Category: The Environment and more

What a sweet place for a picinic lunch. I learned to eat by the roadside back in the '60s ...  Mom always packed fixings for yummy roadside lunches.

What a sweet place for a picnic lunch. I learned to do this back in the ’60s … Mom always packed lunch to eat along the road.

Sleeping Beauty Land…  starting to enter the land of fantasy, from wide valleys to tree studded icy peaks amid lakes, rivers and gaining elevation. If it hadn’t been too costly to take the Inside Passage Ferry from Bellingham, WA with my little LT, I would likley not have been on this road. Some years ago I’d toured the Ferry Station looking longingly at the dock remembering the family trip to Alaska…  I’d wanted to go again, the feeling so strong I almost broke open my wallet to see if I could gain passage. The office was closed or who knows, maybe there would have been a cancellation and the dogs and I (at that time Olympia and Mason) might have hopped on board. As things were where I was, troubles were industriously laying themselves in my path, even weary, achy, tired and sad I didn’t know yet that I would cancel my passage. I was determined.

A walk at a rest stop

A quiet walk at a historical marker and lake.

Spent the night in Terrance at a truck stop after rejecting the Walmart parking lot. Some idiot started a huge bonfire of heavy smoke in the nearby provincial campground…  seemed the entire woods were sputtering in a noxious plume. I can’t breathe that stuff esp since the time my father’s house exploded in the Oakland Hills, CA fire.  I’d foolishly gone to explore the ruins (there wasn’t anything left but a bathtub and the foundation,) apparently doing so damaged my lungs and sinuses …  my head ached, sinuses throbbed, ears went on strike, I was tired, thoracic outlet painfully cramping my fingers adding worries about permanent damage ….  I was weary. I wanted easy joy and laughing fun; instead I was failing at biting my tongue, trying to keep silent or  making a panacea come out of my vocal cords; no matter how I tried the results made things worse. Guess I’m not good at focusing.

Carpets of Yellow

Near Frasier Lake, Fort Fraser Post which was later absorbed by the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Along with Smithers there were lots of beckoning waysides. I considered a side trip to Fort St James National Historic Site but as with the majority of attractions it would not open until June 1st. Different circumstance I would have seen more; this trip was about the road which I enjoyed and things close to the road.

The Bark Beetle  Please take a look at this link and the attached research pages!  Dead trees are everywhere! By the time you see an evergreen turning yellowish-orange brown, that tree has died. I have read that distressed trees give off  a certain distinctive scent (maybe a use for my Truffle Hounds to search these out?)

Mountain Pine Beetle

Mountain Pine Beetle

It’s not drought alone that causes a distressed forest. Lack of water is only one factor; pollution, heat stress, altering seasons and other causes exacerbated by rapidly changing climate give opportunity for explosive outbreaks of the beetles and sometimes fungus as well.  This is nature at work. How will this massive tree die-off effect the balance of life? Should nature be left alone to change and adapt, should forest management be intensified? In whatever way you feel, dying trees are an indicator. Look around you, the environment is changing at a rapid pace. Take a walk in your neighborhood and places you visit; listen, look, observe and study. What action will you take? How will you adapt? How will you teach your children? How will you interact with your neighbors or the cries of those far away? Will you mourn silently or not at all? How will you be with food and water increasingly expensive or not available? fires? rough weather? unrest? diseases? Is it time yet to stop arguing and start working together…  yes? If not, then when?


The road I traveled

The road I traveled

Poem by William Stafford, Atavism

Yeah! I’m in Placerville at Lee and Craig’s! The dogs are loving it. Early morning was heralded by wild barking, there were my three Lagotto doing super fast zommies  and ‘squishies’ (I just made that up for the way the dogs wiggle themselves into anything wet) in the grass drenched from the sprinklers… to SO CAL folks, remember those things, sprinklers and green lawns? They still have them here. Mason has the biggest happiest grin on his face, chasing and exploring and snuggling in laps. I love seeing them so happy. Not sure Zak is not entirely pleased with his houseguests, a few snarls here and there, sure can’t blame him will all the energy running around. Be we do thank him and Tobey.

Dogs Running in Grass!

Dogs Running in Grass!

Before I tell you abut the drive up I have to tell you that the L.T. is back to that old, running too hot syndrome. You know that issue, I’ve had fixed 2, 3, 4 times already. And why my Ford died too….overheating….

Going up the Cuesta Grade  on Hwy 101 it happened. I could not believe it!!! I looked and looked but there it was the heat indicator rising way too much , I was driving slow and easy. For those that don’t know I’ve already replaced radiator, water pump, thermostat at least 3 times, temperature sensor, hoses, fan clutch pulley ….. and did you guess it? These are the symptoms, runs too hot when going up a steep hill, cools when downshifting into a lower gear and instantly (almost instantly) drops back to normal temp just after the crest of the hill starting down. No radiator fluid is lost. Yes, It’s the fan clutch itself!

Pups in the RV

Pups in the RV

I was lucky to find a shop open on a Saturday here in Placerville, and on Mother’s Day weekend … Happy Mother’s Day Mom! … Dave’s Master Automotive    I see they’re also on Facebook. Dave greeted me and has been very helpful getting to the root of the trouble, he’s doing everything he can to get me back on the road as soon as possible. I will be delayed a little because the part has to come from the warehouse. Dave says he will start getting the old one out bright and early Monday morn so that when it arrives he can just pop it in. Total price including labor and tax for fan clutch and thermostat will be $361.99.

Other than the heat of my engine and the pups wanting to stop at every Rest Stop and Park they could see, the drive was marked by it’s dryness. Southern California didn’t get a Spring this year, it seems more like late July. Here’s what I saw on the signs staked in  farmer’s fields for us motorists to read along Hwy 5.

