Friday, September 24, 2010

Oyster Run in Anacortes Sunday Sept. 26th

As many as 20,000 motorcyclists will participate in the 2010 Oyster Run.  It is a one day event that falls on the 4th Sunday of September.  The center of all events is in Anacortes.

Chuckanut Drive, roads around Alger, Samish flats, Skagit flats, Edison, Burlington, Conway, LaConnor, Whidbey Island, the ferry systems and around the base of the Chuckanuts will have many motorcyclists throughout the day traveling in both directions.

Please be aware of this and if you are out and about on the roads, be especially careful pulling in and out of parking areas, on cross roads, and passing.

Please be cognizant of the brightness of the motorcyclists headlights. They are bright for a reason but can be startling for some drivers on darker roads like Chuckanut Drive.

Advocacy and preservation requires the support of many, many organizations and interest groups.

Here is a link to the home page of the Oyster Run.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Come see us at the Eddie Bauer Outdoors Fest, Sat. September 18th!

Chuckanut Conservancy will have a booth at the first-ever Outdoors Fest in Seattle, hosted by The Mountaineers. Here's a brief line-up:

Workshops, clinics, gear park, climbing wall, food, drink, kids area, book sale, beer garden, and conservation, with special guest Conrad Anker, a Mount Everest veteran and expert on the 1924 Mallory-Irvine expedition.

More info:

Come see us!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Unique Approach

All photos this post © Paul K Anderson

©Paul K. Anderson

Dealing with invasive species and berry harvesting in the Samish and Skagit flats
with the ancient art of falconry

Monday, September 13, 2010

Regeneration in the Chuckanut Range

Fossils Fossils Fossils

The Chuckanut Range has a very interesting geological history.

A non-marine sedimentary deposition, approximately 10,000 feet thick, was formed in the Eocene Age.

George Mustoe of the Western Washington University Geology Department was kind enough to give my daughter Mackenzie and I a hands-on-tour of his collection of fossils from the Chuckanut Formation deep in the bowels of one of the science buildings.

I won't try and explain too much right now because my knowledge of paleontology is, "ahem", well, a bit limited, but George  - who is a great guy to talk to about all of this - patiently answered all of my questions and tried to steer me gently back on track whenever I interrupted with dumb questions, suppositions, and guesses on what happened when, where and why.

Basically the Chuckanut formation was a non-marine (meaning it wasn't from the ocean) deposit of sediments that created sandstone over time.  Mixed into the sand were plants, leaves and other material and when conditions were just right there formed over time - fossils.

Geological forces - pushing, shoving, tilting, folding,  shearing (from glaciers) and erosion exposed some of these fossils that were collected by scientists like George.

It's difficult to pin down an exact age of these fossils but they were deposited approximately 50,000,011 years ago - or roughly 50,000,000 years before we moved to Bellingham
So as you are walking, biking, hiking, jogging the trails around here, take a look at the ground under foot - who knows some of the leaf litter you are squishing down may someday become a fossil.

And that is just another example of what contributes to our sense of place about Bellingham, Whatcom and Skagit Counties and is another reason to protect the Chuckanut Range - a most interesting place in our world.

Here are a few examples of fossils in his collection - thanks George!

all photos © Paul K Anderson courtesy of George Mustoe and
from the Geology Dept. of Western Washington University

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Thursday Afternoon Drive Through The Chuckanuts

The Chuckanut Range from Samish Flats
click  on any photo to enlarge
all photos this post ©Paul K. Anderson
Work has been crazy and you weren’t able to sleep so you get up at 3AM and drive the 67 miles and all day it’s been one thing after another until your shoulders are so tight that it’s starting to give you a headache and then the traffic on the 67 mile commute back home is terrible too so by the time you reach Conway you decide to go backroads but you know the wife is going to call you a hick from Iowa, “that must be all they do back there on Sundays- drive backroads”, and you resent that remark because you know that you’ve been living here in Washington for 33 years and shouldn’t be considered from Iowa any more, and then you stop at the Rexville grocery and notice a nice selection of wines, cheese, micro beers, salami’s and other items you could select if you brought the wife with and wanted a picnic together but a little further up the road you drive through Bayview and look in on the workers at the boat works and hope the recession isn’t killing them like so many other small businesses and then just ahead you can look over the apple orchard and see your Chuckanuts, you drive down the slope past thousands of acres of blueberries and potatoes and corn and even wheat and then just a little past the turnoff for Samish Island you cross the Samish River and see hundreds of fishermen and realize

the king salmon are returning and it is going to be a great year for fishermen because these fish hold such a strong emotional grip on you and the fishermen, the Lummi’s and other Native American's, and you grab the camera and walk up one of the dikes and meet guys who are from Bellingham, Seattle,

