Greetings from Castle Rock! Have a Smashing Volcanic Neck

B and I have arrived in Castle Rock! We’re taking the world’s laziest trip to Mount St. Helens, starting with a leisurely late departure from Seattle and an afternoon ambling round Castle Rock, WA: the Gateway to Mount St. Helens. See, last time we were down here, the volcano was socked in by clouds, and I realized that none of the guides really give you much to do when that happens. So I started nosing around looking for geological points of interest. Russell Evarts, the USGS geologist whose quad map documentation for the Silver Lake quadrangle reads like an epic adventure, pointed me toward the actual rock Castle Rock is named for.

Image shows a stretch of the Cowlitz River and its bank. In the distance is a cone-shaped hill covered in trees.

“The Rock.” Castle Rock’s original castle rock!

So apparently, without all the trees, it looks more like a castle turret or something. It was pretty much barren when Eliza and William Huntington settled here, opened a post office, and established the town. It had been used as a landmark for Native Americans and traders at least since the early 1800s. Now it’s a 190-foot tall city park. Awesomesauce!

So do you want to climb a volcanic neck? Sure you do! [Read more…]

We’re Off to Mount St. Helens

We’re taking advantage of a break in B’s schedule to sneak down to Mount St. Helens for a lazy few days. Okay, partially lazy – we’re going to do some geology stuff in Castle Rock for my upcoming guide, and finally-hopefully-if-fate-doesn’t-intervene do the southern approach where we get to see Ape Cave and such. I’ve even remembered the light sources this time! And there’ll be some lounging around at the hotel, since it’ll be our last chance to be alone together for a little while. I mean, we’ll be thoroughly testing the accommodations for guide book purposes.

So yes, for those of you who may have despaired that I’ve posted an excerpt from another Really Terrible Bible Stories book instead of the Mount St. Helens book: look, I’m working on both!

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.

We’ll have great photos for ye soon, even if Aunty Flow shows up early, as she is threatening to do. And if anyone needs a donor uterus, I’ve got a gently-used one they can have for free.

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus Excerpt: Introduction

If God Were a Mayor, He’d Be in Jail


Imagine, if you will, a man who is founder and mayor of a town. When he established it, it was just him and his gardener in a sweet central park. The Mayor didn’t want his gardener to be sexually frustrated, so he offered him his choice of the animal population. When it turned out his gardener wasn’t into bestiality, the mayor cloned a nice young lady for him, and they were living pretty happily at first.

But the Mayor is one of those guys who constantly needs people to suck up to him and prove their loyalty, so he’s put a tree in the middle of the park and told his two employees not to touch it. Then he’s let a known troublemaker have the run of the park – a dude the Mayor knows has a penchant for talking people into breaking the rules. He’s set this dude loose around people he’s deliberately kept ignorant and innocent, so that they have no way of understanding what Troublemaker Dude’s up to when he urges them to eat some of that delicious fruit from the forbidden tree.*

[Read more…]

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XIV: Wherein We Row Our Creationist Boat Gently Down the Streams

At last we leave the vasty deep behind and sail upon the streams and lakes of the world. Alas, we’re still stuck on the S.S. Earth Sciences 4th Edition. A Beka’s Science of the Physical Creation only talks about freshwater features in the context of weathering and erosion. I’ve peeked ahead at that chapter, and I can assure you we’re in for some serious creationist fuckery there. The open question is: can it out-Christianist the Christianist experts at ES4? Stay tuned to find out! [Read more…]

The Dogs Apparently Think I’m a Dog Person

I’m sure the Christian Patriarchy Enthusiasts will put this down to me being an unmarried female of a certain age, but I think it’s because apartment living and frequent geotripping gave me a whole new appreciation for self-sufficient animals. But either way, it’s true: the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve become enthusiastic about cats and meh about dogs. I mean, I like dogs. They’re okay. Some of them are even awesome. But, in general, I’d rather leave ’em than take ’em.

This attitude has not impressed the dogs who live in this house. [Read more…]

From Fiery Flow to Cool Art

Humans have a long tradition of taking rocks and making pretty things with them. Usually, when you think of sculpture, you think of marble, right? I mean, of course, marble – marble’s a wonderful stone for sculptors, very hard and yet amenable to people carving and polishing it.

If I asked you for an igneous rock suitable for making art with, what would you give me? Big ol’ chunk of something in the granite family? Good choice! Polishes up a treat, that does, and it’s very monumental. [Read more…]

A Disaster, or an Opportunity

Egads, wot a day. We had an all-day party here at the house, which went from 1 in the afternoon until 2 in the ay-em. I cut out for a few hours to watch the UFC event at B’s house, and that was also incrediballs. Every fight was a finish, which is virtually unheard of for a pay-per-view event – those had a run of boring. So yep, excitement city. And I had to clean the litter box in the midst of it. This is my glamorous life and I’m sure you envy me mightily.

Anyway. Very tired now, but I wanted to pop in and relate something the awesome entomologist guy, Don, said as we talked science, the universe, and everything. We were discussing the aftermath of the May 18th eruption. And he mentioned an insight he’d had hiking there in the years after. Lupines were among the first plants to colonize the blast zone, and there’s a particular caterpillar or some such that feeds and lives upon them. I wish I could remember what, but I was exhausted and slightly sloshed at that point, so. Anyway. The area he hiked through was teeming with lupines and a far bigger population of these particular arthropods that normal. And he said he realized that what was a complete disaster from other perspectives happened to be a Golden Age to these little dudes. They’d had to put up with just the occasional lupine dotted here and there before. Now, they had all the lupines they could possibly want. The world, from their perspective, had improved immensely. [Read more…]

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. 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…]