Monday, October 31, 2011

More Bird Watching

This morning I shot the following video.....this is a first attempt at posting a video here.  I call it 'Fishing Ducks', or Now you see them, now you don't!

This morning I was mainly concerned with learning how to post a video to facebook and the blog, with the help of my able, live-in IT person.

But this afternoon, we HEARD these birds, and I got a look at them through the binoculars.  I believe they are these birds:

Through the binoculars, we observed this profile, and the red head and neck, but the bodies did not seem THIS white.  The text does say that their winter plumage is darker....When I searched for 'diving ducks' at this website, the Canvasback was on the list.

I LOVE this website!  It is so easy to use! There are categories you can click on, or do a search by input, or just browse around. AND there is an audio you can listen to!


I am going to be lazy today, and just copy what I posted on facebook yesterday:

We could hear these two having a conversation, very clearly, but had a hard time spotting them. I was seriously considering stepping out on the deck to see if they were perched on our mast! But then I spotted them at the top of a tree on Blind Island, and we are on a mooring buoy about a 100 yards off the island. They hung out for over an hour, preening and surveying the island. I SO want to get a close-up photo, perhaps in flight, but this is as good as my zoom will do, for now.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Missing Fellowship

Another Sunday in the San Juan Islands.

We are drinking our coffee from our 'Sunday mugs'--favorites reserved for this day, reminding us to save the best for God.

Once again, we are not in a church building. One of our hopes for our travels was to visit churches whenever we could. But I think the ONLY one we have attended this summer was Grace Episcopal in Lopez Village.  Churches tend to be located in towns, and in our current lifestyle we tend to avoid towns as much as possible. [We have stated previously that 'going to town' is quite expensive.  We buy groceries. We pay moorage fees at marinas. We go to coffee shops, rather than brewing our own.]  Our favorite islands are those with NO towns (Sucia, Stuart, James, Cypress, Matia).

But we are soon to trade our cruising lifestyle for a home port.  At least for a few months.  That doesn't mean that if good weather presents we won't go anywhere.

But we will be in one place long enough to become 'regulars'. At a coffee shop. At the bookstore. At the library. Maybe the animal shelter, or the school, as volunteers. But certainly at a church.

I miss the 'at home' feeling of attending church. Even attending a church for the first time, there is the feeling of family, greeting brothers and sisters,  though for the first time face-to-face.

I can, and should, and do worship God wherever I am. But I miss the fellowship of church.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

New Waters

We have spent the last day and a half holding up at Deception Pass State Park, waiting for weather that didn't live up to it's forecast. Not complaining!

But today the forecast is for calm winds and we are heading out Deception Pass, notorious for strong fast currents, into the sea where the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Rosario Strait join.

The biggest waves we have to handle come from the wake of the Gulf Reliance, an Integrated Tug Barge, bound for Port Angeles.  

Example of an ITB 'ship' .  
The Tug Boat fits into a pocket built into the end of the barge, becoming in effect one unit.

It is five miles across to Lopez Pass, into Lopez Sound, more new water for us. It is a peaceful day.

Though we visited Spencer Spit several years ago, we have never been by in Viking Star.  Here, we are approaching, travelling north.  Spencer Spit reaches a LONG ways toward Frost Island. Gulls have gathered on the land, and waves are breaking to the right....evidence of shallow water!

The view off the aft shows L-to-R, our wake, the breaking waves, and the Spit...

Thursday, October 27, 2011


We arrived in Coupeville, Penn Cove, Whidby Island in the early afternoon yesterday.

We had hoped for a certain spot on the dock after reading how waters get quite shallow at a zero tide there, and the tide last night was a minus 2.3 feet. But on arrival, we found a sailboat not so generously parked in the MIDDLE of the dock, with his long dinghy strung behind and also tied to the dock. (Viking Star, as a general rule never takes the middle of a dock. Of course, if the dock is small, we will take the WHOLE dock, but we don't like to do that either, if there is another choice.) There was not room in front of him OR behind him. Now, being a sailboat, if he was concerned about depths for himself, he would have docked at the very end and side-tied his dinghy.

