November 11th, 2017

Adventure, Just things, Outdoors, Travel, Uncategorized

The last few days I have had the traveling Jones so I got up this morning and went to Sequim and the wildlife refuge I worked at. I got to see some friends today, but one good friend was out of town unfortunately.

I took a walk down the the Spit. It was a trip down memory lane walking down that trail. The cabin I lived in for 2+ years has been torn down so that was a bit of a drag to see. I knew they had torn it down but I had not been down the trail since they had done so. I was the next to last person to live in it and it was full of good memories.

Walking on the beach and looking NW towards the Olympics is beautiful always and is a sight I always looked at first when I got to the bottom of the trail and onto the beach. You get to see the mountains and ocean all in one picture and it was so good to see that view again. I do miss living there, being near the water, and I miss seeing and hanging out with my friends there.

I had considered staying in Port Townsend tonight but decided to just go home and save it for another time. I need to go back and catch up with some other friends and will do that when I am off work and can stay a few days. I don’t want be too rushed and I want to enjoy some nightlife in Port Townsend. I guess that I’ll have to plan a little to get someplace close to all the happenings. Luckily it’s mostly walking distance in town.

It was a good day full of good memories around every corner…a day spent reminiscing about a lot of things. I’m anxious to go back and visit some more.

About a year ago…

Adventure, Just things, Motorcycle

…I decided to stop blogging. It has really been quite a year and many things have happened. I will try to shorten it down just to make it easy on both of us.

First, after getting off of Protection Island I went back to the Dungeness Spit to be a part-time caretaker there for six months while I worked at my new job at the post office.

I started working at the post office in October 2014. In late November 2014 I was involved in a motorcycle wreck. My beloved Honda V65 Magna was totaled but I wasn’t. It was a bad wreck that actually could’ve been much much worse. I was very fortunate. A lady pulled out in front of me and stopped in front of me. I hit her going about 35 mph and bounced off of her windshield and landed in the street. I was very lucky to escape without serious injury, concussion, broken bones, or any other number of injuries I could’ve sustained. Or worse.

While recuperating I was unable to work and lost my post office job in January 2015. In late March I was finally released for work without any restrictions. I had been applying for some jobs, and one day I got a call from a place I had applied to but had forgotten about. It was with Washington State Parks in the San Juan Islands. I was hired on as a seasonal Senior Park Aide for Sucia Island State Park in the northern San Juan Islands. It is absolutely a beautiful state park and I would recommend visiting it if you have the chance. I get to go out onto the water almost every day. We actually take care of about eight different islands up here in the state parks. The entire area is just amazing and the people are great to work with and talk to around town.

Some thought I was crazy, but I bought a Yamaha V-Star 1100 bobber motorcycle to commute on between home and the San Juans. It was nice, saving many dollars on ferry fares as well as getting 45 miles to the gallon.

The recuperating continues, but hopefully the results of physical therapy will be good and give me some relief. I am more than ready and anxious to get all this bullshit behind me. It has been very stressful financially, emotionally, and physically.

It is Probably Time For an Update

Adventure, Just things, Motorcycle, Outdoors, Travel

I have been a bit busy since the last post so I figure I should post an update.

Last week when I was on my days off I went in to the mainland. I needed to get to the store and do some other errands. My backup motor on the boat needed to get a repair while I was in as well so that got taken care of too. My original plan was to come back out Tuesday, either late afternoon or early evening. I got a nice motorcycle ride in for about half a day though.

On Wednesday the parts showed up and were installed. Late in the day I went over to the marina to check on the boat to see if it was going to be ready. They were finishing up, and as I was looking at my phone I saw we were under a small craft advisory. I was really not very excited about going out in a small craft advisory, but I needed to get back because the weather was not going to be any better the next couple of days. In fact, it was going to be worse. I loaded up my stuff in the boat and I left to go back out to the island.

I left the marina and I hugged the shoreline to the south of me. I came out across the water and it was a little choppy but not too bad. When I got closer to the island away from the protection of the mainland, the south/southeast winds picked up pretty good. That brought along some waves 2 to 3 feet high in some places. I thought about my boat training I had from everybody here plus in Hawaii, and I cut across the waves at a 45° angle. I came out northeast just a little past the marina for the island and then I cut back to the northwest a little bit at a 45° angle across the waves with following seas. Water was crashing up over the bow and onto the windshield of the boat for five minutes or so – a short time that seemed like an eternity. I have to say that was a rather interesting feeling. You just have to keep your cool, and maintain your composure and do what you need to do to get through it. I was definitely relieved to get into the marina, but I felt I did pretty good handling the situation. The only way you learn is to do it.

