Saturday, September 5, 2020

Diverse Commutes This Week

 Washington State does have a diverse landscapes. That was very evident on two very different morning commutes this past week. 

Start of the day with temperatures heading towards upper 90s. This area gets just over 6 inches of annual rain 

Note the hazy lower sky - smoke from a fire to the west. Based on the fire location I altered my route back home to avoid breathing the smoke.

The fire on Yakima fold belt ridges southwest of Ellensberg.
Buildings are hay storage facilities. The dry windy climate is excellent for high quality feed hay.

This fire brought some smoke to western Washington a couple days later when the overall air flow reversed and flowed from east to west. For the most part this summer has been a low smoke year in Washington State.  

Next morning a very different commute. Heading across the Puget Sound to the Olympic Peninsula. 

Sunday, August 30, 2020

In A Landscape

 In A Landscape shows this summer were canceled due to covid. I had been looking forward to seeing a show this summer after seeing a show in Strabuck, Washington last summer (HERE). We took the opportunity to join a small group at Summer Lake, Oregon to see Hunter Noack play at his summer base. A delightful three evenings of music at the northwest edge of the Basin and Range. On the last morning we took in the Summer Lake playa with classical piano. I very much appreciated the effort In A Landscape put into this project and making a very safe experience in hard times. A very rare pleasure this year for sure. A few clips from the last morning:

Friday, August 28, 2020

Point Roberts in the Time of Covid

I had a project along the West Bluff of Point Roberts. The West Bluff continues to the Canadian border with the bluff near the border called Boundary Bluff. All in all a nice beach walk.

Boundary Bluff and the shoreline along the west side of Point Roberts

Point Roberts is a high bluff point of land that sicks down south of the 49th Parallel from the lower mainland of British Columbia. The point of land is part of the United States. Walking north there was nothing on the beach indicating the border with the exception of a battered sign facing north warning about the border and laws. 

A navigation marker denoting the border is located well out in the tidelands. 

While Boundary Bluff is a fairly natural setting, there are two 4,000 feet+ causeways on the Canadian side of the border extending out to deep water. Both are visible in the above picture. The near causeway leads to the Tawwassen ferry terminal with sailings to Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. The larger causeway terminal is more visible with a large container transfer facility that transfers containers from ships and trains as well as coal export facility. 

The top of Boundary Bluff is accessed via a road, Roosevelt Way, that is just on the south side of the border with the back yards of Canadians on the north side of the border.  

A trip to Point Roberts and back requires four border crossings: into Canada at Peace Arch, then into the U.S. at Point Roberts and then back again. With Covid travel restrictions the border is closed for all non essential travel including between the main part of the U.S. and Point Roberts. Assessing geology hazards for a project is deemed essential, and I was allowed entrance into Canada with no stops. So I had to pass on a stop at Tim Horton's. The above said and knowing that the border was mostly closed it was still a shock to be the only car crossing at the typically backed up Peace Arch crossing. 


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

DEM of non survivable storm surge

To get a sense of the potential inundation of a non survivable storm surge I set the storm surge at 15 feet for the Louisiana-Texas border region on a DEM map. First image is typical shore,second is with 15 feet inundation. 


Sunday, July 12, 2020

Political Sunday: Policy and political empathy

"The heart of politics is not about policy. It's about values. I can disagree with you on eight out of 10 issues, but if you're an honorable, honest, empathetic human being, we can do business." - Charlie Sykes quoted in an opinion piece by Frank Bruni.

During my political era, I did concentrate a great deal on policy and I still work on range policy issues. I great deal of good policy work gets down into the details. Those details matter. Good policy requires honest assessments of those details, but it also requires empathy.

Good business requires honest assessments and empathy. Politics and policy are really not that different. A lot of failed policy efforts forget the empathy part or the honest assessment part.

Likewise, good politics require empathy as well. Of late I have been feeling empathy for conservatives. It can not be easy under the circumstances we find ourselves in.   

Monday, July 6, 2020

Skagit City

I got a bit away from posting over the past three months -- busy and too easily distracted.

Reviewing maps along a portion of the Skagit River, I noted a place label called Skagit City.

Mount Vernon Quadrangle map

Skagit City 1890 (via Skagit River Journal)

Skagit City faded away after large log jams were removed from the river upstream at what is now Mount Vernon.

Approaching Skagit City. The main part of the town would have been to the right where the high flood levee embankment.

Once the jams were removed at what is now Mount Vernon boat access was extended up river and thus reduced the attraction of the town site. Further decline took place with the coming of rail. And the location of the town on the delta of a large river subject to very large floods likely did not help either. All that remains is a reference on the topographic maps.

Nice write ups at the excellent skagit river, a regular go to source of information.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Winter Notes From the Skagit Delta and Spring Tulips

Winter is well over now. A quick sum up of this winter's weather in western Washington: September was very wet - so wet that on the Skagit and Samish Flats the potato harvest was not completed due to saturated fields that prevented harvest equipment from being able to operate. The rest of the fall reversed course including into December. It was not the typical days of rain and gloom but instead was mostly dry and mild. January made up for the dry fall with relentless rain that led to a fair uptick in shallow landslides. A brief week of cold spell followed with, at least at Samish, a string of snow storms that kept me home bound for a few days when the snow got above the front bumper. The rest of the late winter and spring was dry. 

A key to farming on the Skagit and Samish Flats is getting out on the fields. The early dry spell meant an early start to working the rich delta soils. It also meant upon my return from eastern Washington getting behind slow farm equipment on the road.    

The sloe pace of 10 miles per hour gave me a chance to enjoy the scenery including views of tulip fields.

Although the day was bit overcast the ground was warmed up enough to cause a distant field of red tulips to appear to levitate.

Tulips are a business. The above field had been harvested for cut flowers earlier in the day. Eventually the bulbs are harvested as well. Hope this will bring some brightness to our Covid times and the workers in these fields stay healthy.