Join Us for a Community Picnic, Sunday, July 30

You are invited to join us this Sunday, July 30, for a community picnic at the Prosperity Grange and Tin Cup Golf Range!

There will be plenty of complimentary food, a showcase of local organizations and businesses, animals and activities for families, and a special musical guest.

Austin RadioSunday, July 30
12 noon to 4 PM
Prosperity Grange and Tin Cup Golf Range

An illness prevents the Olympia duo, “Austin Radio“, from appearing at this year’s picnic. Instead, musicians Roger & Deb Hamilton will perform. Roger Hamilton crafts fine, handmade guitars at Hamilton Guitars in Rochester. Contact Roger at (253) 722-3442 or rahguitars@gmail.com for more information.

You won’t want to miss the delicious seafood dishes served by Xinh Dwelley, proprietor of the fabled Xinh’s Crab & Oyster House.

Griffin Fire Department

The Griffin Fire Department will hold a benefit car wash, this same day. Please come on by and get your car or truck washed, for a good cause.

Here’s a sample of some of the organizations and local businesses who will be attending:

And many more!

If you are a new member who joins the Griffin Neighborhood Association, at the picnic, your name will be entered into a drawing to win a $25 gift certificate donated by Character’s Corner.

The Olympia Host Lions Club are raffling off a 40-pound box of fresh fuji apples, to be delivered in October. Make sure you stop by their table to get entered into the raffle.

Special thanks to our event sponsors:

Character’s Corner

Island Johnny

Jay’s Farm Stand

Steamboat Trading Post

Taylor Shellfish Farms

Thurston County Explorer Search and Rescue

Tin Cup Driving Range

Xinh Dwelley

Lots of opportunities still exist, if you are able to volunteer to help with this event. There are tasks that take little time and people are needed to work for as little as an hour or so, the actual day of the picnic. For information about how you can help, please contact Becky at FurAcres@gmail.com

Bring your family and visit with your neighbors, enjoy a delicious meal, and listen to the sounds of Austin Radio at this free community event.

 

Annual Report of the Steamboat Conservation Partnership

The Steamboat Conservation Partnership recently released its latest annual report. As many of you know, the SCP’s fiscal year begins July 1st of each year. Among the highlights are an eighth successful year of operation, continued planning, and collaboration with the Capitol Land Trust to identify important parcels in our area, for preservation. Here are excerpts from the CLT’s annual report:

Donations: During our 2016 – 2017 fiscal year (July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017), we raised $20,727 for Capitol Land Trust, earmarked to finance part of their activities within the Steamboat Peninsula Region where most of us live and/or own property. Donations during the month of June were enhanced by three of our donors matching, dollar for dollar, any donations not exceeding a combined total of $1,500. This allowed us to exceed our annual goal of $15,000 in collections by more than 33.3%. This matching program was a first for the Steamboat Conservation Partnership.

Over the eight years of our existence, we have raised $134,129 for Capitol Land Trust, which is $14,129 above our goal of $120,000 for that eight-year period. We should all be very proud of generating these funds to ensure that many of our natural areas will be available to our children, grandchildren, and beyond.

Activities: This spring many of us in the Steamboat Conservation Partnership, along with friends and neighbors, began restoring a remnant portion of Schneider Prairie. The remnant is located on the north side of the Highway 101 overpass, where the majestic oak tree stands on the SW corner of Steamboat Island Road and Sexton Road. Many of us pass this site on our daily commutes.

We removed blackberries, scotch broom, and invasive non-native trees. Later, 4th Grade classes from the Griffin School worked the site to prepare for fall plantings of native prairie wildflowers and grasses. The project is led by Stephanie Bishop, a parent of Griffin School kids who works for the Thurston Conservation District. Long-time Steamboat Conservation Partnership participants Jack Sisco and Joanne Schuett-Hames helped organize the efforts.

This special project builds on past efforts of the Griffin Neighborhood Association. Years ago, members of the Griffin Neighborhood Association planted Gerry oak trees and other native vegetation in this and other areas after the freeway overpass was built on Steamboat Island Road. At that time Griffin School teachers initiated a long-term monitoring project on the nearby Schneider Creek. This newly restored area will be will now be used as a second outdoor educational site where students learn about our local prairie, and the traditional uses of prairie plants by Native Americans.

Read More

Sovereign Cellars’ Spring Release Wine Tasting Event, June 24 and 25

Click the image for a larger view.

Dennis Gross, winemaker for Sovereign Cellars, invites local residents to the Sovereign Cellars’ Spring Release Wine Tasting Event. “Our vintage wines have turned out exceptional. Please come enjoy friends, hors d’oeurves and our four great Sovereign Cellars red wines.”

