New at Rosetta Stones: Mount Baker At Last! Plus, a Genuine Watercolor

I’ve got the preliminary findings from our maiden voyage to Mount Baker up at Rosetta Stones for ye. You’re gonna love it.

You may also love this photograph of Mount Shuksan:

Image shows what looks like a watercolor image of Mount Shuksan.

Mount Shuksan reflected in a lovely tarn.

Looks sorta like a watercolor, doesn’t it just? It sorta is: this is Mount Shuksan as reflected in a lovely little tarn on Mount Baker Highway.

It’s the real thing – I’ve just played a bit with the brightness and such. Here’s the untouched version:

Mount Shuksan as reflected in the tarn.

Mount Shuksan as reflected in the tarn, without the fiddling around.

Okay, and I flipped it right-side up, too. See it in its non-reflected glory at Rosetta Stones, and find out why it’s really actually green.

Stachys Standing Proud

One of these days, I’ll get round to making a little e-book of the flowers ya’ll have identified, so I can look it up and say, definitively, “That’s the flower my readers identified as X” rather than, “Oh, hey, there’s one of the flowers my readers told me the name of, I think, only I can’t remember it off the top of my head, but they know what it is I swear!” Either that, or I will have to become fabulously rich so that I can take a gaggle of you with me all over the world, and have you identify things, and then we’ll post the pictures and idents via satellite phone or something, real-time. We could make up special t-shirts and everything. And we would also support various social-justice causes with our treks, and offset our carbon footprints, and all sorts of responsible things. All while subverting creationist drivel with fun facts. Sound good? Let’s do it! Now I just have to figure out how to become rich…

While I’m working on that, have some fun gazing upon one of the flowers you’ve successfully identified in the past: Stachys cooleyae, or Cooley’s hedge nettle.

Image shows a stem of purple-and-white mottled flowers that look like little trumpets, or possibly roaring lions..

Stachys cooleyae, which is hard to learn how to spell, but quite lovely.

This one was growing happily along the trail between Waikiki Beach and the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. The whole place is a riot of vegetation filled with things like snakes and spiders and so-forth, but the beauty of the Pacific Northwest is, very few of those things are dangerously poisonous or even inclined to bother folks, so you can enjoy the flowers without worrying that something deadly is about to sneak out and bite you. Having come from a place where a good number of the creepy-crawlies were either lethal or would give you a very painful time, it’s refreshing.

Image is a crop of the previous, showing a few of the flowers, and the fine white hair that covers the stem and leaves.

A closer view. Look at all those darling little hairs!

See? Beautiful. And while it pays to mind your surroundings and know that even in a place where 98% of everything won’t attempt to annihilate you, there’s always the possibility something untoward will happen, nearly perfectly safe. Unless you have a phobia, in which case, until you’ve gone through the full course of therapy and gained the upper hand, it’s probably best not to run about a place that has such an abundance of potentially terrifying living things. Should I become fabulously rich and famous, such therapy will be offered free to those who wish to go geotrekking with me but find things like sudden spiders traumatic.

I wish I had a picture of the snake that kept popping out to see if we’d gone yet. I’m not sure what was in the spot that it wanted so badly – perhaps it was its favorite spot for catching a few rays – but the poor thing would go under its bush, then nip out after a minute, see us, and zip back again. Several times, this happened, in the few minutes we were at the summit of one of the headlands admiring the view. I almost never see snakes doing that. This one was a fair-sized brown garter snake with a pretty red stripe. I like garter snakes – they’re gentle little things, and they keep pests down, and they’re fun to watch. We tried to respect it by getting out of its territory in a reasonable amount of time.

That’s another thing I hope to do, riches and fame or not: help people develop a better relationship with things that creep and crawl. Suppose I’d best work on getting more photos of them, then, without pestering them overmuch…

Sea Stack Pining for the Sea

One of the first roadside zomg-look-at-the-scenery pullouts at the northern end of Cape Disappointment State Park happens to overlook a wonderful example of what happens when sediment fills in the sea round a sea stack. Can you spot it?

Image is looking out to sea. In the foreground are trees, some snags, and a knob of rock. Beyond it is a flat area covered with vegetation and a strip of sandy beach beyond.

Lonely Sea Stack is Lonely

This is the result when a nice, hard stack of basalt (in this case the Eocene Crescent Formation basalt) ends up in a sea of sediment instead of a sea of saltwater. Poor thing is now stuck inland. The only time it’ll be a stack again is either during a tsunami or if sea level rises.