There would be plenty of water until 9PM, so we tied between the main dock and the fuel dock, and went exploring.  The Local Grown store on the pier had espresso, local jams and sauces and chocolates, and wi-fi. There was a gift shop, and a small marine life exhibit in the foyer. A lunchtime cafe was at that time closed.

We walked the short Front Street and spotted several eateries, clothing stores, gift shops, and professional offices.  There were public restrooms at the Visitor's Center. The library was another block up the hill.  It is brand new, opening just last February.  We spent a pleasant hour reading local newspapers and perusing the shelves.

We returned to the boat. After speaking to the harbormaster further about the water levels on the night's tide, we got permission to move to the fuel dock, which we were told had even more water than our desired spot on the dock. We moved over without incident, prepared dinner, and settled in to watch some ME TV (Memorable Entertainment).

Al had the depth finder turned on, and we were dropping like an elevator! At a zero tide we were told there is 8 feet off the fuel dock.  We draw 4.5 feet, add 2.3 feet that the tide would drop below zero, and we needed 6.8 feet, minimum, to avoid setting on the mud.

The pilings were growing, the ramp getting steeper and steeper, and soon we were looking to shore BELOW the harbor store!  Al poled the water off the side of the boat--6 and a half feet! And there would be at least another foot to go!  He hoped that the 8 feet had been measured a bit further out, where Viking Star's keel was positioned.

Well, we didn't feel a bump in the night. YAY! But that was close!

This morning, Al slept in after his fitful night. Then we got moving and went back to the Knead and Feed, a bakery restaurant, and split a wonderful orange sweet roll, and then gorged on the humongous plates full of food that our friendly servers brought.  We had been asked if we wanted the full order, or half, and we made a mistake.  We should have split the breakfast too!

We had fun chatting with our server, and another couple at the next table, who had sailed to Alaska and back 30 years ago.

On our way back to the boat, I stopped to take a picture of this wooden wheel, and a man walking his border collie stopped to tell us a bit of history.  This is 'the new wheel', and the old one is in the museum now. Another couple driving by stopped to tell us to 'give it a spin! It's supposed to be good luck!' So Al gave it a whirl.

Halloween is coming, so how appropriate to post pictures of the skeletons at the marine life display!

The complete skeleton of a juvenile male grey whale

Samson, the stellar sea lion

Samson's profile, scary!

And to finish up with some wise words from Chief Seattle....

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Seen Along the Way

These photos were captured on our way from Seattle to Everett.

A HUGE flock of these birds....I can't tell if they are grebes or loons, both of which we have only seen as solitary or couples previously.  HUNDREDS of them this time.

At the naval station at Everett, it looks like an aircraft carrier is getting some maintenance. A quick  internet search leads me to believe it is the USS Abraham Lincoln.

A couple of sea lions lounging on the green '3' buoy 

Beach daisies on Jetty Island

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


When I heard that daughter Casey wanted to go to Pike Place Market to celebrate her birthday, I said 'Seattle?! We are only an hour away! We could come meet you!' So that is what we did. We left Blake Island Sunday morning and headed to Seattle.

We met at the pig, where Casey, Richard, Madalyn, Evan and Milo posed. Then the kids 'fed the pig', because she really IS a big piggy bank, and they rubbed her nose for luck. Unfortunately, this is the happiest Madalyn was all afternoon. She began to have tummy troubles, got pale and tired, and just wanted to go home. The boys were sweet and cuddly, enjoying being picked up and carried by Grammie and Papa. Our short visit was cut shorter so poor Madalyn could rest and get back home to her bed.

Yesterday Al and I went out for breakfast, eating at the french bakery Le Panier. Today we ate at the Bacco Cafe. And we agree, Seattle just does coffee right! Yes, it is the home of Starbucks, whose strength is it's convenience and consistancy. But the REALLY good stuff is at the little corner cafes.

