Friday was my birthday, which included a long chat on the phone with one of my brothers and the arrival on my doorstep of this.
Aren't they beautiful? And the card said "Enjoy your special day. You deserve it." And so I did.
A cold front had moved through the previous day dropping our temps into the high 70's and clearing out the most recent influx of smoke. I double checked the air quality ratings, then made my reservation for this Sunset Dessert & Eagle Watching Cruise by Lake Pend Oreille Cruises. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect evening for being on the lake.
Here's our boat, The Shawnodese, docked at City Beach. I've been on it before for a different cruise starting on another part of the lake and later in the year, and have always wanted to try one of the other cruises. Birthday bucks in hand, I made it happen.
While we waited to board, we watched a boat and a jet ski being taken out of the water next to us, and people enjoying the beach just beyond, in spite of the fact that it had gotten a bit overcast and cool.
There were less than 20 of us taking this cruise, a collection of long-time residents of the area, newly relocated, and a few bonafide tourists. This is a popular thing to treat your visitors to and at least one group was that. Any excuse to get out on the lake if you don't own a boat of your own. You might be able to spot the railroad bridge that crosses the lake next to what we call "the long bridge" for vehicles, the dark line in the center of the photo.
We settle in and are soon pulling away towards the other side of the lake, taking in the view of this end of city beach.
And turning our gaze more or less eastward down the lake. Lake Pend Oreille is huge and deep, and we will be cruising in the northern part of it before it angles to the south.
We are scouting along this side of the lake for eagles that have been nesting in the same place for years. Along the way, we get views of some of the pricey homes clinging to the steep terrain. We also notice how dry much of the vegetation is. We've had only one brief bit of rain since the end of June and the forests are tinder dry.
Success! The first area where eagles are known to roost produces and we get a fairly good view of an eagle perched and no doubt watching us. I took my good camera with a fairly good zoom but didn't expect to be able to capture a good picture. To be honest, with the pitching of the boat and the distance to the eagle, I am amazed this shot is this good. Not much detail of the eagle itself so you'll have to trust me that the white blog in the middle really is one.
There was one passenger who brought a camera with a super long zoom lens - maybe 24 inches long, and he did get some incredible close-ups. I did wonder how he managed as he wasn't using any kind of tripod. He must have managed to brace himself against something, and no doubt had much experience shooting with this lens. Yes, a bit of envy at his results. I got more of the body of the bird in this shot but still pretty pathetic next to his. Not to worry, plenty to view besides eagles.
Yes, this really is where I live, and even after eleven years I find the need to pinch myself at times to be sure I'm not dreaming.
Among the different styles of homes along the lake is this oddity. Apparently a master stone mason has been building this replica castle himself. Here's a little bit about it: http://www.locationshub.com/castle-von-frandsen. And even more info plus close-up pics of interior and exterior, plus the selling price. Yes, it's for sale! http://x.lnimg.com/attachments/84892F2C-4D57-494C-BB6E-B4B969570D06.pdf
We mere mortals can only dream and gaze across the lake through the haze at the interesting knobs of a variety of peaks to the north. Oh, and enjoy our desserts. I opted for a root beer float, something I remember vividly from my childhood summers.
This is one of many tiny islands on the lake and there's an eagle's nest there too. But as we circled the island, it was too much in shadow and too far away for us to capture. The resident eagle did fly in and roost on a snag but it was not a good opportunity for a photo op. Sometimes you just need to forget about capturing for later and enjoy the view.
Another even smaller island next to it. By now the overcast of earlier was clearing out and the lowering sun lighting things up.
By the time the sun was in "sunset" mode, there were no clouds near it to provide that promised sunset.
And the clouds elsewhere in the sky, while interesting, were not colorful.
And then it happened, looking east not west, we got our sunset colors.
Other boats on the lake were heading back to port as the evening turned dusky.
And so did we. What a pleasant couple of hours.
Good night moon. It's been a lovely day.