What's in her name?

What's in her name (Salish Aire)?

from her new home the Salish Sea

Aire as in a melody of song.

Salish + Aire = The melody of the Salish Sea.

Salish Sea:
In the late 1700's Captain George Vancouver wandered around the waters of what are now known as British Columbia, Canada and Washington State, USA. He did the usual 1700's explorer thing and put names he chose on everything he saw. The names stuck and are recognized and used to this day.

New lines were added to Captain Vancouver's charts in 1872 (after a near war with Great Britain over a pig) which made waters on one side of the line Canadian and those on the other side of the line American.

It wasn't until 1988 (officiated in 2009) that someone finally realized that fish and various critters, (to say nothing of the water itself) were never involved in the boundary treaties and really ignored them completely. (This is best illustrated by the problems that Homeland Security has with Canadian Canada Geese and American Canadian Geese - it seems they refuse to carry passports and have been known to poop on the head of any border patrol person who tries to challenge their right to cross the border when and where they choose!) In reality the waters from Olympia to the well up the East side of Vancouver Island are pretty much one ecosystem.

The Coast Salish are the indigenous peoples who live in southwest British Columbia and northwest Washington state along the Salish Sea and share a common linguistic and cultural origin. The Salish Sea is named in honor of the earliest recorded peoples who plied her waters and learned to live in harmony with her.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Oh my! No more time to procrastinate before seeing SE Washington State.

I was born and raised in Washington State and have traveled a good portion of the State’s back roads as I am truly in love with the many landscapes here. The one section I have always thought I needed to go see and never got around to was the southern section from Yakima east.
Recently while in a small town grocery store / gas station / hardware store a book on the counter caught my eye titled “Bretz’s Flood”  


 I ended up ordering and then reading the story of how a maverick geologist in the early 1900’s broke with common thinking and determined that the landforms in the southern mid-section of my state were not formed by the slow processes of “normal erosion” but rather by the cataclysm of perhaps the largest flood (now believed to be floods) the world has ever known. Suddenly a lot of pieces of landforms I had seen in my travels in Eastern Washington that “just didn’t feel right” according to my one semester of college geology started to fall into place and I was more motivated to head over and see the area with new eyes. 

Typical Eastern Washington Scablands terrain
Typical Eastern Washington Scablands terrain

Then it hit me that I only expect to live in Washington full-time for another couple of months. The choice was no longer how long to procrastinate but rather to go now or possibly never get to this fascinating part of the State. 

The other sights I had procrastinated about seeing for years were the Hanford nuclear reservation where the nuclear materials needed for the bombs used in WWII were put together, the Hanford reach which is the only free-running, non-tidal section of the Columbia River On the US side of the border, and the Snake River.

With a three day stretch of free days coming up I decided that Jarvis and I would head out on a road trip from Tuesday to Thursday.  I had been asked to put in a 15 hour shift at the hospital on Monday so I figured that getting camping gear would have to wait until after I left Clarice off at the bus station at 06:15 on Tuesday morning. 

Tuesday morning dawned and Jarvis and I left Clarice off to catch her bus to work and then headed over to Clarice’s parents “farm” where most of our camping gear is stored. Everything went smoothly as I gathered the gear from the loft over the garage and then headed back to the boat.  On the boat I gathered clothing, sleeping bag, camera, binoculars, and everything else I could quickly think of in my mildly sleep deprived state before heading to a doctor’s appointment to get prescriptions renewed before the Great Boating Adventure begins.  From the doctor’s appointment Jarvis and I headed toward the I-90 pass over the Cascade Mountain Range to our entry into Eastern Washington. We were well on our way to Snoqualmie Pass when I realized that our tent and ground pads are stored on the boat rather than with the rest of the camping gear – we were off on a camping trip with no tent.
Our first stop was a short way over Snoqualmie Pass where I took a nostalgic side trip to look for Meany Ski Lodge owned by the Seattle Mountaineers


. I had belonged to the Mountaineers while I was in high school and visited Meany several times to ski and have wonderful memories of what has to be one of the last VERY rustic ski lodges and ski hills located so far off the beaten track that winter visitors have to be towed on their skis behind a sno-cat the last distance through the forest to the lodge.  I also remember getting part of my driving education in my friend’s mother’s (gutless) Ford Mustang as we travelled the logging roads to the weather station on the top of Stampede Pass and then visited Meany for a summer view. On this trip we had a nice walk in the forest (Jarvis, to his delight, sans leash) but the snow level was still too low to reach the weather station or Meany.    

