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Just a meandering soul sharing my backyard. Visit my Flickr page too! www.flickr.com/photos/meanderingwa/

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

February A to Z Project , 2012




I was inspired by Inger over at the blogspot blog,  "Desert Canyon Living" to launch an A to Z project for February.  I might make a detour here and there, but I will have a daily post and cover each letter of the alphabet.

February is the shortest month, but around here it feels forever, with dreary days that seem to drag on.  The forecast ahead is for mild weather so perhaps there will be early signs of Spring.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Whoopee At The Beach

I cannot believe how quickly the week has flown.  The moderate weather is a nice change from last weeks frigid cold, high winds and freezing rain.

Friday I was able to get into work and the forecast was good for the weekend.  I had made plans early in January to join the Long Beach Cleanup on Saturday January 21.  All week I worried that the roads would not allow getting to the beach.  Here severe snows are often followed by rapid melt and flooding. 

The Community of Long Beach was enjoying 50 degree weather while we at home were under snow.  Just one of those mysterious oddities that makes life here an adventure.  I made record time driving the ~250 miles in 4 1/2 hours.  I took the long way, south to Kelso then over to the coast following the Columbia River.  This highway was the only one for which I could find a reliable road report.  I saw evidence of a bit of mud slide in the hills, but nothing held me back and I was at the beach, easily and safely

I stayed at the Adrift Hotel.

 http://www.adrifthotel.com/

This older building is under renovation and the new owners are using a very spare, minimalist approach.  Repurposed materials, basic comfort.  The room was clean and the heating system worked very well.  I could see the water from my room window.

In the lobby there was a riding string of bikes available at no charge for the guests.  They were stout colorful 1 speed bikes, just my thing.



 The wonderful boardwalk which runs along the beach starts right at the end of the parking lot.





I treated myself to dinner at El Compadre a local Mexican restaurant.  I have eaten at their place near Kelso and they have a wonderful grilled Game Hen on the menu.  Lightly spicy , dressed with lime, I love it.

Saturday morning dawned pretty and sunny overhead.  But no one was fooled by the ominous clouds out at sea.  Overnight winds were well in excess of 50 mph and there was more to follow.  Beach Cleanup was rain or shine and I was happy and eager to get started.


I picked up a couple bags and a pair of grabbers and got some needed detail info on cleaning up.  Unfortunately the needed info was that of dealing with potential tsunami debris from the Japan disaster.  Small debris is already appearing and they do expect to find identifiable personal effects and potentially body parts, particularly sneakers with feet.

I consider finding both a very important task.  If the families and friends of the victims can find peace in the return of personal belongings, I am proud to do my part.

The tide was somewhat high when we started and the shore was alive with swirling clouds of shorebirds.  It was hard to apply myself to work I so wanted to watch their amazing flight. 




Overall this beach is one of the clean ones.  It is regularly visited by local residents who have their own route and section they oversee and keep picked up.  But even with these regulars, we found plenty to gather today.  I found a baffling variety and number of bottle caps; pop and milk.  A very large number of shotgun shell casings.  A major amount of line and small sections of  fish net debris.




People spread out along the beach.  I worked back and forth up to the dunes down to the water and back up to the dunes.  I got to where I could look at the sand and vegetative contour above high tide and see where items might be buried.  The grabbers made quick work of finding buried plastic bags and more rope and line.  One good feature of boat lines is that they are often colored bright blue or yellow, easy to spot.

I found a large Styrofoam block with a bamboo pole lashed into it.  Was this from Japan? It is hard to say for sure.  It was easily 6 feet tall and the Styrofoam and bamboo were very worn and broken.



That is a bundle of fishing net with a large branch caught up in it.  I placed it thus, along with a heavy bag of junk I had collected to try to anchor it in place awaiting the truck pick up.  Winds were picking up and blowing everything about.  I continued to work the area until the trunk came and then proceeded on.  At this point the winds really became fierce and I had to turn my back to the water.  It was everything I could to to keep standing.  I observed the blowing sand and tried to capture how it was running in drifts towards the grassy dune area.



I picked about in this area investigating the rough areas in front of me.  Many of them held bits of line or plastic that I struggled to get into my bag.  After the winds passed I looked down the beach to see if anyone else was crazy enough to still be out here...




Yup still crazy.

