Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Wedgewood Rock

Around and around the Wedgewood Rock we go . . .

A few days ago we took another leaf out of Janice Krenmayr's book "Footloose in Seattle," published in 1966 by the Seattle Times containing a compilation of columns she wrote about walks to take and things to see in the city, and went to visit the Wedgewood Rock a glacial erratic.  This huge rock is 80 feet (24 meters) around and 19 feet (5.8 meters) high with an estimated weight of 700 metric tons.  It was moved 55 miles from Mount Erie to the present location by the Vashon Glacier 14,000 years ago.  Prior to the European settlement of the region in the mid 1800s, Native Americans used it as a landmark in what was then a dense forest.  Since the early days it has been known variously as Lone Rock, Big Rock, and today Wedgewood Rock.  In 1881 William Weedin's 160-acre farm was its home and the site of at least one 4th of July picnic that was mentioned in the Seattle Daily Intelligencer newspaper.  Weedin's property passed to Mary Miller, the widow of William Miller a ally of the Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens, in 1888.  

In the early 1900s when the rock was known as Big Rock the Miller family gave permission for members of the Seattle Mountaineers Club to practice rock climbing there.  Students of Edmond S. Meany, president of the Mountaineers and a professor at the University of Washington, were brought to the rock to learn about glacial movement and land forms.  Both Wolf Bauer, a German-born climber and scout leader, and Lloyd Anderson founder of REI brought Boy Scouts to the rock to teach them about rock climbing.  Two prominent climbers, Fred Beckey and Jim Whittaker, started their training at Big Rock.  Whittaker later went on to become the first American to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

The Miller family was able to keep the land around the rock undeveloped until the 1940s when the land was sold to a developer, Albert Balch, who promised to preserve the area around the rock as a park but then failed to keep the promise.  In 1946 a group of citizens petitioned the City Council in an effort to preserve the area as a park against Balch's wishes, but failed.  Today the rock sits a little apart from the neighboring houses not in a park but in a residential area.  The space, kept clear by local residents, is not really large enough to be called a park but does still have a few trees and some brush. The rock itself is mossy and at times is said to have licorice ferns growing on it.

A popular destination for picnickers, university students, climbers and eventually hippies the Seattle City Council, in reaction to perceived drug use, eventually passed an ordinance in 1970 making it a crime to climb the rock with a $100 fine.  There was a small amount a graffiti on part of the rock when we visited but gardeners were busy cutting the grass and keeping the space neat and clean so I imagine the graffiti gets removed from time to time as well.  The rock is so huge it hard to imagine the depth of the ice and the amount of force the glacier must have had to move that boulder so many miles to its final resting place on 28th Avenue NE near NE 72nd Street. 

For more information, see:
"Footloose in Seattle," by Janice Krenmayr

Thursday, March 26, 2015

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 187

Tillamook Bay, Oregon, 1933

Tillamook Bay is located on the Oregon Coast Highway about 75 miles west of Portland, Oregon.  The postcard was published by Wesley Andrews, Inc. of Portland, Oregon and was sent to Petra Lee in 1933 by her friend Hilda who was taking a trip. Note the "W A" logo in the center on the reverse of the card.  Bell Studio is credited with the photograph that shows a sunset view of the bay.  The card looks a little like a linen card but it does not feel like one or have the fabric grain that linen cards do.  It has the number 959 at the upper left and is still a penny postcard as indicated by the one cent Franklin profile stamp.

Charles Wesley Andrews was born in 1875, in Aurora, Ontario, Canada.  He established his first photo/postcard studio in 1904 at Baker, Oregon.  He is best known for his pictures of the Oregon Coast.  In 1905 there was a World’s Fair in Portland honoring the Lewis & Clark Exposition for which over 450 different postcard designs were published.  This was near the height of postcard popularity and Andrews was one of several card publishers in the area.  For a while he also published the Morning Democrat.  In the 1920s he moved his studio from Baker to Portland where he died in 1950.  He had sold the postcard business to Herb Goldsmith sometime before his death. 

Here in the Pacific Northwest Tillamook is best known for Tillamook Cheese, a natural aged cheddar that has routinely won awards from the American Cheese Society.  It is possible to visit the factory and take tours that also allow for some tasting of the various cheeses made there.  The company has produced a video explaining the process and a link is provided below for any who want to check it out.

Tillamook Bay is protected from the open ocean by shoals and a sandbar (Bayocean Peninsula) and is also surrounded by the Coastal Range except where the town of Tillamook is situated at the southeast end near the mouths of four rivers (Kilchis, Wilson, Trask, and Tillamook).  The name in Salish means “Land of Many Waters” probably referring to the rivers that enter the bay. 

It is believed that native people arrived in the area around the year 1400.  When Lewis and Clark arrived in the early 1800s they estimated the native Salish tribes population at about 2,200.  Captain Robert Gray was the first known American to arrive at Tillamook.  He explored the surrounding areas in 1788 at first thinking he had landed at the Columbia River.  Following a hostile encounter with the local population that resulted in the deaths of a crew member and several natives, Gray left after only one week.  About 60 years later in 1848 Elbridge Trask began a settlement here.  His journey overland and the trials of early settlement are chronicled in the historical fiction by Don Berry known as the “Trask novels” series. 

