Sunday, May 29, 2011


There are plenty of Canada geese around the harbor. At the mouth of Valley Creek, paddling under the docks, sitting in the middle of the asphalt where lately trucks loaded with logs were roaring past but now all is quiet.

Baby geese under escort, May 23. (Click for larger image.)

A Week Later, POS Jade Followed Sun Ruby to China

Sun Ruby sailed on Saturday evening, May 21. S. and I went out on Ediz Hook to watch. Two tugs helped her pull away from the T-pier; she swung around, and headed off to Penglai, China.

May 21, 2011. Sun Ruby pulls across the harbor, fully loaded. (Click for larger image.)
Sun Ruby track (Click for larger image.)
Where is Penglai? (Click for larger image.)

But I didn't blog it, in part because the picture quality is so poor —I really am going to throw the camera into a body of water one of these days— and in part because it was already old news:

Next day S. and I talked all day in our jammies, then rolled out finally for another halibut dinner down at the harbor, and afterwards we could see there was already another log ship at the terminal. We stopped to examine the situation, and spent three hours watching things begin. The hatch covers were slowly raised, the cranes unshipped; worker guys climbed ladders and looked at stuff. Logs trucks arriving, the log loader (not necessarily this brand and model, but great movie) parking bundles of logs in the cradles, and then by golly they begin lowering logs into the holds, with satisfying invisible clangs and clongs as the bundles invisibly bumped against the interior of the empty ship. We stayed there harmoniously all that time; luckily we both have almost unlimited patience for observing processes. We'd not have lasted so long without the mifi unit which was enabling us to be searching for the answers to all the questions which kept arising... With the help of David Sellars' articles in the Peninsula Daily News (1)(2) and various web searches (1)(2)(3), we began to think we understood a little bit what is going on here. (And missed entirely the fact that due to a labor dispute, only half the normal number of longshoremen were at work, one log loader instead of two, never using all the cranes at the same time;

and it was consequently going to take a whole week to fill the ship.)

Next morning S. and I found a vantage point on the peeler yard, and watched a log loader and a one-or-two-log-picker-upper (whom we called Biter and Pincher) load up the trucks which were about to then whip around the corner and be unloaded into the cradles at the side of POS Jade. No good pictures, alas.

Loading peeled logs to be carried around the corner to the T-pier. Monday. May 23, 2011 (Click for larger image.)

S. left at the end of a grand visit; since we had seen the beginning of the process, all week I detoured down to the harbor to keep my eye on POS Jade as she loaded, and loaded, and loaded.

Wednesday. May 25, 2011 (Click for larger image.)

Saturday evening when I got back from the ocean, she was just sitting there, loaded, lashed down, everything silent and still at the dock. And at 8:30 PM she sailed.

Loaded, tied down, ready to go. May 28, 2011 (Click for larger image.)
Sailing Saturday evening. (Click for larger image.)

Position Sunday midmorning. (Click for larger image.)

What we don't know really at all is where all these logs are coming from and what is the consequence to whose forests; or, as a friend said in an email, "I am not clear of mind and heart about the amount of clear cutting that went into these three ships. Brings it all to home." But I live here, you know. It doesn't help anything not to try to understand.

Did Went. It Was a Day Like This

So I whipped down to the harbor to check on the ship, which was still loading, then went to the ocean, where waves came in and the sun was shining,

May 28, 2011. Rialto Beach. (Click for larger image.)

and more waves came in. Mostly gulls in the bird realm, and ravens; little birds singing in the woods behind the beach, which there are not in the winter; one eagle over the parking lot. The tide was falling, there was a surprising lot of surf at first and later it was much quieter to the eye and ear. Not an especially low tide, it didn't go out far. Innumerable parties of backpackers traipsed past on their way north (holiday weekend); large family groups ambled up and down the shore. I didn't walk far, chose a log to sit against to read and listen and watch.

Soundscape. Falling tide pulling on the pebbles on the shore. May 28, 2011, Rialto Beach.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


All week I've been taking pictures of the log freighter POS Jade being loaded, the camera is full of them. Even though I haven't posted. She should sail today, I think, like perhaps even any minute; and I'd love to be watching when she pushes off from the terminal. But I also need to go to the ocean. And to lie down on the couch and read.

If I did get moving, I don't even know whether I'd head straight west, or down to the harbor...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Reading Raymond Carver...

...on Raymond Carver's grave. Ocean View Cemetery. Who knew? (Near-about everybody but me, but nevermind.) Took my 48-hour houseguest there on Saturday afternoon. We were armed with a couple of books of Carver stories from the library, though not the story S. wanted, the yard sale story ("Why Don't You Dance"). She read Carver. I wandered around taking pictures.

Sitting on Raymond Carver's bench (Click for larger image.)
Poem on the monument (Click for larger image.)
Looking towards the Strait... (Click for larger image.)
Small Movie, Included Here So You Can Hear the Waves on the Strait As They Sounded from the Grassy Edge of the Bluff

Then we went back to town, and out onto Ediz Hook (map) to watch Sun Ruby sail across the harbor and out onto the Strait. More about that later.

This post is for all the past houseguests whom I did not bring to Ocean View Cemetery, especially EW, JK, and PH, my library colleague peeps back in the day; and for Sam, who isn't here.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Loading Sun Ruby

Sun Ruby sure looks like she's loaded to the top of the stanchions; but the log trucks keep rolling out onto the T-pier, as they have for four or five days. The tide was very low this morning, the ship heavily laden and low in the water. At the pier you can't see the ship at all, only the load.

Sun Ruby Taking on Logs (Click for larger image.)

At the stern end of the load, the cranes are lifting rolls of cabling and the workmen are already lashing things down. At the bow end, bundles of logs are still being lifted off the trailers, parked in cradles, lashed up, and then lifted by crane to (mostly) the starboard side, where there still seems to be room. Now and again the cranes in the middle of the ship will pick up like one log or two, and add it to some carefully chosen spot.

Back Here They Were Starting To Cable Over the Top of the Load (Click for larger image.)

I asked a guy with a badge, whose pickup was parked in one of MSRC's spaces (Marine Spill Response Corporation), and he said she would sail at 19:00 hours this evening. Might try to get a picture of her out on the Strait as she comes around the Hook. Or maybe not. Houseguest arriving any minute, who might expect a chance to eat dinner.

... (Click for larger image.)

I haven't watched a log ship load since Portland Bay last winter. It's a amazing sight when it's a full load like this. In spite of forbidding signage, I wasn't the only watcher. Very hard to imagine how she can manage to stay upright, out in the open ocean.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

First Beach, The Creek, No Whales

All day, all of us in the library talking about the warm sunny day out our windows, and wishing we were elsewhere. Was talking to my boss at the moment my work day ended. I looked up at her clock and

Me: "I'm out of here. My beach clothes are in the back room, and I'm going..."
Boss: *claps hands over ears* "La-la-la-la-la I can't stand to hear this."
Me: "...straight west. MP says she saw gray whales from Shelter Cove this weekend, and they swim 100 miles a day, so it's still possible..."

South end of First Beach, May 18, 2011 (Click for larger image)

In case you're keeping track, the score for the season is now: number of migrating gray whales moving north up the coast some of whom might have been visible, vicinity of 20,000; number of whale blows spotted, zero.

You can step across the creek (Click for larger image)

As the tide turned and began to ebb, the waves settled down and conditions were perfect. I looked and looked, read for a while, looked and looked. No whales.

Lake Crescent, I might mention, was technicolor blue surrounded by the altogether green of the bigleaf maples with their new raiment on. The first moment you see it from the road takes your breath away. Technicolor blue and altogether green.

Soundscapes, for Cee and for Sam:


The halibut opening is still on. There were boats and boat trailers everywhere. Traveling west at this unaccustomed hour, I saw a parade of log trucks; assume those trees were heading for the log ship presently loading at the T-pier in Port Angeles, Sun Ruby; soon to be on their way to Korea. And in the evening, as I was heading home, a parade of boats on trailers darting west, for an early fishing start in the morning...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Shorebird Dude (JL's Whimbrel)

Was out at Hobuck Beach on Makah Bay Saturday. It was a very nice day, companionable and warm; but my pix are mushy and hazy and kind of glum. My little camera only actually does ok in bright sun. Two of the people I was out with had quite good cameras, and after using the images on their camera screens to try to identify the shore birds— we were doing live birds as well as the usual COASST survey for dead ones, had a tally sheet for the Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society's Birdathon, the Clallam County Big Day— I was ready to throw my own camera into the ocean.

I do love shorebirds. And never see them on 'my' beach, Rialto. One of the several virtues of going to survey at Hobuck is the likelihood of seeing cheerful little shorebird dudes. If it has long legs and a long beak I'm for it.

