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Washington Desert Photo Trek

By: BriarCraft , 7:54 PM GMT on April 01, 2014

On Friday, March 28, it was rainy. Again. No matter, I was heading to the desert of southeastern Washington. That's right. Desert. Most people think of the Pacific Northwest as being perpetually rainy and moss-covered. That is true of western Washington and Oregon, where most of the population lives. Cross over the Cascade Mountains, though, and the climate is entirely different. Where I live in western Washington, annual rainfall is 47 inches. In Kennewick, roughly in the middle of my exploration area, the annual rainfall is just 7.75 inches. For comparison purposes, San Diego receives an averages of 10.4 inches of rain and Phoenix gets 8 inches.

Visibility in the Cascades, on US-12, was not great as the weather was a mix of fog and tiny ice pellets. There was slush on the road, but no problem with traction, as a road crew was working the snow zone with de-icer and plows. Once over the summit, within 30 miles, visibility was okay, though a light drizzle persisted.

After passing through Yakima, I set out in search of Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge. This NWR mostly follows along the Yakima River. It consists of 1,978 acres spread over 27 miles in the agriculturally intensive Yakima Valley. Due to poor signage on the roads as well as poor directions on the NWR website, I was unable to locate the main refuge entrance. I followed a printed map to one obscure location on the Yakima River located at the end of a dead end, unpaved, unmarked road. At the end, I did see a small sign that stated "National Wildlife Refuge" and also another sign indicating that a joint project with the Yakama Indians was planning a foot trail and observation blind. That was a disappointment and, since it was still misting, I decided not to explore further.

On toward the Tri-Cities of Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick, situated at the confluence of the Yakima, Snake, and Columbia Rivers. With a combined metropolitan population of approximately 253,000, it is the fourth largest population center in Washington state. Since the cities each are bordered by rivers, the overall appearance and effect is of one fair-sized city, complete with freeways circling the metro area.

Since it was only about 1:00, I stopped for lunch in Richland, before continuing my explorations. I wandered around Richland, on two freeways and several thoroughfares, and was disappointed to find only the typical fast food places. I didn't want a Big Mac. I wanted to get out of the car, go into a cafe or restaurant, and have a nice lunch. Finally, tucked behind a Walmart, I found a little Japanese Bento hole-in-the-wall eatery. And had a lovely, nutritious meal of veggie tempura, chicken teriyaki, rice, and salad.

The mist finally stopped, though it remained mostly cloudy. I went off in exploration of the Yakima River and finally found a little park with a "You are Here" map showing other points of interest. The map was quite helpful, except that it left out little details like "Unimproved road. High-clearance vehicles required." I figured that out before long, managed to turn the car around, and make it back to a nice gravel washboard road without mishap. I saw some pleasant scenery, but no real photo ops, and finally headed for the motel in Kennewick where I had reservations.

I rested for about an hour, then freshened up a bit, and went in search of dinner. While driving around Kennewick and West Richland for 45 minutes, I saw several fast food joints, as well as quite an assortmant of ethnic restaurants (Mexican, Italian, Japanese, Chinese). Not one regular-food restaurant. No steak house, no seafood restaurant, no Denny's, no Shari's, noApplebee's, no Hometown Buffet. I finally stopped at a McDonalds, purchased a chicken ranch salad and took it back to my room. In all my travels, I have never had such a time finding "regular" food. The Tri-Cities have lots of motels and hotels. Don't they think tourists want to eat anything other than burgers or ethnic food?

Saturday morning dawned sunny and brisk. I met fellow WU Photographer, Backwardguy, at McNary Dam. We spent a delightful two hours walking around the McNary Wildlife Nature Area and Hat Rock State Park. No beautiful white night herons to be seen, but Backwardguy spotted one lone juvenile. No matter. It was a gorgeous spring day. The parks were peaceful and beautiful. And I got to meet a talented and likeable WU Photographer who was kind enough to share his favorite birding spots with me.

Juvenile Night Heron

Nesting Wood Ducks

After that, I proceded on to Walla Walla, where I did not see a single onion field. Where do they grow those famous Walla Walla Onions? I never did discover the answer to that question. Instead, I visited the Whitman Mission and Frenchtown, the site of a four-day battle between settlers and Indians. Again, in Walla Walla, I had trouble finding something other than fast food. What gives with southeastern Washington, anyway?

From there, I headed northward to Palouse Falls, where I had trouble believing what I saw. The presence of the falls was unexpected in a rocky, sagebrush area that gave no clue there was a river, let alone a waterfall. And then I thought I saw something at the top of the falls and had to zoom in. I couldn't tell what it was I saw until I came home and saw this on the computer screen.

Crazy People at Palouse Falls

Then it was back to Kennewick for the night. I gave in and went to a Mexican cafe near the motel. Generally speaking, I enjoy Mexican food, but the food at this place was not southwestern style, not authentic style, but just nasty. After I left there, I went to McDonalds to get something to remove the bad taste from my mouth.

Sunday, I went to Othello, where a Sandhill Crane Festival supposedly was happening. There were signs announcing that fact, but no evidence of any sort of festival anywhere in that town of 7,400 people. From there, I went to the Columbia NWR, where the cranes nest. And enjoyed 15+ miles of washboard gravel road until I came to a place where I could hear their distinctive calls and I could see this sign where a gate barred entrance to where I wanted to go:


Western Meadowlark

With a mostly rainy Friday, no striking night herons on Saturday, and no sandhill cranes on Sunday, plus my complaints about the food, you might be of the opinion that I did not have a good time. And you'd be absolutely wrong. I had a wonderful time. I met Backwardguy. I saw some great scenery. I went places I've never been before. I found some great photo ops along the way. Life is not perfect. We don't get everything we hope for. Should that stop us from enjoying what is, living life, and enjoying what is? Absolutely not. There's too much good stuff to experience to let a few bumps in the road ruin your time. I can't wait for my next opportunity to go explore.

