Twitter vs. Facebook: Ferguson Edition

It’s exactly what others predicted and I expected.

Last night, I was relaxing with a glass of wine, watching Lara Croft: Tomb Raider on my big TV, when I happened to check Twitter to see what was new. The Grand Jury had just handed down its decision in the Michael Brown case: They were not going to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot him. There would be no trial, no punishment for the man who shot and killed an unarmed teenager.

On Twitter

The first Ferguson-related tweet I saw last night.

The first inkling I had of this came in a retweet made by a friend that was timestamped 8:06 PM (Pacific).

I already knew deep down inside what the Jury’s verdict would be. I think we all did when we saw how Ferguson was preparing before releasing the news.

I scrolled backwards through my Twitter timeline and saw dozens of tweets, many of them with photos of the rioting going on in Ferguson: looting, burning cars — including police cars and businesses, tear gas smoke, national guard deployments. The situation in Ferguson had gone to hell quickly, fueled by anger and frustration. In other cities — Washington DC, New York, Seattle, Oakland — protesters were gathering. Journalists out in the crowds reported dealing with close calls, injuries, and thefts. Meanwhile, bits and pieces of the documents related to the case appeared in tweets with commentary. The President’s speech, which I also missed, was quoted a handful of times.

I only follow 193 Twitter accounts — many of which are product-related or not very active — and my timeline was packed with a never-ending stream of #Ferguson tweets, many of which were retweeted by NPR News. When I scrolled back to the most recent tweets, each time I refreshed another few tweets about Ferguson would appear. Intermingled with those were non-related tweets; more on that in a moment.

I turned off Lara Croft (who was enjoying a luxuriant bath after successfully destroying a robot in her own home) and tried to pick up “antenna TV.” No joy. (Note to self: get a decent antenna for the TV.)

On Facebook

I went to Facebook. It was like stepping into another world. Only one of my Facebook friends — a woman who lives in St. Louis — was posting updates related to Ferguson. The same updates appeared in her Twitter stream on my Timeline. On Facebook, however, she was the only voice talking about Ferguson among a stream of people sharing cat videos and blown out HDR photos and lists of Top 10 Spelling Peeves and links to link bait content.

Were these two social networks operating on the same planet?

Content Filtering

This tweet appeared in the NPR article; it summarizes exactly what I observed last night.

The difference between Twitter and Facebook feeds did not really surprise me. Only hours before, I’d shared a link (on Facebook, ironically) to an NPR article titled “Silicon Valley’s Power Over The Free Press: Why It Matters.” The article discussed how the media has lost control of distribution by allowing social networks to fill a void they left by initially ignoring social media as a distribution method. The danger to the public is that social networks have the power to control what you see in your social network. Nowhere is that more apparent than when comparing Twitter, which doesn’t (currently) filter timelines, and Facebook, which does.

From the article:

Algorithms and protocols that run social platforms affect discourse, and the engineers behind those protocols don’t have to think about journalism or democratic responsibility in how news is created and disseminated.

A prime example of this is the first nights of the protests in Ferguson, Mo. If you were on Twitter, you saw an endless stream of protest photos and links. If you were on Facebook, you saw nearly nothing. All because engineers decide what news you see.

We already know that Facebook has manipulated our timelines in an experiment about emotions. Clearly, they’re also manipulating our timelines to filter news about specific topics. Does anyone actually think this is a good idea?

Back to Twitter

This tweet promoting Wenatchee appeared in the middle of a long string of tweets about burning cars, vandalism, and an injured journalist. The first word I think of when I see this tweet in that context: uncaring.

One of the things I noticed — and I have to admit that it bothered me — was that among all the horrific news and photos coming out of Ferguson there were cheerful tweets — many of them “promoted” (i.e., ads) — pushing products or websites or Twitter accounts. They revealed social media marketing efforts for what they are: a completely detached, automated scheduling of advertisements aimed at whoever follows the Twitter account.

