Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Random Thoughts and Shots Along the Trail

Up at the Elwha River dam location
 in Port Angeles, WA.
As we planned our journey, we took side trips and walks in the woods or along city streets and so here are a few thoughts and shots that are nice reminders along the way. Perhaps they will make sense to you, or maybe not. But like me, just enjoy and see where they take you.

These birds are very pretty, easy to train, but cannot hold a
candle in intelligence to the African Grey, a bird I once had.
Still, it was a treat to have a feathered connection this day.
In Seaside, OR, the beach simply goes on forever. I didn't actually feel like walking on it, but wanted to watch the waves roll in. As I was sitting there, along came a fellow with his pet bird. She was more than eager to jump on my arm and shoulder, and it was a nice reminder of the days when I had a bird.

Wayne cast off all inhibitions in Seaside, OR
and jumped on a reindeer on the carousel!
Then later in the day, Wayne decided to throw caution to the winds, so we rode the carousel together. Up and down, up and down, we listened to the music, smiled and watched folks looking at us, two senior people being kids again. Such fun!

Along a path after our trip to Mt. Saint
Helens, we walked a marshland trail and
saw millions of spiderwebs being made.
The marshlands trail below Mt. Saint Helens offered us a chance to walk easily through woodlands changing colors. It was also a breeding ground for some kind of spiders and every step was a challenge because of walking into another web being created. 

At one point Wayne was streaming threads of spider webbing like braids of hair from his shoulders.

It caused me to think about how there is so much energy being trailed behind each of us as we move through our own worlds, only we don't have the eyes to see it (in most cases). And our positive thoughts emanate from our auras either lighting us up or bringing lights to others.

An abandoned building sits in a town that used to be full of
mining activity and now has to find other ways to maintain
its existence.
As we journeyed through many towns along the route taking us from Reno to Las Vegas, there were all the signs of hope being delayed or denied with small towns that once were probably rollicking and rich with laughter as the people found resources and spent the value gained. Now those towns are grabbing at tourists like a lifeline, hoping with each stop something will be exchanged for the time they've invested in trinkets, arts and magnets to remind the tourist where they've been.

The red rocks of Sedona, Arizona push up all over the desert.
We finally made it to Sedona, where I feel the sacredness emanating from all the red rocks. Where I find my energy being wound up and realigned with Mother Earth. And when we arrived at the top of the Oak Creek Canyon Road, there were Navajo men and women artisans with their created treasures. I did not want something expensive or large; and Source pointed me to a woman who created copper pendants with turquoise and coral inlays. It was enough. A reminder that I am connected to the earth that gave up the copper and the semi-precious stones for a small adornment.

Sedona as seen from the airport area; growth continues in the city and its
surroundings changing it every time I visit. But the earth is still sacred.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Exploring Native Lands in Arizona

There are a lot of locations in the NW and the SW of the US to draw greater appreciation for native peoples and their lifestyles. As my partner in travel and I drove from the Olympic Peninsula south, we passed through Oregon and then Nevada and now we are in Arizona.

Northwestern states are where many of the Ratcliff clan can
be discovered; a tour guide is helpful however.
The native folks we observed in the other states were mostly of the Ratcliff clan. They can be found near water or up in the mountains where they fish and hunt quite successfully. We were really fortunate to be invited to a clan feast where Candy Ratcliff served up some delicious venison and vegetables all from their own backyard - literally. The deer was taken down in a field very near the homestead.

Then as we were leaving, another member of the clan, Willis Ratcliff, handed over some frozen trout for us to enjoy along our journey. We are truly blessed to have such wonderful connections!!

Montezuma Castle, a National Monument site protecting an
example of cliff dwellers lifestyle 700 years ago in Arizona.
Here in Arizona, the Southern Singua, an indigenous tribe that lived in the Verde Valley thousands of years ago, were farmers and peace-loving hunters and gatherers. They grew and processed corn, mined for salt, created tools and crafts, including making things from cotton.
A closer look at the home in the stone...

