Thursday, July 30, 2009


It is very hot again today, but not so bad as it was yesterday when it reached 102F, which is hot for an area that sees normal summer highs closer to 70F. I do not enjoy either the heat or the harsh sun, but today I needed to get out and get away from everything. In the NE corner I stop to cool off under the branches of a fine weeping willow that the eagles sometimes use as a perch. The light breeze slips through and under the long foliage and with the shade it provides it is quite a pleasant spot.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Breakfast Club

It's going to be hot today, and sunny. S joins me this morning and we hit the water by 9am. Few people are around. We stop in the shade of a small island on the west shore of the bay for breakfast. I made a 1/2 blueberry and 1/2 peach clafloutis last night and with a thermos of coffee it is an excellent breakfast

While eating we are surrounded by ducks feeding. Their dabbling has the same sound as when you wiggle your fingers quickly in water. Still quite a few baby ducks also.

We head over into the NE lagoon. There are old pilings in the water here and with the lake down a foot or so, they are exposed. An old map of this area shows a rail line in this vicinity. Some day I'll come back here and plot the pilings and see if they map something that looks like and old rail pier.

We continue to circle the bay and marvel at how no one in the massive waterfront homes is outside enjoying their massively expensive waterfront. Our gain... S practices her bow paddler maneuvering as we wind our way through the lily pads back to the south lagoon.
We take out just as more people are beginning to get on the water. A beautiful start to the day.

RECIPE for Clafloutis

about 3 cups of fruit - berries, apples, peaches, cherries etc. mixed or not.
preheat oven to 350F
Butter a pie pan
Dump the fruit in the pan, sprinkle with a few tablespoons of sugar, if you like.
Whisk, all together, 3 eggs, 3/4cup milk, 1/4 cup of half and half (or light cream), 2/3 cup flour, 2 tsp vanilla, 3 tbs sugar. This is a thin batter.
Dump batter on fruit.
Bake for 35 -40 minutes until it is browning
The clafloutis will rise in the last 10 minutes of baking. Remove and let cool some before eating. The clafloutis will fall as it cools and become a thick pudding/custard consistency that can be cut and served in slices. Eat warm, room temp or cold.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I put in today on the SE side of Lake Union. I just paddle and have no real aim today. The marinas and docked boats don't inspire. I head up to the Fremont Channel, but don't have the gumption to continue in that direction. I end up in Portage Bay, but I don't feel like getting out of the canoe yet, so I head through the cut to the south lagoons and take out there.

I walk my canoe home along the dry gravel path through the arboredum. Each step, the gravel crunches and grinds under foot. It hasn't rained in I don't know how long. Whenever I enter a clearing the sun bakes on me and I am reminded of long dusty hikes we would take as Boy Scouts on the dirt roads up in northern Minnesota.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Morning Paddle

I put in at the south end of Portage Bay, maybe 200 yds west of where the portage that gave the bay its name was located. I'm in the water by 7am.

Exiting the east end of the cut, a bald eagle circles to my right, its head down looking for prey.
There are many rowing shells out at this time of the morning on such a nice day.
I enter the channel between the marsh islands and the west shore. A heron guards the entrance, standing tall and erect in a pose that is a cliche'. Then, an eagle sweeps across at a high speed. I think it is duck hunting. It circles behind me and sweeps across once more some 200 yds ahead with its wings set, for sure on the hunt.
Pond lilies are just starting to open for the day. They close each night.
I lodge my canoe into the branches of the winter eagle perch in the NE corner of the bay, disturbing a heron that flies off just 50 yds, waiting for me to leave.
Ducks and geese are beginning to flock in mid bay. Most are adolescents that can't fly, yet. This might explain the eagles duck hunting behavior. A non-flying duck would have to act much like a coot, the eagles favorite winter food, swimming and diving to evade being dinner.
I cross the bay, round the south side of the burial island and take out.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Big Lake

I put in on the big lake and head east, straight into the sun. It is very calm and the water has only the smallest of dimples on its surface.

Halfway across I spot some birds 200 yards to the north. They are smallish grebes moving in an orderly procession to the east. There are eleven. Ten dive, then the last one dives. They surface, then dive again. Having finished writing my observation, I pivot the canoe back towards the east. The grebes have vanished. I watch, but i never see them again.

