Archive for July, 2012

Summer visitors

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

[IMAGE] Alex at the lens

…click to listen:

…about the music

An excerpt from a restful new release.

Despite all the beautiful beautiful beautiful things I see when I’m in the air,

[IMAGE] Mt. Rainier
Zipping past Mount Rainier… oooh…

[IMAGE] On approach to SJI
Approaching the narrow South Beach area of San Juan Island, with other isles in the background… aahhhh…

I’m celebrating being in the midst of a three month stretch during which my feet are not leaving the ground.

I sail and hike and kayak and scramble and drive around this beautiful beautiful beautiful place. When human visitors come to my doorstep, I take them along for the adventures.

And every day, when non-human visitors come to my doorstep, they take me on their adventures.

[IMAGE] Wind
Escher-esque: editing a twilight photo I had just shot of the eagle on the rock in front of me, while the eagle is on the rock in front of me.

[IMAGE] orca pod
A pod of orcas glides by my toes.

[IMAGE] orca breach
YIPPEE!!. Or something like that.

It’s hilariously distracting when I’m on a business call and these guys are hurling themselves out of the water in front of me (I will never get over my great fortune to work at a desk with this view, instead of, like, an airshaft). Sometimes I giddily describe the scene to whoever’s on the phone. And other times (during more, uh, professional calls), the person on the other end has no idea that as I’m oh-so-professionally discussing whatever professional bit of professional stuff we’re talking about, I’m silently going !!OHMYGAWD!! and clicking away on my camera. Sometimes.

[IMAGE] hummers
Also airborne are these folks. Except in the brief moments their teeny tiny feet curl around the feeder.

And then there are the land-based guests.

[IMAGE] fox
This fox comes around regularly, and has mastered the art of the marvelously pathetic, pleading stare. The aliens do their best to ignore him.

[IMAGE] fox
I can’t quite tell what he thinks about my music.

[IMAGE] fox
Until he comes to the door and reports to me in no uncertain terms exactly which notes I need to change.

So, that’s this week’s chamber of commerce visitor tourism overview. Stay tuned for more Island Adventures with Al!

[IMAGE] grader
Yes, I AM behind the wheel of a road grader. Don’t even ask… is that the theme to Green Acres I hear?

Whales and sails

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

[IMAGE] whales and sails

…click to listen:

…about the music

Through the archipelago.

These simple photos from a little July 4 jaunt from San Juan to neighboring Lopez Island, tell the whole story.

It was very calm.

Awoke at home to a pod of orcas just past the deck.
Headed down to the dock.
Loaded the sailboat (quite similar to the one in the above photo) with getaway supplies:
dinghy (in case a getaway was needed),
freshly grown salad greens,
wild salmon for the boat grill,
red wine,
and Swiss chocolates that came from a real live Swiss friend who visited last week.
Oh, and good coffee for the morning, too.

[IMAGE] Olympics across the Salish
Looking west to the Olympics, while sailing south.

It was very calm.

We glided across the water, sometimes at 4 knots
and more often at less than 1.
More time to talk to the passing seals or birds.
I’ve always been a stop and smell the kelp kind of sailor.
And, apparently, a protégé of Dr. Doolittle.

[IMAGE] dinghy
The dinghy followed like a cute puppy.

It was very calm.

And as twilight arrived,
it was

[IMAGE] view from port
Anchored with plenty of room at Fisherman’s Bay, as seen from a galley port.

Until it wasn’t.
When all that calm
was interrupted with colorful
reflected brilliantly in the water.

[IMAGE] fireworks

And the next morning?
It was even calmer.

[IMAGE] Orcas and Shaw
Looking east toward Shaw and Orcas islands.

So calm, in fact, that we had to do what sailors
to do.
We turned on the engine.

We must have known there was a party waiting for us back at the house, and didn’t want to be late:

[IMAGE] orcas

The scene was exactly as it had been left, with the ironic commentary of a little sailboat
by a little powerboat.

[IMAGE] orcas

But only when it comes to photos. I am grateful for the whales, the sails,
and the very,
calm quiet of this island summer.

Si, see the seaplane

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

[IMAGE] seaplane

…click to listen:

…about the music

Music for easy ascension.

Earlier on this hazy day, a small private seaplane flew quite low over the roof of my house. In the summertime, while not legal, this isn’t entirely unusual, and I didn’t think anything of it.
Until it landed right in front of me, about 100 yards from the shore.

This hasn’t happened since I’ve lived in this spot. Sure, there are tons of float planes here, but in this corner of the island, they remain floating– in the air. A pod of orcas had passed by not much earlier. Was this a newfangled whale-watching tour?

[IMAGE] seaplane
From my desk as it came from the sky…

It was a controlled landing, so if it was an emergency, at least it was a slow-motion one.
I palmed my binoculars.

Maybe it was a student getting flying lessons. Lesson #1: do not land on a whale. Lesson #2: do not fly into a bald eagle. Lesson #3: do not crash into someone’s bathroom (in all cases it will be quite a mess and not work out well for any involved).

The pilot shut down the propeller. The starboard hatch opened and human legs dangled. The person, at best guess a female, was dressed in all-black that looked like either a neoprene wetsuit, or a typical New York City art world fashion statement.
Finally, someone bringing a little style to the ‘hood.

[IMAGE] seaplane

She got out, stood, looked at the struts and under the body.
What, did she drop her keys?
Then she knelt on one of the floats.
Maybe it was a SCUBA diving tour?

After calmly checking around, she (I think) climbed back in the plane to join what seemed to be more than one person inside. The little Lego flying object floated on the water a while, bobbing like an adorable bathtub toy.
And then, it headed straight toward me.
At slow speed, thankfully.

[IMAGE] seaplane

I stood barefoot on the deck, thinking:

1. They are in distress of some sort, their communications are down, and they’ll call out to me to get them a tow.

2. It’s a woman pilot who is not afraid to ask someone for directions and hey, I happen to be handy since there’s absolutely nothing between me and Port Townsend.

3. They are baking a cake on board and need to borrow a cup of sugar.

The other thought that went through my mind was the one that occurs to many an artist who works at home, when an unexpected visitor comes to the door:

“It’s 1 p.m. and I’m in my bathrobe. Crap, what are these people going to think??”

The plane came so close to the house that I could easily have accommodated any and all of the above requests. In the comfort of my bathrobe, no less.

But none were made: just before touching the strands of bull kelp, it turned and continued a couple of hundred yards south.

[IMAGE] seaplane

Right into the cove. A dead-end if ever there was one.

[IMAGE] seaplane

Unless, of course, this is one of those amazing amphibious vehicles that can crawl up onto the beach, get into four wheel drive, and tromp around the island. When I lived in Santa Barbara, I remember seeing a similar tourist bus called the Land Shark.
Maybe they’re paying a surprise visit to one of my neighbors?

Then the little Tonka Toy spun around to face the open sea, its engine revved, and like an awkward bird, it made use of a good amount of watery runway before lifting into the air.

[IMAGE] seaplane
I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

Well, sort of lifting into the air: two seconds later it ducked down and the starboard float hit the water. I was momentarily worried. Then happily, The Little Seaplane That Could, did.

Bye bye cute toy!
Safe travels, wherever they take you. And may you remain aloft, until you choose to be afloat.

[IMAGE] seaplane