Saturday, August 12, 2017

More Photos from the last two weeks

 So from the last two weeks I went to Ketchikan and back.
 The salmon have started to come back!
 There is a wonderful little river I walked up, here is a view from the trip back
 more salmon
and a Bonaparte's gull
 And a super close otter.  I was on a dock and it came up close
 Red Bluff Bay waterfall

 Can you tell what kind of flower this is?
 or this bird

Photo Catch-up

 I've got a bunch of photos from the last couple weeks.  I don't have a lot of time to write, but I'll try to quickly go through them.  Yellowlegs!
 Sea Anemone!
 Sea Lion!
 Horned Puffins!
And a Marmot!  This one was right down next to the water, outside of Glacier Bay, and let us watch him nice and close.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Exploring Washington

 I'm finished with my break now, it was a great one, and four weeks long, and now its back to work!
I spent a lot of time on boats this break, what with the Hobie Cat and going on Gran Milonga, and I think that is the best way to spend time in Bellingham; to have a boat.  I took a very small craft out surfing with my sister last week and we found a beetle clinging to the surfboard...
I also took my truck down to the Nisqually delta to look around at the bird watching area there and discovered that in addition to the birds flying around (see the Caspian Tern below) there were a lot of military folk going for a social walk together.  I think it was interesting that they tromp around in groups, and most of them were walking double time and even in step with each other.  Work reflects into play time, it seems.  Indeed, I play by exploring around in the woods and that is exactly what I do for work as well.  The pity, I felt, was that the soldiers on break were affecting the area around them by being talkative (loud) and walking fast, thereby scaring birds away from the boardwalk, but not really paying attention to them at all.  In a park, where it is a place for humans to recreate, I can understand this, but we were in a Wildlife Refuge, where I think the birds should come first.  I think it should be that people can go and look at them, but quietly and respectfully and this is mostly a place for the birds to rest and live and get away from us.

We manage everything, it seems to me, for humans.  There was an article in the Bellingham Hearld a little while ago about the Orcas around here and how they are starving, partly because we manage the fish populations for our consumption, not for the fishes well-being.  If we were trying to rebuild fish stocks rather than catch the maximum of fish (both of which involve growing lots of fish, but one involves catching more) then the Orcas could eat more, but we don't.
I also went to Mt Rainier National Park and discovered that it was also very crowded.  The parking lots were full and the pathways were packed with people and children, screaming and shouting into the peaceful woods and keeping the animals a long distance from the paths.  I sneaked off path to investigate the woods and found it better to be quiet.

 On the paths there are signs that say no pets, and since I'm on a rant, I might as well continue.  Dogs and nature don't really get along too well.  I think that they are good friends of humans because humans quickly destroy nature and peace and quiet.  Dogs do this too.  They keep us our attentions away from the birds and the quiet and chase things and poop on the trail.  We love them, but they affect the feeling of wilderness that the park is trying to give us on the trail.  So they are not allowed anywhere in the park, really, just in your car.
Rules are to be broken though, and so there were some really cute puppies a few people brought out.  Nobody could bring themselves to tell these people they were doing wrong, however, so the puppies stayed on the trail.  I think its another example of how easy it is for us to manage the trail for human delight, rather than as a window into the natural world of the park.  The puppies brought most people's attention to the trail rather than to the park beyond the trail.
 I did try to extend my vision beyond the trail and went up to the top of a peak to look, and saw a marmot!
 And a really big mountain
 There are some really big trees around as well, and in continuing on to Olympic National Park, I found some HUGE douglas firs.  Here is a croc-focused picture of the tree, just to prove my point about focusing on the human side of things, rather than the nature side of things, even when we are out in it.
 And a patch of shamrocks?
 There was a snake sitting in a sunny patch looking for warmth
 And a fawn crossing the road.  This is the kind of cute baby that I'd rather look at, the kind that you don't get a chance to see at home.
 The fawn here is showing us how to look at wildflowers.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Hobie Cat!

 I got a new sailboat!  Its a Catamaran, and is 16 ft long and wicked fast.  Made by Hobie.
I've painted it, and figured out a way to raise the mast just by myself and finally I got my camera out and took some pictures of it sitting at my brother's place to make a blog post about it.
First off, the mast is aluminum and 26 ft long, so it is quite difficult to raise unless you use a mechanical advantage.  I made up a system using a yolk on a stick, a line and a trucker's hitch, which allows me to use the line like a 3 to 1 purchase after the mast is raised a little, and that pulls the mast upright.
 With the mast up, I can put the sails on, and they are a nice set of sails.  The main and jib both have battens, so the sail shape can be very nice, but I've been having a bit of trouble getting the jib to be tight enough while sailing, so I'm learning that these boats aren't really designed for going close to the wind.
 When I got it, it had an old trampoline, but came with a new one in the box, so I've replaced that and used Amsteel for the line, and that brought me to a color scheme of blue and orange.  I liked that, so I painted the rudders orange to match.
Orange is the color that many rudders are for super fast racing boats, you can see an example

An Update!
I took it out sailing in the bay today and my mom snapped a few photos, here is one:

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A trip for Puffins in the Salish Sea

 I just went out on my folks' boat and we went for a bird watch.  Specifically, we sought out puffins to look at.  We loaded up into their trawler and set off into the waves, keenly eyeing any potato shaped bird that happened to be flying by.  And then, at last, we saw the big bill and white face of the Tufted Puffin.
 A close look-alike is the Rhinoceros Auklet, and we saw plenty of those as well.  Its a neat bird with a bump on the bill kind of like a Rhinoceros horn and therefore the name.  They are seldom seen in Southeast Alaska, but more common in the Salish Sea.
 We also saw my favorite, the Pigeon Guillemot.  All three of these birds are Alcids, which fly through the water with their wings, just like a penguin would do.  All of them also like to eat fish and are good at catching them.
 Abe and Katrina came with me on this tour.
 We found a glacus wing gull nest with eggs in it!  It is neat to see birds nesting and to see the eggs.
 And then we headed back for home.  It was a nice 4th of July, lots of sunshine.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Return to Bellingham

 Its been a nice summer so far up in Alaska, but I am now on break.
Can you see what's wrong with this picture?  Its turned sideways!
  Some aspects of the WEX have been difficult for me and it is nice to be out of the mix for a little while and free to do what I want.  but I'm not actually free to do much because I'm in the airport waiting for a flight and then another and I am tired and want to sleep.  Maybe I am free to take a nap, but instead I am writing.  Read on, dear reader...
We've had a huge return of the crew; most of the guide team, most of the deck force, and nearly all the managers.  Except the captain.  And since in the years past, the captain had things done a certain way, everyone on this boat was used to it being done that way.  This year it is done differently.  We've got a new captain and we are all learning his ways, and I am not too much of a fan of those ways (probably because I'm not used to them).  So there is a lot of tension onboard the boat while we all try to figure out how to manage.  In fact, the break system is the perfect way for people to relax and let tension go, so I hope that when I return I will return to a happier boat.
The past week was really quite nice.  We went through Glacier bay, and got a view of the fairweathers
 And I went to see the Tribal house, and here is a shot of the outside of it.  It is wonderfully smelling cedar and in the evening sunshine it is warm and inviting.

 After Glacier Bay we went to the Inian islands.  I love them.  Here's some Pigeon Guillemonts with their red feet sitting on some rocks in the rain.  Lovely.
 And the Tufted Puffins have also arrived at the Inian islands, so I got a nice shot of this one.
 Also a friendly sea otter.
 And some frisky Stellar Sea Lions

 After that we saw some Bubblenetting Humpback whales!
 And then we went to Kalinin bay, and I did a hike over the hill to Sea Lion Cove, where there is a wonderful sandy beach.  I went for a swim in the coastal ocean, and caught a wave, but it was very cold, so I came back quickly.  Still, I was in the water for about 3 minutes and that was pretty long for me.  People tend to leave stuff on the beach and squirrels come and raid their packs, so I got a shot of this one as it was testing to see if I was good to eat.

 Then we came to the Magoun Islands for the last day and looked at eagles.
 And Bears.