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Saturday, August 23, 2014

MARY, JUNER, JURLY, & AUGURST (Just some of the many months with 'R' in them).

Uncle Rico did a quick back-of-the-napkin calculation. "144 beers." he mumbled, "assuming we each drink 12 beers a day".
"I assume bringing water would be entirely out of the question?" I broached.
But he just looked at me as if I were entirely crazy. I didn't know about Kip for sure, but I was having a hard time fitting the concept of 12 beers a day into a low carbohydrate eating routine. I was also having a hard time fitting 48 beers into my kayak.

In an act of unparalleled beneficence, Uncle Rico stacked my ice chest on the towering pile of gear extruding from the cockpit of his stable fishing platform/drilling rig/aquapod, relieving me of my ill conceived plan to tow it in a leaking rubber raft.

We set off around the sheltered south side of Long Island on water so smooth you wouldn't even think it was Willapa Bay, where 9% of all oysters in the United States are grown (thank you Wikipedia entry on Willapa Bay).

Pinnacle the distance.

We had stayed at the Pinnacle Rock campground back in 2011, and though we would eventually explore much more of the Island on this trip, we were quickly seduced by the easy availability of non-private oysters close to shore - a feature not so much in evidence at the other campsites on the West side of the island. 

As always, we vowed only to eat the things we could find in nature...144 beers (or so)  not withstanding.

A middle aged lady and her son were camping down the beach from us. She seemed very knowledgeable about the island so we asked her what caused the holes in these trees. She said "Huge peckers hammered all these holes." she paused and then added, " I sure would have liked to have seen them in action."
Uncle Rico was only half listening and was consequently forced to ask, " Did you just say 'huge peckers hammered all these holes'?"
Kip, who had been paying attention, answered, "Yes, that's what she said."

This evening's entree, Oyster 'Po boy' sandwiches.

It took some time to fine tune the deep frying strategy for the oysters, but to sum up the research, the oyster's inherent gooiness lends itself to a 'dry' breading application and not so much a thick beer batter. Also, a camp tested condiment that proved to have multiple applications - Kraft chipotle flavored mayo - in a squeeze bottle.

According to Wikipedia, Willapa Bay is the 2nd largest estuary on the Pacific coast (The San Francisco Bay being the largest), and half the water in this mostly shallow bay leaves and enters with every tide. This makes for a fairly dramatic difference in scenery depending on the time of day.

Out on the bay, the dominant weather pattern established itself as a cool stiff breeze from the north that encouraged single file lines of low lying clouds to file past the island on some undetermined pilgrimage to the south. Meanwhile, the island seemed somehow inoculated from extremes in temperature, our camp sheltered by trees and perhaps topography.

In the gap between the island and the Long Beach Peninsula, trains of un-threatening clouds scurry southward on into the night.

Tired of waiting, Uncle Rico hauls the beer barge into the rising tide (If the tide won't come to Muhammad then Muhammad must go to the tide).

The promise of access to the interior of the island at Smokey Hollow Campground becomes something more like cruel taunting  when it becomes clear a population of mosquitoes, the result of exponential growth in ideal low swampy terrain, would be intent on accompanying us on any inland expedition.

It meant piloting our various watercraft into the wind driven waves, but we persevered until we reached the northern-most campground - Sand Spit.

Here the beach is delineated with great swathes of green and browning seaweed, as if the bay is some vast graduated basin.

I try to take a dramatic picture of Kip suitable for his cage-fighting publicity posters.

Clear evidence of old roads suggests a history of lumber harvesting. The roads evidently run the length of the island.

An ambiguous marking at an intersection.

Deep in the woods, Uncle Rico took time out to explain the life cycle of the Dungeness crab, and how, at suspiciously unspecified times of the year, the female crabs obey nature's dangerous imperative to climb the hills of Long Island to lay their eggs under the leaves of suitable ferns.

We counted ourselves fortunate to find a rare indigenous garden of jalapenos, especially since the receding tide failed to reveal any legal oyster sources.

Pinnacle Rock marks the location of our first campsite (far left)

As the tide continued to recede, the rotten stumps of enormous trees revealed themselves to be futilely clinging to sand in an obviously intertidal area. Uncle Rico began to share his theory that these giants had been victims of the massive Cascadia earthquake of 1700 (or so) when the activity of the Juan de Fuca Plate suddenly dropped established forests into the intertidal area. Of course, after the natural history lesson on Dungeness crabs, I was not entirely sure Uncle Rico's ideas could be trusted. 

After dark, and under a nearly full moon, a solitary oyster boat plied the incoming waters of the next high tide.

At daybreak, I began to notice new animals that made me question the wisdom of sleeping out in the open without a tent. This hand-size cricket/spider hybrid will likely be the source of countless future nightmares.

The trip back to the Pinnacle Rock Campground was like a big payoff for all the effort we had expanded paddling against the wind the day before. Now, the wind pushed us and the waves playfully nudged us, perhaps daring us to surf.

Tree hugger.

That's pretty much what she said.

Other fungus among us.


Kip samples his authentic French 'fortified' wine with the expected level of French snootiness and elegant decorum.

At moments, talking around the campfire, it seemed we were on the verge of solving significant world problems.

But we didn't take any notes...and by the time the moon was setting, I found I couldn't remember any of the answers.

And then the sun rose and the whole thing started again.

1 comment:

  1. What's a Tropidischia xanthostoma?
    It's pretty much my favorite animal. It's like a cricket and a rhinoceros mixed... bred for its skills in magic.


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