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Baltimore by the Sea

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Three Mammal Day at Crescent City

We started the day in Crescent City, nixing restaurants, choosing instead to stay in our room, downing coffee and yogurt, and such. It was just as yummy and considerably cheaper. Score one for a smidgen of economy.

I decided to go for a ride, so we piled in the car and cruised down to the Crescent City boat harbor. There I looked for something more interesting than the piles of California Sea Lions and tubby Harbor Seals, all lolling about on piers and piles. I caught a glimpse of brown streaks skimming by - could it be... no way... River Otters?

Mother otter with her pair of pups
River Otters, three of them, busily paddling by in salt water... I stared at them as hard as I could but they didn't turn into Sea Otters. I dodged back to the car as fast as I could, trying to remain calm enough to grab my camera but not drop it on the asphalt of the dock.

Stalwart little swimmers
How wonderful were they? Torpedoing along the jetty, destination known only to them.

When I finally recovered from the excitement of the River Otters, I drove us over to the Marine Mammal Center, for a quick peek at their current orphan pinnipeds. Today there was a sweet little Northern Fur Seal and a small Harbor Seal pup. I hope when they're released they figure out how to fish and such.

Next I headed up the coast towards Saint George Point, but on the way we noticed parked cars on the cliffs, with everyone staring out to sea at... poofs of mist!There be whales out there! I too, parked along the cliff on the ocean frontage street, and Barbara and I stared out to sea. Again we spotted the poofs of mist, and then I saw the mottled grey, barnacled crusted backs of California Gray Whales.

This whale blowing pic was taken with a 400 mm lens; the whales were pretty far off
Blowing whale to the left, submerging whale to the right

No fancy tail lobbing or theatrics, only backs visible between dives

Once again we headed towards Saint George Point, and suddenly both Barbara and I were staring in amazement as we saw a wee land beastie pop like a jack-in-the-box, up from the steep slope, to lope across the street, in front of my speeding car. As I jammed on the brakes we watched a fat raccoon dart across the lawn of a ocean front house. Reaching a tall cedar by the house, the raccoon began to climb the steep tree. I kept yelling, "It's right THERE!", and Barbara kept looking, I don't know where, and shouting, "Where is it!?" I finally got her on it by which time the animal must have been ten feet up the tree. Where the heck was it going?

I managed some half-arse parking, jumped out the car with my camera but had to concede this round went to the raccoon which had disappeared into the thick overhead branches.

Wow. We had a three wild mammal morning: otters, whales and a raccoon. Later in the day we returned to the shore and again we spotted the pair of feeding Gray Whales. This time I got photos of the behemoths, which are the ones shown above. A three mammal day; one Raccoon, two Gray Whales and three River Otters, a trifecta of critters. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Walk on the Beach & a Kite in the Sky

Click on it - it's video. No, really, it's video, I just wasn't moving much.
Today was lovely - lovely as in 'beautiful blue sky', lovely as in 'time spent with good friends' and lovely as in 'all's right in my world', for today at least. Started the day returning to the Good Harvest Restaurant where we made stacks of buckwheat pancakes disappear under mounds of 'real' butter (as boasted by the restaurant) and 'real' syrup (a dollar extra). Yum.

Then back at the motel I discovered a voice mail; while we sat stuffing our faces in one restaurant, my friend Feather as in another, waiting for Barb and I to show up. I screwed up big time because I hadn't read that one last email last night. DUH. Happily, Feather forgave me, and showed up and we all went for a nice walk & talk on the beach.
Buds on the Beach
We sat on a silvery driftwood log having an extensive chat. We watched the shorebirds fly; a mixed of Semipalmated Plovers and Sanderlings. The birds, numbering in the hundreds, flew, wheeling about, as like Feather put it, 'the collective mind'. We watched an Osprey dive and come up with a large wriggling fish. The huge hawk then fly off, wagging itself in the air to rid itself of salt water.
Feather knows everything about the ocean which
comes from spending your entire life observing its ways
Enjoying a resplendent moment in a tale
After soaking up the rays, we all headed off for lunch at the best Thai Restaurant on the planet. We enjoyed veggie rolls  and sticky rice with mango, all washed down with sweet Thai tea. After the good eats, Feather headed home for a nap and Shortly thereafter, I fetched my kite & headed for the beach. I bought the kite more than ten years ago on a trip with Barbara up the coast to Oregon. Until today, I never even took it out of its packaging. But today I did – assembling it, with its support struts and all. It is a large prism butterfly with six foot streamers for its tail. It. Is. Awesome.

