Hood Canal

Visit Dates: April 14-16, 2022

A corollary to “it’s better to have a friend who owns a boat than to own a boat” is “it’s better to have a friend who owns a vacation house than to own a vacation house.” Our friends and neighbors Jay and Mary Ann have a beautiful house looking over Hood Canal in Washington, just below Belfair. They spend most of the summer up there and we are lucky enough to be asked to visit them in mid April.

It was rainy and cool but the sun broke out occasionally. The view over their dock looking toward the Olympic mountain range is spectacular.

Overlooking Jay and Mary Ann’s dock.

It was nice enough for the mountains to make an appearance

The Olympic mountains peaking up over the far side of Hood Canal, Washington

But the evening golden hour is the star of the late show. Here you can see the rain up to the northwest.

Rain over the north end of Hood Canal

Even on cloudy days the sunset is captivating.

Sunset at Hood Canal, Washington

One of our usual activities up there is to walk the trails of the Mary E. Theler Wetlands Nature Preserve. It has undergone some changes in the fifteen or so years we have been going up there. They poked holes through the dike that allowed creation of some farmland. Allowing the seawater to retake its natural home allows for an expanded estuary which is good for the salmon and other fish. If I’m not mistaken this pedestrian bridge replaces a part of the dike that was taken out. It was low tide at the time of the picture.

Theler Wetlands and low tide. Near Belfair, Washington

When I have a zoom lens in hand I like to take faux macro photos.

Budding vegetation in the Theler Wetlands. Near Belfair, Washington

Looks like this rose hip as seen better days.

Rose hip in the Theler Wetlands. Near Belfair, Washington. Thanks for the identification Frances!)

Jay and Mary Ann’s oldest grandson was starring as Danny in the musical Grease at his high school. Mary Ann, Carla, Karen, and Diane all went to the play while the boys – Jay, me, John, and Jim – stayed at the house. We had planned to have burgers from Big Bubba’s for dinner. Big Bubba’s is a great place for burgers; Jim even created a sign for Jay and Mary Ann’s summer place that says “Gateway to Big Bubbas”. Jim and John headed out to pick it up while Jay and I hung back immersed in our books. Their website says they are open until 9:00, but when Jim and John got there at 7:02 they had just closed. So they dropped by the local DQ for our burgers, shakes, and fries.

Everyone had Saturday afternoon and evening obligations so we headed back a bit after breakfast. While we enjoyed our coffee we were treated to a show from a flock of Mergansers. The males are the ones with the white backs. Once again I thank my high school friend (from high school days, she’s not in high school now) Frances for the spotting. I didn’t get a shot of them head on so she definitely identify them but they appear to be a combination of Common and Red-Breasted Mergansers. Any problems with IDs is a result of my blurry photos and not Frances’ skills.

Common Mergansers at Hood Canal, Washington

After a few minutes they flew away to another feeding spot.

Common Merganser takes flight.

Frances has graciously agreed to do some bird IDs for me, so I think it is important that you get to know a bit about her. Social media has many downfalls; but the one reason I stay on Facebook is connection to people from my past. Frances and I went to the same elementary school (Marriot), same junior high school (Sage) and same high school (Palmdale High School). I remember her clearly from high school and confirmed with her that we, indeed, shared the same schools growing up. We grew up in a small but booming town. While we were not close friends neither was she a stranger. Had the internet never come along, I’d remember Frances as she was in high school when I’d page through my old year books. But Facebook has given me the opportunity to know her better – and to know her better as an adult.

I have a few birder friends so I appreciate the work in takes to identify species. I follow Frances on FB and her passion is on a whole other level. She has been to every continent except Antartica in her quest to grow her life list which is now over 4,300 birds. And Antartica is in her travel plans for next winter (southern hemisphere summer). While I know, that interests can take us places we might otherwise never visit, Frances has made the most of her hobby. Our intersecting interests has brought her back into my life, for which I am thankful.

If you would like to see other posts where Frances helped me check out this group of pages.

If you are interested in more of my pictures and stories from Hood Canal you can check out this link.

EDIT: May 17, 2022. Straightened and sharpened the banner photo (Rain over the north end of Hood Canal). I included this photo at the last minute; turns out it’s my favorite of the whole set.

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