Sunday, September 30, 2007

"Wild" Creatures

Since our bird feeder was destroyed by a bear, and since I didn't want to attract any more attention from said bear, I had stopped putting seed out overnight. But since we still had a lot of seed left, I had been putting it out on the deck railing during the day, attracting lots of birds and a silly red squirrel who runs up on the deck, takes one seed, runs off to bury it, and then comes back for another, so he doesn't make much of a dent in the seed supply.

But yesterday, I forgot and put out a lot of seed late in the day. It was gone the next morning and at least part of the reason was raccoons. I know that because this evening three very bold raccoons appeared on the deck expecting a handout. I shooed them away 4 times and at that point it was quite dark so they may have come back yet again. The last time I spoke to them through the screen door (I didn't dare open it or they would have come right in the house) one was pushing on the door with his nose, so I poked his nose and told him to stop being so cute and to go away. I tried to get a picture but it was getting dark and I couldn't get a good shot through the screen or use the flash through the glass door. So this photo is very fuzzy but I just had to post it anyway.

Kayaking Round Lake

I enjoyed yesterday's paddle so much and winds were forecast to be light today, so I headed for Round Lake. I soon discovered that I was more tired than I realized and the winds picked up, so I just made it about half way down the lake before turning around. But it was an enjoyable paddle and I still managed to cover nearly 6 miles. Plus, I got some good photos.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Kayaking the Floodwood-Rollins Loop

Today I went on an ADK paddle that was postponed from Thursday due to rain. Al and Jini, were the leaders and the only other participants. W is away for the week.

We put in on Floodwood Pond, went down the stream past Little Square Pond, into Copperas Pond, portaged into Whey Pond, portaged again into Rollins Pond, paddled the length of Rollins, and then had to get out and pull the boats through the stream back into Floodwood due to low water.

I tried using our wheels on the portage from Copperas into Whey and they were a complete failure. At the first root I hit, the wheels just slid back and off the end of the boat. My single kayak does not have a section with parallel sides like our double on which to attach the wheels. I let a salesman talk me out of the type of wheels I need, which just slip over the end of the boat and attach into the cockpit area to prevent the wheels from sliding off. I'll definitely get some of those before coming back next year.

Diet Watch :)

148 pounds, down 2.5 pounds for the week.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Kayaking Lower Tupper Lake

We had a great adventure today, with a bit more exercise than we had bargained for. The wind was supposed to pick up later in the day, but we decided to explore the southern part of Tupper Lake anyway. We did a 7.5 mile loop as shown on the map, starting from the parking area at Rock Island Bay.We found a great beach, marked by the red circle on the south side of Rock Island Bay. It looks as though there is a trail from Route 30 that might allow one to walk to it. We'll check it out one of these days.

We ogled all the neat great camps on the lake. We were surprised that every one of them has the same Adirondack camp color scheme - dark brown siding and green roof. Just like our color scheme, which we chose after seeing yet another great camp on Tupper Lake that our builder took us to.

We were surprised at how little water was coming over Bog River falls. We landed near the bottom of the falls and walked under the road on the rocks, most of which are normally under water.

As we headed north up the western shore, the wind began to pick up. By the time we decided to head back to the car, it was really blowing. So we had a hard paddle through the whitecaps, wearing our kayak skirts to keep most of the water out of the boat. We got soaking wet but the temperature was in the 80's so we didn't mind and it was great exercise.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Kayaking the Raquette River

W is just getting over a cold, so we wanted a short, gentle paddle today. We decided to paddle the Raquette River, beginning at the boat ramp on Rte 3/30 and going upstream for about an hour, and then back down. We paddled about 7 miles total, and that was plenty.
We discovered that our theory on why the leaves are changing so fast was correct - it is definitely because it is so dry. One reason we chose that portion of the Raquette River is that it is lined with swamp maples, which we expected to be bright red. Instead, they haven't even started changing color yet. They are right on the banks of the river, so they are still getting plenty of water.

Another Groucho Marx Quote

"Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana."

This is one of my favorites. I didn't know it was by Groucho Marx until I googled it.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Diet Watch

Current weight 150.5 pounds, inflated somewhat by my recent vacation cruise so the first few pounds should be fairly easy. Goal - 128 pounds, or thereabouts.

I really need to lose weight - for all sorts of reasons, topmost of which have to do with general good health and getting weight off my arthritic hips, knees, and ankles.

I had success many years ago with Weight Watchers, but it is expensive and difficult to do from my two homes. I know what I need to do to lose weight, I just need the will power. So instead of paying a group of unknowns to watch my weight at Weight Watchers, I decided to employ those of you who read my blog, which is mainly close family members.

