NRCS photos

The Natural Resources Conservation Service folks, among other things, maintain and monitor the SNOTEL system that projects moisture received by river drainage (e.g., Boise 59%, Salmon 67%).

They have some remarkable photos:

For the latest map of the percentage of average snow-water in NW river drainages:

Alsace, 1991

Pietà a fenestre
Pietà dans la fenêtre


From the archives—slides scanned from my first trip to France, 1991:


Hotel/Restaurant aux Trois Chateaux

After a drive through the Vosges mountains, we arrived in picturesque Ribeauvillé. Diane went to see about a room at the Hotel aux Trois Chateaux while I waited outside, surveying the hills  above the village for the three castles. It’s not easy to see all three from town; the crenelated tower of Haut-Ribeaupierre is barely visible as it peeks above the trees just over the highest ridge.

Fr91-Ribeauvillé044wNames  Since there was no room at the hotel, we decided to explore . . .Fr91-Ribeauvillé019

A few blocks from the hotel, we came upon a chambres/zimmer that was available.


The “room” turned out to be a suite with a large kitchen, dining area and full bathroom for 5 Francs a night (about $25). We made it our base for the rest of the week and set out to explore Alsace.

Fr91-Ribeauvillé071     Fr91-Ribeauvillé024Fr91-Ribeauvillé084-door


Over the centuries, the fealty of this region west of the Rhine has been tossed back and forth between the French and the Germans, and both languages are spoken by many inhabitants—thus, the bilingual sign outside our lodging.

The area is the essence of quaint—buildings dating from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, beautifully maintained, exquisite workmanship everywhere.



The Butchers’ Tower (Tour des Bouchers), named for the abattoir and the butchers’ stalls that used to be beside it. The bottom of the tower, built in 1290, was raised 90 feet in 1536. The tower sits above the main gate in the medieval wall that separates the upper village from the medieval village. It is also Ribeauvillé’s clock tower. The castles of Ste. Ulrich and Haut-Ribeaupierre flank the tower on the horizon.




The castles in the Vosges foothills above Ribeauvillé were built by the lords of Ribeaupierre (German, Rappoltstein) during the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries. They are about an hour’s hike from town. Fr91-Ribeauvillé051-ChateauSteUlrich


Originally called Ribeaupierre, from the 11th to the 15th century this castle was the primary residence of the powerful lords of Ribeaupierre. In 1287, Anselm II Ribeaupierre won a siege against Rudolph, the Habsburg King of Germany, and in 1293 against King Adolphe, Rudolph’s successor. In 1507, a famous criminal, Lady Cunegonde of Hungerstein, was held in the dungeon and tried to escape with the help of her guard. Fine example of medieval Alsatian military architecture: 1. 12th century keep 2. 12th century room with fireplace 3. Residential Tower 4. Lower Court 5. 13th century hall of the knights with nine Romanesque windows 6. 13th century chapel consecrated to St. Ulrich, 10th-century bishop of Augsburg 7. Fortification for well protection (g)


Five of the nine Romanesque triple-arches that graced the Knights’ Hall.


The arched windows of the Knights’ Hall of Chateau Ste. Ulrich look out over Ribeauvillé.


…peeking through an arch at our chambres in the village below.


Chateau Ste. Ulrich was literally crawling with children…


…on a school field trip for the day.


A couple artists’ renditions of Chateau Ste. Ulrich:

tour poster

A French railroad tour poster.

Quaglio Domenico-painting

Chateau Ste. Ulrich by Domenico Quaglio, c.1825



Giersberg viewed from Ste. Ulrich.


Giersberg—the Rock.

Fr91-Ribeauvillé031-Giersberg plaque

The lords of Ribeaupierre erected this castle, first called Stein (the rock), in the 13th century and rebuilt it after a fire caused by lightning in 1288. In 1304, they gave the fief to the vassals, the knights of Girsberg, whence it took the name. The knights of Girsberg kept it until their extinction in the 15th century. Abandoned in the 17th century . 1. Keep pentagonal 2. Logis 3. Lower Court



Scarecrow gurading a garden plot outside Riquewihr.


Backstreet, Hunawihr.


Why I Have Been Quiet about Israel

This is about as close as anything I’ve read or heard to expressing my own consternation over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—and so many others. Like this writer, I keep hoping, amidst deep feeling of despair, that as a people we will wake up and face together the very real problems we have created as a species, problems like global warming that we may not be able to reverse at all and that we most certainly can only solve cooperatively.