I wasn’t the only person to notice the problem with scheduled tweets.

I wasn’t the only person to notice this. One of my friends retweeted a comment by another observant Twitter user who advised social media workers to check scheduled tweets. Did any of them do so? Who knows.

A U.K. Twitter user doesn’t think too highly of what’s going on here.

I fell asleep a while later, but woke up around 1 AM (as I sometimes do) and decided to check in on the Ferguson situation on Twitter, which seemed to be my best source. I think it was 3 AM back there and things were settling down. Many of the protesters had gone home. The U.K. was awake — I follow several people who live over there — tweeting about U.K. things. The few tweets about what was going on over here were not complementary. The world apparently sees the U.S. as a hotbed of racism.

Racism
Jim Henson is probably rolling in his grave.

And maybe it is. This morning, I was horrified to find an update, 10 hours old, with the image here at the top of my Facebook newsfeed. There were 11 likes. Needless to say, I don’t follow the updates of the person who posted it anymore — and am actually ashamed that he’s one of my real-life friends.

A Snowy Weekend

First snow of the season is just right.

It started snowing Friday afternoon.

It had been forecasted, so I was expecting it and got all my errands done early in the day. There was a sleety mix coming down in town as I headed home. By the time I pulled into my driveway, the sleet was more snow-like. It could have been our elevation — my home’s elevation is about 800 feet higher than town at the river’s edge. I put my Jeep away in the garage, let Penny out, and settled down to an afternoon catching up on paperwork.

First Snow Reading
By mid-afternoon, there was just three quarters of an inch of accumulated snow.

By 2:47 PM, there was 3/4 inch on the ground. Not very impressive.

But it kept snowing. I chatted with a few different friends on the phone, watching the white stuff come down in big flakes outside. Inside was toasty warm and smelled of the ham and cheese quiche I had in the oven. I was sipping a hot coffee with eggnog and milk — a do-it-yourself eggnog latte.

Later, after dark, I let Penny out to do her business. She stood at the doorway just looking at the snow, completely uninterested in stepping out. Later, before bed, when the snow was deeper but still coming down, I had pretty much the same luck with her. I suspected I might have a problem.

Of course, a tiny dog can only hold it for so long. She woke me at 3 AM, needing to go out. I obliged, standing at the doorway while she managed to find a satisfactory spot under the front deck to take care of business. It had stopped snowing and the sky was full of stars with just a few low clouds floating around. The cliffs behind my home were illuminated by the starlight and reflected light from town miles away. It was a beautiful night — perfect for some photography.

Now wide wake, I went back inside and set up my camera and tripod. I experimented with some shots from the deck outside my bedroom door and then the front deck. Although I couldn’t get a satisfactory shot of the cliffs, I did get an acceptable one looking down toward town. (I need to get my camera checked; there’s something screwy going on with exposures.)

Wenatchee at Night
I made this photo of the lights of Wenatchee from the deck outside my bedroom door.

Total Snowfall
Total snowfall was about 4-1/2 inches at my place.

I went in to have coffee, write in my journal, and do some blogging. I had some quiche for breakfast. Somewhere along the way, it got light out. I went back out with my ruler and stuck it in the virgin snow on my driveway apron. Four and a half inches.

The stuff was not wet but not quite powdery. The temperature was right around 32°F and didn’t feel cold at all. There was no wind. And it was amazingly beautiful with all that untouched snow on the ground.

I put on my Sorrels and walked back out to check on the chickens. They were out and about in their yard and looked up at me, as they usually do, expecting food. Their water was free of ice — I’d bought them a heated waterer — and although there was snow in their food dispenser, it didn’t look wet. I threw them a scoop of scratch and checked for eggs. There were three of them, one of which was still warm. Apparently, my chickens hadn’t gotten the memo about cutting back on egg production when the days got short.

