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We live in a cabin in a very “fertile” area of the island. Kind of like Times Square before Mayor Giuliani.  Either one pair of seagulls is very amorous, or every day several new pairs come to mate before our eyes.  And they’re not quiet about it, they are seagulls after all.  There’s a lot of squawking.   First there’s the hello baby…

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Then the male stands on the back of the female

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and they co-mingle their tales to do the nasty. No appendages involved.  Look it up. This happens right outside our window, several times a day.

Now they’re looking towards the future and getting ready to nest.

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Tim cleaned all the windows when we got here but they are making amazing messes with their fly-bys and he has to do it again.

I spent a couple of hours docking today. With a light wind, no spectators, and no other boats to worry about, I do pretty OK.

Today was a high carb day.  I baked a loaf of bread and a coffee cake. Yum. We’re staying here for a while since there have been small craft warnings so I am making do with what we have. We still have wine and chocolate, so we should be fine.

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Rain and clouds may be gone for a while.  These were passing clouds this afternoon. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

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A world apart

IMG_1083We’re only on the other side of the country but it seems like we’re in another world or in a time warp. People couldn’t be friendlier when we are ashore. Strangers start conversations and cars yield to our bikes, mostly. Our plans to swim at the YMCA yesterday were canceled because when we rode into town, a big party was underway for irrigation day. Who knew? Harleys, muscle cars, marching bands, firetrucks, and even the sewage truck took part.

Weather changes in the blink of an eye, it rains, the sun comes out, rainbows dazzle, the wind picks up, the waves build.

It took 3 tries to have a weather and tide window to pick up two Audubon volunteers who came out to install purple martin boxes on the dock. Mission accomplished today.

We learned that a great horned owl uses the area around the cabin as a dining room, which is why we find well picked carcasses about. The eagles enjoy almost anything but don’t dine near us.

We heard the owl at the end of the video.

We made it ashore today before small craft warnings kicked in again. The bikes need a little work. I’m having some brake trouble. If anyone knows the name of the doohiggy screw thing that connects the cable to the lever, please let me know. Mine is pretty bent and not holding too well and I want to order a new one. People thought we were part of the parade yesterday. I did the princess wave and smiled to the cries of, “Nice Bike”.

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The grocery store had a dragon fruit, something I have never heard of.  I’m not brave enough to eat it yet because it was fairly pricey and I want to read about it first but the produce manager said they are even more stunning when they first arrive.

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We’ve got our own stunning fruit tree on the island.

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And the number of seagulls that greet us on the roof when we return home each day continues to grow. I think the one in the foreground was actually leaning on the spikes. So much for that. They’re still not sliding down the roof yet though. We’ll see.

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Wacky weather

We were supposed to go ashore today to run a few errands and pick up a couple of people from Audubon who place purple martin houses on the island. I woke up at 5:30 and heard the sound of wind from the south. It was whistling and ultimately small craft warnings were announced so we stayed ashore. I got to weave with my pin loom and then we repaired the fence around an enclosure where native plants are growing. The fence keeps the black tailed deer out and we’ll use the weed wacker to prevent invasive grass seeds from landing inside it. Next we placed markers at daffodil plants that will be removed from the island after they bloom, and potentially sold as heirloom bulbs as a fundraiser, to make the way for native prairie grass.

Weather was supposed to improve midday but it didn’t so perhaps we will get to rendezvous tomorrow. The clouds and rainbows are incredible.

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The new spikes on the house are working, mostly. One seagull managed to inch its feet just up to the spikes and accompany the lone gull on the chimney.

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Every day we run across the remains of a mostly eaten bird. I’m not sure if the predator is the northern harrier that stays nearby or one of at least eight eagles we have seen.   They rudely leave the carcass on our wood chopping block. Tim still uses it, I don’t.

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We’ll see what tomorrow’s weather brings.

 

 

 

Our nest

IMG_0189We are set up in a cabin that I think was built when there was a scheme to have 2000! houses on this little island. The water is not good for drinking and environmentalists wanted to maintain the sanctuary for the birds and the plan flopped. Now there are only three habitable structures left. We’re in one of them. The views from all around are amazing. Close ups of birds – they’ll be plenty of photos of seagulls especially – and distant views of mountains, water, and shipping traffic.

We have propane lights throughout and recently installed solar LED lights, which is a nice way to illuminate without using fuel. Two large batteries are charged by 2 solar panels and back up generators, one big, one small.  The fridge, and dryer use propane. The washer and dryer are powered by a large generator. There are usually wires strung about while we recharge our devices, phones, ipads, laptop, radio, camera, etc. Knock on wood all things are working smoothly.

We pump water to that old water tank and then water is gravity fed to where it’s needed. We’ve been provided with drinking water. Someone remarked we must be bathing in it but that’s our primary beverage, supplemented by a little wine and scotch.

