Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Red Water   2 comments

Is it not hard to imagine your own language disappearing from the face of the earth?  So many have been the last to utter final words, with no one else to understand their meaning over the last 200 years and I am sure there will be more.  There are words in many languages that have very subtle meanings that are not neatly represented in English.  English does thrive, largely because it is so accepting of outside influences, incorporating the best of many other languages.  There are words that I wish were not there, recently added to the dictionary.  Gaydar, for example.  Which the dictionary defines as a skill only for homosexuals.  Heteros have radars, too!  We at least think we can detect gays in our midst though we are probably often wrong.  So what?! Well, there are people that like, um, burritos, so should we have burritodar in our vocabulary?  I think not!  It is way too awkward, anyway.  Hey! That guy has a very large belly hanging over his belt, big flabby arms and slurred speech.  I detect a binge beer drinker with my beerdar!  Golfer. Pardar.  Sushi eater?  Rawdar.  Kinda silly.  But there are others, as well.  Grrrl is now in the dictionary.  If the young woman is especially hypersexual I guess it could be grrrrrrrrl.  Not sure.  I wish there was no need for the term sexting.    Unfortunately, even though it has applied to me at times, should cyberslacking actually be in the dictionary?  Why not just “lazy at work”.  That covers it.  Some words should be banned, like frankenfood, often used to describe genetically modified foods, which have been genetically modified anyway since, oh, just after Noah started using seeds from plants that had higher production or resisted bugs, just the slow hard way.  The word is cute, sticks, and creates battle lines where science doesn’t support the distinction in terms of health.  So we have to label everything.  Meanwhile, other languages die.

Often when a language dies it leaves behind traces of its former existence, often seen with geographical features.  In the Pacific Northwest, native tribal languages have struggled to survive.  Lushootseed, along with other variants, has barely managed to survive, a language that had only about 100 speakers not too many years ago.  But the tribes involved, probably putting some good use to the tribal gambling casino proceeds, are fighting back and growing the use of the language among tribe members, part of the Salish tribes that once thrived along the coast of Puget Sound.  It is unlikely that much of their everyday vocabulary will spill over into English.  I won’t even attempt   to explain how to pronounce this: ƛ̕ux̌ʷƛ̕ux̌ʷ.  Saying “oyster” will pr0bably remain the dominant way we describe those little fellas!

The list of things that I have been told to do while living here by natives and other transplants is quite extensive.

Ice on a small pond.

Ice on a small pond.

Mentioned by almost everyone, however, was Mt. Pilchuck.  This is easily understandable.  It rises to 5324 feet and though this is not an impressive height, it accomplishes this over only a few miles and is close to Puget Sound.  It really stands out and is famous for having incredible views of the entire region, the sound, Seattle and environs, views of Baker and Rainier, and valleys below.  So wifey, Nana, needed a grandchild fix and was flying off to Southern California.  I decided one Saturday morning, with a weather forecast calling for partly cloudy skies, to climb Mt. Pilchuck.  This implies I though that my conditioning was superior to hers, which, as anyone could tell you that knows me, there is nothing physically obvious about me that suggests this is true.

Fortunately, for me, you do not actually have to climb 5324 feet to get to the top of the mountain.  You drive up a forest service road to a parking area that sits about halfway up the mountain.  The mountain itself is in a state park, but oddly, the trail to the top is still considered federal forest service land.  There is no Mr. Pilchuck.  I googled the name and it did not show up in the first few pages so there may be a Pichuck out there somewhere or a female Pilchick!  Don’t know for sure.  It is actually named after a Lushootseed term that means red water or stream.  I don’t know where that might be but on my travel up the mountain I did not see any red water.  At least the name has roots in the region.

Trail to Mt. Pilchuck.

Trail to Mt. Pilchuck.

