Protection Island farewell

We slept little and rose early to a gale warning. Nothing materialized near us so we did our final clean up, shut off and lock down. I had to take the truck back to the maintenance shop to drop something off and flushed several eagles from the brush. They flew overhead to wish me godspeed.


It has been two months since we had any rain. One of the mule deer came down to the marina to lap up some salt water.


The seagulls will be happy to have their island to themselves and they can dirty everything to their heart’s content.


We packed and shipped our bikes and Tim’s keyboard (his source of sanity on the island), Tim swam, then we hopped a bus and ferry to Seattle. Tim indulged me and we were tourists for the afternoon.



But he managed to get a front row seat on the monorail ride downtown on our way to the airport. We’re on our way home.

It’s clean up time…

Time offshore is coming to an end and it is time to take stock. Let me report that first of all, I had EXACTLY the right amount of q tips. Who knew? Overall our food stores did great, almost nothing left over and no shortages. Going ashore definitely helped. So tomorrow is the big day when I clean the refrigerator. Today I washed the floors with a homemade linoleum solution. It better look good, I added a couple of drops of Argan oil, since I didn’t have baby oil; that stuff is worth its weight in gold. The reality of caretaking: cleaning and moving.

But first we saw the eclipse. My pinhole projector worked pretty well. As predicted, photos did not come out clearly. It was too hard to hold both the box and the camera steady and my attention wandered.   90% shadow looked like a small bite. So I started creating my own sunsets. That was fun.


Here is an idea of what it looked like. The shadow moved across the top of the sun.


It was eerie. It became mildly dark, enough where I would have needed a light inside, and the temperature dropped. I did not notice the birds act differently though, probably because it never got completely dark.

This morning’s sunrise in fog was spectacular.


Then the fog burned off and we could see Mount Baker again.


We have been recording twice a day weather observations and it is a good chance to look at the sky.


I’ll miss Protection Island’s vistas but look forward to hearing birds sing rather than squawk at home. After I clean the refrigerator.



Do you see what I see?

I am getting ready for the solar eclipse on Monday when we should expect about 90% of the sun to be covered by cloud on Protection Island. I am convinced, and hopeful, that this alignment will not cause the massive Cascadia earthquake that is forecast to happen sometime in the not too distant future. Selfishly, I hope it is not before August 24 but it could be devastating for the west coast and coastal communities when it happens. This article in the New Yorker was an eye opener. A friend pointed this article out to me after we were already here. Prior to that I was only vaguely aware. I knew we were in a tsunami evacuation area. Then I started researching earthquakes and tsunamis. Distant earthquakes will give us hours notice but a local one will not. Someone else pointed out a theory that syzygy, when the earth, moon and sun are in alignment, increases the risk of earthquakes but I do not think this is supported by the data. The big one will happen when it happens ideally not when I am using my new home made solar eclipse viewer.

I did not purchase solar viewing glasses, some of which have been recalled because they won’t work. I remember from when I was a child, it was more dangerous to look at a partially eclipsed sun than to look at the sun directly. When you look at the sun, your pupils are small and the bright light causes you to look away. During an eclipse, when it’s dark out, your pupils dilate and if you see some of the sun around the edge of the moon, before turning away, it has more potential to directly harm your eyes. So I will look away and see the eclipse indirectly.

I mentioned this to a few twenty somethings who were here on the island doing some plant research. (I will tell you about the mites in our refrigerator another time). I remember using homemade devices with a hole in it and some foil. First I thought it was an apple but that was for something else.

A simple viewer can be made from a box, a piece of foil and white paper. I won’t get any stellar photographs of the eclipse, but we will get a chance to see it nonetheless.


This is what the sun looked like today through my viewer.

I took a box, traced a piece of white paper for the bottom and cut two openings on the top.  Next I poked a tiny hole in a piece of foil with my knitting needle. I put the foil over one of the openings. Then with my back to the sun, I lined it up so I could see the sun in the box.  There are more elaborate methods but this is all I need.


Thank you Jim for this pancake mix. It was delicious and was one of the only boxes, besides the Idaho potatoes we had.

