Roosevelt Elk

Interesting experience with elk around here.

Our first contact with elk was at Point Reyes National Seashore, with its herd of Tule Elk. They are found only in California after being hunted to the point only a single pair was found. Tule Elk are the smallest species of elk found in North America.

Just north of us is the largest, Roosevelt Elk. We ran across two large herds the other day.
DSC_1546_aThey range free and wide. We’ve found them in several key areas along 15 miles of highway, but this was the first time to run across a herd in this marshland. Couldn’t get any closer.

But we have before…
DSC_9448_aThis big bull was lounging with his herd on the grounds of a red schoolhouse museum. We’ve run across him before. He has some bird friends who perform pest eradication service every so often…he stands perfectly still for about 10 minutes while the birds dig for bugs!
DSC_9385_aThe second herd the other day displayed not the slightest interest in the camera…but rather some serious disdain, with rumps held high and heads down low. However, two of its members, young males, engaged in some mild antler wrestling.
DSC_1856_aDSC_1828_aAlthough wild, the elk are accustomed to people, and will casually stream across US 101…while cars wait. They walk through yards and fields, and disappear into the woods and hills.

They really are a treasure.
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Dose boids

Hmm, our bird books all say “eastern United States” on them.

We keep wondering if we’re seeing female or immature versions of birds we’re familiar with…but they usually turn out to be different, western species. Gotta get the western US books…

So here are a few finds, heavy on hawks…
DSC_1885_aDSC_1217_aDSC_1237_aWe’re watching for the occupants of this interesting nest alongside the highway that overlooks a large lagoon and the ocean shore…
DSC_1934_aThis sweet hummingbird was chirping nearby as I waited for another bird to fly from his distant perch (he didn’t).
DSC_1330_aFinally, sometimes you just get lucky and they sit there waiting for you to shoot…
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Waving

DSC_9939_aWe continue to be amazed at the waves.

All day, all night, constant thunder in the distance from their crashing, constant spray up close…waves pound the shore even from a sea most calm.
DSC_9830_aTalk about fun, the gentle swells produce fascinating results at times. Like when the tide starts in, while the channel from Arcata Bay is still draining the extensive tidal basin…the narrow channel near the ocean produces these fabulous waves, and surfers jump in to show off!
DSC_0170_aSpectators just risk getting wet!
DSC_0112_aEverywhere…they just keep coming and keep booming. See the birds?
DSC_9536_aDSC_9643_aMany little creatures are grateful for the wash-and-runoff. I just like the pattern.
DSC_2343_aSome kayakers were having fun with a small cave that explodes with spray when swells reach it!
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Beaches hereabouts

They sure know how to do beaches around here!

Mile after mile, the road runs along the shoreline, sometimes pulling back far enough that people can build cliff-hanger homes. And the beaches are not always particularly inviting.
DSC_0592_aActually, the beach above hosts one of the greatest collections of tidal pools at low tide that can be found for many miles around. It’s contained in a state park….much of the coastline hereabouts is safeguarded as part of a state or national park.

Access is often free, and quite easy. Just drive down a short sandy/gravel road and park in a sandy lot at the edge of the beach.

Or bring your horse and run along the w-i-d-e expanse of smooth sand at low tide!
DCIM101GOPROOr gaze in wide wonder at the sand patterns left by a departing wave.
DCIM101GOPROWhether sand dunes or rocky hillsides, the shoreline is always populated by clusters of pampas grasses.
DSC_2400_aThe undulating coastline provides bays and beaches without end, some reached by steep hillside paths.
DSC_0252_aAt the end of the day, there’s always a clear view of the sunset.
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Just strollin

We don’t spend ALL our time out in nature…in the wilderness…

Look at our recent stroll through civilization.
DSC_1478_aDowntown Eureka, CA hugs the Pacific Coast. Here, we enjoyed the sights, sounds, and smells along the city Boardwalk…which is located beside a commercial fishing pier and all its paraphernalia…

The city actually fronts on a small bay, and is therefore protected from direct ocean wave action by a narrow peninsula that stretches for miles.

Here, we’re looking across to an island inside the bay to a marina that provides moorings for a host of commercial fishing boats. What look to me like masts for sailboats are actually large poles for radios and hoists for fishing…these boats are ocean-going, so are larger than the pleasure boats we’ve been seeing on the Great Lakes.

A statue across the channel pays homage to these fishermen.
DSC_1489_aWhat a fun interlude for a day of errands!
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Stay away from the water

Not doin so well dodging waves…let’s go inland…

Redwood National Park starts just north of where we’re parked, and runs about 40 miles up toward the Oregon border.

It narrows down in some places to just include the shoreline. It also surrounds several different state parks.

One, just east of Crescent City, is Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, and contained within its boundaries is a very special place called Stout Grove.

Oh my, they don’t make it easy. Actually, they don’t make it artificial and they don’t make much accommodation. The drive through the park to Stout is a single lane gravel road nearly 7 miles from one direction or 3 miles from the other. It’s not one-way, so you have to watch for on-coming cars and figure out a way to move over enough to get past.

This photo shows their idea of a parking lot for a trail head!
DSC_0919 (2)_aWe pressed on along the gravel road, because we’d heard Stout was worth the effort.

Oh, I don’t know, what do you think?
DSC_0968 (2)_aIsn’t that amazing? Stout Grove has been called the most scenic stand of redwoods in the world. It lies within a flood plain that really cuts down on smaller trees growing, so your view of the redwoods is much less obscured.

