But Why Mud Mountain?

Usually, when I go to Mount Rainier, there’s no time for diversions. Which is sad, because I’ve wanted to see Mud Mountain Dam ever since I found out about it a few years ago. Every time, I plan to swing by, and every time, it just never works out. Until now.

Behold!

Image shows the upstream side of an earthen dam in a forested canyon. The dam actually looks like a small, triangular hill with the base at the top. A dirt road zig-zags up the middle. There is a concrete tower visible on the right.
Mud Mountain Dam

This trip to Mount Rainier hadn’t looked promising. After scorching heat all week, the weather took a turn for the Pacific Northwest. We’d intended to go down on Sunday, but the forecast changed to snow showers. Snow. I’m not doing snow on a volcano in a Honda Civic. So Merideth and I switched our plans, moved the trip up to Saturday, and decided we’d play it by ear. We didn’t think we’d see any volcano, but there are plenty of things to do around the base of Mount Rainier. And hey, since the National Park Service was celebrating its centennial, we were going to get in free anyway, so if the trip turned out to be a bust, no big deal.

I had Mud Mountain Dam on the wish list again, but since we got a leisurely start and stopped for a proper lunch, I’d changed my mind. I wanted to get Merideth to Longmire for some hawt hot springs action, and since we were coming in from the north, it was going to take quite some time. But as we passed the sign for Mud Mountain Dam, I decided to hell with it. We’d try for it. I couldn’t remember how far off the highway it was, but figured we’d turn around if it was too far. Continue reading “But Why Mud Mountain?”

But Why Mud Mountain?
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Lenticular Extravaganza at Mount Rainier!

So, my friend Merideth and I went down to Mount Rainier on Saturday. The weather didn’t start out promising, but it put on such a fantastic show for us once we got there! Look at this lenticular cloud the mountain is wearing!

Image shows Mount Rainier's summit, with a forest of firs in the foreground. On the left of the picture, there's nothing but frothy white and gray clouds. Behind those clouds, half of the summit is visible, capped by a lenticular cloud that is sitting right on top of the mountain. It looks like the brim of a haute couture newsboy cap. Behind it is pure blue sky.
Mount Rainier from Sunrise parking lot. Look at that jaunty lenticular cap!

There’s a whole lot more where that came from. To get a sneak peak at trip highlights and unedited photos, hop on over to my Facebook feed. Everything’s set to public, so everyone can enjoy!

Continue reading “Lenticular Extravaganza at Mount Rainier!”

Lenticular Extravaganza at Mount Rainier!

The Amazing Adventures of Aoife and Dana

I just had the best two days, my darlings! Our own Aoife took some time during her American vacation to come see us in Seattle. She’s a perfect delight. If she ever mentions she may want to come see you, say yes. You’ll never regret it.

We spent her first evening here having a lovely dinner with Funny Diva, who made sure we were well-fed and had a wonderful time. If Funny Diva ever recommends a place to you, go – and if you have the opportunity to take her with you, do it, because she is a fantastic human being who has an uncanny knack for picking the best places in town!

Now, when you come over from Ireland, you’re kind of obliged to do at least one touristy thing. And I know touristy things here. So Aoife and I grabbed the bus downtown on Monday, and I took her to the one place that is virtually required if you visit Seattle for more than five minutes. Continue reading “The Amazing Adventures of Aoife and Dana”

The Amazing Adventures of Aoife and Dana

Autumn Color Pops at Stratigraphy Viewpoint

Funny Diva and I got very lucky on our October trip to the south side of Mount St. Helens. The autumn colors were out in force! It’s getting to the gray part of the year in the Northern hemisphere, so a little splash of color will do us good. Let’s have a look at the wonderful ways the deciduous trees and bushes enhanced our views at Stratigraphy Viewpoint.

Image shows a length of the cut bank at Stratigraphy Viewpoint. Red-leafed trees and bushes are visible amongst the evergreens at the base of the bank and on its top.
Stratigraphy Viewpoint Fall Color I

One of the more botany-oriented folks in the audience will have to tell us what’s causing all these luscious fall colors. I suspect maples of some sort, but I dunno. We didn’t get across so I could inspect leaves.

Image shows a zoomed-in version of the previous photo, showing a particularly vigorous red tree. The bank is shades of pale gray, cream, and yellow-tan.
Stratigraphy Viewpoint Fall Color II

Speaking of botany, do you see that fluffy green bush trying to get all up in our stratigraphy? The nerve of some plants!

There are more fall colors splashed about in the photo set, if you want to go explore them. I shan’t overwhelm you with slight variations upon the theme here. Instead, let us turn to a stratigraphy photo that didn’t make the cut at Rosetta Stones, but which I love. First, you have to see it complete with the maclargehuge tree topping it like a birthday candle on a cupcake:

Image shows a tall portion of the exposed bank with a very tall lodgepole pine rising far above the surrounding trees.
Neato stratigraphy I

Look at that magnificent giant surrounded by short younger trees! It must have been there watching while Mount St. Helens went all asplodey and hurtled mudflows at it. And it was strong enough to endure the whole thing. Hats off to that tree.

Now, you may want to drool all over the bank it’s growing on.

