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Leavenworth, WA

16 June 2009

The eastern foothills of the Cascades are a real treat.  Take Highway 97 north from Ellensburg toward Wenatchee, and bear left at U. S. 2.  Head up the Icicle Creek road at the SW end of town, across the bridge, and look to the left for the fish hatchery.  Next turn is the Sleeping Lady Retreat Center, tucked away among the hemlocks and firs.  Here’s a look at Icicle “Creek” (in Texas this counts as a river!) from the dining hall.


Looking upstream from the dining hall at Sleeping Lady Retreat, Leavenworth, WA

Looking upstream from the dining hall at Sleeping Lady Retreat, Leavenworth, WA

I wish I’d have gotten a picture of the Columbia River last night between Mattawa and Vantage.  Now *that* is a river.  The Canadian through the Texas Panhandle is little more than a trickle if it ever runs at all, and it runs deep red.  The Brazos is normally muddy and foamy.  By contrast, the Columbia is massive, incredibly clear, a yawning gash in the earth.  It nourishes a tremendous variety of agricultural crops:  grapes, orchards, alfalfa, row crops, and vegetables of many kinds, to say nothing of hydropower.

Wanapum Dam looks modest, I guess, but its capacity is about a gigawatt.  That’s nothing to sneeze at.  If a typical household has an electrical panel rated for 200 amps at 240 volts and runs every circuit to the limit, a gigawatt is enough power to keep 20,000 such households running full tilt 24 hours a day.  Nobody runs a single-family dwelling like that – except, perhaps, Al Gore and John Edwards!

BTW, the food at Sleeping Lady is splendid, if overhyped in its so-called “organic” attributes.  The resort exemplifies “Ecotopia,” a designation given by Garreau to the Pacific Northwest and its residents’ preoccupation with ecological values.  Flying in around Mt. Rainier, red-stater qb couldn’t help wondering what might have happened to this grand region had it been run by the same political class that continues to allow the foothills above Colorado Springs to be raped and pillaged for who-knows-what.

On the other hand, we’re not altogether certain that “organic” anything actually has a smaller ecological footprint per nutritive kcal than a conventionally raised version of the same thing, so there’s a humorous aspect to it all.  But like liberals of many stripes, they mean well.  😉


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