Image shows a closer view of the top of the former sea stack, which has grown a mantle of moss, grass, and possibly a tree.

Let’s Call it Broody.

There’s probably some technical term for these things. I thought it was “knocker,” but that seems to only refer to knobs of rock within a melange. And my brief attempt to wrestle an answer out of Google was non-successful. Who here knows what they’re technically called?

If there is no technical term, I call dibs on calling them “broodies,” just in case that catches on.

Hovergull

A bizarre sight greeted our eyes at Seal Rock State Recreation Site: a nearly-motionless seagull. You scoff, I know, and say it’s not unusual for birds to hang about doing not much of anything, and that is true. However: it’s somewhat rare for them to hang about doing not much of anything in mid-air. This one looked a bit like someone had glued a seagull in a flight pose to a clear stick and was holding it up.

This little bugger went nowhere fast. It hovered happily while other seagulls (including the fledgeling mentioned, but not visible, in the video) zipped and zoomed all round it. There’s probably some explanation for its behavior that’s not limited to “Because, that’s why.” Any seabird specialists in the house?

Image shows one smaller seagull hovering while a larger one flies past

Hovergull

I’m Back – With a Challenge!

I’ve returned safely home with enough neat new photos of the Oregon and Washington coasts, plus manylots of waterfalls, to keep us busy for ages. And summer field season ain’t even over!

Here’s an image from the final day of the trip, when we scooped up Lockwood and went geotripping along the coast around Newport and Waldport. I’m doing the Vanna thing at the contact between some seriously massive basalt and the Yaquina Formation sedimentary rocks at Seal Rock State Recreation Site.

Image shows me standing under a lip of massive basalt, in front of streaky sandstone rocks that the basalt overlies.

Moi showing off the lovely contact.

What I’ve learnt on this trip is that I’m going to have to invest lotsa time and effort into catching up with the current professional literature. I can’t really speak intelligently or intelligibly about the geology right at this spot – the field guides are ages out of date, and the geologic map I’ve found is also quite old. If any of you know geologists whose study area includes this bit of the coast, and they love to talk people’s ears off about their work, well, send ‘em my way!

Right, here’s another image, and this one has a challenge within it. It’s from Yaquina Head, and it has got a seal. Can you see it?

Image shows a tight cluster of basalt sea stacks. The ones in the background are tall and covered with birds. The ones in the foreground are nearly at water level. A gray seal is lounging on one set of them.

Thar’s a seal in them thar rocks…

Now, I know you’ll be tempted to identify all the twelve trillion birds on the rocks, but I’ll be posting much better photos of those soon, so hold yer horses! You’ve already got severe enough eyestrain from finding that seal!

As a special bonus, here is a totes adorbs photo of B watching a seal. It’s pretending to studiously ignore him in this image, but it had actually been scoping him out for a bit, following him along the shore.

Image shows B looking out into the near-shore waves, where a seal head is visible.

B with Seal

I’m of to die of the heat and take a long-ass nap. I’ll be back with much more geotrippy goodness a bit later!

The Most Beautiful Moon I’ve Ever Seen

We haven’t even left yet, and the views are spectacular. The Moon at sunset tonight was magnificent.

Image shows the full moon surrounded by whispy pink clouds.

Sunset Moon

It was one of those fortuitous things. A few minutes earlier, a few minutes later, and it wouldn’t have been there, the way it was. Synchronicity. Lovely.

Image if of the moon and sunset clouds with a bit of forest below.

Sunset Moon with Lovely Forest

If this is even a hint of what the trip will be like, we’re in for some scenic times. Wait til I show you them…

Yes, I Abandoned You For Franklin Falls

Yes, I posted a lovely picture of it on Rosetta Stones. Yes, I’ll be writing up the geology of that amazing place in-depth soonish. Probably by the end of summer, even! And in the meantime, I shall tease you with photos.

Like this before picture:

Image shows me sitting on water-smoothed slabs of granite, with the river rushing beside me.

Moi on the rocks in the Snoqualmie River.

After’s where it gets fun. And very, very cold. (No, I didn’t fall in.) The hydrogeology buffs will probably squee with joy when I post the photo sequence from this stop along the trail!

I’m out for the rest of the week aside from a pre-scheduled post on the geology of the Fourth of July – all the MMA fights are happening this week, I’m trying to be a good girl and go to ye olde daye jobbe at least a few days before my official end date, and I intend to have some serious lazy time before working full-time for the worst boss in the world: moi. We’ll finish naming the store next week, and I will totally get back to those of you who have asked me bidness-related questions! Until then, go have as much fun as you can endure, and if you’re in a place that’s miserably hot, get thee to the water if you can! See you soon!

