During a visit to Whidbey, we stopped off at Fort Casey to have some lunch. After eating, we walked downtown the hill from the lighthouse towards the main fort area. There was a ground of people flying kits on the grass down there. They clearly were experienced flyers and were flying routines in formation. There were three of them at first and they were very slick. A fourth joined in but I think was less experienced than the others. Even so, they were still doing a good job.
I got a few photos of them as they practiced. However, stills are not so good a way to give the feeling of kite flying so I went with a little video too. A little of the video is below.
A couple of years ago we made a visit to Meerkerk Gardens on Whidbey Island to see the rhododendrons in bloom. We decided a return trip was in order. We were possibly a week later than our previous trip but were optimistic. The gardens were open even with the restrictions in place at that time but we did have to pay online because there weren’t any staff at the entrance.
We had a nice time wandering around. There were some of the plants in bloom and the colors were very nice. However, it appears that things are blooming a bit later this year. Presumably the spring didn’t warm up as fast. Plenty of the trees had yet to bloom. I suspect a week or two later might have resulted in a lot more color. Even so, it was still a very pretty place to walk around.
We hadn’t previously explored as much of the garden as is available. There is a woodland trail that goes around the back and over some of the steeper areas and we went through all of this. With so few people there – we did get there early – we were not encountering many other visitors. I wonder whether it would have been a lot busier a couple of weeks later as the flowers really came into their own.
While on our trip to Whidbey, we made a short stop at the North beach in Deception Pass State Park. This is the beach that is closest to the bridge across the pass. I was hoping it might be possible to get a nice shot of the bridge but I was disappointed to realize that the maintenance work underway on the bridge has resulted in the structure being covered in a ton of material. No chance to get anything exciting from that. If you looked closely, you could make out some of the maintenance team up on the bridge in their hi-viz clothing. That is not a job for which I would be well suited.
We had a day out on Whidbey Island and we stopped off at Fort Casey to eat our lunch. We parked up near the lighthouse and there was a bald eagle hanging around along the cliff tops. The updrafts made soaring around a piece of cake for it. It landed in the top of a tree near us as we walked along the cliff. When we turned around and headed down the slope towards the fort, it started flying high above us and then appeared to swoop down into the bushes – presumably to catch a snack. We lost track of it at that point but a short while later it emerged from the bushes flying just above head height and straight towards us. I had the camera on the wrong settings to maximize my chance of getting a good shot but I still managed to get a few slightly blurry ones as it buzzed by.
The Washington State Ferry from Port Townsend comes into the Keystone Harbor. I figured I would await its arrival. The shallow harbor means that they have smaller ferries for this route. They were actually in the process of dredging the harbor at the time of my visit to maintain access for the ferry. Even though it is a smaller ferry, when you are standing at the water’s edge, it is definitely more imposing. They turned the ferry pretty quickly since the vehicle traffic didn’t look too heavy. I think the rougher crossing might have slowed them down so a quick turn helped keep the schedule.
NOLF Coupeville was scheduled for FCLP training and strong winds from the Southeast were forecast which suggested the right runway would be in use. I also had a day off scheduled. While the rest of the weather was potentially not ideal, I figured I would make the trip. Why. Not? They were due to be flying from late morning but, as seems to be usual, it was just after noon by the time things started to look active.
I was worried about the low cloud base but it was actually not a problem. The wind was really strong gusting 20-30 kts. This was giving them some interesting flying. Early on, there was a hint of sun sometimes which really helped the photos. As they climbed out after each touchdown, the skies behind made from interesting backgrounds and showed off the heat haze from the exhausts as well as the streaming tip vortices courtesy of the damp conditions.
After a while, I got a visit from the Navy Police. The young lad informed me I wasn’t allowed to photograph the jets. I pointed out I could be he was most insistent that I couldn’t. Rather than have trouble I decided the stop shooting. As it happened, the conditions got a bit worse anyway so I had got the best of what was on offer. I just watched the rest of the flying which included quite a few bolsters and some sketchy touchdowns as the wind got stronger.
On a day off, I was on Whidbey Island. I headed down to Keystone Harbor, near Coupeville. This harbor is next to Fort Casey. I parked up by the campground and walked along the shore. There was a decent breeze coming onshore. And the waves were starting to build. They weren’t too much at this point, though.
There were some old structures along the beach that provided a bit of focus for some shots. A little more swell would have meant some larger splashes around the concrete but it was still very pretty. The contrasty skies really made it feel dramatic.
The Growlers weren’t the only things flying at Coupeville while I was there. A bunch of bald eagles were also flying in the vicinity. They were crossing the approach path for the FCLP training which had me a little concerned. I thought they would get lost when the jets showed up but they clearly weren’t very concerned and were used the the jets. They might have got close but they seemed to stay just far enough away to avoid any conflict. A bird strike with a bald eagle would probably be messy for all concerned.
My trip to Coupeville to shoot Growlers undertaking FCLP worked out well as described in this post. What I didn’t emphasize in that post is just how close the road is to the north end of the runway. While southerly flow is not normal, when that is happening, you are very close to the action. The pano at the top of the post is the view you get of the runway from the road and plenty of people will show up to watch the jets bouncing.
The fields around the runway need to be looked after. There was a tractor cutting the grass while the jets were bouncing and you can see what a good view the driver probably had of the jets. I assume he had good hearing protection on while he was working in those fields. I also include a shot of a jet coming low over the field. Hopefully that shows just ow close everything is to the road.