The trail up starts out gently enough and actually only rarely becomes very steep, but it is a pretty continuous climb to the top.  The early path leads past small streams and waterfalls through typical Pacific Northwest forest with the older limbs of trees covered in that moss drapery so common in the region.  There had been quite a bit of rain lately so the trail itself was often a small stream but there were always rocks or edginsg of turf that kept me from sinking into mud.  After the trail turns mostly eastward there starts to be more frequent breaks in the trees that allow the opportunity for grand vistas.  But on this day, the view below was like looking into a giant bath with bubbles, oddly lined by evergreens.  There just had to be someone holding their breath under the water out of sight.  And so it was!  There was Mr. Baker!  Far to the north there was a nose protruding from the frothy bubbles.  Mt. Baker was just jutting out above the clouds.

Here is a mountain that clearly does not have a Lushootseed based name.

It is actually named after a 3rd lieutenant in the British navy that had been aboard the exploration focused HMS Discovery.  He was  acquitted after a court martial, having run his ship aground, in later years.  Though acquitted, it does not appear that he was forgiven as he never sailed under any command again.  What a lousy name for such a beautiful, spectacular even, mountain that is at least reasonably accessible and often visible from 70 to 80 miles away.  Well, this mountain was not ignored by the tribes in the area.  They had their own names.  Prominent among these was Qwú’mə Kwəlshéːn.  While perhaps harder to remember and pronounce it at least has connections to the people who discovered it first!  It sorta means white sentinel mountain with a puncture wound.  At least one would have an idea of what type of mountain was being talked about.  Volcanoes clearly have puncture wounds, craters, and even this early in the fall to winter season, this mountain is pretty much covered in snow and ice.  It is also known as Koma Kulshan which evens out some of the phonetic issues when pronouncing its name.

So onward and upward.  As the trail round to the south, small lakes and forest appearing below, the peak of Mt. Pilchuck becomes visible.  Between the top of the bathtub and the peak there were no clouds.

View into the bathtub.

View into the bathtub.

The nose.  Mt. Baker in the distance.

The nose. Mt. Baker in the distance.

One could see into the very far distance nothing but blue past the steep vertical drop on this side of the mountain.  The peak itself was wearing a white feather cap.  Winds were clearly pushing and pulling on the relatively thin layer of clouds there.   While a sight to see from below it foreshadowed a degree of disappointment for the future as the view from above might well be highly compromised.

The trail steepened, often offering the opportunity to look back down the path traveled as one switchbacked up to the ridgeline.  Hitting the saddle yielded another view of the bathtub as bubbles completely occluded the view below.

Mt. Pilchuck-5From here on the trail often became a rocky scramble.  As I climbed, the clouds forming along the ridge began to surround me.  The twisted and weathered branches of trees closer to the top held mantles of snow and ice.  The temperature hovered around 40 Fahrenheit.  Steep cliffs offered nothing but frothy views only to a hundred meters or so.  And then, I was at the top, more or less.  As something of a final taunt, the last yards to the ladder that led to the fire observation tower on top were mostly an undefined workout over steeply angled rock.  But then you were there.

First view of the peak.

First view of the peak.

Mt. Pilchuck-8

The forest service built the lookout in 1918.  To do so they had to dynamite the top of the mountain to have an area flat enough to build.  It was used for over 40 years.  On the way up, and near the top as well, you can see remnants of a ski area that was shut down in 1980 due to issues with the amount of snow produced here.  Mr. Baker, Qwú’mə Kwəlshéːn, to the north does not have a snow problem.  In 1999 that mountain set a world record for recorded snowfall over the winter season.  1, 140 inches.  That is, 95 feet of snow or 29 meters!  Poor little Pilchuck just can’t compare but can win on accessible views as it is far easier to obtain the peak than on Lieutenant “court marshall”  Baker.

So where is it?!  I climb the ladder, fingers freezing, legs aching, look to the south and… nothing but white.  I move around the tower for a more easterly view and can at least see the cliffs in that direction,Mt. Pilchuck-3 looking like a giant ship sinking into cotton candy.  As I move around to the north side, there, finally, the sky in front and above opens to a perfect Carolina blue sky!  (Sorry about that, Washington, that description is going to stick).  At least the cotton candy or bubbles below glisten with occasional breaks.  But, alas, no view of Puget Sound, Seattle, Rainier or much of anything else down below.

