Thursday, April 18, 2013

One of my favorite, albeit "endangered" birds - The Northern Cardinal

Well here it is mid April and I am still a bit low on IDs. Not to worry, the whales are fine, Jorge had a great season out of La Paz, muchas ballenas! I’ve got 17 IDs, 6 world class and 2 world class blue whale IDs. As always I am honored and thrilled simply to be with them. If you have read my book you know why.

Some of the highlights of the past month: A short swim with HB# 2 and 3, a  mother/calf pair.

                         HB# 2 and 3  13             

 The 26th of March was an extraordinary kayak day with my good friend Charlie Evans, his son Kenneth and cousins Joe and Alan. Charlie got out to The WZ even before I did and was treated to 3 HBs. After we joined him we encountered yet another 2 HBs AND a Blue Whale. We were all real close to the blue whale especially Charlie’s cousin Joe and my buddy Alan Pomeroy. They went in but the whale was long past them. No pictures but I have purchased a Kodak Play Sport camera so there will be a whole new level of photos coming next year – it has video also and is of course waterproof!

If that’s not enough we went out the next day with all the “crew” in two pangas for a ID run and saw a total of 9 whales of which I was able to get 3 world class IDs. Grace made an attempt at an in water encounter and got within 150’ so she definitely qualifies as being in “whale world”. Also Joe the day before with a blue whale.

"Charlie's Crew": Carolyn, Grace, Alan, Joe, Kenneth, GiGi

                      B# 2 13, a grand blue whale

               HB# 15 13

Three days later I went out alone and chased 5 HBs all over “Hell and back” in my kayak but had no major encounters – great exercise and again just to be in their presence is a major high.

Had my first good dolphin swim of the year on the 2nd of April. Alone out in The WZ and about 20 Common Pacific Dolphins went by. I was able to swim with two of them for a while – SWEET!

Almost bought the ranch the next day driving in La Paz. I came to major intersection where a car was stalled so I slowed down and then came to a full stop. The guy behind me didn’t see that, when he did it was panic brakes time! I couldn’t move and as I looked into the rear view mirror I saw him fish tailing toward me. I thought, “no shit, I’m f**ked”. Then I put out a screen of energy by saying, “nope, you are not going to hit me”…..and he didn’t! When he finally stopped he was three inches from my bumper – HOOHAH!
A couple of days later I met the family renting my neighbor's house (Alex and Leslie Cook) and they turned out to be some of the most delightful people I have ever met. I took Bill and his daughter Lucia out for a search on the 4th and we came upon both a HB and a blue with good IDs on both.

                     Lucia and me

                  The Conin's sans papa Bill - Amanda, Lucia, Jeremiah

 My neighbors in San Isidro, Roxanne and Darrel (the only other Gringos that live in the area full time) recently road tripped down the Baja and passed through the town of Marmol. It was there that the onyx for this statue in St. Paul Minnesota was mined.


"Vision of Peace" statue, 1935

On the 8th Alan and I decided to do a tank dive on the reef. Pretty much nothing went right – Alan forgot his weights, I didn’t have enough weight (since losing so much body fat I need more to get down), the wind came up, the current was intense, visibility sucked and we got tired. It took all I had to get my gear back up into my kayak. We left the reef worn BUT NOT DEFEATED. We are already planning our next dive.

I wanted to throw this in. This is my mom and my daughter in Morocco before mom passed away in 2004. She was an inveterate traveler and adventurer – great roll model.

               Mom (Erika) and Kersti

On the 10th I was doing my beach exercises (too much wind for me to kayak) and had just reached the point most distant from my gear when I saw a mighty breach just ½ mile out. There was a mother and calf and the mother was teaching the calf some basic surface behavior techniques. Oh, how I wanted to go out! As I started back to my place I saw my neighbor Alex Cook coming down the bluff with paddle in hand. He launched his kayak and went in pursuit – in some serious chop! When he got into the zone he lost track of the whales for a bit but then they suddenly resurfaced near enough for him to have a “close encounter”. For the next ½ hour or so Alex paddled next to them (no more then 30’ away) and was treated to that very special space when one is accepted by The Whale People. I was elated that Alex had the desire, the courage and the sensitivity to do this – well done amigo!

Things are moving ahead on the marine lab dream. It is very possible that the local secondary school will donate a piece of land adjacent to the school in El Cardonal to put the building. This is huge!! At the same time the university in La Paz, through the support of Dr. Jorge Urban, may take on the administration of the lab and work with me to develop a local marine biology program. It’s all a bit heady and none of it is in writing yet but I’m keeping the faith. It’s a win, win, win situation for everyone!

As I write this on the 16th I am being visited by a very old and dear friend. We first met as competitors on the sports field in the 5th grade and have stayed in touch ever since along with my other two old compadres, Bill Symon and John Erving. This morning Frank (Denney), Alan and I did a sunrise kayaking out to The Whale Zone. It was Frank’s first time in a kayak. We were treated to a calm sea, beautiful sunrise and a good sized herd of Common Pacific Dolphins that passed right through our group.

Frank Denney - Urmas, sunrise in The WZ

Well that’s about all the news. Some thoughts before I go:

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” –Rumi

                       Sea Gull and humpback friend - not my pic

                                   Enough said, eh ?

                     Recommended reading !