maellenkleth: (caprice-networking)
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More images from last Saturday's excursion, taken with the little Sony camera and unmanipulated other than modest cropping.

We drove about two hours further west, on what was once known as the Canadian Highway (and is now known as the Pacific Rim Highway). A lousy drive at the best of times (the road is nauseatingly-bumpy and swoopy, and heavily-trafficked), but the end is worth the journey.

This is a bog, a domed oligotrophic (rainwater-fed) paralic forest bog, to be precise. The edges of the bog are a stunted version of the normal maritime rainforest, whereas the interior of the bog becomes increasingly-dominated by Sphagnum moss, with scattered hummocks of 300-year old trees. [see note 1].

[4651a/17.jpg] We start in a pine bog forest, comprised of parasol-shaped shore pines (Pinus contorta var. contorta ex. gr. Douglas) with an understory of stunted yellow-cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis). The shurb layer consists of salal (Gaultheria shallon), Labrador-tea (Ledum groenlandicum), and mountain bilberry (Vaccinium vita-idaea), with patches of sword-ferns. The tallest of the pines is about twenty metres tall, but most of them are ten to twelve metres tall, and we can here see considerable wind-sculpting and some die-back of the taller trees.

[4653a/17.jpg] Walking about thirty metres further into the bog, we enter the inner rim, where the trees (although still large and free-growing) are beginning to become spaced-out into 'islands' of woody plants, and the sphagnum moss (Sphagnum sp. cf. recurvum) becomes more abundant. Note the increased amount of deadwood, both standing and fallen into the moss.

One of the tall 'toothpick' trunks was occuipied by a gang of ravens, who decamped upon the very instant that they saw our camera pointing their way.

[4652a/17.jpg] Another hundred metres takes us slightly uphill, into the distinctly-domed central region of the bog. Here the trees are very small and stunted: the pines are 'coiffed' into globular parasols, and the yellow-cedars are so stunted as to form low creeping masses of shrubby krummholz.

I was loth to dig holes in the bog to discern the thickness of the peat, but bears and wolves had done that work for me: a few decimetres to a few metres (at most 2.5 metres) of peat. The upper thickness of peat agrees reasonably-well with the collier's rules of thumb, that peat compacts into coal at a ratio of 7:1, and that one foot of coal represents about three hundred years' accumulation. We're looking, here, at a domed mass of Sphagnum peat which may have accumulated in the three centuries since the Great Cascadia Earthquake.

[4656a/17.jpg] Another couple of hundred metres takes us out the other side of the bog, into the farther marginal rainforest. Here, in about twenty metres, we make the transition from moss to stunted pines to a wind-sculpted pine-hemlock-cedar forest, with a dense undergrowth of salal, huckleberries, and ferns.

The floor of the forest is still ever-wet, and it constitutes its own bog landscape, but of a rheotrophic (flow-nourished) rather than oligotrophic sort.

The boardwalk runs all the way around the bog, in a 1200-metre circular loop which is refreshingly-hidden from distant view. While one is out there clomping along the boards, one could form the impression of being utterly alone with the ancient landscape.

'Ancient' in the sense, here, that this sort of centrally-raised, concentrically-zoned bog is very much similar to the sort of wetland that formed the commercially-mined coking-coal deposits of Salishaan.

This bog is 30 to 40 hecatares in extent, about the same dimensions as the central 'sweet spots' of the ancient Cretaceous-era coal desposits. Those are quite profitable to work if one can discover their exposed outcrop edges and work in sideways along the coal, but a much harder proposition to find by means of drilling and then to access via shafts.

We've mentioned, before, the role of earthquakes and tsunamis in the coal geology of Salishaan. A typical commercial coal deposit contains 1200 to 3000 years' worth of compressed, fossilised, coalified peat, marked and split by narrow internal bands of volcanic ash and tsunami-borne shell-bearing sand. That makes for interesting inorganic chemistry, such that the 'middlings' materials (the mid-gravity clay-rich coal particles), found in the coal washery rejects, find a ready market in the cement mills of downtown Seattle. The only things we don't find in this modern bog, though, are the footprints of theropods and other saurians: this bog is the home of mammals.

[note 1] 300 years is a tree-ring date for the oldest of the trees. There are older pieces of wood half-buried by peat, belonging to trees which died around about the same time, 300 radiocarbon years ago. There's a geotechnical argument currently in play, that the older trees died owing to being grossly-uprooted and tossed about by seismic shaking around that time, owing to the most recent of the great Cascadian earthquakes having been closely-dated to January of 1700 C.E. How that earthquake was dated is a worthy subject for its own posting: suffice to say that the most significant written records are in Japanese.