Thanks for coming along with me! And I hope you enjoy my other photos not posted here.

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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62. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
7:28 AM GMT on April 11, 2014
BriarCraft has created a new entry.
61. Skyepony (Mod)
4:15 AM GMT on April 11, 2014
Wunder what version this would put you in.

Thanks..that was a fun one to draw.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
60. BriarCraft
10:56 PM GMT on April 10, 2014
Mike: Thanks! There's just so much to learn on WP, but that also means lots of options. Choice is good.

Data: In addition to my general unhappiness with WU, we've got gorgeous spring weather here and I've been doing battle with so very many weeds. After coming off our 3rd wettest March, it is really too wet still to weed, but I can't stand it any more. If I don't get a handle on them now, it will be hopeless by the end of the month.

Skye: Love your bird sketch! And I'm so glad you are still drawing.

I've been busy relearning my way around WUclassic. It's been awhile!

GG: Maybe you've got a Phoenix rose, rising from the ashes? A rose by any name will smell as sweet and be just as beautiful. Definitely a good omen.

WW: I still have to make it over to check out your latest photos and leave you a comment or two. Soon, I promise!

Sandi: Good luck with that, if you can be back to normal by Monday. I've forgotten what "normal" is!

We have lots of slugs here. I skewer then whenever I am weeding my flowerbeds, as they tend to hide under the foliage during the daytime. Otherwise, I sprinkle Sluggo whenever I spot slug damage on my plants. While more expensive than other slug baits, it is organic and safe for wildlife and pets. Interestingly, it's active ingredient is iron phosphate. http://www.growslugfree.com/sluggo/
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
59. sandiquiz
8:56 PM GMT on April 10, 2014
Just a quick check - so busy this week - living up to my Flickr name!

I haven't planted hostas since the snails and slugs decimated the five "fully grown" plants that I had bought over night! As I try to be organic, I now only plant species that the slugs dislike... so leave alone!!

Max is telling me it is supper time, and if I don't go soon, the decibel level will begin shattering mirrors!

Might not have time to get out of my own blog for a few days, back to normal on Monday!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
58. Skyepony (Mod)
8:46 PM GMT on April 10, 2014
Finally had a few minutes to read your entry. Must have been great fun meeting Backwardguy.

Liked your perseverance through the ice pellets:)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
57. WeatherWise
3:09 PM GMT on April 10, 2014
Hi BriarCraft, I discovered that my oregano in my tiny kitchen garden survived the COLD winter. I was thinking perhaps it did not make it.

I need to clear the old stems out that are visible in this photo and do general flowerbed spring cleaning.

My rains yesterday were just short showers with sun right back out and then gone. Yesterday late tremendous clouds gathers but don't think any rain came with them.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
56. GardenGrrl
2:59 PM GMT on April 10, 2014
Nice crow Skye!

Hi Briar, it is full on spring mania around here. Next year I am doing all my continuing Ed classes in March as this April schedule is screwing up my nice weather play outside thing.

One of my roses that died, got dug up and tossed four or five years ago has re-emerged in the exact location. Can't decide if it should be a Lazurus rose or a Zombie rose.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
55. Skyepony (Mod)
4:18 AM GMT on April 10, 2014
They had a WUclassic fail today. I checked it & couldn't get in it a while too..It was everyone. They said it failed & got it back up as quick as they could. It happens occasionally. What a bad day for that.

Did a bird sketch..

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
54. DataPilot
4:08 AM GMT on April 10, 2014
After nearly suffering heart failure this morning when I found WUclassic had disappeared, I am now able to function again.

I was floored when I read that WU was planning to go live with their Beta site in WA, AZ and NZ. It's so buggy, and SLOW over a less than great network (especially on iOS). I've released enough software in my day that I'm certain that the "silent majority" of forced-beta users - most of whom don't know how to get to the Classic site - are not happy campers right now. They just don't know how to complain, or they feel like complaining is pointless.

Anyway, I wandered out to your WP site, and do have to say that I like how clean it looks. No doo-dads or superfluous widgets on that site - just good, solid content.

I hope you don't make yourself too scarce around here. It would be a shame to lose you. Your blog is one of my favorites.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
53. clearlakemike
3:36 AM GMT on April 10, 2014
Look for the share button on the blog and then look and see if WP is listed. If so, you will get another pop up screen where you enter your blog info. WP only has a few shares, Twitter, FB, Google+. However, if you add a sharing app to your browser such as "Share this" it does list WP in a very long alphabetical list. I clicked on it and it brought up the same window to enter the blog address.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
52. BriarCraft
6:55 PM GMT on April 09, 2014
After nearly suffering heart failure this morning when I found WUclassic had disappeared, I am now able to function again. ADD-WU is so cumbersome to use, I just cannot tolerate it. Pretty is as pretty does and it doesn't do anything nicely.

At least, they brought WUclassic back after I called them on it. The rest of you never lost it, but those of us in Washington, Arizona, and New Zealand temporarily lost any access to WUclassic.

