Posted by: bkivey | 28 November 2020

Archives Unwound

I’ve been listening to audio cassettes I recorded 30 and 40 years ago. I’ve got to give it up to Maxell. When I was into recording music, Sony, TDK, and Maxell were the tapes of choice. Maxell was the premium tape, and those tapes have kept most of the dynamic range. Impressive stuff, given the age. Both cars have tape capability, so maybe something to throw in next trip.

Posted by: bkivey | 24 November 2020

Grass Catcher 24 November 2020

Paul Eric Ivey (my brother) is 56 today. Happy Birthday!

Word Watch: Facility

Concerning the mental kind, my Funk & Wagnall’s defines this as:

  1. Ease of performance or action.

Or, as may be, the efficient subconscious reaction to a stimulus.

On The Radio

Sunday evenings local station KPAM 860 hosts a nostalgia radio show, in which the host replays radio programs from the 1930’s to the 1950’s. From a ‘Superman’ episode airing in 1947, the crooked politician/villain:

Makes a threatening radio spot. Ever see Democratic campaign ads this year? “Stop the division!” Well, hells bells, you created it.

Hired thugs to riot in the streets. Check.

Buses rioters in. Check.

1947.

“My stomachs wearing a callus on my backbone.”

‘California’

Hop-Along Cassidy radio episode

Kozo Hiroaoka

A mechanical engineer and master machinist, Hiraoka-sama is widely regarded to set the bar in making model engineering accessible to the novice. His drawings are all done by hand, as he states that the style is warmer than CAD. I took the last mechanical drafting class offered at my school, and have to agree. It’s as much art as science, and the mechanical method allows for interpretation in a way CAD does not. Even so, a lot faster with the computer.

I mention Mr. Hiraoka for a quote:

“Think, and find a sure and easy way. The pro does his job in a way by which even the novice can do it, while the novice tries do do it in a way by which even the pro will fail.”

I’ve mentioned this quote before, but seems appropriate again.

Posted by: bkivey | 23 November 2020

National Mask League

I haven’t watched sports since late March, initially because there were no sports to watch, but later, I just couldn’t get into it. No fans in the stands; the NBA played in one city: it’s just not conducive to fan participation. I started to lose interest in baseball when teams netted the foul lines. That takes fans out of the game. Now, you can’t even go to the games. I’ve played organized sports, and the crowd can make or break a game. You get pumped when people are behind you. It’s one of those feelings you wish you could bottle.

Anyways, I was in a convenience store and a football game was on. There was ample crowd noise, which was a bit confusing: I didn’t think fans were allowed into stadiums. And from some stadium shots, they are not. A few people here and there, but not the 60,000+ you’d expect. I asked the guy where the crowd noise came from, and he said they piped it in. So now we have to simulate reality while we defy reality. This is a mess.

While patronizing another business Sunday, there was a tablet playing the current NFL game. All of the sideline personnel were wearing masks. I was under the impression that NFL personnel were regularly tested for COVID-19, so the athletes would be safe in ‘bubble’. When I mentioned this, one guy said the NFL tested folks 2 – 3 times per week. So why are they wearing masks if they are known to be disease-free? There is no reason to do so.

Coaches probably aren’t complaining too much, as the mask prevents lip-reading when they are giving instruction. No more holding the playsheet over your mouth. But from a practical perspective, there is no reason completely healthy people should be wearing a mask, especially in the company of equally disease-free folks.

They believe it is necessary

That would just be ignorant. These are smart people. They can figure stuff out for themselves.

Pressure from Government

Local ordinances and ‘guidelines’ may require mask-wearing. In the circumstances, a prime example bureaucratic inflexibility.

Solidarity with ‘The People’

Most of the NFL’s fans have to wear masks at some point during the day; some, all day. Perhaps direction came down from NFL higher that masks must be worn so that folks would focus on the game, and not on the fact that sideline personnel weren’t wearing masks. Such a state of affairs.