But perhaps what was down below was not to be the issue that day.  As I looked at the flag that had been hoisted to the top of this mountain, mere miles from the scene of great tragedy, my thoughts moved inward and upward.  I could only wish that the whiteness of the clouds below represented a certain purity and innocence.  The wind stood the flag straight out.  “Look at me and remember”.   Though only my physical plane had been raised by the hike up, I now had to fight to raise my emotional plane away from the sadness and pain represented by the flag of Marysville Pilchuck High School.  It had only been days since the shootings and young students were still dying from their wounds.  Sadly, the meaning of Pilchuck, red water, seemed a little too appropriate.

Abandoned fire observation tower at the peak.

Abandoned fire observation tower at the peak.

But the flag was put there as a soaring remembrance, and perhaps an act of defiance.

There will be those that cannot now, in their grief, move forward with clear purpose or even contemplate joyful times, but for others, and it is hoped someday for all, there will be an end to the long trail upward, rising above, to seek the crystal, azure skies,  the fog and clouds clearing, for a view of something better.

Marysville Pilchuck High School Flag.  A memorium.

Marysville Pilchuck High School Flag. A memorium.



Wobbling in Woodinville   Leave a comment

After arriving in Everett, where we actually live, not in Seattle, thank goodness, we soon wanted, like everyone else up here, to take advantage of the secretly beautiful summer into fall weather.  But first, a comment on getting around here, particularly Seattle.  The traffic in Seattle is currently setting records for commuting time.   It has become so bad that along I-5 they are installing little plastic bag dispensing stations like you see in parks for dogs because so many have to run to the shoulder, quickly try to find a sign or bush, and have something with which to scoop before rushing

Bridge near the entrance to the Sammamish River Trailin Bothell.

Bridge near the entrance to the Sammamish River Trailin Bothell.

back to the car because they think the line might move along without them.  Silly!  They

Nana, ready to go!

Nana, ready to go!

actually have to run back up the road as the traffic here often moves backwards.  Those listening to radios are cycling through a station’s entire playlist.  Audible is making a fortune since those listening to recorded books are finishing an entire volume of Game of Thrones on one commute.

As far as actual labor is concerned, the employees that work downtown are actually only working two hours.  The boss often is the last one in so no one  has to pay the piper for being late.  There are, of course, the hardy souls that bicycle in to work, rain or shine.  They have their little lights just a flashin’ through the fog like tiny mobile lighthouses.  Those that have followed this blog over time know that we like to bicycle, as well.  Nana is a lady of leisure now and I have about 25 miles to get to work, uphill both ways, and resist any tendency that might emerge as a form of temporary insanity to pedal to Sultan.  I’m fine, as I move against the flow…well actually the traffic to Seattle has no flow…dry and conserving my personal energy, inside my mobile cocoon.

But we do like to pedal on the incredible range of bike trails that exist in the region, hundreds of miles. To get started here, before the onset of the wet season, which comprises about 300 days of the year, we struck out on the bicycle trail, or a portion of it, that runs from Bothell to Woodinville.  This seemed like a very logical first choice since near the turn around point there existed several locations where essential supplies could be obtained that would allow us to survive to bike another day.

Woodinville Bike Trip-100 Woodinville Bike Trip-98

We sauntered across the bridge near the start of the trail and followed the Sammamish River into Woodinville.  There were some sections near interstate but much of the trail was lined by fields, trees, parks, and in the river, boaters and ducks.  Some boaters were fishing while others paddled canoes or kayaks down the gently flowing river.  This area has many acres of vineyards and over the

Paddling on the Sammamish.

Paddling on the Sammamish.

Beautiful tree on the winery grounds.

Beautiful tree on the winery grounds.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery - early birds for the evening concert.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery – early birds for the evening concert.

years many wineries have sprung up following the lead of Chateau St. Michelle.  The grounds are beautiful and they produce a wide variety of wines with a wide range of, ummmm, outcomes.