Saturday, June 24th and Sunday, June 25th
1 pm to 5 pm
7408 Manzanita Dr. NW, Olympia, WA 98502
Take Steamboat Rd to 79th turn right and follow the signs.

For more information about Sovereign Cellars and their award winning reds, click here to visit their web site.

 

Feline Friends Kick Off Series of Plant Sales Beginning May 6th

The weekend of May 6 marks the first of a series of four area plant sales with proceeds dedicated to local organizations that spay and neuter pets and provide adoption services for pets. This is a terrific opportunity to acquire perennials, beautiful dahlias, herbs, some vegetables, or to choose from a large variety of unusual plants at great prices. And, that fourth sale is both a plant sale and a garage sale, where you are invited to donate gently-used, saleable items, to benefit Feline Friends.

All these sales will happen, rain or shine!  And 100% of proceeds benefit homeless pets.

Many thanks to Diane Jacob, at Cameron Gardens, and other local gardeners, for providing the plants and staffing these four sales.

Feline Friends Plant Sale
Saturday, May 6th
9 AM to 2 PM
Griffin School6530 33rd Ave, Olympia just off Hwy 101 at Steamboat Island Rd Exit
There will be an outstanding variety of flowering perennials and some annuals as well as some dahlia tubers.
Call (360) 866-1909 for more information.


Adopt-A-Pet Plant Sale
Saturday, May 13th
9:30 AM to 3 PM
Our Community Credit Union parking lot, 2948 Olympic Hwy N, Shelton
Just in time for Mother’s Day. There will be large hanging fuchsia baskets as well as many green house raised annuals.
Call (360) 432-3091 for more information.


S.N.A.P. (Spay & Neuter All Pets) Plant Sale
Saturday, May 27th
9 AM to 3 PM
Thurston County Animal Services, 3120 Martin Way, Olympia
There will be many plant choices to check out here including wonderful donations from Briggs Nursery as well as different local gardeners.
Call (360) 352-2510 for more information.


Close Out Plant & Garage Sale to Benefit Feline Friends
Saturday, June 3rd
9 AM to 2 PM
Griffin School6530 33rd Ave, Olympia just off Hwy 101 at Steamboat Island Rd Exit
Do you have saleable items to contribute? Please bring them to Griffin between 6pm-8pm Friday, June 3rd or call (360) 866-1909.

Your support will be helping dedicated organizations in Thurston and Mason Counties in the never-ending quest to spay and neuter all pets to save hundreds of lives every year.

 

Building Earth Farm Announces Summer CSA, Fruit Subscription

The folks at Building Earth Farm wish you all, “Happy Spring, local food-lovers!”

“We are already planting seeds for this year’s garden, the initial tilling has been wrought, the weed whacker had it’s first outing today, and the promise of summer’s sweetness is just beginning to swell. We need to know ASAP if you plan to join us for our 2017 summer/autumn food adventure.”

The quick details are:

2017 CSA price is $575/full Share and $290/half Share

The schedule for the CSA is:

June 17, 24
July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
Aug 5, 12, 19, 26
Sept 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

Fruit Only Shares – $330 for 8 Weeks, provided every 2 weeks.

They will finalize the start date for Fruit Only once they’re sure how the season is moving but the tentative schedule for the fruit subscription is:

June 17
July 1, 15, 29
Aug 12, 26
Sept 19, 23

Signups are now open and are required by May 5th. Deposits for CSA and summer fruit share are due by May 15. First come, first served.

For those of you not sure what a CSA entails, or want more information about The Building Earth Farm’s CSA and Fruit Subscription, read on!Read More

A “Discovery” Pass

Discover Pass logo with link to http://discoverpass.wa.gov/Decades ago when I was a student at Saint Martin’s College I would go into the woods a wonder for days and commune with nature on the Olympic Peninsula. For free. Sometime I would park my 1973 Dodge Dart at a private residence, pay them a dollar a day, and be off to the wilderness.

Then a small fee was instituted for the back country, park fees increased and finally a State Pass was instituted. At first I was furious that welfare dwellers could go to lakes all day on a free pass while I went to work. It just struck me as wrong. The State was making me pay while other people got a free ride. Eventually I decided to give in and to gain access to lakes and parks again.

A few years ago, I put out the cash and got an annual Discover Pass. It was really OK. If you want access to 3 million acres of state owned property, purchase your Discover Pass at discoverpass.wa.gov or call them at (866) 320-9933. Discover Passes can also be purchased in person from any of nearly 600 recreational license vendors where state fishing and hunting licenses are sold. You will not regret it.

