Thursday, June 23, 2016

the sea, the sea, go to the sea!!

 i think above i have 3 whales...2 adults plus a baby.  there will be more of these.  hope you like marine life...plenty of it in these parts.
 i'm currently on call.  that may not last so i thought i'd toss in a quick blog note and then try to rest...which is usually the moment they call me.
 otters in the harbor before we left. i really should have gotten better photo's of these guys as they were pretty close.  i was a bit anxious as we weren't entirely sure what time the boat was coming and if we were at the right place.  we were.
 when you organize a trip it all falls on you.  that can be stressful.  i put myself in that position though willingly i guess.  more fun to do these things with other humans and in truth i'm not always the first person people think to invite places....though at this time, the other humans seem happy when i invite them.
 probably reflects more on folks general lack of willingness to plan stuff than in some total dislike for me personally, though i will admit to never having been a member of the popular group.  i tend to not really be a solid member in any group really..i'm always on the outskirts of various groups.  a few people like me and may or may not include me in stuff.
 that is how it is in life sometimes.  my "group" in life where i was most included was probably the group that i'm still close friends with so many...the old emergency animal hospital in LA.  we were tight.
 probably part age related, part work environment and part just everyone really just relating to each other.  we pick up right where we left off no matter how much time passes.
 i do have my regulars that i tend to travel with up here in AK and then we add in extra's.  nice to mix it up i think.  seems like you make new friends and it alters the experience a bit with different people.  makes it fun.  also i like to help get other folks out there in places they maybe wouldn't try alone.  see that they can do it.
 happy that i was included when i was just getting started so like to pass that same kindness on to others.  some tell me i'm somewhat adventurous...i really don't see myself that way though.  i'm just regular folk, i just do stuff cause i can.
 huge ice bergs in front of Bear Glacier.  we passed it on the way out.  guess some do paddle there, but those are big bergs and i hear there are some currents and other issues which complicate it.
 any place can get dangerous.  my friends and i tend to err on the side of caution.  since it was me as the experienced paddler the last few days, i for sure erred on the side of caution.  it does add some stress to have everyone else with experience leave.
 it is funny that after all these paddles, i still don't really see myself as some experienced kayaker...reality i guess is that i am.  i've certainly paddled quite a few places over the years.
 it's the same with the Walrus non-profit.  it's just been a few years, i still feel like a fledgling trying to learn how to fly.  it just seems like others make stuff in life look so much easier. they seem more together, more confident.
 feel at times like i should be doing more, have done more.  i try to remind myself of what we have accomplished.  just always so odd to me how some people have the confidence beyond their skill levels and i seem to feel inadequate.
 when i was organizing the non-profit, my one friend said, you can't make it worse.  you can only help by trying.  there have been highs and lows in this process.  we are still not really well known and what we have accomplished not well known either no doubt.  a few articles were published in the local paper that i wrote on behalf of the sanctuary.  we had a petition with over 8000 signatures globally that i hand delivered to the directors office at fish and game and the governors office.  those things kept the pressure up. letters, emails, calls, many of these were made to anyone i could think of.
 a group had filmed on the island and when i told them of the defunding, they put together a video which i understand got seen by Charlie of explore.org.  i spoke to the director of the sealife center several times
 well, now i have to wrap this up

 pics from the trip out
 sea lions...

 the phone just rang.  i am being called in. dang.  the pups are put to bed and i shall head to work.  gotta get dressed and all that.

 loads of birds upset by an eagle
 and back to whales
 in the distance a big leap out of the water.  didn't get camera up in time for anything but the splash  but that is impressive enough i think.

 we had a group of whales super close to our boat for quite awhile.  we couldn't actually move the boat until they moved much further away from us.

 so much fun to just chill and enjoy the show.

 they are super cool.

 these are of the tail as the whale was making a bit of a dive.




 and then he leaves us...i better get ready and head to work.  boo hoo.  it is time and a half though so i really shouldn't complain.  i'm going to the adult icu i guess.
thankful for:  A.  the opportunity to advocate for walrus, it's an honor and i hope i live up to the challenge  B. living in this amazing place where i get to see such beauty and wildlife  C.  a job...even though i bitch about it.  others are not so lucky

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

amazing how many "steps" you get playing Nertz!!

