Onwards, Ever Onwards

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I’ve been remiss in my duties as travel correspondent. When last heard from, the gorgeous ex-fiancee and I were rolling out of Butte, Montana in a rented car. At the end of the day, we arrived in Missoula, Montana, one of the two goals of the trip. It’s the home of a most interesting friend. He’s a mad keen environmentalist of the best kind, a bird expert, PhD scientist, conservation biologist of the highest order … and the kind that missoulaloves to hunt and fish. A couple years ago he and I and another friend were out hunting grouse in the snow, and he’d lent me a pair of his hunting gloves before we started out.

Unfortunately or fortunately, when I went home I’d forgotten his gloves were in the pocket of my jacket. When I came across them, I thought about mailing them, but then I realized that they were the perfect excuse for a return trip to Montana. It’s a perfect Montana plan, drive 1,500 miles to return a pair of hunting gloves. And now we were in Montana, in Missoula, his town. We took a room in a hotel and as always, went out for a walk. It’s a lovely town, on the banks of the Clark Fork river.

I always take it as a good sign when I see squirrels in town. It’s a measure of the aggressive, adaptive nature of life.

missoula squirrelMy friend was at a party after professional gathering. When we arrived he was deep in discussion with a group of obvious leaders, so we had a chance to talk to a variety of interesting folks, and eat some elk that he’d shot. When the group broke up he saw us and came over. He asked what brought us to Montana, and he cracked up when I pulled out the gloves and told him the story … they were a favorite pair of his, I found out then, he put them on and laughed …

So we had a great visit, and in the morning we started out for Flathead Lake, on the way to Whitefish, up near the Canadian border. Of course we’re still in cowboy country, you can tell because they build highway overpasses for cows …

cow overpassI greatly enjoy the flow and the shape of land that used to be under the glacial ice. Mountains that have never seen ice have V-shaped valleys and sharp peaks. But where the great glaciers of the ice age put half a mile thickness of ice in all of the valleys, you still end up with sharp peaks, but the lower slopes have been ground and rounded and pushed into the valleys. The resulting valleys are wide and flat, often with natural marshes or lakes.

glacier landscapeWe passed onto the reservation of the Salish Confederacy. I got the sense that they are a strong bunch of folks. It’s a confederacy of the Bitterroot Salish, the Kootenai, and the Pend d’Oreilles tribes. Here was one clue that they have a living culture.

spring creek salishAnybody than can master a language like that and keep it alive gets the nod from me.

Plus the Confederacy have a clean, bustling small college there on the res, bright faces … I’m no romantic, I’m just saying that I’ve been on more than a few reservations, and this was a good one. I’m sure they have their problems, who doesn’t … but they’re out there doing it and from all appearances doing it well.

From there it’s not far to the south end of Flathead Lake, a large glacial lake about thirty miles (45 km) long.

flathead lakeWe saw that all the boats were hoisted up out of the water.

boats out of water flathead lakeI asked a local if that was because of the ice in winter … she said no, it was because the wind comes down the valley and kicks up nasty waves.

Further along, someone has a business in a yurt. I live in a yurt myself, they are a curious structure. They are distinguished by the fact that they have no post in the middle to hold up the roof.

yurt on the flathead resFrom there we went north, part of it along a lovely northern river, through the glacier-rounded hills to Whitefish, Montana.

Unbeknownst to me,Whitefish is where the young outdoors folks of Montana gather to party before jumping off to various outdoors adventures. We’d heard about the lake, so we rented bicycles and rode around town and out to the lake. The city has outrageous bike paths both in and on the outskirts of town. There’s a path along the river to the lake. I expected to see the typical northern lake, cattails and plants at the edge … but I reckoned without Whitefish City Beach:

whitehead beachThe city, presumably, trucked in the sand, and it’s an instant beach party. It has the usual feel of a beach, folks with umbrellas and beach chairs, it was almost surreal.

That day I remarked on a thin haze covering the sky, and there were little of the afternoon cumulus that had accompanied us recently. The day was cooler. The next day the reason was known, forest fires in western Washington had blanketed the region with smoke.

It was fascinating to note the immediate cooling effect of the smoke. The particles in the smoke absorb the sunlight, and re-radiate it in the form of thermal infrared (longwave) radiation. Since half of the longwave radiation goes up and half goes down, the surface only receives half of what was intercepted. As a result it was cooler, and there was little sign of the cumulus and thunderstorms that had prevented the previous days from overheating. This continued for the following days as well.

In any case, we’d come to Whitefish to hear our friend David Raitt and the Baja Boogie Band.

david raitt and the baja boogie bandI first met David when we were wanting to build a yurt to live in, and the gorgeous ex-fiancee saw one being built. She went and introduced herself to David, and he ended up building the shell of the yurt that forms a part of my topsy-turvy house. In any case, he’s from a musical family. His father John was a very well-known singer in stage musicals, and his sister Bonnie is a Grammy-winning singer and guitarist. David keeps up the tradition, he’s a great entertainer. The band’s website is here, with links to the music. They put on a rocking show, and it’s always a pleasure to see my friends having fun on stage. David asked what brought us to Whitefish … we told him that every rock star needs groupies, we were just making sure he had his share. We danced to the music and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Sadly, even the best songs have an end, and the next day we rolled west towards Washington. Fields of sage, fields of wheat, small towns. We had lunch in Hot Springs, Montana, at a cafe where the owners were in their eighties, she was the cook and he was the waiter. The only other customer was telling the room about the rash of cows that had been killed and partially eaten by the aliens in the area. Not illegal aliens from across the border, you understand, but alien aliens from across the galaxy. We didn’t say a word, afraid to interrupt his flow.

We crossed the Snake River again in northern Idaho, every time it was different. Here it was just a small river, but still lovely. In eastern Washington we got out of the smoke from the forest fires, and into lovely rolling hills and farming country. They build the loveliest barns there I’ve ever seen, with a distinctive arched roof line. Here’s a particularly well-wrought pair of them, along with a truly elegant fence made of old wheels off of farm equipment …

rounded barn and fenceWe spent the night in Pullman, Washington, another college town. Everywhere we went there was music, spilling out of the bars, bands on street corners, buskers playing in the park, it was great. In the morning, we rolled south along the Washington-Idaho border back into more smoke, the wind had changed. And once again we came across the Snake River, and each time in a new guise. This time it was at the only seaport in Idaho, at Lewiston. Never knew Idaho had a seaport, it being landlocked and all … live and learn …

smoke at puyallupThen up and down some twisty mountain roads, and along a lovely verdant stream, to a little town in north-eastern Oregon. Just before we got to town we saw a buffalo ranch. I knew it wasn’t a bison ranch because the sign said “BUFFALO RANCH” in big letters. I always wondered how they kept the buffalo from breaking down the fences … the answer, it turns out, is a seven-strand smooth wire fence with each and every single wire electrified. We had electric fences when I was a kid on the ranch, but they were barbed wire with one single smooth electrified wire … not these. Every wire electrified. Seemed to work, they had a nice herd of fat buffalo just a few miles outside of town. Another benefit of cheap electricity.

