I Brought Ye Some Baker

We almost didn’t. Ya’ll can thank B for your Baker photos today, because he’s the one who said, “Let’s do it.” See, when we got up Friday morning, the cloud cover was thick and low. Weather.com promised me partly sunny skies at Mount Baker, but I hadn’t any faith, especially not with the Cascade foothills covered in clouds. I was ready to give it all up and head to Larrabee State Park instead. But B wanted Baker, and he convinced me to take a chance on it. So up we went.

We stopped by Nooksack Falls first, to kind of warm up, and to give the clouds a chance to burn off. We had a magnificent time. We were the only ones there for most of the time, and we got lots of photos of the top of the falls, and of the side creek bringing in a huge load of sediment. Here’s one of the prettiest pictures, which was taken when we were walking beside the falls on the way to the car. This is at the top, as the water begins its downward plunge:

Image shows water falling over a polished ledge of volcanic rock. Some of the water is falling in a thin white veil; beyond that, the water is deeper and has a lovely aquamarine color. Where the water is landing, it is churning whitewater.

Look at all those lovely colors and textures!

That sublime brown rock is 180 million years old, erupted in a Jurassic ocean, according to Ron Tabor. That’s some pretty super-awesome stuff, and some of the oldest rock in Western Washington if I remember right.

This seems like a great place to come on a hot day, because it was a warm day and we nearly froze. So we didn’t linger. We headed up the mountain, and were cheered by a few sunbreaks. Then, by the time we’d reached Heather Meadows, we were in bright sunshine. Sure, there was a bit of haze in the air, and yeah, there were so many clouds to the east that you couldn’t see off the slopes, much less out across the valley, but it was a lot better than expected. We stopped at the Visitor’s Center, where the ranger on duty told us that Artist’s Point was completely clear of snow, and I screamed for joy, because that meant we could do the Table Mountain hike. [Read more…]

Drool-Worthy Geology at Whatcom Falls Park

Sometimes, having your plans fall through is the best possible thing. B and I headed up to Mount Baker yesterday to get you all some lovely volcano photos. Alas, the haze in the air was so thick you couldn’t see across a lake, so voluptuous volcanic vistas were not in the cards. The weather was cool enough for some Puget Lowland adventure, though, so we picked a park and went hiking.

We were lucky enough to discover Whatcom Falls Park, which is along short little Whatcom Creek. It’s not at peak flow right now, so the waterfalls aren’t as majestic as they are in other seasons. However, this is a prime time to see the geology of the stream bed. It is bloody spectacular. [Read more…]

Cryptopod: Squirmy Water Wormies!

B and I were going to visit Mount Baker on Thursday, but the haze in the air was atrocious. The views were severely compromised. So when we reached Bellingham and nothing had changed, we decided to modify our plans – after all, we were staying overnight and could go up next day. We searched around for suitable parks to play in, and found Whatcom Falls Park. People, this place is made of awesome. It’s probably even more awesome when the water levels are high, but seeing it with the creek so low is also mega-awesome, because you can walk out on top of the big waterfall and see what the water has done to the delicious sandstone. I’ll be showing you that quite soon.

Another super-awesome thing you may see is a shallow green puddle full of red squirmy worms. If you don’t like worms, this won’t be super-awesome. But if you do, you’ll squee, and then you’ll crouch down and take photos. [Read more…]

Going Back to Baker

With Seattle continuing to be ridiculously hot, B and I have decided to escape both heat and his brothers, and head up to Mount Baker for a nice overnight trip this Thursday. If you have any special requests for us as far as what you’d like us to check out while we’re there, let us know in the comments, and we’ll do our best!

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

Mount Shuksan reflected in a lovely tarn on Mount Baker.

Mystery Flora: Sweetly Symmetrical

When it’s hot in the Pacific Northwest, one has a few options. There are a few restaurants, businesses, and entertainment facilities that have air conditioning. There’s the Sound, which is good and cold and has a few nice beaches. And there’s the mountains, with gorgeous streams cascading down them, cooling the place off on the way.

It got to be around 90 on Monday, so B and I headed into the Cascades. This is one of the best times of year to go, because all of the green growing things are busy being pretty. Such as these little delights from Deception Falls: [Read more…]

Really Terrible Bible Inspirations: Happy Harlot’s Edition

Have I mentioned that Tamar in Genesis is one of my favorite Bible characters so far?