Now, to catch up with WUall, my new primary blog is at http://briarcraft.wordpress.com/.

I may or may not continue to post blogs here -- I haven't decided yet. Now that my access to WUclassic has been restored, I can promise to continue to visit my WUfriends' blogs.

For the time being, I remain undecided whether I will post any more photos to WU.

Bug: "So many weeds; so little thyme." I think I'll make that my new motto. It is soooo true.

Sandi: I was a good day. I brought home some hosta starts that had been thinned from my mother's flowerbeds. And I stopped at Tsugawa Nursery on the way home and bought their last four everbearing raspberries to replace some that didn't survive the winter here.

WW: Looks like my timing was good. While I was out and about yesterday, it rained at home. This afternoon and tomorrow look to be nice for more gardening. I've got new stuff to plant. And then there are so many weeds demanding my attention.

Nice snowy owl!!!

Mike: A Blog to Blog share? What/where/how is that???

Very funny! And it is good to keep a sense of humor in the face of major frustration.

Yes, I know RESISTANCE IS FUTILE, but I can continue to be a dissenting voice until they kick me off.

Ylee: Thanks to the WU downgrade, I am discovering the fun to be had at WP. I think you could do a web-cam blog at WP and would probably pick up quite a following over time. The Window to the World that you put together for your audience really is special.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
51. Barefootontherocks
6:36 PM GMT on April 09, 2014
Hi Briar,
I can see classic. Hope they truly have it back up and running in Washington.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
50. sandiquiz
6:17 PM GMT on April 09, 2014
Quoting 48. BriarCraft:
I cannot deal with this. On top of everything else, they killed WU classic!!!

I'm in the special Washington Beta roll-out and tried to go to WU Classic so I could do some blogging. IT'S GONE!!!

Check the production team blog...they have apologised, it was a glitch at the rollout, and Classic is back now :-)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
49. clearlakemike
5:10 PM GMT on April 09, 2014
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
48. BriarCraft
4:58 PM GMT on April 09, 2014
I cannot deal with this. On top of everything else, they killed WU classic!!!

I'm in the special Washington Beta roll-out and tried to go to WU Classic so I could do some blogging. IT'S GONE!!!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
47. clearlakemike
4:02 PM GMT on April 09, 2014
Briar, got your email, thank you! Yes, it will be fun to learn the mechanics of WP. I added a Twitter widget yesterday, although I don't tweet, lol...yet. Still not really sure what I am going to blog about either for that matter, LOL. But I did share another blog that I found of interest.

Oh, saw that there is a Flickr widget also.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
46. WeatherWise
2:39 PM GMT on April 09, 2014
In honor of Draw A Picture of a Bird Day, very late last night after going to bed but before falling asleep, I sketched a snowy owl. Just a simple drawing! Did you do a sketch?

Hope you had a Happy Draw a Picture of a Bird Day!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
45. Ylee
10:11 PM GMT on April 08, 2014
I think WP is a better place to experiment and let your creativity shine through. WU is still limited in what you can do. Having said that, I wouldn't dream of moving my cam blog there. I think it would get lost in the forest, so to speak.

Don't want to be nit-picky, but I don't have a blog on WP, either. What I'm doing is completely different! :' )
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
44. clearlakemike
9:39 PM GMT on April 08, 2014
Briar, I did my first Blog to Blog share over to WP. Tried to Flickr photo share to it but had to go back to the photo URL like we do here. Flickr doesn't have a direct share with WP. Tried the embed but didn't work.

This is terribly addictive and time consuming, lol. My poor dog is missing her walks and I am not getting exercise.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
43. WeatherWise
12:36 PM GMT on April 08, 2014
Neat one Bug So many weeds and so little thyme! I probably have something like Home Sweet Home - am not sure exactly what it says. I will check!

Hi Briar - Hope you had fun out in the garden and accomplished a lot! I need to get out and rake and pick up a bunch of sticks that have fallen and some that the tree trimmers left behind. I am afraid my yardman will not be happy to have to do that plus mow. I might just offer him a bit extra to do both. With the rains, I suspect everything will be green by the weekend and ready for mowing as soon as it dries off a bit.

Have a great day! I have a fairly busy day.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
42. sandiquiz
10:43 AM GMT on April 08, 2014
"So many weeds; so little thyme."
I like that one, Bug ... it is similar to one my mum had by the kitchen door. "You are nearer to God in a garden than anywhere else on earth"
I always think of that when I go out into my garden.

Briar - I read you are at the dentists then at your parents... so have fun. At your parent's house I mean!, not the dentist....I am sure no one has fun there!

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
41. palmettobug53
9:17 PM GMT on April 07, 2014
I've got a little piece in one flower bed I picked up at the dollar stor (Ok, alright, Mom, bought.... She always used to rag me about that lol). It's a little tablet on a hanger that says, "So many weeds; so little thyme."
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
40. BriarCraft
8:21 PM GMT on April 07, 2014
Mike: I haven't resorted to reading the manual yet. If you go to your WP Dashboard, click on Settings, and then just go down the list on that sub-menu you might be able to avoid RTFM, too.

Break time is over. Back to mowing!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
39. clearlakemike
6:31 PM GMT on April 07, 2014
Yes, Briar, that was a bit confusing...and I still have to authorize, I think, but I just click the boxes and hit the buttons and see what happens. I am a RTFM NOT person generally but I think WP is forcing me to be more of one.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
38. BriarCraft
6:12 PM GMT on April 07, 2014
Mike: After having to "authorize" your WP comment last night, I spent some time this morning and figured out how to let people's comments just be posted. The way I figure, if trolls pop up, I can always delete their comment and ban them. WP definitely has lots of options. My biggest challenge now is that I don't have a clue what some of them mean. Time for a new learning experience!

