun to see as well. 26 species (+1 other taxa)."

I sure didn't see a fraction of all that, you know. But we did. I'll add this Addendum also to the original post.

Fading Light

The sun set quite suddenly at 8:24 PM yesterday. The light faded, instantly; I looked at the clock. "The days are getting shorter," I said to my friend.

Daylight is already about two hours shorter than it was at the solstice. Now it's changing very fast, and will be two hours shorter still by the equinox. As of this moment, it can't be ignored. There will be darkness.

O noes.

Sun and Moon Data for One Day

The following information is provided for Port Angeles, Clallam County, Washington (longitude W123.4, latitude N48.1):
17 August 2011 Pacific Daylight Time

Begin civil twilight 5:37 a.m.
Sunrise 6:11 a.m.
Sun transit 1:18 p.m.
Sunset 8:24 p.m.
End civil twilight 8:58 p.m.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dead Bird Survey at Hobuck Beach

We carpool from the north side of the Safeway parking lot; what a beautiful day. There's a certain amount of organizing day packs, nipping into the market for supplies, double-checking. Then we set forth. Along highway 112 it is foggy, sunny, foggy, sunny again.

This kind of day in Port Angeles (at the start), August 16, 2011 (Click for larger image.)

This is the monthly COASST survey for Hobuck Beach (map). GD and I have joined the expedition for practice, since there are usually more dead birds at Hobuck even in seasons when everyone else's beaches have nothing. This day in fact there are only two. The first might be a sooty shearwater,

Found Something. We stop wandering the wrack lines and gather to identify it. (Click for larger image.)

but it doesn't have a head so we have to use more subtle signs. By the measurements and foot characteristics it is of a size with a northern fulmar. Is it dark grey or more brownish? Is the tarsus round or flat? We all pinch it. We are not of one mind. Me and SP think it's a NOFU, but JL is the most experienced and she says SOSH. (We pine for MS, our scientist mentor, who always knows at a glance, and who would pinch that tarsus and say, 'There, can't you feel it?')

Before brushing it off and examining it carefully... (Click for larger image.)

Later we have a cassin's auklet, wings of. With only the wings and it so tiny, nevertheless we're sure about this one. Beached birds: A COASST field guide is a work of genius, helps turn anyone into a useful citizen scientist. Later still we have a third partial carcass, this just one wing, which crumbles as we move it around, turn it over, try to measure; we decide not to count this one.

It's sunny at the start and up past the turnaround. Then I am distracted by watching the fog blow in in patches, and the ocean appear and disappear.

Sunny. Foggy. August 16, Hobuck Beach (Click for larger image.)

On the way home we stop between Sekiu and Clallam Bay for a sandwich. Three and a half hours of walking in sand, and levering ourselves down onto the beach and up again a few times, is enough of a workout to earn us a sociable treat, yes? From the windows of the restaurant the Strait is sunny, foggy, sunny, all at once.

Friday, August 12, 2011

And Then Home (Roadtrip, Part 6)

The road home had its pleasures, like being among the fruit orchards near Marysville, and surprisingly, the stretch of I-5 past Castle Crags and Mount Shasta and over Siskiyou Summit. That's the high point of I-5, the signage informed me, and at 4300' it was just about the elevation of Cedarville, my first destination on this trip. Another sign on I-5, this one just south of where the 205 bypass leaves the mainstem, informed me that I was crossing the 45th parallel, and was halfway between the equator and the pole. This was entertaining food for thought for quite a few miles: nearly to the Columbia River and in everyone's geographical imagination far far north, but by golly just halfway to the pole.

Tweets, August 6-7. Properly read bottom to top. (Click for larger image.)

As expected, it did take forever to get out of California, forever to cross Oregon, forever... in part my own doing: by keeping an attentively light foot on the gas pedal, lengthening the trip by hours, for the trip overall the little 15-year-old Tercel averaged 42 miles per gallon.

You know you're from Port Angeles when you wake up in Roseburg, Oregon, and are thrilled to see that the sky is overcast after a week of relentless sun. Stopped along 101 and managed to get a picture of the North Hamma Hamma rainbow arch bridge through the south one. Yes there are two. I don't know why it pleases me so.

Almost home. Hamma Hamma River bridges (Click for larger image.)

Very Full Day (Roadtrip, Part 5)

Friday, August 5th, 2011. First we had some meeting-efriends-in-real-life: we went to see R&R in Grass Valley. We know each other through our blogs, and email; when they were blogging from Port Hadlock they were in my mind when I made up my mind to move from the desert to the Northwest; and the parallels and commonalities in our personal histories are practically scary.

