Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What Qualifies As Early Morning on a Vacation Day

KF is sitting at the kitchen table with our copy of Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest, writing down in her dive log everything she saw yesterday. (Nudibranchs as big as her fist!! At home they're only as big as her finger!!) Her gear is outside on the deck, drying as much as possible before she has to pack it tomorrow.

It was very rough at Salt Creek, nearly high tide and breakers rolling over the rocks where they would climb down into the water; they ended up coming back to town, and diving right inside our poor old harbor, off the inner shore of Ediz Hook. I'll beg her for a list of what they saw and insert it in this post later...

KF's dry suit, Penelope (Click for larger image.)

After a post-dive nap, we visited the Elwha dams and the forest long the river in gorgeous evening light. This tuned us in to Forest.

West shore of Lake Aldwell, near Elwha Dam (both of which, lake and dam, will soon be gone) (Click for larger image.)

Now we go pick up WC at the ferry terminal and spend the day with him... we think we must go up the Sol Duc River and see what we can see of more trees (not enough time on a ferry day trip to dart for the Hoh Rainforest).

Monday, June 29, 2009

Horned Lark

Forgot to mention: we saw some horned larks. Pleasingly bold markings.

At least, we think that's what they were. The range map at Birdweb not entirely encouraging as to our identification; but M. also saw some yesterday, out at Obstruction Point.

Mammals and More

These pictures are KF's. It is still June 28, we are still in heaven on top of Hurricane Hill.

There were black-tailed deer all over up on Hurricane Hill, tame as could be. The marmots weren't timid either, one was sitting on a burrow entrance by the trail, and only went down when a couple of hikers walked two steps right out onto the meadow (bad people!) and he had to go down the hole or be stepped on. As we were coming down the hill, a small deer was out on the hillside, and a marmot sitting on his burrow was whistling and whistling at or about him. Considerin' that they didn't mind people at all, what possible alarm could a small, delicate-legged deer cause? But it did. The marmot yelled and yelled.

Chipmunks up on the top of the ridge, working hard to clean up the scraps of everybody's snacks and lunches, in between shopping for flowers and grasses and seeds. Grabbed but rejected a violet flower. The Olympic chipmunk and the Olympic marmot are both endemics.

   Partial and somewhat uncertain flower list:
avalanche lily Erythronium montanum
glacier lily Erythronium grandiflorum
Columbia lily, small tiger lily Lilium columbianum
broadleaf lupine Lupinus latifolius
cinquefoil Potentilla sp.
violet Viola sp.
silky phacelia Phacelia sericea
western wallflower Erysimum capitatum
lomatium, biscuit-root Lomatium martindalei
american bistort Polygonum bistortoides
carpet link, spreading phlox Phlox diffusa
wild rose, wood rose Rosa gymnocarpa
old man's whiskers Geum triflorum
scarlet paintbrush Castillja miniata
magenta paintbrush Castilleja parviflora
sitka columbine Aquilegia formosa
mountain primrose, cliff douglasia Douglasia lauvigata
littleflower penstemon Penstemon procerus
delphinium Delphinium glarosum
blue-leaf huckleberry Vacinnium deliciosum
jacob's ladder, showy polemonium Polemonium pulcherrimum

Sunday, June 28, 2009

On Hurricane Hill, June 28, 2009

Black-tailed Deer Out There (Click for larger image.)
Dancing Avalanche Lilies
Really Enormous Marmot Looking Out Over the Strait (Click for larger image.)

Catching Up

Lull between guests. I joyfully and with great relief devoted a whole week to being at work. Learned about something new I could do for our catalog (LibraryThing now has collections!), started working on executing it; survived the somewhat rocky launch of the tape preservation project that isn't mine but somehow everyone thinks I can apply my mystical librarianly skills to keep it organized; ate elders' lunches. Ah, speaking of being an elder, someone came by the education department (library) giving away braids of sweetgrass to elders. "It's true I'm older than dirt," I said, "but I'm not a tribal person." But she gave me the sweetgrass anyway. I said many thankyous. I was at work, so I posted about it to Twitter, where the thankyous reduced to 'Thnx'.

But the work question, the central organizing factor of my whole adult life. As I explained yesterday to the next houseguest about my present relationship to the tribe, "I speak of it as 'work' even though I am no longer being paid; it's who I am, it's the work I do."

As soon as it was the weekend, after PH and SA left, I had to go do my June beached birds survey out at Rialto, couldn't very well miss my responsibility in what was only my second month as citizen scientist. I would otherwise have continued pottering around putting my life back in order— return neglected emails; sort out fridge, cabinets, closets; weeding in the yard, etc etc. I even cleaned the keyboard. If I'd had a pencil sharpener I would've sharpened all the pencils. And would've read books. Many many books. But I had to go so I went.

