Monday, June 30, 2008

Custom Stamps for All Occasions!: Birthday Party Celebrations

Custom Stamps for All Occasions!: Birthday Party Celebrations

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Day In The Life in The Puget Sound

Morning Mist on The Island print
With summer upon us (finally!) the San Juan Islands offer beautiful sights at every turn- albeit stunning wildlife or scenic vistas captured in the early morning, interlaced with misty fog coming in off the Haro Straits. Bailer Hill Road is one of two main travel routes connecting the south and north sides of San Juan Island.  A ride along the road from Friday Harbor in the early can often offer breathtaking views of the farms shrouded in fog highlighted by sun rays.

Traveling a bit further south on Cattle Point Road will take you to South Beach, just past American Camp- the history of which was covered in an earlier blog entry. South Beach is a pebbly stretch of (guessing here) about 2 miles or so- with public access to to driftwood strewn beaches leading towards Cattle Point Lighthouse.  Alive in the morning light, it is easy to find eagles and fox cavorting in the dewy grasses before the heat begins.

If you return along False Bay Road, you can find some enchanting views as well- young deer are often viewed here as well as great heron encounters at False Bay during low tide.  Be sure to check the  NOAA  Tide Tables before the venture- it is well worth the time.

MISTS OF FALSE BAY, San Juan Island print

Great Blue Heron Notecards card

If you find yourself traveling to the islands by boat, there is no lack in scenic locations in the San Juan Islands with fantastic seascape vantages. Yesterday, we visited Stuart Island to photograph the Turn Point Lighthouse. During the trip, we captured this juxtaposition- a beautiful sailboat with snow covered Mount Baker in the background. While the temps reached 85 degrees yesterday, it was a stunning sight to still see the snow caps just beyong the fluid waters.  Stuart Island's Turn Point Lighthouse is also pictured below.
Juxtaposition- Sailing San Juan Island Style card
TURN POINT LIGHTHOUSE on Stuart Island print

Photographs tend to take themselves here- your skill level need not be professional, rest assured.  I can certainly attest!!  Summer is here and the Islands are alive- and there are many more months of opportunity awaiting! 

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Orcas Visit For OrcaSing on San Juan Island

June is Orca Month

It is an extra-special month for the Southern Resident orca community, whose members who have lovingly followed the beloved icon of the Pacific Northwest and Puget Sound ever since man has shared these waters with them. Recent and significant declines in their population have led researchers, government agencies and concerned citizens to begin focusing on efforts to ensure the whales will be able to continue to thrive in their own habitat. Indicators show that between 1995 and 2001, the Southern Resident orca population declined by 20%, leading to their being listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in November of 2005.

June calls for increased focus on stewardship efforts to protect and preserve the Puget Sound for the Southern Residents.  Their habitat is a fragile one and the harm being done to them both directly and indirectly comes into focus- with many agencies sponsoring events to educate the public and highlight the current and future initiatives to save the whales. One of these events on San Juan Island is OrcaSing- an annual event cosponsored by People For Puget Sound, The American Cetacean Society, The Friends of the San Juans, The Whale Museum, The City Cantabile Choir, the Italico Brass Quntet, and The Whale Trail.

Last night, those gathered for the summer solstice presentation of OrcaSing, were not let down, as members of all three pods visited Lime Kiln State Park as if on cue for the ceremonies. We watched as the familiar fin of Ruffles, J-1, made a splash well off of Deadman's Bay, a cove just south of the light- as the chorus of the ceremony began. But then they turned...making the watchers wait out the pass for what seemed like forever. But when they did, while well was a pass replete with breaches, cavorting- with all three pods represented- can you say electric energy? And luckily for those participating in OrcaSing, they were directly in the whales' path. By 8:30pm, the pass was over and the crowds thinned as the last fins could be seen on the horizon of a beautiful sunset.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

J Pod On The West Side This Morning

Another beautiful day in the neighborhood! 
Early this morning, J pod returned to Friday Harbor, heading in towards the west side of San Juan Island- very spread out and lazily passing Hannah Heights. The orca whales have returned! We went to the lighthouse and sure enough, had a wonderful pass very close to shore. 

A pod of whales is actually an extended family containing maternal groups composed of mothers and their offspring. Some of these family units have as many as four generations traveling together. The resident killer whales in the San Juan Islands have three pods: J, K, and L. J Pod is presently composed of 25 individuals. One of the oldest matriarch orcas, Granny (J-2), is in J Pod. (courtesy of the Whale Museum)

Of interest, Faith, also referred to as L-57, has been traveling with J Pod for the past week or so. Faith was born in the late seventies and is a strapping 30 year old male. He is a stand out in the southern resident community and is easily recognized due to a slight tilt at the top of his dorsal fin. This morning, he was traveling with a few of the younger J pod males and Polaris, J-28, who is a female born in 1993.

