Saturday, March 29, 2014

Four years ago… passing Oso

I vaguely recalled driving on Highway 530 several years ago with a friend, but since the mudslide last week, I was prompted to go back through my photos and it was easy to determine when I went.

It was a Mother's Day outing, a chance to see spring in action in Washington, so we took a convertible and spent the whole day cruising, taking pictures, just enjoying the best of the west.

What I loved about this shot was the dramatic contrast of blue and green,
and if you look closely at the mountains before the snow-capped ones,
you can get some idea of the sharp ridges that make up this area.
From Everett to Darrington is an easy drive, or it used to be.

I liked this shot so much that I actually did a watercolor rendition of it,
although I'm not exactly sure where this is, it is in the Oso region.
I'm posting these photos because recently someone asked me, "Why would people choose to live in area that had a landslide?" For the same reason that some people choose to live in Colombia or Hawaii or Florida or New England.

Each of these locales offers something greater than the physical threat of landslides, volcanoes,  hurricanes or snow, and we think we are choosing our places with care. I think in time it will come out that there was information about the geological trends in Oso which was not widely disseminated and so people were making life choices without enough details to make decisions based on all the facts.

There are so many beautiful views here in Washington State, and one of them is along Highway 20 to Port Townsend from Sequim. It is also posted with signs that say, "Slide Area," and once in awhile there are boulders lying on the side of the road.

For me, this is like driving in Colombia, where there are warnings about 'derumbas' (rock slides) all the time, and in the time I was there, I avoided being in any of them - although I was affected by more than a few in terms of not being able to go someplace for awhile.

Honestly, I haven't seen it as much of a threat, either. But with all the rain we've had this year, I am rethinking driving that road. And I will be more cautious when I hear warnings about driving where there is a potential for land or rock to slide down.

It is grotesque to imagine what these families and friends are enduring, and I hope my small donation brings some comfort.

There is another situation of significantly more danger developing and that is for the Quinault tribe in Taholah, on the Pacific side of the Olympic Peninsula. Just draw a straight line west from Seattle on the map and that is where the ocean has breached the tribal lands, causing undercutting of buildings and forcing evacuation. Although the Army Corps of Engineers has installed lots of 'rip rap' (stones to hold back the waves), much more must be done to protect these native peoples and their land.

Right now it seems as if there is no end to crises that people are facing, and my meager resources don't allow me to contribute to every one. In some ways that must be the way our government is feeling with all the demands for federal aid. But my position is we must attend to our own before we help beyond our borders. Kind of like using the oxygen mask on an airline; put it on yourself first and then help others.


  1. Your pictures are breath taking. I love the west and have traveled there in the past.
    I must make it out to Washington and see this area!

  2. Glad to hear you're OK. Yes, sending billions overseas when there are troubles enough here that need the money doesn't make any reasonable sense.

    Annoying Mouse

  3. Thanks for sharing your ideas, its not just entertaining
    but also gives your reader knowledge. Good blogs style too, Cheers!