Archive for June, 2011

. i wish the sun would shine .

HAPPY FATHERS DAY

Happy Fathers Day from Alaska, Dad.

Happy Fathers Day, Alaskan Whale Style.
(i have not seen a whale tail yet)
 

HUMPback

Kayaking home this morning…  I saw a WHALE! The blow and hump of a humpback whale!

We borrowed a few kayaks from work yesterday and I went camping with Rhet a few people from work. We paddled about 7 miles around the bottom of Gravina Island and camped at the Blank Islands. There were no cruise ships in port today so we had planned earlier in the week to go camping. I was a little apprehensive about going because it was raining, and suppose to rain the whole evening. I don’t mind paddling in the rain, but I was thinking paddling 7 miles to sit on a wet beach, and using wet wood to try to start a fire while everything we brought got soaked… may not be what I was in the mood for, but we decided to go anyway.

I was happy to see the beach we were headed for by the end of our paddle, it was still raining, but mostly i was excited to be done with the paddle. We carry our boats up the beach a pretty good distance since we arrived at low tide and needed to pull the kayaks far enough up the beach so that they would still be there after the arrival and departure of high tide scheduled for the middle of the night.

Surprise, surprise, behind the trees lining the beach we were greeted by 2 fire pits surrounded by drift wood benches and protected by the rain from professionally constructed tarps hung in the trees. As much as we were all up for “roughing” it, I think everyone had a sigh of relief when we realized we would not be sitting in the rain all night. I for one, was not quite interested in learning how my down sleeping bag would fare through our tent potentially flooding.

We had a nice evening, and with the sun setting sometime around 11pm? It’s very easy to let the time slip away from you. It’s hard to tell really since it is usually too overcast for a true sunset, and since it is overcast it seems to stay lighter later because of the light on the clouds. The sun is rising sometime before 5am now, I forgot to bring a clock to bed with me, so I spent a few hours in the tent this morning pondering what time it was, always unable to go back to sleep if I don’t know what time it is (worried I’ll sleep to late I guess).

banana slug maowin down

 

Spent a little time at camp this morning, enough time to find the most awesome banana slugs I have ever seen.

 

They were exactly what I thought banana slugs would be like when I moved to the redwoods, yet all of the slugs I found in the redwoods were smaller and had more polka dots. Now these slugs, this is what I had always imagined they would look like. Large, yellow, and completely banana-esque.  

this is what i would call a BIG SLUG

Low tide again, and time to carry our vessels back down to sea. Paddling at low tide here is pretty awesome. Most of the coastline is rocky and perfect for observing sea stars, sea urchins, and crazy things like gumboot chiton and red sea cucumbers.

Just a few feet from shore and I notice an inch worm making its way across the back of Rhets collars. A true inch worm inching along, only the second one I’ve ever seen. After pointing it out to him, he also finds another baby one walking on him. Must have been an inch worm party in the tree his jacket was hanging in.

 

It feels like it was almost instantly after we started paddling that we saw the humpback. Not very close, but close enough to see the blow and the perfect shape of his hump come out of the water. I was hoping we would be able to get closer/ a better look, but we were unable too. Either way it is amazing and quite magnificent/majestic to consider these huge animals traveling in the water all the time, and to be able to few one while sitting on the horizon really felt like an other worldly experience. Inch worm, inching along our kayak.

 

As we watched the whale blows get further and further away, we were also able to spot a sea-lion, and some Dalls porpoise, also far off. Stopped for a minute to appreciate where I was and to remove my jacket since it was miraculously wasn’t raining, and I was actually too hot.

 

Rhet paddling Creek Street

We took advantage of there being no cruise ships in town and paddled up the creek (creek street). Creek street is south of the kayak shop, and there are typically 4 cruise ships between and shop and the creek, so we are unable to paddle there because of the regulations about keeping away from the cruise ships. From there we paddled through the pilings under the dock that runs along the water for part of the way before making it back to the kayak shop.

 

Two of our friends took care of Dill for the night. First time we have left her with anyone. She would have been fine on her own, but our friends are currently in-between housing, and we thought it might be nice for them to have a place to stay, and good for Dill to still be fed on her regular schedule and get to play out of her cage some.

I guess we were wrong. Our friends are kind-hearted people, but apparently Dill spent the whole evening hiding under the couch, except to come and pee on my bed. I guess she was scared of the new people, and mad at us for leaving her with them. Aware of Dills mind-set before we got home, Rhet brought her a carrot. Sitting with her back facing him, she turned to show she recognized his carrot gesture, and made sure to show us that she was not going to accept it and she was still upset.