First light was just hitting downtown Wenatchee. I went back upstairs and took in the view from the deck outside my bedroom. The light was pink as it touched the mountains and valley to the northwest. I felt as if I could have watched the view change all day, but it was time to get some work done outside.

First Light on a Snowy Morning
First light hits the Wenatchee Valley on a snowy morning.

Although my driveway is quite long, I don’t plan on ever shoveling or plowing it. I have a Jeep and its tires are still good. The driveway doesn’t have much of a slope to it. I don’t expect getting in or out with the Jeep to ever be much of a problem, especially since snow doesn’t usually stick around long here. Even my truck has 4WD, so if I need to get out with that, I know I can. How do I know? I used it to pull my RV out last February after a heavy snowstorm for a two-month trip to California. The Honda? Well, the Honda is in for the winter at this point.

But I also have a concrete driveway apron, which I need clear if I want to get my helicopter out for a flight. I didn’t have any flights scheduled until after Thanksgiving, but who knows what might come up? I had already decided to keep it clear of snow and ice. I had a good shovel and a bag of ice melt. With temperatures expected to rise during the day, I wanted to shovel now, before the snow got soft and heavy.

It didn’t take long and I have to admit that it felt good. That might sound weird to the people who consider snow-shoveling a chore, but I do it so infrequently (so far) that it’s more of an excuse to move around outdoors than any kind of real work — especially when the snow is still light and there’s no ice to contend with. I felt the same way last year when I shoveled the walk at the home I was housesitting at after a snowfall. The whole job took about 20 minutes — the driveway apron is only 22 x 30 feet — and I barely broke a sweat in my fleece sweatshirt.

Shoveled Driveway
My shoveled driveway apron, just in case I need to pull the helicopter out for a flight.

I didn’t spread any ice melt on it. The way I see it, there’s no reason to spread that crap around unless there’s ice to melt. I figured I’d monitor the condition of the driveway apron and, if the little snow left did turn to ice, I’d spread some ice melt to get rid of it. But as the day wore on, the snow melted and the resulting water dried. No ice.

While I was out with the shovel and still energized, I shoveled a path from my front door to the chicken yard. This would give Penny a better place to run and do her business. But she had already figured out that she could stay under the front and side decks to get around the building without having to walk through much snow. In fact, while I was shoveling she disappeared around the back of the building, possibly tracking the scent of a rabbit that had left tracks in the snow back there.

Snowy Home
A look back at my home from Lookout Point on a snowy morning.

Before going back inside, I walked down to Lookout Point, my little bench overlooking the valley. I’d brought the bench cushions in when the weather began changing two weeks ago and the bench looked abandoned and kind of forlorn with its covering of snow. I looked back at my home and liked what I saw: the neat symmetry of the building, the smooth blanket of snow on its big roof, the pine trees on the cliffs behind my home, accented with white. The path back to my home from the bench looked inviting. I looked forward to mornings like this when I could stoke up a fire in the fireplace and sip hot cocoa while looking out over the valley.

And that’s when I realized that I liked winter.

It’s odd because I left New Jersey to escape the cold. That put me in Arizona, which I soon grew to dislike for many reasons, not the least of which was the brutally hot summers. But my home in Arizona also lacked seasons — the only thing that changed was the average daytime high and nighttime low. There were no fall colors, there was no snow, there was no springtime leafing out. The seasons were more subtle, marked by temperature changes, wildflower and cactus blooms, and thunderstorms.

We bought some vacation property in northern Arizona, mostly to escape the hot Phoenix area summers. We went up there pretty regularly in the summer early on, and I spent much of the summers of 2004 and 2005 in my old RV up there. But we also enjoyed going up there in the winter time. How many Thanksgivings and Christmases did we spend in the cabin we built together? I remember waking once to a hushed, snow-covered landscape, cosy and warm under a thick comforter up on the loft, going downstairs to make a hot breakfast of Pillsbury orange danish. We spent part of that day at the Grand Canyon, walking the shoveled rim trails, before dinner with friends at El Tovar. That property, bought for summer use, became my winter treat. The chain of Christmasy red and white stars I’d bought still hung from the loft the last time I was there.