They took us on their morning walk, up along ditches, and past meadows, and by a reservoir, and over a fence and home again. I had a violent allergy attack up there. The woods were full of kitkidizze (Chamaebatia foliolosa), a smell I remembered from all those decades ago—'asparagus', said V; 'bug spray', say I—, and it pleases me to think that's what made me sneeze, though there's no reason to assume it. After the walk, sweets and/or bagels and much talking.

Then we had to stop back home because we had forgotten I forget what :-| , and soon were on our way up CA20, destination Grouse Ridge. We stopped in Bear Valley just before getting on the forest access road, to study the map. Traipsed across the meadow through tall grass over to the bank of the Bear River, a place V. used to run away to when it's hot the way I used to run away to the Pecos River when I lived in the desert. Lots of seeds and stickers in the grass, made the dog sneeze and trashed my socks. We detoured to a rock outcrop with grinding pits worn into it. By the small deep shape, thought to have been for grinding pigment rather than food, but V. didn't know exactly what they would have been grinding, and I forgot to ask just who they would have been...

Pigment grind pits on outcrop overlooking Bear Valley (Click for larger image.)

So, then, up and up. Up Forest access road 18 and up forest access road 14, until it turned out the road was blocked by snow (in August!).

Forest on Grouse Ridge near where we parked. It was selectively logged some time ago, and looks good. (Click for larger image.)

Some big fierce vehicles had bullied on past the first or second or third snowdrifts, but sooner or later all the backpackers and the daytrippers each found a place to park and started walking from however far they had gotten.

Grouse Ridge Campground area, vicinity of 7600' (Click for larger image.)
Sanford Lake (Click for larger image.)

We didn't make it to the lookout, there was a lot of snow in the woods. (The dog loved it, racing up the snowbanks then wriggling and shimmying down on her back.) But there we were, up up up there, lakes and granite in all directions.

Grouse Ridge, looking north and west: Island Lake, Feeley Lake, Carr Lake

It was properly alpine, sure enough.

Grouse Ridge overlooking Sanford Lake to the East

Then we turned around and came home, down through the woods to the car, down down down the forest roads to the highway; tired, sunblasted, (perhaps a little crabby), ever so satisfied.

Where we were:

Map of Grouse Ridge area (Click for larger image.)

Overview for August 4 and August 5th, putting towns and highways and two full days in the not-very-far-backcountry into context, thank god for acmemapper and I sure wish I would have seen this ahead of time, I'dve been way less confused for the whole three days...:

Overall map (Click for larger image.)

That's quite a neighborhood you have, VMW.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Three Short Walks in the Northern Sierra (Roadtrip, Part 4)

August 3-6, 2011, with VMW in Nevada City in the northern Sierra Nevada foothills. I've known her 40+ years, and we talked and talked, about then, about now, about the in-between. Our memories run parallel, not the same. Our pasts are rooted in different realities, even for the parts that took place at the same time in the same place. "Why don't I remember that?" "Because I left the commune two years after you did." (Because we were mostly out of touch for about 20 years.)

Surprisingly low elevation, the town is at 2525'. The plan was, roughly, to show me places she has lived in, loved, took her son hiking and camping in, for the past 26 years; we kept veering aside to see this or that on our way to here or there, and looping around the back ways. As a result I was, roughly, disoriented much of the time despite having good maps in my lap... It is Yuba River country; the highways that define how you get anywhere are CA49 and CA20; the backcountry there is the lower-elevation northern end of the Sierra Nevada, peaks not more than 8000' to 9000'.

So I pulled into V's driveway about 3PM, handed her her hostess gift of Triple Ginger Snaps, and pretty soon we were on our way to short walk #1, 'to the river' she called it, though we were from my point of view up on the hillside following ditches and flumes (lotsa ditches and flumes and reservoirs and remains of mine workings in any local story there: this is the Gold Country) horizontally along the Independence Trail. Got as far as a viewing deck by a little pool and falls at what I think was Rush Creek. Introduced her new dog Tess to the pool; dog was a bit skeptical about water. Back to the car and continued on the the old bridge over the South Fork of the Yuba, just to get a look at it. This spot figures in everyone else's memory of the commune's first expedition to look for land, in 1969. I was along on that trip, but don't remember...

Best Roadsign Evah, west of Downieville along the North Yuba River on CA49 (Click for larger image.)

Thursday, up CA49 along the north fork of the Yuba River, through the picturesque gold-country town of Downieville (3888'), and sharp left at a place called Bassetts, and north past Sierra Buttes into the Lakes Basin Recreation Area. Short walk past Grassy Lake and on a ways. Retrace, and short walk to Frazier Falls (6200').