Straight Outta Compton

I make no bones about the fact I like 80’s rap. Tonight the local jazz station played NWA’s ‘Straight Outta Compton’ LP in it’s entirety. I have this album, but it has been ten years at least since I listened to it.

Yeah, like that. I cranked the stereo for the title cut.

Posted by: bkivey | 21 November 2020

Here’s An Idea

Governors across the country have enacted new mandates restricting gatherings during the holiday season.

Get as many people as you can for Thanksgiving, or any other holiday, take a picture, and send it to your local Governor. Works best if more than the mandated number of people are present, and a suggestion of good cheer. ‘Happy Thanksgiving, Governor” would be effective. Don’t wear masks. Don’t ‘social distance’. Be people.

Posted by: bkivey | 17 November 2020

The Last Refuge: Repost from 23 October 2016

The last several years in Western society have felt like falling off a -exp(x) cliff as Progressivism has become the dominant political force with the subsequent push to the fore of previously fringe concerns. While a fascinating social experiment, it’s a terrifying place to live. The only certainty is that freedom is losing ground fast as the more ruthless Leftists rush to secure a place among the ruins of Western civilization. It looks like a very small minority of hysterical psychopaths are driving society (they are). One might reasonably wonder just what in the hell is going on?

I wondered, too, but the past couple of months have given me an idea. I think we’re seeing Progressive thought leaders realizing their policies are unmitigated disasters. Their followers are slower to catch on, but the message is starting to get through. Now that the Left, and to our great misfortune, the rest of us, are living in the world of their making, they’re discovering they can’t cope with the Universe.

I’ve talked about why the Progressive societal vision can never work, but briefly Progressives are ignorant of how the natural world works. Their philosophy has little foundation in reality. As theory that’s fine; as practice it ranges from mildly annoying to death for millions. Progressivism has its points, but they shouldn’t be the basis for a society.

The Occupy movement of 2011 was probably the first time since the anti-nuke protests of the 80’s the Left felt like they had a cause to support in large numbers. While almost no one outside Occupy took the movement seriously, I mean, what are a bunch of privileged First-Worlders protesting, it gave common cause to many on the political fringes. Aided and abetted by local governments, Occupy provided a semi-official safe space. Occupy was likely also the first time most Americans found out how far the Left had infiltrated government. People expect changes in power at the Federal and State levels, but local government has traditionally been more stable in terms of maintaining health and safety standards. When the City of Baltimore failed to protect life and property during the 2015 riots, the surprise wasn’t as great as it might have been.

Citizens in the Western world are less secure than they’ve been since the Cold War. The difference is the threat isn’t some faceless enemy thousands of miles away, but people living right next to you. The Fifth Column has been enormously successful. All the levers of power are controlled by the Left or those allied with them. It’s a coarser, more fearful society, and there’s a direct connection between that sorry state of affairs and Progressive policies.

Foreign policy, domestic policy, health care policy, energy policy, education policy: The Left’s initiatives are tanking or failing fast. Despite much of the media acting as semi-official government propagandists, people are starting to notice. Progressives had their hopes pinned on the Millennials, and those folks aren’t really playing ball. Faced with the threat of a reduction in power, the Left has doubled down, becoming ever shriller about ever more trivial things.

Things really started moving with the Treyvon Martin incident. Even though witnesses said they fabricated the events reported, the Narrative was that America was a racist country full of trigger-happy White people itching to eliminate People of Color. Then a spate of ‘hate’ crimes. I can’t recall a widely reported ‘hate’ crime in the last decade that didn’t turn out to be a hoax. When your political comrades have to invent the reality they accuse others of inhabiting in order to have any shred of relevancy, that’s a clue.

Progressivism has always been shielded by the fact it can only thrive in rich societies. The dynamic tension is that thriving societies sow and nurture the seeds of their own destruction. Because the Left is composed primarily of the immature, they depend on the ‘adults’, those who actually build and do things, to take care of them and their misguided attempts at governance. They do expect others to clean up their messes.