Now I’m back in a four-season place. Indeed, the winter here is remarkably like the winters in northern New Jersey, where I spent more than half of my life. But there’s the added benefit of a wide variety of winter sports nearby: downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and skating. There’s life here — that’s another thing I’ve been missing for too long.

I didn’t spend much time outside that morning. I had things to do inside before heading out to visit a friend and then participating in a cider tasting outing with other friends. Dinner out came afterward. The temperature rose throughout the day but it got cloudy. The roads were icy on the way home, but I threw the Jeep into 4WD and had plenty of traction.

The next day, Sunday, was even warmer. My garage got up to 50°F before I realized I didn’t need the space heater on while I did my warm glass work. Snow was melting everywhere and my driveway apron was dry. The chicken yard was snow-free — they’d trampled it all down into wet dirt and they were still making plenty of eggs. It was 46°F outside when I left at 1 PM for a football party at a friend’s house. I took my truck because I needed to run my trash cans out to the main road. It had no trouble on the unplowed driveway.

Temperatures this week will continue to rise, with a daytime high on Wednesday expected to be 50°F. The National Weather Service is predicting a warmer than normal winter here and if the cold snap we had earlier this month is an anomaly — which I believe it is — we might not get much more snow at all. Although I hope to get some cross-country skiing in before I head south for a month or two, I don’t really care one way or another. This snowfall was a treat and I’m sure there will be many snowy weekends in my future.

Grammar Nazis Rejoice!

Microphone iconThere’s a new kind of typo in town.

Do you use dictation to enter text? Here are my thoughts.

Dictated Corrected
First, there were the typos and legitimate spelling and grammar errors that we made when using keyboard. First, there were the typos and legitimate spelling and grammar errors that we made when using a keyboard.
Then there were the typos common Austin “aided” but auto correct, to deliver often hilarious text messages when we attempted to key in text on our phones and mobile devices. Then there were the typos common , Austin often “aided” but by auto correct AutoCorrect, to deliver often hilarious text messages when we attempted to key in text on our phones and mobile devices.
And now, there are the typos and other Errors generated buy are growing use of dictation on our mobile devices and our computers. And now, there are the typos and other Errors errors generated buy are by our growing use of dictation on our mobile devices and our computers.
Are used dictation quite frequently on my iPhone and iPad. Sometimes, the device clearly understands what I’m saying and in exactly what I would’ve typed. Other times, it gets things completely screwed up to the point where it’s impossible two even imagine what I might’ve been trying To say. I’m trying, more and more, to use dictation on my computer. I find that I don’t type quite as well as I used to and I’m not sure why. It seems to me that using technology to get the job done should be a good idea. But every once in a while, I let some text go without proofreading it. The results could be something like what you’re seeing on the left side of the stage–raw, Dictated text. I found it necessary to provide a translation in the right column. Are used I use dictation quite frequently on my iPhone and iPad. Sometimes, the device clearly understands what I’m saying and in enters exactly what I would’ve typed. Other times, it gets things completely screwed up to the pointwhere it’s impossible two to even imagine what I might’ve been trying To to say. I’m trying, more and more, to use dictation on my computer. I find that I don’t type quite as well as I used to and I’m not sure why. It seems to me that using technology to get the job done should be a good idea. But every once in a while, I let some text go without proofreading it. The results could be something like what you’re seeing on the left side of the stage page–raw, Dictated dictated text. I found it necessary to provide a translation in the right column.
Of course, sometimes the errors are so minor that they really do resemble typos. For example, this morning I dictated a text message to a friend of mine and I used the word to. The version of the word to that I meant was T00, but my phone typed in TW oh. If I hadn’t caught and fix that and if my friend or a grammar Nazi I give him ammunition to rip me. Of course, sometimes the errors are so minor that they really do resemble typos. For example, this morning I dictated a text message to a friend of mine and I used the word to too. The version of the word to that I meant was T00 TOO, but my phone typed in TW oh TWO. If I hadn’t caught and fix fixed that and if my friend or were a grammar Nazi, I I’d give him ammunition to rip rib me.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is this: when you see a grammar error on screen, consider that it might not have been the person entering the text who made the error. Instead, it may have been the machine taking down his or her dictation. So I guess what I’m trying to say is this: when you see a grammar error on screen, consider that it might not have been the person entering the text who made the error. Instead, it may have been the machine taking down his or her dictation.
This column was dictated on an iMac running OS 10 Yosemite using the built-in microphone. This column was dictated on an iMac running OS 10 X Yosemite using the built-in microphone.

