We arrived here in Sequim for the last month of spring. The first two, they say, were the wettest in a long time. The third and subsequently the next three, i.e. the entire summer, have been almost completely dry. “OMG, does it ever rain here?!” may have accidentally escaped my lips more than once, even though we chose Sunny Sequim! for this very reason. I’m not sure how much of the annual 16″ fell earlier in the year, but if the rest of it waits much longer, I will be complaining in earnest as I gaze out my new windows upon the mud pit that is my yard. I should probably buy some tractor boots now.
You’d think all this aridity and sunshine would make it a snap to plan for hikes, and mostly that’s true, but elevation and topography get to throw in their two cents, too. That brings me to our hike to Lake Angeles.
The trail lies within the national park, but the parking lot is just outside one of the entrance stations, which makes it a nice option for visitors who might not have a pass or wish to pay the daily entrance fee for a single hike. We’d have been disappointed if we’d had to pay for this one. It was kind of a stinker.
The overcast conditions were welcome. Any day we don’t have to worry about sunscreen and bug spray is a good one. The trail itself was a steady uphill with lots of pea-gravel sections that weren’t a problem going up, but they make coming down a slidey pain in the ass. The scenery was meh to downright ugly due to a lot of downed trees. It got colder, naturally, the higher we climbed, and by the time we reached the lake, it was positively chilly. Waves of dense fog rolled through while we had our lunch, making for some pretty photo ops.
When TBG sent me the above photo via text, I thought it was a sound graph of something.
We lunched hastily, being too cold to hold still for long, then started our skidding descent. Even if it had been warmer and/or sunnier, we’re not sure this is a hike we’d ever repeat. I wouldn’t not recommend it, though, since it’s a nice distance with a defined destination, two of my top five criteria.
Back in the lowlands, we had a few days of smoky conditions. Most places in the western half of the country have a smoke season due to wildfires. Much of the Olympic Peninsula is spared the brunt of that, and, fortunately, when it isn’t, the AQI mostly stays in the low end of the moderate range. Still, it’s unpleasant, particularly when the temperatures are perfect for having windows open, but the smell of smoke prohibits that. We waited it out, then took an evening walk out at 3 Crabs to catch a breeze and watch the birds.
We were finally able to coordinate a second hike with friends, Norm and Monica. You’ll remember them from our excellent tide-pooling adventure in mid-June, when I hurt my heinie. No such tragedy befell us this time on what was arguably one of the nicest late-summer days we’ve had. Monica chose the hike to Mink Lake, and that, too, was a beaut.
Monica had done this hike earlier in the year, when the trail was muddy in places and snow still surrounded the lake. For our group hike, the trail was in good, dry condition. The gals had a great time chatting all about gardening, and the guys had a good time, too, though I cannot say what they talked about.
The lake is not surrounded by stunning rock formations like some alpine lakes, but it is prettily set among emerald greenery. There are lovely campsites, one of which we used for our lunch spot, and TBG thought they would make a great place for us to perfect our camping skills when the time comes.
After lunch, we walked the informal trail around the lake as far as we could, looking for salamanders in the water and plucking blueberries as we went.
We didn’t see any salamanders, but Monica espied a crayfish, and we found even more as we circled back.
We happily agreed to our friends’ suggestion that we stop for ice cream in Port Angeles at a favorite place of theirs on the wharf, Welly’s, which serves “New Zealand-style” ice cream. We had no idea what that was, either. We learned that it is a style in which fresh fruit, in this case fresh local berries, is blended into soft-serve vanilla, in this case from a local creamery, to order. They both enjoyed fruity selections, while I had a different New Zealand favorite, Hokey Pokey (toffee!) and TBG chose his favorite, coffee. We enjoyed our well-earned treats on the dock, watching the Victoria ferry make its fancy turn-around. It was an all-around great day!
The following day, another weather-stunner, we met up with TBG’s folks in Kingston again to celebrate his mutti’s birthday. They had a hassle-free ferry experience (two ferries are running reliably now on the Edmonds/Kingston run, doncha know) and we enjoyed another delicious lunch at the Kingston Alehouse. Afterwards, we had a nice walk around the marina park.
Citizen Science, Week 15, The Finale
As expected, all was quiet at the burrow, and no PIGUs were on the water save for some (possibly) molted adults and/or fledged juveniles barely visible with the naked eye. Even the otters had better things to do that morning, apparently, but TBG and I took up our usual positions anyway, and though I probably didn’t need to, I steadfastly stayed for my whole hour. Had I not, we’d never have seen what we saw.