Mt.Vernon, Ancortes, Russians, Japanese, Hispanics, Pakistaniis,Vietnamese and fishermen from just about everywhere - dads, sons, young dads, old dads, young sons and old sons and all seem to have grins especially Micael the young dad who just caught a nice king and his son in the kid carrier who is looking over Dad’s shoulder to see the fish

and you remember the smell of your own dad’s neck as you hung on him piggy back style when he was carrying you down the trail when you were little and tired so later when you leave the Samish after noticing a sign that this Saturday they were going to have a smoked salmon contest in a small lot right next to the river and you think, “how cool is that”,

you drive by the Longhorn in Edison remembering the Oyster shooters you gave to your nephews from Montana last time they were visiting and they ate those Samish Bay oysters but were already plotting the next time you were visiting them in Montana they were going to make you try those Rocky Mountain Oysters not realizing how often you ate those things on Sunday nights when you were a ski bum and playing poker with the mayor, chief of police and owner of the Mucky Duck and they kept trying to convince you to buy a fly rod and try it out on some of the beaver ponds and streams just out your door, but you didn’t have time with all of the climbing, hiking, rugby and photography you were doing but now that you need to reduce stress in your life and have bought fly rods for you and your son maybe next year go visit your brother who is the best fisherman you’ve ever known and float down the Big Horn River, wonder what kind of hatch will be going on but hey why not try to spend a day or two on the Henry’s Fork, the Yellowstone, the Madison, and you remember a former girl friend whose dad lived each summer in a tiny trailer next to the Madison and that one summer when you visited him the editor of one of the big fishing magazines mentioned that her dad was one of the finest fly fishermen in America,

whoa pull over and see what is on the menu at the Rhododendron Cafe this month, so you get out of the car trying to determine what this months theme is and walk up to the menu by the front door and read: Chicken Saltimbocca with fresh sage, prosciutto, provolone, marsala wine sauce; Zarzuela spanish seafood stew with brandy, sherry, olives, tomato, garlic; Couscous with Lamb and Apricots, bell peppers and Moroccan spices; Grilled petite tenderloin with gorgonzola, wild blackberry demi glace wow gotta come back for dinner - must be some kind of North African or Italian, or Spanish theme, then with so much food on your mind - crazy must be hungry and you stop at the Morgan Family Farm organic veggie stand and buy on the honor system yukon fingerlings, basil, zukes, squash, carrots, onions, leeks, fennel and maybe when you get home make a curry with major grey chutney and Indian spices but just then you see something that makes you wonder why is that pod of porta-potty’s traveling across the bridge like that - you just don't see that every day and then chuckle about the time up at the Edmonton Rugby Tourny when your buddy Ed tipped one over on a guy who was rude and cut in front of him just as he was opening the door and the hideous howls emanating from within caused everyone to casually stroll out of the immediate area and then when it was finally uprighted out popped this enraged 6'6" smurf,

but look at the marsh grasses how would Wolf Kahn paint those and what wild colors blue maybe hahaha would he use and are those pilings from an old cannery or saw mill or do they resemble headstones in a graveyard and did Edward R. Murrow play around these pilings

so you get back in the car and drive up the one lane road and turn back on Chuckanut Drive and drive through Blanchard to see if they are setting up yet at the community center for the salmon bbq and then you see a hang glider getting ready to land in the Wake family front yard so you rush over and snap a photo of a seam on it and wonder how Rothko would portrait it in one of his geometric paintings

and as you cross back over the bridge you think about those porta-pottys and wonder what kinda storyline could be developed for those travelers - a day in the life of a porta potty - and you think nah that’s too bizarre and an editor would probably assign you to do it and how would you photograph it with any dignity and what if someone did take offense, because you really don't look all that great in blue and you remember those double knit blue bell bottoms your mom bought for you and the chef at the Oyster Creek Inn waves at you when you honk on the way down to Taylor Shellfish farm but soon you are back on Chuckanut and heading up Cleator road for a view and to see all the way up to Canada and over the San Juans

and a sailboat is at anchor in Chuckanut Bay and that reminds you of the trip you made with Joe-Joe and Punjab and the old girl friend and remember how the two of you meaning you and the girl friend not Joe -Joe the dog faced boy won the dance contest in the bar at Friday Harbor going crazy to Junior Cadillac and you stop in the cool, humid, shade of the grove of Red Alder and photograph the trunks

against the maze of underbrush and young fir trees but it’s getting late and you want to stop in Fairhaven at the cheese shop to bring something home to enjoy with a glass of red wine

Quel Fromage - Old Fairhaven Pkwy at 12th St
and after you get home you grab some shavings of good cheese, crackers and a glass of wine and remember your old girlfriend died of cancer just about a year ago and sadly left a teenage son behind and you hope that doesn’t happen to you but you realize you haven’t had a headache for hours and when your wife asks what are you all going to do this weekend you say maybe you all should all drive down Chuckanut Drive to Edison and listen to a blue grass band, maybe try a few oyster shooters, maybe drink a glass of oyster or clam nectar but Ivar used to have a sign up at his restaurant that said a husband had to have a permission slip from his wife before they would serve the nectar to them and you are feeling very relaxed and your shoulders aren’t tight any more and you realize that drive thru the Chuckanuts has that same effect on you every time  but wow work well it feels like you haven’t been there for a week and you better call Jerry and finalize the arrangements because the annual September trip to Ross Lake Resort is next Thursday and this year maybe is a good time to hike up Desolation to the fire lookout where Jack Kerouac spent that summer and started writing Desolation Angels and you remember that you are gong to sleep well tonight and can’t wait to get back doing something in the Chuckanuts and your wife looks at you and smiles and you wonder if maybe there isn’t some clam nectar in the refrigerator and she says “a Sunday Drive?”
“You are such a hick........”

