Monday, June 27, 2016

How was your weekend?

Cats do not know what the word
'work' means... we should follow
their example of living. (This is
Maksim, the Russian Blue.*)
Today my friend Carol called and her first question was "How was your weekend?"

I had to stop for a second and think... 'Weekend? What is that?' and then I replied, "Carol, all my weekends run together since I don't have any week days in between anymore. My life is great, I'm loving what I'm doing - or not doing. It's all very good."

For example, this morning I was up with the birds, literally. They tuned up about 4:30 a.m., I got up and looked out the window. "Hmmm, gonna be a nice clear day. I might want to water the berries later." Then I went and made some oatmeal (with blueberries from the store) and a cup of tea.

Back to bed to eat the oatmeal and read a story on my Kindle. Now the sun is really coming up and I'm feeling sleepy again. So I pull the covers over my head and take a nap.

Mallard duck watercolor on 9x9
paper, finished today.
Around 8 a.m. I decide to get up and get ready for my art class. I putter about and grab a jar of jam I made a few days ago to give to my teacher. She likes me already, so I'm not buttering her up or anything. I just appreciate her taking time to give us her knowledge.

Class goes until noon, so I head home again and read some mail, make a nice salad for lunch, but in the process I was reminded that I had four boxes of strawberries that needed to be hulled and frozen.

After a leisurely lunch watching the news (Twitter feed, Facebook and other postings) about the R2AK unpowered race to Alaska up the inland passage, I decide to cut the berries up, eating a few and then getting them into the freezer.

First crop of raspberries from my bushes... easy to grow here.
A trip outside to the freezer reminds me I have raspberries about to be picked and they also need some watering.

So I go and pick two pints of berries, then water them. Now it's 4 p.m. and time for tea. I answer some texts from my daughter about a visit and go for a walk.

Cleopurrtra looking up at the birds
that woke us up earlier today.
In a few hours it will be dark and I'll get my Kindle and another cup of tea, go and sit with a cat as a pillow and my day will be nearly over.

No stress, no loud voices, no demands... following my bliss.

This is what it means to be Retired For Good... and it is good.

* NOTE: Maksim and Cleopurrtra are rescue cats. When I first adopted Max, he was looking for the KGB around every corner, scared of everything. Today he is a relaxed, normal, still-a-bit-shy guy, but very different from the cat I brought home. And some of the credit goes to Cleo who was a 6-month old kitten and still loves to play. She forces Max to join her in her nightly entertainments from time to time and he's learned to love the window seat, too.

These two fur-iners in my life keep me on track so everybody wins.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Race to Alaska 2016 (Pre-race mostly)

Port Townsend's Pope Park statue was the center of the pre-
Race to Alaska Ruckus.
Last year I was intrigued by the Race to Alaska (2015) a race of non-motorized vessels without any additional support from Port Townsend, WA, to Ketchikan, AK. I read about it and became interested enough to follow it from beginning to end. The winning boat, Elsie Piddock, did the race in less than a week.

As a former ocean racer on AVIVA (my 45-ft. Hunter Legend sloop), I was able to extrapolate the conditions from reports by contestants, videos and photos, weather reports and the tracking devices on each boat.

So I decided to volunteer this year, to be a little closer to the action. I have no desire to be close enough that I can feel the very cold salt spray from the waters of Puget Sound in my face, so working as a volunteer in the Chandlery at Northwest Maritime for the pre-race Ruckus was a good choice.

And after finding a parking space (that takes a considerable bit of time in Port Townsend when there is an event these days) I still had time to walk around and look at all the various types of watercraft that people were going to use for this second race.

There was everything from a stand-up paddle board to an 8-person catamaran, which included skiffs, kayaks, scows, monohulls and a Boston Whaler Harpoon. There are all women crews, all men, mixes and two fellows who left their wheelchairs on the dock.
This screenshot of the tracking of the race shows Team Mad
Dog way ahead of the rest at 8 a.m. Winds were dying, but
not before they caught their lift and flew across the sound
with speeds of 18 knots at times. They won this part.
I had a chance to speak to some of the crew members of various boats and in their words felt the excitement I used to enjoy of imagining the start and the race ahead. I do miss it, for sure. But part of being safe is knowing when it is time to do something else on a regular basis, like walking or biking.
Competitors are prepping for the race the next day in this
Port Townsend marina. 65 boats (watercraft) entered the race.

Wednesday was a bit cool but mid afternoon the sun came out for awhile. 

Then by six p.m. when the Ruckus was in full swing, the promised front arrived with cooler air and by 7:30 p.m. it was showering everyone. I doubt anyone had to be shooed away from the event for staying too late.

Thursday was cloudy and there was enough wind to get everyone off at the start, except for five boats that for some reason or other did not get to the start within the proscribed 'golden hour.' 

You can visit for videos and replays and listings of all those signed up and those who were eliminated or withdrew.

The challenge that any race on the water faces is how to keep the spectators happy. And a race of 750 miles over water that is bordered by bears is even more difficult. But the tracker system provides a way to 'watch' a team's progress and thus stay involved to a degree. You can find the tracker here.
(For your information, once the race is completed, the tracker will no longer be operational.

Apparently the tracker developed some kind of glitch and stopped giving information mid-afternoon on Thursday, creating some anxiety for followers.

If a vessel has a large number on the bow, it is in the race.
Team Mad Dog Racing won that first stage with a Marstrom M32 catamaran sporting a red hull, a clear sail and three crew members. If you look in the photo (second in sequence) above, you can see the boat almost in the center. 

I have posted a bunch of photos (most have captions) for your enjoyment.

If you are interested in more about the race, please go to the links posted. And thanks for stopping by.

Vessels in the slips are generally contestants.

The general level of excitement on the docks was high, for
the participants and the followers.

The fellow in the wheelchair is a competitor on Team Alula,
one of three leg-challenged crew members on a 27-foot
Corsair trimaran. They are racing to Alaska.
Team Hodge came in 53rd in the Stage One race to Victoria.
When we were racing and didn't place, we would say "It
took X boats to beat us!" They finished and that's something!

Team Alula prepping for the race. They are #7, a good number.

Team Nordica finished in Victoria, too.

If I was going to buy another boat, I'd seriously look at the
Seascape 18. They were 24th across the Sound.

All by yourself...

Noddy's Noggins only planned to do Stage One and they did
it, coming in 45th. Impressive as it looks like something for
the Owl and the Pussycat.

It's the rowboat on deck that is competing... No. 60. They were only going to Victoria. Not much room for food, water.

The only stand-up paddle boarder did make
it to Victoria. Not my way to go there.

Excellent Adventure is a Montgomery 17.
They are going to Alaska.

Navocean had to withdraw after the start.

All kinds of boats entered the race; I think this is #11. If it is,
this boat did not finish the first stage. No shame in trying.

The 'Minions' of the R2AK... we think we are important (LOL)!

Friday, June 10, 2016

My 400th Post... end of the world or beginning?

On Highway 112 from Joyce to Clallam Bay, on a clear day
it is easy to see British Columbia across the Straits of Juan
de Fuca (entrance to Puget Sound).
How fitting that my 400th post is about the world's end because this is not an 'end of the world' story.
This is a story about getting to the farthest, westernmost portion of the United States which is actually called 'the beginning of the world' by the Makah tribe.
On the weekend of June 4, I drove with a friend up to Neah Bay, WA, to see the island that represents the final headland of the U.S. for mariners heading west, land that is still under the care of the original settlers, the Makah.
This view from Highway 112 looks westward toward Clallam
Bay and also Neah Bay, reserved lands of the Makah tribe.
With a history that easily goes back at least 3,000 years, this is a not-to-be-missed journey.
Beyond Pillar Point you can see Vancouver Island, B.C.
It's just that last summer I didn't get up here although I'd heard about it.
The drive to Neah Bay from Port Angeles will take about and hour and 45 minutes. Stopping for photographs or just to see the views will add to the time.
The most scenic route is to take Highway 112 and veer off before Joyce on a winding route with several scenic pull-offs. (At present this route is also under repair from several landslides last winter, so motorcyclists should be prepared for gravel in the road in several spots.
This information board at the vista describes the various whales to be seen.
We brought our own lunches but there are a couple of places in Neah Bay to get supplies and the required Reservation Pass. Although a pass is 'suggested,' the fine for not having one is significantly more than the $10 required.  
My friend, Rose, leads the way.
Cape Flattery and Tatoosh Island are six miles north of Neah Bay and it promised to be a great photography day since the summer heat had arrived with clear skies.
The cape was named by Capt. James Cook when he was here heading north to Alaska.
He didn't actually stop that day in 1778, it appears, because of the fog, but the claim is that he he was 'flattered' to think there might be a harbor and thus named it Cape Flattery.
That doesn't make sense to me with all my maritime explorations, but it doesn't matter because that is what it is called now. However, if that is the reason he called the 'harbor' he was expecting was truly named that, it is false flattery as it is certainly not a safe one as you will see from the photos.
A bicyclist, Brian from Camano Island, rode on the planks
to this viewpoint. He said he had been training for this ride
for some time. We saw him again later in the day near Forks.
Ten years after Cook's visit, Englishman John Mears found out about Tatoosh Island and named it after the local Makah chief.
This was my first view of the Pacific. Tattoosh Island is
further down the path and a little to the right.

The Makah have been fishing and whaling and managing to continue living on their tribal lands for centuries, although the reservation was established in 1855. Now a 27,000 acre site, there is evidence that an earthquake and landslide in the Ozette area created a tsunami that traveled to Japan (read this report) in about 10 hours on Jan. 26, 1700.
The ancient fishing village of Ozette had been operational for about 2,000 years before the landslide and the Makah's museum in Neah Bay is a world class presentation of the on-going archeological efforts to discover and preserve information and artifacts from that era.
The trail starts out with a broad path and quickly narrows down. Walking on planks and rounds of wood, single file for about a mile, the sound of birds and crashing surf are dominant. It is lush forest with layers and layers of needles which help to moderate all sounds, including that of tourists who were less reverential than we were.

And the vistas, when they are reached, are well worth the effort.
The brilliant Pacific Ocean crashes up on the rocks and cliffs while cormorants and gulls dive for food and sun themselves on craggy ledges.
There are spots where gutsy photographers have gotten really close to the 100-ft drop to get a better shot. I am exceedingly nervous near those locations... anxious for myself as well as for others. But the urge to have a clear shot without any tree limbs does drive one closer. 
It's just that taking 'selfies' too close to the edge could have an unexpected ending to a fun trip.
Tattoosh Island, the last bit of the United States, seems very
small for a lighthouse keeper and family, and a pretty rough
approach from any direction with strong tidal activity.
A closer shot of the lighthouse....
Closer still...
Where does one dare to make an approach to this craggy shore?
This location is on the National Register of Historic Places so if you are keeping track of all those visited, you'll probably want to have someone take your picture with the island in the background. The viewing platform is up a short ladder and has 360-degree views, safely behind a log railing.
The wind blows hard off the Pacific so even on the sunniest of days you may want to have a windbreaker or light jacket by the time you reach this end, or beginning, of the world.
There is some elevation downward to the walk (thus a slight climb up on the return) and it is not handicapped accessible so it is not a walk for anyone without stamina.
But I will do it again and try to arrive nearer sunset instead of high noon for a different angle for my photos.
Hobuck Resort and Beach is an exotic name for a nice place
that offers camping sites and bathrooms for a reasonable fee.
Our stop on the way back was at a lovely beach just before you return to Neah Bay.
We had our lunch there, walked on the sand, got some warm sun and got back to Port Angeles in time for the last contra dance of the season.
Someone said you can get rich at this beach... there are
gold dollars everywhere... there are... sand dollars!