I tell the full story in Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. I: Genesis. But I’ll sum up for ye: Here’s this woman in a patriarchal society, where your value as a female is measured by motherhood. Her first husband gets murdered by God. So, based on the traditions of the time, her father-in-law Judah orders her brother-in-law to step up, do his duty, and knock her up. Only, any resulting children would be considered his dead brother’s, not his, so while he’s happy to use her as a masturbation device, he pulls out so he won’t get her pregnant. God’s quite irate over the wasting sperm thing, so he strikes that dude dead. Now all that’s left is a really young third bro-in-law, so Judah tells Tamar she’s just gonna have to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

When it becomes clear that Judah’s never going to marry her to his son like he promised, Tamar takes matters into her own hands. She waits until Judah’s gone off to deal with his flocks, then cosplays a prostitute and waits by the road. [Read more…]

Yellow-Bellied Varmints! I Mean, Marmots!

Our trip out to Grand Coulee in early May was filled with wonderful wild animals. I showed you the cute fuzzy critter we saw at Frenchman Coulee, and you were able to identify it as a yellow-bellied marmot. They’re so adorable! I kinda wish I could keep one as a pet, but since they’re not domesticated, it’s best to leave them out in the wild.

Turns out they don’t actually gang up on people. I knew danielwilliams was telling us a big ol’ fib. But it was absolutely in the finest tradition of Old West tall tales, so I shall share it here:

Best you didn’t approach… the yellow-bellied marmot is called such because it uses cowardly hunting tactics, luring prey in with adorableness and then the rest of the pride erupts from the ground swarming the victim until nothing is left.

Nicely done, sir!

B and I didn’t think we’d ever see one again, but when we dropped by Summer Falls, suddenly they were everywhere. I spotted this one first, looking yellow-bellied indeed. Well, at least quite cautious. [Read more…]

Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: That Little Red-Headed Woodpecker

There was one afternoon in April that was rather astonishing. B and I were taking a leisurely walk along North Creek behind the ballfields, and we heard a woodpecker. Next thing we knew, the trees were full of them. A veritable cloud of woodpeckers seemed to fly by and select individual trees. They took me by surprise, and I wasn’t able to photograph them all. But one landed close to us, and didn’t mind my antics, so I have that lovely little one, with video even!

Image shows a small woodpecker on the trunk of a white tree that has little holes drilled in. The woodpecker has its back to us. It has a brilliant red head, and a gray and black body with horizontal bars down its back and tail.


I wish my brain could film what I see and download it direct to the computer, because none of these images of a single little woodpecker will live up to seeing so many swoop by. Still. Isn’t it wonderful?

Another image of the same woodpecker. It has turned its head slightly, and you can see its short, stout beak.


I don’t recall having many woodpeckers in Arizona. I think I saw one maybe once or twice. They were rather exotic to me, and of course my understanding of them was filtered through Woody Woodpecker cartoons. Now that I’m here in Washington, I see quite a few different ones, and they’re all wonderful, and none of them have that bloody silly laugh.

The woodpecker has gone back to pecking. Image is zoomed out a bit, and from another angle, showing off the new green leaves and the blue sky forming the backdrop to our woodpecker.


I’ve learned to listen for a rapid rata-ta-tat on tree trunks when I’m in the forest. But it hadn’t occurred to me to listen for it along the most populated part of North Creek! I’ve seen woodpeckers along the proper wetland portion, but this is just a narrow strip of water and greenery between commercial buildings and busy ballfields. It seems many of our native birds have adapted just fine to the presence of humans, and are happy to feast wherever, whenever, no matter who’s about.

Still, I don’t often catch woodpeckers along this portion. I’ve tried coming back around the same time of day, but no luck. I suppose they have habits I could suss out if I spent more time there.

Here’s our little darling figuring out what I’m up to before deciding I wasn’t likely to spoil its dinner, and then showing us why those trees have all those holes in their bark. Enjoy!

P.S. The title’s merely a play on Charlie Brown. These aren’t actually red-headed woodpeckers. I mean, they’re redheads, but not that kind. I wouldn’t give it away like that!

Interlude with Soaring Eagles, Colorful Blackbirds, and a Non-Ninja Turtle

After the week we’ve had, it’s time to relax with some neato wild critters. B and I took a healthy walk at Juanita Bay and saw about ten trillion birdies. There were so many ducklings, you guys, and I will have to find more time to sort through them. At the moment, however, we shall focus mostly on eagles, with also some beautiful blackbirds and one awkward turtle.

There were so many eagles, you guys. I didn’t even realize they were eagles at first, because there were bunches of them, and I’m not used to eagles flying in flocks. Then we got a better look, and a gentleman out there with a hyoooge camera lens pointed out the two juvenile balds, and then later we got a good look at the adults, and yep, eagles. Eagles everywhere. [Read more…]