Sunday, August 27, 2017

Holding on to Summer (or Autumn is Coming)

It begins... Last week, a coworker shared that she had been feeling more tired lately without the early summer sunrises. Two nights ago, the nighttime breeze coming through the window chilled me enough so that I finally closed it. Yesterday, I told a friend that I planned to go to Colman Pool as part of my summer fun list and she responded that I better hurry up, since it closes after Labor Day. And this morning, I woke up to Joy the Baker's Let it Be Sunday post with a link to an article on how August blues are like Sunday blues.

Of course, the hopelessly optimistic side of me realizes that officially, summer doesn't end until the equinox - at the end of September. My routines won't be changed by kids going back to school (aside from the traffic patterns - we live a block away from an elementary school). The day time forecast for the foreseeable future shows temperatures in the mid-70s to mid-80s. There's still plenty of time to enjoy the summer.

So I continue whittling away at my list. I've enjoyed 17 of the 33 items, finding joy in both the homey activities (grilling corn, squeezing fresh lemonade, baking a pie and packing a picnic) as well as the more adventurous (riding my bicycle to Vancouver (B.C.), kayaking someplace new, riding the Great Wheel and whale watching). Some things are in progress (knitting a baby blanket and reading Moby Dick), while others are planned out (for Labor Day weekend, we'll be camping before we summit Mt. St. Helens).

I'm also experiencing a bit of mourning for the things I might miss out on (there are only a few days left of crab season and we 1) don't have a license and 2) will be gone or busy most of those days). Realistically though, some of the things on the list are not particularly seasonal. Moby Dick can be read any time of year. Sewing is probably better saved for months of the year where I have trouble leaving the house.

My mood tends to be affected by the seasonal shift to darkness, so while I still have energy, I'm also starting to plot out some fun activities for fall. Suggestions welcome!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Rock Camp Showcase

"Do you have a name badge? Okay, the merch table is over there. I don't know if you have to check in with anyone else". As she finishes with me, up walk two of the women from the Vox Rocks group (the vocalists at Ladies Rock Camp, which I attended in May), along with the volunteer coordinator, another Lady Rocker. Today we're here to support the campers at Rain City Rock Camp for Girls, rather than rocking out on our own.

"Just let me finish orienting these two on the raffle and then I'll be with you. Oh, here's Beth. She's a merch..."

"Goddess," Beth interjects.

"Yes, she's done this before. And Patty over there is in charge. You can go to either of them with any questions".

I step behind a half door to a claustrophobic area filled with boxes of t-shirts, water bottles, sweatshirts, hats, hoodies and fanny packs. At this point, I'm relieved that I opted not to bring my folding bike along. There's no way it would have fit with us, as I can barely bend over to reach the boxes as it is.

Beth shows me how to use the POS app (that's "point of sale", not the other POS abbreviation, as it actually works fairly well for us.

Nervous girls approach asking for camper earplugs. Another member of the Vox Rocks posse introduces her teenage son to us and offers his services as a runner. The room begins to fill with parents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters, as well as a few doting grandparents.

I did around boxes looking for specific sizes, as Beth rings up hats, decals, stickers and more. People ask questions like, "is this 100% cotton?", "is it preshrunk?", "will the stock be replenished for next week's show?" - all questions we did not go over in orientation.

After a sound check, the youngest bands with girls 8-9 start to play.

"Would you like to hear a joke?"
"Better make it a quick one," Beth mutters.
"Knock knock"
"Who's there?" choruses the crowd.
"Boo who?"
"Don't cry, it's only a joke".

Sweaty crowd members begin to fan themselves with the canary-colored programs. My vision starts to go dark, but I am determined not to faint, so I bend my knees and soldier on.

"This is so cool! I wish there had been something likes this for me," confides one aunt. I try to entice her to attend Ladies Rock Camp and have her own transformative experience.

Over twenty bands play. Faces reflect terror, joy and pride. We sell out of hats and totes. By the end, we have only XL & XXL sweatshirts left.

The show ends with two intern bands. I'm blown away by their talent and am now hungry for my own return to LRC. Maybe in September...

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Come Sail Away: Our Sailing Soundtrack (plus bonus sailing pics)

As the sun finally dips below the horizon, we retreat to the cozy confines of the cabin below to check the wind forecast and current predictions for the next day. A disembodied voice breaks out "Bluetooth mode..." (avion? has been turned on? is now on? has begun? something in French?) before finally pairing and broadcasting the mellow sounds of Crosby, Stills & Nash.

We have often lamented the fact that Rock Lobster does not have a sound system. Installing speakers to the logical space in the stern could interfere with navigation. In the past, we've relied solely on whatever earworm prompts me to sing aloud to be our soundtrack, but this year, I brought along the Bluetooth speaker my grandmother gave me for Christmas (thanks Grandma!). This simple addition added so much joy to our journey.

Library nerd enthusiast that I am, we populated our playlist in advance with nautically-themed music from hoopla, one of the streaming music/video resources offered by both Sno-Isle Libraries and the Seattle Public Library.

Our playlist included:
  • "Rock Lobster" (B-52s) - this inspired a dance party in our living room at 11 p.m. a few days before our voyage began
  • "Sloop John B" (Beach Boys)
  • "Southern Cross" (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
  • "Come Sail Away" (Styx)
  • "Sail Away" (Enya)
Sadly, I was unable to add Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone", which I sing with altered lyrics whenever we see a yellow separation zone buoy. Ah well, I suppose that is one way I can still make myself useful as the designated singer on the boat...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Oh Canada!