We did our grocery shopping, getting most of our fresh fruits and veggies at the Pike Place Market before walking up to the IGA for the rest of the items on our list. Gotta tell you, downtown Seattle food prices are higher than what we found in the San Juan Islands, and we thought THAT was expensive!

We ate dinner at Anthony's. Our first experience with Anthony's was in Richland WA last fall. They have a fabulous value, a Sundown Special--three course meal for just $19.95 from 3-6 PM. I remember my glass of L'Ecole No 41 'Perigee' cost more than my whole meal, but worth every penny! Our second Anthony's location was in Bellingham to celebrate my 50th birthday (this time we shared a whole bottle of this wonderful wine). We took friends Chuck and Betty to the location in Anacortes, but arrived too late for the special. We felt 'judged by our jeans' when we were led to a table in the corner first, though staff readily moved us to one of a couple window tables upon request.

Last night's experience was not so grand. There were no linen tablecloths. The butter was foil-wrapped patties, instead of coming in it's own little ceramic dish like the other locations. The menu was a bit cafe-style, under plastic, instead of printed with an elegant font on fine cardstock inside a binder. In addition, the bartender had not observed that there was an infestation of fruit flies in their campari, and my cocktail was served with three 'swimmers'. No problem--she made an even bigger replacement with fresh campari to compensate. The food was as good as ever, but the whole experience was a bit 'less' than we expected.

Later sunrises make it more likely we can observe them, and it was a pleasant morning in Seattle, cold but dry, very Autumnal. Yesterday morning we heard THUNDER during the early morning rain.

Sunrise over CenturyLink Field

Those familiar with Viking Star may be able to spot her tucked into Bell Harbor Marina, below the Seattle skyline. Others, look at the farthest row of boats, facing away from the camera, the one most left is us!

The sunrise reflects on the Olympic Mountains, behind Bainbridge. You may want to click on this one to get a better view.

The lamps at Pier 66 had these weird 'hair-do's' that remind me  of Marvin the Martian's bird. 

I loved the color combo in this plantar.

The grandkids LOVE the movie 'Ratatouille' so I considered ordering it, but I don't much care for eggplant or peppers.

Maybe there ARE Martians in Seattle?! They DO have a  Space Needle...

Loved this piece of art, an inside-out umbrella, that would pivot in the wind!

Gee, Viking Star looks so small!  Al says that's what happens when you move the decimal point a few spots to the right, in comparison.  Oh, and he calls those 'Mickey Mouse Ears'

Goodbye, Seattle, until next time!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Wet Slipper

The colder weather has brought a condensation problem.  When warm moist air comes into contact with a cold object, water condenses on said cold object.  For example, the windows in the main cabin fog up when we are cooking or doing dishes.

Last week while Al was in Orlando, I discovered that a book of mine came in contact with the cabin wall, which was below a brass porthole, with a damp trail from the window to the book.  During clean-up I discovered that my ancient teddy bear was also damp.

I notified Al of the book casualty, and asked whether the moisture could be fixed by tightening anything on the portholes.  He said he had checked that previously.

Well, this morning when I got up, I was surprised to find my left slipper was quite wet when I stepped into it.  It was under the overhang of my drawers, which also had moisture dripping from it.  Sure enough, there was also wetness INside the drawers, and half of my clothes had absorbed significant amounts. The moisture trail was the porthole.  Not a good thing.

Drawers were pulled out, clothing put on hangers from the shower rail, water toweled up, portholes tightened, rain lessened, and time passed.  For the time being, things are dry.  We shall see what happens with the next significant rain fall.

Another cure may be lighting the Dickinson diesel stove.  That does a good job of drying the moisture from the air in the boat.  It also deposits soot on occasion.  Positives and negatives.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Last Sunny Day?

