Wednesday, July 23, 2014
I love it when a plan comes together (does anyone out there remember what show that came from?). There were overcast skies when we left SeaTac at 6:00AM, but we had no traffic problems, and arrived at the base of the road to Hurricane Ridge. We began to climb, and the clouds fell away!
We needed to get back to Port Angeles to catch the late ferry to Victoria. We made it in time, got everyone on board, and we pulled into our hotel. A long day, but with wonderful sights, and a terrifying itinerary that actually worked. But we don't intend to make a practice of it!
Of course, as if to provide a complete contrast, today we had rain, heavy traffic, and had to reroute the entire itinerary, despite being one of the "easy" days with only 70 miles of driving! The road ahead is going to be interesting, as there were heavy rains and flooding in the interior around Kamloops, where we are headed tomorrow. Adventure awaits!
Sunday, July 20, 2014
|Looking south from Hurricane Ridge into the heart of Olympic National Park|
Subduction zones are places where oceanic crust sinks back into the Earth's mantle to be recycled at some future time as magma and lava. The mud and sand that blankets the coast and seafloor often will be scraped off against the edge of the continent to form a highly deformed and sheared deposit called an accretionary wedge. Much of the time, wedge deposits remain underwater or show as low-lying islands, but sometimes the rock gets pushed up into mountain ranges parallel to the coast and subduction zone. California's Coast Ranges resulted in part from such activity, but at Olympic National Park in Washington State, the results are nothing short of spectacular. The mountains have been pushed up into a series of peaks exceeding 7,000 feet in elevation, and with the intense amounts of snowfall, there are a surprising number of active glaciers.
|Looking north from Hurricane Ridge across the Juan de Fuca Strait to Vancouver Island|
Saturday, July 19, 2014
We were driving the beautiful road along the coast when I saw this pair of Bald Eagles on the tidal flats. We have a few eagles back home in California, but I've only seen a couple of them. It was kind of a neat moment.
We meet our students in a couple of days, and we'll be hitting the highway with an exploration of western Canada and the Pacific Northwest. You can no doubt expect pictures soon!
Friday, July 18, 2014
I guess I'm still a landlubber though...I love the solid ground and the rocks too much.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
- Roads go ever ever on,
- Over rock and under tree,
- By caves where never sun has shone,
- By streams that never find the sea;
- Over snow by winter sown,
- And through the merry flowers of June,
- Over grass and over stone,
- And under mountains in the moon.
- The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings were an important part of my youth, in part because Tolkien constructed a vividly real world in which he set his stories. The mountains of Middle-Earth, whether the Misty Mountains, the Lone Mountain, or the jagged cliffs surrounding Mordor, all seemed to evoke real places that I noted as I grew and traveled more and more. The poetry was pretty cool too, and I think of this poem whenever I set out on a new journey. Can anyone see the Misty Mountains north of Moria in a picture like that above (out of Banff?)
- I love taking people to new places they have never seen, and helping them to understand the sometimes mysterious forces that produce these awesome landscapes. We don't usually have to battle orcs and goblins, but there ARE mosquitoes, tourons, and the occasional bear.
- What I like better is to see new places and to get to know them. That's why this week is a bit special, because it combines the two. I'm taking our students to some familiar places to me, like Mt. Rainier, the Channeled Scablands, Glacier National Park, and Banff. But I'm also going to be discovering some places that are new to me as well: Olympic National Park, Vancouver Island, the Sea to the Sky Highway out of Vancouver and Whistler. I'm leaving this morning on a scouting expedition, and I'm feeling as excited as any of my students.
- Posting will be off and on, as we will occasionally be in some isolated regions, but I'll certainly try to put up some pictures from the road. Take care, all!
|Does this resemble Erebor, the Lonely Mountain, at least to those with a pre-Peter Jackson image in their minds?|
Monday, July 14, 2014
"Parts of Yellowstone National Park closed after Massive Supervolcano beneath it melts road!" screams the headline in a typical treatment of a modest story out of one of our nation's premier national parks. Let's take the fact that there was a modest sized earthquake a few months ago, and add a video of bison running away from (actually trotting towards) Yellowstone, and you have the makings of a huge non-story. The world is going to end because the "supervolcano" is going to explode and kill us all!
Is the story wrong? In a tortuous sort of way, the story is "accurate". Yes, a road was closed "between" Old Faithful and Madison Junction, insinuating that a major throughway is blocked. It's actually a small side road. The melting of the asphalt was "caused by the massive supervolcano". Technically this is true. All of the geothermal features at Yellowstone are caused by the magma chamber of the "supervolcano", which heats the groundwater, turning it to steam, which rises through the crust to melt asphalt. But asphalt can melt on really hot days in the desert too.
I don't know...I would think that the people who live and work on top of the gigantic "supervolcano" (more accurately termed a rhyolite caldera) would be a little more worried about their well-being if the volcano were about to blow. Instead, here is the original news release from the park: "Firehole Lake Drive Temporarily Closed" . You can just feel the barely restrained panic in the air...
|Geyser erupts on top of massive supervolcano!! Note the extreme panic in the crowd!|
Sunday, July 13, 2014
The Moon has an elliptical orbit, which means that it is sometimes closer and sometimes farther away from the earth. Today the moon is full and making one of its closer approaches (perigee Moon), at 222,611 miles. At other times it can be as far away as 250,000 miles (an apogee moon), which makes for a difference of about 14% in its apparent size as seen from Earth. It's also about 30% brighter.
Such events are not rare, and in fact there will be five of them in 2014, including each of the summer months. There is nothing mystical about it, but it's okay if some internet excitement causes some people to get up from their computers and actually look at our closest neighbor in space. Like I did...
My shot was taken with a Panasonic Lumix with a 60x optical zoom (stretched out to 120x digital). It's a handheld shot, but I was leaning on my car. I did notice that the disc of the Moon almost filled the field of view, which usually doesn't happen.