Unbeknownst to me, sneaky Barbara took this photo
In no corner of the globe could I be mistaken for a skilled kite flier, but dang it, I can sing. I let out many choruses of “Let's go fly a kite” for the limited minutes I managed to keep the kite aloft.

You know, sometimes I get a tad forgetful, as I was today, and I... uh... OK! I admit it. I forgot the sunscreen. I got myself a category 7 sunburn; on my knees. Yes, damn it, just my knees. You see, I when we sat on that silvery driftwood log by the sea, I was sitting, bare knees up & uncovered. In the late afternoon - mind you - with only a scant hour of sun exposure, my knees got so radioactive red, I could have used them to signal ships off the coast. That's why I should never wear capris.  My poor knees are aching. Ouch!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

While I Loll, Others Work

Whimbrels and plovers headed for an afternoon rendezvous with juicy sand crabs
Lovely, perfect and ergo, lazy-as-hell day. Started off with breakfast at the Good Harvest Restaurant. It was pretty good, and I think Barbara and I ingested about .23 percent of our weight in real butter, as per advertized. Later I drove us to the pier, where, most remarkable thing is I didn't take anphotos there. There were birds, scenery, and lots of locals with cute tykes fishing from the pier, yes, but I was too full to feel the need to photograph them. Yes, that was very nearly a first.

Now I don't know what friend Barbara enjoyed most of the day, but for my vacation dollar, the hands down winner event of the day was watching a quite serious construction excavator master at work.
All the action took place about 30 feet in front of the door to my motel room.

Pretty neat and tidy looking for a Longshoreman
He or she pushed sandy soil up from the basement
Then it was back down for a new load of sand
Then it was back up for a good push and a full body pose including... pardon me... tail

"What...? You looking at me? You looking at ME? I'll break your kneecaps!"

Oh crap! Gopher noticed me and stopped working to stare at me for several minutes. I think it was working without papers and kind of touchy... I backed away slowly and retreated to my room. I'm kind of fond of my kneecaps.

Cool little dude or dude-ette I say. I'd love to see what is downstairs - bedrooms, loo, probably a pool room too. Will keep an eye on the progress this week.

Didn't get much else done for the day, not even a walk on the beach yet, but then I'm lazy and you already know that. Happily I can see a lot of birdies from the room.

And Ospreys road the air currents overhead every once in a bit

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

It's Crescent City Time

Cows and Calves gathered near the Red Schoolhouse
You never know if you're going to see elk on the drive to Crescent City. The huge deer are either there or they are not; today, they were just about everywhere we looked. The first place we ran into them was at the Red Schoolhouse, at the Elk Country Campground. Contrary to its name, you never know if it will have elk at the ready. Today there were elk all over, keeping all the humans happy.
Barbara elk watching by the Red Schoolhouse (right)
This Cow wasn't as secreted as she imagined
Lots of lunching going on
Crossing Hwy 101 and stalling traffic for a bit
When the herd disappeared on the far side of Highway 101, we drove on north, fairly certain we saw  all the elk we were going to see for the day.

Many miles north of the Red Schoolhouse, there is a little meadow where there used to be a wonderful little restaurant & a hotel. Often it had elk in the great meadows, grazing or resting. Today? Narry hide nor hair of elk. So I drove on, telling Barbara, "I want to get a picture of the elk statue at the little campground next door". I drove the few hundred feet to the statue up the road a bit to find...
Three elk, one bronze, two kinda furry
I thought it was cool seeing the phoney elk upstaged by the real deal, and then we both noticed there was a big ole' herd filling the road, again, causing a jam up on highway 101.
Calf Kindergarden
"Nap time? Aw, Maw..."
Obedient little darlings!
Barbara and I hung around watching the elk - and the tourists. There were a few people who seemed intent on getting their children as close to the wild elk as possible for "let's see if the elk will let junior pet them' photos. Thank heavens, everyone survived, and when the last foreign tourist got out of the way, we were on our way north again.