There are plenty of keepsakes to commemorate your visit to the San Juan Islands available! Please click on an item below or visit Zazzle to see all the great photos of the southern residents!!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Waterfront Property: A New Definition!

So, you've been looking for a house on the water in the San juan Islands and have had no luck. You've searched and searched- to no avail. Well, Friday Harbor is no longer out of reach- and with this little place, you may just get more than you bargained for!!! A house on the water now has a new meaning!!!

Just not something you see every day, eh? The house is apparently being relocated and the west side of San Juan Island was treated to this strange visual at approximately 9:00am this morning.  Discovery Island can be seen in the background- the southern tip of Vancouver Island. The waterway is the Haro Straits- let us know if this is your new home! Have a great day!! Sandy

And as an aside, I was telling a friend about this incredible scene today and he mentioned that he had read the story earlier this week in the Seattle Times. Read on... it's a cool story!

Late breaking news today....I heard from a fellow named Will Parks, who was kind enough to send me an e-mail having read the story....

Per Will...

"Great blog! My wife grew up in that house and we are all happy to see it
live on in its new location. Here is a photo of the house before it was

And here you go!

New At Zazzle!!!

Dolphins Protect and Preserve Stamps stamp

Postcards From Friday Harbor postcard

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Lazy Days In The San Juan Islands

Sunday actually felt like the tides were turning as the temperature "soared" the high sixties in Friday Harbor, Washington. So we packed up the camera gear and headed off in search of photo opportunities- the sun was shining and the weather was gorgeous! First stop was the southern tip of the island, where I had word there was a juvenile elephant seal hauled out on one of the beaches. Arriving at the shoreline, I was greeted by a red tailed hawk- usually an elusive creature- but he was boasting a large green snake in his talon and I suspect was trying to keep me from scavenging his kill...

Heading down the beach, Bogey in tow, we finally happened upon the elephant seal- clearly taking advantage of the warm beaches and fragrant blooms.

Elephant seals take their name from the great size of their bodies and bull's large proboscis, which resembles an elephant's trunk. The proboscis is used in producing extraordinarily loud roaring noises, especially during the mating season, but it also allows the elephant seal to re-moisturize itself while hauled out. Adult males weigh in at about 4,500 pounds while female elephant seals are much smaller. The skin on top of their blubber molts periodically. It has to be re-grown by blood vessels reaching through the blubber. When molting occurs, as this photo depicts, the seal rests on land- and the skin on top of his blubber  has to be re-grown by blood vessels reaching through the blubber to create the new layers. For an elephant seal, this is called a catastrophic molt which occurs every year.

Elephant seals, like all true seals (phocids), lack external ear flaps and crawl on land with rhythmic belly flops. The Northern elephant seal is protected in Mexico and the USA.

We left the seal to spend the rest of the day watching several groups of fox pups on the south side of the island...

San Juan Island is a treasure in the Pacific Northwest...from the pebbled beaches to the grassy side roads, the Island teams with life at every turn. And we cannot forget about those whales...J pod made a beautiful pass close to the shores this morning around 6:00am...and life is good.

And there's more fun stuff at Zazzle- today featuring all things Science!

DNA is LIFE Shirt shirt

GEOLOGY ROCKS shirt shirt

Fun Science Shirt shirt

Have great day!

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

San Juan Island Lighthouses

San Juan Island is home to two of the most scenic lighthouses in the Puget Sound, namely the Lime Kiln Lighthouse and Cattle Point Lighthouse.

Situated on the rocky shoreline on the west side of the island's Westside Road, Lime Kiln Lighthouse is a VERY popular whale-watching location. Visitors spend can spend the day watching orcas, porpoises, seals lions and river otters playing just offshore of the rocky point. Peak tourist season is May through September, with June and July being the most likely months to see whales.The lighthouse, built between 1914 and 1919, remains a significant navigational beacon for ships in the Haro Strait. Interpretive programs are offered by the Whale Museum with scheduled tours available during the summer months. The light derives its name from lime kiln operations back in the 1860's.

Lime Kiln remains the last major lighthouse constructed in Washington State. The lighthouse boasts a 38-foot concrete tower and fog signal building and was the last electrified light (in the 1940's). Automated in 1962, Lime Kiln Lighthouse is accessible through Lime Kiln State Park on the west side of San Juan Island.

