Thursday, January 29, 2009

Memory Lane

The travelling fool is heading (a little indirectly) for San Francisco. I am going to see three, maybe four of the people in the group photo at the Digger Archives; and four maybe five of those mentioned in the caption as "Several members are absent."

Hey. Wait. It's my photo. I can just toss it right in here:

Once Was: 1972 (Click for larger image.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Car

The car most desperately wants to be washed. It hasn't been clean since the landlady took away the hose by the steps and covered the outdoor taps with insulating covers (the famous 'Faucet Beanie') at the beginning of winter. For thirteen years this car has manifested zero personality; but now it is whining and whispering and twitching uncomfortably. Oh ok, let's go find a carwash.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ship Stuff

Coho is gone to Seattle for his annual drydock. You can't readily get to Victoria from here until after February 9th. You'd have to drive to Port Townsend, ferry to Keystone, drive to Anacortes, ferry to Sidney, drive to Victoria. Nobody home at the ferry dock, except a big tall crane, doing something or other to Coho's berth while he's gone.

Lots of ships around the harbor. Gloria, home port Antigua Barbuda, just after picking up her pilot:

Gloria on the Strait. (Click for larger image.)

We also have Polar Explorer at the terminal getting serviced; she seems to have her bow weighted down and her stern elevated. Too far away for a photo, will try tomorrow. Ocean Star is still at anchor, as she has been since Sunday. And there are two modest-sized ships with wonderful names anchored out there: Campotex Resurrection and Mermaid Express.

A little fresh snow last night. The Olympic horizon behind the harbor at dusk. (Click for larger image.)

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Bi-i-i-g tall ship parked at Terminal 3. Saw it as I cruised along Front Street at the end of my errand run, standing up taller than everything in town; I turned down Cedar Street to go see what it was. I've never been able to get a picture that explains how, just sitting there, the superstructures on the big ships dwarf all of downtown and the harborside; I don't try anymore. Anyway this one was Samuel L. Cobb. Polar Discovery in the background; this is a third Polar tanker, not either Enterprise nor Endeavor, who were both around on Sunday.
Samuel L. Cobb. Polar Discovery in the background. (Click for larger image.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sunshine on My Shoulders

Monday it was back to the ocean for me. Third time in four days; and though I'll never admit it, it's not exactly right down the street either, even if the drive is now so familiar it just slips on by, the radio playing old rock-and-roll songs while I cruise along contentedly.

Sunshine again, sunshine day after day. There's a meteorological explanation but who cares. Half the population was out on the coast this weekend doing solar absorbtion. Blue sky, golden light, white foam on the waves and washing over the sand, white foam rising up around my feet in the sunlight, up around my boots, my knees, (my hips if I'm not paying attention); as if for a week it isn't winter...

It makes me think of Philip Whalen at Tassajara, wandering around in February sunshine 30-odd years ago and creaking out in his best imitation T. S. Eliot voice, "Midwinter spring is its own season."

Or, as Sheryl Crowe sang on the way to the beach, "I'm gonna soak up the sun."

Monday, January 19, 2009

In Search of Birds

The sight of a red ship in the harbor and the hope of ducks drew me out onto Ediz Hook on Sunday. Many people were out there, in a mild sunshine-y holiday weekend spirit. The red ship turned out to be DL Sunflower, her name painted in both English and Korean. Polar Endeavor was also in harbor. Later on, Polar Enterprise came in through the western Strait; the pilot boat and the tug Andrew Foss went out to meet her, and Foss escorted her into the harbor.

Yes there were ducks. Harlequin ducks, scoters, cormorant, merganser on the Strait side. Bufflehead on the harbor side. Some gulls. Tide low, Strait calm. Mount Baker clear on the horizon.

Mount Baker, as well as my camera can do it. Look to the right of the sailboat. (Click for larger image.)
Andrew Foss, Falcon, and another work boat, taking a break together. (Click for larger image.)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mostly Always the Same Places

Foggy Sunrise, Port Angeles, 01/17/09. (Click for larger image.)

Rialto Beach again. Far less surf and no birds anywhere, everything else more: more warmth, more drift strewn around on the foreshore, lots more people. I saw no cedar other than the log I sat on to dump out my boots on Friday, but plenty of bits of madrone, and surf-peeled red alder with underbark glowing like neon. One small young tree (a hemlock?) so recently washed down the river that a couple of branches still had branchlets covered with needles drooping down; and one of the beachfront Sitka spruces had fallen over in place, undermined by the recent storm surf.

Red Alder Log (Click for larger image.)

I went along the beach to see how Ellen Creek was running. Not very deep. The through hikers were going to the back of the beach to cross on the drift logs, but with knee boots you could stand right in the middle of it. The tide was coming in. Some videos here: (1), (2), (3). I always think of Raymond Carver's phrase, "Where water comes together with other water." And of Ivan Doig's story of getting swept into the ocean, right here, by a winter storm tide.

No gulls, no ducks, no crows, no eagles, no flitty birds in the shrubs by the parking lot, no birds at all. Not on the beach, not on the river.

Quileute River, no ducks, no eagles, no herons, no seal... (Click for larger image.)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

At the Ocean, It's Paradise

Everywhere except just on the Olympic Coast and in the mountains, low clouds, patches of thick fog, an 'Air Stagnation Advisory'. It's so foggy at the moment here in town you can barely see the street lights. Cliff Mass explains it all, including a great satellite image. And at the ocean, it's paradise.

Rialto Beach. January 16, 2009. (Click for larger image.)