JL's photograph of a Whimbrel, May 14, 2011 (Click for larger image.)

Heard from MP, who was camping at Shelter Cove in far-northern California last weekend. She saw a mother-baby gray whale pair from the beach. So I am inspired for one last try at First Beach. Busy with houseguest this weekend, so will try to dart out to the ocean after work tomorrow. Today would be better, the weather is good and especially No Wind, an advantage when looking for whale blows,

but as a sort of working girl I have to go to not one but two meetings after my shift today. I gotta say, I still like having a relationship to my profession, care a lot about library work; but this having to turn up when scheduled instead of responding to the weather is less and less attractive all the time.

Large Amiable Group Surveying for Dead Birds at Hobuck Beach (Click for larger image.)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

As Green As It Gets

Full spring on the west side of Port Angeles. Everyone's grass is as green as it gets; evenings and weekends buzz with lawnmower sounds. Wild things are blooming, the madrones and bitter cherries and amelanchier. The yards are blooming, rhododendron and tulips everywhere, fruit trees, the flowering quince in the lot across the street, daffodils... All this just vivifies the garden ornaments, yard figurines, paint details, benches. MP told me once this was originally a neighborhood of mill-workers' cottages, though it's hard to find one now that has not been expanded, enhanced, or replaced decades ago by a double-wide mobile home. Each one wears a costume of detail, plain or fancy or lunatic.

Evening neighborhood walkabout:

The Purple Fence, May 12, 2011 (Click for larger image.)
..., May 12, 2011 (Click for larger image.)

Rhododendrons are native up in the mountains, though probably not blooming yet. There is still a LOT of snow. Down here they do well, but have to be planted.

Rhododendrons. (Click for larger image.)
Gardens Are Not My Thing, But Can't Help Noticing (Click for larger image.)

Madrone in Full Bloom in the Lot with the Trees (Click for larger image.)
Rainbow Picks Out the Coast Guard Station at the End of Ediz Hook (Click for larger image.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Re-Mapping the Drive-Around

Driving route from Rialto Beach to La Push. You can see the school and the old coast guard station readily from Rialto Beach, it looks like it's Just Over There. Which in fact it is if you have a boat. The blue line on the map is much easier to see here than in previous view: Live link here so you can play with it:

Driving map, showing road and beaches (Click for larger image.)

MP just emailed from Mendocino to say, "The whales are supposed to be passing in great numbers. Tomorrow I will see them." Well then, if great numbers of gray whales are off Mendocino, those whales aren't here yet, so I haven't Not-Seen them yet. So will keep trying. :-)

Map showing context, here to there:

Blogging question: shall I go back and put the new, more-legible, driving map in Friday's post... Um, yeah.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Who, Me? I Did What? Where?

Stopped between part one (surveying for dead birds at Rialto Beach) and part two (failing to see gray whales at La Push) of my day,

North end of Rialto Beach, May 8, 2011 (Click for larger image.)

to pick up the verizon signal at the pullout over the north side of the river: checking my mail and also checking on developments certain twitter people are sharing, whom I care about though I've never met them in real life. Then drove around to the south side.

Summary Report: No birds to record on the COASST survey forms, and no whale blows that I could see.

Tried looking for whales from a different spot, at the south end of First Beach, by Lonesome Creek.

First Beach, La Push. May 8, 2011 (Click for larger image.)

I hadn't charged the camera nearly long enough, had to be frugal with photos. Luckily found no birds which must be documented. Though obsessively struggling all day with the online maxim, 'Pix or it didn't happen,' a most pleasing day happened. It was seriously beautiful out.

It's official, I have gotten through the entire gray whale migration season without a single sighting from the beach. By Lonesome Creek on Sunday there were surfers yes, families running around yes, unbelievable beauty yes. No whales.

The School at the Edge of the World, First Beach, La Push, May 8, 2011 (Click for larger image.)

Closeup view of the Quileute Tribal School. School on the left; present-day administration building, formerly the Coast Guard station, on the right. The First Beach web cams (1)(2) are in the attic of the old building, looking out in opposite directions.

La Push, detail

Friday, May 06, 2011

Changes Coming in the Place I Always Go

A bill has been introduced by our Representative, Norm Dicks, and our Senator, Maria Cantwell, regarding land transfers from Olympic National Park to enable the Quileute to move the school and senior center and certain other buidings up out of the tsunami zone. This is a process which began long before the recent tsunami in Japan, and events have made its importance clear. There are news stories (1) (2)(3) (4) (map). The school in particular is right on the beach at the edge of the world. It's the building with the blue roof.

