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Showing posts from 2017

Where There's Smoke...

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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…

Promising Rhododendrons

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The arrival of spring means it's time to start planning for rhododendron season.  Again this year, I will be photographing the native Pacific Rhododendrons in Deception Pass State Park.  Also known as the Coast Rhododendron, and California Rhododendron (R. macrophyllum), this is the official Washington State Flower.  Yesterday, I went over to hike the "Rhododendron Trail" to see how things look.  I saw several buds swelling, even on this small bush right next to the trail.


The trails are also looking good, although some spots are a bit muddy right now.  What I have dubbed the "Rhododendron Trail" is actually a network of Deception Pass trails.  There are two large groves, one at Goose Rock and a second in the Hoypus Forest.  I visited the Goose Rock grove yesterday.  I plan to check out the Hoypus grove next week.


This year, I will be adding the Park Office Trail and the Bob Matchett bog bridge wetlands to the Goose Rock hikes.  This will introduce a very dif…

Skywatch Friday: Whidbey Island Wildlife

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In early March, I was at West Beach in Deception Pass State Park.  It was a cold, windy, overcast day with occasional, brief sun breaks.  I had the camera set up for wildlife, a 7D II with the 100-400L II lens mounted.   Chances are good for spotting a Bald Eagle or two in the trees here.  Black Oystercatchers also hang out here this time of year.

That morning, there were no eagles, but a lot of naval aircraft were in the air.  Naval Air Station Whidbey Island is just south of the park.  On the spur of the moment, I turned the camera up and took a few shots as some passed overhead.  I was surprised these turned out to be fairly decent.  They usually don't; moving objects, bright sky, no time for settings, all the things that conspire against me were in play.

This is a Lockheed P-3C Orion Long Range Anti-submarine Warfare Aircraft.  Its mission is maritime patrol and surveillance.  That "stinger" on the tail contains instruments for detecting submarines under water.

I e…

New Look for the Old Blog

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The old blog has a new look, thanks to some up-to-date templates just made available by Blogger.  Admittedly, the old theme I was using had gotten pretty stale.  A freshening up was overdue.

Blogger's new themes are designed to work on any platform, PC, tablet or phone.  So far, the only failure I found in this regard was my antique iPod Touch.  Under iOS 5.5 (we're at 10.2 now), that was probably asking too much.  I don't use it anymore anyway.  It works great on the iPad Mini.

I still have some work to do.  Some of the formatting didn't come across correctly, so I will be cleaning up and redesigning some of the pages.  Block quotes are handled very differently now.  I also removed some pages that had become stale, and probably were not serving any useful purpose.

After some trial and error, I determined that a 3:1 aspect ratio worked best for the background image.  I chose one to reflect the season with a plan to update them through the year.  They will represent we…

Winter Hike

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Winter here, in the classic sense, begins in December and runs through early to mid January.  This is when temperatures at or below freezing occur.  Since Christmas, we have been experiencing temperatures well below freezing accompanied by sunny, blue skies. That's about to come to an end now with rain forecast for this weekend.  I decided I better get one more hike in before this happens.

Early yesterday morning I headed for Bowman Bay in Deception Pass State Park to hike the Bowman-Rosario Trail.  This is always a good choice for beautiful scenery. interesting nature and frequent wildlife encounters.  It also provides a little terrain for a bit of exercise.  It begins at sea level, rises to skirt the cliff edge over Bowman Bay, then returns to sea level at Rosario Bay.

I love hiking in the winter.  I am not really a hot weather person.  Dressing for cold weather is easy, but undressing for hot weather can only be taken so far.  For me, cold weather hiking is invigorating, while…

First Day Hike 2017:  The Pacific Northwest Trail

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The theme for this year's First Day Hike at Deception Pass State Park was the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail.  This is a 1,200 mile/1,931 km trail system that connects the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park, Montana to Cape Alava on Washington's Pacific coast.  We completed a portion of that trail on yesterday's hike.

First Day hikers gathered in the dining hall at the Cornet Bay Retreat Center.  Here, we fueled up with hot drinks and pastries provided by the Deception Pass Park Foundation.  Hikers ranged in age from toddlers to seniors with everything in between.


The first leg of the hike took as to the Deception Pass Bridge via the Goose Rock Perimeter Trail, about 1.5 miles/2.4 km.  The trail went from sea level to high on the cliff overlooking Cornet Bay.  It descended back to sea level skirting along Deception Pass.  It ends at the bridge where we took a rest stop.  We had just completed a piece of the Pacific Northwest Trail (in section 08-05 on th…