We arrived kind of late in the afternoon, which was nice for photos with the warm, soft, golden-red rays of sun.
DSC_0963 (2)_aDSC_0958 (2)_aAs we headed home, we swung by the waterfront in Crescent City…and caught this scene. I’d say we lead a charmed life, eh?
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Waterloo

I’m fascinated with this salt water tidal action.

We bought a little pamphlet at the local hardware that lists the high tides and low tides for the year. Did you know there are two of each every day?

And I’ve discovered there’s life in the intertidal area!

Actually, it’s called the Littoral Zone…where the land and sea meet, between the high and low tide zones.

I took my little camera in its waterproof case down to Trinidad beach just before the lowest tide of the week, to scout for life in the little pools that remain among the rocks when the tide goes out.

Got a fun shot of the waves and swirls that occur around some of the bigger rocks that sit out in the surf even at low tide.
DCIM101GOPROOhhhh, baby, as I went around one big rock, BINGO, I found a whole ‘nother world on the side facing the ocean! All above the low tide water line…gotta get the Nikon to shoot some really nice pics of this stuff!

Went back to the car and traded cameras.
DSC_2538_aDSC_0985_aDSC_1138_aI took off my sandals, took everything out of the pockets of my shorts, because I had to wade through ankle-deep water to get to this rock.
DSC_2559_aYeah, yeah, little waves roll through now and then, but the tide was actually still going out a little more.

LOOK what I found!
DSC_2575_aOn the sunny side, facing an almost constant wash, was this mass of colorful salt water creatures!

Ohhh, the sand gets washed away near the rock…up to my knees…ahhh, that little wave just soaked my shorts…better keep moving.

But see how shallow the water is just beyond this big rock?
DSC_2592_aBetter keep moving around the rock…whoa, drop-off…up to my waist…heading toward shore…uh oh, here comes a bit of a wave…whoa. Lost. My. Balance.
DSC_2607_aI didn’t know the Nikon could shoot underwater.

Once…

Well blow me down

The weather forecast carried a warning for two days: large waves from a distant storm would begin to pound the shoreline in the early morning hours, and the highest…20 to 24 feet!…would coincide with high tide!

This we had to see!

Of course, at first light the area was buried in fog, as we’ve already showed you….

The waves, Doug, show us the waves…

Oh yeah, sorry.
DSC_1541_aThe waves were larger than usual, and the tide came up higher than anyone had seen in months, but there were no waves approaching 20-24 feet! Frankly, it was kind of a bust.
DSC_1291_aStill, the noise of those waves made it nearly impossible to talk on the beach. Robyn’s father lives about a mile and a half directly back from the shore, and we could hear their rumble from his porch!

The fog really interfered with photos, and yet in some areas it was dense from shore to sea but thin from earth to sky, so we could see blue sky above but barely see the waves and rocks offshore!
DSC_1643_aDSC_2201_aDSC_1820_aOf course, Robyn rose above it all…
DSC_2280_aAll in all, it was a great adventure. Even the sundown gave a wink through the remaining low-lying mist.
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One foggy morning

About 10 miles north of where we’re parked in Arcata is a town called Trinidad.

I’ve read the description of its early settlement, but still can’t fathom the origin of the name.

Whatever, it’s an interesting little place. Several artsy shops immediately off Hwy 101, including a restaurant that serves mashed potato cones. They’re waffle cones made on a griddle up front by the cash register from a corn meal based batter, then stuffed with freshly mashed potatoes and cheese, mushrooms, onions, and bacon bits.

Novel and gooood!

The town sits on a hill overlooking two very large outcroppings that look like islands close to shore, but they have narrow connections to the land. There is a lovely, sturdy, shiny, and new aluminum pier that is owned by the local Indian tribe and used by the commercial crabbers (you can just barely see it in the second picture below). The crabbers pay a share of every load to the Indians for use of the dock.

Many of you have seen Robyn’s photos on Facebook from her morning forays to the town and its outcroppings.

One recent morning was scheduled for some fabulous waves due to a distant storm out in the Pacific, so we all got motivated before sunup to get going and see…

The waves were interesting, but will be the subject of another post.

I wanted to show you what we encountered before even reaching the shoreline and its waves. FOG. It really wasn’t too surprising. This area usually gets fog at some point every day. We might wake up to clear skies and sunshine, but move 2 miles up the coast and be met by a wall of fog coming in off the ocean.
DSC_1244_aThis lighthouse is merely the decorative top of an old lighthouse that has been moved to a scenic spot on the hillside. Turn to the right and this was the scene.
DSC_0861_aThe town has quite a fleet of active commercial crabbers. Because of the threatened waves, the crab boats stayed moored in their sheltered cove.
DSC_1495_aOur final picture for this post shows the remains of the track that the crabbers used before the fancy pier. It ran down into the water, and could both launch and recover boats. Now, the sea gulls rest on its tracks.
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Just standin around

There’s something odd about this part of the country.

All makes, models, types, and species seem to want to be outside….just outside, not necessarily doing anything, just outside.

Just standin around.
DSC_1511_aOthers…well…see for yourself.
DSC_2283_aOkay, I suppose they’re not all just standing around.
DSC_0536_aSome seem uncertain…almost confused.
DSC_9354_aBut it’s the youth who seem to have their attention most clearly fixed on a distant goal…
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