Friday, June 3, 2011

Trip Stories - Rainy Day

The intermittent patter of rain during the night assured me we were in for a rainy day. My daughter had made plans accordingly, that's why she had scheduled the whale tour for the first, and possibly the clearest day, of our visit to San Juan Island. Although the rain drummed on the hotel siding and rattled along the gutters (next to my window), by the time we had coffee and enjoyed the Bird Rock Hotel's continental breakfast, the sky was brightening. A light mist occasionally gusted as we packed into the car and headed out.

First stop, American Camp, along Cattle Prod Road on the south end of the island. The wind was quite brisk. We talked to the ranger in the visitor center, and although she was eager the point out the historical sites, we were interested in flora and fauna. My daughter bought a little stuffed animal--a fox (She has several of the animals in her neighborhood in TN). We piled back into the car and headed toward the beach area, hoping to site Orcas out in the bay.
I always check out the information signs and plaques, and as I pulled up to one, my daughter was grabbing her camera saying, "Stop the car. Oh, look! Stop!" I did, and was rewarded with one of the best photo ops of the trip: A healthy, handsome fox. All three of us were out of the car taking pictures. For nearly twenty minutes, it posed and stared, and never seemed upset.
Maybe a fox den down that hill, and it was patrolling to keep us away (Be nice to the two-leggeds and maybe they won't bother the kids [kits]).

As we continued to the beach, another fox was sitting on a large boulder. Great picture, and I stopped the car--reached for the camera. But I think Fox #2 was expecting a handout, and jumped off its perch and ran to the car. This critter wasn't nearly as attractive as the other one. It was in the middle of the road, and cars were coming from the other direction. They stopped and Fox #2 was certain he was going to get a treat. He pranced around while we took pictures.

Small island community: the people in the car had been on the whale-boat tour with us the previous day. :) The second car contained a park ranger, and I quickly assured him we had NOT fed the foxes (A fed fox is a dead fox). I wasn't certain he believed me, but we saw him later and he was chatty with all kinds of info. The fox species is a "red fox" (and my daughter did see a red one in the bushes when we were driving) and they aren't native to the island. They also have no predators. I wonder how many there will be in another 20 years? :0
Even with the misty day, the scenes were spectacular. I felt a sort of euphoria after the fox encounters. What would be next? We went back to town for lunch and to regroup.
Next up, Lime Kiln Point State Park. Looking down into the cove, this group of Harlequin Ducks gave a spot of color to the gray-sky day. There were five of them, and after a minute or so, they took off across the water. My daughter got a picture of that. My picture only showed their tails. :( Seals were out from the shore, but only the tops of their head showed. We spotted them with binoculars; too far off for photos, especially since they blended in with the flotsam in the water.
The rain dampened my daughter's spirits. She and her hubby went back to the car.
The rain continued steadily. But I was in my slicker, and the camera was dry in a special rain jacket. I persevered.
I hiked nearly to this lighthouse before the rain turned me back--I was more than a half mile from the car park. When I reached the car, the kids reported they had seen eagles and had pictures. They were also dry, while I was dripping water everywhere.
That evening, the precip was back to a mist. After dinner, we visited the Rumor Mill, a nice place with live music and only two blocks from the Bird Rock. We listened to some bluesy jazz and ate some of the best carrot cake I've ever had. A nice ending to the day.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Trip Stories - Whale Watch

I've been on vacation and thoroughly enjoyed San Juan Island (SJI), Washington. Last week Monday, I drove to Seattle (~9 – 10 hours) and met my daughter and her husband (they flew in from TN). On Tuesday we were up early, drove to Anacortes and caught the State Ferry to SJI, arriving in time for a quick lunch and then boarding another boat for a whale watch tour.
I'm not really a water person--preferring my high, dry plains, but this was really special. I'm always up for something different.

By five that evening we were back in Friday Harbor and checked into our very comfortable rooms at The Bird Rock. We were on SJI through Thursday. Here are some pictures from Day one.

The Columbia River where I-90 crosses. One of my breaks on the drive over.
Taken at Anacortes harbor while awaiting the Ferry loading, with sea gulls on their perches.

Once on the ferry, I had an infinite view--just like on the plains (I tried not to think about how deep the water beneath us).

After an hour, we arrived at SJI. Friday Harbor is a great little town. The boat in the docks on the right in this pic is the Odyssey, our vehicle for whale watching.

Another shot of the Odyssey before we boarded her.

From the deck of the Odyssey. I couldn't stay inside, even though the cool wind was strengthened by the speed of the boat. But I'd dressed appropriately; it was invigorating.

So many photo ops I've never before had!

Seals lazing around on the rocks. We weren't very close and my telephoto didn't get the full slobby effect of them.

This privately-owned island was set up to be a game farm in the 1960s. That fell through, but some of the exotic species still live there.

These are Mouflon Sheep, offspring of the exotics brought in 50 years ago. Their native habitat is in the Mediterranean, and the males have impressive horns. The informative Odyssey crew said that Fallow Deer and Sika Deer also remain on the island.
It had been a quiet whale day, and as time eased on, I thought we wouldn't see any. The pilot was in contact with whale spotters and other tour boats, and finally said some had been seen--in Canadian waters. He opened the throttle and off we went.

An Orca! One of three traveling together. A "Transient" group, not part of the three "resident" pods in the San Juan Straits. I have many pics of just a fin, but this one shows what's attached to the fin. :)

The transient's are a bit shy, whereas the resident pod members do more breaching and rolls. I guess they're used to the boats and like to show their stuff. This pic, with the orca near another tour boat, gives perspective to show how big they are.

Several tour boats were in place already. I imagine the transients were wondering what was going on.

This was another whale watch boat -- Boat? Yikes! A dinghy when compared to 25' Orcas. Definitely not my style.

We arrived back at Friday Harbor after four hours on the water. But I saw whales (among other things). That evening, We headed off to the west side of the island, hoping for sunset pictures. Rain was forecast for the next two days, and I figured this was the only chance. But alas, the cloud cover only offered interesting colors, but nothing truly spectacular.
More official info about the San Juan islands.

2 comments posted on the original blog: 

Richard S. Wheeler said... This is beautiful photography, focused on interesting things. The narrative gives us a rich perspective of your adventure. May 31, 2011 at 6:22 PM

Linda York Leaming said... Love this, Kae. Pictures are gorgeous. June 1, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Older Title Continues In Form

Every now and then I remember to slide through KDP and take a look at my sales stats. Nothing glorious, but steady: a tank of gas here, a nice lunch there. Since it cost me nothing to produce the ebooks, I'm happy.

Interestingly, the last book I put up just this year, (my children's title Spotted Flower and the Ponokomita) has quickly zipped to the top of my sales charts, I'm sure this is in part due to my getting in on the ground floor when Paula Haataja launched Cheap Daily Reads – Junior, a neat site set up for kids to easily navigate and with books just for them.

But the book has always garnered sales since it first came out a few decades ago. Now in a third printing, I have to chuckle at its longevity. Perhaps that's because it's a history story, although I have two other history books not nearly so popular. Spotted Flower was my first published book, and I couldn't be more pleased to see it still doing well.