Monday, July 25, 2011

Aracata Marsh

A visit to a water treatment facility is not usually high on my bucket list but the Arcata Marsh is an exception.
It is actually only the last part of treatment that was of interest but when we looked at the exhibits in the visitor's center, I found the whole process to be of interest.
In 1979 the city of Arcata embarked on a project to take land that had been used for dumping, pasture and a logging deck and turn it into a marsh and wildlife sanctuary that would be the final stage in the water treatment process.
The plan worked so well that it is now a model for waste water treatment.
Once the waste water has worked its way through the treatment marshes and is dumped into Humbolt Bay it meets or exceeds the Federal clean water standards.
In the process it provides prime habitat for birds and other wildlife

 We were there when the bird activity was at its lowest but we still saw quite a variety.  The marsh is on the Pacific Flyway and looking at the bird list I can see that the best time to visit is during migration.

If you are interested in the waste water process, you can learn all you would ever want to know at their website.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gray Whales at the Klamath River

On our way to Klamath, California we stopped at a visitor center.  Along with brochures we received the news that a Gray Whale and her calf had been feeding in the Klamath for two or three weeks near one of the campgrounds.  Was it the one where we had reservations?
You're looking the wrong way!
 Yes!  The whales were swimming up and down in a circuit of about a tenth of a mile, ending in front of the campground.

It is hard to get good photos of whales.  They tend to look like an amorphous blob and are about the same color as the water on a gray day.  As with all animal photography, it is good if you can get the eye and here I did.
At times they were on the surface to breath.
Then they would submerge and be invisible for several minutes.
Gray whales are bottom feeders.  They feed in shallow water, rolling on their side to scoop mud off the bottom and then forcing the mud through their baleen with their long, strong tongue.  Then they lick the small tube worms and crustaceans off the baleen and scoop up some more.
The calf came up and briefly rested its head on the mother's back.  It gave a good view of the mouth, the eye at the corner of the mouth and the blowholes.

Find more watery views at Watery Wednesday, hosted for us by 2sweetnsaxy.

If you are nearby and the whales are still there, here is a link to a map of the viewing area.  Only registered campers are allowed in the campground but there was good viewing from the road.

More information about gray whales.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Why I Love Our Roadtrek

We camp with a van conversion, sometimes they are called a "caravan".  It is small, built on the body of a 15 passenger Chevy van and it can go almost anywhere.
We had no trouble making this sharp turn into a campground on the Klamath River but the driver of this large motorhome had a problem.  She didn't turn wide enough and her hitch caught on the asphalt.

We all waited while a tow truck operator banged out some asphalt and jacked up the coach until the driver was able to make the turn.

It was well worth the wait, though.  It turned out that a female Gray Whale and her calf had taken up residence in the river right by the campground.  More about that tomorrow.

 That was part  of my world last week.  For more views of our world check out
That's My World, Tuesday, hosted by Klaus, Sandy, Wren and Sylvia

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Tioga Road

Part of the easiest route to our cabin is still closed due to snow and a second route is congested due to construction; we decided to drive through Yosemite and over the Tioga Road.
We passed Yosemite Creek, several miles above where it will leap over the cliff and become Yosemite Falls.
We passed Olmsted point (I took this shot last year).  Looking east we see Tanaya Lake.  To the west, on a clear day, is a view of Half Dome.
Olmsted Point is the most dangerous part of the road to clear of snow in the spring.  Deep drifts and steep drops make it necessary to go slow and watch for avalanches.  A few years ago a plow operator lost his life and the park service doesn't want a repeat.  This year, due to the heavy snow pack, it didn't open until June 18.
When we stopped to admire the view at the top of Lee Vining Canyon I saw this plaque.
I am not surprised that it is considered a civil engineering masterpiece.  I can still remember when I was a child and this part of the  road was still one lane dirt with turnouts.  I could feel the stress and tension in my father and I hid on the floor of the car.  There were no seat belts in those days.
Turnout at the top of Lee Vining Canyon looking back up the road.
The road is now much improved and much safer.
The view down canyon towards Lee Vining
It is still hazardous, though.  One year we were stopped for several hours.  A motorist had gone over the edge and taken several motorcyclists with him.
Some places it just wasn't possible to level out a roadbed so they improvised.  Those who don't like heights might want to avoid this road.  It's no longer legal to hide on the floor of the car.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Smart Phone; Dumb Driver

California is my world and California has a law requiring hands free cell phone use.  When I saw this woman fiddling with her smart phone I expected that she would soon break the law by putting it too her ear.  No,  she kept fiddling; texting (also illegal)? game? internet? I don't know what she was doing but at 50 mph I wish she had been paying more attention to her driving.

See more of our world at That's My World, Tuesday, hosted for us by Klaus, Sandy, Wren and Sylvia.