Sunday, August 30, 2015

Saturday's Deadly Washington Windstorm Knocks Down Trees Leaving Half Million Powerless

Yesterday a windstorm hit the Pacific Northwest, with gusts gusting into the over 60 mph range in the Puget Sound zone, while 80 mph wind was recorded on Destruction Island off the Olympic Peninsula.

Two people were killed in Western Washington. A 10 year old girl in Federal Way was killed by a wind blown tree branch. A Gig Harbor man was killed when a tree was blown over on his Subaru.

Almost half a million people were left without power. Many who did not lose power did lose their Cable TV connection, right when they were getting ready to watch the Seahawks play some football.

The photo above arrived in my email this morning, sent by Spencer Jack's dad, my favorite nephew Jason. A tree was blown over on to the Skagit River bridge which connects downtown Mount Vernon with West Mount Vernon.

Reading various news sources this morning it seems a bit unclear whether the windstorm and its accompanying rain helped stifle the wildfires. It would seem strong wind would fan the flames. But a good dose of rain might counteract the flame fanning.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Spencer Jack Tour Of Washington's Shrinking Skagit River

The rivers of the Pacific Northwest are overheating and drying up, killing off millions of fish; salmon, sturgeon, trout, due to the water being too warm and in short supply.

Today Spencer Jack takes us on a look at the incredibly shrinking Skagit River, in the Skagit Valley of Washington.

In the first picture Spencer Jack is standing on a sandbar in Mount Vernon. Under normal conditions Spencer Jack would not be able to stand at this location. He would need to be swimming.

Behind Spencer Jack, on the other side of what remains of the Skagit River is downtown Mount Vernon, with its iconic Tulip Tower, while towering over the Tulip Tower is Mount Vernon's Little Mountain.

Skagit River information which Spencer Jack sent along with the pictures....

The Skagit River measures just 10 feet at it's deepest location in Mount Vernon.   Believed to be a 60 year low.  Typical lows don't normally occur until mid-September, 30 plus days from now.

More of Spencer Jack's look at what is now known, for now, as Skagit Creek....

Above Spencer Jack is in Mount Vernon, on the west side of the river.

Above we are on the east side of the Skagit River, showing some water, looking at the Riverside Bridge which connects west and east Mount Vernon.

Here Spencer Jack has driven to the Burlington side of the Skagit River, where he is waving at us on Young's Bar, usually not a location for casual beach driving.

Above Spencer Jack has walked away from his car to take a picture, looking west, across the new Young's Bar Sand Highway.

We conclude with Spencer Jack standing under the railroad bridge crossing that crosses over Young's Bar. Again, under normal conditions Spencer Jack would need to be swimming at this location.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Chris & Jeremy Safely Exploring The Big Four Ice Caves

What with Washington's Big Four Ice Caves being in the news, for a deadly reason, with one person killed and several injured, after ignoring the warning signs indicating entering the Ice Caves was not safe in warm, let alone, hot weather, I thought I'd share some photos of a safe, winter, frozen visit to the Ice Caves with my nephews, Christopher and Jeremy.

This hike to the Ice Caves took place back in the early 1990s.

Winter is a safe time  to visit the Ice Caves. In late Spring the Spring Thaw brings about new Ice Caves as melting chunks of ice crash down from the steep cliff above, creating a spectacular attraction which attracts a lot of onlookers to look at the cascading chunks of ice  and listen to the explosive cracks of ice.

This pile of ice later morphs into the Ice Caves, becoming safe to enter with the return of freezing in Winter.

The Ice Caves are never safe in Summer. Just look at the below pictures of Chris and Jeremy in the Ice Caves and imagine being so foolish to do on a HOT summer day.

One my Washington website's Cascade Mountains webpage there is a good description of the Ice Caves....

Ice Caves
There is a road called the Mountain Loop Highway that goes from Darrington to Granite Falls. This road is in the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest. It is the way to Glacier Peak which is one of the 5 volcanoes in Washington, and the least known and most difficult to get to. The Mountain Loop Highway is very close to the lowlands of Puget Sound and is easy to get to and closer than going up to the ski areas on Stevens or Snoqualmie Pass in search of snow to play on. There are many attractions on the Mountain Loop Highway, Mount Pilchuck, Granite Falls (the actual falls, not the town),  Monte Christo, an old mining town which is now a ghost town and a major mountain biking and hiking destination in summer and a cross country skiing destination in winter. But the most unique thing on the Mountain Loop Highway may be the Ice Caves which form every year as the winter's accumulation of snow that has slid off the mountain forms caves as water erodes the ice away. The Ice Caves are about a mile hike from the Highway. There are warning signs. 'Enter the Ice Caves at your own Risk', 'Ice Caves Dangerous on Warm Days'. People have died in the Ice Caves.

In the following three photos we go inside the Ice Caves with Chris and Jeremy.

Above you are looking at Chris and Jeremy looking at HUGE chunks of ice which fell from the Ice Caves during the previous Summer's melting phase. Again, why would anyone ignore the multiple warning signs and enter the Ice Caves on a warm July day?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Spencer Jack Takes Me Back To Washington To Birch Bay

No, that is not my nephew, Spencer Jack, still on a beach in Hawaii.

Spencer Jack is back on the mainland, which would make Spencer Jack's location, you see him at here, Birch Bay, in Whatcom County, in Washington, a few miles south of the Canadian border.

Birch Bay is an extremely popular tourist destination, both for Americans and Canadians.

Birch Bay is a shallow bay, so at low tide the water recedes a great distance. On a warm summer day the sun heats up the exposed sand. When the tide rolls back in the heated sand heats the water.