WW: Love your new spring blog! We've got spring here, at least for Mon-Wed this week. I'm going out, even if I do get my feet wet and/or muddy!

Data: Who says I can't deal with change? I'm actually having fun learning the ropes over at WP. And I have worked long and hard in hopes of becoming a full-fledged eccentric fuddy-duddy. I'm not there quite yet, but making good progress.

Sandi: Obviously, Annie felt she had added value to that old phone, so it no longer qualified as a hand-me-down. Fun story! Thanks for sharing it here.

Bogon: You ought to suggest that "Revert me!" button to the WU product team, along with advice to add a counter to the button. Quite a circuitous route you had to take to find my photos, but you did find them -- and thank you for the comments!

Bug: I am moving more and more to perennials and annuals that tend to reseed themselves. In fact, most of the flowers I have started in the greenhouse are perennials. The older I get, the less ambitious I am. I would prefer for the flowers just to come up on their own. A few exceptions are pansies, marigolds, cosmos, and zinnias. Somehow, I think I'll be starting those seeds for many years to come.

I have the same problem with jays that you do with squirrels. Jays pull up transplants and seeds, to the point that I just about have to plant twice as much as I really want.

After playing around with blog.com and wordpress.com, I definitely prefer WP, as there are so many more user-definable options there.

Gotta go outside and play in the sunshine now! There's grass to mow and weeds to pull.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
37. palmettobug53
3:52 PM GMT on April 07, 2014
Hi, Briar.

It sounds like more and more people are decamping to WP.

You are going gangbusters getting ready for planting season.

I haven't done much besides cleaning up. Most of my plantings now are perennials; once they're in, they're in. I've been moving more to low maintenance.

I do need to redo my hanging baskets. I did buy some catnip seeds yesterday, as a treat for Gus. I've got some California poppy seeds and some parsley seeds. I'm going to scatter them out in my big bed today. If they do, they do. If they don't... eh, I've not spent much.

One reason I've moved away from planting every spring (besides the cost) is because of the squirrels. They just destroy everything, esp if I've been turning up earth and loosening it up. (If they would dig the beds up before I planted, I'd love the little limb rats!) They dig up transplants, they dig up my potted plants, they eat my tomatoes - fruit, plants and all.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
36. Bogon
3:35 PM GMT on April 07, 2014
Briar, I came to visit the (much maligned) beta version of your blog. I like the more efficient use of screen real estate. I like the new font. But it's not hard to tell why they still call it 'beta'. A lot of things aren't hooked up yet.

For instance, when I wanted to navigate to your photo gallery, the only way I could find to get there was to click on your avatar, "BriarCraft at Cape Blanco Lighthouse ". Then, when I clicked on "All Photos for BriarCraft", it didn't work. Neither did the Delete button in my community mail.

Each page in NUWU has an orange BETA invitation pinned to the right margin. Looks like it would be only fair for each beta page to display a blue "Revert me, please, because this ain't workin'!" button. The WU developers could tell how they're doing by counting how many times each kind of button gets punched.

In lieu of a blue button, the easiest way I have found to get back is to delete the prefixed "preview." from the link in my address bar. Ahh, sanity.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
35. sandiquiz
1:40 PM GMT on April 07, 2014
Young folk, on the other hand, don't know how to survive if anything happens to their phone.

I love this sentence from Data, but have to add... not such young folk, too!

Actually, here is a funny phone story for you. Four or five years ago when C's mother was visiting, her phone broke, so I gave her my old one, a Samsung, flip top.

Last weekend when we were visiting his mum, his niece, aged 11, and his nephew 7 where also there. Nephew had a new phone he was playing with. Jean said to him, "Isn't that the phone I gave to Annie?"
It seemed the phone I gave Jean, she gave to Annie and Annie SOLD it to her brother for 2 pound! Now that is what I call young Enterprise! lol

If I had purchased the plants from a Garden centre or nursery I would have probably paid three times more. Especially for the Japanese Acer! The local supermarket chain often does specials on plants and they are basically very good, as long as you don't want something special, and are willing to look them over carefully to check how healthy they are.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
34. clearlakemike
4:47 AM GMT on April 07, 2014
I just took my first few steps into a Wordpress blog, Briar....Link.

Not sure where it will lead but I will just enjoy the journey. A different dimension to explore, perhaps, other than WU, Flickr and FB.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
33. DataPilot
4:33 AM GMT on April 07, 2014
Then again, maybe the 50-plus age group is simply no longer a demographic that WU is interested in cultivating. We might be considered more trouble than we are worth.