And in that town we had the great pleasure of having lunch with the long-time WUWT contributor, the irrepressible Pamela Gray. I’ve always admired her point of view in her comments, practical and down to earth. Plus like me she grew up on a remote cattle ranch, where if something needs fixing you either fix it or live without it.

Pam is one of those redheaded folks, and I’ve always had lots of good times with my redheaded friends, including the time my ginger girlfriend bounced a glass salt-shaker off of my head from across the room. Can’t remember why, but I probably deserved it.

In any case, Pamela grew up (but no longer lives) in that tiny hamlet where we had lunch. She was just there for the weekend to fix up the cabin on her aunt and uncle’s place, so the timing was perfect. It was huge fun for us, listening to her effervescent stories about the local area and its denizens, how the places got named, where the good fishing is, pointing out the hills where they used to slide down the scree, where the school used to be, and the like. It was a magical lunch, the food was excellent, the stories rolled on and on. Our thanks to her for here great tales, and heck, not only that, she bought lunch. I tried fighting for the check, she slapped me down, said no way. So I caught the tip, and all too soon we’d said our goodbyes and gone on down the road, we rolled west and she rolled east to go up to the cabin.

The fastest way south from the corner of Oregon is to go due west to the back side of the Cascades, and then go south from there. Along the way, I saw an odd thing. My photo of it sucks, but we were rolling along, didn’t want to stop. We were just at the edge of the thin haze from the wildfires, it covered about half the sky. On the other half of the sky was what looked kinda like the haze of smoke, but in fact was a thin layer of high clouds. Note the tumbleweeds piled up on the fence.

half smoke half notThe odd part was that the reduction in sunlight from the smoky haze and the reduction of sunlight from the thin clouds was about the same …

So we rolled west, and to my great surprise, the road dropped into the Columbia River gorge, a place I’ve only been once, fifty years ago. I’d forgotten that it runs so far east into Oregon. And it was as amazing as it was the first time. The river is navigable way up into Oregon and as mentioned above, into Idaho by means of the Snake River tributary

It was just as windy as I remembered it. I rode it on my Honda 90 when I was 17, on the way from San Francisco to Yellowstone Park. But that time I was going with the wind … so my poor bike would go 65 miles an hour, not 55 like in calm air (or 45 with a headwind). As a result I’ve always thought of the Columbia gorge in a friendly fashion. I’d heard it was a mecca for windsurfers and kiteboarders, and it is that in spades. Here’s heading west into the gorge, late afternoon:

gorgeYou can barely make it out, but there are windmills along both cliff edges on both sides of the river, and they continue for thirty miles (20 km) on both sides. They are busy generating expensive electricity to sell to the folks who live in California. In a fit of insanity, the state is signed on to buy 30% renewable energy by 2020. This isn’t hard to do, because we get a large portion of our power from hydroelectric plants. Here’s the insane part:

In California, hydroelectric power is not considered renewable.

Say what? Why not? The power comes from the freaking rain, doesn’t it? How is the rain not a renewable resource?? The advocates of the measure have at least been honest. They said if hydro is included we’d hit the target too easily, so they limited it to wind, solar, biomass, anything but hydro.

So we are forced to buy power from the Columbia wind turbines, despite the fact that it is expensive, and meanwhile, the Bonneville dam is having to shed water because there’s no California market for their power … like I said, madness, but the Gorge is still mega awesome:

windsurfers and kitesAll too soon, we turned south and ran down the inland side of the Cascades. We stopped in a town so small that of the three establishments, none was open. The RV park where we camped was a long narrow green level lawn running right alongside the highway, no fence, no trees, right on the road. There was an ablution block, with toilets, showers, and a laundry … and that’s all. You self-register for camping by putting $10 in a provided envelope and slipping it in the slot. We put up our tent, facing away from the road.

But best of luck, in behind, aaah, there was a horse pasture, and there were four mares with three foals playing and eating, eating and playing. There’s a reason for the saying “eats like a horse”. You take a look. Most of the time they spend with their heads down, not up. They’re not a ruminant like a cow, they only have one stomach, so they get much less nutrition out of the same amount of grass. You need to put a lot of grass into a horse’s tank just to keep the fires stoked, even when they’re not working hard.

The gorgeous ex-fiancee said she’d never spent so much time just hanging out with horses. Our tent was quite near the fence, and they came right across from the tent to munch on cattails and grasses. Then they went and ran, and played as horses will, across the pasture and then back where we were. They continued to eat and play until dark, while I wrote some and she sat entranced.

From there the next morning the road goes south through Klamath Falls, and down to Dunsmuir. I’d traveled part of that before riding on a freight train. The road, as in much of the West, runs next to the train tracks, and it is still as awe-inspiring. You’re running by snow-capped mountains even in July, Mounts Washington and Jefferson.

mount washingtonAnd as always in the west, there is sagebrush. We saw sage in every state we were in, including California. It has a lovely musky smell that always brings to mind places with the scope and open vistas seen above … what a planet we live on.

When we got south of the fires in Oregon the air was clear again … and sure enough, here come the cumulus to throttle back the heat. And as the day continued to warm, some turned into thunderstorms …

thunderstorms over klamathFrom there you go by Klamath Lake. Then you start to see Mount Shasta in the distance. Shasta is unique because it has no neighbors. It rises in solitary splendor some 10,000 feet up from the surrounding plains. There were clouds on the north face, but when we came around to the northwest we could see it up close …

shasta northwestWe spent the night in the KOA campground in the town of Mt. Shasta. It is outrageous, because it is in and under and through a mixed forest of cedar, pine, and fir. When we arrived the clouds you see above had thickened considerably and it smelled like rain, so we took a cabin. And wonder of wonders, it started to rain! California is in a drought, and rain in July is rare in any year, so this was very welcome. The rain awoke all of the sleeping smells and odors and tree emanations from their hiding places, bringing out the smells of my youth, for I grew up not far from Shasta in that kind of forest. As is our custom, once we unpacked and the squall had mostly passed, we went for a walk to and through town.

I gotta say, I thought that there were curious folks in the town where I live. But about every third store in Mt. Shasta sells crystals, or incantations, or maps to the Shasta Vortex, or lectures on Lemurians, it’s amazing.

Back in 1894, some guy wrote about the Lemurians. These are said to be people who fled from the apocryphal continent of Lemuria when it sank into the ocean 12,000 years ago. Seems they went from there to living in Mount Shasta. Not around Shasta, you understand, but in tunnels and caves inside the mountain itself.

When I was a kid you could see Shasta from various high points around the ranch. And even at that time, folks believed that Shasta was hollow, and it sure seemed possible to us kids, what did we know? But it has now morphed into a minor religion. Here’s the news you’ve been waiting for, straight from the intarwebs so it must be true …

Mount Shasta can be considered as one of the most sacred places on this planet. The mountain is a mystic power source for this planet; actually, this sacred mountain is an incarnation of the Great Central Sun of this universe. It is a focus for angels, spirit-guides, spaceships, masters from the Light Realm, and the home of the survivors of Ancient Lemuria, which sank under the waves of the Pacific Ocean a little over 12,000 years ago. For those gifted with clairvoyant abilities, Mount Shasta is embraced in a gigantic, etheric purple pyramid whose capstone reaches far beyond this planet into space, and connects us intergalactically to the Confederation of Planets for this sector of the Milky Way Galaxy. This awesome pyramid is also created as an inverted version of itself, reaching far down to the very core of the Earth. You can call Mount Shasta the entry point of the Light-Grids of this planet, where most of the energy comes first from the galactic and universal core before it is disseminated to other mountains and into the grids.

