Post Fire

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A view of the Wanapum Recreation Area in the Gingko Petrified Forest State Park and the Columbia River. The green area in the right center of the photo is the campground. The entire surrounding area was burned. The campground is watered regularly.

August 2, 2018

We found out that there were 3 fires in the area within the last two months that have burned an extensive part of this area.  (Here is a link that shows pictures of one of the fires.  Click here.) One fire started at the rest stop that is about 10 miles up the road.  There is almost no vegetation at this time.  It looks very desolate and it is hard to believe that any animals can survive in this environment.  But, some do.

Yesterday, we found several Bighorn ship by the river at the north part of the State Park.  There is some vegetation along the river, so it is not surprising the sheep would be there.  There are a few babies.  Once you get a few feet away from the river, there is no vegetation except for the grassy area around the State Park visitor center and parking lot.  This area is regularly watered and the sheep hang out here because of it.

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Bighorn Sheep in Gingko Petrified Forest State Park by the Columbia River. Mom spotted us and is heading to safety with her baby.
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Bighorn Sheep mom and her baby in Gingko Petrified Forest State Park.
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Bighorn Sheep in Gingko Petrified Forest State Park.
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Bighorn sheep baby in Gingko Petrified Forest State Park.

Regis went hiking for about six miles in this desolate landscape.  He found a couple seeps/springs where there is a bit of greenery among the barren landscape.  He found a few places where the plant life is beginning to come back.

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The little bit of greenery is this burned landscape shows where there is some water in Gingko Petrified Forest State Park. 
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Life trying to return after the fire in Gingko Petrified Forest State Park.

He noticed several animal skeletons.  At least some of them are charred, so the bones were there before the fire.  With the vegetation gone, it is easy to see all the “hard” stuff left behind.

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Animal skeleton in Gingko Petrified Forest State Park.
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Burned fence post in Gingko Petrified Forest State Park.

We learned that in 2016, only one person died in the U.S. from a rattlesnake bite and that person had an underlying health condition.  Twelve thousand people died from stairs that same year.  Even the vet told me that rattlesnakes are not that big of a concern here.  He thinks there is more concern about alligators in Florida.  The snakes aren’t interested in being around you.  But, like anything, be aware of your surroundings.  We also learned that a relocated rattlesnake is a dead rattlesnake.  Rattlesnakes spend the winter communally in a specific place.  They learn where that place is in their first year and if they are relocated will search endlessly for that place.  As a result, they die of starvation and/or exposure because they will not eat while searching for that place.

It is about 10 degrees cooler today, so it is much more bearable.

 

Octopus

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Agnus, the Giant Pacific Octopus at the Seattle Aquarium.

July 26, 2018

On our final day on Bainbridge Island, I went to Seattle to have my stitches removed.  The wound looks better than I expected, so I don’t look like Frankenstein.  It will take six months to completely heal, but it’s off to a good start.

I went to the Seattle Aquarium before heading back on the ferry.  It was very crowded, so it was sometimes hard to look in some of the tanks.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed seeing the life that lives under the water hidden from sight.  It is amazing how many different kinds of fish there are.  My favorite animal was Agnus the Giant Pacific Octopus.  She showed off how she could change colors and move all her lovely arms.

I ate dinner in a nearby restaurant on the water.  Although it was good, it was way too expensive.  This is the tourist area.  At this point, I had already walked across town to the doctor’s appointment and back down to the waterfront and it was warm.  I wasn’t interested in walking to restaurant outside the area because I would have to walk back up the hill.  Some of the hills in Seattle are very steep.  If you go to Seattle, don’t just hang out on the waterfront.  Go see the other wonderful restaurants in town.

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Seattle

As we sat in the campsite on our final evening, a squirrel showed up to strip bark off the nearest tree.  Perhaps he/she was building a nest.  Dart was fascinated (so was Regis).  Coco was more interested in the Robin that hung around.

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Squirrel
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Dart watching squirrel
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Regis watching squirrel
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Coco watching a bird

We left Bainbridge Island yesterday to head out to a campground by the Wenatchee River.  The drive was miserable.  There was a lot of traffic and it was very bumpy for some reason.  Many things in the RV got rearranged along the way.  I kept doing cleanup and trying to make sure more things didn’t fall.  I reset the cappuccino maker on the counter but it wound up crashing on the floor anyway.  This is the first time this happened.  When we heard the crash, I looked back and saw all these things on the floor that looked like kibble but I could see the dog food container was still on the counter, so that wasn’t it.  Then, the smell of coffee beans filled the motor home and we knew.  Fortunately, although a few pieces of plastic broke, the cappuccino maker still works.  Thank goodness!