The sun came out again, then went away and then it got windy; rinse and repeat.  By noon I had walked down the beach to the next road entrance and back to my original spot.  Even though I had picked up a lot on my way down beach, as had many others, I still found two more bag loads on the way back.  I found one treasure beyond compare



I kid you not!  No I didn't keep it.

I ducked back to my room for some lunch and coffee and by 2:00 the sun was out again.  I revisited the beach with my last bag and filled it up while strolling and enjoying simply being out.  The tide was dropping and it looked like the worse of the weather was past.  Fill the bag and back for another warm-up with coffee.

As sunset approached I visited the beach one more time.  Tonight there was Razor Clam digging permitted and with the dramatic sky I hoped to capture some nice pictures.

Long Beach is Kite Flying central.  The World Kite Museum is here and once again, I wonder why I don't make a point of trying this.  I have never flown a kite.



I walked down to the water edge.  Salty foam drifted about.  Some of it tumbled along the beach like pearls.



The clam diggers, with their clam tubes started to gather working the falling tide.


It was getting so cold.  Razor Clams are worth the effort, but oh so cold and wet for the hunters.  The sunset seemed to take forever,  The wind was really brisk and I didn't bring my gloves. 




I love the reflected sky in the wet sand of low tide.







Off to 42nd Street Cafe where I had a stunning Seafood Stew prepared with a Spanish sofrito.

http://42ndstcafe.com/

I am eager to get back and spend an extra day.  Perhaps I will get to the Kite Museum once and for all and actually fly a kite.  If the weather is good I can use a bike to ride the boardwalk and then the discovery trail, a 18 mile round trip.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snow Day out and about.

The snow has given way to what appears to be a bit of mist.

In south Puget Sound and Centrallia and Chehalis they had almost 1 1/2 feet of snow overnight.  A stunning and unique record for sure.

Out on the coast the warm moisture has taken over and while they have 50+ degrees we are cozy in the low 30 upper 20's.

They say rain moves in tomorrow then it is slush and slosh all the way.  The last time this happened (Christmas Day a few years ago) my car could not get out of my driveway through the soupy mire.

I went walkabout today just to get out of the house.











Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Slushmagedon Cancelled!!

OH NOEZ!!!

PM Tuesday Update...Professor Mass is backing off on the dire prediction now that the low is moving closer and perhaps shifting south a bit

http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2012/01/scaling-back.html

Snomagedon now perhaps becoming a Snowskirmish.

Take it as it comes.




http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2012/01/wednesday-snow-storm.html

Monday, January 16, 2012

Farming For Wildlife in the Skagit Valley

http://vimeo.com/31569313

My friend Gaye sent me this link to a wonderful video about farming for wildlife in the Skagit Flats.

I love the Skagit area and am thrilled with the success of this program.

The citizens of the Skagit Valley love their land, their farms and as they say

Pavement is Forever.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

SNOW DAY!!!

As forecast, right on the mark we have a snow day.  Snow started falling lightly yesterday afternoon and started again sometime around 6 am.  I have been feeling giddy for days as I see this as a great opportunity for photographs.

I also LOVE the sound snow makes when you walk through it,  I love that squeaky, scrunchy sound!

I had to go into work today so I took a slow breakfast waiting for good daylight before heading out.

My terrarium, which I introduced you to before, is thriving.  I have new fern fronds springing up and even some new mosses.

This morning my favorite Allogona townsendii , Oregon Forest snail, was making a show on some new fern.  I put my camera inside the terrarium for a photo-op. 




While looking in I also spotted a newcomer.  A Crane Fly has hatched and was hanging from the ceiling of the tank. 



These insects have massive legs.  The nymphs live in soils and leaves.  I have brought home leaves, soil and barks to build my tank and I can also assume a certain population of microbugs.  I have one Potato Bug ( rolly polly / sow pug / pill bug) for sure and many tiny spiders.  I have even spotted a few worms.  I will support this Crane Fly as long as need be.  The adults do not feed, only mate.  Typically they might emerge in the early Spring, so this one may be out of luck unless a second one emerges.

Suitably tanked up on coffee I set out for work.  I needed this photo for my daily Flickr "365 Days in Colour" picture.  Color of the month is purple.



Weather here is like no other place.  We have a Convergence Zone which sets up and weather on either side of the zone can swing wildly.  Add to this hills and pockets and some pretty massive bodies of water...

You never know what you are going to get.

The freeway was free and clear until getting to the hill above the edge of the convergence zone.  Coming down the hill on I-405 to Hwy 522 it was near whiteout and it certainly was not going to let up.