Yeah, there's definitely a perception out there that folks over the age of 50 don't use computers much. As we all know, that simply isn't true. The difference between the generations is more a matter of how we use our devices. Old fuddy-duddies like us tend not to send a text message if we want to say something to a person sitting on the other side of the table. We do, however, like to hang out on internet forums. Hubby is in his mid sixties, and Mom is in her mid seventies; both of them live in forums, using desktops with big monitors. Young folk, on the other hand, don't know how to survive if anything happens to their phone.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
32. WeatherWise
4:21 AM GMT on April 07, 2014
Hi Briarcraft, Just checking by and to say thank your for stopping by my blog and leaving a helpful comment. Once again it is too late but will check out your repost of your blog on Wordpress and blog.com later. Have a good week!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
31. clearlakemike
3:09 AM GMT on April 07, 2014
Briar, I like your offWu blogs! Nice!! Sandi, how can you like the new Flickr? lol What do you like about it? Yes, that orange tab is very annoying on the phone, calpoppy. But maybe that is so you click on it, lol. I like the nuWu on the phone except for the scrolling...talk about a scroll finger meltdown!! Hopefully, they will get the bug out of that. I check for rain cells as I have my convertible top down in Kohala and Kona. I need to be ready for a quick pull over when I go mauka...the rain will come down quick sometimes. When I can feel it and see it inside the car got to get the top and windows up quick..
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
30. BriarCraft
12:31 AM GMT on April 07, 2014
Data: It's not just a matter of developers trying to justify their pay checks. You are right, of course. Instead, it is the need for developers to keep up with hardware and OS developers who want us to buy new equipment every couple of years.

I don't say this too often, but I was one of the early employees hired by the original developers (ChipSoft) of TurboTax and, while I haven't worked in the software industry since 1993, I do know all about the care and feeding of focus groups and all the woes that befall developers who fail to use them. Then again, maybe the 50-plus age group is simply no longer a demographic that WU is interested in cultivating. We might be considered more trouble than we are worth.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
29. DataPilot
12:18 AM GMT on April 07, 2014
For the record, I have nothing against change that gives added functionality or increases user friendliness, even if it is awkward to use at first. I do, however, have a great deal against change that just makes everything look different. That sort of change is not logical or reasonable. I get the definite sense this nuWU is somebody's "bright" idea to justify their continued WU pay check. Like that ninny showing off her shiny new degree by touting the virtues of the new font she found.

Oh, Briar. Sigh. I completely understand why you feel so frustrated about NuWU. I, too, am dismayed by all the broken features and poorly thought-out design changes, and have given up on using it on iOS for the time being. I'm also unsure whether I should be more dismayed or amused by the fact that the WU product team went out of their way to ensure that their new design was easy for color-blind people to use, but not for people with presbyopia - meaning, nearly 100% of the population over the age of 50. I think that most of us agree that it's not ready for prime time.

Now that I've ragged on the WU developers, I'm going to play the devil's advocate. As you know, I make a living in IT. I have been the target for more than a few barbs from end users who couldn't understand why I insisted on upgrading a perfectly functional software package. And I also remember being a young software developer once upon a time - a VERY long time ago - and I know how cluelessly insensitive some of my software designs turned out to be once they got into the users' hands. What I'm trying to get at is that there may be more factors being addressed by the WU overhaul than just a shiny new look-and-feel.

One of the most common reasons that perfectly good software is upgraded is to maintain vendor support. Modern computer systems are mind-bogglingly complex, with multiple vendors' products integrated together into a complete piece of software and all sorts of dependencies between the parts. (And yes, the WU website does count as a "piece of software".) If one vendor desupports their piece, or a major security vulnerability is discovered and requires a patch, or one part of the software becomes so hard to maintain that a new tool is needed, there is often a domino effect on all the other parts. Rewriting the user interface is sometimes necessary. That's going to be the case no matter whose tools you use, for blogging or whatever. It's not just a matter of developers trying to justify their pay checks.

At least the WU developers gave us the opportunity to test drive their work and provide feedback. That took some courage on their part. I think their biggest mistake was not having a truly representative pilot group knock the bugs out of it prior to releasing it to the rest of us.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
28. BriarCraft
10:20 PM GMT on April 06, 2014
Mike: You are entitled to your opinion. Personally, there's not much I like about the NuWU. They took something well-loved and messed it up, IMO.

Sandi: I love the results I'm getting with heating mat and will certainly use it again next year. I do buy a few plants from nurseries, but couldn't afford to buy all that I have planted. At the moment, I have over 300 little plants going in the greenhouse, ranging from onions and cabbage to primrose and catnip. Between seeds and supplies, I spent around $120. I estimate extra electricity expense at around $150-200 for the 3 months I use the greenhouse. If I bought all those plants at a nursery, it would cost double or tripple that amount. Then, too, there is a far wider variety of seeds available than there are ready-to-go plants. My way isn't for most people, but I love to have all sorts of flowers and veggies and have plenty of room to plant them out, and I enjoy the process as well.

Because of all the changes at WU, most of which I don't like, I have been checking out other user-friendly blogging. As an experiment, and as a backup plan, I just reposted this blog at blog.com and at wordpress.com.
(update Apr 7: deleted link to blog.com, as I deleted my blog there)

WordPress has some obvious advantages, since Ylee, CalPoppy, and Thoughtsteader already have blogs there.

I'm interested in your thoughts/comments.
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27. calpoppy
9:53 PM GMT on April 06, 2014
Quoting 25. clearlakemike:
I like the NuNUWU. And I would like the illustrious WUdesignteam to take over the Flickrredo, which imo, is doo doo.

LOL!! I just joined Flickr so I am ignorant on how it use to be, except that the pics are soooooo BIG!

Not sure on the Beta yet, except that I really hate that orange' try our Beta' on the side, especially on my cell phone. It is quite large on the cell phone! I don't care for the look of the blogs, the way the put our blogs grouped in with the others and the comment section at the top? That is a lot of scrolling down to see who said what.

Sandi, your scroll finger will be aching!!

I do like the radar coming up like it does, saves time. Especially when I am driving and I think I see what might be a cell but I gotta check the radar to make sure and I do it even though it is against the law, for my safety of course, LOL!

