When my buddy, Mark, was visiting, he wanted to get a little floatplane flying in and took me along for the ride. Kenmore Air have a ticket you can get for a ride along with the scheduled service. You don’t know exactly where you will be going but you will head out to the Gulf Islands and will be out for about three hours. Originally, they said we would stop off at Lake Union to pick up and drop off but that ultimately wasn’t needed although we do do a flyby as I covered in this post about the Space Needle.
The weather wasn’t too sunny which actually made for some smooth flying conditions. We were in a piston Beaver and probably never got above 1,000’ when transiting. Some of the sections were a bit below that which meant a great view of the scenery. We also saw some boats and they got a post here as well. We skirted passed some islands and over others as we made our way. Our first stop was Friday Harbor and the second was Deer Harbor.
There was a small airfield on one of the islands that we passed close by. A brief look down the runway as we crossed the center line but then it got harder to see. It was surrounded by trees so was hard to make out. These shots are a selection of those that I got as we made our way around the islands and across the bays and inlets. With spring coming, I think I might need to book another one of these trips.
Winter weather in Washington can be a bit unpredictable. It can be cloudy and rainy in one spot while the sun is peaking out a short distance away. Shoreline provided just such variety. While it had been quite gloomy, as we walked around the headland near the lighthouse, the view to the south over Puget Sound suddenly cleared up nicely and there was a lovely sunny view. Time to grab some pictures before the sun disappears again (which it did before too long!).
On our trip back to Edmonds, after we left the orcas, we had a lucky encounter. We came across a minke whale. It was having a good time feeding on bait balls that were easy to spot given the large number of birds on the surface above them. We saw the whale surface a few times and then it headed for the bait. Timing its surfacing was tricky. The birds all started to take flight but they did so a long time before the whale came up through the fish. I missed the key moment. However, I did get a few shots of the whale as it was feeding although not of the swollen lower jaw folds as it took mouthfuls of water in.
Sealions are not small creatures when you get close to them. However, the ones you more normally come across have a larger relative. The Stellar Sealion is a big beast of a creature. The females are large and the males are huge. When we used to visit Ano Nuevo, you could see the Stellars out on the island. What looked like large rocks were actually the males. These things are big.
A colony of them was hanging out on some rocks we came across during our trip to go whale watching. They were basking on the rocks or swimming in the waters nearby. The boat was able to get quite close to the rocks so we could see the sealions out enjoying the sun. Seals and sealions seem to be very happy when they are dozing on the rocks in the sun. We weren’t close enough to disturb them but we were close enough to get a good look.
There is an island out in Puget Sound which was once identified for development. Plots of land were sold to investors and the idea was for housing to be built. However, the whole thing fell apart. The reason for it not working out may have been related to the lack of a water supply or that the island is being eroded away and won’t last too long. Whatever the reasoning, the whole plan was shelved. However, one of the investors did not want to give up. He insisted on staying and legal proceedings ensued. He eventually won and now he lives on the island alone. His house sits up on the bluffs overlooking the water and it looks like quite a pleasant spot. A lonely spot I suspect but still pleasant. He has decorated the plot with some interesting things including a stormtrooper from Star Wars. He was out working on his land as we passed by.
While we were happy to see the humpbacks that I covered in this post, we were really hoping to see some orcas. There is a resident group that lives in the area and transients. We didn’t mind which ones we got. We were just hoping to spot some. We were not disappointed. There were quite a few orcas out hunting. They were quite scattered. Our previous orca trip had followed a pod for a long period and they had stayed relatively close together. This time we saw individuals or pairs spread out across the water.
The orcas are such cool looking whales. The black and white coloring is distinctive and the male whales have such a large dorsal fin that they stand out clearly. Getting shots of more than one at once is a touch tricky. Usually they surface individually and one will be diving back under as another breaks surface. I did get the occasional time when they were above the water together, though.
One whale was heading parallel to the shore as we went the other way. Between us was a fishing boat. The guys on the boat must have had a great view as it went by. For us, our pace matched theirs and it appeared that the whale was always just in front of the fishing boat! With the amount of orcas we saw, it was a very successful trip.
We took a trip out to go whale watching while we had some visitors staying with us. The trip departed from Edmonds and proved to be a great day out. Our first encounter was with some humpbacks. We have had some great humpback spotting previously and they got a post here from one of those events. This time we came across a couple of them feeding in the waters of Puget Sound. A couple of times we were nice and close when the whales dived. The humpback is great for getting a view of the fluke as they dive deeper. Here are a couple of fluke shots I got. The flukes are the way that the scientists are able to identify the whales since they are quite individual.
Growing up on an island must bring a special affinity for ferries because, whenever I see them, it brings a spark of interest as to what people are going to or from. I lived on the seafront for a portion of my teenage years and the ferries would pass our window each day as they headed to the mainland. Ferry travel at night was often a thing because it would be either the beginning or end of a longer journey. Something about the lights on a ferry at night seems very welcoming to me.
We had a terrace overlooking Puget Sound that we were able to hang out on in the evenings and the regular ferry traffic across the sound caught my attention. It is dark out on the water but the lights from the passenger decks and the lighting on the open car deck beneath shine out across the water. Seeing it from a slightly elevated position on the shore helps as well. Seeing this just makes me feel good. I guess decades away from living on an island hasn’t changed some things deep inside.
Traveling for work also means trying to find somewhere nice to eat. What a tough life, you may say, but being on the road a lot means trying to find good food without eating too much becomes a challenge. During the winter months, having a nice view is not too relevant since it is always dark before you get to dinner. However, now the evenings are longer, finding a good view can also help as long as the food is good.
A good combination in Seattle is Ray’s Boathouse. This is not a restaurant review. Instead, it is a chance to see a nice evening view out over the water of Puget Sound. The upstairs of the restaurant has a simpler (and cheaper) menu but it also has a deck outside. As the sun set, I was not the only person out grabbing photos. With very little cloud (I know, this is Seattle right?), the sky couldn’t really goo too red but it was still a very nice spot to end the day.