Monday, July 23, 2007

Flipper's Cousin and Harry

I'll start this off with a confession....

I am a Harry Potter Nerd! There, I've said it. I feel better to have gotten it off my chest. I've read all the books, watched all the movies. I have a Hagrid Toy on my Bookshelf....a nerd....Don't judge...millions of people love Harry Potter. I'm just a sheep here.

Lea and the girls are out of town right now so I have a bit of personal freedom to follow my whims wherever they take me. This can be a great thing or a scary thing. Depends on who you ask.

Friday night I got out of work and went the the theater to see the latest Harry Potter Movie. I had heard some people say it was a bit too much like Star Wars or other movies with massive amounts of special effects. I thought the movie was brilliant and I loved every minute of it! Go see it and decide for yourself if you haven't already.

I got out of the movie at around 11:30 and headed to Borders at the Alderwood Mall where somewhere around 2,000 people were crammed into the upstairs and downstairs in anticipation of the arrival of the book. I had pre-ordered my copy months ago and before going into work I secured my place in line so I ended up around 40th or so to get it. On the way home the DJ on the radio was talking to a woman that just bought it and trying to talk her into reading the last page on the air! I couldn't believe it! Obviously I turned off the radio. Since then there have been many close calls for spoilers.

I am working on photo's from 4 weddings right now so I'm very busy at home and didn't get to read it much. I decided to take a "me" day and made some reservations for an Orca Whale Watching trip out of Friday Harbour. Years ago on a trip to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Lea and I were lucky enough to visit on a nasty, stormy day so not many people were there. We went in to see Keiko the Orca and no one else was in there. He swam right up to the glass and sat there for around 10 minutes just checking us out. It was just the 3 of us and ever since I've really loved Orcas. We went on a trip a couple of years ago and were surrounded by them near the San Juan Islands so I was hoping for a repeat trip but armed with a much better camera and far better lenses.

My plan was to read the book when there weren't whales jumping around me. I got to the Ferry around an hour early so I climbed down to the beach and sat on a giant boulder near the water to read for a while. It was super foggy out so the mood was perfect for Harry Potter Books. The Ferry looked pretty cool coming in through the Fog. I read on the Ferry Over and went to check in with the Whale People. They told me that the Orcas had moved to a distant island that was out of range of their boat the Western Prince II. I was severely bummed about this information. My plan of a perfect day and slipped away just like that. I found a Pub nearby, had a local beer and read some more of my book waiting for the boat to leave.

The Captain came out and said that there were still no Orca's in the area but that two magnificent Humpback Whales were just at the edge of their maximum range...Awesome! Humpbacks are huge. He was talking about their size, their feeding habits, their tail splashing all that good stuff. Apparently it's pretty rare to see them out in this area this time of year. Then he says....orrrrr we could go north and look for Eagles, Seals, Porpoises and other wildlife. Again that sinking feeling going from elation to depression in no time flat. Captain Ivan was verbally debating with himself between the two options. Later I learned that on the way out he heard the weather had turned sour along with the visibility so North we went. Not much later we did see two cool Bald Eagles on a small island yelling at each other. Apparently Eagles mate for life and it appeared they were communicating with each other like most husbands and wives would communicate after being on a small island together for their entire lives. I truly love Bald Eagles and I never ever tire of seeing them.

Later we saw some Harbor Seals and their pups (which is why there are normally loads of Orcas around...Seal Pups...yummy.) The pups were pretty cute and the Seals looked quite relaxed.

Then past an island that is apparently owned by the owner of Oakley Sunglasses. It was originally designed to have wild game on it so that hunters could go kill them without having to leave the comforts of their hotel room. It turns out there is a bit of an environmentalist mentallity in the San Juans (go's only one of the most beautiful areas I've ever visited) so the hunting aspect of the island went bye bye. Now it is filled with Rams, Deer, Mink and other animals I don't recall. Pretty interesting. I'll admit that I was pouting at this time though. My time is so precious these days and I rarely get to spend it leisurely that I did not want to have spent the entire time looking at deer and seals.

Not long later we spot a porpoise about a hundred yards away. I get a couple shots off but they were just too far away to be dramatic at all. Back to my book.

We continue to head North into Canadian Waters when they shout that a Dall's Porpoise is playing with the boat. Normally they will do this for a minute or so. I think they said 2 minutes is a long time for them. This bugger stayed with the boat, just in front of it for around 15 or 20 minutes! He was so cool. He looked more like Keiko than Flipper as he was black and white like an Orca with the body of a dolphin. One thing I love about being a photographer is access. I had the best camera on the boat so people kept inviting me to cut in front of them to get a better shot until finally I was right on the front of the boat. I could have reached down and pet this dolphin had I thought of it but I was more worried about hanging on to my camera as I was suspended over the edge of the boat while travelling around 20 miles an hour. Once he was so close that he sprayed water out of his blowhole and doused me and my camera! It was awesome. I got some cool shots and it made the day worthwhile.

Even though we didn't get to see any whales, the Captain and Crew made it a great day. The Western Prince is a nice boat and they seemed genuinely eager to show us some beautiful wildlife in the area. They are experts on them all and were more than happy to answer questions everyone had. If you live in the area and haven't been on a whale watching trip...Go! Here is a link to the Western Prince...

See you next time,



Peet said...

Hello Mathew: I just read the last page of the Harry Pothead book, coupled with an author interview that says what happens after the book, and what a story. PLUS, it only took me ten minutes of slow reading! Glad you are enjoying your time. I do hope you have enough clean clothes to last!

Anonymous said...

I see you made the front page over at Fotolia with one of your light paintings. Nice going!