Lime Kiln Light House San Juan Island, WA Magnet magnet

Lime Kiln Lighthouse print

Cattle Point Lighthouse derives its name from the flocks of sheep and cattle that grazed in the area, owned by the Hudson Bay Company. The first light on Cattle Point, a simple brass lens lantern on a post, was established in 1888. Then, in 1912, the Navy added a navigational compass near the light on the south eastern side of the Island and the Cattle Point Lighthouse now became a significant tool for traveling in the dense fog which tends to accumulate at the point. Automated in the 50's, the lighthouse is located within the Cattle Point Interpretive Area, next to the San Juan National Historical Park off of Cattle Point Road.

Cattle Point Lighthouse Oil Rendering print

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Labs, Orcas and River Otters, Oh My!

I have to begin today expressing my deepest gratitude to a wonderful woman named Rachel Goodremont. The story goes something like this...

On March 13th I lost the absolute love of my adult life, a beautifully gentle-soulded yellow lab named Mulligan. It is an intense story of love and devotion that cannot be given justice on paper just yet, but let it suffice to say that she was a constant companion and a devoted friend who cannot ever be replaced. With her loss has come crying jags, inconsolable grief and months of true emptiness- there's a huge place in our home and our hearts that is still trying to devise a life without her sweet face at every turn. Each passing day brings additional acceptance of her loss- the crying jags have reduced in frequency and duration but I still miss her with every fiber of my soul.

Yesterday, as my husband was leaving for work, he offhandedly reminded me that we had scheduled a meeting with a local electrician to look at some ongoing lighting issues we've had. I nodded as he left, acknowledging I'd be here- and off he went to work. At 11:00, he arrived with Rachel, and both of them had devious little smiles on their faces. In they walk, both trying to act they unfolded two of the most beautiful portraits that I have ever seen. Tears burst from my eyes as I looked at the first portrait- Rachel had taken one of my most coveted photographs of Mulligan and created a masterpiece in pastels. The eyes are what enrapture me each time I look- she has captured the very soul and essence of Mulligan- moreso than the photograph from which she worked. And unveiling the second piece I found myself staring into the face of Mulligans' beloved sister, Bogey- who has been my fearsome companion, allowing me great comfort as we snuggle during moments of sadness. We know she has grieved too- and I can only hope I have given her some comfort during her sad moments too. I was floored...and here's the big "ta da...." See for yourself....

Chapper's Mulligatawny
aka "Mulligan"
September 1997- March 2008

Rachel and Mike pulled this off without a hitch and I will be forever grateful to both of them for these beautiful tributes to two of my best friends on Earth. Please take some time to visit Rachel's gallery below by clicking on the photo.

I know this blog is supposed to focus on whales, so here's an update! Can you say Superpod? All three pods, J, K and L's were seen together for the first time this season just Tuesday- I, of course, was on a conference call, as they passed- jumping around and trying to remain composed as I watched whale after whale pass by my window- so close to shore I could barely see them through the trees. Rumor has it K pod has welcomed a new calf - you can read accounts of the experience here!

And the otters- well, Jeanne and I watched them playing in the kelp beds off the lighthouse during one of our stints waiting for the whales to pass this week...a group of 4-5 passed us just before the whales!

That's "all for now!" Happy Thursday! Sandy
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Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sports in the San Juan Islands

An important component to life in the San Juan Islands is taking the time to appreciate all the beauty and camaraderie of friends and opportunities offered. The San Juan Islands are known for scenic coastal vistas and hospitality providing an array of travel and vacation opportunities for visitors, not the least of which are inspiring sporting options for many enthusiasts!

Today, the annual Marathon (which is USATF certified), begins and ends at Friday Harbor Country Fairgrounds and features a full and half marathon. Runners come from across the country to participate in what promises to be a great day! The marathon offers one very scenic out and back along the west side of San Juan Island, offering views of both Haro Strait and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Both the Full and the Half offers classic rolling hills and views of farmlands that make up the interior of the island. Being that the island is hilly, both courses are challenging, but very rewarding. If you missed out, check out their website for next year! 

That being said, there are many other options to take advantage of the great outdoors in Friday Harbor and the surrounding Islands. Sailing, kayaking, golf and diving are popular pastimes- keeping you close to wildlife and fantastic views during your stay! The local golf course in Friday Harbor is open to the public and is played twice to make up the 18 holes. Some water and strategically-placed bunkers are in play.Semi-Private, 9 holes, Par 36 

If diving is your fancy, Deep Sea Charters of Anacortes offers dive charter serving the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound. Washington state diving is known around the world as a top diving destination- always ranked in the top ten of world dive spots! Visibility can be great, currents can be minimal and you can expect to find spotsblanketed with life!

I've covered the fantastic kayaking in an earlier blog and you cannot miss with a sailing charter while you're here! Yesterday we spent all day watching J Pod cavort on the west side of the island- traveling up and down the banks very close to shore for the better part of the day.  Last heard they were headed North- so stay tuned...the summer has not even begun!