Luke McGuff (holyoutlaw) wrote,
Luke McGuff

Tide Pools!

A while back I looked up the tides for July (because this is when the low tides of the year usually are) and saw that we'd get a good run of low tides starting Friday the 9th. Somewhere in there, we came across a reference to Salt Creek County Park, near Pt. Angeles. So that was the plan: Drive up on Saturday, tide pool Sunday morning, go to Hurricane Ridge in the afternoon (energy permitting) then more tide pooling and head back home Monday.

We got up early Saturday and drove up to Edmonds to catch the ferry. The wait wasn't horrendous, only one cycle. The day was beautiful, warm and sunny. We crossed over without a hitch, walking around the sun deck. We stopped in at Pt. Gamble, which I remember visiting some years back. It was pretty much exactly as I remembered, with a neat little historical museum in the basement of an old building. Apparently, it is still a company town, only now it's a tourist trap.

The big hit for us was the sea shell museum in the upper floor. Lots of great sea shells and creatures from all over the world, including a huge variety of crabs, from scarily big to surprisingly tiny (a commensal crab that lives in the shell of a much larger mollusk). We spent quite a while up there, looking into every display case.

We stopped at Dungeness Spit for a picnic lunch. Then to Pt. Angeles. After we checked in and got the room situated, we headed out to the park to rendezvous. This was a great idea (Julie's, natch. ;>) -- it gave us an estimate of how long it would take to drive there, and how much we'd be able to do. The park itself was great. We saw three or four areas of tide pool and tide lands access, and were left very excited for the morrow.

We had dinner at the Crabpot, which wasn't very exciting but WAS very filling. Then back to the room to sack out.

Sunday morning found us awake BEFORE the alarm and ready to hit the road by 6:30. We stopped at Fairmount Hotel and Restaurant for breakfast -- I need breakfast before a day of exertion. The waitress was so surprised by Julie that she said "A female here at this time of day. They usually don't come in before nine." And when another woman showed up, the waitress said "another female. We should have a party."

Then it was off to the tide pools. The temperature had dropped at dusk Saturday, and Sunday morning was cloudy and cool. I thought it would burn off, but it didn't. That made the observing fun, but the photography awful. Oh well. We'll see how things turn out. Still, we saw quite a few new creatures -- purple sea urchins, not least among them. What exactly we saw will have to wait until I look through the photos and can identify them.

We went to all four areas, each of which had a different geology. The first was large plates of uplifted sediment, with curly ridges on them that we took to be tube worm fossils. This area was full of large, flat, smooth (though slanted) areas, with the tide pools in the cracks. There were literally thousands of aggregating anemones, of all sizes. And some giant green anemones. Many crabs, limpets, and chitons. Not very many sea stars at the first set, though.

The second area was volcanic basalt, very bumpy and uneven. By now, there were plenty of other people around, including a class from Tacoma Community College, doing a combined geology and biology field trip. For some reason, I struck up a conversation with the wife of the biology instructor, and got his email to send him links to whatever pictures I take.

The last area, Tongue Point, was also very impressive. It was a long, narrow strip of rock, almost completely covered in California mussels. We also saw some blood stars, more urchins, and some very large orange sea stars. This area was the most crowded, but by now it was midmorning.

We took a lunch break, went back to the first area, and then said, DONE. So we headed off to Hurricane Ridge.

It struck me as very amusing to go from basically a few feet below sea level to a mile ABOVE sea level in the space of about a half hour drive. And a pretty pleasant, deceptively easy drive. Some pleasant twists and turns, and then, SURPRISE, you're above the snow line.

The visitor center and the easy hikes around it were very crowded. Unsurprising, being a weekend afternoon in midsummer. I heard German, French, Japanese, and Hindi. Still, we were pretty awed by the views. And amused by the very nonchalant deer, cropping away at the meadow, ignoring the tourists crowding around them and taking their pictures. I do have some pictures of a velvet buck* posing quite elegantly by the DO NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE sign. I wish I'd thought to zoom back, and include the tourists taking its picture, but didn't. Alas! With photographers and fishermen, it's always the one that got away.

Soon enough, the bright sunshine was making my eyes hurt, so we headed back down to the city. Sunday night we had dinner at the Indian Oven, which I liked better than the Crabpot. We located the breakfast place we'd eaten in when we first came to Pt. Angeles, back when we still lived in Wallingford, and hadn't gotten into tidepools yet.

This morning, we got up, had breakfast, and hit the road. We were back in Seattle before 1. It seems like so long ago, but it was only yesterday. And it seems like such a long time, but it was basically only one day. We were gone 51 hours.

Tomorrow, Julie heads to Madison for two and a half weeks, to help her family take care of her dad, who just had a spinal laminectomy. He was in great pain when we visited for Wiscon, so hopefully this will improve matters.

So, starting tomorrow night, I'll be batching it. Tomorrow night is the Clarion reading, Wednesday is a movie with [profile] fringefaan, Thursday is a party with wall space, Friday is the Clarion West party, and Saturday is dirtylibrarian's birthday party. I don't promise or guarantee that I'll go to ALL of these events.

* This sounds like Edwardian slang for a gay man, but it means the antlers are still covered in velvet.

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