We thought that we had some obligation to sample much of this variety of wines.  We certainly did not want to disappoint the worker by refusing to taste at least most of their wines.  We were inside but on the outside there were people sitting in the sun, trying to store enough vitamin D to survive the coming dark times.  “Winter is coming!”  They were actually just waiting, early birds, picnicking  until the gates opened for that evening’s concert, which was Hall and Oates.  They have a fantastic range of performers most weekends over the summer, current rising performers, top groups and performers from times that were contemporary when I was a teen.


Lunch in "Hollywood".  The beer is only part of the lunch.

Lunch in “Hollywood”. The beer is only part of the lunch.

Woodinville Bike Trip-126











Can we just take the container on the left?

Can we just take the container on the left?

There are more options of various types in the area.  Other wine choices but other types of options as well.  After lunch and beer at The Hollywood Tavern, which was quite good, we walked 10 yards to the entrance of the Woodinville Whisky Company.  So this turned into a triple play, especially after a final visit to the Red Hook Brewery 200 yards across the way.

Angst on entering the Woodinville Whiskey Co.

Angst on entering the Woodinville Whiskey Co.

The distillery produced excellent liquors!  We know because we tried most all of them.  Oddly, they also produced infused honey.  In addition to whiskey they also make other liquors such as vodka.  They also sell a kit where you can age your own bourbon!


Well, not too bad!

Well, not too bad!

Woodinville Bike Trip-136Woodinville Bike Trip-138This was all good, but we finally had to make our way back down the trail to our vehicle.  It was not a long bicycle ride but the trail did not seem as stable on the way back.  They do have earthquakes in this area but we later did not see any reports for that day.  Not exactly sure what put Nana down.  It could not have been a lack of liquid hydration and the trail was not that long.

She soon recovered enough to slowly pedal past the duck and boaters gliding in the lazy Sammamish.


Woodinville Bike Trip-139



When Mountains Come Tumbling Down   Leave a comment

When you travel in the west or most any mountainous region you often see signs warning of falling rock.  In many places you can see evidence of rock falls or the slightly softer version, avalanches.  Usually, no one is around to see or hear them.  Usually they are not very big though, of course, it only takes one rock to kill you.  On a previous trip I had visited Earthquake Lake in Montana, near Yellowstone.  Yellowstone has some sort of tremors ever day.  There is a lot going on under that place.  It is basically the home of a potential super volcano that were it to erupt at full intensity would devastate a large area in the middle of the continent.  Hopefully that is very far off, but there has been swelling that has increased in recent years.  At Earthquake Lake, often just referred to as Quake Lake, an earthquake of magnitude 7.5, which affected the entire Yellowstone area,  occurred in August of 1959.  Had it been the depths of the winter it might not have had the impact that it had.  This was not the case.  Eighty million tons of rock fall off the side of a mountain around midnight, completely blocking the river and surging with rock and water that killed 28 people camping in that area.  It is amazing to see huge boulders that traveled over 100 miles and hour across the valley and up the other side a huge distance from where it started and actually up hill on the other side.

The scar is clearly visible where the upper flank of Turtle Mountain collapsed in April of 1903.


Near Crowsnest Pass in Canada, the lowest pass across the lower Canadian Rockies, something similar occurred but for different reasons.  No earthquake was involved but the geology of Turtle Mountain was such that the layers of the rock were mostly vertical, with instabilities caused by erosion, water seeping, freezing and thawing and further destabilization caused by glaciers during the last ice age sheering off much of the bottom of the mountain’s support.  This was mining country, still is.  There were small camps, a railroad and other human fixtures in the area including a small town, Frank.  Frankly, those in Frank were rather lucky as it was mostly just beyond the area that was devastated when the entire side of the mountain fell off.  The area of rock was about a kilometer wide,  a kilometer  tall and had a thickness of around 150 meters.  That is a lot of rock.  Ninety people died, at least.  Miners within the mountain were, ironically, safe but did have to dig themselves out.  The tragedy could have been much greater if Frank, with roughly 600 residents, had been slightly farther to the East.  On April 29th, 1903, 82 million tons of rock fell fell of the mountain, quite comparable to the Quake Lake event.  The rock may have even floated along on a thin layer of compressed air and flowed almost like a river.  The flow buried two kilometers of railway.

