WE LIVED ON AN ISLAND.
For 4 beautiful days we met more creatures than humans! A few new acquaintances, thru a 200mm lens :)
An Orca family:
Bear & wolves on the coast eat A LOT of SHELLFISH! The limpets are huge, and creatures with claws can rip them off the rocks and ... escargot! Crabs also! crunch crunch crunch
Grizzly bear with cub. (blurry!)
We also had visits from a sea lion, harbor seals, and a humpback whale :)
We camped on West Craycroft Island, between Vancouver Island & mainland Canada. About 4 hours of driving, 2 hours of ferry, and 3 hours of water taxi from Sammamish, WA.
Our tour of choice was the "Johnstone Strait Ultimate" on July 17-20, 2018 through Spirit of the West: highly eco-conscious, amazing cooks, easily sharing knowledge, and most importantly, fun people :) Our wildlife hopes were quickly checked off our lists - it started with an Orca family we met during our water taxi ride, with Wayne Wright, who also runs grizzly tours. And yep! He found grizzlies and black bears for us! Wayne also cut the engine for Orcas & for dolphins: #kayakrealmofwhales
Our home for the next days:
The next morning was Zoe's 12th birthday :) What do you know? Orcas met us in our kayaks to celebrate!
The male whale above is known as A50 or "Fife". We learned that the family groups are headed by a Mama :) The sons and daughters stay with the Mama all their lives. If a Mama dies, the grown sons don't often live long. The Mum heads the group long after she is able to have calves - she can continue to train her family in cultural practices (language, hunting skills, recreation) and lead her family over her lifetime of 80-100+ years old, much like elephants & people :) Daughters mate with males of other family groups, when they all get together as a huge pod at the end of summer. But then they say goodbye and stay with Mama & siblings. The females are pregnant for 18 months. The Orcas shown here are "Northern Resident" whales. They WILL NOT mate with our Southern Resident whales that we find in the Puget Sound - the reasons appear to be cultural, not physical. The two groups do not share a common language, or habits. The population of the Northern Residents has been slowly increasing. The Southern Residents are not doing as well. The Seattle news this week had sad news and explanations: Read the Seattle Times article here.
Guide, Kevin, brought up sea urchins & starfish for us to learn about & touch, and he showed Cody & Jacob how to make bull kelp into a musical HORN! A good one!
We love that responsibility is absolutely expected from everyone. The kids learned that together they could carry pretty heavy kayaks!
That evening, our guides gave Zoe a surprise party, complete with balloons, strings of lights, a card, a birthday cake & a gift: bubbles!
In the evening, kiddos requested "scary stories" around the fire.... Tom & guide, Ben, told doozies :) Tom has big time storyteller skills! He told of a cat who disappeared and then was found locked in the basement of the creepy house next door. Ben told of a dog who had bitten him before, and made half of us jump with his punch line!
Kids were also "hitting dingers" over the edge.
And Corina, Melissa & Ben & I had ideas for the "photo contest":
We hiked to visit researchers tracking Orcas, dolphins & porpoises - at their lookout called "Eagle Eye". Across the strait there are cameras set up to watch Orcas rub their bellies on smooth round pebbles, and keep track of their behavior.
Our buddies with guides Ben & Nicole - thank you to Kevin for manning the camera!
We had a tailwind on the way "home" and kids who had not tried "single" kayaks yet gave it a go.
Of course, it turned into a race ;)
Nobody really wanted to say goodbye to camp the next day. Nicole took Tony, Joy & I for a sunrise paddle:
The Humpback tent, and beyond is the tent we call the Snoring Forest:
Tony moderating the kids in a game of "Family Feud" boys vs girls:
Views around camp as we say goodbye:
- notice our wood-fired hot tub! -
Load the boat!
So... the water taxi back to Quadra Island... was CRAZY! For 2-1/2 hours... racous waves... boom boom boom....
And back on Quadra! For a couple nights before drive & ferry home. What do the kids do? The same thing they've been doing!
This trip was lovely. God's creation, human & other. Spectac. I'm grateful! Thank you, Lord.