It was a curiously flat day, no ecstasy and so on, and it's a whole different state of mind to be obliged to pay attention to details I normally tune out, shambling along examining the wrack line and peering among the driftwood. No birds, neither beached ones nor live ones, except some crows and two eagles who briefly did a tumble-around in the air over the trees behind the beach. Lots of people. I definitely have trouble doing the count-the-people-on-the-return-leg, I space out and lose track unless I think about ENTIRELY nothing else but reciting the number I've gotten up to as I walk along. Maybe gonna get a little clicker so I can count without it taking over my brain...

"Hmmmm, yeah, here's a mound of seaweed, is there (parts of) a bird hidden here? Hmmm, maybe they are here and I'm just not noticing? Well, no, I'm noticing the occasional stray feather, so I think there simply are, as usual for Rialto Beach, no beached birds."

Somehow, though, it was entirely satisfying. I had that happy, smiley, floaty feeling as I started driving home.

Closely Examined Seaweed (Click for larger image.)

One morning this week there was a deer out the front window. He (she?) was ignoring the mostly dry grass in favor of sampling the much greener weeds in the rock bed. But he didn't like those either, dropping the one he pulled up, and wandered away.

Deer out the window (Click for larger image.)

Yesterday drove over to Kingston to pick KF up from the ferry. She just finished sesshin with the Red Cedar Zen people, and a nice person heading back to Seattle dropped her at the ferry on the Edmonds side. We have been busy all morning talking about our lives.

The ferry Puyallup arriving at Kingston (Click for larger image.)

We now return this blog to its usual programming. Later this morning we are going to Hurricane Hill.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

(Illustrated) Grand Tour of the West End

Revised; photos added.

Last sunday we headed westward into a cloudy forecast. First stop, the Twilight store in Forks, which was jammed with people, not all young and not all female. SA wanted to get t-shirts for her son. I will admit to being ever-so-momentarily tempted by a "Team Jacob : Join the Pack" refrigerator magnet. We tried to go to the thrift store but found it is only open two afternoons a week. Then to the grocery store, where we ran wild in the aisles, and stuffed 3 days of meals and treats into the car on top of the clothes, jackets, spare shoes, rain gear, maps, and a complete library of reference books and recreational reading.

It was early still, so we went to the Hoh Rain Forest. It's down to a routine by now: first stop with each successive party of visitors is at the Big Spruce Tree. It's big. There's ferns, and—most of all—stopping resets the pace from driving-to-get-somewhere to Being There. We had by then driven out of the fog and clouds, and had lovely sunshine the whole time we were in the forest. We picnicked, then to the visitor center, then around the Hall of Mosses Trail, all three of our cameras snapping but at different details.

Hall of Mosses in the sun. June 14, 2009 (Click for larger image.)

Then we found a grassy sunny spot and read our books for a while.

By 6 PM we had unloaded the food and stuff into our cabin at Kalaloch Lodge, on Olympic National Park's coastal strip, and were down on the beach. SA had her shoes off and was standing very still with the water around her ankles, watching the waves roll in. PH was looking for rocks. I was walking in the water. It was a miracle: the sunny weather held. Later we sat in three different spots and read our books for a while.

Repeat five or six times, over the next 60 hours :-).

Sunset at Kalaloch, Olympic Coast. June 14, 2009 (Click for larger image.)

A proper sunset, maybe a little cloudy on the horizon but yeah: the sun fell into the ocean. Monday morning, down on the beach as the tide receded. The beach at Kalaloch is very flat, the tide goes out out out and the incoming waves wander in about half an inch tall...

Dropping tide, Kalaloch, Olympic Coast, June 15, 2009 (Click for larger image.)

but we didn't stay, we wanted the low tide in the tidepools at Beach Four a few miles north. Highly satisfactory manifestations of purple and orange stars, green anemones, barnacles and so on.

Beach 4, Olympic Coast, low tide, June 15. (Click for larger image.)

The tide began to come back. We walked past the tidepool rocks. SA had her shoes off and was standing very still with the water around her ankles, watching the waves roll in. PH was looking for rocks. I was walking in the water. Still the sunny weather held. Later we sat in three different spots and read our books for a while.

The roadsides of the West End are thick with cow parsnip, whose name we could never remember, no matter how often we retrieved it and said it aloud. All over, all the marginal places: roadsides, bluffs, field edges. Soon we had a whole roster of roadside 'animal plants' to mix up in our aging brains, cow parsnip, plenty of foxglove, some goatsbeard, and skunk cabbage leaves each four feet tall.

