Whales! We Saw Whales!

The whales we saw were likely the transient T2C pod minus T2C4. The Center for Whale Research reports an encounter same day, same time, same general location. Apparently these four Orca had been hunting a lone minke whale, but gave up that chase prior to our sighting. (We did hear about others who saw a minke whale a bit farther south.)

This family of Biggs Orca includes Tumbo (T2C2). Tumbo has scoliosis. His family takes care of him–bringing him dinner and circling back to make sure he doesn’t get too far behind. One of Tumbo’s aunts had a condition that caused partial loss of pigmentation and an uncle had a malformed jaw.

It makes me happy to know the names of the whales we saw. I’d still like to see some of our Southern Resident Orcas (now down to a total population of 73 individuals).

Sara Shimazu, one of Maya Legacy’s captains, shares marvelous photos and information about the Orcas of the Salish Sea through patreon, instagram, and facebook. Sara is a great photographer with a vast love for Orca.

I wish someone would create baseball-like cards for Orca. I’d like to be able to flip through them to see if I could ID individuals. (If you know where to obtain these, please let me know.)

Other delights

The whales were a BIG highlight to the day, but it was great in other ways too.

I took my coffee, boots, the wine guys, and a canoe I found on Deadman’s bay down to the tiny beach below our campsite. Bill joined us with his camera. Wine guys off on an adventure!

Looking for Orca

Bill and I usually spend between 5 minutes and 15 minutes at viewpoints. This morning we `resolved to go to Limekiln prepared to observe. We loaded coffee, cookies, scope, binoculars, camera, a waterproof blanket, and field guides into packs and walked down to the lovely observation point.

Limekiln is one of the best places for spotting whales from land. Whoever laid out the picnic tables did a stellar job. They are scattered along the trail. Not obtrusive for trail walkers and offering great views of Haro Straight to table sitters.

I would have been proud of us, even if we didn’t see whale. We stayed and watched for several hours. We met Victoria Obermeyer, videographer and co-producer of Co-Extinction a documentary about Southern Resident Orca. AND we saw whales!

Disaster averted

Suffused with the beauty of the world, I took a short solo walk down the little path off the south end of the meadow. I exchanged hellos with the couple smoking their picnic and walked to the point above the larger bay (Smallpox bay, poor thing). It’s a short, but beautiful walk. A perfect little piece of calm after watching Orca.

As I wandered back to camp, I was pondering the benefits of hot cocoa versus tea versus decaf. I put the kettle on and reached for and didn’t find my mug.

I did a quick search of Brave Horatio’s galley, the picnic table, and the camp. No mug.

It slowly dawned on me that I’d brought my coffee to the beach to launch the wine guys on their adventure. I couldn’t remember having it when I returned. Oh no!

I slowly walked to the meadow and down to the tiny beach. This morning the rock on the beach was high and dry. Now it was surrounded by water to at least knee-depth. The tiny beach was super tiny, just a little crescent of dry. No mug in sight.

I walked back up to the meadow and around to approach the tiny beach from the rock side. I could just see the silver glint of my mug nestled under the water among bladder wrack. Sadly it was maybe waist deep and a couple yards offshore. Luckily, it looked to be constrained by a little curve of rock.

Back at camp I shared the sad plight of my coffee mug with Bill. He asked if I thought I could get it with a stick. Nope.

A few minutes later Bill got that look on his face–the one that means he’s thinking strategically. He started taking down a tarp pole.

Bill doesn’t talk while he’s thinking. He often doesn’t talk when he’s putting his plans into action. You have to ask.

He was thinking of sacrificing a roasting fork–to make a hook to gaff tape to the end of a loooooong tarp pole–to use as a coffee mug fishing pole. I suggested using one of our many tent pegs. Some have nice size hooks.

I convinced Bill to construct the super long pole after we reached the fishing point. I didn’t want to do the walk of shame past our camp and meadow neighbors. Conspicuous weirdos off to fish for a mug.

Bill’s boots are higher than mine and he’s got way better hand-eye coordination. He carefully stepped into the bladder wrack and extended the tarp pole hook (about 10 foot of it). A few seconds later my mug was safely home!

Shopping San Juan

It’s still mid-Covid and also, we’re camping, so we didn’t explore many stores in Friday Harbor. The bookstore was pretty fantastic, the co-op too. I, however, was on a search for honey. Wherever I go, I look for local honey. I love the variety of flavors from different locales. Honesty stands are also one of the joys of my life (people TRUST me…there’s hope for the world). I also enjoy talking with and buying from farmers.

We pulled into Amaro Farms in search of honey and stayed to talk to xxxx about Flat Hat Distillery and Amaro’s Valais sheep. The restored barn that Flat Hat shares with the farm store is so gorgeous. They didn’t have honey, but we left with some tea and a small flock of stuffed lambs for our grandniblings.

Fine dining Brave Horatio style

San Juan Island Food Coop provided us with 5 Bs bakery cinnamon rolls for tomorrow’s breakfast, a frozen chicken pot pie for tomorrow’s dinner, and a Brown Bear Bakery gluten free boule for tonight’s for crab feast.

We found the best seafood market down on the Friday Harbor docks. It welcomed us in with bright painted fish and flowers and friendly staff.

When deciding on whole crab or crab meat, remember only about a quarter of the weight of a whole crab is meat. Multiply the cost of whole crab by four–and think about what you will do with the aromatic remains at your campsite. We popped for pre-picked crab–quite a lot of it.

It was raining when we got back, but it finally eased off then stopped. While we were waiting out the rain we got new neighbors, a Sprinter van decked out for camping and shared by a bunch of friends from Santa Cruz.

The weather finally cooperated and we heated our bread and a little pot of butter over the campfire. We had a beautiful dinner with Michael and Jan last week that included a bottle of Michael’s viognier (very nice!). Michael gifted me with a bottle of his Roussanne for this trip and I was excited to try it. Roussanne is not a wine I’m familiar with. It was soft and lovely and perfect for the evening. Thanks Michael!

We sat by the fire in our camp rockers dipping crab meat in the pot of warm butter. Warm butter dipped crab alternated with warm bread and sips of nice `wine is an amazing way to end an evening!

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