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Monthly Archives: July 2018

Most days, like today, I sit hunched over my computer screen, sitting in the deep shade, avoiding the heat and sun, slightly bored, not believing in much of anything.  As Dylan said, “it’s easy to see, without looking too far, that not much here is really sacred.”

But, every so often…

Cloudst at the pass, July 28, 2018

 

Like yesterday, my wife and son and I went to visit our niece, spending the summer on the coast at a marine science center, and decided to drive back to Spokane, even though we would arrive home late.  We also decided to try to avoid the traffic around Seattle, and take the “scenic route” home, through the North Cascades.  The result—we didn’t  arrive home until about 2 AM.

I recall driving through the north Cascades only once before—probably close to 20 years ago—and remembered only two real details from that trip—one was a tight canyon we drove through—the second a mountain with sheer cliffs and  multiple peaks that we passed as darkness approached.

Clouds at the pass, July 28, 2018

 

This time, we pressed hard to make it over the mountains  in the light, and arrived at the pass as the  sun was setting.  A passing thunderstorm dampened the road,  with clouds swirling overhead.  A sign pointed to an overlook—which I assumed to be the usual slender parking lot on the edge of the road—but this one turned out different—a modest parking area with a trail leading off into a forest—we followed the trail, and found ourselves on a rock outcropping, overlooking a majestic valley, with the clouds dancing overhead in the light of the setting sun.

I do not know what god or gods control our destiny—but sometimes I do feel that some force in the universe puts me in a place and time where something magic and sacred happens—the clouds dance, the thunder rolls, the mountains stand majestic,  and the light blesses it all.  And all I can do is raise my camera in thanks.

 

At the pass, July 28, 2018

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Near Odessa, WA, July 10, 2018

 

My guess is that it was a new driveway with a kink in it–not a problem for shorter vehicles, but obviously an issue for this load.   The first half the house was already on site…

During the summer of 2017, I tried to photograph every public grain elevator in Whitman County, and on July 17, photographed the crib elevator in the small community of Hay, located about 90 miles from my home in Spokane.

Hay Elevator, July 17, 2017

 

In the spring of 2018, I learned that this elevator was being torn down in order to salvage the wood, to be converted into flooring.  I visited the site in March 2018, right as the razing of the structure began.

Hay, March 16, 2017

I met some of the workers on the job, and had a tour of the inside of the elevator–discovered that the last occupancy permit on the wall was dated 1999.  Apparently the elevator has not been used since then.  In March, some of the metal sheathing had been removed from the outside of the building, and several cuts had been made in the wood structure through the outside walls.

Hay, April 11, 2018

By April 11th, the covered unloading area had been removed, as well as the wood in the corners.  Progress seemed slow.

Hay, May 20, 2018

By  mid May, the west end and the tower had been removed, but the structure still towered over the landscape.

Hay, June 27, 2018

 

When I made a visit on June 27, the structure had been razed to the foundation.  I’m not sure what I found most shocking about the scene–the complete disappearance of the structure, or the sudden appearance of the tree behind it.   There is still some site clean up to be done, but the building is gone.

In my own limited time here, I’ve witnessed the razing of grain elevators at Sperry (Franklin County), Belmont, Crabtree (a pile of rubble by the time I arrived), Shreck, Grinnell (a flathouse), and now Hay.

I have mixed feelings about the deconstruction of the grain elevator at Hay.  Obviously, the elevator was no longer being used, and so served no useful function.  Converting the wood into flooring is a way of finding a new use for the materials, and removed a hazard.  On the other hand, it’s removal is evidence of the changes in agriculture–to bigger fields, bigger combines, bigger grain trucks–and bigger grain handling facilities.  Fewer people are needed to produce more grain.

In speaking with the workers at the site, they are scheduled to raze more of the old wooden crib elevators in the area–they estimate that they have at least several years worth of work lined out in front of them.