I see you are at 63 degrees good temp to yarden in!
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26. sandiquiz
7:09 PM GMT on April 06, 2014
Quoting 25. clearlakemike:
I like the NuNUWU. And I would like the illustrious WUdesignteam to take over the Flickrredo, which imo, is doo doo.

You leave Flickr alone... I like it...now! lol

My dad always used a heating mat in his greenhouse to speed up germination. He grew hundreds of fuchsias, geraniums and other bedding plants for a front garden border that was over 50 feet long! It had spring bulbs, winter heathers and summer bedding... so much work, but looked beautiful in full summer bloom!

I, on the other hand, let others do the germination and buy ready made plants in 4" pots from the supermarket! Today I purchased four garden pinks (dianthus), two white, two pink at £1:50 each, buy three get one free - two new alpine plants at £1 a piece - two hidcote lavender and two rosemary, for £5 for four herbs - four verbena at £2 for four and finally an 18 inch Japanese Acer, which I will plant in a patio pot, for £3. So a total of £16 and they are ready to go in the garden. I will however, keep them in my new (plastic) greenhouse for a week or two to acclimatise, as they were stored inside the supermarket.

Hope the weather holds good for you so you can get out and yarden:)

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25. clearlakemike
6:32 PM GMT on April 06, 2014
I like the NuNUWU. And I would like the illustrious WUdesignteam to take over the Flickrredo, which imo, is doo doo.
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24. BriarCraft
11:58 PM GMT on April 05, 2014
Mike: BroMiles was a nice, but temporary distraction from my WUwoes. Then, a WUmail from one of the mods (who will remain nameless) that simply said, "You were right" prompted me to go take another look at that stupid Beta. And then I just had to get back on my soapbox again about some of the ridiculous changes the illustrious product team is foisting on us. I can feel my blood pressure rising as I type.

For the record, I have nothing against change that gives added functionality or increases user friendliness, even if it is awkward to use at first. I do, however, have a great deal against change that just makes everything look different. That sort of change is not logical or reasonable. I get the definite sense this nuWU is somebody's "bright" idea to justify their continued WU pay check. Like that ninny showing off her shiny new degree by touting the virtues of the new font she found.

PSP: Interesting find about acrophobia and related explanation for what WTS and a lot of other people experience. The saying, "Don't look down" remains advice. When driving on the edge of a cliff, don't look down or you might drive that way. When walking on a ledge, don't look down or you might fall.

Bug: I'll be following your example soon. We have a couple of dry days in the forecast for the coming week. Can't wait to see what kind of mischief I get into!
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23. palmettobug53
11:52 PM GMT on April 05, 2014
Congrats on the ACs and Faves!

Been doing some heavy duty yardening today and I am slap worn out.
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22. PugetSoundPost
11:19 PM GMT on April 05, 2014
Congrats to you on the photo successes! It is fun and you have good ones!

Yes, we had a "dry spell" - we had four days in a row with no rain early this past week! That was when I was working on my grass seeding project. So far I think the birds are staying away, as far as when I have been looking. I am hoping that they are well trained after many months now of being busy at the feeder that is far away from the grass and will be content with that, and I must keep it full! Well, the rain is back, as you surely see. Three days of some rain in a row now for us, but the amounts have been pretty light. Today is the rainiest so far.

A comment for WTS from #17 above about feeling forced over the cliff: I think that is common and I thought there was a name for that sensation. Perhaps someone knows what it is, but after some research rather quickly, I found something that says it is a form, actually, of acrophobia - fear of heights! Seems counterintuitive, but something in the brain reacts inappropriately and rather than backing away you feel compelled somehow to go over the edge. Always a weird sensation and I don't care to experiment with it like those folks you saw at Palouse Falls. A much better view from a distance!
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21. clearlakemike
6:54 PM GMT on April 05, 2014
Briar, sounds like helping BroMiles is helping you out of your WUfunk so that is good. Change is hard to cope with sometimes, especially, multiple events that seemingly come out of nowhere. We are after all, mostly creatures of habit, I think.

Yes, that is even more of a rain shadow. Wasn't aware of that before. Haven't spent a lot of time in that part of the world. One time we drove during the night in a blinding snowstorm to get to Port Angeles. I felt like we were in Switzerland. Got on the boat the next morning and enjoyed a winter wonderland at the Empress Hotel in Victoria. Sat by a roaring fire place and had high tea. Took a ferry over to Vancouver for the day...wonderful time.

I don't like heights so doing something like what that couple did is waaay off my radar, lol. Even with a railing, I only peeked over very briefly at Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point.
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20. BriarCraft
10:13 PM GMT on April 04, 2014
WTS: I have never had the nerve to stand at the edge of any tall precipice I would modify it to say that you have always been too smart to stand at the edge of any tall precipice. Too many youngsters think they are invinsible. Then, if they are lucky, they grow to be over 40 and discover otherwise.

Bogon: That is a really good idea now that I get to thinking about it. I generally like to travel free-style, with no idea where I'll be when it gets to be mealtime, but it would not be unreasonable to locate at least one restaurant every 75 miles, just in case. I'm familiar with Yelp and use it for a lot of things. I'll have to check out Google Earth.

WW: That is a nice collage! I like the mix of flowers and wildlife and also the overlapping format.


Sorry for my absense around WUville the last couple of days. I don't have a whole lot of time to spend here today, either, but I wanted to check in.