Much is made of what is called the “Shasta Vortex”. It is variously described, but the general idea is that it is a portal of some kind that transports you to another place. It’s also identified with one of the “chakras”, the Hindu centers of bodily energy. Here’s a sample of the revealed wisdom:

Our bodies mirror the earth, in fact the entire universe

The earth experiences these energy centers as different levels of consciousness, and so do our own bodies. There are seven main energy centers called chakras in our bodies, and also seven in the world. Below are the seven key earth chakras in order, and where their likeness is located in the human body:

First or Root (base of spine) – Mount Shasta, California

Second or Sacral (below belly button) – Lake Titicaca, South America

Third or Solar Plexus (above the belly button) – Uluru-Katatjuta, Australia

Fourth or Heart (at the heart)- Glastonbury Tor-Shaftesbury, England

Fifth or Throat (throat)- Great Pyramid – Mt. of Olives

Sixth or Third Eye (top base of the nose) – Kuh-e Malek Slah, Iran

Seventh or Crown (top of the head) – Mt. Kailas, Tibet

As you can see, Mount Shasta holds the position as the first, root or base chakra of the world. Since moving to Mount Shasta, I can tell you from my own experience, the mountain’s vortex pulls on me by invisible strings.

… no comment.

In one of the shops they offered an hour with an illuminated person to discuss the mysteries of Shasta, plus a CD of 3 hours of her giving spiritual instruction, for only $600 dollars. But wait, the $600 is crossed out, and the price has been dropped to $333 … the gorgeous ex-fiancee and I looked at each other, shook our heads, and walked on. It was a lovely evening, we played guitar.

In the morning, instead of paying $333.00 to the local illuminati, we donated $33.00 to the fossil fuel gods, and rolled south towards Shasta Lake, Redding, and the Central Valley. The heat was palpable, but again most wondrously, there was also rain at times. For some reason, I regret to say I took no pictures. I’ve made that run so many times, I totally forgot my camera.

Ah, well, it’s a word picture in any case, a tale of travel. We crossed the Pit River arm of Lake Shasta, which is beautiful in the winter and ugly in the summer. Unlike the glacial lakes of the Northwest, it is a man-made reservoir. As such, the water level varies widely from summer to winter. At present, the water level is down a hundred feet or so from winter levels, exposing the red clay banks of the reservoir … not pretty. The dam is awesome, though, but we didn’t go across it.

And from there, you drop down out of the mountains into the north end of he Central Valley of California, at maybe 800′ (240m) elevation, and suddenly the land is flat, and most every acre is producing something. The Valley is indeed the breadbasket of the US, but not for the bread … that wheat is grown in Oregon and Montana and Washington, up in the north. But the Central Valley in California provides a wildly disproportionate share of the fruits, nuts, and vegetables eaten in the US.

And finally, in the late afternoon, after a total round trip of 2,800 miles on the odometer, we came back to our lovely house in the redwoods. It is quiet here, we’re at the end of a dead-end street. We turned off the car and drank in the lack of noise. It’s so quiet that often at night we can hear the surf on the coast, five miles (9 km) down the hill. After days of people and cars and trains and noise and traveling … after the trip, I’m greatly enjoying the quiet.

the routeWhen people return from journeys, I often ask what was the most surprising thing they saw in their travels. What stands out for me was the raw, unbridled strength of the wolf, and the two buffalo, we saw in Yellowstone Park. I guess I’m not as immune to nature deficit disorder as I might think … they were awe-inspiring.

And the Park itself and all it represents to me, a wilderness in my mind to which I can turn and refresh myself with the knowledge that such places still endure and exist in the world of 2014.

Now, when I started out this journey, I said there were two themes for my prospective voyage. One was that guitars sound better outdoors, and I thank the gorgeous ex-fiancee for being my partner in demonstrating the truth of that. We played our guitars and we sang from start to finish.

The other theme for the trip was “Esperanza Inutil”, which is Spanish for “Useless Hope”. I said I’d explain what I meant. It’s from an eponymous song by Daniel Santos:

Esperanza Inutil

Flor de Desconsuelo

Porque me persigues

en mi soledad

por qué no me dejas

Ahogar mis anhelos

en la amarga copa

de la realidad

Porque no me matas

con un desengaño

porque no me hieres

con un desamor

Esperanza inutil

si ves que me engaño

porque no te mueres

porque no te mueres

en mi corazon

And my translation of it would be:

Useless hope,

Flower of grief,

Why do you persecute me

in my loneliness?

Why don’t you let me

Drown my sorrows

In the bitter cup

Of reality?

Why don’t you kill me

With some heartbreak?

Why don’t you wound me

With cold indifference?

Useless hope

If you see that I’m fooling myself

Why don’t you die

Why don’t you die

In my heart.

I’m told that was one of the favorite songs of a Mexican shaman, and I can understand why. It speaks of the hope that refuses to give up, the hope when there is no rational reason to hope. In Buddism, one of the vows of the Bodhisattva was “Although the number of sentient beings is greater than the grains of sand on the beach, I vow to enlighten them all”. Now there’s some seriously useless hope for you … for the shaman, it was the hope of becoming an impeccable spiritual warrior, a useless hope for any of us even at the best of times.

Useless hope is keeping going, on and on, when you really, truly don’t think you’ll make it. Useless hope is the old prospector’s dream of finding El Dorado that drives him to go prospecting one more time, even though he’s spent a lifetime searching and has little to show for it. Useless hope is the novitiates quest for the personal experience of the Ineffable Grace of whatever God he or she worships, knowing how flawed we all are and the true odds of success …

Useless hope is not reasonable. It is not amenable to logic or circumstance. Useless hope is rooted in defiance, intention, and implacability. Useless hope has no pity and no compassion, it cannot be coaxed or cajoled into changing.

Useless hope strikes me as peculiarly human. If you stop feeding animals at a certain location, they go somewhere else. Useless hope laughs at the animals, and sticks around.

So I wanted the trip to be a celebration of useless hope, of folks shooting for unattainable goals … and as is the nature of intention, that’s exactly what it turned out to be. And at the end of my trip, what is my hope for everyone, useless hope or otherwise?

Well, my hope is that your life be full of sunlight far-reaching down a river gorge, with a warm day, a good friend or a gorgeous ex-fiancee to laugh and play music with, and the time to enjoy some of our too-few days here on this most amazing planet.

My thanks to the ex-fiancee in question, she’s been a bulwark of strength in my life. She is totally competent and practical, has a Master’s Degree in Nursing and certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner, plays guitar and sings harmony, and has put up with a sailor and a fisherman and a wandering rogue for more than three decades now … huge props to her.

