Autumn Color Pops at Stratigraphy Viewpoint

Funny Diva and I got very lucky on our October trip to the south side of Mount St. Helens. The autumn colors were out in force! It’s getting to the gray part of the year in the Northern hemisphere, so a little splash of color will do us good. Let’s have a look at the wonderful ways the deciduous trees and bushes enhanced our views at Stratigraphy Viewpoint.

Image shows a length of the cut bank at Stratigraphy Viewpoint. Red-leafed trees and bushes are visible amongst the evergreens at the base of the bank and on its top.

Stratigraphy Viewpoint Fall Color I

One of the more botany-oriented folks in the audience will have to tell us what’s causing all these luscious fall colors. I suspect maples of some sort, but I dunno. We didn’t get across so I could inspect leaves.

Image shows a zoomed-in version of the previous photo, showing a particularly vigorous red tree. The bank is shades of pale gray, cream, and yellow-tan.

Stratigraphy Viewpoint Fall Color II

Speaking of botany, do you see that fluffy green bush trying to get all up in our stratigraphy? The nerve of some plants!

There are more fall colors splashed about in the photo set, if you want to go explore them. I shan’t overwhelm you with slight variations upon the theme here. Instead, let us turn to a stratigraphy photo that didn’t make the cut at Rosetta Stones, but which I love. First, you have to see it complete with the maclargehuge tree topping it like a birthday candle on a cupcake:

Image shows a tall portion of the exposed bank with a very tall lodgepole pine rising far above the surrounding trees.

Neato stratigraphy I

Look at that magnificent giant surrounded by short younger trees! It must have been there watching while Mount St. Helens went all asplodey and hurtled mudflows at it. And it was strong enough to endure the whole thing. Hats off to that tree.

Now, you may want to drool all over the bank it’s growing on.

Image zooms to the bank, which is a slice through tan, gray, pale brown, and yellow layers.

Neato stratigraphy II

How gorgeous is that? If you zoom in on it, the individual layers become fairly distinct, even though we’re shooting late in the day from across the wide river channel. You can even identify many of those layers yourself! Use this photo for reference. How many did you spot?

Holiday Road Trip? Compelling Reasons to Stuff a Geologist in Your Car – But Do Your Own Driving

“‘If I’m going to drive safely, I can’t do geology.'”

-Geologist quoted by John McPhee in Basin and Range

There’s nothing like roadtripping with geologists. If you’ve got a long, dull trip coming up, stuff a geologist or two in the car with you – it’ll liven things up considerably! Of course, you’ll find yourself taking risks you never expected to take, and pulling your car off the road at extremely short notice and sometimes awfully close to a sheer drop, but trust me, it’ll be worth it.

You know how you’re driving along, minding your own business, and sometimes zip through gashes in hills and such where engineers have decided removing some rock is in the best interest of the roadway? You know how it’s all mostly been a brown or gray blur as you speed past? All that’s about to change. [Read more…]

Sneak Peeks from Frenchman Coulee

Waterfall, petrified wood, bighorn sheep, and stunning sunset, oh my! S’s friend R is visiting, and we took advantage of a nice weather break to head over to Frenchman Coulee. Twas glorious! I’m too exhausted to do much of anything but drool over some photos, but I think you’ll very much enjoy drooling with me.

Image shows the peak of Mount Stuart, which is a fan-shaped, rugged mountain. It has a coating of bright white new snow.

Mount Stuart showing off a beautiful new coat of snow.

As we drove through the Cascades, we saw the peaks dusted with snow so new it was still clinging to tree branches. So lovely! [Read more…]

Brilliant Fall Colors at Icicle Gorge – Come Enjoy!

It’s fall! I hate this season. Yeah, I know, everybody else seems to love it, but I get all maudlin about the dying year. I hate the days getting shorter, the return of endless rain, all the deciduous trees and plants becoming skeletons, the endless pumpkin nonsense… yeah, killjoy, I know. I didn’t even like it in Arizona, when it basically meant the Peaks would be dusted with snow and it would finally drop below blast furnace temps in Phoenix. I’m just not a fall person.

But I do like the brilliant colors of the turning leaves. And I bloody adore Halloween. So there’s that.

Anyway. I’m trying to take advantage of every rare good day we get, and B and I lucked out tremendously. We hadn’t had a chance to actually go out and do anything since his new job started, but this time, he happened to have a day off on one of our few remaining spectacular days, and I was also free, so we hopped in the car and headed over the Cascades to Leavenworth. Just outside of Leavenworth, Icicle Creek plunges through a spectacular gorge cut into the Chiwaukum Schist. There’s a lovely loop trail that winds around and into the gorge, crosses two bridges, and presents a lot of interesting variety along the way. You get creek views, mountain views, forests, bogs, and all sorts of things! There’s even maclargehuge Ponderosa pines, which makes this former Flagstaff, AZ girl happy. [Read more…]

Ghost Mountain, Beach Rocks, and Puppy

I have some lovely scenes from Magnuson Park for ye, my darlings. Funny, because I almost didn’t.

Having spent the night dreaming I was released naked from a Middle Eastern prison and had to find adequate clothes to avoid sunburn*, and also being woken up what seemed like every few minutes by a cold cat looking for warms, then deciding she was warm enough and waking me again as she buggered off, I was exhausted. It was all I could do to stagger out of bed and fling myself into the chair on the patio in the sunshine. This is where I was when a certified miracle happened. [Read more…]

Our Mount St. Helens Epic Adventure: The End of a Quest!