I started noticing these after passing the Harris Ranch and Feedlot in Colinga … the cattle seemed a little less crammed as in past times.  I could almost fantasize they had just a tad bit of enjoyment of life before their slaughter…. what else could I do, I couldn’t take them with me.

Near Harris Ranch off I-5

Near Harris Ranch off I-5

Congress Created Dust Bowl …. I looked and looked but could see no dust just orange and purple hills… orangey scrub with occasional bouts of lime mustard and dark green plants. The crops were a bright green.

Stop Politician Created Water Shortage …. Hmmm everything but the crops looked really dry, so politicians are in charge of rain, snow and moisture now? Okay doky

No Water, No Jobs = Higher Food Prices   That almost make sense, but if there’s no jobs to grow the food, shouldn’t it be the no water and no jobs equal no food!

No Water = Higher Food Costs

Set the Delta Pumps Working. Join the Fight….   Was this about the environmental issues back in ’07, probably not. There’s an article in the LA Times about the over pumping for the Central Valley groundwater creating a crisis…. This then is what these signs are about, not the drought per se but about the wells causing the land to subside, irrigation canals to crack, roads to buckle and more importantly the aquifers to shrink which is exactly about the drought and BIGGER PICTURE…  the climate is changing like it or not.

I want to point out right here an odd thing I discovered at the rest stop just before the Harris Ranch as I was heading North. The toilets. There are a lot of toilets in heavy use at the rest stop. We all agree it’s dry, there’s a lack of water from the sky…. Right? Everyone can see that for themselves? So why then given all the pumping of the ground water and the dried out conditions of the flora and the thirsty creatures are the toilets swishing one might presume nonstop, willy-nilly?I didn’t want to stay that long. In the time it took for me to use one of those toilets, the tank flushed itself over 4 times and I could hear the other toilets going as well. I even thought it was one of those candid camera things … toilets out of control! But I stray… How can it be possible that anyone cannot notice their environment?  You can read the Times article, right here   I’m not going to give a lecture on water tables but you should know how they work.

I did have a few moments of wondering what if, as I passed Modesto. What if I had accepted the job at the Council of Governments and been part of the failing effort to clean up the Central Valley… one of those homes would be mine, my life would have gone in different ways… would my friends still have died, would I have my dogs, would I still be alone? Would I have still been there, fighting… err I mean working for cleaner air, water, pollution control…ad nauseam

I’m very short of sleep from fussing with my overheating LT… at least it was not leaking nor short of water itself. So more later on the state of water. For the rest of today I’m relaxing, enjoying my friends and watching my dogs play. I wish very much I could read one of those books I’d been saving for my trip but I left them all at home! Anyone suggest a good read? I have my kindle with.

It’s been a little over a year since I’ve traveled in the LT. I think my readers know why. Now that I’m almost ready there is a sense of calm, perhaps it will be different tomorrow or the next day when I start remembering everything I’ve forgotten! I have still much to do…. today is waxing the RV, one last trip to the vet, sorting through clothes and my “to do” list . . . yesterday I cleared and restocked the LT’s pantry, took all the cooking and eating stuff to the kitchen for a washing and dragged everything back fitting it all in place. The floors are clean with new rugs, the cupboards are clean, much of the dog gear is safely in my storage shed ready for the trip after this one.

I added phone service for Canada . . btw if you do this with a cell phone it’s easy as long as you have an International capable phone. I added Canada for $15 a month which I will cancel on my return. There is one catch which I just happened to know from another trip when I was near the border. If you have your cell phone set to global roaming it may well roam on over to the Canada side and start amassing International minutes, I suspect sans notice if you’ve already added Canadian service. To stop that Verizon had me change Global network to LTE/CDMA; I will change it to Global after I cross the border and then back to LTE/CDMA in Alaska, and so on. I don’t want to be surprised by a huge phone bill!

I’m finding so many want to hear of this trip and wish me well, I have quite a list now of folks wanting to be crammed into my luggage….it’s gonna be a tight fit! Maybe some of you can go on the roof?

One of the things I will be looking at will be the effects of the climate on the land, it’s creatures and communities at least that which I can observe from main paths (I’m not prepared with 4-wheel dive, technical instruments or equipment for wilderness exploration…. another time who knows?) When I was a student at UCSB Geography, studying Earth System Sciences we knew that Alaska like the sea floor here in Santa Barbara are key indicators of change. It should be obvious that there are now longer melt seasons, less sea ice, and longer journeys for marine mammals needing food.

I am out of practice of observing what I see, perhaps you too? Do we just accept our environment like watching a movie, a real life drama, something that has little to do with us and our daily lives? Do you remember a time perhaps when you were a child when everything was a great discovery? When you asked the question, why.

polar melt stop

From the web : polar melt stop


I will be looking at how the trees lean, how the land slumps, for newly formed pools and lakes of meltwater on one hand and on the other for shrinking wetlands, of course at diminishing glaciers. On the drive up and back, I will be looking at the apparent health of the trees, for signs of dryness and insect attack, for dirty rivers, for towns that are growing or shrinking, for happiness or stress.

Perhaps I will see some effects on the economy or in the numbers of wildlife, fires of course I hope not to see but I may see evidence of large burns, more drought, unpredictable weather, less snow, variable temperatures, unusual winds, an altering of seasons and changes in flora and fauna.

Arctic Fox: from Cool Animals of Alaska

Arctic Fox: from Cool Animals of Alaska

Don’t forget I post links for you guys out there …  just click on them. If you find any that don’t work or you don’t like send me a message.

Video on Alaska Climate Change

Climate Change in Alaska

A more detailed explanation
here is a 50 min. video / lecture from Professor Jack Murphy at Humboldt State University. It’s worth watching, just like a classroom intro lecture.