Kayaking With Seals

Curious seal keeping an eye on me during a kayak outing on Puget Sound.

June 30

We are on our way to Burlington, Washington today and will be crossing Puget Sound on the ferry from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island.  I love Port Townsend and will miss it, but there is lots to see and do on the other side of the Sound.

We have enjoyed kayaking while here.  Since it’s been chilly, we have to dress warm;  When we go out on the water, we hope we don’t fall in.  I have enjoyed the seals.  They are very curious and pop up to check you out.  I love just paddling along and having a seal pop up not far from the kayak.  I’m glad we’ve had the opportunity to kayak several times while we were here.  We hauled these kayaks across country and stopped at 4 checkpoints in 4 states to have them checked for mussels.  This weeks kayaking adventures made it all worth it!


It’s Still Junuary

Point Hudson Marina.

June 29

The day before yesterday, we got our second glimpse of Mount Ranier in the two weeks we’ve been here.  We didn’t even think about being able to see it from here until it suddenly popped up one day.

View of Mount Ranier from Port Townsend.

The weather has been cool here.  Since we are camped directly on the water, it’s even cooler.  If we go to the other side of the marina into town, it warms up a bit.  Dart couldn’t be happier with the weather.

We’ve been doing a lot of walking around Port Townsend and drove down the road and walked another section of the Discovery Trail.  As we hear about warmer temperatures elsewhere in the country, it’s fascinating to be sitting here in a wool sweater in June while I type this post.  We have no complaints!! But, I will start blowing southeast and see if I can send some of this cool air down to you hot folks.

California Quail on Discovery Trail in Washington State.
Plant on Discovery Trail in Washington State.
Point Hudson marina. We’ve seen several otters in this marina.

I have seen several new birds to me while we’ve been here.  I also caught site of a Brown Pelican yesterday.  They are abundant in northeast Florida, so I see them all the time there.  This is the only Brown Pelican we have seen.  This spot seems to attract some of the birds you would normally find on the coast and others you would normally see on the rivers.  There is a variety of birds to see.

Harlequin duck on Puget Sound.
Regis watching the Navy ship across the sound.

Downtown Dog

Barn swallows.

June 27

Dart seems to be becoming a city dog.  When Regis has allowed Dart to decide where to go on their walks, Dart heads straight downtown.  I would never have guessed he would choose downtown.

Yesterday, when I was taking Dart for our morning walk, Orcas swam by the campground.  I had our best lens with me while walking Dart since I’m always looking to see what to capture.  Regis was at the campground.  Fortunately, Regis is a really great guy and took off in the car  to find us, but not before he ripped off a bunch of pictures.  We immediately headed closer to Wilson Point, since the Orcas were headed for the Straight of Juan de Fuca.  I got to see them and I think they were the same Orcas I saw from the whale boat because there was a baby in the group. While they were swimming in front of the campground, they were going through the area we’ve been kayaking.

Orcas swimming by Port Townsend.

I broke down, took some money out of my IRA, and bought two new lenses.  The new lenses arrived a few hours after the Orcas left.  I’ve only tried the new Canon 70-200/2.8L IS II USM so far.  I am in love with this lens.  This is my new favorite lens.  Regis talked me into spending the extra money for the 2.8 and I’m glad I did.

The trouble with my old lens started with the purchase of my new 100-400 lens before this trip.  Most of my pictures have been blurry, so I thought the problem was me.  I noticed the pictures with the 100-400 lens are crisp and clear.  So, Regis and I started experimenting with the old lens (18-200) and saw that the pictures are blurry at most settings.  At the right focal length and lens opening, you can obtain an ok picture.  But, all other lengths and settings are blurry.  This is the same lens that broke twice and was fixed.  In my research on new lenses, I noted that this 18-200 lens is considered a travel lens and not particularly sharp.  Couple that with two breakages and this lens could not stand up to the quality of my new lens.  It took me weeks to figure out what lenses to get because I wanted to cover the focal lengths between 18-100 because that is the gap between my two other lenses.  I wound up getting a 24-70 lens and a 70-200 lens.  Now my range of lenses are 10-18, 24-70, 70-200, 100-400, and a 1.4 extender.

I have been trying to take some pictures of baby swallows but there has not been enough light since the nest is under a roof.  I was going to get Regis to shine a light source on the nest so I could take a picture, but never got around to it.  I used my new fast lens to take a picture and it worked.  When I first saw the birds last week, there were four nestlings.  Now, there are only two.

Baby barn swallows.
Barn swallows.


Barn swallows.

I also have some extension tubes, but was not happy with the blurriness of the pictures.  The only lens I could use the tubes on was my older 18-200 lens.  That’s the blurry lens.  I put the extension tubes on the new lens and what a difference.  This is going to be fun.

Flower in Port Townsend.

Lawn Ornaments – Deer

Fawns in Port Townsend.

June 25

When Dart and I go on our morning walks through Port Townsend, we see LOTS of deer.  They look like lawn ornaments.  They are pretty tame.  They let us get close, but not too close.  Dart doesn’t seem to notice them unless they run.  They he barks.  They don’t seem very bothered by Dart, other than keeping some distance.

There are beautiful gardens around here in almost every yard.  Lots of deer salad.

Deer in Port Townsend.
Deer in Port Townsend.


Deer in Port Townsend. Perhaps a baby and it’s older brother?
Deer in Port Townsend.
Deer in Port Townsend.

Since Verizon throttled me on my unlimited internet access, I have been having significant issues getting basic internet service.  It’s so slow, it often times out.  Regis, on his Apple, is doing much better.  I frequented the local coffee shop with free WIFI the last couple of days and I have no problem when I’m there.   Hmmmm.