I tell you Pearly Mae, my wonderful Honda, made me proud.  Front wheel drive, manual transmission, the only way to go in such weather.

I made it up the hills to work, no problems.  Here there was at least 3 inches on the ground and being Sunday, the road in to the facility was nearly trackless.

Two hours later and the snow is slowing down I return home.  I decided to stop at the pretty mitigation area in our business park.  I know there will be opportunity for some pictures.  Besides I love walking in the snow.

Scrunch scrung squeak squeak rumpf rumpf



This rustic rail fence was a recent addition and I certainly like how it takes us out of the industrial park and into another place.

Young Douglas Fir and Hemlock trees do well with our snow.  Their limbs yield away and drop snow.



This Cottonwood dominates the meadow edge.  In the Spring it is glorious and is sends off the sweetest scent.




This area was mitigated to support the run-off of the industrial park complex.  The pond and marsh hosts quite a diverse population of birds year round.  It is a great lunch-time walk destination on those days where work allows.



There is always something interesting here, like this dried up Queen Anne's Lace



The pond hosts ducks herons and a lot of Red-winged Blackbirds.  I have seen Muskrat tottering across ice before.  Today it is mostly mallards and blackbirds.



A Red-tailed Hawk sits in the Cottonwood, hopeful for a meal.



The bridge marks a turn around spot for me, The snow really started bucketing down and I have a 20 mile drive of unknown quality ahead.



It turned out to be fine, with the usual cautious people and crazy people.  There was notably less snow at home but now it has been really coming down for a few hours.




But no worries, Professor Mass, my most trusted weather guru predicts SLUSHMAGEDON by Wednesday.    http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/

Wherever you are, stay warm.



Monday, January 2, 2012

Merry New Year!

It dawned with hazy clouds and a weak sun trying hard.  The start of something new, a decent sunny day!

My first bird of the New Year was Canada Goose.  There are large flocks who spend the night in the pumpkin fields just east of me.  They migrate in and out of the field every day in large noisy flocks.  Every once in a while I hear different sounds and have seen Trumpter Swan and Snow Geese fly over my place as well.

This morning I have time to kill.  Because the sun was out I wanted to be someplace open so I visited Juanita Bay Park to enjoy the lakeside marshes.

I also have my new Monthly Scavenger Hunt list for January and my color of the month for my 365 Project; both on Flickr.  I enjoy these projects as they really awaken my mind and eye to possibilities.

Juanita Bay, in sunlight is alive with color.  Red rose hips are a backdrop for yellow willow.








brown reeds and mud always hold promise of fun birds.  I had a good binocular view of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet with his crown up.  I got my camera ready for him to come closer but he had a different opinion and skittered away.

But Trumpeter Swans used a little gravel bar where Forbes Creek enters the lake to preen.



Wood Ducks are almost guaranteed at the north beach.  This fellow and his mate were eating huge tubers they grabbed from the bottom.



There are Ring-necked Ducks.  Most people insist they should have been called Ring-billed for obvious reasons.  It was not until I got home and viewed the photo in the computer that I saw that I captured the little brown ring that you can barely see in real time.


There were tons of people out.  Whenever the sun made a strong appearance you almost felt it was balmy.



The long walk was particularly nice, set up on a nice north to south axis, you could bask the whole way.



Look at this bit of sweetness!



I met a couple and noted the gentleman's walking stick.  This was Daniel Trythall and he is an artist specializing in hand carved sticks and canes.  http://www.crowprints.com/index.htm

I covet



I made my way back to the Kirkland waterfront for a special event.  The weak sunshine had brought folks out, but there would soon be more.  Not quite " A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" but certainly called it to mind



I was there for one reason.

Get a coffee and listen to Stuart McLean



Waaaait a minute.  What are those people outside the car window.  Party hats and cheers??  Going over to the beach again

ELVIS!



MUSCLE MEN



POLAR BEARS!!!!  A mad dash into 45 degree water.  In order to do it right you must go all the way under.  I keep my camera hand above the surface.




Their expression was priceless


You come prepared with warm refreshment.


Or perhaps something warm and fuzzy to hug




For me the chill sets in about 20 minutes after the fact.  You actually feel quite warm when you first get out.  I was actually colder after my shower as my body tried to make sense to all these changes of temperature.

Cheers to all for a great 2012!  I hope you have many adventures and discoveries.