I’m interested to see what the birds do during the eclipse. We finally went and heard a few rhinoceros auklets come ashore, buzz by with their wings and crash land with bang after dark. Maybe they will do it at midday. The seagulls get quiet during the dark so we may get lucky.

Look away!


Feeling small

Lots of things make me feel small but let’s start with Tim – and his friends.


We had a wonderful visit with Tim’s childhood friend and his wife.  Lots of great conversation and laughs while we shared the island with them.  But look at me! I’m a little person in the group.

The eagles may not be bigger than me but they carry themselves so well.


The sky dwarfs me. I’ve taken a new interest because we now have to provide twice a day weather reports in preparation for a burn later in the month. We have to estimate the cloud cover; make a subjective observation, objective. But if you hold your arms above your head and imagine the diameter of a circle, you can estimate the amount of cloud cover in your little world.


We also have to report whether or not there is fog.


One day had little cloud cover but lots of fog.  Imagine that.

The seagulls look down on me from their perch on the roof.


Not only am I small, I am outnumbered: 80,000 birds to 1 human (really 2 if I include Tim).


This old tree knows how to stand alone.


These colors remind me of a sweater I have started.


Never a dull moment.

Smoke on the water

Fire in the sky. Lingering smoke from the British Columbia wildfires persists. It makes for eerie sunrises and sunsets. When mixed with morning fog, it’s hard to tell what’s what.


A sleepless night let me catch yesterday’s sunrise.


This boat ghosted across the harbor the other morning.


I met a German woman who is an extraordinary athlete. She has sea kayaked alone around Australia, South America and is now working her way around North America. Earlier this season, she paddled from Seattle to Kodiak, Alaska! Now she is working her way south. She seemed a little taken back by the combination of fog or wind, which prevails in August in the Pacific Northwest.  She plans to kayak the east coast of North America in the future, maybe our paths will cross again.

Only a handful of seagull chicks have survived around the cabin. It’s unclear what kills them because they appear undamaged. The ones that survive and are beginning to stretch their wings, keep me entertained.

The eagles seem to be doing just fine.


As are Larry and Larry. A former caretaker named all the deer Larry and their name stuck.IMG_3246

Seals have hauled up on the beaches to nurse the pups and can be heard mewing and barking while we walk the roads.

All’s well in our part of the world.






There and back

The public transit system on the Olympic Peninsula has served us well.  This week we took the boat ashore, rode our bikes to the Sequim Transit Center, caught a bus to Port Angeles, hopped aboard a ferry to Victoria and were in our waterfront hotel, with our bikes, by 3.

We were astounded by the harbor as our ferry pulled in. A seaplane landed in front of us and these funny little boats circled the harbor.  Throw in a few kayaks, lots of power boats and it’s quite the scene.


Construction in Victoria is booming. We stayed right on the water and could watch boats tie up to the customs dock in front of us. We even had a bird’s eye view of a boat fire. Noone was hurt but it exploded after fueling. It was pushed away from the fuel docks and burnt away.


The smoke added to the smoke from the wildfires in British Columbia which has drifted to the west coast. It made a non-fog-like fog.



I saw our ferry as we crossed the Strait.


I admired the huge coiled lines, which are put to use each crossing.


We took the obligatory trip to Buchart Gardens in the north. It was sweltering, smoky and popular, but well worth it. We walked for a few hours, enjoyed the shade under huge Sequoia trees and the lovely scenery.


Our hotel was a step up from off-the-grid living. It had this fancy bidet – with a dryer!  And slippers and a robe.  Need I say more?


We rode our bikes along the coast, in search of the bike friendly trail, which doesn’t exist yet but they have plans.

Then we took the trip in reverse. We stopped off and enjoyed Tim’s father’s day gift from his son at a local restaurant.


And returned to Protection Island where it hasn’t rained in approximately 50 days. The island has dried out.

IMG_2991The seals welcomed us at the marina.


We caught a smoky sunset and this morning were greeted by the porch residing otter.


All’s well back on the prairie.