February 8th, 2004

pencil

I have returned

Had a lovely weekend at Fort Canby Cape Disappointment, staying in one of their warm-and-toasty yurts. Call me whatever names you like, a built-in electric heater, lights, and bunk-beds make winter camping thousands of times more pleasant.

We wandered all over the park. We hiked to the Cape D. Lighthouse in the rain - ok, in the scattered showers. Of the two at the park, the one we visited is an actual working, Coast Guard installation. We went down to the beach, where we were menaced by an animated tribble which apparently had convinced someone it was a pomeranian. We walked back from the lighthouse by the road, passing the station-house where we learned that this particular Coast Guard detachment are the "Guardians of the Pacific Graveyard".

We saw a fair bit of wildlife, too. A bald eagle, some elk, a deer and fawn, swans, mallards, crows, sparrows (not house sparrows, but the ones that have the white dashed markings on their heads), an english spaniel, and raccoons.

We actually had quite the run-in with the raccoons, as it happens. Friday night, we arrived after dark, and it turned out the porch light on our yurt was out. So I'm standing on the porch, cooking pasta by candle & flashlight, and we keep hearing ...noises. Kind of grunty, growly, scraping noises, that we discussed but couldn't identify. The occasional sweep of the flashlight turned up nothing.

Finally at one point I see movement out of the corner of my eye, and when I turn with the flashlight there is a raccoon looking at me with no fear whatsoever, preparing to jump up on the table next to me. Needless to say I startle and yelp "it's a raccoon!" whereupon tani_chick came to my rescue and shooed it and its partner in crime off, though you could tell they were seriously debating whether they really wanted to go or not. Later we figured out they'd opened the cooler at one point in a period of about 3 minutes when none of us was on the porch - this is a cooler it takes some effort for humans to open. Fortunately we took it inside as part of the usual routine, having dealt with marauding raccoons in the past.

These guys, however, must have been raising some kind of raccoon army off in the woods, because they kept coming back. We saw them several times the following morning, though it was fairly easy to chase them off. Probably because they were really casing the joint for nightfall. We'd taken anything food related inside, but left our water containers and a gallon jug of orange juice on the porch, as that would keep them plenty cold. We'd also left two medium sized Rubbermaid-type plastic tubs with utensils in them - clean ones, mind you. Because what would raccoons want with pots and pans? Yeah, right.

They took the orange juice. We heard them and managed to get it back, but they'd already punctured the jug so we had to find other containers. Then they came back and got into the tubs, and stole the camp dishwashing soap of all things, which we got back but they managed to get all over a number of other items as they were dragging it out of the tubs.

Then they came back and attempted to run off with our two gallon water jug, after they'd opened it and drained a good 3/4 of it. This was an unopened water jug, and they figured out how to open the spigot. We got it away from them before they'd emptied it completely, but only just.

Now, I can understand the oj - it had been opened, it probably smelled tasty. The soap and the water container are less easy to explain, unless as I say they were stealing them to aid in their nefarious preparations for whatever they were preparing for, some kind of organized revolt or something. They had absolutely no fear - they came up within a foot of me on several occasions while I was building and maintaining the fire, of all things. Aren't wild animals supposed to be less than fond of burning things? Clearly these raccoons slept through Animal Ethics 101.

Other than Procyon lotor encroachment things were quite fine. There was much craftiness all around, including knitting, knitting lessons, and more knitting. Not to mention some knitting. Also some character portraiture, and fire. Did I mention the knitting? I'm going to have to go find myself a copy of Stitch & Bitch (I'm not sure I've got the spelling right, there), it appears.

So I am much refreshed. Not to mention looking forward to another short week, at the end of which I shall be returning to the coastal environs under even more cushy circumstances. Whee!
pencil

alas, google fails me

We noticed on Saturday (and possibly on Friday) that US flags were being flown at half-staff, down in the Ilwaco area. But I can't find anything on Google to tell me why, and the weekend newspapers available there were also singularly unhelpful. Anybody who reads this have any ideas? Was it the anniversary of the shuttle blow-up or something more recent? How local does that sort of thing get? Rather, could it have been for some sort of Ilwaco happening rather than something that would get reported in national news? Curious, curious.