The sunshine was beautiful yesterday, but it was very windy.  Park Hostess Jan invited me along with her to a sandy beach on the lee side of the island.  We passed a couple of pleasant hours chatting away and enjoying the view and the waves, not getting any of the magazines we brought along read.

The view east to Seattle

The waves tumbled prettily 

That was yesterday.  Today the forecast was for clouds to move in and rain to be likely in the evening.  The temperature was definitely cooler for a post-lunch walk. The same beach had a very different feel today with grey skies and a turn in the wind.

A flock of geese ride the surf, pecking for their lunch

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Long Walk

Yesterday we walked the perimeter of Blake Island. We had been told it was 'flat' and 4 miles.  But there were a couple of slopes that had us huffing and puffing. We packed a snack and found a picnic table at about the half-way point. We encountered more deer, a few slugs, and a couple of fuzzy caterpillars.

We also took a few moments to enjoy the view east to downtown Seattle.  There was a convenient bench well placed at a gap in the trees.

Last night we enjoyed a fire with camp hosts Robert and Jan.  In an earlier conversation with Ranger Paul we learned that there is a need for more participants in the camp host program.  We have been observing Robert and Jan, and picking their brains about the program. Al has been to the website and downloaded the applications.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blake Island

Blake Island is a Washington State Park, west of Seattle and south of Bainbridge Island.  It took us only about 45 minutes to get here from Bainbridge.  We explored just a little bit....

The headpiece on the lodge at Tillicum Village

One of several totem poles at the village

The deer here are not 'skittish'

Grand Fir


Western Hemlock

Viking Star with Seattle in the distance

The volleyball court.....Looks like a cat box, but it's really a 'goose box'


We have not ventured very far from the dock at Tillicum Village,  but we plan to be here for 4-7 days, so we should be  able to cover most of the trails in that time!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bird Watching

Walking back from coffee this morning, I noticed this pretty couple fishing the shoreline. I didn't recognize them in the field guide we have on the boat, so I looked online searching for 'Washington Water Birds' and found a fabulous easy-to-use site!

I found out these were Hooded Mergansers, and they WERE in our field guide, but I didn't recognize them because when I observed them, the Mister's hood was down.

And since we identified 'that noisy bird' as a Kingfisher, I have been trying to get a picture of one.  They are a rather nervous bird, flying quickly with fluttery wing flaps.  They make a loud, quite obnoxious 'ratchety' noise.  Over the summer we noticed them the most in Reid Harbor.  

This morning, as I was preparing to share about the mergansers, I had to grab my camera and was successful in getting this shot. It doesn't show the bird as I would want, but as I have been trying for months, I am happy to have a photo at all!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Sunny Fall Day

Well, it was a sunny morning anyway! And I got some shots of those things 'I'll come back and take a picture of, when the sun comes out'.  As I edit and write this afternoon, high clouds are moving in again.

I chose Roosters for my morning coffee.  I remembered that they had a big metal rooster next to their sign, and since friend Jen had a similar rooster picture as her facebook profile picture for a short time, I HAD to take a picture of this one.

Despite the sunny day, I had a hard time getting motivated this morning.  Did I overdo yesterday? Most likely I am just missing Al. Today makes it the longest we have been apart in I don't know how long.  His trip in July took him away for only 3 days. This is the 4th day of this trip, and he won't be home until late tomorrow afternoon.

So, by the time I am done with breakfast, it is noon.  I brought a shopping bag and peruse the grocery store.  Though prices really aren't any higher here than other places we have shopped, today things just seem too expensive to buy.  Salad mix, broccoli, green beans, pears, Honeycrisp apples, cauliflower, tortillas, a bottle of wine, and okay, some candy corn, and snack-sized Mounds adds up quickly to $50! For just one shopping bag!

I take the Waterfront Trail back to the boat, stopping for photos of several of the sculptures we have seen all over town.  
Artist and information

I love this little dinosaur!

I saw several people with cameras out, walking along the waterfront trail.  Here are the rest of my photos for the day: