outdoors

Monumental and outdoors

Frosty roof

But first, a weather report. Darned cold this morning—frosty cold. Sunny for a bit in the morning, but overcast came raring in.

Salish welcome

This 2010 sculpture by Marvin Oliver is offering a Salish welcome, and is intended to honor the (long-gone) native peoples of this area and is intended to remind us “that we are stewards of this evolving, living landscape”—can’t say how that stewardship is going….

Troll under bridge

This monumental beast is the famous Fremont Troll, and dates to 1990. It’s a bit bigger than the Oliver sculpture, but of course is only head and shoulders, whereas the Oliver fellow is head to toe.

Fisheye finger

I was playing with the fish-eye again—and made The Guru’s finger monumental. He is not a sculpture.

Olympics balcony view

I’m also counting the snow-dusted Olympics we can see across Puget Sound even as dusk sets in as monumental—MaNachur’s work. They are older than any of the pieces above. That MaNachur often operates with a l-o-n-g time-scale.

Water views

Chittenden Locks view downstream

After coffee, our first stop (not including traffic lights and parking) was Chittenden Locks, often called Ballard Locks. Note the bascule bridge in the background (it’s down). We saw two passenger trains cross it, and at one time seven people in head-to-toe fluorescent clothing were on walkways in the general area of the bridge’s pivot. We were too far away to figure out what they were doing.

Chittenden Locks small lock

We watched this NOAA vessel traverse the small lock. We thought the yellow globes were weather buoys, and the brown discs were anchor-weights for them.

STEELheads eh

Lacking sufficient knowledge to visually ID many (any?) fish species, I told The Guru I was pretty sure these are steelheads. Wouldn’t you agree? Huh…huh?

Orangey rose

Despite snow and ice last week, this weather-blemished rose is attempting to triumph against cold odds.

Cormorant seaplane

Late in the day, we went to Log Boom park, at the north end of Lake Washington. Cormorant on post to left and taxiing sea plane to the right (we saw it land headed straight for us, but way on the other side of the bay).

Sunset cormorants

I figure these cormorants are trying to catch the day’s final rays. I do not know if they stay “posted” all night. It seems like their count is pretty close to one per post. By the shore, we saw several species of ducks and more cormorants, but they do prefer to be perched above the water. (Dry feet preference?)

A wander ending at a seat of government

Street art

We rolled away from our hipster hotel on wet roads in light rain, headed for the ocean and points north.

Cloud on West HIlls

As we climbed the West Hills, we found the clouds, and more moisture, still with temps well above freezing.

Coast range snow

All the info we had suggested that the higher elevations of the coast range would still be above freezing. Fortunately, the predictions held, although we could see plenty of snow on the trees and along the road.

Rainbow coast

We stopped for a nosh in sunshine, and the mixed weather yielded a rainbow!

Columbia bridge

As we continued north, we crossed the mighty Columbia. Two sections have arched bridges, and the colors are slightly different shades of green. I have no idea why…

Tidal flat mud

The next section of road crossed and skirted many rivers and creeks headed for the ocean. The tide was out and we saw many waterfowl and a few herons. And mud.

Olympia Wash capitol

I cannot explain why, but I wanted to see Washington’s capitol. Rain had returned, but we risked melting to roll down the window and take a couple of shots. Almost no traffic on this Saturday evening. We saw a few bits of snow along the curbs, indicating that the weather has been colder. We are happy it has tempered; we are happier to tolerate rain than ice.

Learning curve, more

Snow car

The ice was over wet-snow, and once loosened, came off easily. Thankfully.

Bridge etc cropped

So, we headed out to familiarize ourselves further with this technological wonder. We speculated that ice on an exterior sensor was triggering the parking-assist, which kept beeping at us. Then, we discovered user error as some button over on the driver door somehow got poked; after disengaging, great!, no more beeping. The learning curve….

Deer OR

Under the bridge (right in Portland) above we discovered four deer browsing. Otherwise the area was sparsely used, so good place for wildlife….

Portland street scene

The traffic and perhaps some de-icing meant the downtown streets were quite passable.

Charging port reveal

We tried electric charging in two different parking garages. The first time was a breeze. The second time we goofed somehow. The charging station accepted the plug-in, but somehow we didn’t trigger the flow of electricity. More study needed….

Caribou kitchen

The Guru found us a lovely French restaurant for a celebratory late lunch (yum). We took the caribou rack over the door to the kitchen as a good omen. [Long story.]

Mountains and malpaís

Red canyon

Before we headed to breakfast, we checked on road closings, and our route was to be open at 8am. The timing worked for us. Sure enough, WYDOT’s website indicated “our” highway was open at 8:05. Off we headed! This is Red Canyon. Guess why?!

Snowplow

At high elevations where there had been more snowfall, we saw several of these beasts. Fortunately, the sun was working in our favor, too.

Crows carrion

After days of seeing raptors cruising the skies, today we saw crows, eagles—bald and I’m not sure what, and magpies busy breaking down roadside carrion, but only a few hawks—still cruising above.

Kemmerer snow pile

We lunched in Kemmerer, at the only place that was open—yummy, BTW. I found the snow “removal” pattern interesting. I figure the plan was to remove the berm from the middle of the road. I have seen a central berm left in the middle of the street for all winter, but only when the road was about four lanes wide (in the summer).

Malpais roadside

Much later, we drove through malpaís, old lava flows that generally had little water and were tough to traverse. Mal país, or bad country, is a great name for this terrain.

Wind generators

As the sun set, we watched these blades turning at a stately pace, and were glad the wind we had yesterday—gusts, we were told, up to 50/60mph—did not haunt us today.

Changing light, landscape

Maize mountain

We started out the morning in a cloud of lightly blowing S (you know the winter “S” word…); however, the temp was just above freezing, so no driving problems. Whew. Farther along, the S stopped and we found a mountain of maize. We saw upwards of a dozen of these as we drove along. We discussed several theories about what the kernels were destined for…I’m still partial to the bio-fuel one. Sometimes the maize mountains were carefully covered and had a central device for removal. Those we thought may have been for corn syrup or oil, or perhaps animal feed. I’m guess all is subsidized by our tax dollars. Very green. Hah!

Full empty coal

From a bridge, we saw full coal cars headed for power plants for winter heating, and empty ones deadheading back to the Powder River area for refilling….

NPlatte ice

On this crossing of the North Platte, we could clearly see a skim of ice, as Canada geese pivoted above (not in this shot, though).

Chimney rock

Someone suggests this feather is called Medicine Hat, but I didn’t bite. (Say: Chimney Rock.)

Low light tree

Late in the day, the sun came out fully, and I found the effect of the oblique angle stupendous. Yay for cottonwoods! (And the train tracks stayed with us all day.)

River and city

Distant MO river

We headed down by the river, the Missouri—that seems like it should be the Mississippi to me when you look at the size of the catchment…. That’s it off to the right. Look at that broad floodplain past the channel….

Indian Cave minipano

And next to the river, in an unusual bluff, a cave—or a kinda-cave—carved by nature in soft stone, perfect for carving by humans, too. The few petroglyphs the native peoples left are eclipsed by dozens of carvings added in the recent past—including this summer, I daresay. [Apologies for the grotty color; I tried to correct it, no luck—not my specialty.]

Downtown GI

We wound up in Grand Island’s downtown (the real, old downtown, and not the highway strips and mall area), where everyone was gearing up for Main Street Xmas (or something like that). Love the fingernail-moon witnessing.

Gravity fed

Balcony leaves

Too many leaves on the balcony…now on the flower bed below.

Temporal processes

Leaf senescence

Formally, this is leaf senescence. They’re off the tree and desiccating…and the decomposition bacteria and critters are a’coming!

And I think today ties the record for longest stretch in ATL without measurable rainfall—39 days. That’s why we have power-dry and hard-as-cement soil (depending on compaction). Last time we had this stretch was, I think, 1844.

Will anyone say “climate change”? These sure seem like the maximal shifts that multiple specialists have forecast, and perhaps the drying of the interior continent that has been predicted.

Table, chairs—twice

Reg patio furn

The lack of rainfall means the leaves have stayed fluffy for weeks.

Fisheye patio furn

Here’s the same scene with a new fisheye gizmo the Guru found that clips on over the phone lens.

I took the two shots hours apart, hence the different light.