I’d been enjoying the balmy peacefulness, and when a local resident I’d met before came down with his doggie, I had a chat and a pet before they went back up. I was watching not just the usual lone harbor seal (I refer to them as Fat-bellied Cruisers) but three that were staying together and pretty close-in. That was my first clue, though I didn’t recognize it at first. There was a barge out on the horizon, and as I scanned the water with my binos, I saw some porpoises not far from it. As I watched them, it quickly became apparent that they were not harbor porpoises at all, but the largest member of the dolphin family: Orcas! I called to TBG, and we moved to the top of the stairs where we had a much better view of them. I could hardly believe that on my last day we were being treated to the orca show we’d been waiting for all summer. We’ve been trying to keep up-to-date on orca activity in the area (not as easy as you might think since them who watch professionally aren’t completely forthcoming with their locations) and I have vowed to spot baby K45, the surprise addition to the local K-pod this year. If we were to submit our photos, as far away as we were, to them who watch professionally, they no doubt would be able to say which pod we saw. We think, though, that it was a transient, or Bigg’s, pod, which explains why the harbor seals were staying near the shore.
Judging by their dorsal fins, we saw males and females and almost certainly a very young one, if not a new calf (several of the Bigg’s pods calved this year as well.) They performed most of their best whale tricks, save an actual breach. We watched them “fluke,” raise their tail fins, or flukes, straight up prior to diving, and “lobtail,” which is slapping their tails on the water. TBG even has a photo series of one doing what we have dubbed “reverse-fluking” because it raised its tail up, and instead of lowering by degrees, it went UP by degrees before diving. I have scoured the orca sites for what this is called, but apparently we are the first human beings in history to have observed it. Of course, that’s probably not true at all, whales do all sorts of crazy things, but it is true that I can’t find any mention of it online. I wonder if them who watch professionally would be interested in that?
They were still at it when we left, and it was very, very hard to leave with them still in view. What a way to cap off my Citizen Science project, huh?!
On the House
Things are piling up, literally. That is because the garage door went on, which means the house can be secured, and we’re able to start stacking a few things in the garage. In our current stack, we have the toilets, all the sinks, the faucets, a couple light fixtures, and a chainsaw. That last was a screamin’ deal at the Sears outlet down the road that’s going out of business. Never mind that we don’t have any trees.
Speaking of the garage door, let’s take a look at it, and tell me if you notice anything.
If you’re reading on your phone, you’ll be hard-pressed to see the fault in the upper-left corner of the bottom panel. That’s easily dealt with at no cost to us. Anything else? No? I’ll help you. It’s WHITE. We wanted black. So, we’ll just have them send the right one, right? Turns out that although we and the builder can all recall very distinctly that the door was to be black, and my little computer-generated color schemes never show it to be anything other than black, white is what we all inadvertently agreed to and ordered. That means that unless we want to buy a whole new door, this is the one we get. All is not lost. This one can and will be painted by the pros when the exterior is done. It’s really not that big a deal, and if I hadn’t just told the world, no one would know the difference. Except it’s not how we wanted it to be done, it’s not quite as good as a door made in black, and thin strips of white will show where the panels come together when the door is in motion, and that annoys me probably far more than it should.Something else that is all piled up is the three different kinds of tile for the master bathroom.
This photo shows the bath floor on the left, the shower walls on the right, and I guess I don’t have a pic of the shower floor tile, but trust me when I say it’s gorgeous. Getting all this tile required more of TBG than me because he had to go pick it all up in a series of car trips, one such trip involved him driving all the way to the south Seattle area. He also carried each box into the house, where I sat and visually inspected every single piece. Since the rest of the floors are getting installed this week, TBG went over another day to move all the boxes into the garage. No wonder he’s skinny.
Lastly, the kitchen cabinets are starting to go in.
I was alternately excited and nauseated to see our color choice in place, and though only the very edges are showing it right now, I was so happy that it looks more like hot cocoa than cream of tomato soup. The pic on the right shows our flooring sample next to it, which was also an excellent match to the bath floor tile.
We haven’t been the only ones stacking items in the garage, and at last look, the interior doors and trim are all in there. Next post will surely see the interior looking much more finished!
To round off these last few weeks, TBG saw a notice for another event at the Sequim Botanical Garden that he encouraged me to attend, so I did. It was called a Work to Learn party, and all you had to do was show up with some clippers and a vase, and after a brief presentation on floral arrangement, you’d be set loose to snip whatever flowers you wanted to fashion your own bouquet. A few of the members remembered me, and I ran into a fellow PIGU volunteer. Small, delightfully friendly world is Sequim.