Saturday, September 17, 2011

Observations Along the Road: Seattle to Edmonton and Back

The route and major stops:  Seattle - Colville - Kalispell - Glacier National Park - Waterton-Glacier - Fort McLeod/Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump - Calgary - Edmonton - Jasper - Osoyoos - Seattle.  This trip was about 2400 miles in ten days with 4 nights in Edmonton.  The beauty of the North Cascades Highway, the majesty of the Rocky Mountains, the weirdness of rural Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alberta, and British Columbia , and the strangeness of urban Edmonton, all in all made for an interesting swing through the West and Pacific Northwest.

Here are some notes I made along the way:
 The Mountain Pine Beetle seems to be marching across the Cascades, is in evidence throughout Glacier, and in parts along  Blewett Pass, WA.  If the dead trees we saw were not the result of the beetle, then something else is causing huge swathes of trees to look grey and dead. If you look carefully at the photo below, you will see grey trees.
Glacier National Park

The orchards of gala apples in the Okanogen valley were plentiful and beautiful.
There is plenty of evidence that Omak, WA is anti-government country.
From Colville to Usk to Newport (the latter two places are also in Wales!) the hay was looking good.  Washington hay is highly prized, especially in Japan.
Somewhere between the middle-of-nowhere Washington and the middle-of-nowhere Idaho, we saw a drive-through convenience store!
Driving through the magnificent beauty of Alberta, all I could think about was the Rape of the Athabasca Oil Sands and the Plundering of the Arctic Tundra.

In Jasper, the mountains are so steep, the pine trees have had a tough time taking hold:  they were marching up the slopes one tree at a time.  See photo below.

We had the opportunity of staying at the Observatory B&B in Osoyoos, BC and having a tutorial on the night sky as seen through a 16" telescope.  The most beautiful sight was a close-up of the moon at night and the sun in the morning.  Below is the photo taken by Jack Newton of the sun and seen by us.

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