Discovery Trail

Dart and Regis walking on the Discovery Trail in Port Townsend.

June 23

Last evening we saw a rainbow during sunset.  This is the second time in a week we saw one.  Prior to this, I don’t think I’ve seen a rainbow for a couple years.  Very cool.

A rainbow at sunset at Puget Sound.

We went to the local farmers market this morning.  They had awesome produce and flowers. When we got back, we saw a rowing race in progress. It turns out our camping neighbor was in the race and won first place in her class.

Racers on Puget Sound.

This morning, Dart woke up full of energy.  He drove us crazy.  We took him out on the Discovery Trail, which starts in Port Townsend, to wear him out.  Since it is warmer than usual today, a combination of the heat and the trail did the job.

Soon after we got started, there was two bicyclists and a dog coming our way.  As soon as the dog reached a path to the beach, he left his guardian and ran down to the water to cool off.  Apparently, they had just completed six miles and the dog wasn’t waiting when he got an opportunity to cool off.

Dog cooling off in the water.

There were birds and lots of flowers along the trail.

Flowers along Discovery Trail.
Heron along Discovery Trail.
Flowers along Discovery Trail.
Flowers along Discovery Trail.
Towhee along Discovery Trail.

It also goes by the Port Townsend Paper Company where, according to their website, “produces Kraft pulp, paper, containerboard, and specialty products by blending virgin and recycled fibers at our mill headquarters in Port Townsend, Washington.”

Port Towsend Paper Company.

While I spent most of the afternoon trying to download some files, Regis had his own dreams.

I tried to use my unlimited Verizon data plan to download the files with no luck.  My computer kept dropping the connection.  I went to town to access some free WiFi.  After two tries and several hours, I gave up and came home.

In the meantime, Regis spent the afternoon with Dart dreaming of racing in the R2AK (Race to Alaska).  I pointed out that I couldn’t get my kayak around the buoy the other day and we couldn’t even make it to Whidbey Island from here, what is he thinking?  He said he wasn’t thinking of me being a crew member.  I’ll be happy to cheer him on from a warm and comfortable location.   (Regis wants me to ask for an early call out for potential crew members).



Orca mom and baby (T65A’s) in Puget Sound.

June 20

I went on a whale watch tour with the Puget Sound Express.  The tour leaves from the same marina/campground where we are staying, so it was convenient to walk over.  On the way, we spied this little river otter hanging around the boats.

River otter in Point Hudson marina.

Christopher, the captain heard about some whales by Seattle, so we headed south on Puget Sound.  The whales were located right off the campground on Bainbridge Island where we stayed recently.  We saw the group T65A’s.   It was a family group and there was a baby whale.   Sarah (Puget Sound Express) gave us lots of information about the whales and lots of other things.  She told us this was the only known baby whale in the area.  I got lucky!!  Christopher and Sarah were knowledgeable and delightful.  It was a great trip, so I hope to do it again before we leave.

Orca (T65’s) in Puget Sound.
Orca (T65’s) in Puget Sound.
Orca mom and her baby (T65’s) in Puget Sound.
Orcas (T65A’s) in Puget Sound with the Olympic Mountains in the background.
Orca’s (T65A’s) with Seattle in the background.

There are a lot of deer in the area and you meet up with them any time of day or night. Yesterday, there were a mom and two fawns at the entrance to the marina.  We saw the buck below when we drove around the area the other day.

Deer in Port Townsend.

And, as I keep saying, I love the flowers.

Flower in Port Townsend.
Flower in Port Townsend.

Three years ago I took a whale watch tour with Puget Sound Express and saw orcas.  I wrote a blog post here.

Under the Salish Sea

Sea anemone at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.

June 19

The weather warmed up quite a bit yesterday.  I woke up yesterday morning at 4:30 to watch the sunrise.  Dart joined me.  The water was calm and the sky was clear.  I saw a sea lion swim by and a few seals.

Sunrise over Puget Sound June 18.
Sunrise over Puget Sound June 18.

Later, we rode our bikes a couple miles to visit the Port Townsend Marine Science Center to get a look at the animals you can find under the Salish Sea.  They had microscopes set up so you could view the life in the drops of water taken from the Puget Sound.  I could have spent hours watching the zooplankton swimming around.

Sea anemone at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.
Sea life at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.

We almost died riding our bikes.  We had to ride up a long hill to get to the Center and I couldn’t do it.  I was very proud to get up the first part of the hill.  When I rounded the corner and saw that I was no where near done, I gave up and walked.  It was exhausting.   There is a big difference riding in flat Florida compared to riding these steep hills.

Ferry crossing Puget Sound on June 17.

Last night we got quite a thrill.  There were over a dozen river otters moving through the water together.  They may have been feeding.  They were lots of fun to watch.  They hung out together in a tight group.  I am happy to have a good pair of binoculars that work well in low light conditions.  We could hear the otters making noises.  Sometimes they would all pop up their heads at the same time, chitter to each other, then go under the water at the same time.  We watched them for at least 20 minutes before they got too far away.

Dart and Coco. Dart is a Shetland Sheepdog and Coco is a Bedlington Terrier.

I tried some sunrise pictures this morning and the sky was not as clear.  There is some cloud cover coming in.  The sunrise lacked some of the warm colors I saw yesterday.  (The best colors are always before the sun rises.  The best sunset colors show up after the sun sets.)

Sunrise over Puget Sound June 19.
I believe this is an immature White-Crowned sparrow.