Thursday, October 6, 2016

Flotsam and Jetsam?

The beaches along the Olympic Peninsula are amazing.  The forested bluffs rise abruptly from the water, and offshore are often small islands and sea stacks. 

Instead of sand, on the beaches near Forks there is black gravel in varying sizes from smaller-than-a-peppercorn to marble-size and larger.  Many have huge logs and stumps like those we saw at Rialto Beach.  

In the town of Forks, which calls itself The Logging Capital of the World, there are two very large logs displayed.  This one, a giant Sitka spruce, was logged in 1977.  At that time, it was almost twelve feet in diameter and 256 feet tall.  At that time it was estimated to be 460 years old.

The second, just outside of town, is estimated to be even older.

Forks has several other attractions.  The Logging Museum is worth a look.  We had hoped to take a three-hour logging tour to get a close-up look at the way these beautiful trees are harvested, processed and how regrowth occurs.  Unfortunately, the logging tours only ran through the end of August, so we missed our chance.

A new attraction, which opened last year, is unusual to say the least.  John Anderson turned a hobby into a vocation to share with others.  John’s Beachcombing Museum contains displays of items that have washed up on beaches in the area.  (And a few from other places where he has collected or that have been donated to the museum.) 

 John himself, has a wealth of information about the area. 

I can’t show you even a small part of his collection, but this will give you a feel for the “treasures”.  

There are bottles of every size, shape and color.  

Many of them are whiskey bottles from Japan.

He also has a collection of messages-in-a-bottle, and the containers they came in.  In every possible instance, John has contacted the person who sent the message and many have responded back to him. 

There is also a length of chain that has been dated to the 15th or 16th century.

Since the ocean currents that impact the upper coast of Washington originate near Japan, John has recovered a significant number of articles that were washed out to sea from the Tsunami which devastated Japan in 1986.  There are also numerous glass floats from fishing nets, along with floats made of wood or other materials.

Some of the most curious objects came from containers either broken loose or jettisoned from container ships in the Pacific.  John explained that the most valuable cargo is in containers carried on or close to the ship’s deck.  The less valuable items are in containers stacked high above the deck.  John’s collection contains bins of Nike shoes and these creepy Raggedy Ann doll heads.  All these and other curiosities were from container spills.

One of the most unusual is this spinner cone from a Boeing 727 jet engine.  At least two large passenger jets have crashed into the Pacific in recent years, and John contacted Boeing to see if the engine part might be from one of those planes.  He said they took a long time to respond, but did not want the spinner cone.  So, it sits on its shelf in the Beachcombing Museum with its history a mystery.

The curious thing is…on all the beaches we visited we only saw one piece of trash.  That was a tire and wheel that washed up on Kalaloch Beach 4.  There were no plastic bottles, no styrofoam cups, no plastic bags.  The beaches were all pristine except for the logs that floated down the rivers and ended up at the high-tide line.  John must have been very busy to keep those beaches so clean. 

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