 i am back from the kayak trek.  always a great time.  weather never seems to bother you once you are out there.  we had blue skies driving down to Seward.  the next morning, bright and early, we woke to cloudy skies.  our boat trip out was pretty great with some amazing humpback whale action.  they were close to our boat with Fairweather water Taxi...(great company we've found...plug)  our Captain, Brent, was happy and willing to let us have a good whale watching show on the way to Aialik Bay and Holgate arm in the bay, where our cabin was.
 most of the rest of these from today are from my little canon camera...the one i brought out when the weather was a bit less than optimum.  we were able to get in a pretty nice paddle friday afternoon after we arrived.  by friday night in the wee hours the rain started coming down.  it didn't stop at all for over 36 hours.  i mean raining hard for 36 hours.
 saturday the O's got out for a short paddle and were met up by our water taxi service. they were letting folks know that a weather advisory was on the way and they wouldn't be able to come get anyone on Sunday so pick up was either that afternoon or wait until Monday.  so bummed, but half our group had to take the early out.  that left us three girls to wait out the storms.
 we played a lot of nertz, which i had taught them. We walked.  Sunday, we attempted a paddle, but anytime we got out of our little cove the waves started to build on us so we just paddled around our cove.
 we were socked in..finally seeing the glacier again after 11:30 on Sunday night...
 Monday we woke to amazing beauty.  we packed up, loaded the kayaks and paddled to the glacier.
 the water was calm and the scenery spectacular.
 these are from various walks we took and from our watery paddle.  i'm still looking through all the other pictures.
 lupine always pretty.
 saw columbine as well, but my pictures weren't clear.  often you just get a few too many raindrops on the lens.
 did miss my puppies.  L told this horrible story about one of our co-workers pair of dogs that were playing while the family went to the grocery store and one got it's jaw caught in the other ones collar and one dog was strangled to death.  thank you L for freaking me out the first time i left my puppies.  all was well when i got home late last night and now i've been removing their collars at home so hopefully, that awful thing never happens.
 took them for a walk with friends today out at Powerline pass.  4 miles...they are 4 months old so that is generally how i advance the distance on their walks.  we also hit the grocery store today and i returned the kayak to the O's place.  they are pretty tuckered out tonight.  :-)  success!!
 i did get my step count in each day...on that Saturday i have to think Nertz rapid arm action was helpful in boosting my step count.  the game can get pretty wild so  i'm sure you burn calories.  also played solitaire quite a bit.
 always reminds me of relaxed weeks down at my Grandpa's beach house in Laguna Beach, CA.  we'd hit the beach and then return to the house and play cards or board games or whatever kids wander around doing.  then back to the beach.  so relaxed and care free.
 thankfully, we had the cabin to warm up in.  it has a propane stove so we had no issues with heat.  the outhouse is no longer functional.  i guess you can collect your crap.  we chose the beach route.  the joys of remote camping.
 usually from this viewpoint in front of the cabin you can easily see the glacier...not on Sat at all and only on occasion intermittently on sunday.  we were pretty excited at 11:30 Sunday night when the rain finally stopped and the clouds began to lift.  we finally lay in our bunks and looked out at the glacier.
 i'll have to seek out my old Holgate pictures and do a compare and contrast. the glacier has melted a great deal.  yesterday we pulled up on the same beach that i had pulled up on over 12 years ago...then we had ate lunch right in front of the glacier and played on the ice.. now the glacier has receeded far up the mountain.  it's kind of sad to watch the progressive loss of these great trails of ice.
 really awesome to paddle in front of them and just enjoy being in the presence of them.
 above is the front of the cabin.  these are public use cabins that you rent at a pretty reasonable cost.  no electric no plumbing, just a basic building with bunks and a heat source of some sort.
 here is the inside with the bunks.
 another walk on the beach.
 we were amazed at the rivers of water running down from the mountains.  quickly we became a bit nervous about having to attempt to haul our gear across them Monday for our pick up.
 just as amazing though after the storm passed the rivers quickly became trickles again.
 all day Sunday we saw no boats, heard no planes.  we were out there, just us.  nobody could have gotten to us through that storm even if we had a way to reach them, which we did not. interesting in this modern world to spend a day so remote and without any mode to call out for help.  thankfully, we did not need any assistance.  it does make you behave in a more cautious manner to a degree, realizing that help is far away and not coming.
 we had seen a black  bear on the beach Friday night when we had a campfire.  we ate s'mores and had drinks on glacial ice.  we collected chunks of bergy bits as we paddled to be used in coolers and drinks later.
 the river of water close to the cabin.
 the black bear popped out not too far from us, saw us and then started to scratch his back on a downed tree.  we called out, mostly to get the attention of the folks tenting down the beach from the cabin.  we never ran into the bear again, but we did keep bear spray handy and our air horns.
 loved the various colors of green.

 it's pretty no matter the weather.  you just have to take weather in stride.  you can't control it.
 hopefully, we have decent weather for our bear viewing trip out at Hallo Bay.  i was finding myself debating canceling it today.  they just seem so odd, the folks who run this place.  i'm still hoping that all will be fine once we are out there with the guides.
 testing the water out for crossing...like i said by Monday morning this was just a trickle

 not much washed ashore of note.  love the sound of the waves dragging across the rocky beach though.  i'll have to try and post one of those video's.
 this little pond above the beach had been bone dry the night before on friday...now it was totally full and a force of water flowing out of it so strong we tossed rocks that were rapidly sucked down to the ocean.
 many dry out attempts while we played cards and ate whatever snacks appealed to us
 off for paddle...looked great in our bay despite the steady rain.  at one point there did seem to be a brightness coming through as the clouds lifted briefly, but they didn't part.  we kept thinking the rain would break....but it really never did.
 so happy we had a cabin and weren't in tents. that is a drag.  i've totally been there.

 always love adding the kayak into the photo for perspective.  below you can see our cabin from the water.

 we opted to paddle in the rain just cause.  we were there and we wanted to paddle.
 we woke up early the next day, packed up all our gear.  loaded the kayaks with anything that wouldn't be damaged by the water and went for our paddle.  we then landed the boats at the other end of the beach in the area of our pick up.  the water taxi was planning on a 2-2:30 pick up.
 it was reassuring that morning to wake very early to the sound of an engine...the first we'd heard in over 24 hours.  it was a plane.
 Happy Solstice by the way...the sun is officially down for a few hours but it's still light out.  now we will have a slack time and then we will begin to lose about 5 minutes a day until we get down to our darkest day during winter solstice.
 sea star which probably had been tossed onto the beach during the storm
 a few more whale pictures from the ride out to Holgate on day one.
 will have more pictures for you over the next weeks. still gotta look at them.  good night
thankful for:  A.  safe travels to/from B.  safe paddles  C.  happy and healthy dogs upon return home...loved my dog greeting...felt so loved.