And it’s hard being married to a traveling man like myself, I know that. Example in question. Tomorrow morning, Friday, I’m off to speak in Knoxville at the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness meeting. Back Monday night.

Then when I found out about another opportunity two days ago, that generous woman gave me a leave of absence from my domestic duties, I’ve postponed my work, and I’ve signed on as first mate on a motor boat delivery, a 45 foot (14 metres) converted fishing boat, from Vancouver Island down to southern Oregon. It’s a week or more of a run, port-hopping down the coast … I get back from Knoxville on Monday night and leave Wednesday morning at 6:30 for Vancouver. The plane goes by way of LA, go figure.

the sea routeAnd through it all that good lady smiles and wishes me well when I go, and welcomes me home when I return … as the old English song has it …

“God send every mortal man,

Fine hawks, fine hounds, and such a loving one!”

I’ll pass on the hawks and hounds, but I’ll definitely take the rest …

Posting will be as and when for a while, as you might imagine.

Regards to everyone, friend and esteemed opponent alike,


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July 24, 2014 11:25 pm

Damn,damn,damn. I just left New Westminister 3 weeks ago,after months there doing some counselling (I’m I shrink). Don’t go back until September. New West is only 15 minutes by Sky-train east of Vancouver.Sure would have loved the chance to meet up with you,Willis. And I actually prefer Missoula over Whitefish,being from Alberta and all. Good luck on your trip.

July 24, 2014 11:29 pm

Another beautiful travel tale, Willis. Washington State also does not consider hydro to be renewable even though our hydro has its roots in Washington, Hawaii (via the Pineapple Express), BC, and Alberta, Canada. That is a lot of rain year after year to ignore as a strategic and reliable resource. The reason it is so considered is if you have bountiful renewables such as we have you get no federal money. You have to po’ hand your damn self in DC to get money for really stupid things like wind generators on a bluff above the Columbia river – a visual oxymoron if ever one existed. So we make it up – rain is not the norm in the Pacific North Wet. If I lived in another state I’d pitch a bitch about Washington sucking up federal tax dollars under fraudulent conditions. It’s a total scam.
Thanks again for an excellent ride-along spiced with hooking up with a WUWT contributor. That alone would have been worth the drive.

July 24, 2014 11:43 pm

“The gorgeous ex-fiancee”, how many more times we have to hear this thing?

Joe Public
July 24, 2014 11:46 pm

Thank you for this episode, Willis.
A very enjoyable read.

July 25, 2014 12:00 am

I always take it as a good sign when I see squirrels in town. It’s a measure of the aggressive, adaptive nature of life.
;P More than you know, perhaps. Fox squirrels (Sciurus niger) were introduced into Missoula, Bozeman and other towns in the area apparently at least 40 years ago.

July 25, 2014 12:06 am

I passed through the Columbia Gorge at night, on June 29, all the way from Portland to Umatilla. The wind farms are just weird at night. They all have a blinking red light, all of which are on the same timer, so you see this broad expanse of synchronized blinking red lights, with some flickering as a blade passes by. Somewhat otherworldly, but no less an eyesore than the daytime desecration of the arid gorge palisades…the basalt columns forever marred by the huge white pinwheels.
But what really grossed me out was the extent of the wind havoc….as viewed a week earlier from US97 southbound from Yakima, across the Columbia and through Biggs Junction…and up onto the eastern pediment of the Cascades. Shredders as far as the eyesore can see. That beautiful broad expanse saturated with turbines. What a mess.

July 25, 2014 12:06 am
July 25, 2014 1:02 am

“Jari says:
July 24, 2014 at 11:43 pm
“The gorgeous ex-fiancee”, how many more times we have to hear this thing?
Well,she is an ex-finacee. I just happen to have an ex-fiancee living with me. What’s your bug?

July 25, 2014 1:07 am

Thanks Willis.
Reading your adventures makes me want to put on my traveling shoes. It’s only a matter of time.

Joel O'Bryan
July 25, 2014 1:20 am

you missed Crater Lake NP. Was there at the lodge on June 3rd, watched the ISS move for over 1 min directly overhead S-N at mag -3 at 10pm. The next morning, the lake’s water was so calm people at the lodge kept thinking there were jet skis driving in perfect straight lines across the water. What they were seeing were overhead jet contrails perfectly reflected off the blue sky above.
The 8000′ crater is of course all that is left after a volcano blew 4000′ off its top 7700 years ago. That event undoubtedly gave some nice sunsets during a warm period in the holocene.

July 25, 2014 1:20 am

I knew about the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon from this.
Sure that you know it, Willis
Grand Coulee Dam
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie
Well, the world has seven wonders that the trav’lers always tell,
Some gardens and some towers, I guess you know them well,
But now the greatest wonder is in Uncle Sam’s fair lang,
It’s the big Columbia River and the big Grand Coulee Dam.
She heads up the Canadian Rockies where the rippling waters glide,
Comes a-roaring down the canyon to meet the salty tide,
Of the wide Pacific Ocean where the sun sets in the West
And the big Grand Coulee country in the land I love the best.
In the misty crystal glitter of that wild and wind ward spray,
Men have fought the pounding waters and met a watery grave,
Well, she tore their boats to splinters but she gave men dreams to dream
Of the day the Coulee Dam would cross that wild and wasted stream.
Uncle Sam took up the challenge in the year of ‘thirty-three,
For the farmer and the factory and all of you and me,
He said, “Roll along, Columbia, you can ramble to the sea,
But river, while you’re rambling, you can do some work for me.”
Now in Washington and Oregon you can hear the factories hum,
Making chrome and making manganese and light aluminum,
And there roars the flying fortress now to fight for Uncle Sam,
Spawned upon the King Columbia by the big Grand Coulee Dam.

July 25, 2014 1:22 am

Awesome, Willis.
Regarding fences and bison, my wife has a relation in Montana who has some bison on his ranch, and he said he saw one of them standing beside a 6′ fence and then jumping over it “in one bound” as you might say. His bison fences are 7′ high. He started keeping them because he wanted to try beefalo, but found he ended up with animals that inherited the worst temperamental traits of both bison and cattle, and were more trouble than they were worth.

July 25, 2014 1:27 am

You’ll have to put up with it for as long as you keep visiting here.
The description is 100% accurate, BTW.

Joel O'Bryan
July 25, 2014 1:32 am

Mike Bromley the kurd wrote:The wind farms are just weird at night. They all have a blinking red light, all of which are on the same timer, so you see this broad expanse of synchronized blinking red lights, with some flickering as a blade passes by.
They blink at 1/2 Hz. They use GPS time to sync, light ON the odd sec, then OFF the even second, usually. damn smart those engineers.

July 25, 2014 1:36 am

I admire your energy! I do recognize the value of travelling for the sake of travelling, but I have not much motivation. Washington is Twin Peaks territory, so there is at least one place that I absolutely must visit.
BTW you make a very good point about silence. It is golden, indeed.

July 25, 2014 1:40 am

“highway overpasses for cows …”: we have those too in the wild cowboy country of southern England – though I’ve never seen one as handsome as the one in your photo.