Suzanne and I went up to Mount St. Helens yesterday on a rather spur-of-the-moment whim. The weather wasn’t as clear as we’d have liked, but the clouds stayed just high enough to make things interesting without obscuring the vital bits, so that was a little bit of all right. And at the end of the day, we had a most spectacular moment of success, one that brought a years-long quest to a close. Come join me for a whirlwind overview before I go pass out!

[Read more…]

Epic Cheesy Horse! Plus: What Ground Combat REALLY Looks Like

We made it to the Snohomish Pumpkin Hurl and Medieval Faire! Alas, we didn’t have a chance to see Trebuchet, but we saw him launch his trebuchets, so that was something. Starspider and I were waiting for her funnel cake and missed the black powder cannon, but others in our party made it. We got kettle corn and the beef jerky I’ve been waiting for all year. Starspider let me nibble on her venison jerky, which was my first deer ever, and delicious, even though it’s like chowing down on Bambi’s mom. We saw the jousting, and I got to hang out with Paladin, who is one of my favorite horses, so that was most excellent. I will have pumpkin hurling awesomeness and some jousting excitement, despite my camera suddenly becoming old and crotchety and having trouble focusing, and being at a not-so-great angle. I managed to shoot lots of video and some really good still photos. Some of it has Mount Baker as the backdrop, which looks really amazeballs. You will love it.

But first, people, I have to post this epic photo of Eowyn and Sir Cedric. I think we have achieved peak cheesy-horse. [Read more…]

The Beauty of the Storm

I meant to have the next chapter of Escape done, my darlings, but I got busy cleaning and didn’t stop until it was time to meet up with Funny Diva. And once I got groceries, got home, and finished making the bed and packing book orders, my body decided it needed a hot soak before my muscles ganged up and murdered me. Then my computer was being an asshole. So what you’re going to get today are really pretty photos taken from the Burke-Gilman trail while storm clouds built. You are also going to get an awesome video with a bathing seagull, a seaplane, and a kayak.

Right, then. So you can actually walk from the Town Center in Lake Forest Park all the way down past Log Boom Park and over to Pagliacci Pizza, which is just what we did. It’s quite a haul for someone who’s been rather sedentary up until a furious cleaning spree, and it was raining intermittently, but it was worth it. Here’s a glimpse of Lake Washington from between trees as we got to Log Boom Park:

Image shows Lake Washington framed on the sides and bottom by dark trees. It is near sunset, but the sky is still very blue, except for some fluffy white and dark gray storm clouds piling up. The water is a lovely mottle of gray and blue.

Lake Washington and storm clouds.

When we reached the docks, we were extremely fortunate to get there just as a heron was flying past.

Image shows Lake Washington looking south. Storm clouds loom from onshore, reflected in the water. There is a gorgeous streak of blue down the center. A heron is flying to the right.

Heron on the wing over the water.

How fabulous is that, with all those subtle colors? I’m astonished the shot came out. I’d just started turning the camera on, and it wasn’t yet fully booted when I spotted the heron, aimed, and fired. It didn’t even have a real chance to focus. Yet it turned out wonderfully.

Here is a crop of the heron:

Image shows the heron winging low over the water, in the cloud shadow.

Heron on the wing.

I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing great blue herons.

As we reached the end of the dock, we spotted the rotting piles of the old pier. The colors were lovely.

In the distance, piles of an old pier stand out of the water in parallel lines. They seem to point at the storm clouds rising over the lake. The reflected clouds and the blend of dark and lighter blues in the water make it an almost brooding atmosphere.

As we walked past the industrial buildings, we spotted a cloud raining into the sky, but the rain evaporated before reaching the ground.

Image shows a white storm cloud in the background, and a small, dark-gray raincloud in the foreground. The small cloud has dark streaks of rain coming down from it, but they have faded out long before it could reach the ground.

Raining on high.

And then there was a crow that looked like it was trying to out-fly a roiling, boiling steam eruption, but it was actually just lazily flapping towards where it roosts for the night. There were a great many crows all doing the same.

Image shows a crow flying almost off-image to the left. Above and behind it is a huge thunder head looming towards it.

Fly for your lives!

(Speaking of crows, I spotted one playing lifeguard at Juanita Beach just a couple days ago. So adorbs!)

Image shows a crow perched on top of an empty lifeguard chair, staring off to the left as if looking for distressed swimmers. The lake is in the background, with dark storm clouds piled overhead.


Funny Diva and I crossed the road and had ourselves some pizza at Pagliacci before heading back. While we were inside, it poured rain. It had stopped by the time we got out. Our luck was very much in, and it was a delightful time, made even more delightful by this seaplane landing while we were at Log Boom Park. How often do you get a chance to film a seaplane, a kayak, and a bathing seagull all at once?

First time for me. Loved it. And I deliberately made the title sound like the set-up to a silly joke, so you lot can have at in the comments if you think of good jokes to tell. I’m going to go finish Chapter 4 of In the Path of Destruction and pass right out. Oy.

Seahurst with Silver Fox, Plus Cryptopod: Why Did the Green Bug Cross the Road?

It’s been a busy social week for this introvert! On Wednesday, I drove down to pick Silver Fox up from the airport and take her to Seahurst Park on her layover. Since I-5 has basically been a parking lot between my new place and downtown Seattle, I took Highway 99. This meant I had to go through the Viaduct. I always white-knuckle it through there, begging the Cascadia subduction zone not to rip right then, please. Then I took a wrong turn and ended up on I-5 anyway, which was okay because it was below the jam. Then I took a wrong turn out of the cell phone waiting lot at the airport and had to drive around trying to find a way back to the terminal. It was a comedy of errors, but I did at last manage to collect Silver Fox, and we found our way to Seahurst without incident.

It’s a lovely park with lots of beachfront. [Read more…]