Friday, November 28, 2008

Transportation Geek

It was nearly dusk when I got out on Ediz Hook. As I emerged from the paper mill site, a bald eagle was cruising the log rafts, so all the gulls and all the great blue herons were aloft, as the eagle went back and forth and back and forth. Further out, a tug was just then pushing Kodiak around so her bow faced the harbor entrance.

Kodiak with her tug. Click for larger image.

Immediately she began to pull out, the tug at her side. One of the pilot boats left the dock and followed her out of sight toward the mouth of the harbor, then came back. Kodiak emerged onto the Strait, headed west, out towards the ocean, so perhaps she used a pilot just to get out of the harbor and then dropped him off. Jin Qiang, a cargo vessel, was the other large ship in the harbor. The returning pilot boat ran over to her, but there wasn't enough light to see if she dropped off a pilot or picked one up or was just running around to stay awake... Pilot boat came back and docked. A kayaker paddled by. It got dark.

Jin Qiang and kayak. Getting to be night. Click for larger image.

Whoa. Just found a whole new way to look up ships. A wonderful new toy. But it doesn't want to show me Kodiak, nor does sailwx. OK. Here she is. An Exxon tanker. But not reporting her position to either tracking site.

Ducks? Kinda dark out. But scoters and buffleheads, at least.

PS. It's a good thing the railroad never made it up here. I have enough distraction stalking the ferry in particular, and shipping in general, and my new obsession of trying to catch Kenmore's Cessna Caravans on the airport cams.

Ameliorating Darkness News

Though the least total daylight is on the solstice, the earlying of sunset and latening of sunrise are NOT SYMMETRICAL.

This is due to factors I struggle and fail to understand every year— the angle of the ecliptic, the elliptical shape of the earth's orbit, the shape of the analemma (that mysterious figure that the sun draws on the sky in the course of a year), a still more mysterious explanatory factor called the equation of time, and so on—

I am happy to report that here the earliest sunset is December 6. Then it doesn't change through the 14th, but gets no worse. Same time each day. Then it starts getting marginally later. The early darkness will begin to improve in a few more days; it's nearly over.

This year, however, we add to the annual failure to hold all these visualization factors in mind, the news that the date of the earliest sunset varies by latitude. The fact that the earliest sunset near the equator falls in November kicks my brain out of gear.

P.S. Analemma photo: sun taken at the same time of day, once a week for a year, on a single piece of film. Other people have done it since, but when a Sky&Telescope editor named Dennis DiCiccio did it in 1978 it had never been done before. Plus he had to do it for TWO years, because the first year he aimed the camera wrong and part of the figure was off the film :-( Everyone who does such a photo now always mentions DiCiccio—it's that science history, standing-on-the-shoulders-of-giants stuff.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ridiculously Nice Day

Wrote to V. that I was going to the ocean. "I'm sure it was wildly beautiful," she wrote back. Actually, it was ridiculously nice. A little fresh drift, showing the red of red alder. Tide going out in a mild, friendly sort of way. The pebbles and cobbles plainly shifted and heaped in different ways by the storm that brought the alder, a root wad which has been conspicuous all summer now half buried. Eagles along the Quileute River going home.

Rialto Beach, November 23. (Click for larger image.)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hard Frost This Morning

Slippers make a crunching noise when I step out on the deck. Clear weather east and south, but a marine layer cloud north and west, hanging over the Strait.

Heading for the ocean, sort of soon.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Down on the Strait

On the west bank of the mouth of the Elwha River. Someone has hung windchimes in the trees that you thread through along the dike. A rain shower passes, then the Sooke Peninsula on Vancouver Island across the Strait grows ever clearer. Tide going out. There are gulls afloat in the river mouth, happily bathing, fluttering and ducking their heads. Crows. A small flock of black and white ducks fly by, curve in, and splat on river/Strait interface. Common goldeneyes, their round eyespot as obvious as the Barrows' curved one was on Wednesday. Later, some buffleheads.

The ferry appears, emerging from where Port Angeles harbor lies around the curve of the coast, and heads for Victoria. An Evergreen container ship passes outbound, too far to read its name. A Coast Guard cutter passes inbound, then hangs a right and heads into the harbor. Almost I can read its number, and it seems to be (via later web searching) the coastal buoy tender Henry Blake, named for the first lighthouse keeper on Dungeness Spit.

USCG Henry Blake, silhouetted against the Sooke Peninsula, Vancouver Island. (Click for larger image).

Wigeons, grebes, surf scoters, a great blue heron posing on the gravel bar in the middle of the mouth of the river.

Panorama, east to west: river mouth, Strait, Vancouver Island across the way, Striped Peak on this side, Freshwater Bay:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Home Again Miscellany

Oooh look, it's pouring down rain out there. No, now there's blue showing through, and a rainbow in front of the clouds due north. (The sun is so low in the sky all the time now, we get rainbows any time of day, in nearly any direction.)

As I headed back from Elwha yesterday afternoon, Mt Baker was huge and looming on the horizon, and coming down the hill from the library I could see there was a red ship out in the harbor. Apparently red ships are especially irresistible (1); I whizzed out onto Ediz Hook as soon as I'd collected mail and library books.

Maritime Tuntiga, with HMS2000 and tug (click for larger image)

A tug and the oil barge HMS 2000 were doing something to Aurora Tankers' Maritime Tuntiga. She is or was Chinese ('Dalian Shipyard, Dalian, People's Republic of China; TUNTIGA NAVIGATIION COMPANY LIMITED, Hong Kong, People's Republic of China'), a chemical carrier. She has a big warning sign painted on the side of the superstructure which reads,


From out on the Hook, Victoria very clear on the other side of the Strait,

Victoria over there; note the ferry almost all the way across. (click for larger image)

and Mt. Baker reduced to a white bump on the horizon. As to ducks, buffleheads and Barrow's Goldeneyes. And black turnstones.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Q: How Many Books Did You Bring?