However, when the immature are in charge of the institutions they’ve depended on to protect them, they ‘reform’ those institutions so they are no longer effective as embodiments of societal values. Now Progressives must face the consequences of their actions, and they don’t like it. I give you: California.

The Left is also discovering that just being is unsatisfying. Progressives aren’t leaders: they have no concrete core values. No morals. In every Utopia I’m aware of, no one really does anything. Society just is. Human society works best when people of vision move folks in a way that improves the standard of living. Aside from the fact that say, cheap, plentiful food is a good thing, humans enjoy challenges. Especially challenges that yield concrete results.

The Left doesn’t go in for that sort of thing. They all think they know better than the proles, and they all think they’ll be the ones in power. The reality is that a powerful few rule fiefdoms, and everyone else is a serf subject to the whims of their betters. Progressivism is the Law of the Jungle in a pretty outfit. Capitalism turns the wolf to the betterment of society; Progressivism is just the wolf.

So now the Left has come full circle. The last several months of a nascent neo-Civil Rights movement demonstrates the utter failure of Progressive governance. Listening to these folks, you’d think the last 60 years never happened. Even the language is identical. The world they’re protesting doesn’t exist. And if it did, that would be a devastating indictment of the Left in itself. The Left built a world, and they don’t like it. They can’t run, but they can try to hide.

Before too many of the people they’ve duped for decades wake up and start looking hard at them, the Left has gone to the last thing they were absolutely, positively, unequivocally in the Right about: civil rights. It’s their new camouflage. Activism is the last refuge of the incompetent.

Posted by: bkivey | 26 October 2020

2020 Vacation: Wrapping Up

About 1400 miles and $600, so not so bad. Zero issues. Outside drive throughs, meals were procured through grocery delis. $10 at Safeway can feed you for a day and a half. Not that I was trying to be cheap; I just didn’t want to deal with the mask thing at a bar or restaurant. You know, the places you go to socialize?

And the mask thing wasn’t really a thing in central Washington. I was expecting compliance to be lax in the hinterlands, and it was almost non-existent. A large retail store in Omak had hundreds of people inside; a full quarter weren’t wearing masks, and no one seemed to care. You could routinely walk into convenience stores, even the corporate ones, and the clerks wouldn’t be masked. I’d ask “Do you care?” and usually get a wave of the hand. Several stores had signs “We are not the mask police. Washington requires a mask, we don’t.” Pretty much for four days, I didn’t wear a mask. It was like, living in America.

I’ve been in this part of the country before, but not for nearly a week. The landscape is wearing. It is not human-friendly, and you have to work hard to make a living.

If central Washington was the determining factor, the Democrats would be swept. Very few Democrat candidate signs. Except in Grand Coulee, but that’s a government company town. Washington’s Governor isn’t popular here. At all.

Saw a lot of what I wanted to see, and some things as a bonus. Disappointed about North Cascades Park, but I’ll have another crack at that. A lot of driving through what is, really, not very interesting landscape, but it’s the landscape of home, so worth seeing.

Traffic Management

Or the ignorance of. I have been going to the same barber for nearly 15 years, and she is located in a building near downtown Beaverton. The City has decided that weekends will be for ‘Farmer’s Markets’, and the streets shall be blocked, and restaurants allowed to block parking in front of their establishment. In the very same blocks, a new apartment building has gone up, and while they may offer (1) parking space for tenants, there are no provisions for guests, or extra cars in the household. Guess where those folks park? The upshot is that there is no parking to be had within 4 – 5 blocks of where you may want to go. There is no parking in the neighborhood. It is very frustrating.

There is a parking lot near the library, and about 5 blocks from where I want to go, but often full from the market activity.

The people in this county have had their living standard noticeably reduced this year, and not from COVID-19. Folks, you really need to look around, and see what is going on.

