Made Small by the Mountain

Whilst I was photographing Mount St. Helens, Suzanne was photographing me photographing the mountain. She got a great shot!

Image shows Mount St. Helens, rays of sunshine striking it from low in the west and a thick white cloud over its summit. I'm standing on a grassy ridge to the right, almost invisible due to shadows and my black trench coat. I look very small in comparison to the enormous mountain many miles away.

Mount St. Helens et moi. Image courtesy Suzanne.

Perspective makes the grass look almost as tall as me – I don’t remember it being so high! Then again, I was completely entranced by the mountain, so maybe I just didn’t notice.

It’s not just perspective that makes Mount St. Helens look so huge. It is so huge! To give you an idea of how huge, even with nearly two thousand feet of its summit missing, check this out: [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…]

New at Rosetta Stones: What’s the 2015 Illapel Earthquake Got to Do With Charles Darwin?

As Chile recovers from its monster 2015 Illapel Earthquake, I got to thinking about another Chilean earthquake and a rather famous geologist-turned-biologist. Charles Darwin experienced a very similar quake in Chile during his voyage with the Beagle, and left an exquisite account of it. I bring you that story, plus some useful links about the modern quake. You’ll see that Chile’s had earthquake preparedness down for centuries, and that Darwin is top-notch at earthquake reporting. Enjoy!

Image is a grayscale engraving showing the toppled walls of a cathedral. Nothing is recognizable. Rutted streets pass by it.

“Remains of the Cathedral of Concepción” by John Clements Wickham.

New at Rosetta Stones: It’s the Eve of Destruction

Our third edition of In the Path of Destruction live-blogging is up! This one takes us right up to the seconds before the eruption. Some of the things that happened will leave you sputtering. Some of it will leave you wishing for a TARDIS so you can get people the heck outta Dodge.

Image shows a bearded Dave Johnston sitting in a camp chair with his feet up, smiling at the camera. A forest stands behind him.

David Johnston at Coldwater II on May 17th, 1980. Image courtesy Harry Glicken/USGS.


Bald Blue Jay!

You all did a superb job identifying Ken’s poor molting blue jay in our last UFD extravaganza. I promised you a few more shots of it, and I have at last returned to the intertoobz to deliver.

Image shows a blue jay with a very bald head, in 3/4 profile facing away from the camera. Only its wings are the spectacular blue-jay colors - everything else is either a cloudy gray or missing feathers entirely. Its entire head is bald.

Ken’s bald blue jay. Used with permission.

That’s so sad, rather. It makes me wonder how ridiculous the feathered dinosaurs looked whilst they were molting. [Read more…]

Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Midwest Moppets

A bit ago, I put out a call for UFDs, and our Ken responded with some stunning photography. Even if you’re all like, “Oh, pfft, Dana, these are simplicity themselves!” you are still going to love them.

Here’s our first UFD. Ken manages to make it look lovely despite its poor bald head: [Read more…]

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XVII: Wherein Mountains are Laid Low by Ignorance

I hope you’re prepared for mountains of bullshit, my darlings. This week, our Christianist textbook Science of the Physical Creation is delivering enough to fertilize the entire Willamette Valley.

Right off, as we get into SPC’s explanation of mountains and volcanoes and earthquakes oh my, we see we’re in for a whole lotta Godtalk. They don’t start off talking about what mountains actually are, as you would expect one would in an earth science textbook. Instead, they wank on for a very long paragraph about how mountains existed before the Flood because Genesis 7:19-20 sez so, but maybe they weren’t all that “tall, steep, and rugged.” They say “the Bible seems to indicate” God remodeled during the Flood, and that is why we have deep ocean basins and really massive mountains.


Image shows an orange and cream doggie lying on a couch with a very dignified yet skeptical expression. Phrases in various colors surround it: So science, Very Peer-review, Much research, Wow.

Then, finally, they start talking about types of mountains. [Read more…]

Erratic Times on the Burke-Gillman Trail, Incl. a Mighty Bronze Croc

Have I got a crocodile for you! Also a sweet glacial erratic! Funny Diva and I went out for a nice Thursday evening jaunt along the Burke-Gillman Trail. Since I had to bring pizza to S, we parked at Log Boom Park and took the trail towards Bothell, so that we wouldn’t have to hoof it all the way back to Ballinger Way with a pizza box.

On the way, we encountered a crocodile. [Read more…]

Help Me Make My Mount St. Helens Guidebooks More Inclusive!

I’m trying to make my Mount St.Helens guides fairly inclusive. But of course I’m a cis white able-bodied childless person, so there are things that it wouldn’t even occur to me to take into account.
So I’m asking for your help. What sorts of things do you need information on? What should I be on the lookout for? When it comes to accessibility, accommodating kids, whatever, how can I help you have a better experience?

I’ve done things like look for kid-friendly hikes and activities, wheelchair-accessible adventures, short hikes for folks with mobility issues, that sort of stuff, but I’m sure I’m overlooking the fine details that would really help people, and I haven’t even begun to consider what folks with sensory, neurological, and other issues may need. I can’t make this guide perfect, of course, but I’d like it to be much better than anything else currently out there. So if you can, please weigh in, and let me know what you need.

Thank you all so much!

Image is a slightly expanded crop of me with Mount St. Helens from May 2007. Caption reads, "Yes, I am indeed writing a Mount St. Helens book!"

For serious, folks, I am.