Jarvis enjoying some off leash time near Hanford Reach

Our next stop was to get some lunch and fuel in Cle Elum where we were informed that the most likely place to get a cheap used tent was in the Goodwill store in Ellensburg.  So after a quick tour and picnic at the old railroad yard museum in town we headed on eastward to Ellensburg.
In Ellensburg we ended up buying a cheap new tent and an air mattress before heading through the Yakima Canyon route to Yakima Sportsman State Park. We found that apparently no one goes camping the week before Memorial Day and had no trouble finding a really nice camp site and we put up the cheap new tent and tried to settle in for the night (that is I tried to settle in – Jarvis can sleep through pretty much anything).  The central basin of Eastern Washington does not have a lot of trees or land forms and so the wind is pretty much a constant. That night it was a very energetic constant and the 4 ft tall tent was compressed to about 2 ft tall during the worst gusts. In any case the wind subsided by 11 PM and we made it through the night with no disasters.

The very cheap tent before the wind got bad.

The next morning our real quest to see territory that was new to me began.  We headed due east and before long I started to recognize the flood carved “scablands” described by Dr. Bretz. We reached the Hanford Reach area and I was pleased to find that from the highway and some decent gravel back roads I was able to get a good look at the Hanford Reach section of the Columbia River and with our fancy binoculars see the historic nuclear reactors on the opposite shore.  Among the sights was a quick look at a flock of rare white pelicans.  I had read about them but wasn’t too impressed until I realized that what I thought were people floating in inner-tube were really huge birds.

Historic Hanford nuclear reactors across the Columbia River

Hanford Reach section of the Columbia River

From Hanford we continued east to view Palouse Falls. The falls are really off the beaten track but were well worth the trek as they are an amazing sight being in full flow due to the first hot weather of the season melting snow combined with recent rains. On the way to Palouse Falls I got to see more of the scablands as well as getting my first look at the rolling hills of The Palouse region of the State.

The Palouse Region

Scablands terrain

Palouse Falls

Upstream of Palouse Falls

Downstream of Palouse Falls

Since I had never seen the Snake River we made a short side trip down the hill to the river’s edge.  While the famous Hell’s Canyon was further east the river was worth seeing and I got the added bonus of seeing one of the longest and highest railroad bridges where the tracks cross the river.

Rail bridge over the Snake River  at Starbuck

From The Palouse we headed pretty much due north to our planned stop for the night at Dry Falls – Sun Lakes State Park. Dry Falls is understood to be the remnant of one of the largest water falls to ever grace Planet Earth.

Dry Falls from visitor center

Dry Falls State Park

Dry Falls from the lake at the base of the falls

Looking down the coulee from Dry Falls

We found a camp site that was well protected from the wind and took a walk then drive around the area and park.  We returned to make dinner only to discover that our campsite had previously been vacated by another camping family due to its infestation with mosquitoes. While I was able to keep them at bay with long clothes and repellant, poor Jarvis was defenseless except for his short coat of fur.  I was reticent to put repellant on him for fear it would injure his skin or that he would lick it off and get sick from it.  I even tried putting one of my t-shirts on him which worked for about 15 minutes before it fell off.  In the end we went into the tent early and even though it was cheap, it did prove to be mosquito proof. 

For our final day we headed due west on Highway 2 into territory and soon reached the Columbia River and territory that was very familiar to me. We arrived home about noon to a lovely sunny Western Washington day and a waiting Clarice.  


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