Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 Wrap up

I'm back on Altair after christmas break in California, and I am going to test out my internet connection that my phone (new plan) provides with a blog post.  But also, I'd like to look back at 2016.  For me, the year started in Bandaras Bay, where it was rainy and I awoke to the sound of popping fireworks in the night.  I got up and looked at the celebrations for a few minutes before going back to bed.  The surf was great for the rest of the winter, but in January I broke my left lower rib and found that surfing was quite painful, with it crunching around.  I surfed Ticla for the first time and I'd like to go back, it is a nice place in mainland mexico.  I took Altair up to San Carlos, Sonora, for the first time to store her there, and it was a nice experience, except that the heat is too much for many things on the boat, like the dinghy.
My friend Wes and I drove back from Mexico to the USA and I went to work on the Wilderness Explorer, and had quite possibly the best season I've ever had up in Alaska.  I worked with a great group of people, on a boat that I like a lot, and doing a route that was fantastic. We saw amazing things, like Orca killing a Dall's porpoise, whales breaching nonstop for a whole day, and wolves.  I did a unbelievable trip with my friend Danny aboard a small sportfishing boat and we heard wolves howl and saw a moose extremely close, and played with porcupines.  (That is a trip I want to repeat)  The last week of the season was quite possibly the best, with a great bear viewing opportunity and the most Orca I have seen in one time ever, and Northern Lights.
After the Alaska Season I spent a few weeks relaxing in Bellingham and then drove back down to Mexico with my friend Lucy.  We had a great time exploring and surfing and getting back to Los Angeles, where I spent a nice christmas with my siblings and their families, and some good surfing.  And now I am back home, awaiting the New Year to come again.  Here are some pictures from bird watching with my brother in the LA area.
 A Merlin up close in Santa Barbara
 Monarch Butterflies in the trees in Pismo Beach

 A hummingbird in San Diego

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Driving back

I'm back in the USA now, and it feels strange to be here, and cold.  I'm in Pismo Beach.  I drove back up from La Paz (where Altair is now) and let me tell you a little about it.  First off, there is this beautiful oasis in the hills near La Paz where a river flows out, and a hot spring comes up out of the ground.  At this place there is fresh water and a flowing stream, with waterfalls.  Also, it turns out, snakes!  One of them got a small fish in this photo.  A small fish, but still quite big for the snake.  Also at this location was a walking stick.  I've never seen one of these before and this one was awesome.  I got some video of it walking that I will put into something later on, but it walks like an alien.
There were a few brightly colored birds flying around, and I got a snapshot of this Vermillion Flycatcher.  Such a bright color!
Halfway up from La Paz is a nice little place called Santa Rosalillita, where we saw a coyote on the beach at sunset and tried to surf the insanely small break.  It works, but only just barely.
A little further north there is a little place with stones just like Joshua Tree, where the full moon rose overhead and made for a nice bright night.  We had a little fire and made popcorn over it.

These rocks reminded me of the surfing waves I needed to get back to.
And there was a tree that I've never seen before there.  Its30 ft tall sometimes, so hardly something to be missed, but strange shaped, like something out of Dr. Suess.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Fall in the Sea of Cortez

 I've been using my phone for internet and email here in Mexico, and it is a blessing and a curse.  Since I pay per megabyte, I use it mostly for email and then I can't seem to type very well, so I am terse in my emails.  (sorry about that).  An unintended consequence is that I don't go find wifi and lug my laptop around as much, so I am not doing as many blog postings lately.  Again, sorry for that.  So here is a summary about my last couple months of adventures.  First off, I got Altair back in the water!  The place I had it stored did a great job but I was ready to get floating, and I never felt very comfortable in San Carlos.  I didn't paint the bottom of the boat this year because I figured I would be scrubbing it anyways, so why put paint in the ocean?
After two days of working on some things, changing the oil, throwing away things I didn't need, I was ready to go!  I hopped onboard as the boat went in the water and then went down below to check everything was ok, and discovered it was leaking!  Then I turned on the engine and discovered the thru-hull was corroded closed, so I didn't have cooling water!  Despite all these things, and the wind climbing to the 20s, I plumbed the cooling water to a bucket and filled it with water and drove out to the anchorage to work on the things.  The thru-hull was fairly easy, I replaced the valve, and the leak went away on its own later on, so I was all right.  But for a moment there, I felt pretty low about how my wonderful boat wasn't any good anymore.  After a few days of getting the sails ready, I set off across the Sea of Cortez into the teeth of a modest 18 knot wind from the north.  I am constantly surprised at how the slightest winds here make such awful waves!  It took me overnight and a day to get across to Loreto, and I went for a swim in crystal clear 84 degree water when I got there.  Very nice.  But the water was cooling down rapidly, and becoming less clear, so I hurried south.
I stopped at a few islands I had previously never been to, including Isla Carmen, and I found very neat places to anchor and swim and spearfish.
 Also there were awesome cacti and some cool sunsets to whitness.  This one is from Agua Verde.
 This is from Puerto Los Gatos, where you can find Geodes!  This reef has a few stuck in the rocks.
 The end of the summer means that the rains of summer are drying up, and this is what happens to the clay and mud in the river beds, they turn to corn chips!
 I am back in the Choya part of the world, so here is a piece of choya wood.
 And this picture is from Punta Evaristo.  I took a shot similar to this years ago with my dad, so i wanted to try and replicate it.  One of my favorite places, and the fishing was very good.
 I went for a hike up from Evaristo and found a river valley with some blooming flowers and a monarch.
 From Evaristo it is a short hop over to Isla San Francisco, where there is this perfectly round bay.  When we got there it was packed with boats and jet skis and people, but we hung out just the same.  Here is a hike up the ridge...
 Where you can get a view like this.
 On the way down there was a rattlesnake hidden in the sand.  I got a picture before it could rattle and bite me.  I think it was pretty cold because it didn't move at all.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Return to Mexico and to Altair

