Tallest Totem Pole

On Saturday, 7 March, I trekked south to the Portland area to visit my parents and do some sales-tax-free shopping. As I drove south on the I-5 freeway past the town of Kalama, I glanced to my right at a towering totem pole near the Columbia River waterfront. That pole has been there for years, but I have never stopped to have a closer look and I determined to investigate on my return trip.

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This morning, we got a call from the mechanic in Toledo, saying he was done with the scheduled maintenance on my car. Always conscious of my 365 challenge on Flickr, I took my camera. After getting the car, DH went on home in the truck and I headed for South County Park.

Just across the Cowlitz River from Toledo, South County Park is centered around a former gravel pit that is now a lovely 14 acre pond. It is stocked with fish, has a public boat ramp (though I have never seen a boat in the pond), and has four fishing piers which are also good for watching the resident waterfowl.

This local gem has a paved footpath and I never fail to enjoy myself when I stop there. I tend to forget about it and drive elsewhere to enjoy parks and photograph waterfowl. Why is that?

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Portlandia is a 35-foot-tall hammered copper statue.  Portlandia is a satirical TV series.  To my mind, Portlandia speaks to the ecclectic culture of Portland, Oregon.

According to Wikipedia, Portland is “known for its abundant outdoor activities, liberal political values, and beer and coffee enthusiasm. Portland is home to a large number of independent microbreweries, microdistilleries and food carts that contribute to the unofficial slogan ‘Keep Portland Weird’.  In comparing Portland to New York City and San Francisco, Lonely Planet writer Becky Ohlsen said, ‘Something about how cheap and isolated Portland is, allows oddballs to explore odd behavior without being squished by economics or the harsh judgment of fashion people.'”

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Drawing a Line in the Sand

Drawing a Line in the Sand

Have you ever drawn a line in the sand?

Line in the Sand on Pinterest Reina Robinson
(found on Pinterest, posted by Reina Robinson)

Have you ever said, “The line must be drawn here.  This far, no further!”


If you haven’t, maybe you should.
If you do it often, maybe you should reconsider.
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White Pass to Yakima

White Pass to Yakima

I have a long-standing love affair with the seasons of transition:  spring and fall.  In springtime, I would say it is my favorite season, but when autumn arrives, I contradict myself and say, No, autumn is best.  On October 16th, the autumn day flaunted all it’s glory for the enjoyment of any who cared to notice.  And I did care to notice.

I left my home in west central Washington and drove east on US-12 over White Pass in the Cascade Mountains to Yakima in the east central part of the state.  The sky was blue, dotted with cotton-ball clouds.  The leaves were turning color.  And the apple harvest in the Yakima Valley was luscious.

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Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

Ridgefield NWR is located on the Washington side of the Columbia River between Vancouver and Woodland.  Unlike most other refuges, this one is a drive-through wild area.  With few exceptions, visitors are required to stay in their cars and drive a 4.2 mile loop through grassland, woodland, and marshland.  The refuge utilizes dikes, canals, and pumps to simulate the seasonal water level changes that used to happen before dams changed the Columbia River.

Ridgefield has thousands of migratory bird visitors as well as many year-round residents.  Because of that, and the seasonal water level changes, there is always something different to see.  I make a point of visiting there three or four times a year, so you can expect to see more photoshoot blogs starring the birds of Ridgefield in the future.

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Update: Grassroots Political Activism

Last week, I wrote of my thoughts about taking a public stand on a local school bond measure.  I very much appreciate the comment that Calpoppy posted and it really got me to thinking more positively about taking that public stand.  (link to previous blog:   Grassroots Political Activism)

My husband and I did quite a bit of research since I posted that blog.  He checked into direct mail postcards.  I checked into the legalities of political advertising with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission.  He found out that we could have a mailer printed on 6×9-inch card stock for around $300 and that the postal service has priced DDDM (Door to Door Direct Mail) service very reasonably so that mailing costs for our ZIP code would be around $300 as well.  Nowhere, though, could either of us find a map or other indicator of what area is served by the Toledo school district.  We know that the high school, at least, draws from a larger area than just Toledo, but how large an area?  Husband learned, for example, that students in the nearby town of Vader have a choice of attending either Toledo or Winlock high school.

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Grassroots Political Activism

There will be a school bond measure on the ballot where I live in rural western Washington.  If it passes, local property taxes will increase by about $600 per year for the average home in this area, about a 33% increase.  In round numbers, the school board wants to spend $23,000,000 on improvements and upgrades to a high school that has 300 students.  When I first read about this, in a mailing sent out by the school district last spring, I was stunned.  Since then, there has not been an editorial in the local weekly newspaper.  No further mailings.  No campaigning.  Nothing.  I find that amazing.

People in Washington state vote by mail.  Ballots will be mailed out in a couple of weeks and the deadline for voters to mail them back is November 4.  Since voting can and does happen over a two-week period at the end of October, the time for political advertising and mailers happens about a week from now.

I happen to feel that amount of the proposed bond measure is outrageous for the size of the school.  The property tax increase to pay for school improvements will last for 30 years and — who’s kidding who? — long before that bond is paid for, the school district will have need for further special funding.  Because of my strong feelings, I have been giving thought to putting out my own mailing or newspaper ad to campaign against this bond measure.

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Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

Low tide is the best time to visit Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, located near Olympia in northwest Washington state. Conveniently for me on the day I visited, that happened at 12:30PM. I arrived at noon and explored the refuge for 3 hours.

Just as I set foot on the boardwalk that would take me through a riparian forest, I spied a snake that I had never seen before. Later research at home revealed that it is a subspecie of garter snake, the Puget Sound Garter Snake. Nothing to fear; it is not poisonous.

Puget Sound Garter Snake, Thamnophis sirtalis pickeringii, seen at near the parking lot at Nisqually NWR.
Puget Sound Garter Snake, Thamnophis sirtalis pickeringii, seen at near the parking lot at Nisqually NWR.

I was able to get only a couple of quick shots of this handsome snake before a young girl came tromping along the boardwalk in the opposite direction and nearly stepped on the snake.  I yelled.  She jumped.  And the snake darted back under cover.

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