Another Amazing Day

Adventure, Outdoors

Ahh, life… It just never ceases to amaze.

Today I was down by my boat doing some bird watching after washing the dock off – the wind was too much and I did not want to get blown off of the dock into the water. I got in the boat and using it as a big blind I am able to watch birds and not be noticed.

A couple of Canada geese were swimming by, and there was another goose behind them. It was not a Canada goose but a Greater White-fronted Goose. But there he was, just hanging out with them like he was one of them. They really did not seem to mind. There were also the usual assortment of gull, three mallards, a few more pair of Canada geese, bufflehead, and pigeon guillemot, and a couple of crows and bald eagles thrown in for good measure. I even got to watch a kingfisher do what kingfishers do. Fish.

I left and did a few more maintenance things around the island. Then I came home for lunch. After a giant salad, I went outside to work on a little bit of firewood. As I was walking toward the pile of wood, I noticed something on the other side of the shop running from the garage. I went back toward the house to see what it was.

Much to my surprise, it was a couple of otters running through my yard! I think I started them as much as much as they startled me! There is not a lot of water up here on top by the cabin, so I find it odd that they were up here.

They ran under the mudroom on the back of the house. I knew there was a hole on the other side so I went and sat down on a log just outside the back door and watched and two little heads popped out! The biggest one, which I think was probably an adult, carefully crawled out and ran up the side of the house. It repeated this behavior a couple of times, but the smaller one never did come out. I am not sure if it was a youngster, like a juvenile, or perhaps a small female. I really don’t know. I took several pictures and send them off to the biologist so she can let me know what’s going on with it. I think they are river otters. Everything I have read that I could find leads me to believe that.

Unfortunately, it was a little windy today. I was hoping to get out on the water today, but it was pretty breezy. I am told the summertime the wind tends to calm down quite a bit. That would be nice!

All is Well!

Adventure, Motorcycle, Outdoors

My new adventure as the caretaker here on Protection Island is shaping up quite nicely.

Yes, it has been quite a change going from being the caretaker on the spit. There, they have approximately 80,000 to 100,000 visitors a year. Here, it is just me. I would say that is quite a change.

I went about 11 days straight of being out here. Last Sunday afternoon, I was able to finally go back over to the mainland. I stayed at a friend’s house over the weekend and helped him do some landscaping by running an excavator for him to move some big rocks. We worked a couple of 10 hour days and got quite a bit done actually. I am sure I will be going back over to help him do some more of it as well. I’m really kind of anxious to see what it’s going to look like when it is done.

After that, Wednesday I plan to come back out to the island. I had to do a lot of personal errands before I came back out, one of which was to buy groceries. Another important item was to go to the post office, which I had not done in two weeks. A couple other errands I had to run was eating some Chinese food, some Mexican food, a burger, but unfortunately the Thai restaurant was closed. That will be this week.

It can be rather difficult planning on doing things when you are so dependent on the weather to be able to go back to the mainland. Last week I got pretty lucky. While I was in on the mainland we had gale force winds out here at the island. That is not good weather for a smaller boat to be out in and I was happy to avoid it. My timing was actually really good both going back to the mainland and coming back out to the island. Two days after I got here there were gale force winds.

I have been staying fairly busy. There have been plenty of maintenance things to do around here, such as mowing grass, running the trimmer, watching the dock almost daily, and doing some projects around the cabin. As the weather gets nicer, I will be out on the water more, patrolling around the island to keep people away the 200 yard minimum. It will be interesting spending most of the day out on the water in a boat. I will also be helping out the biologist with some projects out here as well.

It is really going to be an interesting summer, with even more new experiences coming my way!

I am also looking for some hard bolt on saddlebags for my motorcycle. I plan on doing some weekend trips on the V65 this summer and I want a secure place to lock my belongings like rain gear. Plus, going to the grocery store and running errands around town it would also be nice to have locking bags and not have to haul everything with me or worry about it getting stolen. I am also looking for a sissy bar bag, and possibly a tank bag. I am trying to buy used things to save some money, but I am not having a whole lot of luck with the saddlebags yet. Whatever I saddlebags I get, I will have to fabricate some sort of mounting hardware or bracket for them to fit on my bike. I have cloth saddlebags, but they have no security.

My youngest daughter told me about two TV series called “Long Way Round” and “Long Way Down”, two shows about motorcycle travels – really long trips. Kind of gives me the urge for a road trip.

I Had a Staredown With a Hummingbird

Adventure, Just things, Outdoors

Yesterday I took the day off. Well, for the most part I did (I thought it would be wise to go check on my boat). I got some things done – pictures set out, things put away, tossed a few things away – that I had not gotten done yet but needed to do.

At the marina I saw many different birds down there – mergansers, buffleheads, Canada geese, and others. It is always fascinating to see the different species. All the different colors and their different behaviors and mannerisms.

