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Lower river drift

Once I had done my long river trip, I had a hankering to do some more, partly to compare the experience with the plastic boat with an experience with the inflatable.  To have the best comparison, I set out to do the first part of the long trip again, down to the little dock, where I planned to pull out.  Only I got smarter about checking for tides, so before leaving the bike anywhere, I checked the river flow 1-2 hours after high tide at the mouth at both spots on the river–the put-in spot and the pull-out spot.  Rather to my surprise–even the second time I checked, there was virtually no downstream flow either place.  Indeed, there seemed to be a slight upstream flow both places, which surprised me, because the put-in spot is something like 14 miles from the mouth.

Tides and weather forecast were all wrong for trying that any time soon, but I had identified a boat ramp on the north bank of the river just a couple of miles from the boat ramp at Bullard’s beach, which seemed to offer a nice, moderate drift/paddle.
Tides and weather were compatible the next day, so off we went–me, inflatable, CJ and bike (for later).  Here’s the boat in the water at the put-in dock.  Notice how wide the river is here–it’s only just over five miles  from the mouth. (more…)

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Serendipitous discovery

It occurred to me when I got home still hankering a bit for the camping life that I live in a pretty good tourist area that a lot of people drive a long way to visit and that I really could and should take full advantage of that, so I planned and took several excursions that are ready to be blogged, with pictures.

But the one I want to blog about today is the unplanned one.  Or only semi-planned, anyway.   (more…)

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It turned out to be harder than I expected, but in the end I did it all.

After dropping off the bike and securing it to a tree in our city riverside park, I drove up to the drop-off point.  It was quite foggy when I left, and remained cloudy until well into the afternoon, which was probably just as well as things turned out.  

Anyway, here’s the boat ramp where I put in.  Notice the mud–that was the first challenge, as it was VERY slippery, making it tricky to get me, the boat, and the paddle etc. all down to the water.


Obviously, I made it, given that this was taken with me in the boat.  Which required rolling up pantlegs and wading a bit to accomplish.  

So, shoved off, then took a few pictures.  I’d forgotten how poor this boat is at tracking–it had a strong desire to slew off one way or the other with the goal of being broadside to the current.  Or of frustrating my attempts to focus the camera or phone on a specific scene.  Or both–probably both.  Which contributed to my not taking quite as many pictures as I might have.  (The gray day also discouraged picture-taking.)  Anyway, here’s a few from the beginning of the trip.


Contrast those with the pictures in the previous post of the start-off point, and it’ll give you a pretty good idea of how foggy-cloudy it was.

But foggy-cloudy can have its own kind of charm.  Here are a couple of pictures a short way down the river, taken after I had re-mastered the knack of getting the boat to go where I wanted it to (well, sort of–not entirely mastered yet, there’s something about coordinating which foot I’m bracing with and the side I’m stroking on that I don’t think I’ve got quite down yet.) 


Not the best pictures–neither the camera nor the phone handled yesterday’s light all that well, and in the second one I was probably twisted around trying to grab the shot while the boat, left to its own devices, slewed around to the right.  

This one was a bit further down yet–I think.  The sequence is out of order in the iPad, what with the wonkiness of transferring them from the camera, and I’m too lazy to check time stamps.  But you don’t care, so here we go.


Most of the way down, the water was almost glassy-smooth, except where the current was visible passing arouond a snag.  The ripples you see ahead are from the boat.  I kept trying to capture the reflections of the trees in the water, but never quite caught the full effect.   The next picture shows it better.


The main target of that shot was the cat, who took off up the bank shortly afterward.

Most of the critters that I saw were birds, most of which I didn’t get pictures of.  There were quite a number of ducks, who have a tendency to flee downstream in the direction the boat is travelling.  Within a few miles, there was quite a group of them being herded downstream.  I think they eventurally flew off to a pond to one side of the river–at any rate, I never saw them fly upstream to get behind me, and the group diminished considerably.  Also saw either one blue (or gray, couldn’t be sure which) heron 10-12 times or several of them 1-3 times, as they also tended to fly off downstream ahead of me, getting out of sight before I could get the camera out and on.