BrotherMiles is working on a project in my wood shop. He is building new organ cases. Then, back at his home, he will remove the "guts" of Hammond B-3 or A-1 organs and put them into what amounts to a custom-made steamer trunk with fold-down legs. In the process, the organ becomes smaller and about 200 pounds lighter while maintaining the same ability to make music. Just what professional musicians want.

I help him a bit here and there and, of course, make sure he gets a nice lunch and dinner. He has been house-hunting lately, too, looking for a larger house with a better set-up for his home-based business. All very exciting to discuss.

Meanwhile, out in the greenhouse, most of the seeds have sprouted now. The heating mat has worked wonderfully, making germination happen more quickly than any other method I have tried.

I am really pleased that my recent AC photos, Palouse Falls Rainbow and Broken Dreams have made it to the Recent Favorites gallery. That's a first and a second for me. Thanks!
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19. WeatherWise
2:06 PM GMT on April 03, 2014
Hi Briarcraft! Hope you are having a wonderful day!

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18. Bogon
1:06 PM GMT on April 03, 2014
I'm with Ylee on this one. Wife and I routinely consult the internet for restaurant info before or (WIFI availability permitting) during travel. It works!

Wife prefers a Google search of the form "fine dining in X", where X is a destination city. That turns up lists from Yelp, Tripadvisor and Urbanspoon. My favorite is Google Earth with all the Dining icons turned on, which shows you not only what but where. In this case it shows me that downtown Kennewick is singularly devoid of dining choices. Most of the restaurants are clustered five miles west near the airport.

Of course, now that you're home again, this info pretty much falls into the "too little, too late" category. But it's not too late to consider for your next outing. Bon appétit!
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17. WatchinTheSky
11:11 PM GMT on April 02, 2014
'What is it, 2"?', it only seems like 2" - though you are only off by 2" :( What's the big deal about 10" below normal? It also means 25% of normal!

Dry as a desert, I know eastern Washington is dry, but a desert? Where are the cacti? I didn't remember seeing any, so I looked it up of course ;) There are a couple native species! OK, where are the Joshua trees??

I have never had the nerve to stand at the edge of any tall precipice (I guess that is redundant), better to let someone else be the photo op! Though I think I may be subject to some unknown repulsive energy - the closer I get to the edge, the more strongly I feel a force pushing me off the edge!!
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16. BriarCraft
8:52 PM GMT on April 02, 2014
WTS: You escaped from the Yeti! I'm so glad you're back in the WUorld.

I looked up Escondido's average = 14.98 inches per year. This year, what is it? May 2 inches?

Mike: Rain shadows create interesting weather patterns and totally different climates. The Hoh Rain Forest on the Olympic Peninsula gets around 240 inches of rain and 30-40 miles distant, Sequim gets only about 16 inches.

I can't imagine what Anthony Bourdain would have to say about the food desert, but he probably wouldn't be as kind as I was.

The #15 picture, along with my Crazy People photo, just prove some people really do prefer life on the edge. Sitting on a slope on the edge of a 250-foot drop or dancing on an outcrop over an abyss -- dead either way.

Backwardguy: Good to see you here! Sorry you wasted that trip to Othello. WeatherWise said something about you having a spare battery but no camera???

A couple miles beyond that orange sign, there was another parking area. No sign this time, so I climbed down to the edge of the wetland where last year's grass was still 4 feet tall. And I heard their distinctive calls not more than 40 feet away, but couldn't see anything through the tall grass. Unfortunately, I did not think to bring any hip waders, so I still didn't get to see them dance.

I might try down around Burns and Malheur NWR next year.

I saw a piece on TV last night about 500,000 migrating sandhills that stop near Gibbon, Nebraska for about 3 weeks every March and April. That sounds fascinating, but a 3000 mile trip just to see cranes seems a bit much. I did just put that on my Bucket List, though, so maybe someday???

Poppy: I do know what you mean about the joys of RVing. I had a cab-over camper in the late 70s and really enjoyed seeing Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier, etc. in it. It was so nice just to find a fairly level area to pull off the road and fix a picnic lunch surrounded by Nature. We found that KOA campgrounds were reliably nice places to stay with clean showers, laundry facilities, etc.

Barb: That is interesting about the giant Palouse earthworm. I have heard about it, but of course, have never seen one.

I do not think Palouse Falls is named after worms. Another article in Wikipedia talks about the region where Palouse Falls is located:

The origin of the name "Palouse" is unclear. One theory is that the name of the Palus tribe (spelled in early accounts variously Palus, Palloatpallah, Pelusha, et cetera) was converted by French-Canadian fur traders to the more familiar French word pelouse, meaning "land with short and thick grass" or "lawn." Over time, the spelling changed to Palouse.[2] Another theory is that the name was in the first place a French word, describing the area which was then applied to the indigenous people inhabiting it.

GG: Howdy! I thought about you and your rattlesnake chaps while I was wandering around the the Columbia NWR traipsing through sage brush and tumbleweed. Thankfully, I didn't see any rattlesnakes.

Bug: I'll bet you learned about Washington desert not at school, but from your father!

This is probably some of what your father saw when he was on his irrigation tour.

Data: You probably know better than I, since you flew over it, but aren't Oregon and Washington about 2/3 desert, 1/3 rainy? Conversely, 2/3 or more of the population lives on the west side.

I did see lots of huge windmills lined up on ridge tops. I saw the most as I was driving south from Kennewick to meet up with Backwardguy. As I topped a ridge on the Washington side and started down, I looked across to a similar ridge top in Oregon and saw a line of windmills as far in both directions as I could see. Most of them were NOT turning.