Cow Parsnip at Beach Four, Olympic Coast. (Click for larger image.)

Back to the cabin; and for the rest of Monday and all of Tuesday, all we did was walk on the beach, alone or in pairs or all three together; and read books, alone or together. We saw seals, and lots of gulls, crab shells and parts. Pelicans. Any day with pelicans in it is a good day (though PH and SA didn't seem to care). Monday sunny, Tuesday cloudy and moving towards light rain.

Kalaloch, June 16 (Direct link, for RF.)

Wednesday morning, checked out of the cabin and stopped on the way at Ruby Beach. Fog, light rain, those wildly photogenic sea stacks, a few intertidal critters; variously picking up rocks, walking in the water, standing still watching. Back on the road. PH had of course remembered the Forks thrift store hours, so on our way through Forks we went there. Then lunch at the wonderful taqueria MS had told me about, and home.

Ruby Beach, Olympic Coast, June 17. (Click for larger image.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Warm Still Gray Day, Ocean

Showing PH and SA my "most beautiful place". We didn't go all the way to the big rocks by Hole in the Wall. Ellen Creek wasn't running across the beach. We had only rocks and wood and ocean. We were happy.

Rialto Beach, June 13, 2009 (Click for larger image.)

P.S. Now we head out for three nights where there is NO internet connectivity. This will NOT be easy. Aiiiiiii.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Keeping Track

You have no idea how distracting it is to have two houseguests. A few gnomic remarks and some pictures, posted belatedly, is the best I can do in the way of keeping a record. Friday they went to Victoria on the ferry. Today, Saturday, we are going to Rialto Beach. For me, not for them. Praying that the warm weather will continue, or they'll last like two seconds on the beach.

Elwha River Day

Thursday after a morning of shopping (eeep!), we went over to the tribal library, so I could introduce everyone to my first library boss and my second library boss and my third library boss (worked first for SA, then PH, then SA again, a dreadful long time ago), then we drove over to the end of the road to peer at the mouth of the river from within—it was windy and we'd never make it if we tried to approach at the Strait.

Elwha River, looking toward the river mouth on the Strait of Juan de Fuca from the end of Lower Elwha Road. (Click for larger image.)
Then the 'Freeing the Elwha' tour: someday this will all be gone, and with the help of stimulus money Someday could begin as soon as 2010, the project has been edging toward shovel-ready for a decade.
Someday this will all be gone: Elwha Dam (Click for larger image.)
Someday this will all be gone: Glines Canyon Dam (Click for larger image.)

Then We Went Up

This is still Wednesday.

Central Olympics from trail to Hurricane Hill (Click for larger image.)

Seas of avalanche lilies and glacier lilies, carpets of phlox; lupines, paintbrush, violets, a whole flower-garden of trailside blooms all mixed together.

No good flower pix. Just imagine paradise.

More Tidepool Day

Super-really-large sea star Pisaster ochraceus (Click for larger image.)
Ripples beside Salt Creek, low tide (Click for larger image.)
Mussels and barnacles (Click for larger image.)
Really big anemone (note pen for scale) (Click for larger image.)


Thursday, June 11, 2009

1 Day, Two Expeditions (Part One)

Yesterday we went to Salt Creek Park for the low tide. It's really true: what was under the sea emerges. (Remember how it looked at high tide on May 25th?)

Tongue Point about 10:30 AM, June 10. (Click for larger image.)

We spent the morning trying to keep our balance on slippery seaweed (or failing: PH fell in at one point) and seeing chitons, barnacles, giant anemones, the biggest purple starfish you ever imagined, crabs, urchins, molluscs, and more.

Tube things, Salt Creek. (Click for larger image.)

When our legs were tired of nearly falling and hands enough cut by grabbing barnacled rocks to save ourselves, we drove around and approached the presently stranded island and the rocks of the Point from across the sand.

We came home, got dry, and went up Hurricane Ridge. Lots of wildflowers on the Hurricane Hill Trail. Heavenly.

The tidepool book and flower books for proper IDs, and the rest of yesterday's images, are locked up in a room with a sleeping houseguest. More later.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

What Hot Days Are Good For

So very happy.

Rialto Beach, June 3, 2009 (Click for larger image.)

Monday, June 01, 2009

Between Yesterday and Today

The grass suddenly started getting green on Hurricane Ridge. Don't you think?

Webcam on Hurricane Ridge (Click for larger image.)