My Fish, Damn You! A Hungry Heron’s Tale

It’s been one of those weekends filled with fortunate happenstances. B’s household emptied out for a camping trip, so we took the place over. We could do what we wanted, when we wanted, so when the weather suddenly cleared late Saturday afternoon, we buggered off to Juanita for a nice walk and some vitamin D production. It was far less crowded than expected. There was only one gentleman and his dog birdwatching at the first cul-de-sac in the wetland, and one mighty large heron hanging about on a log.

A great blue heron, standing upon a half-submerged log, surrounded by pads that will soon be full of lilies.

A great blue heron, standing upon a half-submerged log, surrounded by pads that will soon be full of lilies.

It really was a tall bird. Here’s some perspective:

A wider version of the above, showing the bit of Juanita Bay where the heron fishes.

A wider version of the above, showing the bit of Juanita Bay where the heron fishes.

And there were red-wing blackbirds, one of whom would later cause our hungry heron some grief.

A red-wing blackbird hanging about on the cattails.

A red-wing blackbird hanging about on the cattails.

The heron was being boring. It didn’t look like it would move for the next century or so, and I got occupied looking at some unusual wetlands plants, and the gentleman was speculating upon when the heron would go fish, while the dog chilled and B associated with a duck. So the gentleman was the only one ready to get the whole sequence of the fast-moving action that came next, alas. It began with the heron spotting a catfish and spearing it in a flash, followed by the blackbird deciding that, even though the heron is enormous compared to it, that catfish was worth trying to steal. I saw the blackbird swoop down and harry the heron, but didn’t have time to swing the camera about until it had given up and gone away. Drat.

But I’m pretty damned happy with the shot I got just after the heron had turned away in a huff.

The heron, catfish in beak, crouched in the lily pads with its wings out.

The heron, catfish in beak, crouched in the lily pads with its wings out.

That, my friends, is the most magnificent photo of a heron I’ve ever managed. I’m in love with it.

You can tell this heron’s had it rough. It’s been scrapping with more than red-wing blackbirds, judging from the raw spot on its wing. So I’m quite pleased for it, managing to catch such a tasty fat fishy.

Our heron, posing prettily with the fishy in its beak, standing tall in triumph, and also wondering where it's going to go to get this thing off its beak without losing it.

Our heron, posing prettily with the fishy in its beak, standing tall in triumph, and also wondering where it’s going to go to get this thing off its beak without losing it.

It stood on the log for a bit, with the turtles looking on in admiration (and probably pretty smug about the whole evolving-armor thing). Then it waded off into the water.

Our heron treading off toward the shore, looking for a likely spot for lunch. You just know it's headed for some place in the tall grass or the cattails where we won't be able to watch nature being nature.

Our heron treading off toward the shore, looking for a likely spot for lunch. You just know it’s headed for some place in the tall grass or the cattails where we won’t be able to watch nature being nature.

And I managed one last shot as it crouched and readied itself to possibly fly away…

Our heron, complete with fish dinner, crouched and ready to spring into action, as a turtle dives at its feet, having decided this obtaining supper scheme sounds like a darned good idea.

Our heron, complete with fish dinner, crouched and ready to spring into action, as a turtle dives at its feet, having decided this obtaining supper scheme sounds like a darned good idea.

…but it actually just ended up hopping into a tall clump of grass. The gentleman said this heron likes doing that, so apparently it’s a regular here, and so should I be, if I want to get even more awesomesauce heron dining shots.

I got you some other lovely photos of various and sundry, which I’ll have up soonish. Right now, though, I have to go cuddle my kitty by way of apologizing for ditching her for other kitties for a night. It’s no consolation to her that neither Kirby nor Luna slept with me, nor that Kirby walked all the way down the hall and trod all over his daddy rather than just nudging me to navigate the few steps from couch to door to let him out this morning. Cats. They always go for the person who’ll have to work the hardest to meet their needs, don’t they?

As for those of you who may be wondering what became of the red-wing blackbird after his ill-fated attempt to steal from a heron, he went chuckling off into the rushes and appeared quite content. The gentleman with the dog says he regularly harries the herons. Once I’m free of ye olde daye jobe, I may just have to head down to see if I can capture another chapter in this story.