Tuesday of this week was the first really, really nice day here. There have been some nice days on the island so far since I’ve been here, but Tuesday was beautiful – 72 degrees. I spent all day outside, most of it stacking the best part of a cord of firewood and working on some outdoor projects.

On Wednesday, I went in to take care of some errands. I went over to the Spit to help them work on the creosote removal project. I spent the day on the beach riding an ATV. I had a trailer I was hauling equipment around in, plus creosote and treated wood, logs, and various bits of trash and tires and other things that we picked up. It was a fantastically beautiful day, somewhere around 70° or so. The sun was shining brightly, the sky was blue, and it was absolutely gorgeous. It was fun to be back over there again. It was a really good day.

My plan was to take yesterday and today and do a motorcycle ride. I was going to pack my tent and my sleeping bag on my motorcycle and head over to the Hot Springs at Sol Duc. Yesterday morning, however, I happened to check the weather and they were talking about another small craft advisory. No hot springs for me. They were also talking about some rather nasty wind waves coming this way. I decided to hedge my bets after having a wonderful motorcycle ride yesterday. I went to the marina after a trip to the grocery store and came back out. It was a nice calm boat ride out, with no trouble at all despite another small craft advisory. In fact, the weather last night was actually fairly nice and I sat on the deck looking out over the Strait. There didn’t really seem to be too much to be concerned about on the water. Today, however it is a little different. Is definitely cooler and windier. The wind has picked up throughout the day, and the clouds have moved in. In fact, as I write this there is a gale warning out. Glad I decided to come back out yesterday when I did instead of tonight when I had planned.

I was able to get a few things that I needed to get done yesterday. Seems like there’s always a lot of things I need to do when I go back in and I just don’t have enough time to do all the stuff I need or want to do.

Today I have been working on the computer on a project I’ve started. I am scanning all of my records into digital files. I started this a while back – a month or two ago – and I’m trying to get it done. This way all of my important papers will be digital, as well as all my pictures I have. Today, I got a pretty good stack of things scanned but there is still plenty more to do.

I think that we have these powerful computers in our homes, but a lot of people only use them for internet, email, and a few other various little things. We don’t really use them to their fullest potential. I’ve really given that a lot of thought lately, and am trying to change my thinking on that. If I can scan most of my papers into digital files, that is a lot less stuff I have to keep track of. Actually, if you think about it, it’s good for people who are home as well as those who are traveling around. You really don’t have to have boxes of files stashed in your closet anymore. There’s really no need for it. It’s really another thing that helps simplify your life. Most of your bank statements, retirement statements, credit card statements, etc. are available to you in a downloadable PDF. Why not just download those files and save them directly and not even print anything out? I have started doing this as well, and it is so much simpler.

I have also been working on some spreadsheets I have started so I can easily keep track of business expenses and other things for my taxes. I am trying to keep things more organized to make it easier on myself with the end-of-the-year. I have spreadsheets for my medical expenses and business expenses. I got those caught up as well as scanning all of my receipts in and organizing some tax files. This means I have digital copies of all of my receipts I have for everything, plus in my spreadsheets I have formulas that will keep track of all the amounts of everything and total everything up so that at the end of the year I can grab the totals and give them to my accountant and I’m good to go.

Living on an island, you don’t have the easy distraction of being able to go to town to window shop, grocery shop, go out to eat or get a beer, or any other creative way of screwing off. I am really trying to use some of my downtime out here to do something productive that I’ve been needing to get done but have not done yet. Doing these spreadsheets and scanning in my documents are two of those things. I still have a lot of pictures to scan in yet, and those are really time-consuming. At least with documents you can put a stack in the scanner and the document feeder will shove them in there one at a time. With pictures you’ve got to put them facedown on the flatbed scanner and do them individually. That’s pretty time-consuming. I got a some of them done earlier in the week and I saw just how long it takes. I’m trying to do all my pictures into my computer so I will always have them but it is going to take some time.

I think one drawback about having all your pictures and things in digital form though is that they’re usually in a computer that’s password-protected. They really cannot be passed down to anybody else if something were to happen.

That’s about all for this update. I should think about some dinner now before it gets much later.

Toodles!

