Thursday, June 23, 2016

So, the weather weasel sez: "It's a beautiful November day out there..."


Yeah, this is June.  Gray and rainy.

We'll see if there are folks out there who want to go looking for whales in the rain.  The whales don't care - they're already wet.  ;-)

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On edit: Joan called from the office... "Bundle up, you're going out."

55ยบ at 10:30 - the forecast is now for rain off and on for the afternoon.


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2nd edit: Yep.  It rained.  The report I had when I first got to the boat put the whales to the west of Discovery Island (southern tip of Vancouver Island).  That's doable.  By the time we were ready to head out, this group of transient whales had moved east (towards us); there was another group of residents too far to the west... so, we're going to see some transient Orcas today!

It rained off and on while we made our way into Haro Strait.  At first, we came across two transients, a large male and a female...



We enjoyed viewing them for about 40 minutes before heading further southwest to see another group...



We saw this group catch and kill a harbor porpoise; then gave the young one the opportunity to get his teeth on it.  Nature.

It was some interesting viewing, and nice people on the boat.

Thanks to the rain, Izzy didn't get a walk or six today.  Here's a look at that sweet little face poking out of her blanket this morning...



Wednesday, June 22, 2016

E-bikin'...


The sun has been playing peek-a-boo today, and it is chilly when it goes behind the clouds.  We took the car into town for breakfast... not the Hungry Clam today - there wasn't a line outside Rocky Bay Cafe, so that was today's choice.

Then, a walk around town; picked up a ferry schedule (good to have in the office and on the boats, so guests can plan) and a couple maps.

We decided to get the e-bikes out - first time since we arrived.  Also, the first time I think we've ridden in jeans...


And sweaters.

The graveling of all our good riding roads continues...


The fat tires handle the loose gravel OK (speed in that shot above is 14.5 mph), but it sure isn't ideal: no markings on the side of the road for what little bit of a bike lane is there, and cars going by stir up a lot of rocks and dust.  We stopped at a new country store outside of town - the sign said open, but they weren't.  A lady who also stopped said the owner is a friend of hers, and she opened the door.  There are a lot of people who bring or rent bicycles here, and that little store is located at the top of the first long uphill coming out of Friday Harbor... I think they'll sell a lot of bottled water.  ;-)

We took a side road that we hadn't been on before... and came upon the next good road that is now graveled.  We got off that as soon as we could and rode through a manufactured home community.  Nice development.



Back out onto a main road and... yep...


I have been told that when the gravel gets sufficiently beat down, they will clean up the loose gravel.  Can't happen soon enough for me.

On the bright side, this is the first opportunity we've had to ride the e-bikes on hills - they do just fine.  We came back to the motorhome, but the bikes away, and I took little Iz out...


During the sunny moments, the bees are out doing their bee thing.  I have to keep a close watch on her - she got stung last year.  She left the bees alone after that... seems like she does not remember that lesson this season.  When she starts swatting at the bees, I move her to another spot.

Sweet little face...



Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Chores...


When we're here on San Juan Island, it isn't all watching whales and playing on the scoots.  Just like real life, we have to grocery shop, clean, do laundry.

Joan will call me a curmudgeon, but the prices at the laundromat went up... $7 per load to wash.  $1 for 8 minutes to dry.  And due to a bunch of new uniforms, we had an extra load this week.  Around $30 for laundry.  Yeah, "it's an island."  And, a captive audience.  The only other laundromat is down that the marina.

Besides the extra expense, there is the issue of storage in a small "dwelling."  Fortunately, Joan is a wiz when it comes to organizing.

A tag on the exhaust fan in the bathroom had come partially unstuck... and was, of course, hitting the fan blades.  It sounded like putting a playing card on the spokes of a bicycle.  ;-)  I got out the ladder and climbed up on top to get that tag (and another that might try the same thing) off.

Holding tank dumping day, too.  In the boat, we would have to unplug, untie, and move it to the pump-out station.  With the motorhome, we are connected to sewer, so it is easier.

Izzy is not a fan of the vacuum cleaner, so she and I went for a walk while Joan ran the vacuum around the coach.

On the bright side, the work is mostly done by lunch.  Time for a break.  ;-)


Monday, June 20, 2016

Messin' with the roads...


A day off, and we are planning some scooter time.

When Joan first looked out this morning, she saw this neighbor visiting...


After we had breakfast and spruced up, I took Izzy out for a walk...



She is one happy little furry girl, having this large grassy area to explore.

Out and about with the scoots!  Gearing up...


Joan's new pink jacket, with armor.  Cute.  Girly, in a biker sorta way.  We rode into town...


Then, out to check out our favorite roads on the island...





On my first day working in Roche Harbor, when I came home, the county had chip sealed a section of road, right in front of our place.  They put down oil, then dump gravel on it.  It is up to traffic to pack it down.  It wasn't packed down at all when I first came across it.

We were going to find out our road isn't the only place with loose gravel...


The road to Cattle Point.  Yep, gravel.


Turning onto False Bay Road - more gravel...




Yeah, loose chip-seal every where we turned.  Until this...


End of the gravel, and now just the oil that they put down first...


We have been on some of that stuff that is dangerously slippery.  This wasn't too bad.  Still, we were both happy to see the end in sight...


Decent road for a while.  And one of my favorite curves on the island: opening up to your first view of Haro Strait...



We stopped at one of the pull-outs on the west side, with a great view of the Strait...


Joan isn't the only one who has new gear - those are my new armor mesh pants.  Comfortable, and doesn't add to the warmth.  Well, it was a bit cool, but I didn't feel the need for another layer.