Thoughts?

Ham and Swiss Cheese Quiche

When you have a never-ending supply of eggs, you make quiche (among other things).

I have chickens. Six of them. They started laying eggs about 2 months ago and they haven’t stopped. At the peak of the laying season, I was getting about 3 dozen a week. Now I’m getting about 2 dozen a week. They don’t seem to mind the cold or the short days. They just keep laying eggs.

I can’t possibly eat 2 dozen eggs a week. But I’m trying. And I’m also giving away fresh eggs to anyone who gives me an empty egg carton.

Quiche
Hot from the oven.

On Thursday, a friend who got a carton of 18 eggs from me on Wednesday dropped off about two pounds of sliced cooked ham. By that time, I already had 4 fresh eggs from my girls — and I hadn’t even collected 5 more from that day. With 9 eggs and 2 pounds of ham, it seemed like it was only natural to make a ham and swiss cheese quiche.

Later today, I’ll bring him half of it.

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup half and half (heavy cream will work, too)
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions
  • 1 cup shredded swiss cheese
  • 1 frozen 9-in deep dish pie crust, unbaked

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, beat together the eggs and half and half.
  2. Place the ham, scallions, and swiss cheese in the pie crust.
  3. Pour the egg mixture over the ham mixture.
  4. Bake in a 400°F oven for 45 – 60 minutes or until set.

Yields: 8 slices

Nutritional Information: 250 calories per slice. This recipe is low in carbs and high in sodium (because of the ham), potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and riboflavin. You can get complete nutritional information for this recipe here.

A Jeep Trip to Mission Ridge

A surprisingly wonderful midday out.

I’ve been debating what to do this winter. I don’t have much work here in the Wenatchee area other than writing, which I can do anywhere. I will likely be heading down to California in January anyway to record a new course for Lynda.com. I’ve been thinking about spending a month or two in Arizona — after all, I do still own a home there — and I have friends to visit and hike with. But local friends are encouraging me to stick around and even do something crazy (for me): take up downhill skiing.

So I have options.

Heli Skiing

A chat with a pilot friend yesterday morning got me thinking about heli skiing — where you use a helicopter as a ski lift to take you (very) quickly to the top of the slopes. And that got me thinking of my friend Don and Mission Ridge.

Don is an avid skier. He’s rejoicing over the early opening of the local ski resort, Mission Ridge, and is determined to be one of the first on line for the lift on Saturday.

Don’s been talking to me on and off about offering heli skiing at Mission Ridge. He says I can drop off skiers at the microwave towers at the top of the ridge. And then he offered to drive up there with me.

I didn’t realize we could drive up. But since there are towers up there, of course you can drive up. I didn’t know how to get there but offered to drive. I met him with my Jeep at his house at about 10:30 AM. The plan was to scout for a landing zone so I could propose a heli-skiing service to the folks at Mission Ridge.

Top of Mission Ridge
This ski trail map by the folks at Mission Ridge really exaggerates the mountains and distances. The arrow points to my proposed landing zone.