So I'll try to remember to post my weight every week, and if you don't see it going down, please fill free to post all sorts of insulting comments.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Back at Camp

We drove back to camp yesterday. The maple trees are at their peak and we were surprised how many leaves had already fallen. It has been dry, so fall will probably be short. It is 80 degrees today, so we won't be burning much of our firewood on this trip.

The wildlife had already decided we were gone for the season, as indicated by the deer browsing right next to the house while we were eating lunch.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Groucho Marx Quote

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend.
Inside of a dog, it is too dark to read."

Seen on a t-shirt in the Swarthmore College bookstore.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Back to the Real World

We disembarked right after breakfast this morning, picked up a rental car, and drove to Corvallis, Oregon for a visit with my parents. Then it is back to NJ on Monday for a real dose of reality.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Alaska Day 11

We started out the day cruising south in the Strait of Georgia and into Canada's Gulf Islands. Before lunch those of us who wanted a long kayak paddle packed our lunches and headed out in the kayaks. We paddled around Prevost Island and saw the following critters: 3 kinds of sea stars (purple, fat-bodied orange, and many armed orange); plump oysters, 2 oyster catchers, a weasel (probably a mink), harbor seals, great blue herons, stone turners (a type of shorebird). Because the wind was picking up we paddled back to our starting point and took a nice hike.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Alaska Day 10

We started the day in Alert Bay, British Columbia which is a native community on Cormorant Island near the northeast coast of Vancouver Island. We took a guided tour of the U'mista Cultural Center, which houses a world-renowned collection of masks and other artifacts, and saw a native dance performance.

In the afternoon we cruised Johnstone Strait looking for killer whales. We found some at a distance in the preserve set aside for them. You can tell this is a male orca from the size of the dorsal fin. A couple "floating Hyatts" passed us while we were there so it is understandable that the preserve was created to project the whales from passing ships. There is a "rubbing beach" within the preserve where the whales rub against the rocks on the beach and no one is sure why they do it. The cetacean expert on board was ecstatic to witness the behavior in person.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Alaska Day 9

This morning, another gorgeous day, we were in Khutze Inlet for hiking and kayaking. We saw lots of bald eagles, a harbor seal, a swan, more salmon. The scenery was breathtaking. And lunch was served picnic style up on the top deck.

After lunch we continued south through British Columbia’s inside passage and had a great view of Dall's porpoises riding the bow wave of the ship.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Alaska Day 8

We’re actually now in British Columbia. And there is a bright cloudless sky. We landed in Prince Rupert this morning for a customs check-in and had a tour and native dance demonstration at the Museum of Northern British Columbia. In the afternoon we headed south again. The trip from now on is going to be more about cruising through beautiful scenery than seeing wildlife. We have lots of ground to cover to get to Seattle on Thursday -- though we stopped in the evening in Klewnuggit Inlet which is another great spot with steep granite walls. And beautiful reflections in the still water.The sky was so clear we stayed up to see the stars from the top of the ship. The Milky Way was spectacular.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Alaska Day 7

Today is our last day in Alaska. We saw more humpbacksas we headed for Misty Fjords National Monument where we spent most of the day. The fjord we were in lived up to its name with narrow passages through very steep granite walls. There were many beautiful waterfalls coming down the sheer sides.We elected to explore by zodiac rather than kayak so we could cover more ground. We got right up to the bottom of several of the falls and found 3 more brown bears in a salmon stream. This one has obviously eaten LOTS of salmon.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Alaska Day 6

We started the day early this morning heading down the aptly named Wrangall Narrows in fairly dense fog. We headed for the National Forest Service trail to Lake Harvey where we took a 2 mile round trip hike to the lake and back through the temperate rain forest. We have come far enough south that red cedars (Thuja plicata) are mixing with the more northern yellow cedars (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis). W took this great photo of a slug chewing on a mushroom on the damp forest floor.By the afternoon the weather had cleared considerably and the sun even came out. So that made the afternoon kayaking in Beecher Pass Marine Park especially nice. We saw bald eagles, of course, great blue herons, starfish, crabs, and lots of seaweed and mussels.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Alaska Day 5

Today we stopped in Juneau so the boat could do some necessary things like bringing on more food, clean laundry, etc. The first impression of Juneau is the cruise ships, which our crew call floating Hyatts. The huge monsters are docked all around us. What a way not to see Alaska.

We took a bus trip to Mendenhall Glacier, and to the national museum, and then had an opportunity to go shopping. We stopped in a bookstore and I found a quilt shop where I got another quilting fabric. Now I won’t be able to travel anywhere without searching out the nearest quilting store. I wonder if there is one in Corvallis.

