Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Causland Memorial Park

Causland Memorial Park, Anacortes, Washington

In a previous post, I spoke of the Red Rock Quarry next to the new John Tursi Trail as a source of stone for Causland Memorial Park.  This is Causland Memorial Park in Anacortes, Washington.

Causland Memorial Park, Anacortes, Washington

Originally, the park was built as a memorial to World War I veterans from Anacortes.  Later memorials were added for World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.  The park is named for Harry Leon Causland, "one of the one hundred immortals D.S.C. 6795."  He received the Distinguished Service Cross for actions in France that resulted in his death.  Fourteen others from Fidalgo, Guemes, Decatur and Cypress Islands are also named in the memorial.  The park is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Causland Memorial Park, Anacortes, Washington

On the day I visited, the flag was at half staff in recognition of the Orlando, Florida nightclub slayings.

Causland Memorial Park, Anacortes, Washington

Causland Memorial Park, Anacortes, Washington

What makes Causland Park unique are the colored stone mosaics that decorate the bandstand and surrounding wall.  The source of the stone is the Red Rock Quarry next to the John Tursi Trail.  French-Canadian artist and architect John Baptiste LePage designed the park and supervised its construction between 1919 and 1921.  He lived here with his family during those years.

Causland Memorial Park, Anacortes, Washington

Causland Memorial Park, Anacortes, Washington

The park occupies a city block between 7th and 8th Streets, and between M and N Avenues.

Anacortes Museum, Anacortes, Washington

Causland Park is in a pleasant residential neighborhood that includes the Anacortes Museum (above) and churches.  I had an awful time trying to straighten this photo.  I finally figured out, it's the flagpole that's cockeyed.

Causland Memorial Park, Anacortes, Washington
Causland Memorial Park, Anacortes, Washington

Causland Memorial Park, Anacortes, Washington
Causland Memorial Park, Anacortes, Washington

Causland Memorial Park, Anacortes, Washington
Causland Memorial Park, Anacortes, Washington

Causland Memorial Park, Anacortes, Washington
Causland Memorial Park, Anacortes, Washington

Something struck me about the mosaics on the park's surrounding wall.  The artist LePage may have been familiar with the artistic traditions of Northwest Coast indigenous peoples.  Both the forms and the colors evoke these traditions.

Causland Memorial Park, Anacortes, Washington

If you visit Anacortes, you may want to include this hidden little treasure in your itinerary.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Skywatch Friday Mix

Skagit Bay

Over the last few days, I have been taking test shots with the new Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II camera.  I have been trying to get the hang of it and learn what I can expect from this little pocket camera.  As it turned out, many of the photos had some interesting skies.  This is Skagit Bay, my usual Skywatch shot this afternoon.

Anacortes, Washington

Anacortes, Washington from the Cap Sante headland yesterday.

Anacortes, Washington

Anacortes, Washington from the Cap Sante headland yesterday.

Skagit Bay

Skagit Bay at sunset a week ago, testing low light performance.

Skagit Bay

Skagit Bay at sunset a week ago, testing low light performance.  Kiket Island is catching the last rays of sunlight.

The Kukutali Preserve

From this morning, this is Kiket Island in Skagit Bay with its connecting tombolo in the Kukutali Preserve.  The Preserve is owned and managed jointly by Washington State Parks and the Swinomish Tribal Community.  Kiket Island is a traditional site of seasonal food gathering for the Swinomish.

Skagit Island from the Kukutali Preserve

Skagit Island in Skagit Bay from the Kukutali Preserve this morning.

The Kukutali Preserve

Flagstaff Island and tombolo in the Kukutali Preserve this morning.  Flagstaff is a wildlife sanctuary and fragile habitat, off limits to humans.  Tombolos are sandspits created by currents that connect islands to the mainland or to other islands.

The Kukutali Preserve

Pocket estuary inside the double tombolo connecting Kiket Island to the Mainland.  Part of the the Kukutali Preserve in Skagit Bay.


