The sun goes down SO EARLY now, guys. You know it’s sad days when you’re in Seattle on the first day of December and you think “Wow! The sun is up so late here!” :-/
Anyway, on Sunday, I was sitting in our office so that the last glimpse of sun hit me in the face. It was great – so warm and bright. Then I looked up and saw that the sun was illuminating my face in a reflection in the window. I decided to try to capture it with my camera. I think it turned out pretty well. I love that you can’t even see the camera. There are just some Potassium eyes hovering there. Wahaaaaa.
In case you wanted to see the self-portrait part even closer – here is a crop.
Creeeeeepyyyyyy. Where’d that Potassium come from?
Apparently it’s a creepy-themed week. On Saturday, Cobalt and I took advantage of the super low hanging fog we had to make some silly monster flicks. Then I made the creepy self portrait. And then, when I tried to photograph this weekend’s super moon, the clouds decided that it needed to be creepy too.
***WARNING: Photo-heavy post. It might take a while for all the photos to load but I think it’s probably worth it.***
EVERYONE. I got to see orcas for my birthday. It was amazing.
For those of you who don’t know, I LOVE orcas (also known as killer whales). My love of orcas actually predates my shark love by at least 15 years, if not more. Plus, Washington state is a great place to see orcas in the wild because we have a bunch of different kinds of orcas that live around here. So ever since I was a wee undergrad in Washington, I have wanted to go and see them. But I never got the chance… until this year when I told Cobalt that all I wanted for my birthday was to see the orcas.
So he and my friend Titanium put together a trip for my birthday. And then my sister (Deoxyribolove), my sister in law (she’s going by Strontium now), and our friends M and P decided they wanted to come too! Yay whale-watching party!
So this is the story of our adventure, complete with tons of pictures. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
We got up super early. Like 6 am. Then we picked up Strontium at her hotel and headed north to Anacortes, WA. There we met Titanium and her bf J and M and P at the ferry terminal! We boarded the ferry and headed to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. It was a beautiful ferry ride. Not too cold, not rainy, just cloudy and cool with mountains jutting out all around us. We spent the majority of the ride outside catching up.
Once at Friday Harbor, we stopped for a bite to eat. Then it was time for whales.
It was raining as we walked to the San Juan Safaris shop but it soon stopped and the rain decided to stay away for the rest of the afternoon. We met our two guides who told us about all the animals we could see on our trip: bald eagles, minke whales, orcas, humpback whales, porpoises, seals, sea lions, and more! As they were talking, a bald eagle flew overhead! It was a sign…
Then we loaded onto the boat and headed out into the Salish Sea.
To give you an idea of where we were: we had to turn our cell phones to airplane mode because our they might try to pick up Canadian cell towers. So yeah, we were basically as close to Canada as we could be. At one point, we even passed the most northwest lighthouse in the United States.
Anyway, we weren’t out very long when we discovered another bald eagle. So regal up in the tree!
Not long after that, someone spotted tall black fins sticking up out of the water. ORCAS! Our guides quickly determined that we had found T101 (a transient/Bigg’s killer whale), her two sons (T101A and T101B), and her adopted son (T102). One way to ID an orca is to look at the dorsal fin (the one on the whale’s back). We could easily tell T101 apart from the boys because female orcas have smaller dorsal fins. But it was harder to figure out who we were looking at when it came to the boys. T102 had the biggest fin because he’s the oldest. His fin was huge and kind of wobbly (no bones in these fins!). But unless they were all in a line, it was hard to tell the other two apart.
Time for a short killer whale lesson: there are two types of killer whales in this area: residents and transients (or Bigg’s). Residents were named because they were thought to reside only in this one area while the transients were thought to roam up and down the coast. But it turns out that both kinds can be found anywhere between Alaska and Monterey Bay, California, according to our guides. So the names “transient” and “resident” are kind of misleading. Annnnnnnyway – resident killer whales eat Chinook salmon but Bigg’s killer whales, like T101 and her family, eat everything. Especially seals. Which is what they were hunting when we found them.