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Dart and Coco riding in the motor home.

It was 104 degrees when we arrived.  The camper next to us was assessing a problem they had.  The jack apparently got wedged into the asphalt as it melted in the heat.  The camper moved forward and the bottom of the jack was stuck in the asphalt and broke off.  That will be expensive to fix.  Having seen that, Regis was sure to put blocks under all of our jacks.

Regis and I went to a local Mexican restaurant for dinner and it was so good.  I’m definitely going back again before we leave.

After dinner we took the dogs down to the river to take a look.  Regis waded into the water and a snake swam by and hit him in the leg.  Regis grabbed the snake when it got to the shore to show me.  It was a little guy.

Regis picked up some tubes (for floating) while we were in Omak.  I plan to take him up the river and drop him off with a tube and go sit at the campground with Dart and Coco and wait for him to float back.  He’s not sure he wants to do it.  If he doesn’t, I will.  The water is very inviting in this heat.  (Jason:  I should have borrowed your paddle board).  Someone on a paddle board floated by with a dog on the front.

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Too bad we won’t be here to watch this.

Back to Bainbridge Island

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Seattle

July 22, 2018

When we left Omak, Washington, the temperature was expected to exceed 100 degrees.  While we were there, we got great views of Mars and the moon.

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Mars and the moon in Omak, Washington.

Because I was scheduled to have surgery in Seattle to remove some skin cancer, we headed back to camp on Bainbridge Island.  When we got to our campsite, the temperature was in the 70’s.  It has been lovely here.  A few times, we have had to turn the heat on at night since it drops into the 50’s.

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Mount Ranier as the sun sets. The sun is behind me and the rays are making the top of the mountain pink.

We’re going to be in Washington for another 3 weeks and I wish we could spend all that time near the Puget Sound because the weather is so nice.  I have not been able to find a way to stay.  All the campgrounds are booked.  I spent hours trying to work something out and we can’t do it.  After my follow-up doctor appointment on Tuesday, we will head back to the east side of the Cascades.  Although lovely, it will likely be hot.

Coco will be staying with us over the next couple weeks.  We went into Seattle yesterday to pick her up and spend time with Jason and Dan.  Jason, Dan, and I went to Nordstrom for the half yearly sale.  The Nordstrom in Seattle is incredible.  I think there is a shoe department on every floor.  While we were gone, Regis kept the dogs company and took pictures of flies.  He was supposed to take pictures of birds, but I only found a couple bird pictures of a gull flying high up in the sky.

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Fly

Jason made an incredible dinner for us.  We had a lovely time and headed back to Bainbridge on the ferry late in the evening.  The city view is beautiful at night from the ferry, but it is impossible to take a good picture at night on a moving ferry.  

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Blurry picture of Seattle at night from the ferry.

Amazing Sunset at Sunset Lakes

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Sunset over Sunset Lakes in Washington.

July 13, 2018

We saw the most amazing sunset the other night over the lake at our campground.  We have been thoroughly enjoying this lake.  I kayak a few times a day to check out the wildlife along the shore.  Regis went snorkeling for awhile again today.  I like to go out for an evening kayak and sit in the middle of the lake and watch the swallows feed and drink.

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Young swallow. Did mom or dad just fly by with something to eat?

The night sky here is brilliant.  You can see the Milky Way and you can see stars almost to the horizon.  The limited lighting in this area makes for a beautiful view at night.  We just need to avoid the rattlesnakes when we are out and about in the middle of the night enjoying the stars.

We drove around the area yesterday checking it out and saw great views of the Cascades from around Oroville.  Regis wanted to check out some property in the area and this picture is a view from that vicinity.

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View of the Cascades from just east of Oroville, Washington.

I saw an adult quail with a bunch of small quail this afternoon.  The young ones are so small, they must have hatched recently.  Momma quail is very skiddish, so it is tough to get a good look.  We’ve seen A LOT of quail around and some of them are young ones, but the ones I saw today where very tiny.

It’s been warm yesterday and today (in the 90’s).  It’s nice when you sit outside in the shade because there is a breeze.  Because they continue to shoot cannons to scare the birds, we can’t let Dart sit outside with us.  He doesn’t like it.  I keep trying to get him outside because he generally loves it out there, but as soon as he hears a boom, he’s done.

I went to the laundromat today and then the grocery store.  When I got back, Regis put the groceries away while I put the clothes away.  We ate lunch and then I tried taking Dart out to sit in the shade.  That’s when I saw the little quail.  After the third boom, I took Dart back in the motor home and decided to get some of the ice cream I just bought.  I bought two kinds, but could only find one kind in the freezer.  It hit me, I left a bag in the car.  I rushed out to the car that was sitting in the hot sun since I returned and sure enough, the ice cream was in there and totally melted.  It didn’t leak outside the container, so I put it in the freezer to see if it could be saved.  I mean, it’s Tillamook limited edition Waffle Cone Swirl.  It must be saved.

