A Crime Against Nature


Imagine running one of the great American marathons. Or, if you are in the kind of shape I am in, imagine jogging, then walking, and in the end possibly crawling to the finish line of an American marathon. Whatever your condition, by the time you reach the finish line you’d be in dire need of…

Fossil Lakes and Tuff Rings


During the Pleistocene, as recently as 12,000 years ago, central Oregon had a number of large lakes. One of them, Fossil Lake, located in south-central Oregon, in northern Lek County, was, at peak, about 30 miles wide and perhaps 250 feet deep. It’s vanished now. The last two ponds evaporated about 1877. But during the…

A Visit to Mt. Mazama


7,700 years go, give or take 1.5%, the 12,000 foot high stratovolcano Mt. Mazama catastrophically erupted, blasting so much ash and molten rock from its magma chamber that the whole edifice collapsed, creating an oblong caldera six miles long on the longer axis, four and a half on the shorter one, and nearly a mile…

Experiencing the Blues


Geology posts two days in a row? Is WC turning into some kind of sadist? Nope. At least no more than usual. Just the Magpie Principle in action. If you had stood on the Pacific shore about 190 million years ago – a seacoast then located near today’s Oregon-Idaho border – you might have seen…

The Pillars of Rome


It’s just a little over-hyped. Rome, Oregon – a country store in southeastern Oregon – is probably best known as a launch point for raft trips down the main stem of the Owyhee River. The place was named by William F. Stine for the nearby hoodoo formations that suggested to him the ruins of Rome, Italy. It’s a…

Oregon Coast Notebook: Headed Home


Strictly speaking, these photos aren’t from the Oregon Coast, but rather on the drive back from Crescent City, California to Boise, Idaho, WC’s adopted hometown. The drive back involved several birding stops: an overnight stop at Upper Klamath Lake National Wildlife Refuge, and a series of stops for May 8’s Global Birding Big Day across…

Oregon Coast Notebook: Melange


The Southern Oregon Coast geology is a distinctly different beast than its more northerly neighbor. The southern coast is dominated by the Franciscan Melange. It’s the detritus scraped off the top of the subducting Juan de Fuca and Pacific Plates. Geologists call it an accretionary wedge or prism. It’s not a good place to be…

Oregon Coast Notebook: The Ugly


Several readers took WC to task for his Lincoln City Syndrome post. The Oregon Coast, they said, is still beautiful, is still relatively undisturbed, is still a wonderful place to visit. WC, they said, is a cranky old man. Yes, but. The sea wrack is laced with plastic fragments. This is not healthy, normal or…

Oregon Coast Notebook: Shore Acres


It’s a bit implausible: an English formal garden in the middle of a remote stretch of the Oregon coast, sandwiched between two state parks. But there it is, a meticulously restored and maintained formal garden, perched on top of a cliff over the North Pacific. The Gardens were part of the estate of Louis J.…