But I did spot this guy quite far ahead, and had also learned to stop paddling and drift to avoid disturbing things, so got several pictures of it.  


Here’s one a bit closer so you can actually see him.


And here are a couple more, after he spotted me and flew up into a tree.


And I was even able to get a few zoomed in on him.


Notice how he kept his eye on me.

Besides the birds, there were several times I heard a splash of something going into the river, but didn’t see what it was.  At least once, I think it may have been a bit of bank falling into the water, but I also am pretty sure there were some critters diving in to hide from me.  The first time, I saw a trail of bubbles justifying this surmise.  And once, I saw some critters in the water–either muskrats or otters, I don’t know which.  There were two or three of them–they watched me for awile, and a couple of times popped their heads further out of the water to get a better look at me.  No pictures, sadly.  Exciting for me, though.

Besides the wildlife, saw some cows peering curiously at me, and these goats.


There were more of them than you see, but I was paddling back upstream to get the photo, so decided this was good enough.

Probably the biggest “adventure” of the trip happened when I decided to pull over to a snag for a bit of a rest.  I got the phone out to check time and my location, and didn’t have enough hands for everything–as I was trying to put the phone back in my pocket, the boat started to drift away from the snag, and I managed to drop the paddle in the water.  The paddle does float, but it got away from me and started to drift downstream.  Panic ensued, followed by some frantic hand paddling.  Obviously I did catch up to it, or you’d be getting a far different post, but in the process I managed to drop the phone–in my lap, fortunately–splashing it in the process.  Tried to turn it off before putting it away, and it refused, causing more panic.  Figured out later, once I calmed down, that I was hitting the wrong button.  Oh well.  Anyway, this picture commemorates that experience.  At this point, I don’t even remember just what I was trying to take a picture of.


A short way downstream, I stopped again to recover myself–this time securing myself with the boat tether.


Besides the crappy tracking of the boat, I had forgotten the discomfort of being in a restricted position, as required by the boat, for long periods of time.  And the general discomfort of the back brace of the seat.  So about 1.5 hours into the trip, I was delighted to see this small dock.  


Got out, stretched, and had the bulk of the snack I had brought.  Good thing it was a substantial snack, because it also turned out to be lunch.  But more about that later.


Eventually it did clear up, and thre rest of the trip was quite beautiful.


I think it was around 1:30 when I took those photos, and I had been on the river since 10:00 a.m., so I was beginning to get tired.  And my back was seriously lecturing me about being 70 years old.  And I was beginning to need to pee.  Unfortunately, there was absolutely nothing I could do about any of that, because the banks all along the river are quite high and steep and lined with trees and brush.  

Eventually I spotted a private dock, and took advantage to get out and stretch and eat the rest of my snack.  Still couldn’t pee, though.  


Checking my location, I still had a long way to go.  I hoped to be able to pull out at a county park up ahead for another break (and to go pee . . . ), but the spot I hoped to do that turned out not to work.  By this time I was realizing I had bitten off–well, not more than I could chew (I did make it in the end), but more than I had counted on.  This was one of the most beautiful stretches of the whole trip, but my physical discomfort was interfering with my appreciation of the scenery.

But not eliminating it.  Here are some pictures.


I even kept trying to capture the reflections-in-the-water full effect.


Not only my back (and left knee) were talking to me by this point, but my paddling muscles (you know, the big muscles across the top of your shoulders–what are those called?) were beginning to complain too.  AND the current had virtually stopped (in fact, I’m pretty sure it had reversed just slightly by the time I got back to town) AND the afternoon wind was blowing me back upstream too. But there was nothing for it but to keep going.  So I did, aiming for the boat landing just upstream of the park where I’d left the bike–and seriously wishing I’d left the bike there instead of at the park.  