Ylee: It never occurred to me to scout out restaurants on the interwebz before I left home. I have driven through every state east of the Mississippi, including Alaska (but not Hawaii!), and I have never had any trouble finding a mom-and-pop cafe or a truck-stop restaurant or even a Denny's. I still find that bizarre for an area that counts tourism as an important source of income.

That was my first western meadowlark, too. Dosiedoats left a comment that makes me think I got incredibly lucky with that shot:
Well at least someone is able to get a decent
shot at the Western Meadow Lark! I keep trying,
but so far, no go.

YCD: Yep, that's exactly the kind of weather I came home to, late afternoon of the 31st. We may have been only a few miles apart at the time!

WW: As I mentioned in my response to Backwardguy above, I did climb down a steep, rugged slope through sagebrush and tumbleweed, hoping to catch a glimpse, but it was not to be.

Being a glass-half-full sort of gal, I don't stay disappointed for long. Though the trip was prompted by a desire to see night herons and sandhill cranes, I also went to see territory I hadn't seen before. We all have to deal with what life hands us and I choose to enjoy it as much as possible while I can.

Sandi: You got lost in an area you know somewhat, in the dark, with an uncooperative navigation system. I got lost in places I had never been, using a paper map. Comparing our respective challenges, you presumably did manage to find that hotel before dawn, while I failed to find a couple of wildlife refuges in broad daylight. I'd say you did somewhat better than I.

As they say, life isn't about the destination; it is about the journey. And we both had a good time on our trips.

PSP: We went to see bald eagles last winter in a "can't miss" place and we pretty much missed. Funny how that often goes. But it is wonderful just to get out and "go" and see new sights and new skies.
Oh yes, indeed! That point was driven home after I walked half a mile or so, only to return to the car and see a western meadowlark perched on a sign post seemingly calling to me, waiting for my return. I do love to get out and "go", without a schedule, able to turn down any road that looks interesting. I think that must be part of the western states lifestyle -- it's in our bones.

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15. clearlakemike
6:37 PM GMT on April 02, 2014

The couple sitting on the rock were tame compared to this one at Glacier Point in Yosemite.
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14. PugetSoundPost
3:23 PM GMT on April 02, 2014
A quick stop to comment on your food search on the road. It seems around here that "regular food" restaurants are disappearing. Just about all of them seem to be fast food or ethnic - and I will throw in that "fast food" is improving too - a lot more options on the menus and you can easily work around fries a lot of the time - my often bane. It is getting harder and harder to really find something that is isn't one of the above. And, if on the surface a place seems like it will have a broader menu, often it is just ethnic twists on an old standard.

Your trip looks like a lot of fun and places we enjoy, even if you didn't see all you hoped to. Nature doesn't always cooperate with our wishes. We went to see bald eagles last winter in a "can't miss" place and we pretty much missed. Funny how that often goes. But it is wonderful just to get out and "go" and see new sights and new skies. Glad you went!
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13. sandiquiz
2:54 PM GMT on April 02, 2014
What some great open spaces you traversed!

You covered twice as much distance as we did, but we had a day less and for more than half the time was in with family and friends, not out with the camera. We had a set route to follow, although we did have a detour!
On the Saturday night, after the reunion, one of the couples we have known for quite a while were let down by a non-arriving-taxi. We said we would take them to their hotel, as it was only 6 or 7 miles distance. All was going well until the Navigation system in the car we hired, failed, leaving us stranded, not knowing our location, on a dark country road! I knew vaguely where this hotel was, as I used to live in the vicinity, but at midnight, in the mist, everything looks different!
Luckily C's phone works well as a sat nav, so with the postcode logged into the phone we finally found our way to the hotel! Then we had to find our way back to our guest house!

I was interested by your minor complaint of food outlets.

Here, out in the country, away from urban areas, we would possibly find small cafes, fish and chip shops or local pubs that serve food, with the fast food outlets like MacD's and KFC being only in the much larger towns and cities. (I have never tried Mexican, but if you had to have a MacD's to take away the taste... it must have been awful!!) lol

Love the bird photos, especially the Meadowlark. Such a vibrant bird, not one you could really miss:)
AND that lunatic couple on the rock over the waterfall.... Well, what can you say!!
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12. WeatherWise
2:47 PM GMT on April 02, 2014
Hi BriarCraft! What a wonderful blog entry and so true to life! Thanks for taking me along! I think I was almost as excited as you were for your trip. I enjoyed helping your plan your trip and hearing about it and seeing your exciting photos that you are posting on WU!

I am sure you were disappointed about the sandhill crane gate barrier and sign. I could almost imagine you going through the brambles on foot to get a glmpse.

Perhaps the festival was for a few registered guests or something? Weird! So glad you had the experience of meeting WU photographer. I am guessing this was the trip that backwardguy was kicking himself about - a 90 mile drive only to find he had no camera but had two extra batteries? That would have killed me.

Seeing your woodduck couple on the wood duck nesting boxes was well worth the whole trip, though the sandhill cranes would have been a trophy photo shoot. Glad you did get to see one heron.

Yes, the meeting up with such a nice fellow WU phototographer was exciting.

The food sounds like a bummer. Hahahah....next time plan your trip around your food stops before leaving home, too or just decide this is going to be a fast food dining trip.

Great blog - Thank you for sharing!
Have a great week - it is already half over! Where does time go?

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