Visit Skywatch Friday

Monday, June 13, 2016

The John Tursi Trail

The John Tursi Trail

A brand new hiking trail is now open on Fidalgo Island.  The John Tursi Trail (.pdf) connects Campbell Lake with the Ginnett Hill summit in Deception Pass State Park.  I hiked this trail last week, and I have to say, it was a real adventure.  The new trail makes it possible to hike between Pass Lake in the park and Campbell Lake, about 2.5 miles/4 km altogether.  For this first hike, I just walked the 1.1 mile stretch from Donnell Road to Ginnett and back.

The John Tursi Trail

Be aware and respectful that the Donnell Road trailhead is on private property.  Find it at the end of the road, on the right, just before the obvious "Private Property" signs.  Also, you may not park on Donnell Road.  Use the paved parking strip at the intersection of Campbell Lake Road, Heart Lake Road and Sharpe Road.  It will then be about a half mile walk to the trailhead.

John Tursi in Deception Pass State Park
John Tursi in 2010, Skagit Land Trust photo, by permission
The trail honors the legacy of John Tursi.  He came to Fidalgo Island as a Civilian Conservation Corps worker in the 1930's.  Born in Brooklyn, New York, he found himself in the Pacific Northwest woods helping to create Deception Pass State Park.  He spent the rest of his life here dedicated to conservation causes.  He passed away in 2016 at the age of 98.  50 years in the planning, when this trail became a reality, it was agreed it should be named to honor Mr. Tursi.  The photo was taken at the dedication of the interpretive sign commemorating the work of John Tursi and the CCC workers.

The John Tursi Trail
The John Tursi Trail

The John Tursi Trail
The John Tursi Trail

I find trails enticing.  I am compelled to find out where they go and what I'll see along the way.  I was amazed at the amount of work it took to create this trail.  A lot of it had to be built up with rockeries that produced some beautiful landscaping in the woods.  Yet very little impact, if any, can be seen beyond the edges.  The trail was cut by volunteers from the Washington Trails Association and by the folks from SWITMO.  Altogether, this was a team effort with partners from the Skagit Land Trust, Skagit County Parks and Recreation and Deception Pass State Park as well as WTA and SWITMO.  Click or right-click the photos to view them full size.

The John Tursi Trail

In some places the terrain is quite rugged.  This necessitated building retaining walls, steps and switchbacks to negotiate steep hillsides.  Building this trail was not an easy task.  When you hike it, pause to appreciate the labors of the volunteers who did the work here.

The John Tursi Trail

When you get to this fork in the road, go left over the log.  Even though it is counterintuitive, you will be heading downhill.  The right fork looks like the best route, but if you take it, you will get lost like I did.  The right fork just disappears in the brush where you'll find yourself knee-deep in Salal.  From the start of the hike you might cue in on the orange ribbons, probably used to guide the course of trail work.  Standing in that Salal, I saw orange ribbons everywhere.  They were no help.  Just go left at the fork and the trail will be obvious the rest of the way.

UPDATE:  06/28/2016:


I was back on the John Tursi Trail today.  Someone has come in and fixed this spot making it clear which way to go.  Before, I wasn't 100% certain or I would have done something like this myself.

Campbell Lake from the John Tursi Trail

There are interesting sights and viewpoints along the way.  Here, the trees thin out to offer a view of Campbell Lake.

Miner's Log Cabin Ruin on the John Tursi Trail

Miner's Shack:  If you download and print the trail map (.pdf) from the Skagit Land Trust site, you will also get descriptions of the historical sights along the way.  Copper, manganese and rock wool were mined here in the 1910's and 1920's.  Miners would have lived in this log cabin.  I imagined them having to hike in and out through the woods with pack animals.

Copper Mine next to the John Tursi Trail

Copper Mine:  The blue-green color gives it away.  I had no desire to venture inside.

Morris Graves' Rock from the John Tursi Trail

Morris Graves' Rock:  Morris Graves was an artist of the Northwest School who lived on top of this bluff in the 1940's.  The art style employed the symbolism, colors and lighting of the local area.  The hill is now called Rodger Bluff.  I have no idea who Rodger is.

