Sunday, January 30, 2022

Rose of Lima in Keller

 Near my stop at the Sanpoil River cut bank exposing Glacial Lake Columbia sediments (rhythmites-and-varves-at-lower-sanpoil) is a small Catholic Church. 

Church and turkeys

Saint Rose de Lima suggests a Spanish origin. Wikipedia provides a bit on who Rose_of_Lima was. She was the first Catholic in the Americas to be declared a saint, and  hence, is a the patroness of indigenous American Catholics. The church is located on the Colville Reservation, but there are at least two other Rose de Lima parishes in Washington State.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Pickleball on Both Sides of the Cascades

A bill introduced this Washington Sate Legislative session would make Pickleball the State Sport:  Pickleball was invented on Bainbridge Island ( Driving through Omak it seems clear that the sport has crossed the Cascade Divide.


Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Keller Ferry

A bit of Washington State trivia: What was the first ferry route run by Washington State? 

The Keller Ferry route across the Columbia River was taken over by the State in 1930 ( and is still opperated by the State of Washington. The ferry connects Highway 21 across the Columbia (now Lake Roosevelt) at the junction with the Sanpoil River.  

Ferry landing on the north side

A ferry has operated at or very near this site since at least 1890 ( In the early days the crossing was classic cable system that used the powerful flow of the river to drive the boat attached to a cable across the river.

Keller Ferry prior to Grand Coulee Dam

The dock on the south side

Looking north across Lake Roosevelt

The ferry is free. As noted in the History Link, the ferry began operation as a free ferry in 1930 due to a restriction on federal funds for the overall improvement of the highway. The ferry also runs 'on demand'. If you pull up to the landing the boat captain will proceed over to pick you up. 

Highway 21 is not a heavy traffic route, particularly in winter like the day of my crossing. Further, the road up from the Columbia River to the high plains to the south is a steep 1,100 foot climb with hairpin turns. However, this route in the late 1800s and early 1900s was good way to get into the mining districts of the Okanogan Highlands and was also a route to move sheep mostly from the drier plains to the south across the river to the moist high summer meadows in the mountains of the Okanogan Highlands.   

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Rhythmites and Varves at the Lower Sanpoil River Valley

The Sanpoil River flows south from the central Okanogan highlands to the Columbia River. During the last glacial period, the Columbia was blocked by the Okanogan ice lobe to the west forming a large lake, Glacial Lake Columbia. That lake inundated the lower Sanpoil River Valley. The sediment deposited in that lake records the history of the lake including the repeated large floods that surged into the lake from the east when Glacial Lake Missoula repeatedly abruptly drained when the ice lobe that formed lake Missoula collapsed. The former lake sediments exposed in the lower reaches of the Sanpoil River Valley have a story to tell (Atwater,1986)

Driving down the Sanpoil River Valley, I got a glimpse of one of the lake sediment sections.

This section corresponds with Atwater's Ranger Station site, the uppermost lake sediment sequence. The thicker beds are sand deposits associated with the surges of flood waters. The finer layers are thin beds of lake sediments that record annual lake sediment cycles. The annual varve layers are not visible in the picture above due to distance. Altogether Atwater counted 89 flood events impacting the Sanpoil lake sediments and utilizing the annual varve layers the frequency of the Missoula Floods could be estimated as well.   


Thursday, January 13, 2022

Snoqualmie Falls at Flood Stage and Cle Elum Digs Out

I had some work in central Washington and had to alter my route due to Highway 2 being closed across Stevens Pass. I added a bit an additional detour as water levels in the Snoqualmie River were very high. 

Road closure in the Snoqualmie River valley 

The detour was a chance to see Snoqualmie Falls at flood stage.

The spray from the base of the falls obliterated any veiwing from the main view spot

Further on my journey I observed Cle Elum still digging out from the snow. Temperatures have moderated and it was just above freezing as I passed through town.


Friday, January 7, 2022

Marginal Revolution Geology Posts

Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution claims not care about geology:

He finished the post with "One lesson of this post is that it is possible to be interested in things one is not interested in, and vice versa." 

A comment by Dinwar on the post was then turned into a post:

Dinwar notes that "Engineers and geologists think VERY differently, in nearly incompatible ways, which is fun because we work together all the time." I would tend to agree. Engineers are problem solvers and geologists spot the problems. I try to put effort into making sure the geology of a site makes sense to the engineers, but I also try to understand the way engineers can solve a problem so I can anticipate just how bad a geology hazard is or not. 

Dinwar finishes with a bit on field work "Field geologists are even worse–we do all that, only in conditions that would make any sane person run screaming." and he also has a note about safety managers. Navigating thick brush and steep rough ground is a skill set that is probably just as valuable as understanding the glacial history of an area, and it is an activity that most people might consider insane.   

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Mail Problems on Decatur

Decatur Island has a mail problem: Decatur Mail Challenge and sanjuanjournal: Mail issues on Decatur.

Only four of the San Juan Islands are served by Washington State Ferries: Shaw, Lopez, San Juan and Orcas. Getting to and from the other islands varies. Several including Decatur have air strips. Water "taxi" chartered boats mostly from Anacortes also routinely provide service to the non ferry islands. The charter boats pull up to docks and land on beaches to pick up and drop people off. Given their ability to 'land' at a wide range of sites, the charter service is pretty great and I have used it to get to Decatur and a few other islands.

Approaching an island beach on an Island Express Charter
The mail problem on Decatur seems to have partially evolved due to the increased amount of mail as more seasonal use of the island has morphed into more year round long term residences. With access to internet and good cell phone coverage more people have taken up living year round on the island. The demand for mail packages has increased and hence the controversy of an island without a post office. I would note as well that the charter boats also deliver groceries and other goods.  

Monday, January 3, 2022

Northwest Arkansas Appeals to Seattle

Billboard in Seattle

I have a soft spot for northwest Arkansas - Van Burien County specifically. In a different era I rode my bike through northwest Arkansas. It was pleasant change of scenery after miles of being on the plains. It is a landscape that would appeal to western Washington folks - mountains, forest and lakes. 

In a later era I wrote a draft resolution supporting an amendment to the Secure Schools Funding Act supporting an amendment that allowed for consideration of environmental values for National Forest projects under the Act. Other than Whatcom County, not one county in Washington State (including King County) supported my effort. Several Washington State Counties sent letters in opposition and the State Association of Counties called me to let me know my position was contrary to that of the State Association. 

But Van Burien County Arkansas quickly passed the resolution as written and sent a letter of thanks. They valued the environmental benefits of their National Forests more than most of the local governments in Washington State. So the appeal to Washington residents with similar values is sincere.