Here's the Blonde with the Strait in the background...



This stretch of road has a 20 mph speed limit... and no fresh gravel...



 We decided to head for Roche Harbor for an afternoon snack on the outside deck of the cafe.  From there, back to Friday Harbor.  Joan suggested we swing by the new office building to see if they've made any progress.  This is what it is going to look like...


This is what it currently looks like...


Our boss was there and gave us a tour.  It is going to be very nice when done.  It will be great to have a waterfront presence again, and a real office... with retail space and a coffee shop as part of our operation.  I know Joan is looking forward to face-to-face interaction with the guests again.

From there, we made a stop at the grocery store.  The lady who runs the deli and bakery said, "Oh, welcome back!  I was beginning to think we weren't going to see you two again!"  With the scoots full of groceries, we headed back to the motorhome.  Joan handled groceries while I put the scoots away.  And then, sat outside for some guitar time...



Joan was listening from inside, little Izzy was nearby (she likes the music).  She hopped up on the table for a closer seat...


Nice way to spend a day off.  :-)



Happy Summer Solstice...


And a full moon.  Glad to have a day off.

I'll try for a moon shot tonight.  No, not dropping trou.  My little pocket camera may be on its last legs.  I do wear 'em out, and the blades that cover the lens when it folds in have gotten crunched somewhere along the way.  The lens comes out, but I have to open the blades by hand.  They are a bit crunched.  The camera gets carted on the scoots, tossed into my gear bag on the boat, and stuffed in pockets.

No, there isn't a camera shop on this island.  But, we do have internet.

Joan made my heart happy when she said those magic words this morning: "Let's get out on the scoots."

I'm in.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Fathers Day...


We are into our summer boat contract, so I am about 1,400 miles away from my little girl (if you can call a woman in her 40s "a little girl").  But, I enjoyed a lengthy phone conversation with her this morning, and we did get some "bonus time" together recently on our way to the PNW.

I have some initials behind my name, and other accomplishments, but the most important is the one that still calls me "Daddy."

Happy Fathers Day.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Not really a trifecta...


Well, we did see Orcas, humpbacks, and Minke whales today.  Just not all in the same trip.

The first trip this morning, in the rain, was with a family who had a private charter.  In five years of doing this, I have never had anyone ask: "Will we see any Minke whales today?"  Really, most people aren't impressed by Minke whales.  They are smaller than humpbacks, and don't have impressive dorsal fins like Orcas.  They are the Rodney Dangerfield of whales.  ;-)

I had no report of Orcas, so I headed south with the hope of finding a Minke; after we saw a lot of seals and a pair of bald eagles.  Then... a Minke!  While we were watching the Minke, I got a report of a pair of humpbacks south of us.  I looked at my watch, figured the distance, and came up with: yeah, we can get to the humpbacks and still get back to our dock in reasonable time.

The family was delighted.  They had 3 small children and they were so excited to see whales.  I have to admit, I had my doubts at first... they were late for their departure time (not uncommon with charters), and the 3 year old screamed like a banshee when they put a life jacket on her.  While I was doing a safety talk (trying to be heard over the screaming), the Dad handed out sea sickness wristbands to everyone.  Yeah, that isn't a good sign.

Turns out, even though we went down into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the water was beautifully smooth.  At the end of the trip, the little screamer looked like a rag doll... "Is she OK?" I asked.  They had given her a couple Dramamine - she was out like a light.

The second trip was a regularly scheduled tour.  By this time, I had a good report for some incoming Orcas - residents.  They hadn't been moving towards us very fast. but by the time we were ready to shove off, they had picked up their pace to 11 knots.  Coming towards us.

By now the rain had mostly let up, but the wind was beginning to pick up.  The water wasn't choppy, yet... but, it was going to be.  We saw another Minke just before getting to Cattle Pass - didn't spend much time, there are Orcas to be seen.  The Orcas had moved from west of Victoria, past Discovery Island, through Beaumont Shoals, and almost to Lime Kiln Lighthouse in the hour it took for us to catch them.  L-Pod, but they were quite spread out.

After some nice viewing, there was a decision to be made: go north over the top of the island, or turn around and go the way we came.  Looking north, it looked like rain... looking south, you could see whitecaps building.  There were more whales south of us, so that is the direction I chose... and hoped everyone would be OK with a little rock 'n rollin'.  We had some more nice viewing, including an up-close-and-personal visit from Cruiser, a large L-Pod male.

The southwest wind had picked up, making for a 2 foot sloppy chop on our way down the southwest side of San Juan Island.  I asked first mate Erick how everyone was doing, and he said they we all enjoying the ride.  When I got through Cattle Pass, and into calmer water, I put the boat in neutral and went down to check on the guests... "Everybody doing OK?"

A big cheer from the guests!  I told them, "We are throwing in this adventure white water ride for no extra charge today!"  Another cheer.  Yep, a very fun group.  We were a little late getting back, and they were all happy to have the extra time with the whales and the waves.

No, I have no photos.  I didn't get the camera out of my pack - either too wet or too busy.  A long day, and I feel like I have been doing sit-ups... the rock 'n roll motion of the boat means you adjust your weight accordingly.  Yeah, I'll be in better shape by the end of the season.

We are still not in our new office (lots of work to be done), so I went to pick Joan up - we took the car today, thanks to the rain.  She wound up staying over an hour late to get a couple booked for a whale plane trip.

It's good to be back, but I'll be ready for some days off.