So killer whales are super smart. And Bigg’s killer whales are super stealthy so they can sneak up on their prey. It was fun watching their crazy shenanigans. The water was pretty dark though so I think we missed out on most of the plotting.
We followed the orcas at a respectful distance, slowing the boat down and/or turning off the motor when we got closer. I loved when that happened because we were drifting in our boat near these giant creatures. We could hear them breathing. It was incredible to be so close to one of my favorite animals. And I got to coexist with them. I was breathing, they were breathing. I was drifting, they were… doing whatever they were doing… It was beautiful.
At some point, we left the orcas to try to find some other critters. We saw a few porpoises but they weren’t interested in hanging out with our boat so they left. It also turns out there was a HUGE sailboat regatta happening on Saturday though so we found a lot of humans out on the water! It was fun to watch them too.
Then we found our orcas again! So we hung out with them more! By this point, we were starting to get pretty cold…
Then it was time to start heading back to land. So we said goodbye to the orcas and tried to cram into the inside part of the boat to get warm. But the tour wasn’t over! On our way back to Friday Harbor, our guides took us past some of the other islands to look for other wildlife. We found more bald eagles, some sheep, deer, and more!
We arrived back at Friday Harbor tired but content after such an amazing day of hanging out with some of Washington’s finest creatures. The ferry ride back to Anacortes was filled with snacks and laughter as everyone looked over their photographs and recounted their favorite parts of the day. Everyone mostly stayed inside this time, which was good because it was SUPER windy outside. I went outside to watch the last of the sun go down and I loved the feeling of the wind on my back. It made eerie tones as it wrapped around the ferry too. It was such a neat ethereal experience to close out the day.
Well. That definitely became one of my top birthdays ever. Now it’s your turn – what’s your favorite picture? What was one of your favorite birthdays? Why was it so amazing? This bald eagle wants to know.
Hellllooooo everyone! How are your Novembers turning out? Good I hope. Did everyone remember to vote today? Very important.
Anyway, this past weekend, Washington state got hit with its first snow of the season. On Friday, I saw a lot of pictures and videos of some wet snow falling to the west of us. But it was actually quite pleasant in the Tri-Cities. It was a little chilly but it was mostly sunny and beautiful. Then on Saturday, it was just cold. When Cobalt and I woke up, it was 27 degrees out. Yikes! Where did our brisk fall weather go? It stayed chilly all day and on Sunday we woke up to SNOW. Big, fat flakes that looked like soap suds rained down from the heavens on and off all morning. I might have lived in Colorado recently but I am still a native Californian at heart: The first snow of the season (no matter how wet it is) always makes me super excited. I jumped out of bed determined to take fun videos and pictures.
Because I lived in Colorado for 8 out of the last 9 years, my first-snow-of-the-season pictures usually look something like this. You know, with snow-coated mountains and such. We do have some hills here but I couldn’t really see them through all the haze. Plus I was intrigued by the clumpiness of the snowflakes.
So this time, I gave myself a new challenge: Photograph the fat flakes as they were falling. It was hard. I had a really fast shutter speed to capture the flakes in mid air. And I also had to manually focus on the fat clusters as they were falling. I took a lot of pictures and I still mostly missed my target flakes. But it was a fun challenge anyway.
Meanwhile, Tarantula was sitting on my desk chair watching the whole ordeal with annoyance. Humans… why is it so cold? And can you please turn on the sun?
Anyway, I want to point out that pretty much none of those fat flakes stuck so yesterday we were back to fall. Sort of. It was still super cold. But at least it was also super pretty…
PS: Today is my Sister in Law’s bday! Hurrah! Happy day! Can’t wait to see you soooooon! :D
Hey everyone! Sorry you didn’t get your usual Tuesday morning post today! Things have been a little bit crazier than usual for me lately. But never fear! It’s still Tuesday here in Washington and it’s time for a Halloween update!
