How I Spent My Spring Vacation – Or At Least I Didn’t go to the Emergency Room

Mother Nature finally came through for us. The weather here has been so damp and dank, with rain and unseasonably chilly temperatures for so long, I was beginning to fear that summer would never come. Our vacation was rapidly approaching and we had not made any plans yet, no destination in mind, we just knew that we did not want to stick around here for more misery. As the first vacation day approached, the weather forecast started looking a bit more promising with temperatures ranging in the eighties and lots of sunshine, so in the end we decided to stay here and go exploring locally.

Our first day was a trip to Woodinville, for a day of wine tasting. Hey, I have my priorities. And yes, we tasted many nice wines and bought a few bottles. Our second day we included the dogs on our day trip. We drove over to Point Defiance on Puget Sound and let the dogs run around and play in the ocean. One day we did some yard work and finished our newly built and planted raised beds. We drove down to Olympia and went to Tumwater Falls Park. It was a bit of a disappointment, I was hoping for bigger falls and a longer hike, but that was not the reality. The falls were small and the trek around them was short, maybe a mile at most.

We took a longer day trip with the dogs to the Green River Nature Area O’Grady Trail and had a longer hike. The trail was partially a road access that could handle cars and trucks with offshoot trails that were dirt paths wide enough for a horse or single file hikers. The trails had nice carved wooden signs that not only showed where the trail went but also had a “you are here” notation on each so we could place ourselves on the trail and where in the area we wanted to go. We found a homemade Tic Tac Toe Board carved into a stump complete with rocks for markers. We hiked down to the Green River, saw how fast it was running and decided it was not a good idea to let the dogs go in. We would have to drive to Puget Sound to save them.

To finish off our vacation, we decided to go kayaking. The dilemma was where? We thought about Point Defiance Park and go kayaking in Puget Sound, but common sense won out. I had only been kayaking once before, on a nice calm lake where the boats had to have a motor no larger than fifteen horse power and Mitch has never been kayaking. Out here the sky is the limit, plus there is the tides to consider. We talked it out and decided a lake would be safer and a better first time experience. We checked on kayak rentals around Lake Washington and found one in Bellevue. We got there before the rental office opened, about thirty minutes early and found a line had already formed. We rented two single kayaks so we could each experience paddling and maneuvering our own kayak, plus I watched other people in double kayaks and most weren’t paddling in unison, one paddle would be up and one paddle would be down, the kayak going nowhere.

The water was still very chilly, around sixty degrees or so, but the sky was clear no clouds for as far as the eye could see. We set off heading north crossing under the I-90 bridge to run along the coast gawking at houses on the shore. Most were very large and new, but there were some older smaller homes tucked in between the larger estate homes. We watched the boats go up and down the main channel, a few smaller boats but most were larger vessels, suitable for the ocean and felt the wake of each one. I was glad we chose a lake to start on first. After about forty-five minutes we turned around and headed in the opposite direction to see what was on the other side of the bridge and farther south. We headed into the back of the cove and gawked at some more houses.

We decided to call it a day and head back to the boat launch. We talked about how much we enjoyed this and as I headed toward the launch I made a comment about shopping for a kayak online. I got no response, so I looked around and couldn’t find Mitch. He was right there and then he was gone. I slowed my kayak and turned around to look for him and saw in the water about three hundred feet or so, his kayak flipped upside down. I looked next to his kayak and there was his head bobbing beside it. I paddled as fast I could and as I got closer, I could see him hanging on, so at least he was conscious. As I got close enough to talk to him, I asked what he did. He answered he didn’t know, not that succinctly but with more descriptive adjectives and adverbs. I asked if he was okay, but was not sure how I could help get the kayak righted without rolling myself, and not being that selfless, I didn’t offer to help right it. That’s what you get when you’re dealing with amateurs, dumb and dumber. Two guys and a little girl in a canoe came and offered help, but Mitch declined, saying he could make it to the launch. Another couple came up and offered assistance and again Mitch declined, I don’t know what he was thinking, that maybe AAA was going to show, or maybe he was suffering hypothermia. Probably not, his teeth weren’t chattering.

Finally, a man paddled over on a paddleboard that knew what he was doing and grabbed Mitch’s kayak and pulled it up on his paddleboard to steady it, then righted it and held it still for Mitch to climb back into the seat. Just like the Lone Ranger, after saving the town he paddled off to save the next unlucky soul. I think all in all, Mitch was a bit embarrassed that he rolled it and I didn’t. I contained myself and followed him in to the launch, but the whole time I kept saying over and over, “It wasn’t me, I didn’t roll it, it wasn’t me. Woo Hoo!”

We had a great time and have decided to get our own kayaks, but I think some lessons might be prudent. How could you ask for a better vacation, wine, hiking, kayaking and watching someone else crash and burn and for once it wasn’t you?

Advertisements

Oh Come on Now – Enough is Enough!

Mother Nature is having a huge laugh at our expense and I’ve had enough. It is the middle of May for god’s sake and I’m still wearing an insulated jacket when I walk the dogs. Oh and did I mention the jacket has a hood, because we are having the wettest spring on record. That matched our winter, which was the wettest on record, too. Yada, yada, yada. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and in the Midwest, that is the date to plant your hot weather vegetables and tomatoes. Here, I’m still hardening off my tomatoes so they don’t wither and die at night when the temperatures dip into the forties.

Well enough is enough! I am so ready for some warmer weather, not asking for nineties, I don’t want that, but some seventy degree days are desperately needed and sunshine. I need some sunshine! I would even settle for the mid-sixties if I could have the sun out too. I have so much yardwork to do, but every time I get ready to head out, I look outside and it’s raining, again. All the native Washingtonians tell me that this is so unusual and they are getting tired of all the chilly wet weather too.

