Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Whirlwind Week with Ian

This was the first of our grandkid weeks this summer. Ian arrived last Friday (July 12) and left today (July 20). We packed all of our usual activities in along with some specifically for Ian (and Johnny, since he likes bike riding, bottle rocket launching, and fireworks as much as any kid.)

Again this visit, Ian cooked all the meals we ate at home. I'd like him to stay for the whole summer! The night of his and Johnny's arrival by train (Johnny went up to Traumhof to collect him), we met in Willamina at the new Food is Medicine cafe for a Farm to Fork Supper Club meal of traditional Balkan and Romanian cuisine. Delicious.

Saturday we hiked The Thumb for my Black Oystercatcher survey, then went to Boiler Bay where the BLOY were more cooperative, and to a Thai restaurant for supper. Here is Boiler Bay from one of our viewpoints.

The little black birds are the BLOY: two adults and their two chicks (the smaller birds without red bills.)

Here Ian checks out the nest rock from another viewpoint.

 Seals and Pigeon Guillemots were easier to spot than black birds on black rocks.

On Sunday, the week-long bike riding and bottle-rocket launching began (along with Ian's delicous meals... chili first). Ian had only ridden a tandem before with his dad, but quickly learned to ride solo.

Johnny and Ian launched their bicycle-pump-compressed-air-rocket in the back yard the first day, but after losing two rockets (bottles) that came down in neighbor's bushes, apparently (and we have no close neighbors), they later moved their operation to a two acre field. Those bottle rockets go very high... and are easily blown around in a breeze.

 The llamas were fascinated. And not in the least afraid.

On Monday, we worked around the farm but I took no photos of that. Ian made taco salad with greens from our garden. Yummy.

On Tuesday we were back out at the coast for the first day that Hart's Cove trail opens in the summer. It's a long, steep way to my BLOY viewpoint, and we found only a pair with no chicks this year.

As usual, it was easier to see sea lions than little black birds.

The scramble trail to my viewpoint is rather primitive.

I think Ian found the hike more work than working on the farm.

My theory of hiking tough trails is you have to stop and take a lot of photos. So I did. Here Ian helps show the Crooked Stem berries.

 And if there is any doubt this is a coastal rain forest... check out the greenery on tree limbs.

 Johnny's method of enjoying a long, hard hike is to... well... scare people. Here he has Ian stationed at the end of a bridge with a camera. I should have known what Ian was there for...

 As I started across the bridge, a troll jumped out!

Nothing like a little adrenalin, Johnny says, to make people happy. Ian took this photo after I recovered.

 On we pressed, with me taking my time, taking pictures...

Sometimes, Ian and I just looked at the beauty around us. (And caught our breath.)

Johnny took this photo of me hugging one of the giant old growth Sitka Spruce trees. I love trees.

 Ah, the resting log before the seven switchbacks that will take us up to our car. Way up.

 Seven switchbacks later, the downfalls that signal we are almost there...

End of the trail at last.

This sign always cracks me up. Trust me, the first 1/2 mile is more than "rather" steep.

Wednesday we stayed home to water the garden and weed and recuperate. Nothing like relaxing by Agency Creek on a hot day to rest a person...

...although Ian spent most of  the time skipping rocks, building a dam, and sailing stick boats.

On Thursday, after a morning of weeding and working, it was back to The Thumb at Road's End to see if we could find any sign of chicks at the nest rocks. No luck but we did find one pair still incubating eggs. Johnny and Ian hiked back down to the beach and played in the sand while I kept up the search atop The Thumb. On the way down, I took a path that goes directly to the beach that I've never taken before... and won't again. It was slide-on-my-butt most of the way. The view partway down was nice, but those dots on the water's edge are people... and the cliff is pretty much vertical to reach the beach.

Meanwhile, Johnny took this photo of Ian enjoying the sand.

On Friday, while Johnny went to Devonwood to rendezvous with Kevin and check out farm utility vehicles nearby, while Jessica helped trainer Nicki at the horse show, Ian and I worked on the farm. Again, I took no photos. That night, Ian made spaghetti. And we had a fireworks show, courtesy of Ian. He left some for his cousins to enjoy when they arrive in August.

Saturday morning Ian made his "special eggs" which really are specially delicious. I've lost track of time but I know he made pesto chicken one night... also very good. And we made chocolate mint ice cream. And played board games every night he could convince us to keep our eyes open long enough.

Lots more bike riding and rocket launching marked his last day on the farm for this summer.

 A couple rocket launching videos are here:  and here (Ian took this video... he's better at following the action than I...):

We'll miss him!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Cape Meares Beach Trail

July 1st found us surveying BLOY northward and hiking a trail we had not hiked before: the trail to the beach from the Cape Meares trailhead. That trail actually splits soon after the parking area, one going southwestward to the lighthouse and the other going northwestward to the beach that the little town of Cape Meares sits by. There was high fog this day so we could not see the mountains over Tillamook from the trail. But we did see the town of Cape Meares and Tillamook Bay beyond.

 Both trails wind through an old growth Sitka Spruce forest. On the beach trail, many of those huge old trees are on the ground, becoming nurse logs for a new generation of shrubs and trees.

 Some are still standing and plenty big. This one is about five feet across.

 Since my goal was to see if there were any offshore rocks that might hold Black Oystercatchers and not be visible from the viewing platform at Cape Meares, we opted for the trail less traveled when one path headed north toward the sandy beach and the other south toward, I hoped, a view of offshore rocks. I was wrong on all accounts. The trail landed at the very end of the beach, a beach coated with driftwood. One rock was visible way off in the distance. Zoomed up close, it looked promising. However, when we returned to our car and drove to the Cape Meares viewing platform, there was my "new" rock, the same one we have seen on every visit, just from a different angle.

The cliff, though, that the beach ended in, looked fascinating: full of water caves

Getting down to the driftwood stacked beach was on a slippery dirt slide. Ropes had been attached top and bottom to help in the ascent and descent. Johnny watched me from the top.

 One beachwood sea creature leaped into Johnny's backpack after piggybacking a  ride with me up from the beach. What could we do but bring him home?

Other than the rope descent portion, this was one of the most civilized trails we have been on... wide and well maintained.

 The climb back up to the trail head is a little tiring, but nothing like the Hart's Cove trail. We then drove to the viewpoint and saw our rock off in the distance. And zoomed up. Yep, same rock.

Ah well, it's always fun to hike a new trail, no matter what's at the end of it. From the viewing platform, we could see the south toe pair of BLOY with just one of their two chicks. We later learned a Peregrine had taken a chick the previous Saturday. Such is life in the wild.

On the way home, we found our recently discovered BLOY pair tending their nest at Cape Lookout. On the way up, we had found our recently discovered BLOY pair at Short Beach on duty at their nest.

Back at the farm in the evening, we drove into the driveway to find baby California Quail for the first time this year. Two coveys  led us home, one with seven chicks (pictured) and another with fourteen.

It was a good way to start July... and a pleasantly cool way compared to the 90 degrees at home while we were gone.