February 2007March 2007 April 2007

03/26 - Wild Water at Rialto Beach

One of the problems with visiting Rialto Beach when one is very clumsy is that about a mile north of the parking lot there is a river to cross. Most of the time this river is rather shallow, so we wade across. One time, the tide was so low that we could cross near the ocean where the river ran under the sand. On our last visit, we could not cross at all. As you can see in the picture to the left, or more graphically in our video, the spring rains have filled the river nicely. The water was deep and the current strong.

Even if we had not been so clumsy, our crossing was unlikely. Most of the crossing logs have been washed away. A few intrepid sorts had managed to cross on some logs a bit upriver, but this was beyond us. We'll be back at Rialto Beach again soon, and we'll hope the high waters have subsided.

Keywords: rialto beach, beaches, spring, spring rain

03/22 - Currants and Curtains of Drips

If you are out at Lake Crescent this week, keep your eyes open for currant blossoms. There were a few just a bit west of the Devil's Punchbowl, and there were lots more buds getting ready to open.

Also, keep your eye out for curtains of drips. There is a lot of water in the earth this spring, and the mosses are loving it. If you look closely, the rock walls are garden nurseries, and some of the flowers are in bloom.

Keywords: spruce railroad, spring, flowers, lake crescent

03/18 - Hurricane Hill Is Still Winter

We were up snowshoeing today at Hurricane Ridge. While it is starting to look like spring down here near sea level, up on Hurricane Hill Road it still looks like winter. It was well above freezing, but there were still about eight feet of snow. There is a bit of the road starting to peep through here at the hairpin turn, but we will not be holding our breath waiting for the glacier lilies.

Keywords: hurricane hill, high country, winter, hurricane ridge, spring, snowshoeing

Microstructure of matter

03/06 - The Microstructure of Matter

Back in the 1960s there was something called the Atomic Energy Commission. They were in charge of making atomic bombs and otherwise spreading the good word about nuclear power. They have since been replaced by the NRC and the DOE, but during their tenure they produced a number of neat booklets about atomic power, radio-isotopes, computers and the like. Given that these booklets were FREE, they were surprisingly good, with clear exposition, accurate information, interesting photographs and well drawn diagrams.

Of course, some of the science has changed, and some of our attitudes are quite different. We came across one of our old favorites, The Microstructure of Matter, on eBay. Since this was a government publication with no copyright notice, we assume that it is in the public domain. This booklet describes the basic natural forces, how scientists study the various subatomic particles, a bit about relativity and a fair bit about the particles themselves. Quarks and the standard model were just around the corner, but one can see the standard model emerging from the sprays of mesons and hadrons in the cloud chambers of the era.

Yes, some of the science has changed, but an awful lot has not. It is often rather interesting to get a snapshot of our understanding at a given time, if only to get a sense of where we might be in that greater understanding that we are all working towards.

Keywords: science

03/06 - First Salamander (and Slug) of Spring

A lot of trails are closed right now. Whiskey Bend Road is more or less wiped out, and the Hoh Rain Forest is inaccessible. This means we are spending a lot of time on the Spruce Railroad Trail at Lake Crescent. We were out there a few days ago, and it sure smelled of spring. Today, it smelled even more spring-like. The currant and salmonberry blossoms are getting ready to bloom. Then we saw it. The first salamander of spring! We knew that slugs could not be far behind. We were right. A bit down the trail, there it was, a slug, slugging its way through the trail debris.

Eventually other trails will reopen, and even the high country will thaw out and open up, but for now, we are going to watch for spring.

We often have trouble believing how clear Lake Crescent water is. The upper rocks in this picture are under water. The water is radioactive pool blue, even without radioactive waste to make it glow.

Keywords: elwha, spruce railroad, spring, animals, salamander, slugs, high country, hoh rain forest, lake crescent, trails, salmon

February 2007March 2007 April 2007