To learn more:

Cordes, L.D. and MacKenzie, G.A.
1972: A vegetation classification for Phase I of Pacific Rim National Park; in J.G. Nelson and L.D. Cordes (editors): Pacific Rim: an ecological approach to a new Canadian national park; Parks Canada, Studies in Land Use History and Landscape Change, National Park Series No.4; accessed September 25, 2017, via

Palazzo Publico

Sep. 25th, 2017 12:37 pm
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[personal profile] cmcmck
We paid our customary visit to the Palazzo Publico which fronts onto Siena's main square (the one where the Palio horse race is run).

The buildings are simply full of wonders!

View across the square from the palace:

We went first to the wall paintings of good and bad government. These are world famous and I see something new every time I look at them. The pig in this image (it's 15th century) is a Cinta Senese- a recognised breed which is still very much around as you'll see in a later post:

There's pics! )
maellenkleth: (flyingslabs)
[personal profile] maellenkleth
Yesterday's adventure (part one of three) in the Salishaan Prefecture of Cascadia, as shown in photographs.

Darling Spouse and azaer have an eclectic mix of friends, ranging from industrial workers to financiers and various flavours of politicians. Yesterday's adventure was mostly about industrial workers, at lest one of whom was (and still is, as far as we know) the mayor of the hamlet of Coombes, in Salishaan. He does double duty as worker and politician, thusly.

Photographs taken with Sony DSC-H90 electro-optical camera, as usual, on distant-focus setting. 'Point and shoot' is the order of the day..

[4610a/17.jpg] Spar tree and donkey-engines. The 'tree' is a large log, brought from about ten kilometres away, atop the western face of the Beaufort Range, about a metre in diameter at the butt end and thirty metres tall. We are not seeing all of its height, here, as we are more interested in the donkey-engines. In the foreground is the steam-powered engine, built by the Washington Iron Works in Seattle in 1928, and lovingly restored by the tradespeople at the Industrial Heritage Society. Steam-engines much like this machine worked all the way up and down the western coastal rainforests of Cascadia, during the first half of the XXth century. The engine's boiler is mounted vertically above its firebox, and it powers wire-rope winch drums via horizontal pistons and connecting-rods. The engine's fuel is wood. It takes about two hours to raise enough steam to do useful work (150 pounds/inch to work the winch drums, but only 75 pounds/inch to blow the whistle).

Spar tree
The red tank contains fire-fighting water, pressurised by a steam-driven air-compressor. The engine rides on two very stout skids made of bevel-ended cedar logs, which in turn are balanced on a pair of concrete-filled steel pipes. The roof is made of rust-streaked sheets of corrugated iron. Barely visible in the orange vest is Ken Fyfe, the steam-engineer who minds the fire and the steam. Ken (a good old friend and former neighbour of ours) is proud of the quality of the steam that he can raise: 'smooth, with no lumps in it'. Lumpy steam is not a good thing.

In the distance between the spar tree and the donkey-engine, can be seen another engine, also sitting on wooden skids but positioned at a ninety-degree angle to the steam-engine. This second engine runs the spar-tree's 'hayrack boom', the horizontal assembly of bolted-together smaller logs and cut-off railway rails, which slews back and forth to load logs by means of a pair of tongs.

The loading engine is powered by a V-8 Ford petrol-powered engine, termed by the loggers as a 'gas fake' (because when it was first adopted for use in the 1930s, this sort of petrol-driven engine was not regarded to be as useful as a 'real' steam-driven engine). The gas fake is certainly not as powerful as the steam-donkey, but it is much nimbler and responsive to its driver's commands, so it is well-suited to running the hayrack loader.

[4614a/17.jpg] Kahvi aika! Here we see Ken Fyfe's steam-powered coffee-pot. Back in the day, the steam-engineer was a popular fellow to visit on a rainy day, because the donkey had a roof over it, the firebox gave off welcome warmth, and the engineer could be counted-upon to have hot coffee. Steam-powered coffee is wholly excellent to the taste, as we know from direct experience thanks to Ken being willing to share a cuppa with us.

Note the control valve on the steam line, and the narrow diameter of the copper tube that carries the high-pressure steam into the coffee-pot.