About a week before our vacation began, while groggily making tea and a breakfast sandwich, I was surprised to see my normally night owl husband in the kitchen with me. "Our trip isn't going to work," he began before explaining that due to the approaching Canada Day holiday all of the space in the Victoria Harbor was reserved, while Roche Harbor (where we'd be meeting our friends later in the week) was likely also full, as they have a lottery for Independence Day week reservations.

I felt a bit like an ugly American, not even realizing that Canada Day was coming up (and then even more like an ugly American using that phrase to compare myself as a United Statesian to Canadians). And to top it off, it was Canada Day 150, an enormous celebration for our friends to the north.

Canadian flags in Sidney, B.C. condos

Butchart Gardens
After a brief moment of panic, I went into action mode, spending my work breaks calling and emailing various marinas with good results all around. The Oak Bay Marina, which is a short bike or bus ride away from downtown Victoria. They assured me that they didn't even take reservations until 5 days in advance and that I would need to call back in a few days. Sunday morning at 7 a.m., I called again, securing moorage for June 30 & July 1.

While we've sailed to Canada many times, we've never sailed to Victoria - the prevailing westerly winds in the Strait of Juan de Fuca work against us. Fortunately, the wind was light enough that we were able to make it. We motored west from Port Townsend in the fog in 10-12 knots of wind for the first portion with our mainsail up and later put up a headsail as well, finally beginning to sail without motor assistance in 15-l7 knots of wind. Lots of waves to battle, but nothing too daunting.

While the first day we stayed in Oak Bay, we ventured downtown on Saturday to celebrate Canada Day with the Victorians. It was day 10 of their celebration, featuring bands on two different stages by the waterfront. Government Street and numerous side streets were closed to accommodate the crowds of people.

School children singing "O, Canada" on the Parliament lawn stage

We wandered the docks, thankful not to be among the boats rafted three deep, before stopping at the Indecent Risotto food truck for a quick snack of smoked salmon and dill aranciata balls with slaw. The day was so sunny and warm that after a few hours, we took refuge in the Royal B.C. Museum. We spent 2.5 hours wandering just the top floor on exhibits of human history, including some nautical-themed exhibits.

Selfie stop at the museum

After a dinner of pierogis at Sult, we fought our way through the masses back to our bikes with a few minutes to spare before the fireworks began. We agreed that if we are still mobile in 50 years, will we definitely return for Canada 200.

Fireworks over Victoria Harbour

Saturday, July 1, 2017

First Mate's Log: the Eighth Voyage

This past week has been crazy. Last week Thursday, I was offered a temporary job. Start date is July 17, the day I return from vacation, which started two days ago. And I made the not-so-bright decision to work Saturday and Sunday to conserve vacation time and have a staff meeting on Tuesday. So my days have been full packing my office and the boat.

All that means is that I'm incredibly thankful that our trip has begun. More details to come, including pictures when I'm writing from a computer, rather than my phone...

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Come Sail Away

I'm often a fair-weather sailor, so the record breaking rain this October - May, combined with over-committed weekends means that I haven't done as much sailing this year as normal - just one sail to Bainbridge Island at the end of January. Last weekend's sun drew me out again.

While the wind started out a reasonable 7 knots when we left the house, by the time we made it to Shilshole, it had switched directions and dropped to 3 knots, so we motored to Kingston. On the journey, we saw porpoises, leaping fish and the ever-present kelp.

Our trusty autopilot, navigating us through the glassy seas

Edmonds-Kingston ferries

When we arrived, milkshakes seemed just the thing, so we stopped in at Mora Creamery where I sampled the gianduja (chocolate-hazelnut). We finished up our shakes in the park near the ferry dock, ducking frisbees from the adjacent game.

Sitting in one of the Kingston big chairs

By the time we were ready to leave, the wind had picked up, allowing us to fly the spinnaker. One of my dreams/bucket list items is to be able to "dock without freaking out" and I'm happy to say that our docking experience went well enough that Trent complimented my line handling.

Trent estimated that he had 1-3 hours of boat work to do, so I opted to take the bus home. Sadly, I realized once I rang the bell to get off the bus, that my carefully packed bag did not include house keys, so after a leisurely trip to the grocery store, I finished the warm summer evening on my porch, reading a library book on my phone and streaming Tacocat and Beach Boys songs for a mini-dance party.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Summer Fun - Whale Watching

Cool breeze as the sun shines warm on bare arms. The hush of the crowd as transient Orcas feed amidst screeching gulls. Water puffing from blow holes. Our whale watching experience was magical.

When my in-laws come to visit from Eastern Washington, they always ask to choose a special activity. This time, my sister-in-law suggested a whale watching tour. I was somewhat apprehensive, as my experience from afar with such tours is watching groups of boats circling whales just a little too close, trying to push the limits.

We started out in Edmonds, a little cranky from circling the Port's lot multiple times before finding the perfect spot on a busy weekend. Sat for a picnic lunch from PCC at a bench near the water as the sun beat down against us. Stood in line for half an hour with other eager whale watchers from Australia, England, Florida, New York and a few other Washingtonians. But oh, it was worth it.

After so many two-day sailing journeys to the San Juan Islands, it is a marvel to be able to be able to get there and back with plenty of time to watch whales, lazy sea lions and bald eagles in just 4.5 hours.

The evening concluded at Anthony's, where I sipped Chateau Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc as I slurped mussels and nibbled on salty frites. The perfect end to a lovely day.