Well Mother Nature, enough is enough, come on, you’ve had a good laugh and have reminded us all you are in control, not us. It’s time to move on, go inland, go out to sea, I don’t care, just go play your pranks someplace else. I have eight raised beds and all I have planted so far is a bed of strawberries and a bed with three blueberry bushes. I have green beans, zucchini and cucumber seeds I need to get in the ground, not to mention the tomatoes.

And I’m haven’t even mentioned mowing yet. I could mow my yard twice a week, if I was so inclined. All my neighbors mow their lawns one to two times a week, but not me, I don’t care that much about it. I like my grass a bit taller than everyone else around here. If you were to compare our yards to a golf course, my neighbors’ yards look like the putting green and my yard looks like the rough. It hides the weeds.

It’s enough to make me drink, oh wait, I already drink.

Ready or Not Spring Has Sprung

The dogs and I went for a short walk and found some signs that Spring is finally here.

IMG_3923 (1280x853)
Orso enjoying lounging in the sun

IMG_3963 (1280x853)
Charlie likes the playground equipment too

IMG_3973 (1280x853)
We found a goose setting on a nest

IMG_3974 (1280x853)
We found another nest sans Mom

IMG_3977 (1280x853)
Then Mom showed up to let me know not to come too close.

IMG_3978 (1280x853)
We even found a turtle sunning himself

Photos taken with my Canon Rebel

Hatchlings

We have hatchlings!  Just about two weeks to the day that I discovered the Robin’s nest and the three eggs have now hatched.  Now we have three tiny bodies that are all mouths chirping away mouths open waiting impatiently for their meals.

Everyday Mitch and I would peek out the kitchen window to check on mama to make sure she was still there and hadn’t abandoned the nest.  Each time the nest was empty I worried that she wasn’t coming back.  Weird huh, worrying about a bird and its nest?  It’s not like Robins are close to extinction or that I’m an extremist ornithologist.  Normally I don’t think twice about a bird’s nest and its contents.  The only time I even notice one is when I see broken eggshells on the ground or the nest gets blown out of the tree.

I think the reason this time is different is because the nest is so low to the ground, I can see in the nest standing next to the Hibiscus bush.  Being five foot two is low to the ground.  No concerns for overhead height restrictions here.  We have watched and worried about predators getting too close.  There are a lot of cats and snakes here.  I have worried about the weather, the rain and the cool temperatures.  You would think it was my nest and my eggs.

Now though we hatchlings and new worries.  Will the predators get to them, will they go out and party missing bird curfew?  I want to get close and take pictures but knowing mom and dad will be close by, I’m not that stupid.  I like my head without any holes from bird beaks or worse I don’t want the parents to abandon the nest leaving the babies.

But for now we hatchlings and I get to watch them grow.

Could it Be?

Dare I say the words?  I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t even think it.   I’m not a superstitious person, not usually anyway, but sometimes it just seems that from my mouth to Mother Nature’s ear.  Last year everyone called it the “Winter that didn’t Happen” and this year it’s been the “Winter that won’t go Away”.  It’s now May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, and we’ve been beset with snow and cold miserable weather across a fair amount of the country since February.

I wanted to plant radishes and lettuce while the weather was still cool, that didn’t happen.  No cool weather, but lots of cold wet icky weather.  So no fresh radishes or lettuce this year.  Last week my son had to cover his beds with a cold frame to protect the young plant shoots of his onions, potatoes, lettuce, etc.  Next weekend is Mother’s Day, the official day to plant tomatoes and other warm weather plants.  But I don’t know, the highs have been only in the forties and fifties, so the ground hasn’t had a chance to warm up much.

Today, though the sky is brighter, there is still cloud cover but the temperatures are warmer.  The high today is supposed to get up in the sixties, woo hoo.  The forecast for the week is looking optimistic, highs in the seventies, okay I can live with that.  One of our fears is that we will go from winter to summer, boom with no transition.  Just one day it will go from cold to blazing hot.

Back to my original question, dare I say the words?  I guess I’ll take a chance, here goes, “Maybe it is finally Spring”.  There I said it, cross your fingers.

Migrating Birds and Summer Residents

Every summer we have a couple of resident Blue Herons that stay until it gets too cold.  I was able to get a shot of one of them in flight.  He looks pretty cool in flight.

IMG_2442 (640x427)

 

IMG_2443 (640x427)

For the last three years we have had Crested Cormorants stop here on their annual Spring migration North, maybe heading to Minnesota.  I was so surprised the first time I saw these water birds that look similar to ducks roost in trees.  They are black with a crest on top of their heads with an orangish red shade on their lower bills.  They swim very low in the water and have long necks.

IMG_2451 (640x427)

 

IMG_2452 (640x427)

These shots were taken with my Canon Rebel using a 55 – 250mm lens.

 

 

 

More Evidence that Spring is Finally Here

This morning as I walked out the front door to get the morning paper, I startled a Robin nearby.  Nothing new about that, we have tons of Robins here.  But as the bird flew away I noticed a bird’s nest in our hibiscus bush.  Curious, I walked up to it there in the bottom of the nest lay three blue Robin’s eggs.  I had disturbed Mom as she was keeping the eggs warm.

I couldn’t help myself, even though I know to stay away so that the parents don’t abandon the nest, I grabbed my camera and quickly took some photos of the nest and Mom sitting there.  Until the eggs hatch the front door will be off limits.  Good thing we have three others to choose from.

 

IMG_2392 (640x427)

Mama Robin keeping her eggs warm

IMG_2395 (640x427)

Another shot of the Mama Robin

IMG_2397 (640x427)

The three Robin eggs.  The reason for color “Robin’s Egg Blue”

Photos taken with my Canon Rebel.