I came back up and I sat up on the upper deck, looking out over the mountains and paging through a magazine. While sitting there minding my own business I heard a hummingbird pretty close by. He was actually right in front of my face about 6 inches away when I looked up, hovering in mid-air as they usually do, just staring at me for about five seconds, as they don’t usually do.

Sure… birds don’t have opposable thumbs, but then again they don’t have to open jars or roll their own smokes. Just think about it… they can fly! Do you ever just sit and watch a bird and think about what it would be like to physically be able to fly? No, it’s not the isolation of being on this island getting to me – I have thought about this when I was over at the spit watching the birds over there. It has to be such a feeling of freedom to be able to fly like that.

I do notice a difference with the bird behavior here. Since the island is closed to the public they do act differently here without that constant interaction with lots of people. As I sit here in my recliner looking out the window, I can watch the different things that the gulls do. Many people complain about them, but the gulls are actually very interesting to watch if they don’t think they are being watched.

I wonder if they think the same thing about us…

Remember When…

Adventure, Just things

…before microwaves were all the rage and “T.V. Dinners” were in foil pans and they were 45 minutes in the oven?

Well one other thing I did not mention is that there is no microwave out here where I am now. Nope, not a microwave oven. Some of you reading this never knew a time when there WEREN’T microwave ovens like some of us remember. It is interesting to relive those days, trying to figure out how to heat leftovers and not burn the hell out of them. Good old days my ass. It is just another part of the adventure!

I know other caretakers have brought their own to use. Since I don’t have a house I don’t own one, however, and am not going to go buy one. It is going fine without it so I will just keep doing what I’m doing. It is nice to have room to be able to cook again. The cabin at the spit was cozy, but not much room in the kitchen area. This place is pretty good size and has a lot of counter space to use. Plus, living out here you really have to cook to make things last long enough. You can’t just run to the store if you need something so you really have to plan carefully. The weather plays a huge factor in that as well.

I really do need to get to town however and get some groceries. I have stuff to eat, but I need to pick up some other things. I need some cheese… NEED some cheese. And some eggs. I do always try to keep some things like mac and cheese or cans of soup on hand that way if things run short I will have that to get by on. I don’t really keep that in my “inventory” of things in the cabinet to eat so it is always there “just in case”.

Well, time to eat something.

A Step Into the Past

Adventure, Outdoors

Well, I have been on the island about three days now. Being the only one here makes it rather interesting to say the least. The cabin sits in the middle of a giant gull colony. No the gulls are not giant, the colony is. There are several hundred just around the cabin alone. By the harbor where the boat dock is there are probably a couple thousand out there. There are white dots as far as you can see. They are pretty vocal as well. While I walk out the door of the cabin they just sit there about 5 feet from me just looking at me. I watched a pair yesterday gathering nesting materials. They would dig grass and pick up big mouthfuls of it and carry it over to where they were building a nest. Rather interesting.

As far as living here, it is very comfy and relaxing. Heat is from a woodstove and water is heated on-demand. There are both 12v and propane lights in the house, plus an inverter for 110v off the batteries from the solar cells. There is a generator to run the washer and dryer and for extra power if it is cloudy for a few days. Much different than what we are used to, but very warm and cozy.

The only internet is through my iPhone or iPad. That is probably the biggest change for me. Using something other than a desk top computer to access the internet is something I haven’t done in a while, but I am making it work.

The night before last I was sitting there in the recliner, with the propane lights on, and was typing an email on my iPad. I heard an owl outside the window for several minutes. I had not heard that sound in quite a while, probably since I lived in the Midwest. The next morning, which was yesterday, I went out to get some firewood to restock my supply in the house. There, on the chopping block for splitting wood, was the wing of a bird left there. Just a wing… And nothing else. Something have removed it from its previous owner and decide to leave it as a present for me, just like a horse’s head left in the bed in that one movie. Maybe it was…the Birdfather. Needless to say that was a bit startling but not unexpected. I have heard other people say that they have found bird heads laying around outside the cabin.

It is also a huge change in that Protection Island is closed to the public. And I was over at the spit, we had 80,000 to 100,000 visitors a year. That’s quite a drastic change. With the longer days in the summer and better weather as well, I will be patrolling around the island in the boat frequently to keep people back the required 200 yard minimum.

I was going to take the boat out patrol around the island today, but there is a small craft advisory. I figure I probably should heed the warning. I’m really not too interested in getting caught out on the water in some nasty weather. Instead, I’m watching some birds play around the harbor. Some white-winged scoters, gulls, several bald eagles, a pair of Canada geese, and different sparrows. On the way down here I saw a pair of mallards. Yesterday I saw some harriers, which for some reason have become one of my favorite birds. On the way down here this morning I saw several deer of our resident herd.

My car is still broke. I talked to the shop yesterday and it’s going to be late next week before it’s done. The shop I had it fixed at originally is sending a replacement transmission. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, since the first one they did only lasted 22,000 miles and none of the parts in the bad one are salvageable. Guess it’s a good thing I don’t need to come in from the island quite yet.