My telephoto lens does not give a sense of size in this view,
but the opening is easily 5 feet in height.
The use of mud and other materials created a warm and safe
abode. Thick walls hold in the heat, repel the wind and cold.

Although the limestone that supports housing of these early dwellers is soft and unstable, when they left the area, they left behind a wonderful example of their cliff dwelling lifestyle at Montezuma Castle. We toured the National Monument to get these pictures and this information.

Wise folks in archaeology realized how tenuous the site was and have protected it for decades so that others may come and enjoy it as well.

It is still considered a heritage site for the several known tribes who have, in their oral history, references to the location and periodically celebrations are held here to honor their ancestors.
Diorama of the site shows how families would have likely
lived, done their crafts, cooked, and stored their harvests.

High ledge above the Beaver River.

The Beaver River offered up fish as well as drinking water.

Another view of the cliff dwelling from the river area.
Looking closely you can see holes that were partlywalled up
in various parts of the lower end of the structure.

I used my telephoto lens to get closeups of the windows and doorways which are quite large. Ladders were once used to access the 'hotel of the tribe' and a carefully created diorama shows how the site might have looked hundreds of years ago.

No one knows why the indigenous Southern Sinaguans left the area about the 1400s, but my guess is that exploring Spaniards may have brought disease and disturbance to the enclave. It was interesting, nevertheless, to be drawn into conversation with a family visiting the area from Spain; their two daughters were quite fascinated with the tour and signed up to be Junior Rangers afterwards, promising to care for and protect such sites in the future.

Sycamore trees reach up toward the tops of the cliffs.
There are sycamore trees which Wayne thinks have several hundreds of years of growth. So some of them might have been little saplings when native folks were walking around; at any rate the seeds from those venerable trees have undoubtably helped to create the soothing trees that stand here now.


A view through the trees looks toward the Verde Valley and
the mountain range that has to be crossed to get into Phoenix.


The colors were lovely and the wind moving the leaves was incredibly mesmerizing.

I wish I could have found a spot that was away from the touring folks to do a short video of the river quietly passing by with the trees murmuring above. So glad I had a chance to experience this place of enchantment for me! Hopefully it will remain available for a long time for others to come and visit and have their own experiences.

Fall colors in the Verde Valley in Arizona.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A Volcano and Memories

Mount St. Helens in Washington State on Oct. 24, 2017 from viewpoint.
On the 24th of October (a lovely and warm, sunny, Wednesday), my traveling companion, Wayne, and I drove up to the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Established in 1982, after the explosive eruption on May 18, 1980, the 110,300 acre site provides an opportunity for exploration, research, education and recreation.

Remaining trees from the blow-down after the eruption.
Little trees and other plants continue to
take hold and gradually change the
landscape of the starkness of 35 years.
I recalled that day as we were driving up toward the viewpoints. I was living in Boise, ID, with two daughters who were 9 and 11.  I wouldn't meet up with my son's father until July or August of that year. And my son would arrive the following year. (Here is a link to Wikipedia's information page: Mount_St._Helens) And shortly after the eruption, the ash from the volcano began to fall in Boise. It was only a couple of weeks later that we ended up adopting a grey cat we called "Cinder."

Wayne looks out for elk and deer in the foothills.
I don't recall all the details of that particular day, but we began seeing ash fall in the afternoon. The girls were intrigued, but I was worried. What did it mean? How much would fall? And I vaguely remember news reports being broadcast of the actual eruption which was fascinating. It was exciting and scary at the same time.


A Noble Fir grows along a path that is
at the Loowit Viewpoint allowing folks
to walk a trail along the fallen trees.

Wayne walks further out on the Loowit Viewpoint trail.

The Toutle River cuts through the mud and ash.

Color returns to the landscape.

Wayne walks the Loowit viewpoint trail.
Movie viewing room has a magnificent view of the volcano.
Johnston Ridge Observatory; named after David A. Johnston,
a volcanologist who died moments after the eruption started.
He was standing on nearby Coldwater ridge.
The center lava dome that built up after the eruption. Taken
using my telephoto lens on a Canon EOS Rebel.
Right side of the crater. 
Inside the lower left side of the northern ridge (blown out)
and the newest lava dome is to the right. No significant
volcanic activity has occurred since 2008.