Sierra Buttes, elevation 8591' (Click for larger image.)
Outcrop on the Frazier Falls Trail (Click for larger image.)

Unlike the higher country to the south with its granite batholith exposures, this is pretty well where the northern Sierra overlay by volcanics begins. There was sure-enough glacially smoothed bare naked rock on the trail to Frazier Falls, but it was the andesite of Sierra Buttes. Nevertheless extremely satisfying to sit on with legs stretched out flat and hands pressing down towards the heart of the earth. We were doing wildflowers all day, of which there were still plenty though it was August, but neglected to maintain a list of what we saw.

Unnamed Lake in Lakes Basin, August 4, 2011 (Click for larger image.)
Agastache urticifolia (Click for larger image.)

Friday August 5 was a 3-event day, and will get its own post.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Five Hours Further South (Roadtrip, Part 3)

Back over the mountains to Alturas, and then down down down US395, and over the Sierra Nevada to VMW's house. Somewhere along there I realized that although I was making all this southing off the Interstate, when it came time to go home from Nevada City, the only efficient thing was going to be to grind back up I-5 for hundreds of miles, starting from several hours further south than the point where I left it on July 31. Horrible thought. I put it out of my mind.

August 3rd, 2011 (Click for larger image.)

Monday, August 08, 2011

Three Nights in Northeast Nowhere (Roadtrip, Part 2)

Cedarville, California, July 31-August 3, 2011 (Click for larger image.)
The Warner Mountains (Click for larger image.)

SA was my first boss at Santa Fe Public Library, back 26 or so years ago. ("My claim to fame is that I hired her," she told the librarian at the village library when she introduced us.) Now she's an online bookseller in distant Cedarville, California, elevation 4,300 feet, population 514; the internet and the Post Office are the poles of her work life. I slept in her book room. (They call it 'the sun room', which it was before being walled in for books.)

Views of the guest room... (Click for larger image.)

We hung around, and ran errands, looked out the windows at the fields and the fruit trees and the dry mountains, and went into town every day, and talked books and libraries and the book biz and computers and all. Each evening she checked her email for orders, and ran around the shelves locating what the patrons requested; and every morning she packed books and we'd go in town to mail them. We spent a lot of time watching the cats; and the deer, who came in bunches, with many spotted fawns (MC calls them 'The Bambis'), to feast on the clover patch and the fruit trees.

A Bambi (Click for larger image.)

Surprise Valley & Warner Mountains. Still bits of snow on Eagle Peak. This year the field next door is in grain, previous two summers in alfalfa. (Click for larger image.)

Getting out of the house with nonstop talking going on, and both host and guest's patterns disrupted by the visiting process, is somewhere between comic and tragic at our age. Forgotten wallets, forgotten baskets of books to mail, where is my whatever, oh god now I can't find this other thing. Happened both with SA, and later on in the week with VMW. Oh it's mortifying.

On Monday we drove over the mountains to Alturas, so I could meet SA's friend SM, whom I have known now for many years via our blogs and via email, and had never met. It was awkward for barely a moment, then we talked like the familiar friends we actually are.

On Tuesday the big event of the day was Senior Lunch at the Senior Center. SA is part of the crew who sets up and serves and cleans up. I met everybody, and ate (was directed to the table for the younger seniors, not the table for the older seniors),and listened to what people talked about, and won beaucoup admiration points for washing dishes—the molded plastic trays, the steam tray pans the food comes in (it is prepared at the community clinic), and so on. The pinochle game regulars settled in while we cleaned up. We went on about our errands. We delivered a couple of Gary Snyder books to someone who might be interested in buying them; he kept them to look at, later phoned to say he wanted to buy them. We visited the library and the weaving shop and the store, and mailed books and drove the handful of streets among the little houses.

Frontier has given up trying to fix the pay phone. (Click for larger image.)

Everywhere we went, everyone greeted each other by name. I missed a chance to take a photo of a kid on horseback right at the 4-corner intersection. I mailed @lagina two blurry postcards of local views, and my sister a postcard of the twice-a-year cattle-drive through town, when cowpersons on horseback move the herds from summer pasture up in the Warner Mountains to wherever the winter pasture leases are (didn't quite understand that part). SA had me take her portrait in front of the post office, as I had done 10 years ago when I visited.

It was a long wet winter and cool spring. Relative to being up there in the high desert, everything was very green. "The hotel is for sale," I said. "Is it open?" "It's open. It's always for sale."

Hotel. Library. (Click for larger image.)

On Wednesday morning after coffee and talking and a slow start, set off down the highway to Nevada City, for further visiting.