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Not the Chuckanut Range - but a Reminder to Enjoy the Fall

Fall is coming soon to the Cascade Range. So many of us love this time of year that I thought I would send this out to all of you as a reminder that the Larch Trees are turning colors in the high Cascades and will be at their peak in the not too distant future.

Call the good people at the US Forest Service or North Cascades National Park for information on the peak colors.

This photo is from the Enchantment Lakes region of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness outside of Leavenworth, Washington, but Larch can be found up on the North Cascades Highway as well.

Stop by the NCNP headquarters in Sedro-Wooley and visit their bookstore or visit Village Books locally in Bellingham.

We have some time before peak colors in the Chuckanut Range so gain some altitude and attitude for the North Cascades.


Prusik Peak and Larch Tree ©Paul K. Anderson

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Brief Walk in the Chuckanut Range

Order, disorder, symmetry, imbalance, .............  decay.

Take a moment on your travels through the Chuckanut Range to observe the small, the common.  It is late summer and a transition between the flush of summer growth and fall colors.

Not all beauty is seen from high overlooks or in spectacular sunrises and sunsets.  Subtle beauty surrounds us and is always there - if we choose to look.

Yesterday we took a short walk up the Hemlock Trail under overcast skies. Runners, hikers, mountain bikers passed.

A few walkers ambled, deep in thought.

The bright green leaves of spring and early summer are fading, a few have fallen and begun the process of replenishing the duff at our feet. Some spots on aging leaves, tho still green, are translucent, others dark and foreboding.

A subtle reminder to us that life goes on.

Enjoy your stage..........


all images in this post ©Paul K Anderson

Click on images to enlarge

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Paraglider over Samish Bay Oyster Beds

©Paul K.Anderson

Oil Refinery at Dusk

The Oil Refineries near Anacortes light up at dusk. In the background is the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Range and Peninsula.

Photographed from Blanchard Mountain at the southern end of the Chuckanut Range.

©Paul K. Anderson

Paragliding High Above the Chuckanut Range

The launch site on the shoulder of Blanchard Mountain at the southern end of the Chuckanuts is a popular hangout for Para gliders and Hang gliders from across the US and Canada.

Winds coming in off of the Salish Sea drive up and over the Chuckanuts, thermals generated in the fields create the updrafts that can keep skilled pilots aloft for hours when conditions are just right.

I've sat and watched as para gliders, hawks and eagles shared the same thermals, lazily circling and rising almost effortlessly.

©Paul K. Anderson

Oil Tanker at Rest

Just this year,Puget Sound, the Georgia Basin, the Strait of Georgia, Desolation Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca were collectively given the name The Salish Sea by the Washington State Board on Geographic Names, the Province of British Columbia Geographic Names Office, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names and the Geographic Names Board of Canada.

These separately named bodies of water were recognized as an estuarine ecosystem.

But the seven million people living within the ecosystem require energy and much of that energy, crude oil, arrives in ships that navigate through the San Juan Islands, Gulf Islands, the Strait of Juan de Fuca to reach the refineries near Anacortes and Cherry Point.

It is a delicate balance.

Here an oil tanker waits at anchor near the southern end of the Chuckanut Range.

©Paul K. Anderson

Late Summer Sunset from Blanchard Mountain

A study revealed that Bellingham had the cleanest air, for a city, in the United States.

The reason? Well, the simple answer is location.

Location, location, location as realtors say.

We live between the two large metropolitan areas of Seattle and Vancouver and are part of the Georgia Basin and Puget Sound watersheds. A watershed that extends from Mt. Rainier in the south to just north of Vancouver.

An area of almost seven million people.

To the west is Vancouver Island and Victoria, to the southwest the Olympic Peninsula,  Hawaii and Australia.  Our prevailing winds come from the southwest.  And we benefit from that.

But as summer progresses and the seasonal dry hits, more particulate is in the air from forest fires and other summer/heat related events.  At times the air from east of the Cascades comes into the Salish Sea basin and forest fire activities, brush fires, wheat harvest all have an affect on the quality of air her in the Chuckanuts.  This can create spectacular sunsets.

A few years ago in late winter and early spring we experienced outrageous sunsets.  But the cause was more global - and highlighted what a small planet we inhabit.  Huge dust storms in China - the result of desertification when deep draw down of irrigation wells forced abandonment of millions of acres of once irrigated croplands - blew over the Pacific and into the Pacific Northwest.

The view from the Chuckanuts highlighted the issue.

©Paul Anderson