Thus swimming in Birch Bay can seem like swimming in a heated pool, at times.

The Wikipedia article about Birch Bay explains the nature of the bay in details I'd not previously known.

Birch Bay is a headland bay created by the refraction of incoming waves on the headlands that lie on either side of the bay. The headland to the north is Birch Point, and the one to the south is Point Whitehorn. The waves bend as they enter the bay and lose energy in the process. The result is a half-moon-shaped bay with a gentle sloping beach. 

Birch Bay is not an incorporated town. However it is a census designated place where at last count 8,143 people were populating the Bay.

Locals refer to Birch Bay simply as The Bay. For example, growing up in the next county south, that being Skagit County, mid week mom and dad might ask if us kids wanted to go camping at The Bay next weekend. We never said no. We would camp at Birch Bay State Park at the south end of The Bay.

Way back then there was a carnival attraction at about the halfway point on the road which follows the shoreline. There was a Ferris wheel, a train and other rides. The carnival has long been replaced by condominiums.

The carnival is long gone, but Birch Bay currently has a waterslide park called Birch Bay Waterslides.

When I was a real little kid my Grandma Vera had a cabin at Birch Bay. I only vaguely remember the cabin. It was up a hill, above The Bay, surrounded by trees.

Way back then there was a real cool old-fashioned putt putt golf course that likely dated from way back in the 1920s. Or earlier. I wonder if that is still in existence?

I do not know if the 2015 version of Birch Bay still draws huge crowds in summer, with a non-stop traffic jam of people driving, real slow. I suspect the non-stop traffic jam is likely even more so these days.

I must remember to ask Spencer Jack to take his dad back to Birch Bay to see if my favorite piece of driftwood is still there, in the state park zone, across the road from the picnic area restrooms. I spent a lot of hours climbing on that driftwood when I was Spencer Jack's age, and younger....

Friday, March 20, 2015

Texas Tulips Are Not Blooming In The Skagit Valley

No, you looking at this in Washington and the Skagit Valley, there is no new tulip field in the Skagit Valley called Texas-Tulips, growing some sort of new giant  hybrid Texas-sized tulips.

Texas-Tulips is the first tulip field to bloom in Texas, blooming right now, at the same time the Skagit Valley tulips are blooming, earlier than the norm, ahead of the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival which runs the entire month of April.

You can go to the Texas-Tulips website to learn all about this Texas Dutch experiment in growing tulips in Texas.

I have blogged about the Texas-Tulips on a couple of my other blogs....

Tiptoe Through Texas TulipsA Tale Of Texas Tulips And My Great Grandpa Rejecting The Lone Star State.

Right at this moment thunderstorms are booming in the area of the Texas-Tulips. Along with pea-sized hail. North Texas in entering that time of the year when the wind blows strong, sometimes as a tornado.

I would think it would be a daunting task to grow Tulips in Texas. Then again, the landscape of Texas will soon be colored with the annual wildflower display, with flowers which seem to have no problem dealing with the harsh Texas climate.

Maybe delicate looking tulips are more hardy than their appearance and will do just fine in Texas.

As long as a wilting HEAT wave does not come along whilst they are doing their blooming....

Monday, February 16, 2015

Spencer Jack's Fidalgo Drive-In Hamburger Voted Best in Anacortes

This morning I learned via Facebook that my great nephew Spencer Jack's, (and his dad's), Anacortes restaurant, the Fidalgo Drive-In, has been determined by Burger Voters to have the BEST HAMBURGER in Anacortes.

That is Spencer Jack you see here, having whipped up a Root Beer Float to go along with the BEST HAMBURGER in Anacortes.

Why do I feel like I am writing an advertisement here?

I think I will have a Deluxe Bacon Double Cheeseburger with one of Spencer Jack's Root Beer Floats for lunch, maybe with onion rings, if onion rings are on the menu today....

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Dallas Zoo Porcupine Picks Seahawks To Win Super Bowl While Dallas Penguin Chooses Patriots

I do not know what the deal is with Dallas/Fort Worth area zoo animals weighing in on who is going to win the Super Bowl.

A few days ago a Fort Worth Zoo crocodile named Salty picked the Seahawks to win by choosing to swallow a chicken representing the Seahawks.

Then at the Dallas Zoo a porcupine named Teddy Bear joined Salty in picking the Seahawks. I do not know by what means Teddy Bear made his choice.

Teddy Bear has a golden reputation, apparently, as America's greatest living football pundit.

Also at the Dallas Zoo, a co-inmate, that being a penguin named Sid, picked the New England Patriots to beat Seattle in today's Super Bowl.

Again, I do not know how the Dallas Zoo penguin made its choice.

I learned about the Dallas Zoo Super Bowl picks via the Dallas Observer, in an article titled Fort Worth Crocodile Agrees with Dallas Porcupine, Picks Seahawks in the Super Bowl. In that article, if you click the link, you will find video of Salty picking the Seahawk chicken in one extreme gulp.

At the top of the Dallas Observer article it is written "We Apologize in Advance for this Particular Item".

I do not know for what the Dallas Observer is apologizing, but, below the photo is the caption, "Shouldn't devouring the Seahawks chicken mean he's picking the Patriots?"

Is the Dallas Observer apologizing for suggesting such a thing? I have no idea, but the same thought crossed my mind.

The Dallas Observer made the good point that a more accurate test of Salty's preference would be if the choice of an actual Seahawk and an actual Revolutionary War hero was dangled above him, with the one eaten being his choice to lose the Super Bowl.

I do not know where one would find Revolutionary War hero to participate in such a thing.

Or a Seahawk....