JamesNugent

James Nugent is a local author who has 102 e-books, 95 paperbacks, and 53 audio books available at Amazon.com

Mr. Nugent's books include Fifty-Two Vacations A Year. "Most of us work Monday thru Friday and then try to have a little fun during the weekend. Some of us live for the weekend. If we have chosen a life of wage slavery, then there is nothing left for us to do except to maximize our enjoyment of our freedom during those precious two days a week."

Annual Community Meeting Thursday, January 26

Click to download a 2-part flyer; give one to a neighbor!

An Introduction to Our Neighbors: A History and Activities of the Squaxin Island Tribe

You are invited to join us for our Annual Community Meeting on Thursday, January 26th. The evening begins with a half-hour for socializing and speaking with representatives of local organizations present at the event. Local elected officials, too, are expected to attend.

The evening’s program begins with a brief business meeting. This includes an update on this year’s activities of the GNA. There will also be nominations and an election of members of the Griffin Neighborhood Association Board of Directors. Voting is open only to current members of the Association; now is a great time to renew your membership online or at the meeting.

The featured topic of this year’s meeting is by Rhonda Foster, Director of Cultural Resources for the Squaxin Island Tribe, and Joseph Peters, Natural Resources Policy Representative. Their presentation, An Introduction to Our Neighbors: A History and Activities of the Squaxin Island Tribe, will introduce you to the Squaxin Island Tribe, also known as the People of the Water. The presentation may include a description of some of the annual cultural events in which the Tribe participates – the First Salmon Ceremony, the Canoe Journey, and others – and the significance of those. Foster and Peters may also talk about the health and sustainability of the Tribe’s fishery programs, the Squaxin Island Museum, and other areas of interest.

Thursday, January 26
6:30pm: Join us for a half-hour of socializing. The program begins at 7:00pm.
Griffin Fire Department Headquarters

3707 Steamboat Loop NW

US Geological Survey Studies the Ground Beneath Our Feet

Both gravitational and magnetic data is used to describe the underground geology. This illustration is of gravitational readings locating structures in the South Sound. Click the image for a larger view.

A few years ago, the Steamboat Peninsula was visited by a research team from the Geologic Hazards Science Center of the U.S. Geological Survey. These researchers were using equipment to view cross-sections of geologic structures far beneath the ground. This last July, the results of this research, a paper entitled, Shallow geophysical imaging of the Olympia anomaly: An enigmatic structure in the southern Puget Lowland, Washington State, was published.

A significant benefit of this kind of research is to identify areas where stress might build and quickly release in the form of an earthquake. The Puget Sound occupies a seismically active area, located along a line where the Juan de Fuca plate is squeezed under the North America plate.

The convergence of the Juan de Fuca plate, at a rate of ~50 mm/yr (Atwater, 1970; DeMets et al., 1994), has historically produced great (magnitude, M8–9) earthquakes on the Cascadia subduction zone (e.g., Nelson et al., 2006) that pose a primary seismic hazard for the region (Petersen et al., 2002).

But what’s the story, closer to our home here on the Steamboat Peninsula?Read More

At US-101 and the WA-8 Underpass, It’s Called a “Zipper Merge,” and We’ve Been Doing it Wrong

Most weekday mornings traffic begins to stack up where southbound US-101 merges from two lanes, to one, under WA-8. Drivers line up in the left hand lane and sometimes traffic slows almost all the way back to the onramp at Steamboat Island Road. As traffic slows, drivers entering US-101 at Steamboat Island Road scramble to join the line forming in the left lane. It sometimes creates a dangerous situation. And those drivers who cannot move left, or choose to remain in the right lane, feel like they are cheating, cutting into the line closer to the actual point the two lanes merge into one.

Transportation engineers call it a “zipper merge.” It is not taught in driver’s education. And the Washington Department of Transportation doesn’t normally provide the correct signage instructing drivers how it’s supposed to work. And it turns out we’ve been doing it wrong, all along.

At normal highway speeds, when traffic is moving smoothly through the WA-8 underpass, it’s correct for drivers to move to the left lane early, when the sign indicates there is a merge ahead.

But, when traffic begins to stack up and slow down, the correct way to use a zipper merge is for drivers to fill in both lanes. If the roadway was signed correctly, long before the right lane merges into the left, there would be a sign reading, “Use both lanes to merge point.”

Then, actually at the point the right lane merges into the right, drivers should file through the underpass one at a time. First a car from the left lane, then a car from the right, then the left, and so forth.

Cars from each lane file together, at the merge point, just like the teeth of a zipper.

If the roadway was signed correctly, there would be a sign at the merge reading, “Take turns merge here.”