For additional information, see:

video cheese factor tour:

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lake View Cemetery

Seattle, Washington’s Lake View Cemetery established in 1872 is one of the oldest cemeteries in the city.  Many of the early Seattle pioneers are buried here, as is Princess Angeline, the daughter of Chief Seattle (Si’ahl) for whom the city was named.  I have two sets of grandparents buried here and visit once and a while but I had never been when the cherry trees were in bloom.  There are far more cherry trees in the cemetery than I thought and they rival those on the University of Washington campus for beauty and display.

Bob has a two volume set of little books entitled “Footloose in Seattle” written by Janice Krenmayr published in 1966 by the Seattle Times.  It is compilation of newspaper columns she wrote as she walked around the city and although lots of things have changed it still offers plenty of suggestions, history, and interesting facts about places to visit within the city.  Lake View Cemetery was one of the places in the booklet.  Since it said that one of the highest points and best views of the city could be found in the cemetery we decided to go, check out the view and see if we could find some of the pioneer graves.  As the photo above indicates the trees were in full flower and gorgeous.  This cemetery is like a park and a delight to walk through looking at the historical monuments and markers.

The gravestone of mother’s adoptive parents, I.C. and Petra Landaas Lee is just beyond the second curve as one enters the cemetery gates so we began our walk in that direction working our way up to the top of the hill and from there back down the other side making a giant loop and seeing most of the grounds.   From the Lee’s marker we could see more of the cherry trees including a very large tree quite close to their resting place.

I.C. Lee & Petra Landaas Lee

Once at the top of the hill we did find the graves of early pioneer Henry Yesler, Princess Angeline, Arthur Denny, a founding father of the city, and his family, and the Watsons of Bonney Watson funeral home.  I liked the green feet on that monument.  We took a photo of the view from the top of the hill.  There are a few Lepsoe’s buried here also.  The Lepsoe family had engaged Petra’s sister, Maggie, in Norway as a Nanny and traveling companion in 1892 when they came to America.  The oral history suggests that they were somehow related to Karen Landaas the mother of Maggie and Petra. 

Henry Yesler family

Princess Angeline

Arthur Denny family

The Watson family

Lepsoe family

View from the top of the hill

Two special trees:  a Giant Sequoia, above, and an ornamental flowering tree, below, not yet in bloom with interesting pruning and twisty branches.

Our loop walk brought us to the other family grave, that of Dick and Clara Lorig Thompson, my mother’s biological parents.  Mom’s sister, Lorraine, passed away 23 February 2015, and I was thinking of her also when I placed these roses on the stone for their mother and father.  Like Mom, Lorraine was a lovely woman of grace, talent, and beauty.  Both sisters together now with their parents and both missed by me and others.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 186

Dry Falls, central Washington

The used card pictured above shows Dry Falls in central Washington State as photographed by C. B. Ellis and published by the Ellis Post Card Company of Arlington, Washington, mailed in 1991.  During the last Ice Age water cascaded over these walls, five times the width of Niagara Falls, in huge torrents making it larger than any other known falls and thought to have been the greatest waterfall that ever existed.  Using models it has been determined that the water would have been traveling 65 miles per hour through the Upper Grand Coulee and over this 400 foot rock face.  The estimated flow is ten times the current flow of all the rivers in the world combined.  Today Dry Falls is a 3.5 mile long “scalloped precipice” at the head of the Lower Grand Coulee.

Glaciers moved south across North America nearly 20,000 years ago causing an ice sheet that made a natural dam flooding a significant part of Montana forming a gigantic lake called Lake Missoula.  During the same time period another ice dam formed on the Columbia River making Glacial Lake Columbia.  Eventually Lake Missoula rose so high that the dam gave way causing a cataclysmic flood spilling into Glacial Lake Columbia and then down the Grand Coulee.  It is thought that this flooding probably happened dozens of times during the years of the last Ice Age.  The “sudden flood put parts of Idaho, Washington and Oregon under hundreds of feet of water in just a few days.” 

When the ice melted at the end of the Ice Age the river returned to its normal levels and left Grand Coulee and these falls dry. 

There is an Interpretive Center at Dry Falls in the Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park located near the town of Coulee City.  A Discover Pass is required for parking but admission free. 

Additional information can be found here:

Friday, March 13, 2015

Fawn Lily

Fawn Lily bud

Last year we went to a Native Plant Society sale held in late Spring and while there purchased a few plants to put in pots on the porch.  My selection included yellow-eyed grass, trillium, bunch-berry, stream violets, wild ginger and a fawn lily.  There are plenty of squirrels in my neighborhood and they will dig up bulbs and eat them so the great fear was that they would get the fawn lily bulb.  The lily had already bloomed when I bought it so there really was nothing to see above the dirt and I just had to wait until it was ready to bloom again to see if it survived.  Yes!  It was exciting to see it poking up and getting ready to bloom.  Here are some photos showing the waiting beginning stage, seen above, and the full bloom, below.

