Let’s remove the Cascade mountains

Photo by Scott Miller


Last summer I posted a blog entry in which Mrs. Unaccomplished Angler and I went east of the Cascade mountains for an anniversary float trip with Derek Young of Emerging Rivers Guide Services. We left gloomy gray skies behind and headed toward better weather, which I described as the typical “Summer Ream Job” that Western Washington commonly suffers. To quote myself:

As is evident in the photo, the west side of the state is often blanketed by a layer of “marine air” (AKA clouds) while everything east of the Cascades enjoys more typical summer fare (sun, warm temps). It’s pretty obvious that Washington is split down the middle (or rather down a division of approximately 1/3 going to the west and 2/3 to the east).  The west side is home to depressing weather and Democrats, while the east has much better weather and Republicans.  These are, of course, generalizations and I don’t want to get into a meteorological/political debate here. Let’s just say the state of Washington should be divided into two separate states, and I should move east.

Well, I’m here once again to talk about this weather phenomenon. It probably is of very little or no interest to any of you, but it’s therapeutic to write about it. Our western WA weather, which I have moaned about plenty often in recent months, has been worse than usual this Spring, thanks to La Niña (The Bitch). While technically summer doesn’t begin for two more days, we’re close enough that we should be able to expect a lot better than what we’ve been having.

We recently returned from a weekend trip to the Gorge at George for a Tim McGraw Concert. After the concert we stayed in Moses Lake at the home of Mrs. Unaccomplished Angler’s sister. We awakened to sunny skies on Sunday morning. The wind was blowing, as it so often does in central Washington (thanks to the crappy weather in Western Washington). But it was sunny.  It was pleasant. If you were able to keep your car on the road thanks to the strong winds, it was a nice day for a drive.

Allow me to take you along with the Family Unaccomplished on our westward journey into western Washington: land of the Summer Ream Job. Not to worry, while I was the photographer, I was not driving.

June 19th. We left Moses Lake at around noon. This is what it looked like (note the potential high for the day):

Traveling west on I-90. As we crossed the bridge over the Columbia River at Vantage, it looked very much like summer. There were even boats on the river:

Ascending the grade toward Ryegrass, the wind continued to blow, giving ample power to the scores of power-generating windmills that now visually pollute the landscape:

While still under blue skies and strong winds, a pitstop at the Indian John Hill rest stop between Ellensburg and Cle Elum revealed our fate – a thick layer of clouds lingering over the Cascades:

As we proceeded westward we grew nearer to the clouds:

With every click of the odometer, the mileage on “Bessy” (Mrs. UA’s aging Ford Explorer) increased, as did the clouds:

Before long, the blue sky was a thing of the past (the blue you see at the top of this frame is not the sky, but rather the anti-glare tinting along the top edge of the windshield).

As we began the gradual ascent of the east slope of the Cascades, it grew darker:

Skirting the shores of Lake Kacheelus, the headwaters of the mighty Yakima River, we knew there would be no chance of making it home without using the windshield wipers. We pitied the poor fool on a Harley in front of us:

Nearing the summit, the windshield wipers became necessary as a light drizzle began to fall. Again note the blue along the top of the photo, which is NOT blue sky:

We crested the summit, where the low-hanging marine air seemed to say, “Welcome to the Wet Side”. Through the rhythmic dance of the wipers, it looked more like November than June 19th:

Descending the west slope it appeared that we might have navigate by instrumentation:

Another hour later we had dropped into the lowlands and were home. The road was wet. Everything was very lush and green, the results of ample precipitation. I wish I could have said we were all glad to be home as we drove the last 100 yards of our journey:

June 19th. This is what it looked like when we pulled into our driveway. Note the potential high for the day. I am here to tell you that we did not reach it:

So there you have it– a firsthand photo journey of a trip to western Washington. I hope you’ve enjoyed the experience, if for no other reason than to understand my misery. I suppose there are two ways to alleviate the gloomy weather:

  1. Move east.
  2. Lead a campaign to knock a couple thousand feet off the Cascades so our marine weather can be allowed to more quickly dissipate as it is shared with the central and eastern parts of the state.

The second option would obviously not be without certain devastating consequences (some but not all of them good for fish). As for option #1, I don’t believe I’m going to talk Mrs. UA into moving anytime soon. I guess I’m left with nothing else to do but continue to complain.


Blah, blah, blah.


  1. Evan

    I grew up between Ephrata/Moses Lake, and still have parents I’m obligated to visit there. I can tell you that living there is far, far more depressing than living around these parts. But for very different reasons.

    • Kirk Werner

      Evan, niether Moses Hole nor Ephrata would be on my list of places to move, even though Grant County certainly has more sunshine than the wet side. I’m thinking more someplace like Asotin.

  2. cofisher

    Colorado has somewhere around 350 days of sunshine a year. California had more snow and a longer winter than Colorado (except our mountains) this year. Just sayin’

    • Kirk Werner

      Howard, I doubt Colorado is big enough for the two of us, so I’ll leave you to your 350 days of sunshine. Although maybe some day *I* can come visit.

      • kp

        But Kirk, *you* did come visit.

        Honestly, I love this Denver climate more than anything I’ve experienced (for a long period of time).