Mom: "How many books did you bring?"

Me (long pause; I always lie when mother or sister ask this, but don't feel like lying just now): (then in a lofty tone) "I don't answer that question."

Mom laughs.

PS Not even here will I admit how many I brought this time; but I will admit to having just started reading #7.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Travel from the Northwest Corner

Aspects of winter travel: there's 72 more minutes of daylight here in Tucson right now, which yaay. Had in mind to get a photo of Kenmore's little plane from the tarmac when it landed us in Seattle, but it was pitchy dark when we left Port Angeles, and still pitchy dark when we landed. (Still for that matter pitchy dark when the van dropped us off at SeaTac.) So settled for a view from Concourse B. Why not. I spend a lot of time there.

From Gate B6, SeaTac

Then thought of the pilots' weather cam; tried on and off all day to catch an image of the Cessna Caravan outside the Port Angeles terminal building, but kept missing.

Finally it settled in for the night, and caught another good one just now.

Running out of books to read, and this is only day three...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Living in the Rainshadow

The weather doesn't always match predictions. Sun yesterday, sun this morning (while I was in the laundromat). Clouds. Rain. Bits of blue sky. Tonight the rainy dark.

Freighter crossing the bottom of H Street, morning, November 10th

This afternoon there was a green ship in the harbor. And from the windows at home, a huge freighter lingered for ages off the bottom of the street. So I whipped out to Ediz Hook. Green ship was gone. Not one single large ship in sight on the Strait or in the Harbor. Ducks (buffleheads and mystery ducks); a great blue heron standing on a small floating log on the harbor side. Odd smaller ships in the harbor. What on earth does Penn No. 91 do for a living? Or Ocean Reliance? Later: Penn No. 91 is an "unmanned tank barge". A what? And the Crowley Ocean Reliance is an "articulated tug barge"(2).

Out on the Strait, a small tug pulling two barges filled with... dirt! Where from? Where going?

As it approached the Hook, the tug shortened its tow cable, and shortened it again as it moved across the harbor.

Towboat and barges in the harbor, Klahane Ridge on the horizon

...and eventually tied the barges up to a buoy off the inside shore of the Hook (between the Olympic Peninsula Rowing Association's boathouse and the Sail & Paddle Park), ...and left them there.

Photo Note

Experimenting with using blogger's photo loader rather than paying my ISP an ever-larger extra storage fee. This may lead to going back over old posts and reloading the images, which may cause your RSS reader to think they are new rather than edited. Sorry.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Really Big Leaves

To celebrate arrival at the Beatlish age, was given chocolate cake with cherries in it, and a walk by Siebert Creek. The leaves are all down. It was very beautiful.

Bigleaf Maple Leaf
Just How Big?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The River at 16.8 Feet

...doesn't look all that different. By happenstance, I was out there on the highway bridge yesterday just when it was at its highest.

Elwha River, 2 PM November 7

This morning, showers interspersed with thick fog.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Es Regnet

Il pleut. Está lloviendo. It's in the process of raining 8 inches today, and has been at it all day. The Elwha River is going to rise. Flood warnings are posted all the way to past the bottom of Puget Sound. People are even wearing raincoats, which I'm not sure I've seen since I moved here.

Later: apparently that 8" number is for the coast, and up above 10" in the rainforests. More like 2.5" or so here. But it's still raining, and about a whole inch came down just while I was in the parking lot of the supermarket.

Familiar Seascape, New Angle

La Push on the Quileute Reservation. James Island, Gunsight Rock, etc. But taken from the window in the library of the elementary school, where I was working with the woman who takes care of the library. I had to notice, she was not for one moment distracted by the view. (I sure was.)

There was too much glare and too much salt on the windows of the adjoining classroom, which looked out along First Beach, so no picture from there.

The window

PS Stopped in at the restaurant to pick up a Quileute alphabet poster for V. Wouldn't mind kind of belonging out there, as well as at Elwha. Only kinda, of course.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Get Together

Get Out the Vote. Gonna go phone banking and sign waving tomorrow.

"Come on people, now......
Smile on your brother.....
Everybody get together....
Try to love one another.....
Right now."

Yaay. Sing it, Youngbloods. (Or original recording.) It's not like we were wrong, 40 years ago.

West in Bad Weather

Friday we went out to Rialto Beach, me and V. and Coho-the-dog. Coho didn't like the ocean. It was the top of a good high tide, waves kept washing in onto the sand where we were, and we'd have to retreat up into the drift. And anyway it was a Park beach and he had to stay on leash.

Then to La Push for lunch, and to stand at the view point at the mouth of the Quileute River, to watch the considerable waves roll in on First Beach, and the islands, the gulls, and all:

Later, after an astonishingly beautiful return through the park along Lake Crescent, we went down to Port Angeles harbor and out onto Ediz Hook. Saw a seal, some buffleheads and dunlin, some gulls and mystery ducks. No big ships at all. Coho liked the harbor water, waded right in and lay down.

Along the shore of Lake Crescent, looking east towards Mt. Storm King. (click for larger image)

Then into town, for context, where we caught the end of the trick-or-treating along First Street. Saw a fine bumblebee, an infant dinosaur, and a perfect Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger.

Big leaf maples along the shore of Lake Crescent (looking west towards Fairholme). (click for larger image)

Oh yah, V. and I spent a certain amount of energy talking about a past so deep it's practically beyond archaeological time and into geology.