M Courtney
July 25, 2014 1:54 am

Sixth or Third Eye (top base of the nose) – Kuh-e Malek Slah, Iran

Somehow, I doubt the local authorities are quite so accommodating of the eccentric spiritualties there.

July 25, 2014 1:57 am

Spanish typo: every “porque” (because) should be “por qué” (why?).
[Fixed, thanks. ~ mod.]

Dario from Turin
July 25, 2014 2:08 am

I envy you, Will…. I’ve been up there back in ’99, but just from Sacramento until the Russian Coast.. a lot of REALLY beautiful places….

Greg Goodman
July 25, 2014 2:31 am

Willis: “You can barely make it out, but there are windmills along both cliff edges on both sides of the river”
If they are generating electricity there’s every chance they were wind turbines. Windmills , as the name suggests are for milling grain. Here’s a couple of photos to help you tell the difference. 😉

July 25, 2014 3:22 am

Glastonbury Tor is in Somerset. Shaftesbury in in Dorset some 25 miles away.

July 25, 2014 3:44 am

Joel O’Bryan – agree re Crater Lake, stayed there with our son-in-law’s parents after our daughter’s wedding in Portland Or. some 7 years ago, absolutely beautiful. I’m blaming it on the rarefied atmosphere but I managed to get incoherent just on the red wine at dinner in the Lodge!
I’m from the UK but we are regular visitors to Seattle, where our daughter lives, and Portland. The Columbia river is stunning.

Mickey Reno
July 25, 2014 4:32 am

Thanks, Willis. I love your description of the Columbia gorge and glacial U-shaped valleys. Any climate scientist who says current conditions cannot be explained by natural variation needs to spend more time contemplating the forces that until just recently (in a geologic sense) formed the landscape through which you traveled.
Here are a couple of links that do a good job describing some of the geology of the Scablands and the Clark Fork River:

July 25, 2014 4:43 am

Damn. Knutsfordian beat me to it. It’s definitely not in Shaftesbury.

July 25, 2014 5:29 am

Thank you Willis. I always enjoy your travelogues. I had the good fortune to travel by ship down the Snake and Columbia Rivers last year, from Lewiston/Clarkston (ID/WA), through the Columbia Gorge and all the locks on the rivers, to Astoria and Cape Disappointment at the Columbia bar. I was and still am in awe of the size and capacity of the river. The grain barges carrying wheat from the Palouse are about 82 feet wide, and the locks are about 84 feet wide. The trip was a wonderful experience, and I have great memories.

Allan Short
July 25, 2014 5:44 am

Great story, however, 30 miles is not 20km, but approx 50km, to get km from miles divide by 3 then times 5. Have to do that every time I drive in the US.

Alan Robertson
July 25, 2014 6:46 am

Another fine travelogue comes to an end. Thanks Willis. While nothing we might build would rival the beauty and majesty of the natural world, in a way, you’ve again shown us that the most inexplicable curiosities that we might encounter result from the minds of man.

July 25, 2014 6:55 am

Moderator: OT Comment
Willis Eschenbach,
In a comment in a WUWT July 5 article you offered to try to overlay your “Net CO2 FLUX” chart with the “GLOBAL GREENING” chart from Dr. Spencer’s ICCC9 presentation. I have a contact at CSIRO who has the Global Greening data file and has offered to provide it.

Matt Skaggs
July 25, 2014 7:39 am

Enjoyable as always. If we build enough wind turbines, we might be able to take out one of the dams on the Columbia and open up 30 miles of mainstem salmon spawning habitat. With the smaller dams, the value of the fish would exceed the value of the electricity. Not sure why anyone would be against that. That is also why the western states don’t consider hydro as a renewable in the calculations, only the largest dams are economic producers compared to the salmon spawning habitat they destroy. On an unrelated topic, I’m pretty sure the image of volcanoes shows Broken Top on the left, South Sister in the middle, and Middle and North Sister as one massif on the right.

Ian L. McQueen
July 25, 2014 7:52 am

Thanks for the travelogue of a part of the continent that is far from where I live (eastern Canada). Very different terrain.
I’ve been a couple of weeks in CA (travelled north to south and probably saw 2% of what’s available) and once drove a friend’s car from Albuquerque to Grand Canyon when the speed limit was only 55- terribly slow!!! But the canyon was beautiful.
And I’ve seen tumbleweed- even hit a bush with my rented car in CA.
Verbal diarrhea off
Thanks for the look.
Ian M

Mike H
July 25, 2014 7:53 am

Brought back some memories and good God I hate those wind turbines along The Gorge. Not only because they wreck a beautiful landscape but they are air boats. i.e. great big holes in the air into which we pour money.
Very jealous of your upcoming boat journey. Hopefully the weather holds and you get a gorgeous trip down the Georgia Straight and out Puget Sound.
I have stolen your “gorgeous ex-fiance” label and applied it to my “gorgeous ex-fiance”. I’ll never tire of it.
Be safe.

Joe Wooten
July 25, 2014 7:58 am

Well then Matt, why don’t you folks build 7 or 8 more nuke plants to replace all that eeeevvviilll hydro power and then you can destroy the dams and let nature go back. Just make sure to use direct cooling for them to keep the river warm in the winter.
The CirclebarW ranch will gladly sell you some AP1000’s………

July 25, 2014 8:00 am

Thanks Willis! Enjoyed your travels vicariously. Drove some of those same roads in OR, WA, ID, and MT many years ago – brought back memories.
Never heard about the Anunnakis until recently when a friend sent me a link, and now I know all about the Lemurians. Go figure that there are people that believe that Lemurians live inside a hollow Mt Shasta – but there are people in this world that believe almost anything.
Had to find out more about them:

Pamela Gray
July 25, 2014 8:11 am

I truly wish that lovely couple could have stayed a bit in Wallowa County. We are at the beginning leg of a salmon run of tremendous proportion which will engorge the little Lostine River (class 5 during the Spring melt) all the way up into the South Fork canyon. So thick you can walk across the river on their backs. The waters are glass clear and cold which allows an unencumbered view of life and death. In the deeper pools the buck salmon fight each other while the hens watch. Every once in a while a hen will make a pass along the gravel beds they have been preparing, which send the bucks ‘en masse’ chasing her to see if she is going to lay eggs. But these practice runs are just that and soon the fighting matches begin again. This game of fighting and chasing goes on almost uninterrupted by Sun or moon. As the time grows close you can see steelhead begin to gather, waiting for dinner (they love fresh fish eggs). Before the salmon succumb to their efforts, they stand guard over the fertilized egg patches to chase away hungry steelhead as best they can. It is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen or heard, having camped next to the best observation site and listened to the night time drama for several days.
Maybe next time.

Craig Moore
July 25, 2014 8:21 am

If you long for a peek at Whitefish and the Flathead valley there is this. http://skiwhitefish.com/favorites/web-cams/ I first skiied Big Mountain during 1957 when there was only a T-bar, poma, and a rope tow. It has changed. I blame it all on a fantastic climate.

July 25, 2014 8:30 am

Jari says:
July 24, 2014 at 11:43 pm
“The gorgeous ex-fiancee”, how many more times we have to hear this thing?
For Willis’ sake I hope a very long time.

