In which we see river monsters, otterkin, and other fancy stuff

Tsagaglalal, "She Who Watches"

When travelling on the Dry Side of our state, Jim and I keep our eyes open for supernatural creatures, like those we've read about.

Werewolves, vampires, gremlins and more...
in Eastern Washington!  Read a sample chapter HERE

We've been big fans of Patricia Briggs' urban fantasy books since Moon Called was published (ye gawds, in 2006?) and always nod knowingly when we meet up with sketchy folks east of the mountains--we figure they are probably werewolves, just trying to get by.

Patty and her husband Mike announced last spring that they would host a "Hurog Howl" camp out at Maryhill State Park, the setting for the latest book in the series, and Jim and I signed up.  A weekend away from the farm without a horse seemed like an excellent way to wind up the summer.  

The Columbia River, viewed from the
Stonehenge Memorial at Maryhill

(Of course, we didn't know then that most of the state would spend most of August on fire, except the part that was under water and in the dark from power outages as the result of a weekend wind and rain storm.  We need the rain, sure.  But most folks were a little grumpy that the much-needed rain also knocked out regional electricity for 2-3 days. However, when you're camping, a power-outage is pretty meaningless, so we were in excellent shape with our cozy bed inside the truck canopy)

We'd been promised A Dragon, and we saw it when we got to camp:

We didn't get to see it fly, though.  Too bad.

Fully inflated dragon kite, photo stolen from Patty's Facebook page

We kept busy with other stuff:

A trip up to the Stonehenge Memorial overlooking the river.

Unlike the English Stonehenge, this one is made of concrete, and took only
about 11 years to build.  

The inner circle of stones bear plaques naming the soldiers
of Klickitat County who died during WWI.

The entire structure was commissioned by millionaire road builder
and local eccentric Sam Hill, a Quaker, as a reminder
that humanity is sacrificed to the gods of war.

Power-generating windmills in the distance

Saturday morning we were up early

Breakfast sans electricity:  not a problem

so we could head out to view the petroglyphs at a nearby state park.

River Monster...right?
For centuries before Lewis and Clark showed up, native people lived in this part of the Columbia River Valley.  The fishing at Celilo Falls was good, the hunting of elk and sheep was good, and the land supported thousands of people.  Smallpox and other diseases arrived via traders who had second- and third-hand contact with Europeans, and the population was greatly diminished by the time the Corps of Discovery hove into view.

Seagull?  PacMan? Only the artist could say for sure.

The artists painted and carved their images into the rocks here for a thousand years or more.

And in 1957, we threw it all away.

A few stones were chipped out of the canyon walls and transported to high ground

to display for tourists.   The rest were drowned.

On March 10, 1957, the gates of the Dalles Dam were closed, trapping water above.

Six hours later, eight miles upstream, Celilo Falls was drowned.  And all the artwork in the lowlands of the canyon with it.

Some few petroglyphs survive in situ.  They are closed to the public, except via guided tour.  

We got one of those.  And this is what we saw:

"Ladder man" an often-repeated image

River Monster again?  I gimped the photo to show the teeth
that are barely visible in bright daylight, but easy to see on a rainy day.

The reason that the Confederated Tribes closed the area to casual tourists:
graffiti.  Biggify the picture to see.

Of course, the image everybody wants to see is this one.

Tsagaglalal, She Who Watches.  Whereas the other images in this area seemed
weird and foreign to me, I laid eyes on her and immediately thought,
"Oh, a Haida Bear.  Just like we have at home."

This image is both a carving and a painting, and it's much larger than the pictures around it.

Tsagaglalal also (apparently) figures prominently in Patty Briggs' latest book, but I haven't finished it yet, so please: no spoilers!

Later in the day, Jim and I wandered over to the Maryhill Museum, a weirdly eclectic collection of beautiful things.  

Edward S. Curtis' photo of She-Who-Watches, taken in 1910, surrounded
by local artifacts.

Gilded furniture that had belonged to (and been designed by) Queen Marie of Romania, juxtaposed with Greek Orthadox paintings, modern representational works, a collection of handcarved chess sets from around the world, one cool kinetic sculpture that was ziptied shut and wouldn't move, a large collection of Native American artifacts arranged by region (not just local--there were stages showing New England tribal art and sub-Arctic artifacts too), and

Auguste Rodin's unfinished life-sized sculpture of Eve.
picture stolen from Wikipedia.
of course, some Rodin originals.  I don't know why I didn't shoot a picture of Eve--I spent a lot of time looking at her.  The museum caption said that the Italian model for the piece was very well known, but Rodin was frustrated while working with her because her dimensions seemed to change all the time.  Well, duh, she was pregnant.  It cracked me up.

Back in camp, there were shenanigans.

Anarchy Scavenger Hunt - very fun.  Ask me to explain the rules sometimes.

Small children and dogs

I walked the dogs beside the river, and Foxie was Quite Sure that He Saw Otterkin.  

Or maybe it was a River Monster?

Anyhow, he kept me safe.

At night, we sang filksongs, and Patty read a bit from the work in progress.  It was, in fact, quite a lot like a science fiction/fantasy convention...but out-of-doors.  It turns out that Patty and Mike Briggs, and a lot of their friends who were camping with us, are horse people in real life.  So we got to talk horses, even though none of us brought any with us.

Definitely an improvement over the crowd crush at Comic Con!

At last, we loaded back up in the truck and headed home.

Roo and Foxie Loxie:  veteran road trippers
The two-day ride over Labor Day weekend has been cancelled, alas.  Even with the rain, the fires are still burning and the smoke is still smokey on the East side of our mountains.  Apparently, the werewolves aren't into Magical Firefighting.  Too bad.

So, we'll be home for a couple of weeks, doing normal home stuff for a while.

But Foxie now patrols the perimeter of the yard every morning and night.  Just to make sure that none of those Otterkin followed us back from the river.


  1. Oh, such a good series! I'd love to visit there someday.

  2. oh, those petroglyphs are amazing! What a tragedy that so many were inundated. The other stone monument to the fallen soldiers is beautiful too. Stone speaks.


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