Saturday, August 29, 2015

Too Much Smoke — And Pelicans!

It's a little hard to tell how smoky it is from this picture, until you realize that Lassen Peak, the central feature of the Lassen Volcanic Center and Lassen Volcanic National Park, should be easily visible just to the left of the distant part of the highway. Here's what this same view looks like on Google Street View (or see the next-to-last photo of this post).

Yes, it's been very smoky in northern California this summer, as it has been in many places across the west. These particular photos were taken on August 21st, when I just happened to drive down the right roads in the right direction, i.e., westerly, so it was easy to notice that Lassen was essentially missing.
Mt. Harkness is on the far right; Kelly Mountain is a little left of center.
Lassen should be where the faint smudge is in the photo above, immediately to the left of Kelly Mountain.
Here, a little farther down the road, Mt. Harkness is on the horizon on the very far right, just above the highway; Kelly Mountain has disappeared below the the sloping, forested horizon. Lassen would normally be standing out just near the center of the photo (Google Street View location).

Kelly Mountain *might* be part of the far, outlying flanks of the older, larger volcano known as Mount Tehama, but *might* is a speculation on my part, one not based on much geologic research (or any mapping!).

The road took me by an overlook of the northwestern end of the hazy, smoky Lake Almanor. The lake is very low for this time of year; it has nevertheless been host to lots of pelicans, egrets, Canada geese, and many other waterbirds including occasional sightings of blue heron, and the often ubiquitous coots.
Six pelican swim away from me above the lower left blue patch; two egrets stand like symmetrical statues toward the right.
I could see Lassen Peak clearly on August 24th; the photo location approximates that of photo #1.
Lassen Peak looms above the darker, tree-covered Kelly Mountain, from a location close to photo #2.
A Bit More about Lassen Peak & Mount Tehama:
Where in the West: Lassen Peak — LFD
Remembering Lassen Peak’s Last Blast, 100 Years Later — Eruptions
The Volcano That Wasn't There, and Two That Were... — Geotripper
Interlude: "Lateral Blasts of Great Force"  — Rosetta Stones

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Road Song: Rockin' in the Free World

Neil Young: Rockin' in the Free World (lyrics)
Album: Freedom, 1989

This is technically a road song because it mentions streets twice and roads once, and because the video that came out with the song also shows a lot of streets. It's a rather dire song — quite appropriate today IMO — but it is not the sort of song I think of when heading out on the open road. (The open road in the west is often a dirt road, and who knows where it will be taking you when you leave the pavement.)

This came into my playlist again (not that I really have a playlist!) when Trump decided it was an appropriate campaign song. Maybe he though it was pro-USA; who knows. It isn't, and maybe he's figured that out by now.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

El Niño Near Long Valley Creek, Lassen County, CA

I've got a few more pictures from that rainy May day, the 21st, when MOH and I were on what was really the first leg of a trip to Colorado and back.
A downpour over unnamed hills just off the north end of the Bald Mountain Range and just south of Beckwourth Pass. Photo taken May 21st, 12:44 pm.
Looking up Dinwiddie Arm (of Long Valley Creek?) into the area of Roberts and Coulee Canyons. Mount Ina Coolbrith, with summit at 8051 ft (2454 m), is the long sloping mountain in the mist; Little Haskell Peakat 6135 ft (1870 m), is the dark hill on the far left.
More hills in the foreground, more peaks of the Bald Mountain Range in the background, as the downpour continues.
Note in these pictures how green everything already was! It's been a green spring because of the unusually rainy May, though I haven't noticed any particularly unusual areas of high wildflower density. It is starting to brown up now, with the halogeton and tansy mustard being the last to fade to brown, although bushes such as sagebrush, rabbit brush, and fourwing saltbush are still plenty green.

These particular photos are all from Long Valley in Lassen County, and they were taken from the south-bound lanes of Highway 395 between Hallelujah Junction, CA, and Border Town, NV.

Related Posts:
El Niño at Honey Lake
The Beginning of an El Niño Trip: North-Central and Western Nevada

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Watering Hole Bites the Dust: Water Hole #1

Water Hole #1 in Golconda, Nevada — a bar made famous in the late 1970s by an industrious pig, Waterhole Ike — closed sometime within the last two to three years, before I had a chance to stop by and check out their beer collection.
Water Hole #1 and attached grocery store in March, 2015.
The bar and store during better times: June, 2012.
Zooming in on the bar.
Note the boarded-up windows.
A view of part of the motel next door.
The rest of the motel.
Part of the motel in June, 2012.
Read more about Golconda and Waterhole Ike:
A Visit to Often Overlooked Golconda - Backyard Traveller, Rich Moreno
Waterhole Ike - Howard Hickson's Histories
The illustrious past of Golconda -
Mike's Water Hole - FB page

And, by the way, the stories about Waterhole Ike remind me of a story told by a former colleague of mine, who — back in the old days — once saw a pig walk into a bar up in northern Idaho (or maybe it was Montana? or Colorado??). The bartender or a friend of the pig grabbed a beer (can or bottle, I'm not sure which; brand, I'm not sure of that, either), opened it, and held it for the pig, who immediately guzzled it. The colleague, rather dumbfounded by the incident, asked about this phenomenon and was told that the pig saunters in to the bar about the same time every day and has a beer. (Story verified by another former colleague.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

El Niño at Honey Lake

After our brief stay at The Nugget during the first part of our journey last month, we made a brief foray north on Highway 395, then quickly retreated southward along the same road. When we stopped at the Honey Lake Rest Area, it was raining hard in a localized but intense shower.
Looking across the partly muddy Honey Lake toward the Skedaddle and Amedee Mountains; May 21st, 11:56 pm.
Well, no that looks like a bit of hail!

As a bit of reference, the next photo was taken two weeks later when things had greened up and clouds were still prevalent (they are currently mostly out of the picture--it's summer!). That's the same mountains, same tree, different phone pole.
Photo taken June 4th, 2:38 pm.
The nearshore part of the lake in its northwesternmost lobe is considerably greener than usual in these pictures. Beyond the nearshore green swath, which grades into a brown, muddy-looking patch, a dark line and another green patch marks an area where water has been standing off and on this past year.
Photo taken June 4th, 2:37 pm.
A seagull poses for its picture, May 21st, 12:02 pm..