THE WAY I SEE IT by Don Polson Red Bluff Daily News 7/04/2015
Independence Day in the Rockies
Except for the fact that grasses and forests eventually dry out, becoming more or less susceptible to fires, for much of the summer, you can find greenery and flowers throughout the upper reaches of the Rocky Mountain region. Returning to the West Yellowstone area, where only road signs confirm whether you are in Idaho, Montana or Wyoming, the 6,000 to 7,000 foot high country provides any weather you can imagine.
Flower-lined Hwy 97 delivered us to our home base in Bend which was “enduring” its own “heat wave” of upper 80s (its all relative). The first day heading east got us to our one sight-to-see, Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls Idaho; we had seen its meager flows in September 2 years ago after droughts. Now, in June with abundant rain, it is a 200-foot wide cascade of many varieties of falls. We’ve seen hundreds of waterfalls; Shoshone is one of the best.
The weather seemed normal until we approached the Island Park area of Idaho, tucked into the eastern corner adjacent to Yellowstone Park and Wyoming. Conditions are greatly affected by the Rocky Mountains but particularly the Continental Divide, which sends the rain and waters that flow either east to the Atlantic Ocean or west to the Pacific Ocean.
The Divide also makes passing weather shed moisture that can be seen from afar, driving through the dry, high desert. The geological oddity that the Divide goes east and west rather than north and south for hundreds of miles from Yellowstone Park to Central Idaho makes weather “interesting.” Hence, the famous snow depths folks like us ski on.
However, summer is not the time for snow; it can, however, be a time for hail, as we found out approaching Big Springs campground for our first night. A deluge of hail slowed all traffic, even sidelining some, while the worst of it fell. It did scrub the bugs off the windows and front of the RV, but formed an inch deep layer on the road to the campground. Tire tracks told us we weren’t the first—what someone else had done, so could we, I figured. I took photos while Barbara drove. Getting to our hail-covered campsite, I took more photos. It turned out our neighbor had made the tracks; he took a video to record the remarkable sights.
Finding a site at Hebgen Lake, northwest of Yellowstone, the flowers and green grasses were a delightful reminder of the fact that spring extends into July up there. The lake, together with Quake Lake, is a testament of nature’s fury, as a major earthquake in 1959 actually tilted the land under the lake. Our shoreline was visibly almost 10 feet lower than before the quake, while some lakeside homes were left over 15 feet higher than, and up to 100 yards further away from, the shoreline. On the opposite end of the lake, cabins remain under water or partially submerged.
Dozens of people died, some in campgrounds subjected to landslides, some in cabins flooded and some even blown through the air by the rush of wind created by a massive landslide below the Hebgen Lake dam. That landslide, in which dry hillside acted like a snow avalanche, created an earthen dam behind which waters that sloshed over Hebgen Dam formed what was named Quake Lake. Engineers, rescuers and crews were airlifted to stranded campers numbering over 100, and to the newly created, but unstable, dam.
Had it been breeched, disastrous flooding would have swept into Idaho towns from this new Montana lake. The same disaster was initially avoided when the Hebgen dam miraculously held against the quake. By carving a lowered spillway into the earthen dam, workers helped the Madison River continue its course, leaving the threatened populace with stories, not devastation.
Our Internet and radio reception was sufficient to the task of providing eyes and ears to current events and controversies. Much of the MSN (Mainstream News) was obsessed over a low brow tweet by President Trump that lashed out in rather insulting terms against the “Morning Joe” couple, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. Frankly, as I thought, read and listened to commentary, I find first a double standard of hypocrisy. The same MSN talkers and news readers that never expressed outrage that Obama, as President, talked about “enemies” and taking a gun to a knife fight, as well as labeling an entire group of patriotic Americans, specifically the Tea Party movement, in terms that castigated their character, motives and even their patriotism.
I will include Trump’s tweet because, unlike the MSN that I saw, read or heard, I want readers to have the benefit of his actual words, not just the howling of Democrats (that routinely say the same or worse about Republicans) and the braying of media figures that have, as a group, peddled the most vile aspersions, while feigning “objective” reporting, against conservatives.
“I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came…to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joing me. She was leeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”
I think the record shows that the Joe/Mika show has questioned Trump’s sanity, patriotism, his danger to America, his racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia and just about every despicable attack you can imagine. When the MSN indulges in crackpot hysteria from the left, Democrats, and their own members; when they offer no refutation of the same; when they blithely accept that Trump is so bizarre that it is a virtual crime to consider him to be “normal”—the media blindly ignore that they alone have destroyed the idea of a “normal” news media and have lost any claim to moral high ground in this spat.