This tree was able to break through the fog in my brain–I debated whether or not to pull out the camera one more time, but in the end I did.  The picture doesn’t quite do it justice, though.


With a few stops, clinging to trees, along the way, I eventually made it to the boat ramp, got out, 


and staggered up the ramp to the rest room.  Bless the city, it even had toilet paper.  It’s amazing how an empty bladder can improve one’s outlook on life.

I debated whether to walk or paddle down to where the bike was, but in the end I got back into the boat.  It wasn’t far.

The goal in sight (just past the bridge).


And closer . . .

And there!


Had about decided to delay getting the car until the next day (the river trip had take five hours, and I was pretty tired), but once I was on the bike–well, I just headed back to the car.  Wanted to get it all done, I think.  As expected, the bike ride back to the car took about 45 minutes (for about 11.5 miles).

Bike and car united once again.


Back to pick up the boat. . .

Load the boat . . . 


And home, for ibuprofen and wine, in that order.

I’m glad I did the excursion, and proud that I was able to, but doubt I’ll ever want to do it again.  On the other hand, I’m thinking I may want to try the first bit, down to that first dock where I got out of the boat, in the infatable boat for comparison.  So stay tuned . . . 

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Wish me luck.

The plan is tomorrow I leave the bike down by the river here in town, then drive to the next town upriver with my little boat, drift and paddle back to town, tie up the boat,  have lunch, ride the bike back to the car, drive it back and pick up the boat, and voila! check that off my bucket list.  Not that I’ll never do it again, but it’s been a goal since I got the bike last spring.

Here’s the car, loaded with both boat (blue thing inside) and bike.


Here’s the point from which I will launch the boat.  I checked it out yesterday.


And the view heading downstream.


I’m looking forward to a beautiful trip–the entire river is lined with trees, and as you can see, fall colors are finally coming out.

I have no clear idea how long all this will take.  The major unknowns are the distance along the river (my estimate is about ten miles, but the road doesn’t quite run beside the river at all points) and the speed of the current.  The tide can affect the speed of the current even this far from the coast, but I don’t have a clear idea of how that relates to high and low tides at the river’s mouth.   And I don’t know how much rest time I will need between the river run and biking back for the car.  The biking time should be around an hour, thanks to the motorized assist of the ebike.  In any case, I figure it’s an all-day project.  

Should have pictures, but don’t know when I’ll get them blogged.  Hopefully soonish.  I have ambitions of blogging more local excursions, of which I done have several, so part of my process will be getting away from the idea of such posts needing to be relatively curent or in chronological order.  We’ll see how it goes.

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Do not expect to be impressed.  If you want impressive, look for stuff from the pros.  Taken from somewhere dryer than southwest Oregon.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I bought the eclipse viewing glasses, and this morning made a couple of pinhole devices.  Had them all ready and waiting by the time the eclipse started.


At that point, I was not optimistic that I’d see much other than a dimmer than usual gray morning.  However, a bit later, it seemed the cloud cover was thinning, and at least the glow of the sun could be seen through the clouds. (The first time I looked I couldn’t even see where the sun was.)  Looking through the glasses, I could see that there was a bite out of the disk of the sun.  Still too much cloud cover for the pinhole devices to work, but not long after, I could see a tiny image with the cereal box.

It seemed to me that the moon covered the sun rather quickly, and then took a long time to get across it.  This has to be some kind of illusion, but that’s how it seemed.  

Coverage here was 96%, and that did result in noticeable dimming of the light, and an absence of shadows, but that was about it as far as I could tell.  There was at least as much ambient light during maximum coverage as on a cloudy winter day, probably more.

I tried taking pictures with my phone, but even at max coverage the sun still appears as a ball.  There was some distortion, but that was likely from the remaining clouds.  However, in some of the pictures I tried, you can see a small crescent image of the sun nearby.  


