Friday, March 28, 2008

Mount Baker Appears, Over Roofs and Under Wires

At sunrise on my fifth morning here, Mt. Baker, clear as anything. Sticking up over a roof and under a phone wire. As usual, barely photographs with my little camera so only a most subtle image to show here.

In reality, not subtle at all.

It poured down snow for a while, yesterday and today. Weather changed about 42 times. Snow rain sleet snow sun. At sunset yesterday, really blue water (but no Mt. Baker.)

The Very-PA view : mostly small houses, Strait casually visible. Click for large horizon image

Even though now I know where to look and exactly what to look for, haven't seen the mountain again. This makes me feel marginally less stupid. I didn't see it until my fifth day here because it actually wasn't visible.

(Mount Baker is the Cascade volcano behind Bellingham, which you can see from Victoria, from all along this side of the Strait, from the suburbs of Vancouver... According to Google Earth it is 89 or so miles from here; and only 72 miles from the Victoria shore like Oak Bay or Cadboro Bay or so (a little less certain about that line). I've been puzzling over this for a while. From the temple on Cerro Gordo, you could look out the window and see Mt. Taylor clearly on the horizon, and that was 100 miles and about 4000 feet of additional elevation. Mt. Baker is closer by far, and the vertical difference is like 10,500' (sea level to the top), two and a half times greater than from Cerro Cordo Park in Santa Fe to the top of Mount Taylor west of Grants. No wonder it sometimes seems to loom. And yet, and yet, it also feels so far away when you see it. And even on clear days often vanishes into the air. It must have to do with the difference in seeing that dry desert air makes. Who'd have thunk it.)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Eschrichtius robustus

... gray whales not at all visible with grey surf and blowing spray, not to mention rain pouring down and wind blowing.

M. thinks instead of stubbornly returning to First Beach where I have already several times not seen them this season, next time I should go further down the coast to the place near Ruby Beach where you can pull off the highway on a bluff and look out over the water from above. Makes sense; it's just that it's further to drive only to end up not seeing Cetacea. Also I could try doing it in better weather.

Not that it's altogether clear how the presence or absence of 30-ton animals could be subtle. At least if I'm pulled off the highway on a bluff I will be out of the weather, and even if its raining I can sit reading a book between stints of scanning for spouts and bits of whale backs.

First Beach in a storm

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Glimpse of the Salt

New apartment.

Going to the public library this morning to resume the alas dead-boring task of indexing the local paper; they haven't found anyone else to volunteer to do it.

Then noonish, going out to the ocean, aiming for high tide. Gray whales are all over Puget Sound, so the migration must be in full spate. Surely one or two would like to feed or rub or whatever it is they do at First Beach...

Will resume unpacking tomorrow.

toward the Strait at dusk

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Space Between the Storms

Day dawns momentarily sunny. A.-the-mover-guy and his helper-guy come in three hours. Please it should hold until we are done.

I've been buying things at the Goodwill, whenever A. happened to be home and could come do a pickup on the find of the day. And the neighbors just sold me a chest of drawers and a double bed. So this apartment is comic at the moment, a second set of belongings and furniture in the middle of an already fully furnished apartment.

About to start loading the car with the don't-want-to-lose-track-of boxes. Hope to keep the promise I made to my knees, to not do carrying of weight up the stairs.

Bye bye beautiful happy sublet. Hello tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Packing, Moving

Bad weather week to be moving with an open-pickup mover-guy, but move I shall, tomorrow. Pictures, and everyday life, will appear here shortly; and regular runs to First Beach to look for gray whales will resume...

Beginning to get the idea that if they are feeding there, high tide is when to see them. Or anyway that's when they feed off Whidbey Island. Lots of sightings of known individuals, the Puget Sound resident gray whales, already being reported. So some of the migration, at least, is already this far north.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Looking Down

The flight stops in San Jose and Los Angeles before wandering on to Tucson (and thence to Albuquerque and Kansas City; I took the 5:30 PM Tucson/Albuquerque leg dozens of times when I still lived in Santa Fe). It was mostly cloudy, intermittently holes in the clouds but not long enough to figure out where we were — until suddenly there was San Pablo Bay & the Richmond/San Rafael bridge. I looked around wildly. Oh yes. Ahead the Golden Gate and the City and the Bay Bridge, just beneath the plane oh yes Green Gulch Farm and Muir Beach, and Tennessee Cove and Rodeo Lagoon and Point Bonita and the road along the Marin Headlands and...

It all looked so familiar and contained, this piece of the planet that I used to know better than anywhere else. "Oh, home," I thought over the green Marin hills and rocky shore, and as we swept across the City to fly down the Bay towards San Jose. Home is the Olympic Peninsula where I am living now, and the part of California I was just then flying over; all one coast. The 23 years I spent in the desert slip away and off the map of my life.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tucson Again

My sister visited our Mom last month, so it's been two months since I went. I can barely remember what I usually pack. Might actually have enough books lined up, yaay. Having put the books in the suitcase, and counted out the right number of underthings, I'm entirely baffled as to what else I'm supposed to be putting in there. I'll think about it tomorrow. Leaving Wednesday morning.

As soon as I come back, heavy preparation to move into the new place on the 20th.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Gray Whales Do Not Appear, on a Gray Day

The migration is on the move. OrcaNetwork keeps reporting gray whales in Puget Sound, and also reported a lot of whales sighted from shore at Gualala in Northern California. They see at least a few every day at the southern sighting stations (1)(2). So out I went to La Push, and hung out at First Beach for four hours. Saw no blows and no whale bodies, but really I didn't know where to look. Inside the surf line? Outside the surf line? Towards the north end of the beach, or the middle? Mostly I sat on a dune of cobbles and read, and listened to the surf. Every page or so I would look up from the book and look EVERYWHERE for whales. Concentrating on the area outside the surf line, since blows would be easier to see out there if they happened to be there. If they happened to be inside the surf line on a rough foamy day, how would I see them? (Look at this image. It's from the bottom of the Oregon Whale Watching Center's page.)

But it was a beautiful day. Grey sky, grey water with white foam. Waves heaping in. As the tide moved toward high, a couple of surfers in wetsuits paddled out, bobbed around for a while, then came back in.

Some mergansers in Lake Crescent. Some gulls on the beach. A pair of eagles over James Island. No whales.

And no pictures. I brought the camera but had left its battery behind in the charger—probably a measure of how distracted I am, preparing to move into my next digs.

The Neon Orca

Friday we went on a field trip to the library of the Port Gamble S'Klallam tribe, our other cultural sibling, over at Little Boston, near Kingston. We picked up the librarian of the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe on the way. As we were shown around, sat around talking, and ate scones and juice (librarians ALWAYS feed each other), we were by way of having a mini-conclave of the tribal librarians of the south shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The library is simultaneously the tribe's library and a branch of the Kitsap Public Library. Very nice new building, just opened this fall. The teen area has furnishings chosen by the kids themselves, including a wing-backed chair for reading; and an enormous beautiful neon piece by Jimmy Neon, the leaping orca from the tribe's logo; the artist had to use blue instead of black so it would light up, but oh my it is very cool.