Or perhaps a single sign, like the one pictured at the bottom of this article, would suffice to notify drivers that, when there is congestion, they should use both lanes and then take turns at the merge.

When both lanes are used correctly, a zipper merge could reduce by 50% the length of the backup along US-101. At the height of out little morning rush hour, drivers using the Steamboat Island Road onramp would easily be able to get into either the right or left lane. And everyone would get under WA-8 and on their way, just as quickly as before.

In traffic engineering, the late merge or zipper method is a convention for merging traffic into a reduced number of lanes. Drivers in merging lanes are expected to use both lanes to advance to the lane reduction point and merge at that location, alternating turns.
Wikipedia

In countries such as Germany, the zipper merge is taught to drivers and it’s normal. But here in the U.S., we prefer to queue up as soon as we see there’s a merge ahead. Especially as traffic begins to move more slowly. On US-101 we think of the drivers that remain in the right lane as “cheaters” who are “cutting in line” by not moving to the left. But it turns out, we’ve been wrong. It’s not rude to use both lanes; that’s the way a zipper merge is supposed to work, when traffic congestion is higher. But what would it take to develop a critical mass of local drivers, who use this route most days, to begin to change how we use both lanes along US-101?

Talk to your neighbors who regularly travel this route. Share this article. The Washington Department of Transportation usually only signs for a zipper merge in construction zones. They’ve done it, up in Seattle. But we can create a safer situation right here, if our own zipper merge were correctly signed. Contact WSDOT to ask for the “Use both lanes to merge point’ and “Take turns merge here” signs to be installed along US-101. The WSDOT representative is Angel Hubbard at (360) 705-7281.

Update (1/11/2017): Washington DOT replied to an email sent to them, about this issue.

WSDOT considered this very issue a while back. After some investigation, we elected not to implement any zipper signing at this particular location for two main reasons:

1. Our literature search and past WSDOT experience show that encouraging drivers to zipper merge can be beneficial in slow-moving traffic conditions, and is most often employed in temporary construction situations. This location is a high-speed corridor (60 mph) that experiences congestion for only about 30 minutes a day, during the a.m. commute.

2. At the US 101 merge onto SR 8, a tight single-lane curve immediately follows after the two US 101 lanes drop to one. The tight merge operates at full capacity during the morning rush, and traffic engineers did not believe a zipper merge would notably increase through-put or travel times. This was confirmed with visual field verifications, and from traffic modeling.

It’s clear the zipper merge is useful when there’s congestion, and not at normal highway speed. That does present a challenge to clearly signing the road. However, we don’t expect use of both lanes, as a zipper merge, to decrease travel times. Instead, we want to reduce the numbers of unsafe merges into the left lane, when congestion causes traffic to back up in that lane nearly to Steamboat Island Road. Also, we have seen instances when cars drive down the middle of US-101, straddling the center line, specifically to prevent others from using the right lane.

What steps can be taken to legitimize use of the right lane, when there is congestion at this merge?

Update (1/20/2017): The only available solution may be an educational campaign.

A dialog with Representative MacEwen’s office and WSDOT representatives has disclosed how complicated merely signing this location may actually be. Apparently, except for use in a construction zone, standards for signing a zipper merge don’t exist along US highways. The Washington State Patrol, too, has expressed concerns they wouldn’t be able to accurately assign fault to accidents occurring where it wasn’t clear, at the merge point, which lane was ending.

In the short term, we may be left with the only remedy being an educational campaign. But are there enough drivers coming from the Steamboat Peninsula to have an impact on the behavior of drivers coming from further up US-101? Time will tell.

McLane Creek a Little Bit of Pacific Northwest Paradise

Photo by Bob and Barb, Washington State Trails Association.

Part of the pleasure of living here is the easy access to Capitol State Forest. One piece of the State Forest is less than 6 miles from the Steamboat Island Road exit. If you go to Mud Bay and then go up the hill toward Olympia; take a right at the top of the hill. Follow Delphi Road SW for 3.2 miles. You will then find on the right side, McLane Creek and Forest Trails. Click here to map your own directions.

The park is run by the Department of Natural Resources and closes at dusk. There are picnic shelters and restrooms and wonderful viewpoints. There are three trails, two of which circumnavigate a large pond and a small lake.

Click image for a downloadable trail map.

Numerous birds, amphibians, and beavers live at the water. Salmon swim home in the fall. The trails are short and protected from the rain by trees. You should always dress for the weather and stay out of the woods when it is windy. Enjoy this little bit of Pacific Northwest paradise.

A state Discovery pass is needed to park at McLane Creek. You can buy a pass online or at 22 locations in Thurston County. Check it out at discoverpass.wa.gov.