 Its been a little while and a lot has happened...
First, I went through Moss Landing on my way south and saw a bunch of sleepy sea otters with their eyes covered up.  They put their hands up to cover their eyes and sleep.  how cute.   And some nice ice plants
 The big sur coast fairly flew by, with some whales , (possibly a blue whale) and some Elk!
 San simeon at sunset.  We camped in the end of a old road.
 Then we went to Jeremy's place in LA and out to the desert south of Joshua Tree.  This is the Painted Canyon, and the stars were bright and crisp.  I took some long exposure shots of the clouds sliding by.
 This one looks like mars!
 And then to the Salton Sea, to find the dead fishes washed up by the wind!  There is a huge line of dead fish all along the coast, probably killed by an algae bloom.
 I got to see my favorite bird, the black-necked stilt.  There were lots of birds all along the sea, wading and dabbling.
 There was also an Owl!  This one hunkered down by the road and looked around with those keen yellow eyes.  I like them a lot too.
 And some Quail with their bobbly feathers on their heads.
 We crossed the border and into Mexico and spent the first night in San Felipe on the beach.  This is a look at the milky way.  The stars were booming.
 In the morning the sunrise over the ocean was magnificent.

 A little further south there were some more cactus, some of them look like they are ready to join the Beatles.
 At Santa Rosalia, the sunrise was heartbreaking,
 And I took off on the ferry over to Guyamas to get to Altair.  I am on my beloved Altair again, after long journeys all over.  From the ferry there was a large group of Spinner Dolphins that played with us.  I also saw a marlin jumping and chasing something.  It was a nice trip.
Altair is going back in the water tomorrow and I'll be getting underway soon after that to head back to Baja and down eventually to Puerto Vallarta again.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Partial Migration

 I've been working my way south now, from the boreal forests of Alaska, to the northwestern parts of the contiguous states, then down through oregon territory and into California.  Its like a sigh of relief when you get south of the mountains that border Oregon and California.  The rain goes away and is replaced with a warming sunshine.  I've been driving down and looking for hotsprings, and finding lots of water and autumn colors to take pictures of.  Golden trees in the fields of evergreen.  The maples are especially glamorous, with their big leaves.

I took a few pictures using a technique where you zoom in on the subject while you are taking the picture, and you get something like this:
 While walking along rivers and pathways looking for hotsprings, there are lots of cool mosses to see and the water is pretty as it winds its way down the hills.
 Here was a great golden evergreen-ish tree.  I cannot remember the name.  Can you figure it out?  It is a conifir but sheds leaves in the fall, and turns a bright yellow, and lives in medium elevations in Oregon.  At the end of a rainbow.
 Here's a picture of one of the hot springs, where people had built up the walls to make nice hot pools, this one is south of Mt Shasta a little bit, along a lonely river.  There was a french guy in the pool who was hot boiling eggs in them.  He said you just put them in overnight and then they get like "Flubber" and are very tasty.  There were some interesting people in the hotsprings, Many of them very nice and meditative.
The trip is now taking a turn for the coast, so I hope to do some more surfing soon.  I went surfing yesterday and hopefully again tomorrow and on down the coast.  The water is cold but getting warmer the further south I get.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

2016 Alaska Season Ends!

 The season is over and all we have to do now is to shut the boat down.  But this last week was a great way to finish.  We went to a fish hatchery on Baranof island where there are TONS of bears.  I think we saw 12, but possibly more.  Its hard to keep track of them all.  They were super fat bears, eating salmon like there was no tomorrow.  The fish hatchery seems to be ok with them eating all the salmon they can, so that is cool.
 This was my first time seeing Coho salmon up close.  That is what is in the hatchery.

 Then we went to a waterfall in the dark and shone the lights on the falls.  Beautiful.
 And then we saw a huge pod of Orcas messing with a humpback whale.  They were really close to it and staying that way, but I don't think they were going to eat it.  Just bother it.

 I got a nice view of an eagle.  Always good to look for them...
 And some Aurora to fill in the nighttime
 And a sea otter came swimming over to check me out in the Inian Islands, just boldly swam up.  It was eating an octopus and then swam over to check us out, and got about 10 ft away.
 This is a picture of some of the folks.  I really liked these guests.  It was a bit hard to say goodbye.  I'm also saying goodbye to Alaska soon, and getting ready to head south.  I'm looking into taking a road trip down the coast and that should be fun.