In the afternoon we got underway and didn’t do much wildlife or scenery viewing. But one of our great naturalists gave a neat talk on cetaceans, so they are always finding ways to keep us occupied.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Alaska Day 4

Harbor Seals, Bears, Mountain Goats, Sea Lions, Tufted Puffins, Wolves, Bald Eagles, and Krill – Oh My.

Krill?? One of the naturalists scooped some water from Glacier Bay, put it under the microscope, and projected the image on a screen. We saw krill, very young clams, and other cool stuff.

We woke this morning in Glacier Bay National Park, right next to Johns Hopkins Glacier. We had wonderful views of several glaciers and saw and heard some calving.
Click here for a slide show of more glaciers. Use your browser's "back" arrow to return to the blog.

But we also saw some great wildlife. There were lots of harbor seals hauled out on the icebergs in front of the glaciers. We watched a couple of brown bears in a salmon stream, one of which was a master fisherman. I saw her (according to the park naturalist who came on board for this part of the trip it was a female) scoop up and eat two salmon within a short period of time. Then we watched several mountain goats climbing around on Gloomy Knob; Stellar sea lions hauled out on the rocks;and a group of tufted puffins in the water below. Then we moved on and in two different spots saw a black wolf which we were able to watch for quite a while. What a treat. And just about everywhere we stopped we saw bald eagles. There were other birds as well such as parasitic jaegers, scoters, pelagic cormorants, and various gulls.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Alaska Day 3

Today’s weather was more typical of southeast Alaska – cloudy and rainy all day. But that didn’t impede our activities. We started the day by watching sea otters floating past the boat and bald eagles flying overhead. After breakfast we kayaked around the Shaw Islands off Chichagof Island and then hiked up Fox Creek. While kayaking we saw humpback whales blowing in the distance, more sea otters, and a group of harbor seals. I’ve always wanted to kayak through kelp and finally had my chance. It is really strange stuff. It was so thick in spots we just sort of slid over the top. On the hike we saw more salmon going up a very small stream and a river otter that had caught one.

After lunch we took a zodiac ride around the Inian Islands as the tide was coming in from the Pacific bringing more salmon. We had great fun with the Stellar sea lions who came to investigate the boat. We also saw more sea otters and interesting birds.

Another great day in southeast Alaska.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Alaska Day 2

This was a very long day. Despite not getting to sleep until about 10 PM local time, we were awake at 3 AM. Ah, the joys of jetlag.

But what a great day. It started before breakfast with several humpback whales sighted near the ship. Then a group of about 6 humpback whales using bubble nets to feed was sighted. The ship changed course and followed them for quite a while. While watching the whales we also saw a brown bear with two cubs walking along a salmon spawning stream and bald eagles also at that stream.

After breakfast we loaded into the zodiacs to go ashore for hiking and kayaking. Here is the ship as seen from the zodiac.The landing spot was near a salmon stream and there were two brown bears fishing at the mouth of the stream. We saw them from the kayak and then W saw them again when he took a hike.

The kayaking was nice, but we really missed our own boat and equipment. We got back to the ship in time for a late lunch; then the ship went back into Chatham Strait for more whale watching. There was an even bigger group of whales bubble net feeding (about a dozen) and young ones breeching and generally trying to get their mothers’ attention. We heard trumpet blowing for the first time. The more common blows are eerie enough – a very primordial sound. The trumpet blows are even more so.

Click here for a slide show of feeding whales. Use your browser's "back" arrow to return to the blog.

In addition, the weather was wonderful – warm and sunny. By late afternoon I actually left the whale watching and went back to the cabin because I’d had too much sun, which is not a problem you usually have in southeast Alaska.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Alaska Day 1

Today we flew from Seattle to Sitka to begin our journey with
Lindblad Expeditions. Sitka Tours took us on an exploration of Sitka including the Russian Orthodox Church, Raptor Rehabilitation Center, and Cultural History Museum. We’d been to these places on our visit in 1995 but this time there was an important difference – the sun was out. It was a beautiful day that had the natives exclaiming. Since southeast Alaska is a temperate rain forest, they don’t see the sun very often. This sign in the local bookstore gives an indication of the more typical climate.
One thing we had not seen before, due to time of year, was salmon spawning. We saw huge numbers swimming up the stream near the cultural center and also lots of dead ones.

Like all good tourists, we (or rather I) shopped. But in my case it was in a quilting store!! I found great Alaska-themed fabric that will be incorporated in a quilt I plan to make as a Christmas gift.

At 5:30 (which was 9:30 PM body time – we had forgotten that southeast Alaska is 4 hours different from the east coast, not 3) we boarded ship and immediately felt at home, since we’d been on this ship or its sister ship twice before.

We got an introduction to the ship and our fellow passengers and were on deck as the ship left the dock. What a beautiful place.