Posted by: bkivey | 25 October 2020

2020 Vacation: 26 September

I spent the morning of the day looking at the BNSF railroad yard just north of downtown Pasco. The railroad stuff is at the link, but there was a bit of non-railroad excitement. While looking for a place to park on the east side of the yard, I noticed a USAF C-17 on what looked like an approach pattern. The Tri-Cities airport is right next to the railyard, and I wasn’t aware of an Air Force base in the Tri-Cities. The nearest airbase is near Spokane, but they don’t host the C-17.

So I’m keeping an eye on the aircraft while parking, and as I find a place, I realized that Holy Crow! It’s going to fly right over me! There wasn’t time to unship the camera, so I grabbed the phone and started snapping away without being able to see the viewfinder.

My first experience with the C-17 was as a contractor working on a C-17 hanger at McChord Field, now Joint Base Lewis – McChord, at the time one of only two C-17 bases in the country. The aircraft is impressively large, and I’ve liked the no-nonsense look of the airframe. It looks like a piece of equipment that gets the job done, and it has.

This aircraft made a touch-and-go at the airport, then headed East.

After poking around the railyard, I headed home, first south on US 395 to I-82, then the exit for WA 14, and West.

Near the junction of I-82 and WA 14 is the McNary Dam and Locks:

The locks are in the foreground on the north bank of the river. This is a common arrangement along the Columbia.

Heading west on WA 14, with some Oregon wind turbines on the opposite bank:

I made the crossing at The Dalles, where there is also a dam, and the bridge. The dam is just behind and slightly to the right.

I grabbed some gas and grub, and parked in a hotel parking lot overlooking the river and bridge. There was an official bug trap:

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad runs along the north bank, and you could hear the train a couple of mile before it appeared. There must be a grade, because the locomotives were working hard:

A towboat makes its way through the locks:

Looking for an airplane, but settled for a bird:

And so back to Portland, and eventually home, on the familiar I-84W. As I’ve said before, the drive through the Gorge never gets old.

 

Posted by: bkivey | 24 October 2020

2020 Vacation: 25 September

I had thought to take WA 20 west through North Cascades National Park (No fees! Looking at you, Mt. Rainier Park!), and then work south to Everett and US 20 back through the Cascades. It would be a Day of Driving, but I was looking forward to the Park, and seeing a couple of railroad passes.

The weather had other ideas. The variable, but generally sunny, conditions of the previous day had given way to low, grey clouds hovering over the mountains, the exact place I wanted to go. Knowing it was futile to look at vertical scenery through horizontal clouds, I looked for something else to do. Frustrating? Sure. But I live close enough to make another effort without too much trouble.

The ‘something else’ was to have a look at a railroad yard in Pasco. You can see why traveling companions may be hard to find:

“What are we doing today?”

“Driving 200 miles across arid badlands to look at a railroad yard.”

“Fun!”

There were other activities of interest, all closer, but this was a ‘hump’ yard, where cars are rolled down an incline to do the switching, rather than done by locomotives. I’d never seen one, and as they are expensive to operate, not that many in operation.

For the day’s journey, I turned off the GPS, and navigated by road sign (VFR). I knew I had to travel generally south and east, and took US 97 south all the way back to Wenatchee, then WA 28 south along the Columbia River.

Heading south between Omak and Okanogan on the east bank of the Columbia. Ground is still smoking.

Tumbleweeds

The part of Washington I was traveling through was apparently once a great sagebrush ‘forest’. Not sure what you call a sagebrush geography, but the official signs go with ‘sagebrush-steppe’, which seems accurate. There were a lot of tumbleweeds, and on the day, a lot of wind to move them around. You could see stacks of them on fences: fences that in many cases seemed purpose-built for catching tumbleweeds, and at which they were successful.

Humans tend to imbue human characteristics to natural events, but I don’t think that’s by accident. Consider, if you will:

I was behind and to the left of a dually pickup truck towing a goose-neck car trailer. A large tumbleweed (1m+ dia) blew in front of the truck, and the truck demolished it. Just splinters everywhere. I was laughing about this when about ten seconds later, a good-sized tumbleweed branch hit my windshield. Not dangerous; but startling. Instant karma? You decide.