July 25, 2014 9:04 am

Matt Skaggs,
One of the problems with taking out dams on the Columbia is that power generation is only one of the useful functions they serve. Another major function is evident in Willis’ account. Do you recall Willis mentioning the port in Lewiston, ID? Shipping is viable as far inland as Idaho due to the Columbia and Snake having been made navigable thanks to the dams and their accompanying locks. If the dams are removed, the cargo that currently travels by water will instead have to move by way of truck and train, which is considerably more inefficient and expensive. As an alternative, the last few decades have seen great improvements in managing the waterways to improve salmon success without dam removal.

July 25, 2014 9:35 am

Matt Skaggs says:

Something so stupid it is not worth repeating.
No wind or solar farm will ever replace true 24/7/365 generation. The grid would collapse if there were no hydro or fossil fuel power to fill in when the wind stops after the sun goes down. See more at energy generation in Hawaii for an example of how renewables increases consumer costs without removing fossil fuel generation. In those places where wind/solar are given preference to the grid the result is to kick fossil fuel efficiency in the gut by making those plants run below maximum efficiency. It probably does not occur to many greens that fossil fuel generators cannot be shut down and brought back up when clouds come and go, or when the tradewinds fail for an afternoon.
On the north shore of Kauai there is a Pelton wheel generating plant that is still needed after 100 years of operation. A major upgrade away from flyball governors to digital control has extended the useful life of the plant indefinitely. With 40″ of rain annually, reliably renewable, it produces some of the cheapest energy in the Pacific.

Pamela Gray
July 25, 2014 10:09 am

I would like to see Matt estimate the amount of land needed for wind turbines to replace just one Columbia River dam. Matt, which land species do you want to decimate in exchange for letting fish swim up a natural river instead of the fish ladders they easily navigate?

July 25, 2014 10:11 am

Yes, horses eat a lot, and they also “produce” a lot. 15 to 30 pounds of manure per healthy adult horse per day, if I recall. But if the wind wasn’t blowing from the pasture into your campsite, it shouldn’t have been much of a problem. 😉

Pamela Gray
July 25, 2014 10:13 am

In addition Matt, which city do you want to be removed due to the renewed threat of Spring floods? And which group of farmers do you want to remove from their land and their livelihoods putting food on your plate? Those dams brought prosperity to four states. Which state do you want to send into an economic tailspin?

July 25, 2014 10:26 am

The City of Mt. Shasta is definitely a rather different town. One really interesting place to visit is the Shasta County Museum west of town on the far side of I-5, down in the valley. The museum is next to what I believe is the oldest operating fish hatchery in California. If you like really big trout, you can see them there. The hatchery also attracts a large number of avian visitors including bald eagles, osprey, golden eagles, and ravens.

July 25, 2014 11:20 am

Pamela Gray says:
July 25, 2014 at 10:13 am
In addition Matt, which city do you want to be removed due to the renewed threat of Spring floods? And which group of farmers do you want to remove from their land and their livelihoods putting food on your plate? Those dams brought prosperity to four states. Which state do you want to send into an economic tailspin?

As far as farmers being “removed from their land” maybe you want to talk to some of the descendants of ranchers forced out of Owens Valley by the DWP. The Owens Valley is a desert now, but it wasn’t before. I went to college with a woman whose grandfather went to prison trying to protect the water supply to his ranch in the Owens Valley. Right now farmers in the Delta are trying hard to “stop the tunnels” that Jerry Brown thinks are a great idea. The only real gain they offer is to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. With tunnels in place, there would be no threat of taking in brackish water and sending it south during dry periods when the river flows drop and salt water pushes inland. The water in those tunnels would be from the big dams upstream. It may very well be that we are all going to be trying to decide what region to toss into an economic tailspin.

July 25, 2014 11:25 am

There’s a caboose motel in Dunsmuir CA, near Mt. Shasta.

Bill Pasons
July 25, 2014 12:15 pm

We are all “Pend d’Oreilles” when it comes to another Eschenbach travelogue. Thanks Willis.

Mark L.
July 25, 2014 12:45 pm

Re: “gorgeous ex-fiancée”. I refer to mine as “my first wife”. PS – – the fires were on the dry side in central Washington, one near Chelan and the other near Winthrop.

July 25, 2014 12:58 pm

July 2, 1997 – My “Big Sky” memory of Montana.
We were staying at the 320 Ranch (mile 320 on Hwy 191) a little north of West End, Yellowstone. There was a dance at the clubhouse that night. My wife and I (who met on the dance floor) and prefer blues-swing went expecting a Country Western night. The band played a variety of music with a rich mix of pop-rock and blues so we were pleased. Then in walk about a dozen couples carrying shoe bags. It was a club of dancer’s that follow this band around, with good reason, even if it is an hour out of town. For me and my wife, it was a night of “Jack and Jill”s, swing-dancing with perfect strangers who share a common language at 90-120 beats per minute. A marvelous evening.
Toward midnight, we headed back to our cabin. I got about 100 yards down the walkway to a clearing, looked up, and stopped in open-jawed reverence. The STARS!
The day had be stormy, a little cool. Along about sundown, a warm front came through and blew away the weather. Now at midnight, no moon, 9000 feet elevation, clear air, mild temperatures, no forest fires, no haze, the nearest city was Bozeman, MT 50 miles away, — not a cloud in the sky — except for the clouds within the Milky Way that bisected the starry dome above. Superb definition of the Milky Way.
I grew up in semi-rural Colorado. I have seen dark skies, but I have lived in cities and low elevations for too long. I have never been in a more perfect night for star gazing. The times you can see Magnitude 4 stars are few, but they were visible that night.
It reminded me of the Asimov 1941 sci-fi short story, “Nightfall” (600 KB pdf) where a civilization that lives in a multi-sun system never sees a night sky except for a one in 1000-year eclipse. The shock of a night-sky filled with stars is too much for the psyche to bear.
“You are here.” You are a part, a very small part, of something very big.
Big Sky Country. Big Dark Sky.

July 25, 2014 1:10 pm

On Wednesday there was a major lightning storm here in the north Okanogan. I watched as a massive bolt struck Mt. Hull across the Okanogan River from my front window. It was followed by smoke from the fire it just lit. Thankfully there had been a huge deluge minutes earlier and everything up there was wet. That fire went out after about 10 minutes, but a second fire very close to the first got the attention of a helicopter crew. Couldn’t tell if they put assets on the ground, but that fire was out after about 30 minutes. This is 5 miles from the Canadian border on Hwy 97. 15 miles south near Tonasket the politically incorrect and since renamed Siwash fire expanded quickly. Water bombers from Canada were flying between the fire and Lake Osoyoos for much of the day to the great cheers of those of us on the ground watching and that fire was blocked from becoming another disaster like the Carlton Complex fire. Fires move quickly and not always contiguously depending on opportunity. The smoke from all sources was particularly nasty, and pervasive.
Willis’s travels took him into the Scablands which is a topic worthy of the 6 hours of reading it requires to understand, but it represents the worldly change that takes place when the largest lake in North America drains to a pond in two weeks time. One interesting point being the area that would become Portland, Oregon was under 300′ of water and ice, and glacial erratics were dropped onto future farmlands by ice rafts well south of Portland. The area around here (Oroville) has several barn-size erratics in various locations. When you see these honest examples of historic catastrophic climate change you look at the current situation and go hmmmmmm.