She has since finished the carrot and accepted our apology.

 

As much as I wish she wouldn’t have felt like peeing on my bed, it definitely sent me the message she wanted it to and I can’t be mad at her for being scared.

I am happy all I had to do was to come home to make her happy again.

 

my precious little bad bunny

 

 

 

humpbacks in the channel. not seen by all.

Alaskan Poppies

The back side of an opalescent nudibranch

Today is the twins birthday ( the owners children), they are turning 5 and having a pizza, macarroni and cheese, super hero party. I am sure fun will be had by all.

atleast the wildflowers are reliable

Spring has finally started to spring, fashionably late, and always welcome. It was beautiful out last week and I swear there is a new type of flower blooming everyday on my walk to work that wasn’t there the day before.

New Flower Today: Bleeding Heart

Had the day off yesterday and thought I would take the opportunity to go on one of our Orcas Cove tours. Melissa was the guide and we had 3 guest. I have pretty much thrown most of my expectations to see a whale out the window, and figured I would turn my attention back to my original loves, the creatures of the intertidal. So I hoped to see another lions mouth nudibranch, and I did! Just one, but they are pretty magnificent.

Rained pretty hard for a portion of our paddle, and I would definitely say my smile drooped a little when I felt the first tickle on water make its way under my waterproof jacket and dampen my sleeve.We also saw a pair of seals, some bald eagles and some jelly fish. The jelly fish up here are abundant and awesome.

After Orcas Cove Melissa and I headed over to Burger Queen for a taste of the locals favorite fare. I had a banana milkshake, made with real bananas, and it didn’t disappoint.

Back on the docks behind the shop and on the hunt for nudibranchs, I think I spotted a false lemon nudibranch on one of the pilings, which was pretty exciting but hard to confirm.

Convinced I should be smart enough to track down some more nudibrachs to help make up for my whale curse I head to a harbor in town. Floating docks are really quite an amazing spot to view creatures of the intertidal. I just always find myself wondering if they ever know how lucky they are to have attached themselves to an item that always stays submerged, whether its high tide or not. I was able to find a family of opalescent nudibranchs living on a piece of kelp. I also found another piece of bull kelp being weighted down by urchins and starfish enjoying a snack. Overall a successful day off, I ventured to the guide house to hang out and maybe spot a whale (with no luck) before heading home to make dinner.

moon jelly + bull kelp

[Thursday one of my tours saw a pod behind my office and the guide didn’t radio to tell me they were out there. I think this is when I stopped being happy for people and mainly just green with whale envy. Upon arriving home rhet lets me know he watched a killer whale 2 different times throughout the day, Melissa says she saw the orcas on the way home from her second tour at Orcas Cove, and I get a call from the guys at the guide house to let me know they can see an orca swimming up the channel, those nasty taunting cetaceans are out there, and I am not taking kindly to their games. ]

Its a bird, its a plane, its a cruise ship

... its superman...?

Good thing I’m not a kayak guide, because it gives me a real chance to love and enjoy perfect days here. The change in wind that takes away our clouds brings us wind that is unfavorable for paddling.

Still loving my job. I can usually watch a few bald eagles in the trees outside my window for most of today, but today I heard there was a bunch eating out back, so of course I had to go take a peek.

HOW AWESOME! Greg guessed there was fifty, but by the time I got out there, I think 10 to 15 would be a more resonable guess.

It was so awesome to watch them fish. The water glistening a ligther shade of emerald blue where the fish were flirting with danger as the balg eagles dropped down to catch them. Reaching between their talons and eating the small fish without even landing before catching another unseen wind current to whip them back around so they could make another dive.

Again, I am not in love with my new camera, but was able to get a couple cool photos as they were soaring into the wind. I could have stayed out there all afternoon watching them, but alas, I was already on the clock watching the eagles fish, I figured it was time to get back to the office.

It really is gorgeous out here today.

 The other greatest wildlife thing that has happened recently was a harbor seal! I was walking around back of my office down the ramp to the dock… I always look over the edge to see what sort of star fish or jellies are hanging around, we have tiny moon jellies that swarm here all the time and are really awesome.. as I am looking for some tide pool creatures I see a harbor seals polka dotted belly swim right under me in about 3 foot deep water (the water is surprisingly, extraordinarily clear for ocean water), He never surfaced, just swimmin on a mission. It is always really cool when they pop their heads up, but i’ve never really seen there whole body swimming before.

. awesome . awesome . awesome .