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.