Image zooms to the bank, which is a slice through tan, gray, pale brown, and yellow layers.
Neato stratigraphy II

How gorgeous is that? If you zoom in on it, the individual layers become fairly distinct, even though we’re shooting late in the day from across the wide river channel. You can even identify many of those layers yourself! Use this photo for reference. How many did you spot?

Autumn Color Pops at Stratigraphy Viewpoint

Holiday Road Trip? Compelling Reasons to Stuff a Geologist in Your Car – But Do Your Own Driving

“‘If I’m going to drive safely, I can’t do geology.'”

-Geologist quoted by John McPhee in Basin and Range

There’s nothing like roadtripping with geologists. If you’ve got a long, dull trip coming up, stuff a geologist or two in the car with you – it’ll liven things up considerably! Of course, you’ll find yourself taking risks you never expected to take, and pulling your car off the road at extremely short notice and sometimes awfully close to a sheer drop, but trust me, it’ll be worth it.

You know how you’re driving along, minding your own business, and sometimes zip through gashes in hills and such where engineers have decided removing some rock is in the best interest of the roadway? You know how it’s all mostly been a brown or gray blur as you speed past? All that’s about to change. Continue reading “Holiday Road Trip? Compelling Reasons to Stuff a Geologist in Your Car – But Do Your Own Driving”

Holiday Road Trip? Compelling Reasons to Stuff a Geologist in Your Car – But Do Your Own Driving

Sneak Peeks from Frenchman Coulee

Waterfall, petrified wood, bighorn sheep, and stunning sunset, oh my! S’s friend R is visiting, and we took advantage of a nice weather break to head over to Frenchman Coulee. Twas glorious! I’m too exhausted to do much of anything but drool over some photos, but I think you’ll very much enjoy drooling with me.

Image shows the peak of Mount Stuart, which is a fan-shaped, rugged mountain. It has a coating of bright white new snow.
Mount Stuart showing off a beautiful new coat of snow.

As we drove through the Cascades, we saw the peaks dusted with snow so new it was still clinging to tree branches. So lovely! Continue reading “Sneak Peeks from Frenchman Coulee”

Sneak Peeks from Frenchman Coulee

Brilliant Fall Colors at Icicle Gorge – Come Enjoy!

It’s fall! I hate this season. Yeah, I know, everybody else seems to love it, but I get all maudlin about the dying year. I hate the days getting shorter, the return of endless rain, all the deciduous trees and plants becoming skeletons, the endless pumpkin nonsense… yeah, killjoy, I know. I didn’t even like it in Arizona, when it basically meant the Peaks would be dusted with snow and it would finally drop below blast furnace temps in Phoenix. I’m just not a fall person.

But I do like the brilliant colors of the turning leaves. And I bloody adore Halloween. So there’s that.

Anyway. I’m trying to take advantage of every rare good day we get, and B and I lucked out tremendously. We hadn’t had a chance to actually go out and do anything since his new job started, but this time, he happened to have a day off on one of our few remaining spectacular days, and I was also free, so we hopped in the car and headed over the Cascades to Leavenworth. Just outside of Leavenworth, Icicle Creek plunges through a spectacular gorge cut into the Chiwaukum Schist. There’s a lovely loop trail that winds around and into the gorge, crosses two bridges, and presents a lot of interesting variety along the way. You get creek views, mountain views, forests, bogs, and all sorts of things! There’s even maclargehuge Ponderosa pines, which makes this former Flagstaff, AZ girl happy. Continue reading “Brilliant Fall Colors at Icicle Gorge – Come Enjoy!”

Brilliant Fall Colors at Icicle Gorge – Come Enjoy!

You Have the Good Luck to See Bad Luck in These Select Cities

Do you like avant garde music with saxophone and drums? Would you like to enjoy a night out with my musician housemate? Excellent! He’s on tour right now, so you have a chance to see him play! And yes, that means that I’m about to reveal who the mysterious N is: Continue reading “You Have the Good Luck to See Bad Luck in These Select Cities”

You Have the Good Luck to See Bad Luck in These Select Cities

Ghost Mountain, Beach Rocks, and Puppy

I have some lovely scenes from Magnuson Park for ye, my darlings. Funny, because I almost didn’t.

Having spent the night dreaming I was released naked from a Middle Eastern prison and had to find adequate clothes to avoid sunburn*, and also being woken up what seemed like every few minutes by a cold cat looking for warms, then deciding she was warm enough and waking me again as she buggered off, I was exhausted. It was all I could do to stagger out of bed and fling myself into the chair on the patio in the sunshine. This is where I was when a certified miracle happened. Continue reading “Ghost Mountain, Beach Rocks, and Puppy”

Ghost Mountain, Beach Rocks, and Puppy

Our Mount St. Helens Epic Adventure: The End of a Quest!

Suzanne and I went up to Mount St. Helens yesterday on a rather spur-of-the-moment whim. The weather wasn’t as clear as we’d have liked, but the clouds stayed just high enough to make things interesting without obscuring the vital bits, so that was a little bit of all right. And at the end of the day, we had a most spectacular moment of success, one that brought a years-long quest to a close. Come join me for a whirlwind overview before I go pass out!

Continue reading “Our Mount St. Helens Epic Adventure: The End of a Quest!”

Our Mount St. Helens Epic Adventure: The End of a Quest!