I’m sure the nearby crescent sun image is some kind of artifact from the camera lens, though what I couldn’t say.  The crescent image showed up in unpredictable places depending on the angle at which I held the phone, and I didn’t always notice it.  In fact, once it showed up down in the tree, and I didn’t see it until I  was going through the pictures just now to select the rest of the images below.

Crescent sun in the tree, taken when the peak eclipse was past:


Ironically, that’s the sharpest image I got. 

The glasses gave the best view, but I only took very quick glimpses through them, and obviously have no pictures through them. However, eventually I tried my other pinhole device–a pinhole held over a white surface–and took pictures of the images that gave me.  Below are a few.  

One of the reasons it seemed to take so long for the sun’s crescent to start to grow again was that the sliver of crescent sort of slid around the moon as things moved. 




I warned you not to expect to be impressed.  I was holding the pinhole in one hand and trying to get the pictures with the other. And the pinhole was too big for a really clear image.

Eventually, getting a bit bored, and hav figured out that perhaps my pinhole was too bit, I poked another few.  And then like the multiple images, so poked some more.  The clearer images are from the smaller pinholes.


So that’s it.  No doubt it was much more impressive elsewhere, especially where it was total and the air is dry.  But there’s a lot to be said for not having to leave home for it, too.

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Early home thoughts 

Home, and have done enough to get through the night and wake up in the morning comfortably. But feel like I’m having to reclaim my house. And there’s a ton of yard work that needs to get done. One cat has appeared, and is kinda hanging out nearby, but seems pretty indifferent to my presence. But temperatures are lovely, and while there is some haze in the sky probably from smoke, there is also blue. It feels almost weird to be home–my road habits have become so well-established and comfortable, and now I have to remember and resume home habits. But looking forward to a nice long shower, and no bucket, in the morning.

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Last Alaska post

Unless something remarkable happens, that is.  Am planning to run for home starting tomorrow because of heat, so don’t expect to have energy or time for blogging.  Or material, either, for that matter–drive, stop, set up, sleep, get up, drive doesn’t make for interesting reading, or good pictures.

But yesterday and today I’ve been in Stewart, BC, just across the border from Hyder, Alaska.  As near as I can tell, tourism is what’s keeping Hyder, at least, going, and it’s bears that keep tourists coming, and salmon that keep the bears coming.  So first, here are a few pictures of salmon who have come to Fish Creek just north of Hyder to spawn.  They basically hang around awhile, and every now and then have a burst of activity, then hang around some more, so that’s the order of the pictures.  They can be hard to see, but I promise the first and third have visible salmon, and the second has salmon activity.



They way people seem to talk about Hyder is “It’s really cool, you can see bears fishing right in front of you.”  Which is sort of true–you can, one bear at a time, if you are patient and prepared to wait up to an hour or more for one to appear.  Both last evening and this morning I was able to force myself to wait, and eventually it paid off.  

Grizzly last night.


She walked along the opposite bank until she got past the people, then casually caught a fish and took it into the bushes to eat.

This morning my patience was rewarded with a black bear. Who went up and down the opposite bank for quite awhile and eventually made several attempts to catch a fish, but I don’t think she ever did.  But I got quite a few pictures and even some video, but WordPress won’t post the video and life is too short to work around that, so pictures will have to suffice.


​She finally gave up, left the creek and strolled up the road, and disappeared into the bushes.

Saw an eagle both last night and this morning.  Took lots of pictures this morning while waiting for a bear to appear; here are a few.



In the last two, s/he had perched in a tree right next to the observation boardwalk, and appeared to be warming itself in the sun.

So to mark the occasion of transitioning from Alaska trip to high-tailing it for home, I cooked a meal, for the first and last time on this trip.  Evidence:


Since I brought my single-burner stove, supper was in courses.  First course:


Second and final course:


I normally don’t talk about what I eat, and now you know why.

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