The Drive Up

We took two cars — my Jeep and Don’s truck — to the turnoff for Jumpoff Road off of Stemilt Loop Road. No sense in me driving all the way back to Don’s house when we were done, especially since the Jumpoff turn was closer to my place than his.

Jumpoff, by the way, is the name of the ridge behind my home. There’s a basalt cliff face to the south of me that soars at least 500 feet straight up. The top of that is called Jumpoff Ridge. There’s a road that winds up the side of the mountain near Stemilt Hill to the west of me. From there, another road turns off to follow power lines up the mountain. And then another road breaks off to the microwave towers overlooking the resort on Wenatchee Mountain, elevation 6742 feet.

It was not a short drive. It wasn’t smooth, either. Although the first road, Jumpoff Ridge Road, was relatively smooth and well-maintained, the next two roads weren’t maintained at all. The power line road was pretty straight in most places, but was filled with large rocks that forced me to drive slowly. Most of it was in clearings filled with bunch grass and sagebrush much like I have at my home. Whenever we left the power line, the road got windy and sometimes steep. That’s where it made its way through forests of tall pine trees.

Snow appeared on the road after the first seven or eight miles and was a few inches thick a bit farther up. I had to switch into four wheel drive at a particularly steep spot. My tire tracks were the first ones in the snow, which may have fallen overnight. Although we were on a ridge for much of the time, low clouds made it impossible to see very far in any direction. Indeed, by the time we reached the first antenna installation, a light freezing fog was blowing past. Beneath it, out to the south, we could see glimpses of where the valley dropped down toward Ellensburg.

If you’re curious about our exact route, you can find it here on Gaia GPS. I tracked it with their app on my phone.

After about an hour of driving, Don opened his backpack and pulled out a snack. He fed me cheese, crackers, and smoked turkey as I drove. That was a good thing since I’d forgotten to eat breakfast.

We made one stop along the way. There was a weird trail across the road and Don wanted to check it out. While he did that, I made a pit stop behind a tree. Then we were on our way again.

The drive to the end of the road took about 1-1/2 hours. We’d driven 15.7 miles and climbed more than 3000 feet in elevation.

At Wenatchee Mountain

At the end of the road was the Communication Facility at Wenatchee Mountain. It consists of two small buildings — both locked up tight — and a bunch of antennas. I shut off the Jeep and we all got out — Penny, too — to take a look. It was surprisingly windy up there — it wasn’t windy down below — and the wind chill must have brought it down to the teens. Exposed skin froze quickly, but the rest of me was pretty warm in heavy jeans and three layers (cotton shirt, fleece sweatshirt, and the junky polyester winter shell I’d bought at Costco for just $20). I was wearing a scarf (of course) which I soon used to cover my head and ears. (My hair, which is longer now than it’s been in about 30 years, does a good job keeping my ears warm, but not when it’s windy.)

I was thrilled to see a large, level spot that would be perfect for landing the helicopter — provided the snow wasn’t too deep there. There wasn’t much snow on the ground that day — the wind had blown the powder mostly away. I assumed the wind would almost always be coming from the south so I’d have to land into that direction. There was a clearing between trees to the north that would make that easy. And the departure off the top of the ridge to the south would be a piece of cake. A quick turn back to the north and then an autorotative descent to the starting point. I suspected I’d be able to turn a ride with two passengers on board in less than 10 minutes. With at least $50/person, I few hours each weekend morning could be lucrative enough to make me stay in Wenatchee all winter.

Wenatchee Mountain
Here’s a topo map of the top of the mountain. The terrain drops off sharply to the north, south, and west.

We turned to the larger of the two buildings and the lookout point to its south. The view from Wenatchee Mountain was breathtaking in almost every direction. There were still clouds off to the southwest, trying to drift over the ridge but not quite making it. The entire ski resort lay spread out before us — we could see trails, lifts, and buildings along the way.