Pamela Gray
July 25, 2014 2:38 pm

Wallowa County is also sprinkled with black speckled white granite erratics too big to move with anything else but heavy equipment with a big front loader. They not infrequently were used as boundary markers, some even engraved with the specs. Up close and disturbing evidence of a time and place that left humans clinging to just the threads of life.

July 25, 2014 3:22 pm

Willis, did you take any pictures of the hunting gloves?

July 25, 2014 3:52 pm

PS: That caboose motel near Mt. Shasta also has RV hookups.

July 25, 2014 8:25 pm

Willis, a great story of a wonderful road trip. That “Cow Bridge” you saw on the Flathead Reservation is actually part of an intricate system designed to keep native deer and elk off of our front bumpers. You drove over many underpasses along that route that direct animals safely to the other side. The tribe had placed game cameras in a couple of the tunnels, and almost every native critter has used those tubes. I told my dad, ( who is a Tribal Elder ) that we should get someone in an ape suit to make an appearance on those cams.

July 25, 2014 10:28 pm

Matt Skaggs beat me to it. From south to north it is indeed Broken Top, South Sister, Middle Sister, and North Sister.
I highly recommend spending the night at the Crater Lake Lodge and getting up before sunrise to bundle up and sit on the porch and watch the sun come up over the lake. Breathtaking.
If you’re interested in pristine, glacier-scoured valleys, I suggest a trip to Steens Mountain in the outback of far southeastern Oregon, and marvel at Kiger, Big Indian, and Little Blitzen gorges. Not a “V” to be seen anywhere.
Believe it or not, before the days of the Columbia River dams (after Bonneville), towboats pushed barges up and down the river. There were locks at The Dalles, but the captains were adept at running the rapids upstream and downstream. I was unaware of this until I saw an Oregon Public Broadcasting film entitled “Sagebrush Sailors.” Hair raising.
The power of the Lake Missoula floods that carved the channelled scablands of eastern Washington and created the Columbia Gorge is unimaginable. What’s equally interesting is the story of geologist J. Harlen Bretz, who back in the 1920s posited the floods and held his ground against the “consensus science” of the day. Bretz eventually won out, and his chief opponent and antagonist, a fellow by the name of Gilluly, had the grace to admit how wrong he was. (Not holding my breath for same from the warmenistas.)
Great travelogue, Willis!
As I’ve said before, there’s nothing like a road trip in the Great American West.

John F. Hultquist
July 25, 2014 10:57 pm

Salmon and fires
The first is great roasted over an open fire. Anyway, had salmon last night and today at lunch on the PCT north of Snoqualmie Pass while doing some trail work. As Pamela mentioned, the salmon are in abundance in the region’s rivers. The one given to me came from just downstream of Chief Joseph Dam – near Brewster and Pateros, the region of some of the worst fires with many homes lost. Another large fire was NW of Leavenworth.
Since our more local fires nearly chased us out 2 years ago we keep track of fire activity with MODIS in Google Earth. Go to
Then Fire Data in Google Earth
Then under the USA map, click on “Current”
Washington has had a weather change with rain and the fires are subdued for now.

July 26, 2014 12:02 am

My neighbor gave me a salmon a couple days ago. It was caught near Brewster that morning and made of a delicious dinner. Planked and grilled in the Big Green Egg. Heard tonight the Carlton Complex fire is only 50% contained and the high pressure zone over BC is going to bring the high temperatures back. Really bad timing for that.

July 26, 2014 9:28 am
July 26, 2014 10:24 am

Willis I don´t know you but you may know my hear!!! I just finished this poem and I offer it to you! Why? Because today I was walking by the beach thinking about this poem and as I researched Google to learn more about the relationship btw sea waves and the moon I found YOU&YOUR WISDOM!!! Soooo I hope you enjoy it.
Walking by the beach
Listening to the relationship between wind- water-waves
Focus on the rhythm they follow endlessly through time-space…
One long wind sound
Followed by one short wind sound
One Splash of water sound…
What needs do they meet?
The first need
Rhythmically repeat themselves infinitely
The second need
The weather may change
The wind may blow faster & stronger
The waves may go high
When they calm down they return to the same rhythm again… again… again…
Back to certainty
Back to intertwined silence & wind sound & water sound-splash
The third need
The wind feels significant when it wins and controls the power of the water
The water feels significant when it recognizes and acknowledges the wind´s power
The fourth need
Love & connection
Wind loves water & water loves wind as the female & male eternal dance
They stay connected endlessly…
They became ONE
with nature…
The firth need
Ask this powerful question and… let the MOON answer it
The six need
Aside from tsunamis the eternal marriage between wind&water has contributed to the beauty of waves in all costal areas of the planet we live in.
How about WE?

July 26, 2014 10:37 am

Willis I don´t know you but you may know my heart!!! I just finished this poem and I offer it to you! Why? Because today I was walking by the beach, thinking on how I could write this poem. As I researched Google to learn more about the relationship btw sea waves and the moon I found YOU&YOUR WISDOM… Soooo, I hope you enjoy it.
Walking by the beach
Listening to the relationship between wind- water-waves
Focus on the rhythm they follow endlessly through time-space…
One long wind sound
Followed by one short wind sound
One Splash of water sound…
What needs do they meet?
The first need
Rhythmically repeat themselves infinitely
The second need
The weather may change
The wind may blow faster & stronger
The waves may go high
When they calm dawn they return to the same rhythm again… again… again…
Back to certainty
Back to intertwined silence & wind sound & water sound-splash
The third need
The wind feels significant when it wins and controls the power of the water
The water feels significant when it recognizes and acknowledges the wind´s power
The fourth need
Love & connection
Wind loves water & water loves wind as the female & male eternal dance
They stay connected endlessly…
They became ONE
with nature…
The firth need
Ask this powerful question and… let the MOON answer it
The six need
Aside from tsunamis the eternal marriage between wind&water has contributed to the beauty of waves in all costal areas of the planet we live in.
How about WE?