A cousin to the brighter yellow Glacier Lily and the white Avalanche Lily that are found at higher elevations the pale yellowish Fawn Lily can grow at sea level.  The Fawn Lily has a mottled leaf pattern, the other two have plain green leaves.  All three bloom early and go dormant in mid summer.  The flower un-curves at night and the petals re-curve during the day to get the most exposure for pollination.  I am not sure how many days the lily will be in bloom but it is gorgeous today.

Just beginning to open

Open but not yet re-curved

In the afternoon, fully re-curved

Thursday, March 12, 2015

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 185

 Newgrange interior, County Meath, Ireland

This interesting photograph is of the interior of Newgrange, a prehistoric monument that dates to around 3200 BC or about 5000 years ago and is located near the River Boyne in County Meath, Ireland.  The card was published by the Office of Public Works, Ireland and sent by a friend in 1995. 

The exterior is a large circular mound with a stone passageway to the interior chambers.  There is a retaining wall at the front that is ringed by 97 engraved kerbstones.  The interior can only be visited as part of a guided tour.  Newgrange is particularly noted for the way the winter solstice sun illuminates the interior chamber at sunrise through a roofbox above the passage entrance.   There has been speculation that this site has some ancient religious significance as it is aligned with the rising sun.  Newgrange is the most famous monument in this region but there are two other similar tomb mounds, Knowth and Dowth that form this UNESCO World Heritage site.  It shares many similarities with other Neolithic constructions in Western Europe. 

After the original users left Newgrange it was sealed for hundreds of years although it was remembered in Irish mythology and folklore.  Archeological excavations took place from the 17th century beginning with a farmer who ordered a stone removed from the mound that uncovered the entrance.  Michael J. O’Kelly is responsible for the most extensive recent efforts.  He reconstructed the front of the site in 1970.  His book, “Newgrange:  Archaeology, Art and Legend” was published in 1982 by Thames and Hudson and is about the work undertaken between 1962 and 1975.  Today Newgrange is a popular tourist destination and is regarded as a great national monument in Ireland. 

The mound is built of alternating layers of earth and stones with grass growing on top.  There are flat white quartz stones together with large rounded cobbles studding the mound at intervals.  The interior passage is 60 feet (19 meters) long and goes about one third of the way into the mound.  There is one large central chamber and three smaller chambers that branch off from it.   These smaller chambers are thought to possibly be burial sites.

There is carved rock art in the form of circles, spirals, arcs, chevrons, radials, parallel lines etc. for a total of ten different design shapes.  Archaeologists believe the carvings were made prior to the stones being put in place.  The people who lived here grew crops and raised animals.  Their tools would have been made of stone, wood, and bone. 

Coins, pendants, and rings dating from Roman times have been found in the mound indicating that there was interest in Newcastle for many years. 

Now I am curious what this mound, the mounds in Marietta, Ohio and the one we saw in Evje, Norway have in common. 

For more information, see:


Thursday, March 5, 2015

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 184

 Legoland, Billund, Denmark, 1982

The postcard shows children riding in Lego cars at Legoland, Billund, Denmark and is from 1982.  The card is slightly damaged but still clearly shows the top and bottom borders with the familiar Lego connecting circles found on all Lego Bricks.

The photo on the postcard shows what is today called the “Toyota Traffic School” for kids 7 to 13 years of age.  Another version for 2 to 6 year olds is called the “Duplo Driving School.”  Below are two pictures taken in 1982 that show both of the rides.

Notice the language sticker (UK flag for English) on the windshield that alerts the attendant how to talk to the child driving the car.  The older children could steer the vehicle while the younger children’s ride had the car anchored on to a track so the child could still turn the wheel but the car would not rush off into the bushes.  Some of the older children did manage to accidentally drive their cars into bushes and off the roadway.  The cars are electrically powered.

Since that time additional smaller Legoland parks have been created in other countries including the United States.  The first park was opened in 1968 to promote the toy and is located next to the original Lego factory that was founded by Ole Kirk Christiansen in 1949.  Over 50 million people have visited the park since it opened.  There are 9 themed areas in the park that covers 45 acres. 

One of the main attractions is Mini Land where there are Lego brick models of buildings and famous landmarks from all parts of the world.   The photo below shows only a tiny section of Mini Land with its scale of 1:20 and over 25 million bricks.  The mountain (also made of Lego Bricks) visible toward the middle in the back of the photo is Mt. Rushmore and does have the presidential heads made of Legos and looks remarkably like the real thing only much, much smaller.  In addition to the real places found in Mini Land there are fantasy elements in separate divisions that include Pirates, Knights, Adventure, Star Wars, The Old West in the United States, imaginary trips to Atlantis and others. There are also educational hands on exhibits that allow experimentation with water, music, and something called the Lego Mindstorms center for fun-based learning.

Visiting Legoland brought back dreams of constructing a mammoth miniature city with ramps and castles made from building blocks for the marble people in the "Marble Kingdom" that my brother I invented when we were children.  My children and now grandchildren love Legos and have played with, collected, and invented many things with these wonderful toys much like the Marble Kingdom of my youth.  Legoland was a delight to visit for all ages. 

For additional information, please see: