How I Spent the Solar Eclipse of 2017

Here in northwest Washington State, Monday's solar eclipse would reach 91% of totality at 10:21 a.m.  For the event, I picked a spot at Hoypus Point in Deception Pass State Park to experience the eclipse, and take some pictures.  Looking west, this is a photo of the Deception Pass bridge taken at the moment of totality.  I expected it to be darker, but the light had decidedly taken on "golden hour" tones.

At the same time, these are the light patterns that appeared on the road behind me.  The dappled sunlight passing through the trees was now projecting images of the eclipse on the pavement of Cornet Bay Road.  This effect is called camera obscura or pinhole image.  In this case, the leaves of trees were only allowing pinhole beams of light to pass through the canopy.  I wasn't expecting this at all.  For me, it made the event all the more special, as surprises often do.

I arrived at the State Park early to find Deception Pass completely fogged in.  I wondered if th…

Getting Ready:  Eclipse 2017

As everyone knows by now, the Pacific Northwest will be experiencing a solar eclipse this coming Monday, August 21, 2017.  The path of totality will pass through Oregon, but here in Anacortes, Washington, at 10:21 a.m., we will experience 91% of totality.  The website has a nifty page for determining times and extent of totality for any location.  Just plug your city or zip code into the search box.

A 91% solar eclipse will still be amazing and I want to be out in it.  I realized experiencing it is more important to me than looking at it.  I want to see the light changing.  I want to feel the air temperature and hear the sounds.  I have been thinking about where I would like to be.  I have selected Hoypus Point in Deception Pass State Park.  Cornet Bay Road provides views of Deception Pass and the east face of the bridge.  While the bridge should be lighted by the sun, the sun itself will not be visible behind the trees of the Hoypus forest.  They will provide my eye…

Where There's Smoke...

Yesterday morning, I went hiking on Kiket Island in the Kukutali Preserve.  There's an overlook on the North Trail that provides a good view of Deception Pass.  It has become a habit to stop there and take a couple of shots of the bridge.  The haziness of yesterday's image was the result of wildfires burning in British Columbia and the Washington Cascades.  The haze also confused the camera's auto-focus.

Yesterday morning, the problem was just getting started.  Today, the National Weather Service Seattle Office tweeted an image that dramatically illustrates the situation.  Weather conditions are producing an offshore flow.  Air masses are pushing the smoke from the north and east into the Puget Sound Basin and Strait of Juan de Fuca.  This is also delivering hotter than normal temperatures for a double whammy of both heat and smoke.  The air in Anacortes, Washington is tinged with the reeking stench of wood smoke, irritating to eyes, nose and throat.  The sky is partially…

Back in Business!

I have been in the new house a little over three weeks.  I am now living inside the town of Anacortes, Washington.  This past weekend, I got the weather station installed after a month offline.  I got it up just in time for an expected heat wave coming this week.  Up north here we are looking at temperatures in the upper 80's F, around 31° C.  Seattle is expecting 99° F, 37° C, while the Portland/Vancouver area is looking at 105° F, 40 C.  These are temperatures that belong in Arizona, not the Pacific Northwest.

The station setup is not ideal, but few of us actually have that luxury.  At the previous house on South Fidalgo Island, I had separated the anemometer mast from the other sensors, putting it more out in the open.  Even though everything is together in one place now, I elected to keep the two separate power supplies and transmissions.  This seemed prudent to preserve battery power.  During the day, the batteries are charged by solar panels, but overnight, the batteries pr…

South Fidalgo Station Signing Off

After 11 years of operation, the South Fidalgo Island weather station has signed off.  In about a week, I will be moving to a new home in the city of Anacortes, Washington.  Watch for the inauguration of Creekside Station, Anacortes in the coming weeks.

Retirement should be a time of leisure.  When I began anticipating it, making this move was part of the planning.  The new home is located in a quiet neighborhood with a park-like setting.  It is smaller and will be much easier to take care of.  I will still have my own patch of woods affording an edge habitat right outside my windows.  Discovering what Anacortes urban nature has to offer will be a new adventure.  I will also have more time time for hiking and exploring the wilds of Fidalgo Island and surrounding areas.

If you have bookmarked the weather page, you will find it temporarily coming up, "the page does not exist."  Don't make any changes.  As soon as the station hardware is installed at the new house and test…

Endings and Beginnings

You may have noticed I haven't been around here for a while.  I bought a house in Anacortes.  For those unfamiliar with the geography, I currently live on the south shore of Fidalgo Island, on Skagit Bay.  Anacortes occupies the northern end of the island.  It's about five miles away as the crow flies.

With retirement approaching, I have had this move in the back of my mind for a while.  Occupying three floors, my current house is large, much larger than I need.  The yard is very large.  I have enjoyed the 30 years I've lived here, but the advantages of a smaller place have become obvious.  Primarily, the new house will be easier to take care of and easier to clean.  There will be more time for hiking, picture taking, and just watching the goings-on in the garden.

I will be moving in the next couple of weeks.  Most of my clothes, pots, pans, dishes, patio furniture, tools, and these frogs are already there.  I spent this morning over there putting new computer furniture …

Rhododendron yakushimanum

Rhododendron yakushimanum is a species uniquely native to the island of Yakushima in Japan.  It is one of my favorite rhododendrons and they are starting to bloom now.  They have been hybridized to produce several varieties.  Altogether, I have nine of them.  Many have a flower that begins a deep magenta pink, gradually becoming white as it opens.

Japanese Andromeda (Pieris japonica), another popular garden shrub in the Pacific Northwest, is also native to Yakushima Island.

Nicknamed "Yaks," they have a number of desirable characteristics.  They tend to be a smaller scale shrub.  I have some approaching 20 years in the garden that are still under a meter tall.  They are reliable and profuse bloomers, not fussy about weather or soil conditions.  The only care they need is removal of the spent flowers.  In my yard, they seem to be resistant to root weevil damage.  This makes them good candidates for a pesticide-free garden.  Once established, they are surprisingly drought tol…