Red Rock Quarry next to the John Tursi Trail

Red Rock Quarry:  This quarry provided stone for Causland Memorial Park in Anacortes, known for its decorative rock structures.  As with the copper mining, I wondered how they packed it out of here.

Ginnett Hill Summit Homestead Site

Trail's end is the Ginnett summit homestead site of Louis Hall and his wife.  The site is edged by moss-covered balds and meadows with views into the valley.  There was once a barn on the concrete slab.  What's left of it is in a pile off to the side.  Mrs. Hall's garden flowers, daffodils, Grape Hyacinth and Vinca continue to bloom around the edges.  Just down the Ginnett Trail is a large fruit orchard.  In the 1970's, the Halls sold the property in trust to Deception Pass State Park, but continued to live here until their deaths.  This is one of my favorite spots in the park and now there are two ways to get here.

From this site, you can continue along the Ginnett Hill Trail all the way to Pass Lake, visible in the photo.  You will discover one of the most beautiful trails in the park.  Here in the midst of the rain shadow, it passes through a mossy, rain forest microclimate.  Winter is the best time to experience it.  On this hike, however, I didn't continue on that route.  Instead, I returned to Donnell Road the same way I came in.

I would not call this an easy hike.  There are some steep slopes that still have loose dirt, rocks and gravel to negotiate.  Wear sturdy shoes or boots with good traction.  The trail should settle and conditions improve with time.  It took me an hour and 50 minutes to get to the top.  I stopped a lot to look around, take pictures and get lost once.  Plus, I'm old.  It was only 40 minutes getting back down.

I have discovered something special about being one of the first to hike a brand new trail.  It was a unique adventure.  I can't wait to do it again.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Eyes of the Day

Harvestman

I'll begin with a mystery.  On a hike in the Kukutali Preserve, I couldn't help but notice all the daisies blooming along the road.  A dark object on one of them caught my eye.  Looking closer, I knew I should get a photo of it.  I figured out it was a Harvestman, but I don't know what kind.

Another name for them is "Daddy Longlegs," but this is like no Daddy Longlegs I have ever seen.  Wikipedia says, "typical body length does not exceed 7 millimeters (0.28 in)."  This one was at least twice that size.  I do get the delicate little Daddy Longlegs in my house.  They seem to like my shower.  My house guests, however, have tiny bodies that are under a quarter inch long.  Perhaps Kiket Island grows them extra large and robust.  I would enjoy hearing from anyone who can provide more information about this big guy.

Harvestmen are arachnids like spiders and scorpions, but of a different order, Opiliones.  They have eight legs like other arachnids, but unlike spiders, they have only one pair of eyes.  This one had a firm grip on the flower which was bobbing in the wind at the time.  I suspect it was lying in wait for prey, perhaps aphids which are a favorite food.

Hoverfly

The Harvestman got me curious to see what else I could find lurking among the daisies.  My next discovery was this beautiful Hoverfly.  It was obviously designed to look like a Yellow Jacket, possibly to fend off predators.  According to the Pacific Horticultural Society, they are beneficial insects in the garden which should be encouraged.  Their larvae feed on garden pests and the adults are excellent pollinators.  Attract them by providing a long season of available pollen, including flowers, trees and grasses.  Avoid insecticides and just let the Hoverflies do the job.

Oxeye Daisy

From the Aster family, Oxeye Daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare) are introduced wildflowers from Europe and Asia.  Besides North America, it has also been introduced into Australia and New Zealand.  This English-speaking pattern may provide a hint to its origins.  It is a grassland perennial that seems to be abundant in dry, rocky, disturbed areas around here.  Look for them along road sides and in vacant lots.

The word "daisy" comes from Old English daegesege meaning day's eye which may describe their behavior.  Some varieties will open in the morning and close back up at night.  Others will keep their flowers turned to the sun as it crosses the sky.  Chaucer called them "eye of the day."  In Medieval Latin they were called solis oculus, sun's eye.

Sweat Bee?  Small Carpenter Bee?

At first, I thought this appeared to be a Sweat Bee, possibly Lasioglossum.  As I kept studying bee species, I came across another possibility, a Small Carpenter Bee, Ceratina.  What do you think?