Shawn

And So It Begins…

Adventure, Outdoors, Uncategorized

A little over two years ago I was… oh never mind. That was then, and this is now. Now is MUCH better. Then sucked in MANY ways.

With just a few days left here at The Spit, I started to move some of my belongings out of my cabin. Some is going into storage, and the rest I will take out to my new home on Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge.

I got out to Protection Island (“P.I.” as we call it) today with some of my belongings and it really hit me about this change – not only is it that am I moving out of Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. I just took my first solo trip operating a boat for the U.S. Government, taking my belongings out to an island that is a federal wildlife refuge that is closed to the public, and that I will essentially be the only person there most of the time. Here are a few pictures I took today: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shawnflaherty/sets/72157643042351424/. I will add to these during my stay.

I will be moved out there within the next week or so, putting out a few family pictures and setting up some of the few other personal things I decided to take with me. Not having a house (some may say “a real home”) is easy to overcome if you just do a few things to make it “yours”. Home is where, and what, you make it.

For more information about P.I. you can look at this website: http://www.fodnwr.org/in-the-community/webcams. This is our “Friends” group and most refuges, national parks, and other federal lands have similar organizations. They are all vital to these places and do so much and they can all use help and your involvement for these special places is very rewarding in many ways. Our Friends group has gotten a webcam put up on P.I. They also work on many other projects, one of which is a video about the history and importance of P.I.. If you click on the video link it will take you to Vimeo, which is hosting a very informative video about the island and its features. I learned a lot by watching it and maybe it will help some who watch better understand the importance and why these places matter.

It is amazing what you can do if you just set your mind to doing something and get it done. I have had many great opportunities happen in my life and those things have only happened because I wanted them to, and made them, happen. I may not have not done as much as some, but I have done more than others and I can take great satisfaction and pride in the fact that I have gotten to do so many cool things – well, at least to ME they were cool or I wouldn’t have wanted to do them. Dream for the big things and do what you need to achieve them. It doesn’t matter what others think… live YOUR life for YOU. If a “big” thing to you is something like getting a tattoo, or a second piercing in your ear, then by all means whoop it up!

Some can, and some do. The choice is yours.

One Week Left

Adventure, Just things, Travel, Uncategorized

“Your hard work on the job may appear to be finally paying off, Aquarius, as all signs indicate that a raise, promotion, or other form of advancement is coming your way. Your ambition and concentration have led and will continue to lead to significant accomplishment, which isn’t likely to escape the notice of those above you in the hierarchy. Draw satisfaction from your achievements and continue as you are.”.

This was my horoscope for today. Ironic that it showed up today, one week from the day that I move out of the cabin and onward to my next adventure. My hard work feels like it has paid off by giving me this next opportunity on Protection Island. It is a lot of responsibility – operating a boat and living alone on an island will have it challenges, but if I were not ready for it they would not have the faith and trust in me to do the job and would not have offered the position to me.

The next caretaker here will arrive on Friday morning, so I will be showing him around the area when he arrives in case he needs to get supplies and do any business he needs to do. Then I will begin training him on what happens here at The Spit. It might be a crash course in three days or so, but it is supposed to rain this week so that may keep the crowds down somewhat… but I am not holding my breath on that.

I spent the entire day on the beach today and it was a beautiful, sunny, 10-hour day. Got out to the lighthouse to do some things out there and got to see some birds. Then it was back to the mainland to get a couple of volunteers going out to look for dead birds for research (a monthly project). Wrapping up the day, I spent a few hours with some state people taking GPS data and other info for erosion studies.

I can honestly say that I do draw satisfaction from my achievements. I have gotten to do some fantastic things in my life, and this has been one of those fantastic things. At the same time it is a bittersweet thing for me to be leaving here. It has been the first place I landed after the massive upheaval my life took in early 2012 so it has had that comfort aspect offered by a soft landing in a new place. It is also the first place I have gotten to work on this career change at and learn so much about many new things as well as myself. It is such a beautiful place and this opportunity has been so incredible. I am very fortunate to have gotten to experience it. Coming into it I knew it would not be permanent and it would be part of my ongoing adventure, and it certainly has been a HUGE part of my ongoing adventure. Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge is definitely a special place in its own right, and it is more special to me in a different way on top of that. A safe haven for animals, it has also been a refuge for me the time that I have spent here.

So what is next? I guess I will be finding out soon! When I do find out I will be posting updates on here so please stop by or follow my blog.