Sunday, March 25, 2012

Old Paint

I grew up on the wet side - the 1950s in Portland, since then near or in Seattle, except for college and military excursions.

One strange thing about that is that is that "The West" as seen in movies, on television, in stories and song, or at least places that pretty much looked like that, is somewhere gotten to by driving East.

I seem to have a special affection & affinity for those lands, perhaps especially those that aren't quite the places of typical Westerns.

Oregon and Washington are both divided into East and West, with the dividing line being the Cascades, and sometimes taken specifically as the Cascade Crest. By that narrow line, I was born in Eastern Oregon, but Hood River is in the Columbia Gorge, a gap (monumental, shaped to extravagance by the Missoula Floods) in the Cascades, and within the transition zone between Wet Side and Dry Side. The Hood River Valley is a place of orchards - apples and pears - similar in many ways to the East approaches of Stevens Pass - Leavenworth & East: Peshastin, Dryden, toward Wenatchee and the Columbia River (again).

Montana lives richly in my personal mythology: my middle name coming from Brady, Montana, and my parents having moved to Hood River from Western Montana, where my sister was born. Though our older brother, and our father, and his mother, were all born in Seattle, and our mother in Portland, though she also grew up in Seattle.

I often sang "I ride an old paint" to my girls as they attempted to grow up under my adverse influence, and the hero of that song is "off to Montana" in a cowboy way. Yootoob has many versions ranging from Roy Rogers to I-don't-know, but I just listened to Linda Ronstadt (whom I have loved since she was a Stone Poney) and that will do for the words and tune, though it isn't quite the feel I aspired to, perhaps Rex Allen? Especially since I have been indulging in Singing Cowboys this last week or two.

My ramblings here today have no particular purpose or destination, except that I keep feeling my need to go East and get a little West, a little dryside. My sister & I are exploring the possibility of a daytrip. Soon maybe. With pictures to show for it.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Channeled Scablands

This is the time of year when my thoughts turn to dryside outings.

Living on the wetside, with a beach nearby, is my strong preference, and outings to the mountains are a lifelong favorite, but trips to the rain shadow extending from the East slope of the Cascades are right up there, and this year an excellent new book, Washington's Channeled Scablands Guide, has gotten me even more stirred up.

Having had no trip last year because of the aftermath of chemo has also boosted this year's desire.

So today I pulled Cataclysms on the Columbia: The Great Missoula Floods and Glacial Lake Missoula and Its Humongous Floods off the shelves for re-reading, along with Bretz's Flood: The Remarkable Story of a Rebel Geologist and the World's Greatest Flood for more history (also Kindle),  and On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods: A Geological Field Guide to the Mid-Columbia Basin, which is mostly south of much of my favorite territory, but does include such favorites as Lower Crab Creek, Frenchman Hills, and the Drumheller Channels, and in the rest is still very interesting. It will soon be followed by The Northern Reaches in Volume 2 (and maybe, perhaps, someday, The Columbia Gorge and Willamette Valley, in  a third volume?).

Wonderful reading about how huge floods hundreds of feet deep and tens of miles wide surged across eastern Washington about 50 times from about 15,000 years ago to 18,000 years ago, as a glacial dam which flooded extensive valleys in Western Montana broke and release hundreds of cubic miles of water over a period of just a few days, to carry icebergs to the southern reaches of the Willamette Valley. Then the glacier would close the gap again, the lake would refill, and it would all repeat.

There are even videos: NOVA: Mystery of the Megafloodwhich I found problematic in places, but still worth watching, and The Great Ice Age Floods, which I haven't seen but is on the way.

But even better is visiting: Whether driving tours, short walks, strenuous hikes, or even kayaking, there are all sorts of opportunities to enjoy the scenic and geologic delights, and imagine water pouring through gaps in the ridge-lines high above - unless you have strenuously hiked up there and are looking down across wide expanses of countryside scribed by visible relics of dry waterways from thousands of years ago.

There are few places where the evidence of dramatic geologic forces is so easily and widely visible.

And of course the wildflowers, lakes, and modern waterways also add to the charm. Best Desert Hikes, Washington, is another useful title, for within and near the flood scablands and coulees.

It's time to go back!

[I intended to include some of my pictures in this post but Picasa seems to have forgotten all my photographs over a year old so it will take a day or three's digging - check back!]


A day or three before a vet trip, the carrier comes up stairs where the cats can get used to it & forget that its coming upstairs leads to a trip to the vet.

This picture is after Archie (left) had his visit to the vet, but Webster (in the carrier) still hasn't been (Archy and Mehitabel?).

I had hoped to get a better quality image, with cheerier attitudes, but haven't caught the two of them together.

Archie has spent some time lying in it, but I don't think he's slept there yet.

Webster often sleeps soundly, sometimes with his back to the door. He'll get his trip this week probably, and we'll see how his attitude changes.