Bumblebee

As expected, there were lots of Bumblebees.  The bit of orange on the abdomen might make this one Bombus mixtus, the Orange Tail Bumblebee.  I could be wrong.  I am discovering how difficult and confusing it can get trying to ID them.

Bumblebee

To me, this one and the next one look like Sitka Bumblebees (Bombus sitkensis).  Please let me know if I am wrong.

Bumblebee

In searching the net for both Bumblebees and Carpenter Bees (below), I was amazed to discover the emphasis was on "pest control" how to get rid of them.  More and more, Google seems to want to take us where the money is.  Let me say, I have done a lot of gardening in close proximity with bees of all sorts.  I have never found a reason to want to get rid of them.  I have been stung by wasps that tend to be aggressive, but never by any kind of bee.  In fact, I find they prefer to ignore me and just go about their business.  Personally, I have always sought ways to encourage them to come to the garden.

Carpenter Bee

This one has a black, hairless abdomen, so I am calling it a Carpenter Bee.  They come in two varieties, "large" like this one and "small" like the one above.

Next time you go hiking, look closely at the wildflowers you encounter.  The "eyes of the day" may be looking back at you.


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The Fibonacci Sequence

It's time for a quick math lesson.  Anyone interested in nature should become familiar with the Fibonacci Sequence of numbers.  The reason will become clear in a moment.

Starting with zero and one, each number in the sequence is the sum of the previous two:  0 + 1 =1, 1 + 1 = 2, 1 + 2 = 3, 2 + 3 = 5 etc.  Following this pattern, the sequence becomes -
0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55...
Next, arrange squares each with sides corresponding to the Fibonacci numbers other than zero (you can't have a square with sides zero).  Each side of every square should be the sum of the adjacent squares' sides:

Image:  mathisfun.com
Now, starting with the first 1 x 1 square, draw a continuous arc through opposite corners of each square.  The result is an expanding spiral shape.  As it turns our, this Fibonacci spiral can be seen in nature.  It occurs throughout the natural world, including some unexpected places.

Dogwinkle Shells
I collected the broken dogwinkle shells to the right on the beach at Kiket Island.  Because they are broken, it is easy to see the geometry of the shells.  The shells are built of Fibonacci spirals.  Other examples include the tapered outline of a hens egg, a spiral galaxy such as our Milky Way, the arrangement of scales on a fir cone, breaking ocean waves and the shape of the fiddle heads on fern shoots.  Even the orbital periods of planets in our solar system may be following a Fibonacci sequence.  This might be occurring since it is the most stable and efficient pattern that can be produced naturally.  One study speculates that the pattern of spirals in plants occurs straightforwardly as a response to mechanical forces in the growing plant.

Now, why do I bring this up here?  Click or right-click one of the closeup photos of daisies above.  The yellow compound flowers in the centers are arranged in Fibonacci spirals.

Finally, notice the beautiful proportions of the yellow rectangle in the diagram above.  The ratio of the sides is 34:55 or 1:1.618.  As it turns out, this is the "golden ratio."  Rectangles in these proportions are called "golden rectangles," considered pleasing to the eye.  Artists such as Da Vinci and architects have employed this "divine proportion" throughout history.  The design of the Parthenon in Athens may have employed it.  For the most pleasing photos, the "Phi Grid" using the golden ratio can be an alternative to the Rule of Thirds for cropping and composition.  (The Greek letter Phi (φ) is used to represent the number 1.618.)

To bring this back to nature, consider the five-armed starfish.  Five, of course, is a Fibonacci number.  Begin with a pentagon with sides 1.  Add diagonals to form a five pointed star inside the pentagon (left).  The ratio of the sides to the diagonals will be 1:1.618.  Thus, the design of a starfish employs the golden ratio based on the Fibonacci sequence.  Notice the apple blossom has five petals and the apple itself, sliced horizontally, is designed with five-pointed symmetry.  Goosebumps anyone?


This post is appearing simultaneously at Wild Fidalgo where you can explore the wildlife on and around Fidalgo Island, Washington.