 

The first floor has a combined living, dining, and kitchen area, which has been called a livitchen by my kids in the past; one bedroom, a small office area and a bathroom.

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There’s an open loft space upstairs with two more beds and a porch.

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Pretty comfortable all around. I’ve had to improvise some tools and pans in the kitchen. There clearly has not been a serious baker here before but I’m making do. A cold bottle of wine serves as a rolling pin and I have been making pies and quiches in square baking pans.

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It’s a cozy place for us to roost but not so much for the birds.

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We shipped our fold up bikes to Washington before we left home with the idea they would be a great way to shop without needing a car. We also signed up at the local YMCA, which has a lovely pool, and got ourselves a post office box to pick up netflix. Yesterday we put it to the test. We took the boat ashore, no problem. Unfolded and rode our bikes 4.6 miles uphill to the YMCA, some complaining on my part. We swam for 40 minutes (Tim) and 30 minutes (me with a little time left over for the hot tub). I stopped into the local yarn store, That’s actually its name, Local Yarn Shop, and met two lovely women and a ten week old sheep dog named Bob. A little mexican food for lunch, a bike ride to the grocery store and then complete the 4.6 mile ride back to the marina, laden with two backpacks of food, very heavy backpacks but at least 1/3 of the way was downhill. I know the math doesn’t work out but that’s how it felt to me. We were plumb tuckered last night.

Today a work group arrived on the landing craft, to drop off a utility vehicle of some sort and to put spikes on the roof to prevent the birds from landing and sliding off the metal roof all day. Lucky for our guests because their beds are just under that metal roof. One lone perch was left on the top of the chimney and it was already in use by day’s end.

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The grass has been mowed by both me and Tim. I got to survey the island a little more while I figured out how to lift the lawnmower on to the bed of the truck.

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Yesterday we had lots of wildlife spotting during our island circumnavigation on the trip back. Seals had hauled out on one of the spits.

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Hard to see what is seal and what is driftwood but the water’s edge is littered with seals. We saw our first arctic puffin in the water and it was CUTE. Here’s a link to what they look like. I highly recommend the Irish public TV show, Puffin Rock, where these little guys star. We also saw a couple of loons. And these shenanigans when we returned to the cabin.

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A little seagull porn.

In the cabin we learned that what we thought was petrified wood or sedimentary rock is a WOOLY MAMMOTH TOOTH!! Imagine that.

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Our next biathalon will probably take place next week.  Stay tuned for the agony of defeat.

Who needs TV when we had a night like last night? We sat down to a late dinner (pork tenderloin, peas, applesauce, salad and brownies) when the seagulls got stirred up. All at once they were all in the air flying. That’s a lot of seagulls in flight and they were joined by a few eagles. It didn’t seem like the eagles started it but it was one great fly fest. Two eagles buzzed right in front of the window where we sat.

At the same time rainbows appeared and kept evolving. It was spectacular.

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Today was a bit more mundane.  We took out the boat to patrol the island during one of Washington state’s three halibut fishing days. All boats we saw respected the 200 yard boundary around the island. I worked on docking in wind. And provisioned – I made yogurt, a loaf of bread and dinner.

I finally got my band weaving out and used some of the knots I worked on during my boating course to secure my band to a post.

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A lovely weaving spot except it’s under a barn swallow nest on the porch.  We’ll see if they keep letting me weave there. Plus there’s an otter under there as well. It’s a sanctuary out there!

I’ve been working on an aran sweater for myself. It’s coming along, s l o w l y.   I actually knit the whole back piece before we left but learned it was WRONG and I had to rip it all out. This is RIGHT. And so pretty.

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Here’s a panoramic view of the harbor with our boat, the Auklet, tied up alongside a clean dock. The harbor is protected from the wind but not the birds.

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I can’t complain when my new work station looks like this.

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Our caretaker cabin is quite cozy and was in ship shape condition when we arrived.  Pictures to follow some day.  We spent the past couple of days tidying up the inside and outside, and going through all the drawers and various buildings to take an inventory. After a little hiccup with the propane fridge, all is well. Bad weather was supposed to arrive yesterday.  It came today instead. Not too bad, just right.

We got out on the boat to patrol the island before it arrived.  Yesterday was one of 3 halibut fishing days in the state and there were way more boats on the water than we have seen.  None got too close to the island though.

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The seagulls have company.  We spot more bald eagles every day.  Here’s a family that flies by the house.

One little egg wasn’t so lucky and we have spotted some feathers on the road.

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I’m not sure if this is seagull love, but they were certainly close.  The eagles seem a bit more sedate.

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Might be a night for the wood stove.  All’s well with the wind blowing outside. Time for tea and knitting.

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