Seeing this huge mountain from a closer view brought all those images back and up at the Johnston Ridge Observatory the pictures were there once again. It was as if history was doing a forward and back in my head all day.

Wayne, as a former Department of Natural Resources employee, was a great source of information about all the Noble Firs that were seeded the following couple of years into the ash fall and other aspects of re-foresting a huge area that was blasted by the explosive event.

It was amazing to see these 34-year old trees and other landscape changes giving new life to everything in the area. And it was impressive to be able to look up at the open side of the mountain and see the new growth inside it as well.

Later we took a walk around the new Coldwater Lake, formed after the eruption, and came upon two bucks who were as surprised to see us as we were to see them. New life and new directions are part of living in general and I took this day as an affirmation of that occurring for me now.

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Trip to a Wind Farm

Have you ever wondered anything about the enormous windmills that turn on the crests of mountains across the United States? These are all part of a trend to further develop wind power as a clean source of electricity. 

Sign at entrance off Vantage Highway in Kittitas, WA.
In Kittitas County there is a PUD wind farm called Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility on the western side of the Columbia River. On the other side of the river there is mesa which features metal statues of wild mustangs.
These metal sculptures on a mesa above the Columbia River
remind folks that once the land belonged to wild horses and
native peoples. The walk up to the sculptures is worth it.
The facility began construction in 2005 and opened to the public in 2008.
If you look carefully you can see the wind turbines on the ridge.
The area where the wind farm has been established is an archeological treasure for the several tribes who, over the centuries, roamed and lived on the foothills of the Cascades.  Carefully researched and evaluated by PUD, the facility has made a huge effort to preserve lands and protect wildlife that still inhabit the area.
Driving up the road to the visitor center, one
gets a closer view with each mile.
Eons ago there was an enormous lake which is called today
"Lake Missoula" by archeologists. This lake burst its dam,
causing enormous changes in Montana, Idaho and Wash-
ington creating much of the landscape of the Basin. When
Wayne was in school he wrote a paper on this event.
I took the one-hour tour of the facility which included a view up inside the tower and standing just outside and underneath the 351-ft. tower was impressive as you looked up at three blades, each 120 ft. in length, turning quietly to capture the 40-plus gusts of wind that day. 

It is truly a a global effort to manufacture and install these Vesta V80 wind turbines as parts are manufactured all over the world.

There are limiters on the system to keep the blades from running wild so they don’t overwork the mechanics and overwhelm the carefully managed delivery of electricity to the grid. 

These 149 wind ‘mills’ are generating electricity that is sent to the Bonneville distribution center and so I was watching power gathering that will be eventually delivered to folks in Clallam County and other parts of western Washington. The total potential at the farm is power for 70,000 homes.
One of the turbines driving the Vesta windmills.


Looking down the inside of one of the blades; made of fiber
glass this particular one was damaged beyond use.

This informational panel tells a lot about the facility and a little bit about
the construction process. The tour guides are very well informed and can
answer a lot of questions in a variety of areas relating to the facility.
There are also solar array fields which are being used for research and to power the visitor center.

Several years ago on one of my road trips, I remember seeing a couple of trucks hauling these blades. How interesting that I should finally come to where they were installed (or some very like them).

Parking lot at the visitor center of the wind farm. 
It is not too surprising that the facility is visited by folks from distant states and countries. On our tour there were some Japanese folks. I overheard the answer to the question, "How many visitors come here each year?" The answer was "Anywhere from 14 to 20 thousand a year." Wow!

I highly recommend finding time to take the trip and the tour, making it all part of a visit to the beautiful Columbia River basin.
Standing in proximity to the turbine.

I persuaded the tour guide to take my photo on the way to see
the interior of the turbine tower. The wind was blowing hard
and cold. I had two layers and that still was lacking... like
the hard hat? Required with safety glasses for the tour.