This is a map from Handbook of North American Indians: Volume 7—Northwest Coast, published by Smithsonian Institution Press, reproduced here with permission. Notice along the left edge, the dark spots representing present-day reservations of the Quileute and Hoh tribes.

"Fig. 1. Territory of the Quileute in the mid-19th century" from page 432 (Click for larger image.)

Next, below, is part of a map kindly sent by Olympic National Park, showing an overview of the area in which land is being given to the Quileute tribe to move some parts of the tribe's central area out of the tsunami zone. I have somewhat tilted and cropped the map in a not-very successful attempt to make it show the same area as the 19th century map above. (The original unedited map is here.) Notice along the left edge the circle enclosing the area of the present Quileute reservation and the 780 or so acres which are being shifted or redesignated. (The Hoh Reservation is also making moves to get itself out of the tsunami zone, but not in this bill.)

About the same area on about the same scale, location of the areas covered by the Bill (Click for larger image.)

Here is what they are planning to do in that tiny area on the far western edge of the Quileute's one-time territory. The tribe gets back some land, and in exchange they agree to permanently and formally allow access across reservation land to the National Park's lands at Rialto Beach and Second Beach. (There are lots of other complications in the bill.) Thank-you to Olympic National Park for sending this map also.

Olympic National Park Proposed Boundary Revision (Click for larger image.)

OK then. As you know, I go to Rialto Beach most often, and sometimes in whale season to First Beach on the reservation at La Push, and sometimes to Second Beach. I'm going tomorrow. Maybe it's not too late in the season to see or fail to see gray whales at First Beach. Maybe I'll do this month's beached-bird survey at Rialto.

How You Get From the North Side of the Quileute River (Rialto Beach) to the south Side (La Push) If You Don't Have a Boat (Click for larger image.)

Just as a reminder, the whole of my beach life takes place in this small bit of the Quileute's original territory.

Sorry for shortcomings of graphics skills, and any errors in telling things clearly. I've left out all the history. Not mine to tell. But I have my own relationship to the territory.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Ceaseless Birdsong

Saturday morning, in the Fraser Valley, BC. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. It's at the mouth of the Fraser River Estuary, though even up on a viewing tower on a sunny day, where you can see north and south along and across Georgia Strait, it's hard to make out what is the main river channel, etc. It's all so FLAT out there.

Looking Across the Fraser River from up on the Viewing Tower. That might be Steveston on the Other Side. (Click for larger image.)

It's the quiet season at Reifel (pronounced 'rifle'). The thousands of snow geese have gone back to Siberia, and the hundreds of sandhill cranes —except for one resident pair— headed on up the coast to Alaska. Only the birds that stay local are there. We saw Canada geese on the nest, and goose families, and several times were threatened on the path by goose parents hissing at us determinedly. A Canada goose with his neck stretched up and his tongue vibrating at you while he hisses is actually quite threatening for a short person. Personally I'd think they'd be better advised to nest further from the path so people don't come too close, but then what do I know, I'm not a goose.

Canada Geese with Goslings, Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, May 1, 2011 (Click for larger image.)

Mother Goose Resettling Herself (Click for larger image.)

Lots of resident ducks, too. Mallards of course. Wood ducks. Shovellers, pintails. Also we had some Greater White-fronted Geese, which we had a hard time figuring out what they were, except that once we figured it out it was so obvious.

Any Day With Northern Pintails In It Is a Very Good Day (Click for larger image.)

Reifel's style differs from the Bosque del Apache in New Mexico, the wildlife refuge I'm most familiar with. The fields where farmers are contracted to raise grain for the birds are outside the Sanctuary itself, in the farm fields of Westham Island. In season, the snow geese fill the fields by the roadsides. There are lots and lots of numbered nesting boxes on tall poles stuck out in the ponds and mudflats of the Sanctuary. It's fun to imagine volunteers going around with clipboards, tracking and taking notes. "Hmm, tree swallow family in #164. Redwing blackbirds at #87."

Lots of little birds, towhees and redwing blackbirds and swallows and sparrows and nuthatches and and... Birdsong pervading everywhere, like a dawn chorus, but lasting all morning.

Tower on the main walking loop. (Click for larger image.)