Sunday, September 04, 2011

Vacation Trip - It's The Water

The Puget Sound area, I was reminded, is all about the water. Even visiting the cities, large and small, you cannot get far away from the influence of the Sound, variously described as a fjord system of flooded glacial valleys and a system of many salt water estuaries. Frankly, I'm not as keen on ocean views as I am on a lake nestled in mountains, so have always enjoyed the views around the Sound (above picture taken from train between Edmonds & Everett). In fact, I was thinking how much it looked like my views here at home on the lake, and so I was constantly surprised when beaches appeared and disappeared. Oh yeah, the Sound is essentially a huge bay along the Pacific ocean coast and so is influenced by tides. Any rise or fall of my lake level is primarily the result of spring runoff and the opening or shutting of a dam's floodgates.

Because the Sound is so extensive, Washington State has developed a unique ferry system linking both sides of the sound and the larger islands to the mainland. This cuts down commute time and is a much more pleasant way to spend an hour or so than stuck in traffic on the interstate. Smaller ferries make shorter runs to some of the smaller islands. This is one of the state-run ferries on its way to Seattle (as seen from our roof-top French restaurant).

Boats are just a fact of life out here. Don't know what the story is on this one, but it glided by as we waited for the big ferry that would take us to Seattle. (Correction: Sherrie informs me this is a foot ferry. I suspected as much but didn't want to guess.)

And of course, where there's big water, there will be birds gathering on pilings.

My friend, Donna, who I had not seen for over 10 years, now has a boat and goes out crabbing with her husband and son. I'd not been out on this portion of the Sound, let alone gone crabbing, so it was a real treat to spend an afternoon out on the water with them. In the distance you can see the Tacoma Narrows bridge which spans the strait between Tacoma and the Kitsap Peninsula.

This crabbing thing was all new to me (except enjoying the tasty catch). Here Donna is holding a salmon head that will be bait along with other salmon parts stuffed in that small cage in her other hand. This is strapped into the larger cage that will be going overboard.

Soundings are taken and at the proper depth, out goes the cage tied to a 60 - 80 ft long rope with buoy attached. How do you know which buoy is yours?, I asked. Besides laws about marking buoys, Donna made distinctive flags also marked.

We set out 3 traps, then floated along while having lunch. About thirty minutes later, we retrieved the traps (no mean feat, I discovered, due to the tidal currents). Not a great day, but we did catch a few dungeness and rock crabs. This was one angry crab, and according to that blue gauge Donna is holding across its back, it's big enough to keep.

Our route took us from the Narrows down toward the Nisqually Delta, past Fox Island, home to Joen Wolfrom of Landscape & Illusions, and the Visual Dance quilting fame, then back up to Willochet Bay. It was very hazy that day, so Donna was a little disappointed as she pointed out the mountains she thought might give me some inspiration. Hazy or not, I could see Joen's influence before my eyes. Later, I spotted orcas breaching. Not willing to trust my eyes, I innocently asked Donna if that was right. Apparently, orca sitings are as exciting to the natives as to us tourists, as she started shouting, Where, WHERE? and got her husband to turn the boat around. We saw a pair and a trio, but couldn't get close enough to get pictures. Still, a beautiful sight. And we also saw the occasional sea lion popping up a curious head. And as we turned into Willochet Bay, suddenly Mount Rainier was looming over us.

Can't thank my friend enough for taking me out on the water on such a beautiful day.

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