Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Whale Watching

This past weekend, Casey and I drove down the coast to Moss Landing to do some whale watching.  I'd say that it was more nature watching, but we did get to see some whale action.

We thought that the morning fog would burn off and give way to a sunny, beautiful day.  But it's been pretty hot inland lately and the fog was pretty dense and didn't let up.

We started out of the harbor, and almost immediately got word of a humpback whale in the area.  We soon found it and the gasps began.

This was pretty much the most exciting part of watching the whale.  It was feeding and would stay under for about 12 minutes each time.  But between each dive, it would come up and take a few breaths.  When it was ready to dive back down, its back would arch and its tail would glide out of the water and slip back in.

After a few dives and with four other boats crowding the area, we opted to go closer to shore and try our luck with some dolphin watching.

After a short ride in, we soon found the playful pod, as interested in us as we were in them.  They came up pretty close to the boat and one even swam right under the bow!

Here's the shot of the day, with two baby dolphins swimming close to their moms and getting a peek at us.  The excitement on the boat was at its peak and we hung out with the dolphins for a good amount of time.

We got to see some other wildlife on our boat tour as well.

 Littered throughout the water were these Lion's Mane Jellyfish.  At one point they were everywhere and I couldn't help thinking about Finding Nemo.  It was pretty amazing seeing these in person as I've included them in a few paintings.

Here is what I'm going to call a seagull, but it seems pretty different than the ones I've seen.  This one looks more like a land bird of prey with sea bird wings.  

One amazing thing that we got to see, which I couldn't get a good shot of, was a 15 ft. Great White Shark.  This sucker was huge!  Mostly, we just saw a large, dark shadow swimming around, but at certain angles, we could see its white belly and make out its large silhouette.  It was more exciting because this was the first sighting the boat tour had ever had of a great white.  For that, it was even more special.  

As we headed into the harbor, we passed by a dock with a ton of sea lions.  These blubbery guys were growling and rolling and flopping all over each other.  

Here's another shot of a sea lion coming out of the water, climbing on the others and getting in a fight with this other guy.  Pretty interesting fight tactic with the upside down bite move!

I'll leave off this this shot of a pelican, posing for the shot.  

In the end, the whale watching was actually the least amazing part of the tour, although it was still pretty rad to see such a large mammal.   

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Over labor day weekend, Casey and I took a trip up to Portland to visit some friends.  Between the two of us, we know about six people there and we were overdue for a visit.  

The plane up and back was pretty small and by far had the smallest overhead compartments of any plane I've been on.  But, the flight was shorter than a drive to Sacramento and in no time we were hanging out with our old friends.  

The first night, we went to watch the Swifts.  It sounds like an awesome band, but its actually an amazing, natural phenomenon that occurs in September at this elementary school:

To set the scene, we got there in the late afternoon and set up a little picnic dinner with snack and drinks.  There were kids playing everywhere, with a soccer scrimmage of 10 year olds, which I admittedly got a little too in to.  Its been a while since I've watched live sports...

Anyhow, kids were sliding down the hill and having some well-supervised fun.  All the while, these tiny birds called Swifts slowly started to arrive and fly around.  Everyone now and again, they would collect in large groups and form a spiral.

Its hard to tell, but these little guys are about 2.5 inches long and probably weight a few ounces.  During this time, they migrate and this chimney at this elementary school is where they seek shelter for the night on their way south. 

By nightfall, there was a nice vortex of birds spiraling into the chimney while an outer circle protected their own.  It was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen, and that is saying something since I've got kind of a phobia of swarms.  I think this helped.

The next day was Casey's birthday, so we got our group together and headed to the "beach."  It was on an island that sits between two rivers and separates Oregon from Washington.  We soaked in some sun, ate some cheese and got a bit wet.  The water wasn't the cleanest, so most of us opted to not get too far into the water.

Here is Casey, Liz, and Shelly.  Old and new friends, but close nonetheless.  

Here is Casey wearing Shelly's sparkly cape and sparkly glitter.  It was a perfect day for some reflective accessories.  

After we had our fill of sun, we picked some blackberries to munch on for dessert before heading back into the city.  

Of course, we couldn't go to the City of Roses without seeing some beautiful roses.  Man, were they pretty!

If I were a bee, I'd feel my life was complete if I'd have seen this.

A short flight back, and we were back in our city.  At first I was a bit disappointed with the quality of this picture, but now I kind of like it.  It feels like an old, 35mm print.