Christmas Card Image
The small pine trees at the northwest edge of the mountaintop were still wearing the snow coats they’d acquired the night before. Wenatchee sits in the valley in the center left of this shot. I think this is a perfect Christmas Card photo, don’t you?

Panorama
Did you say you wanted a panorama? Here you go. You should see it in full size. I think this will look great enlarged and hung over my stairs — I really didn’t want that Monument Valley canvas triptich anyway.

Don explained how skiers would get up to the spot where we stood: a ride up on Lift 2 followed by a trip along the boundary and a climb on foot to where we stood. He said the area where the Jeep was parked was a natural snow bowl surrounded by a windbreak. He was clearly excited about the prospect of getting up there by helicopter. Despite the wind, I was getting excited about the possibility of bringing him and others.

Dognaldo in the Jeep
Don in the Jeep at the top of Wenatchee Mountain.

We hung out for a while and I took a bunch of photos while he shot off some bottle rockets to encourage snowfall. Before we started the drive back, I took a picture of Don in the Jeep, making a face at me.

Clear Lake

We took a slightly different route back that avoided much of the power line and wound down the side of the mountain toward Stemilt Hill, completely avoiding Jumpoff Ridge Road. Our path took us past an area where the mostly eaten carcass of an elk lay and an eagle sat stood up in a tree. I suspected that we’d interrupted his meal.

I stopped the Jeep but left it running and left Penny inside. Don and I each tried to approach the eagle to get a better photo. We spooked him, of course, and I got a decent shot of it taking off.

Eagle in a Tree Eagle Taking Off
An eagle watched us from a perch in a tree, then took off when we got too close.

We continued down the mountain, snacking on chocolate chips and honey roasted nuts. The road wound into the forest and took us close to Clear Lake, where Don suggested we stop for a look.

On the Shore of Clear Lake
On the shore of Clear Lake.

The lake is really just a small reservoir used to irrigate orchards on Stemilt Hill. Irrigation was turned off that time of year and the lake looked about half full. It was also frozen. Frozen enough to walk on. We figure the ice was anywhere from 3 to 6 inches thick.

Understand that our area of Washington was hit with a cold snap about a week ago that lasted a full week. We’re just coming out of it now. Low temperatures at my place have been in the teens for most of that time with highs below freezing. Today was the warmest day in a while, reaching about 35°F. I’m talking cold.

So it was no surprise to me that a lake at least 2,000 feet higher in elevation than where I live should be frozen. What was a surprise was (1) how thick that ice was and (2) how many rocks were sitting on the ice.


I shot this video of Don with my iPhone. Look at it in full screen with sound full up.

We walked around on the ice. Don slid around. We both agreed that if we had ice skates, we could be skating. He tossed large rocks across the ice so we could listen to the weird sounds they made. He fired a shot from his 22 pistol into the ice away from us. Later, we went to find the spot the bullet hit. A scratch was dug about an inch and a half into the ice and the bullet was nowhere to be seen.

I took a lot of artsy photos. At least I tried to. Later, I stuffed Penny into my jacket to keep her warm while we walked along the edge of the lake.

Clear Lake, Frozen
Clear Lake was frozen. Suitable for skating frozen.

Parting Company

We climbed back in the Jeep and followed the road the rest of the way down the mountain. It intersected with Stemilt Loop Road less than a half mile from where we’d left Don’s truck.

We talked briefly about trying to set up a meeting with the folks at Mission Ridge. I’m not sure if they’ll go for the heli-skiing idea, but it doesn’t really matter. I’d enjoyed our day out no matter what came of our “research.”

We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Fifteen minutes later, I was home. Not only did the four hour midday break leave me with a head full of good memories from an outing with a friend, but I had lots of ideas for places to camp and take my ATV and Jeep when spring and summer return. It never ceases to amaze me how many truly incredible spots are so close to where I live.