So a few weeks ago, Cobalt and I went to pick pumpkins for Halloween. This patch was awesome! There were perfect pumpkins in every direction! And we got to clip our favorites off the vine! How could we pick just two? We couldn’t. We brought home three delightful pumpkins.
Fast forward to last weekend: Cobalt’s and my friend L was in town. So we asked him if he wanted to come over and carve pumpkins with us. Obviously he said yes. Carving pumpkins is the best. Success – three pumpkin carvers for three pumpkins!
So I present to you a photo gallery of our happy jack-o-lanterns this year:
First up we have L’s pumpkin “Derp-face.” I can’t get over the eyes. :D
Next up, Cobalt made the pumpkin featured in the first Halloween movie. It looks almost traditional but then it gets a little creepy the more you look at it.
Finally, you know the demon fish pumpkin is mine. I’ve been carving shark/fish pumpkins for a few years now and I have to say, I really like this guy.
I like him so much that you get an extra picture of him.
In addition to carving pumpkins, Cobalt and I went to Scaregrounds last weekend. It consisted of three haunted houses at the fairgrounds (get the name now?)! Unfortunately we were only able to go through one of them, called “Blackout.” It was pretty dark in there and they gave us one glowstick for the six of us. The ghosts kept stealing it but then somehow sneaking it back to us, which was amusing. My favorite part was that our friend K started the haunt by announcing things like “there’s a trap door in here so… fair game…” Then we just started saying “fair game… fair game…” every time we turned a new corner. By the end, the ghosts were screaming “FAIR GAME” back at us. Heh heh heh. It was good though. Especially because that’s not something I normally do.
Did any one dress up for work today? I didn’t go too crazy but I definitely wore some extra ears all day.
So now it’s your turn. Tell me about your Halloweens! Any ridiculous weather? Any hilarious costumes? I saw some good ones on Twitter today. Any plans for Dia De Los Muertos tomorrow?
Hi everyone, how’s it going? I’m still pretty upset from all the craziness with the fires in and around my hometown last week. But today we are going to talk about bread.
Cobalt and I have been enjoying fresh bread from a local bakery. But then our friend K gave us a jar of sourdough starter and a recipe so we could try it ourselves. So on Friday night, we rolled up our sleeves and started the process. It’s long. Most of the steps aren’t really time consuming — just add some flour here or some water there — but there is a very specific order to things… and there are a lot of six-hour wait times. Also, there are a lot of steps where you only keep a little bit of the dough/starter and toss everything else, which Cobalt and I found wasteful. Oh well. Let’s get to the details!
Anyway, so on Friday night before we went to bread bed, we fed the starter. Turns out it eats flour and water, which is good because I don’t know if I could afford to feed a starter that liked steak or sushi. We got up on Saturday morning and took a little bit of that fed starter and fed it again. Same diet. Then on Saturday afternoon, we mixed some of that starter with more flour and water plus yeast and salt to make the actual bread dough. On Saturday night, we split the dough in half and set up an experiment. One loaf got to proof at room temperature and the second loaf got to proof in the fridge.
On Sunday morning, the room-temp loaf was huge. Waaaaay overproofed. We spent the morning quoting Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood from The Great British Baking Show. But we baked it anyway. And it didn’t turn out too bad (Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood would say otherwise, I’m sure ;)). It still looked and tasted amazing, which is what really counts. Plus it crackled as it cooled, which we found heartwarming. It reminded Cobalt of a line from the movie Ratatouille: how the sound of the crust will tell you how good a bread is going to be.
Tarantula was very curious about our baking. We’re starting to wonder if it’s the smell of yeast. She was intrigued as we set up the overproofed bread Sunday morning and even more intrigued during its photoshoot an hour later. Crazy cat. You’re supposed to be a carnivore!
The fridge-proofed loaf turned out much better. We baked it on Sunday afternoon and it just looks lovely.
Yay bread! We saved some of our starter so we’ll definitely have to make more soon. Maybe even next week? What fun recipes should we try next? So many options…