Mickey Reno
July 26, 2014 11:02 am

Thanks to Michael Fox and DP for their comments about the Scablands. You’ve inspired me to elaborate.
Harlan Bretz was indeed the first scientist to claim that the Scablands were formed by the actions of unusual amounts of fast flowing water as opposed to exclusively by slow flowing ice. But he didn’t propose a mechanism for such floods. He was ridiculed by the consensus of the time, which “knew” that Earth’s geology was created by slow, steady changes (uniformitarianism), not by cataclysmic, sudden events. Although many individuals disagreed with this, just like today, there was a price to pay if you bucked the consensus. It was uniformitarianism that, in knee jerk fashion, dismissed the hypothesis of an impact event causing the Jurassic extinctions. It was a similar form of collective hubris which insured hostility and closed-mindedness towards the theory of continental drift and plate tectonics, even though that hypothesis fit nicely within a slow and steady change preference. Consensus in science is almost always a corrupting force. It supports those experts who have a vested interest, and those who “know” things only in a gnostic, occult sense. It allows self-serving politics, peer pressure and group-think to take over debates in which they have no business.
Bretz knew he’d be ridiculed for his idea. He probably soft peddled the idea of a massive flood in his first paper, saying only that water was involved. I have no proof of this, but I can imagine him doing this in order to soften up what he knew would be prejudice against it. In his second paper, he introduced the idea of a massive flood. But he was still without an explanation of how or why such a flood could happen. There were other scientists of the time who understood about Lake Missoula, who knew that features high on the hills outside of present day Missoula were recently created by wave action. Another scientist, Joseph Pardee, in the mid 1920s, after first ridiculing Bretz, redeemed himself by doing what a good scientist does. He reconsidered his position. He made additional observations and did additional research. He was the person who suggested to Bretz to join the idea of massive Scablands flooding with glacial damming of the Clark Fork, and Lake Missoula. He deserves some credit, as do those scientists and naturalist who had previously quantified the highly variable and maximum sizes of Lake Missoula, which probably formed and reformed a number of times.
This story even has a great example of how, just like in the current climate debates, scientists within the Federal bureaucracy used literature reviews and cherry picking to attack what they viewed as incorrect science. This was primarily done by using Pardee’s original criticism of Bretz’s work, while ignoring his follow up work and conversion to being a flood proponent. This is just like the AGU and Royal Societies using consensus as a bludgeon, today, to apply peer pressure and discredit any idea that threatens their pet theories, their funding, their status or their egos.
In the end, Bretz had the last laugh. He came up with the best explanation of events. His hypothesis is now theory, accepted by almost everyone as THE explanation of reality. Pardee, originally a critic, did what good scientists do: he regained his curiosity, presumed his own ignorance, and endeavored to learn. He went out into the field and made more observations, did further research and analysis, and ultimately, added to human understanding or reality. He redeemed himself.
This isn’t just an interesting story of perseverance of Bretz and redemption for Pardee. It’s also a cautionary tale. Posterity won’t remember, except in derisive terms, the work of the knee-jerk scientists who poo-poohed Bretz based solely on a belief in in consensus and the infallibility of a consensus. Paul Erlich, Michael Mann and James Hanson (to say nothing of Lewandowsky, Cook and Nuccitelli) will not be remembered fondly by posterity. If they care about that, while it’s too late for them to act like Bretz, maybe they could behave more like Joseph Pardee.
Now there’s nothing left to do but imagine the valley in which Missoula, Montana sits, submerged under 1000 feet of water, as part of a giant reservoir, created by a glacial dam, which extends far upstream and well into the Bitterroot Mountains, containing as much water as Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, combined. And now imagine that dam suddenly failing and all that water draining to the Pacific in only a few days! The idea takes ones breath away. Imagine the destruction of wildlife and fauna, perhaps even indigenous human settlements or camps, the scouring away of soil across thousand of square miles. Imagine Eugene and Portland Oregon far under water as part of the flood plain of this cataclysm. My favorite feature epitomizing this flood is called Dry Falls. You can see a picture of Dry Falls, other photos, and the story of the Bretz, Pardee, and the evolution of the scientific debate here: http://www.detectingdesign.com/harlenbretz.html

July 26, 2014 11:38 am

Thank you, Mickey Reno, for your excellent elaboration on the Bretz floods. I wrote my comment late at night and was running out of gas, so I didn’t mention Mr. Pardee.
Indeed, Dry Falls, in eastern Washington, is one of my favorite features, as well. If I’m not mistaken, even though this massive feature is called a “falls” today it actually was created by a volume and level of water that would be considered a “rapid” rather than a “waterfall.”
One niggling correction to your fine post: I believe the flood waters over Portland that came up the Willamette Valley to Eugene reached an elevation of about 400 feet above today’s sea level. The part of Eugene that’s south of the Willamette (before it finally turns north) is above 400 feet. Were Lake Allison extant today, I’d be looking out over its shallow, southernmost reaches (flooding the Valley River Center shopping mall) as I type this, as my home is on the Willamette, and sits at about 414 feet (according to Google Earth). Now, _that_ would be something to see!
Kind regards,
Mike Fox

Mickey Reno
July 26, 2014 1:10 pm

geez, the wildlife AND the fauna? No, not both of them! I need a proof-reader.

July 26, 2014 4:56 pm

Another vehement critic, James Gilluly, not only redeemed himself, he did that very rare thing and confessed his error.

By the mid-1950s Bretz’s interpretations could no longer be ignored. Increasingly, geologists decided to visit the scablands region to see for themselves. Astonished by the sheer magnitude of the flood features at places such as Palouse Falls, Wash., long-time critic James Gilluly commented: “How could anyone have been so wrong.” The report of a 1965 geologists’ tour concluded that Bretz had been right.

Here’s an excellent introduction to our unique history: http://www.iafi.org/
The depth of the water is confused, I think, by references to elevation vs water depth above ground level. The surface of temporary Lake Allison was at about 400′ above sea level. Portland’s average elevation is about 100′. The Lake Missoula floods is one of the greatest stories on earth. By far. There is a motorcycle ride with maps, on line, called RATSO (Ride around the Scablands and Okanogan) that takes in much of the stunning evidence of the floods and the Cordillerran ice sheet artifacts that were left behind. If you don’t have a Harley then a car will work. When you see this stuff you will have an honest sense of proportion regarding real climate change.
On a side note and to explain my interest in the Pacific North Wet, having been the first born on Jan 1, 1946 in Portland, I am Portland’s oldest baby boomer. That and a Starbucks card will get me a cup of coffee. I have a 2″ square piece of the Portland Oregonian new paper printed that same day that announced my birth. That is a really old piece of paper 🙂

Elizabeth Westphal
July 26, 2014 7:50 pm

Great travelogue! You write effectively about the natural & cultural wonders you see. I recently read your piece on Burning Man 2012 as well. Are you, by chance, going this year?

July 26, 2014 7:53 pm

Willis: we were in Whitefish the last two days. Surprised you did not put Glacier NP on your agenda. We rode the red bus tour which was great, a cold front went thru and there was fresh snow on top of the mountains.

July 27, 2014 7:12 am

Willis, you live near the southernmost extent of Russian America.There are many place names in Northern California that derive from Russian. And most people don’t realize it. Among these are Sebastopol, Berryessa (берёза, birch), and even Shasta (счастья, fortune, good luck). The Russian River was named Slavyanka, and the Okhotsk River was renamed the American River.
The Russian America Company explored the region more extensively than most people know.
Google search these keywords: kuskov kotzebue shasta schast’ia

Keith Sketchley
July 27, 2014 2:13 pm

No, no Willis – the overpass is for Elk. 🙂
(OK, perhaps cattle there – but several on the freeway through Banff National Park are for wild animals.
And on the Coquihalla highway in BC there may be underpass tunnels – certainly are high fences with one-way gates in them so animals who do get on the highway can get off.
Their effectiveness may be less than perfect, given what an airport in AK experienced. Arriving to open in the morning, maintenance staff found a moose on the inside of their marvey high fence.)

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