A highway now cuts a narrow slice through the mile and a half long, 15 meter thick boulder field strewn far from where the rock perched before April 29th, 1903.

The slide is still very visible with the main southern  highway across the area cutting through the middle.  It is pretty obvious, if this happened again, paying attention to the “Falling Rock” signs is probably not going to do you much good.  Actually, those signs are more about fallen rock than falling rock anyway!  I think it is important to appreciate, when traveling, that what you are seeing hasn’t always been that way.  Those mountains often started out at the bottom of an ocean.  Those boulders once stood atop mountains.  Every so often, the events that create those vistas, canyons, waterfalls and other beautiful geological formations, also have had an impact on the people who passed that way before you.

Posted July 28, 2012 by papaandnana in Uncategorized

Feeling the Heat! Will our money melt?   1 comment

We have not had a very good internet connection so I haven’t been able to post much. Tomorrow is a sad day. We will be home as the sun sets. Speaking of sun, that reminds me that it is much hotter in the US, though better at home since I lovingly sent Canadian air to our corner of the Southeast along with some rain…hope it isn’t too much.
But I am about the heat! We still have some Canadian cash that we will have to exchange somewhere after we get home. We have lots of coins, including pennies which Canada isn’t even going to make any more. A good idea I think. But we have other coins as well. $1 and $2 coins in particular. Often given in change this really puts a load in your shorts. I mean in the pocket of your shorts! The bulges can be somewhat embarrassing or a point of pride depending on your point of view
But I am not too worried about the coins. It’s the bill that are a concern to me. Reports out of Canada indicate that some peoples’ paper money is melting when in higher heat conditions. That may not be a problem in the chilly northlands of our furry friends above the border but I am now in the south! So now we are putting our bills in the cooler…I know, cold cash! While not a large amount of money we need every bit we can get at this point. So we are doing our best to protect it until we get it somewhere safe. Thank God when we can get this back into REAL money, green and familiar. Of course, considering to what could happen to the value of our dollar over the next four years I might be better off taking may chances with the heat.

Posted July 14, 2012 by papaandnana in Uncategorized

As I Promised!   Leave a comment

As I so promised, I have brought you relief from heat and dryness. I gathered up the cool of the mountains, spread them across the plains and lakes of Canada, altered the jet stream to bring this to you all in the East and Southeast. Peace!

Posted July 11, 2012 by papaandnana in Uncategorized

Plains   Leave a comment

We spent the last two days driving across the plains of Canada. It was actually quite beautiful in its own way. Wouldn’t want to live there. It has been two long hard days and Nana and Papa are pooped. I hope tomorrow night I have the energy to post something a little more interesting. It will be our last day in Canada and we will arrive at Lake Superior. Back soon!

Posted July 9, 2012 by papaandnana in Uncategorized

I Bring Relief   1 comment

I know those of you at home in North Carolina and other places in the East of the US are suffering in the heat.  I have had a spirit walk here in Canada, collected the prayers and tidings of many.  I have absorbed their spirit and the spirits of the forest, sky and water and have absorbed the essence of the earthly elements.  Ales, IPAs, reds and whites, essence of the gin with the miracle tonic waters.  Nana as well.  She can actually absorb more than I.  But don’t tell her I said that.  And so I bear good tidings.  I bring you air that flows through the wilderness, over the calm waters.  I know some of you think that I only can bring hot air, based on your experience with me, but you so misunderstand the potential here.   I will try to send this ahead of our return, but be sure, it will come.  For I say so, therefore it shall be.  Await with patience for relief I send and bring to you.  Peace!

Posted July 8, 2012 by papaandnana in Uncategorized