All the drift had been shifted, thrown over into the back side of the barrier dune; huge new logs nearly buried already in freshly thrown cobbles; lots of fresh red drift on the shore. Madrone, red alder, cedar. The tide was coming in. I wore knee boots so I could be down in the swash zone and not have to run from every wave: within two minutes of hitting the beach I'd gotten careless and the water was over my boot tops. A few minutes later, composing a portrait of a red alder log with my back to the ocean, it really got me, wet to the waist and boots full to the brim with water. It was hard to mind, the day was so gorgeous. So much beautiful sunlit foam.

Rialto Beach, with Cake Rock (Click for larger image.)
Rialto Beach, with Dahdayla Rock. (Click for larger image.)

At the corner of the Rialto Beach parking lot, where for a moment the sightline is all the way up the Bogachiel River to the Olympus massif, there were the snowy mountains on the horizon in the same clear sunshine. Stopped by the river overlook to look for a seal, and saw him. A strange raucous squawking flew by and landed on the branch of a tree lying by the river: great blue heron. I'd thought they were silent. Imagine so beautiful a bird with such a strident voice. Sunshine continued all the way to the east end of Lake Crescent, where the fog was pouring down over the divide separating it from Lake Sutherland as evening came on. It was late, I was in get-home-before-dark-in-thick-fog mode, and didn't backtrack for a place to take a photo.

Boots spent the night on a chair by the heater register, and are nearly dry inside. Good thing. I think I have to go back today.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Discernably More Daylight, WooHoo Woohoo

It's 5 o'clock and it's not dark yet. Pretty darn dim, but some of that is the thick fog.

Thank-you NOAA:

"The following information is provided for Port Angeles, Clallam County, Washington (longitude W123.4, latitude N48.1):
   Monday   12 January 2009 Pacific Standard Time
   Begin civil twilight     7:25 a.m.
   Sunrise      8:01 a.m.
   Sunset        4:44 p.m.
   End civil twilight     5:15 p.m. "

Down Here, Thick Fog Since Last Night

On Hurricane Ridge, it's glorious winter...

The Hurricane Ridge WebCam, 11:30 AM, January 12, 2009 (Click for larger image.)
Closeup: The Bailey Range (Click for larger image.)

Grebe, Goldeneye, Scoter, Surfer, Harlequin, Cormorant...

Sunday, at the mouth of the Elwha River, west bank. Just past high tide—several cars of surfers left the parking area as I was arriving. Waves still splashing in, and birds and surfers still at work.

At the Elwha Nearshore program (1)(2) on Thursday, one of the presenters pointed out that people used to go clamming near the Elwha mouth, and at Ediz Hook, where today there is only a cobble wasteland. The geologist and biologist presenters looked forward to the restoration of sediment to the Elwha drift cell when the dams come out. When... one of the slides gave the date as 20012. The audience cracked up, the ever-postponed date for dam removal having taken a truly long slide into the future this time. Good eats at the program, provided by the Surfrider Foundation.

Cobbly shore. (Click for larger image.)
Surfer Guy. (Click for larger image.)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

First Beach

On Friday, went to First Beach instead of Rialto, as the Park recording in the morning still listed the Mora road as closed and I forgot to call again when I turned off the highway and went out of cell signal range. Grubby weather. It mostly rained, very lightly; I was dry and overheated in six layers, rain pants, knee boots.

Eagles everywhere. Several along the lake, a couple at the beach. I stalked one for quite a while, he moved from log to log, never perching near enough for my little camera to do him justice. When I left he had flown down onto the sand among the gulls and was sitting there pretending to be something he was not. 'Oh pay me no mind, I am just a gull or a crow, hanging around watching the waves come in.'

First Beach. Rain. (Click for larger image.)
First Beach. Jumbles of fresh small drift. Tide going out. (Click for larger image.)
Eagle shifting to a new perch. (Click for larger image.)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Action Stage

No flooding here. It rained all night, but not as it did elsewhere. Bless the rainshadow. The Elwha River got up into Action Stage last night around midnight, and the emails were flying to and fro among the emergency response teams, but then it went down again.

Early this afternoon at the end of Lower Elwha Road. The water was just heaping past, but not quite up to bankfull. Flowing frothy brown and meeting the blue Strait...

Elwha River, stage about 15.6 feet

Oooh. Nice video about the restoration of the Elwha.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Like It's Sposed To Be

Rained all night. Tires swishing on the pavement. Downspouts making music against the outside walls. What I came here for.

Might not, all things considered, make it to La Push on Friday...

Friday, January 02, 2009

Beautiful Dawn at First Beach

"I am not there, but I can see..."

First Beach Web Cam, 8:20 AM, January 2 (Click for larger image.)

That, by the way, is a memory quote from the small broadside of Rick Fields' poem about Trungpa at the dedication of the stupa on Cerro Gordo Road, before the temple was built around it...

Tucson Again

...where the old get older, and the infirm more so. Here they are having a week of warmer than normal weather. Mom and I go visit S. in a convalescent facility, and sit out in the sunny courtyard. My landlady was jealous to hear about the trip, and M. is still snowed in, but I just wish I were home. I tour the web cams obsessively, including the one at the PA airport parking lot, where my car visibly sits waiting for me.

The flights down were variously entertaining. Port Angeles was completely popsicle-ized when I left, car streets plane runway all encased in ice. Considerable delay before the tiny plane (smaller than usual, only six passengers) was entirely de-iced and the runway ready for us to rev up the engine ferociously and fling ourselves into the sky.

Consequent on the usual incompetent job of travel booking, the route was Port Angeles, Seattle, Oakland, LA, Tucson. Taking off from Oakland, had a perfect view of San Francisco: the bridges, Golden Gate Park rolling out to Ocean Beach. I was just that moment sitting there deciding never to do any discretionary travel ever again (Tucson obligatory), and there was the old home place laid out like a map... OK, so maybe I will after all go down to the City next month, for purpose of seeing very old friends*.

*Um, actually, former communal spouses. But I'm not gonna explain...