I never miss a chance to drive through the Avenue of the Giants. The trees never change, but the surrounding country side does as the little shops that dot the roadway have disappeared or become somewhat rundown over the last couple of decades. Some of my favorites remain, and others, like the little store-in-a-tree closed down long ago, but remains in spirit at least.
Shop-in-a-redwood my nieces & I visited in the late 70s
Steadfast Redwoods along the Avenue of the Giants
Leaving the Avenue of the Giants, the next usual stop off is Prairie Creek Redwoods. I love that park, and often stop at the Visitor Center as we did today. I got a cute little artist's notebook that I hope I fill with at least a few pictures in the coming week. But before we got to the Visitor Center, we found yet another clash of elk, a half dozen bulls in the giant Prairie Creek Redwoods meadow. A couple of the bulls were nested off in the distance, so nestled that only the tops of their antlers were visible.
Gang of Bull Elk in Prairie Creek Redwoods meadow
Lovely Chocolate Bull
Bull, nonplussed by fascinated humans a few hundred feet away.

That was it for the elk today! We stopped briefly at the GIGANTIC statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Paul was yakking up a storm with tourists. The stop was just for a peek at the Indian museum, and then we were off to the Crescent City Beach Motel which I love to think of as one of my favorite 'home away from home' spots. I'm done in for today, so it's feet up & eyelids down time for me.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ready... Set... NAPA!

Judy and the travelin' doggie
Today I was in Napa to celebrate Judy's 80th birthday. Judy's whole California family and many friends were on hand for the celebration. It was nice visiting with Diane, visiting from Washington, Sharon, Randy and the girls, and Barbara's sister Suzi & signif other Bob.

Judy got lots of nice prezzies, and my favorite at least was a paper mache doggie. Judy was given the dog, and a photo album of places the doggie traveled with Suzi & Bob. The pup represents a prezzie that was a year or two in the making.

Towards the end of the afternoon it was a challenge getting everyone in one photo, but here's my, aptly named, best shot.
Judy is in the back squirreled away.
Did I mention there was a beautiful luncheon followed by not one, but two giant chocolate & delish, birthday cakes? No? Aw, maybe I'll chat about them another time.

At the end of the afternoon, Barbara and I headed north. We stayed over in Willets, and tomorrow we're off to Crescent City to visit with our friend Inez, now known as Feather. We'll spend the week at the Crescent City Beach Motel facing Crescent City Bay. Ah! It's going to be nice.

Thanks for sharing your birthday Judy!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Blimey, It's Mary Poppins!

I have had a soft spot in my heart, and arguably, my noggin, for Mary Poppins ever since I saw the Disney movie back in the day. Then just this past January I saw the newest Poppin project, Saving Mr. Banks with my friend Nancy. Even with the occasional inaccuracy of the true story, we both loved the movie and performances. Who knew Poppin's author, P.L. Travers was an Aussie in the outback? It was fun sitting next to Nancy in the darkened theater, while she choked back an emotional breakdown over the movie sentiments that hit quite close to home for her. I was so curious about the musical. How would a movie musical be transferred to the stage?

Mary Poppins the stage musical was a double header for me, as I ushered at the dress rehearsal last Sunday and its final show last night. I flat out loved it, and watching it twice did nothing to decrease my enthusiasm. The changes made between the musical movie, and the musical play was enough of a spoonful of sugar (the book) to get that medicine down smoothly down my throat. Certainly a bit of sugar might have helped as I sung to my throat a bit raw, through the whole of the play. Those of the stage songs I knew from the movie. There were lots of clever new songs for the stage.

The local Sacramento kids in the play, the Banks family and the other citizens of old London were funny, lively of foot and hell - this clip, courtesy of the Music Circus should put you in the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious mood I'm talking about. Cheers Luv!