“Listen To The Wind Blow . . .”

Very windy on the day. This is open country, and not a lot to stop the wind coming off the Cascade Mountains to the west. It pretty much blows until it hits the Rockies to the east. Truck drivers were earning their money. You try driving down the highway at 65 mph with a four-story building towed lengthwise behind you. Empty trailers have no weight to keep them on the road, and they will sway and bounce. I passed one truck while we were both headed into the wind, and the bow wave was a physical barrier.

I had taken WA 281 south from WA 28 at Quincy, and joined I-90W at George, WA, Famous for the amphitheater The Gorge at George, the venue features a stage backed by the Columbia River gorge. I’ve been to a few concerts here, and it is a spectacular place to watch a concert. The amenities range from ‘primitive’ to ‘basic’, and while there are portable toilets, there usually aren’t nearly enough. It’s a pretty good hike from the parking lot (a number of people bring bicycles, although on a crowded path, it doesn’t work as well as you may expect), and you have to pack in and out everything you might want. I have waited up to three hours to get out of the parking lot. Honestly, it’s worth renting or borrowing an RV. You and your friends can chill while everyone else leaves. I don’t think overnight camping is allowed, though.

The Gorge at George is closed when not in use, so you can’t randomly tour it. I can say the most spectacular concert opening I’ve witnessed took place here. It involved Roger Waters and Gulfstream V.

Exiting on WA 243, then a left on WA 26 took me past the Hanford Reach National Monument. This is where the US manufactured nuclear weapons material for the first atom bomb detonated at White Sands, NM 16 July 1945, and for the ‘Fat Man’ weapon used on Nagasaki 9 August 1945.

Nothing, really, to see here, except landscape. The famous (infamous?) Reactor B, where the material was manufactured, appears to be gone. There is a roadside pullout with sign, but the visible structures do not align with the historical placement.

I somehow managed to approach the town of Othello twice, which is about as many ways as there are to do so. Othello is unremarkable, except that my oldest sister has her name up on a building:

I sent her the picture.

I managed to stumble on the Drumheller Channels National Landmark about 8 miles north and west of Othello on W. McManamon Rd. I believe the road is given a name as a courtesy, because there are no other addresses out here.

If you could stand here, you would see massive floods scouring the land. The sign states that the last floods were 13,000 years ago. This is very young terrain in geological terms; but older than recorded human history.

Pasco is in the Tri-Cities area, consisting of Pasco, Kennewick, and Richland. This area is farm, ranch, and railroad.

The US 395 bridge between Pasco and Kennewick:

A car in Pasco not normally seen:

The hotel was unremarkable, other than it backed up to a street that functioned like an alley, and more activity than was maybe justified by the businesses. The room also featured the most uncomfortable office chair I have seen in a hotel room:

 

Posted by: bkivey | 13 October 2020

2020 Vacation: 24 September

The plan for the day was to drive north on US-97 from Chelan to the Omak/Okanogan area. Although the rail line of interest ran (and still runs) to Oroville, about 10 miles south of the Canadian border, my hobby interest did not extend that far. The railroad content is here.

It has been a bad fire season in the West, and there have been some large fires close enough to where I live to where we had about a week of thick smoke, and air worse than any city in China. The last time we had smoke this bad was three years ago when an idiot kid set the Columbia Gorge on fire, and we had ashfall. This summer the smoke was thicker and lasted longer. Maybe the only time masks may have been useful.  It finally rained enough to wash the smoke out of the air.

I had not checked the fire map for central Washington, but if you look, there are two big red blobs in the middle of the state. There are few forests here, but dry grass burns just fine. The fires were mostly extinguished in the area when I was there, but not completely, and some fires had not been out long. The first evidence was not far north of Chelan where the east bank of the Columbia had burned over.

