Monday, January 30, 2017

Under the Ice

Only a few feet deep and a couple yards wide, this pond is normally not much to look at, but when the cold weather crystallizes its frog haunted depths it takes on the characteristics of a frozen alien landscape. It is mesmerizing to stare through layers of ice and try to decipher what strange formations lie beneath. Flying saucers, UFO's and amorphous tentacle monsters lurk within the gloom. Diamonds float in a sea of glass. Gaze into my crystal pond!

Friday, January 27, 2017

A timely message from OK GO

“There’s some bad people on the rise” - that’s the chorus line of Morrissey's song “Interesting Drug” - an appropriate sentiment for the current condition of the human race. This was not lost on the band OK GO when their music video cover of the tune was uploaded to Youtube just days before the inauguration of the illegitimate dictator of the United States.

“They’re saving their own skin by ruining people's lives” - the song continues, practically a textbook description of kleptocracy. Trump, the GOP, and Russia’s corrupt politicians all have come to power with the express purpose of exploiting their positions for personal gain. That gain is had at the considerable detriment to the people they supposedly represent.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Frozen Landscapes

It’s rare for the lowlands of Southwest Washington to see more than a few days in a row with snow on the ground - let alone the better part of a month! It hasn’t been much, but since 2017 rolled around the weather has been as cold and snowy as any I can remember! Dealing with freezing water pipes, hauling water from the house for thirsty animals, and other cold weather chores may have made things more difficult, but it’s been worth it to finally experience a real winter in these parts! With the sound of rain on my window, washing the snow away, I find myself sifting through the eleven hundred photos I captured of these snowy conditions! This will be the first in a four part series of photo galleries. Enjoy!

Part 1: Frozen Landscapes

Winter without snow is a bland affair - gray trees, grey sky, grey grass. Maybe an appealing setting for a gloomy music video, but not an inspirational scene for much else. Add a few flakes of snow and the monotony ends. Even the ugliest scenery is made pleasing to the eye when covered with a powdery blanket of frozen water. The terminally drab architecture, the redneck car graveyards, butchered commercial forests - all these detriments to the aesthetics of Western Washington are put temporarily out of sight. A few flurries of snow transform a boring landscaping into a winter wonderland.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Thank you President Obama!

I would like to take a moment today to thank President Barack Obama for his extraordinary service as one of the greatest leaders America has ever had. He is one of the few politicians I consider to be truly honest, and who sincerely cares about his country and the people he represents. Even when confronted by the coarse rudeness of his opponents he behaved with politeness and a manner befitting a world leader.

Under his leadership great strides were made in conservation and sustainability, in healthcare, education, and government. He strove for reform and progress towards a better future. What he has accomplished is remarkable, even more so when one considers the hateful individuals who fought him at every turn. One wonders what he might have been able to achieve had not the forces of greed and corruption opposed him so bitterly.

Our country and our planet are a better place for the past 8 years of his leadership, and I sincerely wish that the 22nd amendment had not been made so that we might have elected him for another 4, and then another 4 after that. Thank you, President Obama, for all the monuments, the Paris agreement, and the strengthening of environmental protections - may they weather the storms that gather on the horizon. Once again, thank you for your service.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Hoffstadt Visitor Center Fiasco

Photo: Mt. St. Helens and the Toutle River Valley as seen from Hoffstadt Visitor Center.
The history of the  spectacular region surrounding Mt. St. Helens is a litany of poor management decisions. From crooked land deals that lost us millions of acres of public land, to the stripping of the ancient forests that once blanketed that land, to the inadequate size of Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, to the haphazard development of said monument, and countless other gaffs and disasters, this corner of the Cascades has not been treated well. The hocking of the Hoffstadt Visitor Center is the latest in this long line of poor decisions.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Barrier Falls

Deep in the woodland hills of the Northern Oregon Coast range can be found many hidden valleys with tumbling streams - the quiet of this forest realm broken only by the roar of many falls and the song of forest wrens. However, the unfortunate truth is that much of this country lacks protected status, let alone trails. One of the few exceptions to this rule is the verdant canyon of Gnat Creek, along which several miles worth of trails may be traveled - the star attraction of which is the small, yet impressive cascade of Barrier Falls. In season it is a cauldron of boiling white froth that dwindles to a trickle of crystal in the dry months of summer.

Gnat Creek/Clatsop Crest State Park Proposal

Puget Island in the Columbia River from the Clatsop Crest
Over the years I have driven over the hills that lie between Astoria and Clatskanie many times, and every time I am struck by the region's beauty, and also by its sad neglect. Once upon a time the Southern shore of the Lower Columbia River was a tourism destination, but for some time now it has been unfortunately forgotten. Casual travelers seldom guess at the hidden beauty that can be found here - at the waterfalls that tumble through hidden glens, the quiet valleys, or the rugged ridges ripe for exploration. At the moment this obscurity is for the best - most of the falls lie on private property, and public access is tolerated only due to their lack of use & the respect shown by visitors. Where public land is found, few trails allow for easy or pleasant walking due to the intense logging that dominates both state and private land here.