An End, A Beginning… and a possible major freakout

Today’s the day I put in two weeks’ notice. Ye olde daye jobe will soon be defunct, and I will be working for the worst boss of all: meownself.

People at work keep asking me if I’m sure. As if trading stability for risk is ever something you can be sure of.

Image shows a cat on a boat, staring at a bird on the dock. Caption says, "Risk vs. Reward. Choose wisely."Of course I’m not sure. I’m not sure my books will sell. I’m not sure the merchandise I’ve got planned will move (although I have a feeling you guys are going to love the stuff based on geology puns!). I’m not sure the economy won’t tank and flush me just as things begin to take off. Can’t be sure of anything.

Except.

I’m sure I can’t play it safe anymore.

I’m sure I want to step off that mountain, even though there’s no way of knowing if I’ll fall or fly.

I’m sure there’s a lot I want to do that I haven’t got time for now: so many books to write, and fun things to design, and adventures to go on.

I’m sure I’ve got the world’s best cheering section (that would be you, my darlings!).

And I’m sure the time is now. Because if not now, it’ll be never.

So I’m all in.

Image shows a squirrel sprawled on a deck with a thick scattering of seeds in front of it. Caption says, "Awl In"Two weeks, and the badge gets discarded forever. I kiss the sweet union-bargained benefits goodbye. I say sayonara to the steady paycheck. And probably panic a bit before I get my footing. Shit’s a little scary, y’know. But I’m ready to take the plunge, because even if I fall, I can manage to land somewhere soft enough. And who knows – maybe this is the day that I fly.

Wish me luck.

Intimations of Summer Past: A Photo Essay for Those Brought Low by the Winter

Some of you have expressed a certain dissatisfaction with the temperature of the Northern Hemisphere lately. And I’m blue, too, I’ll admit: the weather forecast is rain, rain, more rain, rain plus snow, clouds, and rain. I’m stuck indoors with Christianist textbooks, some of which take ages to debunk, considering nearly every sentence is a lie. And B’s off to see the folks this week, so there’s a long stretch without the person who listens to me howl about fundies, joins me in some righteous outrage, and gives me the you’ll-get-through-it hug. Ugh.

Let’s have some sunshine, shall we? I’m going to do up a photo each from last summer’s adventures. And perhaps we’ll remember that the warm breezes will blow again, and the sun will shine again, and all this gloom will melt away for a while.

 

Image shows one of the bare rock peaks of the Cascades, a zig-zag of snow snaking down it, and forested slopes in the foreground.

Cascades, May 2013

 

Image shows the orange waterfall at Coal Creek, surrounded by bright green plants.

Coal Creek, May 2013

 

Image is of some wild waves on the river, whitewater crests lit by filtered sunlight.

Wenatchee River, May 2013

 

Image is looking south, with a ring dike and headlands visible.

Oregon Coast, May 2013

 

Image is a rainbow-colored cloud in the sky.

Snoqualmie Falls, May 2013

 

 

Image is a full-length view of the thin streams of Twin Falls

Twin Falls, June 2013

 

Image shows a view of the Olympic Mountains across the Sound with South Meadow in the foreground.

Discovery Park, June 2013

 

Image is a sunlight waterfall on Denny Creek.

Denny Creek, June 2013

 

Image shows Dry Falls, with water in the plunge pools and the brown basalt cliffs dappled by sunlight.

Dry Falls, June 2013

Image is looking up Icicle Creek, with the lovely white-streaked schist exposed on the banks.

Icicle Gorge, July 2013

 

Image shows the Sisters with a young basalt flow in the foreground.

McKenzie Pass, July 2013

 

Image shows the Sound and the railroad tracks along the shore.

Richmond Beach, July 2013

 

Image shows the basalt quarry.

Lord Hill Regional Park, August 2013

 

Image shows Mount Rainier with a forested valley in the foreground.

Mount Rainier, August 2013

 

Image is of a short, wide waterfall plunging, with a scenic footbridge arching over it.

Deception Falls, August 2013

 

Image is of pink water lilies on the pond.

Washington Park Arboretum, August 2013

 

Image is a knight on a galloping dapple-gray horse.

Snohomish Pumpkin Hurl and Medieval Faire, September 2013

 

Image shows the river with its gravel bars, and the snow-capped Cascades in the distance.

Al Borlin Park, October 2013

 

Image shows the view across the Puget Lowland, with Mount Baker in the distance.

Cougar Mountain, October 2013

Just think of what we’ll see when summer comes again…