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Dragonfly
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Turtle keeping an eye on my while I drifted by in my kayak.
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Goldfinch taking a bath.

 

Grand Coulee Dam

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Grand Coulee Dam

July 11, 2018

Yesterday we drove to see the Grand Coulee Dam.  It is such a contrast to see the Columbia River against the dry countryside.  It makes the water look particularly refreshing.

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Reservoir behind Grand Coulee Dam.

Sadly, there is no way for fish to pass the dam.  Instead, the dam funds three fish hatcheries in Leavenworth, Winthrop, and Entiat where they produce over 2 million fish.  In 2016, Reclamation took the first steps to developing the science to look into the feasibility of fish passage and reintroduction.  When the study is complete, Reclamation will decide what to do.

We continue to enjoy the wildlife around the little lake at our campground.  I have been kayaking everyday and often we sit in the shade by the lake and watch the bird activity.  There are lots of juveniles being fed by their parents.  I’m including some favorite pictures from yesterday and today.

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Eastern Kingbird
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Northern Flickers
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Juvenile Canadian Goose
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Killdeer
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Downy Woodpecker
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Bullock’s Oriole nest
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Robin with berries.
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Bullock’s Oriole
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Hawk (not sure what kind)
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Hawk (not sure what kind, same as above)

Through the Cascades

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Loon

July 10

We left Burlington yesterday morning and drove through the North Cascades.  It was the toughest drive the motor home has had to do.  The mountains are huge and there was endless climbing, following by endless going down.  The temperature rose significantly as we reached the east side of the mountains and it is dry.  When the heat hit us, I was skeptical that I was going to enjoy this week.  We drove through a lot of area that was devastated by wildfires in the not too distant past.

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Chickadee

We arrived at a very small campground on a small lake.  It turned out to be a very lovely spot.  We sat in the shade in the afternoon and it was not so hot.  In fact, it was very pleasant.  We enjoyed visiting with our neighbors, especially the 87 year old woman who lives next door.  She’s delightful.  Since she has lived in the area since she was 12, she has lots of information to share.

Dart is not as happy with the place as me.  There are many orchards in the area and some of them have cannons that go off to scare the birds.  Dart has had enough of the noise with all the 4th of July fireworks, now he has to put up with this!

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Northern Flicker

I rode the kayak slowly around the edge of the lake yesterday evening and saw lots of birds.  The water is very clear.  Regis went snorkeling while I was kayaking.

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Northern Flicker

There are lots and lots of swallows.  As the sun was going down,  they began to roost in the trees.  A lot of them were closing their eyes.

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Sleepy swallows.
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Swallows

 

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This Red-Winged Blackbird is having a bad hair day.

I got up before the sun this morning and got some pictures.  It was beautiful and quiet except for all the bird sounds.  Although it was a little chilly, it was a warm chilly if that makes sense.  I think it might be because the air is so dry that it is very pleasant.

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First light in Omak, Washington.
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First light in Omak, Washington. That is my kayak at the base of the tree.

 

Another Great Day on the Water

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Orcas among the San Juan Islands.

July 6

I went whale watching again today, but this time from Bellingham, Washington.  This puts you in the midst of the San Juan Islands.  It was a great trip and I was fortunate to see another pod of Orcas.

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Orcas by the San Juan Islands,

We saw transient Orcas.  There are transient Orcas and resident Orcas in Puget Sound.  The naturalist told us that the transient Orcas, many of which eat seals, live to about 40.  The resident Orcas have been documented to live to 100 and they eat salmon.  Unfortunately, the salmon stocks are so depleted that the resident Orcas are struggling.  But, the transient Orca numbers are increasing because the seal population is also increasing.

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Orcas hunting for seals by the San Juan Islands.
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Orcas hunting for seals by the San Juan Islands.

Apparently, sometimes you get to see the transient Orcas actively feeding.  Our Orcas were traveling a regular route where they are often successful in getting a seal.  When they do, they drown it and then split it up between the pod.  We saw a pod of about 4-5 whales that included a juvenile.

I also saw some seals.  They are just beginning to have their young.

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Seal mom and pup.
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Curious seal watching our boat.

 

I saw lots of seabirds including these Oystercatchers.

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Oystercatchers.

And, there were great views of Mount Baker and the San Juan Islands.

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Mount Baker.
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San Juan Islands.
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Lighthouse on Patos Island.