Ivy Comes Home

After a visit to Vancouver Island, my sister-in-law’s dog, Ivy, is back home in Washington State. It was a long trip.

Ivy Comes Home

 

A week away to visit friends

Was lots of fun, but soon it ends.

It’s time to make the long trip back,

She gladly would have helped to pack.

She’s missed the safety of her home,

And from her mistress, she’ll not roam.

Afraid of being left behind,

Our Ivy isn’t hard to find.

She’s in the car seat, set to go.

“Please take me home. I’ve missed it so.

And when I’m snug at home in bed,

A blanket warm, up to my head,

There’s no place else I’d rather be,

Than in this bed as Queen Ivy.”

Here she is checking out the kitchen, still tangled up in a warm pair of pants that just came out of the dryer.

“Did you call me for breakfast?”

Chilly Day in Olympia

In the city of Olympia, Washington, the state capitol building looks over an inlet that is so far back from the ocean, you would think it’s a freshwater lake. Beside that “lake” is a well-cared-for park and walkway. But it was chilly here last week when I visited here. With the cold snap that hit the western Washington area, you had to pick up the pace if you wanted to keep warm.014

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The grasses at the water’s edge tell the story. It’s darn cold.020

I’m sure there’s a rule about not feeding the birds, but obviously people have been feeding them. Why else would birds congregate near the shore with people so close by? For that matter, isn’t that seagull getting awfully cozy with the people in this photo? I’d say they’re quite used to being fed. 

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Still, I once saw a family feeding ducks in a park, and I wondered if the Cheezies the ducks consumed would shorten their life. It can’t be good for them.

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The hen mallard has two drakes fussing about her. Lucky girl. These ducks are so common to the west coast I hesitated to post this very ordinary photo, but their plumage is  magnificent just now. I thought they deserved to be shown off.  Maybe I’m wrong about the Cheezies.

The Last Hurrah

The Education Building in Olympia, Washington, looked to me like a castle where Sleeping Beauty might reside.DSCN4833

On the lawns in front of the building is a monument to a man who was twice governor of Washington. He must have been a good man. Read the inscription and see if you agree. I think he deserved to have his statue in this place of honour.

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Here he is, standing proud and tall. But alas…just when you think you’ve arrived …DSCN4840

Well … some things are just beyond your control, and Mother Nature has the last hurrah.
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Because it’s there

I value my life. I’ll never understand the rationale behind risking one’s life for the thrill of climbing a mountain. It must be an amazing experience –  when you live to tell about it.

While visiting in the Olympia area of the State of Washington, I stopped grumbling about the cold weather when I realized that with it, came new snow on the volcanic mountain that overlooks  western Washington. Mt Rainier, named after Rear Admiral Peter Rainier, a friend of Captain George Vancouver, is considered an active volcano. It hasn’t erupted in over 100 years, but there are frequent “shakes” that keep geologists on their toes.

They say that because of the enormous amount of ice in the glaciers on this mountain, in the case of an eruption, this would contribute to huge “rivers” of mud, ash, and debris flowing down to cover the valley below.

I don’t see residents leaving the area in droves, so they must think the risk is minimal, at least for now.

Not only are they not moving out of the area, but people come to the mountain for recreation. Mt. Rainier is the highest mountain in the state and is especially attractive to climbers. Unfortunately, the mountain has claimed many lives and continues to take an average of two lives a year.

So, I ask, why do people feel the need to risk their lives  climbing a mountain?

You know the answer.

“Because it’s there.”DSCN4830

Storm at Coulee City

Approaching Coulee City, Washington, I was impressed that the highway seemed to be what was holding back a huge piece of water that once was part of the Columbia River system.

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To the north, Grand Coulee Dam has diverted some of the river’s water to form Roosevelt Lake to the east (not shown here) and, to the south, Banks Lake (seen here, and named for the construction supervisor at Grand Coulee Dam). At the south end of Banks Lake is the small town  of Coulee City.

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The land to the south of the highway is nearly dry, with small amounts released to form a trickle of water over what is called the Dry Falls. Banks Lake is used for irrigation of areas close by.

Way at the other end of this causeway, where Coulee City begins, is the town RV park. Just turn left at the end of the road that is holding the lake back, and you’re in the community park.

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It was a breezy day but I didn’t worry about it too much because I remembered it being quite windy in this area when we came through here last year. However, the coots that had rafted up at the far corner of the lake knew that bad weather was coming. They made sure to be in the lee of the wind, and out of reach of the coyotes that would start yipping as soon as darkness set in.

DSCN4039I remember thinking how pretty it was, parked under the branches of the Russian olive tree, right by the beach. I looked out the window in the gathering darkness and admired glimpses of the moon reflecting on the water.

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But the gusts grew stronger and the trailer shook ever more vigorously as the evening wore on and the wind rose until it was howling like a speeding freight train. Lying in bed, I wondered if we were in an earthquake.

The  Russian olive tree that I had admired earlier was now a bony fingered skeleton tapping on our trailer walls. When we ignored the tapping some of its fingers broke off and skittered across the roof. Then whole arms of the whipping tree beat on the roof and the captain said, “I’m just waiting for the wind to get into a crack and rip the skin right off the trailer. I think we should move. It might be more sheltered over by the shower buildings.”

My ego isn’t big and I can admit now that I didn’t believe there was any place to get away from this near hurricane, but I have to give credit to the captain. He stepped outside as I called from the bed, “Hold onto the door so it doesn’t rip off.” As an afterthought I added, “And don’t … get blown … away….”

A few minutes later, the captain stuck his head in the door and screamed against the wind, “You stay in bed and I’ll drive us up around the buildings.” Slam! went the door, as the wind caught it.

“Okay … ” I whimpered. I looked down at the dogs on their mats. Two sets of eyes bugging out of  furry faces looked back at me pleadingly.

I got up and cuddled one on each side of me as we bounced along in the trailer while the captain towed us to higher ground a  couple of hundred feet  away from the lake and behind a building.

When the truck engine shut down and the captain came back into the trailer, he said, “That’s better. 40 years of commercial fishing has at least taught me something about where to anchor in a storm.”

The Columbia

The Okanogan River flows south from northern Washington State, providing irrigation for thousands of acres of fruit trees and vineyards. In the photo below, you can see how the river widens and becomes part of the Columbia River system.DSCN4009

Now things get serious. Chief Joseph Dam, one of many dams on the Columbia, changes the flow and taps into the energy of this mighty river. Whether it is because of water licences or some other reason unknown to me, the orchards and vineyards suddenly become scarcer, and the land on the east side of  the Columbia River is semi-arid desert. Cattle graze there, and a few small farms dot the landscape, but the great expanses of fertile land are no longer a part of the scenery as we drive eastward.

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Note the arid land beyond the dam. It is a place for scrubby plants, coyotes, and rattlesnakes. No more lush orchards.

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My advice – buy your bag of apples before you reach the confluence of the Okanogan and the Columbia.

Pie in the Sky?

They say good things come in small packages, but in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia and its continuation (with a slight spelling change), the Okanogan Valley of Washington, they come in large crates.

Boxes piled up to the sky,

A crane is needed just to try

To bring the top ones down.

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The pickers work to fill the crates,

They laugh and joke among their mates,

But soon the job is done.DSCN4016

The driver checks the tie-down straps,

Avoiding possible mishaps,

Before he hits the road.DSCN4017

Green or gold, or maybe red,

They all taste good I’ve heard it said,

There’s just one way to know.015

So bite me!