[4623a/17.jpg]  The 'gas fake'. Bill (we didn't catch his surname, but we noticed his bright blue trousers) has to be part-octopus, for his hands and feet are wholly-occupied with driving the motor and controlling the winch drums. The gas fake has a standard clutch-and-stick transmission, an accelerator pedal, and drum-mounted brake bands for each of the winches. The engine is by no means as powerful as the steam-donkey, but it can handily change the direction of the winches, to work the hayrack boom back and forth. One of the two winches pulls the boom towards the gas fake, while the other winch works the loading-tongs. "So, how does the gas fake work the boom in the other direction?". It doesn't. Instead, a large cut-off piece of a big log, called a 'chunk', acts as a counterweight to slew the boom outward.

[4620a/17.jpg] Hooking. 'Hooker' is a legitimate occupational title on our electoral rolls. Properly, it's 'hooktender', but 'hooker' is more to the point. The hooker hooks the logs with a pair of sharp metal tongs, so-arranged as to bit into the log when they are lifted by the gas-fake's loading-winch. Metal tongs are dangerous and cantankerous implements: they fail to stick when they should stick, and they refuse to unstick when they shouldn't stick.

The hooker sets the tongs, and then he leaps out of the way, in case the tongs fail to hold the log.

These are 'tame' logs; our logger friends have been using them over and over again for ten years, as the unnamed characters in their demonstrations. The bark long since fell off these logs, which does make it more likely that the tongs will gain a good hold on the logs.

[4626a/17.jpg] Loading. Here's the log drawn-up against the heel of the hayrack boom, now swinging around sideways towards the waiting  logging-truck. That's probably 2000 kilos of wood flying through the air.

The truck was built by the Hayes Truck Company (out of Vancouver, now defunct) in 1956. It is sized for 'off-highway' loads, 4.5 metres wide and 4.5 metres tall, 100 tonnes' weight. The length of the trailer is adjustable to allow for carriage of longer logs, up to 30 metres' length. The trucks were so well-built, that the Hayes Company went out of business on account of fewer loggers needing to buy replacements for worn-out trucks. Old Hayes trucks are still working the mountains of Salishaan sixty years later.

[4631a/17/jpg] Unsticking. Those darned tongs! Won't come loose when you want them to. Here we see the aggravated hooker whaling away on the tongs with the back end of his log-marking hammer. One face of the hammer is just an ordinary square steel lump, suitable for clobbering things, whereas the 'business end' of the hammer is carved into letters and numbers for stamping ownership-marks into the ends of logs. That's how log-salvagers can figure out how drifted-away logs can get back to their owners, should a log-raft be caught in a storm.

This also gives you a nice view of how the bottom of the hayrack is armoured with railway-rails.

By way of explanation, the logging 'show' is led by another old friend of ours, Jack James. We first met Jack while working with a drilling crew (part of a coal-mining company), drilling exploratory holes atop a mountain whose forests were owned by the logging company for which Jack worked. Jack was a genial host to us that summer (Darling Spouse visited there, too, for a few weeks, so she got to meet Jack and his loggers, along with Doug and all the other drillers). There we all were on the side of a mountain, redolant with the odours of pitch, sawdust, and turpentime.

Jack is eighty-five years old, now. He's happy to teach the 'young pups' (sixty-five years old, and themselves retired from logging) how to run the wood out from the forest, the steam-powered way. Because of the long hot summer and its wildfire dangers, Jack had little chance to lead his crew this year. The Forest Service gave special permission for yesterday's demonstration work, on account of most of the attendees being vistors on a forestry tour from Sweden. It was quite the day, indeed. Swedish visitors notwithstanding, that was good Finnish coffee in Ken Fyfe's steam-powered coffee-pot. Kahvi aika, indeed.


Sep. 23rd, 2017 12:24 pm
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[personal profile] cmcmck
 We went back to the hotel we have used to many times before- the Arcobaleno (rainbow).

We were on the other side of the 'L' this time so got a view of the rather nice 19th century yellow villa across the road:

More pics! )

Sienese posters

Sep. 22nd, 2017 02:34 pm
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[personal profile] cmcmck
 I have a liking for posters wherever I go in the world and on our first day in Siena as we walked into town, I knew of a place where there would be some nice ones.

I wasn't disappointed!

One for a transport show:

And one for a donkey palio (yes, really :o) Such a beautifully captured image of one of my favourite creatures:

And general posterage:

That's all I have time for as we're now in the process of getting the new attic room as we want it, but there'll be more later, I promise! I took two hundred odd shots!


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