        • Kirk Werner

          Kyle, I realize that *I* came to Denver, but that was to hang with you. A week or so with Howard would likely be a vastly inferior different experience…weatherwise, y’know?

  3. Fontinalis Rising

    I suppose it’s the equivalent to the Endless Winter that happens here sometimes. We’ve had non-existent summers where it rains non-stop. All in all, summers here are incredible (like Saturday was). Michigan was smart- we imported steelhead to our waters so we wouldn’t all have to move out there.

    • Kirk Werner

      FR- I reckon we all have our gripes, no matter where we live, which is exactly why we should all hope to win the lottery one say, so we can go leave permanent jobs behind and go where the wind takes us, which would hopefully be to sunny, mild places where the wind doesn’t blow and the fishing is always good. You have steelhead back there?

  4. Patrick

    There’s an eerie similarity between this modest proposal and mine, written for a creative writing class in 1982, involving the removal of the San Gabriel Mountains. The main goal was to allow the smog to move out of the L.A. basin toward Phoenix. Also, then, as now, the economy was floundering. Also like then, you could add increased employment to the list of benefits, albeit it temporary, as there’d be a good many jobs created by such a crazy massive project. That’s all from sunny Northern California…

    • Kirk Werner

      Great minds, Pat? Perhaps you should post that essay (assuming you’ve kept it all these MANY years).

  5. Chuck

    From where I’m standing….you’re in heaven! You fish more than anybody I know and ya have a wife that must be pretty tolerant! You live in the mountains! GEEEEEZZZZZZZ. this post kinds pisses me off, I gotta tell ya!

    • Kirk Werner

      Chuck, Chuck, Chuck…poor, mis-guided Chuck. I have fished maybe 6 or 7 days since the first of the year. If that is more than anyone you know, then you don’t know many people! And you clearly do not know Mrs. UA. And I live in the lowlands- in the shadow of the mountains, but not the mountains. Hope you;’re doing well…

      • chuck

        I guess it just seem as like you fish a lot. Maybe you go on a lot of trips and don’t fish! Ha! I should have said you go on a lot of trips! I fish more than anybody I know but unfortunately I do most of it right here at home! You have in fact been on more trips to fish than I have in the last two years! I don’t consider it a real trip unless I drive more than a hundred miles! I’m thinkin out there you do that routinely!

        • Kirk Werner

          Perhaps I have simply created an illusion. If you think I go on a lot of trips, so be it. Mystery, intrigue…falsehoods be damned!

  6. Sanders

    I was really hoping for a happy ending to this one…

    “the bitch”…a cruel mistress

    • Kirk Werner

      Well, to be clear it was not all doom and gloom upon arriving home. Being Father’s Day I was treated to a dinner of ribs and a box from Orvis.

  7. Eric DeJong

    Kirk, you really should move east of the mountains so we don’t have to listen to you whine and cry about living on the west side any more. Here’s what the authors of a recent article in the Journal of Social, Evolutionary and Cultural Psychology (“Whines, Cries, and Motherese: The Power to Distract”) said:

    “Whines, cries, and motherese have important features in common: they are all
    well-suited for getting the attention of listeners (see Chang & Thompson, 2010, for a
    review), and they share salient acoustic characteristics – those of increased pitch, varied pitch contours, and slowed production, though the production speed of cries varies (e.g. Sokol, Webster, Thompson, & Stevens, 2005).”

    Pretty much describes this latest post, and come to think of it, much of your blogging. Man up, buddy.

    • Kirk Werner

      It’s all about getting your attention, E. The only time you ever pay me any mind is when I bitch and moan. So, see? It works.

      • Eric DeJong

        That’s not entirely true. I went and took some “casting practice” on the Snoqualmie on Saturday and thought briefly about getting in touch ahead of time to rendezvous so you could show me all your secret spots on this world famous fishery. But on reflection I concluded that you’d probably just whine about the rain and decided it was better to fish in peace. As I was driving through Duvall on the way home I briefly thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to stop off and have a beer with Kirk?” but ultimately concluded that you were probably at home wrapped in your Snuggie, nursing a crappy macrobrew, and whining about the weather.

        • Kirk Werner

          Well, see now you’re just being mean-spirited. You have a problem with little people, don’t you? And what’s wrong with my Snuggie? It’s WSU-issue. You should be nicer, like your brothers.

  8. Mrs UA

    Mr UA~ Eric is on to something here… you have to turn this post around. You live in a place that is lush and green with plenty of water, so much water that you don’t even have to pay for irrigation to water your lawn. You are surrounded by rivers less than 30 minutes from your home, and YES you do have an extremely tolerant wife who lets you go fishing whenever you want. If you put these photos in reverse order then you can leave this gray, depressing, rainy place whenever you want to, hitch up ole Bessie and head east watching the weather get sunnier and drier as you go. You even get to stay for free at your in-laws, swim in their pool and drink their beer, all for free! whine whine whine…

    • Kirk Werner

      Dear Mrs. Understanding Unaccomplished Angler,

      Nobody likes to hear about the good fortunes of others. Pain, suffering, underaccomplishments and heart-wrenching drama is what draws people to the evening news, and this blog. But thanks for letting me fish whenever I want.

  9. David G

    You are always a forward thinker, Kirk! Let the clouds out of their cage!

    • Kirk Werner

      Exactly, David- I’m glad you see things my way 😉

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