Near the east shore, a large private Queen Mary approaches at flank speed. The driver alters course and swings wide of me. This is only worth noting because such behavior is so rare.

I paddle into and briefly look around Mydenbauer Bay. I see little of interest. It is all houses and no natural appearing shoreline. So, I head southwest towards the north end of Mercer Island.

I stop in mid-lake, somewhere west of Mercer Island, to eat lunch. The quarter moon is 52 degrees above the horizon and bearing 255 degrees true. Mt. Baker is about 015 degrees true. No one, even now, knows where I am except for me.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Writing from the Canoe

It's a warm cloudy day with occasional showers. For a Sunday in July, there are very few people on the water. I see some newly hatched ducklings - ducks seem to hatch their young over a much longer period of time than do canada geese (the geese hatch earlier and in a 2 to 3 week period). Going clockwise around the bay I pass the mouth of the Montlake Cut and think about how it is now obsolete. When it was opened in 1916, it gave ships access to the 30 sq miles of Lake Washington and let loggers move timber to Puget Sound in large rafts instead of by feeding them through the log flume that was built on top of the ancient canoe portage. Now the cut is just a connection for pleasure boats. But the cost of the cut was one river (yes, with a salmon run) that stopped flowing and the lowering of the lake by ten feet, turning rich wetlands into unusable almost dry land.

Beggar ducks are surrounding me. Time to paddle on.

The lake, or at least the shallower parts, is covered with hunreds of thousands of lily pads. These are the white flowered lily pads, the yellow ones bloomed late in the spring. There were many fewer yellow lily pads. The lake is the highest that I have seen it at this time of year. Perhaps that contributes to more lily pads than normal.
The wind is strengthening.
Kingfishers have a minor convention going in the north lagoon. I see five at one time, but there must be a dozen up here.
Paddling south to pick up the last 55 gallon barrel, the wind is picking up the scent of fresh water. I breath deeply through my nose to catch the flavor of the bay. It reminds me of the pleasant aftertaste when one gets water in their nose while swimming. It is an old smell from a long time ago.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Big Item Day

Summer is back, with wind is down, the sun is out, birds are singing, found some junk in the lake.

I walk the canoe to the south lagoons and from there I head a short mile to a nook where I had spotted some large items tangled in trees and drift logs along the shore of the big lake.

Here's a 50 gallon drum. Not so heavy, but not so easy to be fitted in das boat.

And here's some of my favorite material! A 5 foot long block of styrofoam. It's a miracle material - soaks up about 50 times its weight in water and never drys out! This block weighed in at about 150 lbs, assuming that I can no longer lift a 150 lb person, cuz I'm old.

Oh yeah, that is the high part of the floating bridge that almost never appears in my photos because I think it is an eyesore (and it actually runs through an Indian burial ground - strange, but true)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

It's like spring all over again

I put in at the north end of the big lake. I hoped to retrieve some plastic debris from the shoreline, but a 15mph wind out of the south blowing over 15 miles of lake disagreed with that idea.
I headed straight into the wind and small whitecaps to round a long fishing pier. Then towards the Samammish River broadside to the waves. The spray is warm, warmer than the 60 degree air. The mouth of the river is busy with birds. Many ducks with ducklings about and a heron every 200-300 yards. I see several kingfishers also. About a half mile into the river I head up a tributary, Swamp Creek. The log jam in the photo is about as far as one can get. It has more jams upstream of this first one. I collect my garbage here, "heading it off at the pass" before it gets to the lake. It is interesting to see what Lynnwood and Bothel youth are drinking these days, mostly little one ounce bottles of liquor and cheap beer. I return downstream, paddle south on the lake shore and out of the wind for a stretch. Then I head out into the middle of the lake and downwind back to the put-in.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Holiday Heck

It's a holiday weekend. The lake is overrun with boats; big motorboats, small fast motorboats, sailboats and my canoe. The big lake has big waves today. It's not from the wind, which is pleasant, but from boat wakes. I bob and weave in the erratic waves. It is relaxing even though it takes a bit more effort to keep a steady pace and course. I slip through the east marsh and south around the burial island dodging rental canoes and kayaks. Watching the occupants, I realize that they are in foreign territory, unsure and unfamiliar with the surroundings. They don't see the marsh, busy as they are with an unfamiliar craft. Cattails have just put out their dark brown pod. I take out near the cut and walk home.