The first stop was Pateros, which has little of interest outside agriculture and railroads. I wanted to look at the railroad bridge over the Methow River. WA 153 climbs west up the river valley, and there are resorts along the way. Most of the way north between Pateros and Okanogan, fire had burned all the way across the road to the river. A grass fire may lack the intensity of a forest fire, but leaves blackened landscape just the same. Occasionally you would see burned-out farm equipment, resting on the rims in a field; a field which wasn’t going to produce this year. Not very many burned structures, though. I think I’d choose the house over the tractor, too.

Outside of Brewster, there is some hilltop agriculture:

When in Toppenish last year, I noticed that agriculture is adapting to places that were previously uncultivable. You don’t advance civilization by marching in the streets: you do it by figuring things out, and then doing them.

A few miles north of Brewster along US-97 and across the river is this:

A good-sized radio telescope was an odd thing to see out here, as there are no universities within hours. It turns out this is one of the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) antennas and, I assume, support equipment to the right. I had heard of the VLBA, but had not seen an antenna. The link will tell you about it, and I thought it was cool. A local newspaper has an article on visiting the telescope, and the operators used to offer tours if you showed up, but I suspect that is no longer the case. I would wager, though, that almost nobody shows up who was looking for the thing.

Another 30 miles north gets you to Okanogan, which along with Omak about 8 miles up the road, grows a lot of apples. And cattle. There is much open range in this part of the state. I’ve had experience with cattle taking advantage of open range in other places, and I will let them be. They weigh half as much as the car, and an angry bull can do a whole lot of damage in a very short time.

We learn that George Washington Slept Here (sort of):

I like the mention of the ‘horde of yellow jackets”, or, as the contemporary convention may have had it: “We were Followed and Much Disturbed by a Horde of Yellow Jakets”.

For some reason I was at the Okanogan airport; but thought the sign interesting. I surely hope the project is complete.

Okanogan and Omak are relatively close, but Omak is the commercial center, with Okanogan functioning as a sort of bedroom community (Pop: ~2500) to Omak (Pop: ~4800). The semi-rural North Carolina town (Pop: ~5000) where I attended high school had a similar relationship with surrounding communities.

Omak, WA:

What do you mean, where?

I looked at some railroad things in town, then followed Omak Riverside East Side Road north along the railroad for a bit. That’s the actual name of the road, and I don’t know what the residents call it. “River Road”?

Cliffs along the Okanogan River north of Omak. The river is in the gap between the hills.

The visit to Omak fulfilled the motivating mission requirements, so cast about for things to do. The Grand Coulee dam was only about 70 miles away, so, sure. I’d last visited in 1996 when moving from St. Petersburg, FL, to Seattle. But, I was sort of in the neighborhood, and had nothing else to do. The plan was to take US-97S toward Brewster, then take WA 17 south to WA 174E, then on to the dam.

Heading south on US 97 between Omak and Okanogan. You can see everything to the east is burned, and the ground still smoking.

WA 17S between Brewster and Bridgeport. Those aren’t clouds ahead, but, as the Sanford Townsend Band had it; smoke from a distant fire.

There were just miles and miles of smoking ground. Along with a pandemic, rioting in the cities, a fractured economy, and half the country figuratively at the throats of the other. I should have been driving a Ford Falcon XB GT with a dingo in the left seat.

Chief Joseph Dam on the Columbia River, or what was visible through the smoke. There was fire here. 

A fire-ravaged tree and the Visitor Center on the right. The Center was closed. 

The Chief Joseph Bridge just downstream of the dam.

The official West side viewpoint for the Grand Coulee Dam is Crown Point, and there is good road to it. It’s free. There is also an unofficial viewpoint, marked by a hand-written sign. There is a sort-of trail off the road, and an open gate. I am not adverse to taking road cars off-road, and the trail looked navigable. My main concern was setting fire to the grass from the exhaust. After a few dozen yards, nothing was burning, so I continued. 

The nearest farm to the trail, so probably their land. 

 

Looking back down the trail. It’s more defined in person. 

The view from as far as I cared to go. The trail continues around the ridge to the left, but I needed a more capable vehicle to attempt that. 

Overview of the Crown Point facilities, looking North. The dam is to the right. 

The sign needs updating, as Three Gorges Dam has been the largest concrete structure since opening in 2003. 

I was last here in 1996, and the dam hasn’t gotten smaller. You can’t see the whole thing in one view, so I pieced together a panorama. Grand Coulee on the left; Electric City on the right. The structure is 550 feet high, and just under a mile long. 

Grand Coulee is also home to what looks like a giant pile of sand:

The view West and downstream:

I went around and had a look at the back side. There are parking lots here. 

Looking upstream and the anti-torpedo debris booms:

Alongside the road there is this sign. You can see in the background where the road starts down what turns out to be a steep grade to the bridge. In the Northeast, you could just put ‘Watch For ’33”. 

Avoiding rolling rocks, and Rolling Rock, there is a pull-out where you can get a closer look at the dam:

I took WA 155N back to Okanogan, and it was a nice break from the basalt badlands.

If a bit smoky.

I stayed at the Quality Inn in Okanogan, which I believe was under $65 for the night. Under more normal circumstances, I would have stayed in Omak, as there is more to do after-hours. Like, anything. But, because I didn’t plan on going out, I opted for the least-expensive room. And it was close to WA 20, which I planned to drive west the next day. 

You can see the burned land across the road from the hotel. Also, nice to know there are ‘Good Farms’ in the area. 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: bkivey | 7 October 2020

2020 Vacation: 23 September

 

My Birthday! WooHoo! 57 bangs on the bongo.

I’d spent the night in Wenatchee, WA, and chosen because there was a lot of hobby-related stuff. The previous evening I’d driven around Wenatchee a bit to get a feel for the area. The business district runs for about a mile-and-a-half: WA 285 splits into Mission St. and N. Chelan Ave. Light industry to the south; residential to the north and west. Downtown appears to be well-populated, but I wonder for the next couple years.

This is wild and wooly country. After four days in the area, I get the slight impression this may be what living in an alien environment may be like. The environment says “Nothing for you, Human!”. And it is right. The ground is volcanic rock; not known for aquifer properties. The climate is arid, and water only found near rivers; and not many of those.  

Started the day south of Wenatchee looking at railroad stuff, then found Lions Locomotive Park, which turns up on the Net as Mission Street Park, even though Mission Street is a block over.

 

 

The bridge carries WA 285 over the Columbia River. The locomotive was sited in 1956, and for a hunk of iron that’s sat unprotected in Wenatchee’s climate, it is in great condition. Credit to the service clubs that work to keep it so. You will notice the headlight is lit. 

After the park I crossed the river to get photos of a railyard, then headed back to the north end of Wenatchee. I wanted to look at some hobby-related things, and the best access was the Apple Capital Recreational Loop, which circumnavigates the river around Wenatchee and East Wenatchee. East Wenatchee is where the chain stores are located, with Wenatchee apparently reserved for local business. I’ve seen this arrangement before. 

There are some parking spaces on Hawley Street, and even with (in spite of?) GPS, you may have to hunt a bit. The spaces are next to a packaging factory, but are not employee spaces. 

I do not know what the symbols on the bottom of the sign are for. Speed limits for pedestrians/horses/bicycles? It’s about half-a-mile to the Wenatchee River bridge. 

Looking east (toward the river) from the bridge:

The Confluence Wetlands looking roughly south down the Wenatchee River to the Columbia River:

‘Arid’ doesn’t mean ‘never rains’. It rained this week. That is the thing with changing seasons: the seasons are changing. Here we are going from hot and dry to cold and wet. There is significant variation in the climate here, and they can expect about two feet of snow this Winter. Although, the way this year is going, who the hell knows?

I drove west on US 2 as far as Leavenworth. I had planned to drive US 2W across the Cascades in couple days, then return on WA 20 through North Cascades National Park, but I wanted to see how the railroad ran through the area to Leavenworth. 

The first stop was in Cashmere, and there is a well-done 9/11 memorial located in Riverside Park. There are signs to the park.

Cashmere, Washington. Population: ~3100. 

The next stop was the Peshashtin Pinnacles. Which I’d never heard of until I saw the sign. The road was closed, so could not get to the actual park area. It looks like the Pinnacles are a geological anticline with different hardnesses of rock that have eroded at different rates. With access, I likely would have attempted the climb. 

The ‘PUD’ is the local Public Utilities District, a utility co-op created by the voters and owned by the customers. They are the primary utility providers in rural Washington and Oregon.

Humans aren’t the only visitors:

And on down the road to Leavenworth. The town has branded itself as a Bavarian-themed resort, and they do a lot of business October – January. Or they did. Not sure how that’s going now, but judging by the traffic, not badly. 

Looking west. The scenery probably looks better when you can see it. 

The downtown streets are sub-named in German (not literal translations). 

There were some railroad things to see here, and after seeing them, I headed back east on US 2, then north on Alt US 97 running along the west bank of the Columbia. US 2 runs along the east bank of the river as far as Orondo, then turns east, leaving US 97 to head north. Alt 97 joins US 97 a few miles north of Chelan (SHUH-LAN). I took the WA 971 cutoff from Alt 97, and it drops you down onto the lake at Lake Chelan State Park. 

Running from the Columbia RIver to the heart of the Cascades, Lake Chelan is the impound pool for Lake Chelan Dam, a PUD hydro project. A natural narrowing close to the river had already created a lake, and the dam raised the lake level by some 20 feet. 

Looking southeast down the river from Riverwalk Park in downtown Chelan. The dam is just beyond the bridge, and the hills are on the east bank of the Columbia.

Looking northwest upriver toward the lake. 

The water is remarkably clear:

The pilot house from the original lake packet boat has been preserved at the park:

The original Lady of the Lake served from 1945 to 1976, and was salvaged in 2001. Lady of the Lake II is the current ferry. 

This is the very heart of Washington apple country, and this time of year, harvest is in full-swing. A lot of fruit gets shipped out of this valley all over the world. It was the transport of that fruit that was my main interest in the area, but Chelan is also very much a resort area; natural enough when you have a 50+ mile-long lake in your backyard.

But between 1938 and 1957, one of the largest copper mines in the country operated in the mountains near the north end of the lake. The ore was concentrated at the mine, then shipped in 5-ton capacity open barrels. These were trucked (1 barrel for a flatbed truck, 2 barrels for a semi-truck) down a steep grade 10 miles to Lucerne (3500′ to 1100′), where the barrels were loaded onto a barge, then shipped 45 miles down the lake to Chelan. Loaded again onto trucks, the barrels were transported 4 miles down another steep grade (1100′ to 750′) to the railhead on the Columbia at Chelan Falls, where they were finally dumped into converted boxcars for the trip to the smelter in Tacoma. I understand that labor was relatively inexpensive at the time, but that is a resource-intensive logistical chain. My interest was in the railroad side of the operation, so off to Chelan Falls.

Chelan Falls is an unincorporated community that still has its’ own Post Office. Five miles down a pretty good grade on WA 150, then right on Chelan Falls Rd, gets you there. 

Powerhouse Park at the mouth of the Chelan River. Hydropower accounts for about 12% of the nation’s electrical generating capacity, and goodly amount of that comes out of the Columbia Valley. Depending on the snowpack, up to 80% of the Northwest’s electricity can come from hydro. Chelan proper is to the left and over the hills. 

The park from the road:

I spent some time looking at railroad things, then started thinking about where to spend the night. It was getting toward later afternoon, and Chelan looked nice enough. No record exists of the hotel room, because 3 (!) photos failed to capture the image. The hotel was good for the price, although I had to change rooms because the TV remote didn’t work. Hey, I don’t have TV at home: TV on vacation is important.

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