Raccoons

Raccoon

The raccoon we saw outside Jason's house

As described on the Oklahoma State Animals website – Has a black “bandit” mask that shows up well on its whitish face. The body is brownish gray and the tail has rings of black and yellowish white. Mainly nocturnal, but will forage in daylight. Eats fruit, nuts, grain, insects, bird eggs, and many aquatic animals such as frogs, salamanders, crayfish, and fish. Found mainly in forests along streams and is increasing rapidly in urban areas, where it raids garbage cans. Does not hibernate, but will den up in very cold weather. Found throughout the U.S. and southern Canada, except for some places in the Rockies and deserts.

As described by Malorie – Has a cute, lovable, furry exterior with a mean, temperamental, ferocious disposition.

Some may not agree with my raccoon description, so let me explain to you how I have come to this opinion of our local nocturnal animals…

I had always enjoyed seeing raccoons around my neighborhood growing up. Our neighbors across the street had a couple of huge evergreen trees in their front yard that was home to a family of raccoons for a couple of years. I got to see the little baby raccoons, trailing behind their mother, grow a little bigger each summer. Then one year, we didn’t see them. We figured they had moved on and made their home elsewhere, but after a couple years of not seeing them, they appeared again. Maybe it was a new family, but they were all fairly big and seemed like the right age/size to be the good ‘ole raccoon family. Except now they all ate a lot more and pooped a lot more. My parents didn’t particularly like that, but I was happy to have them back anyway.

My parents had always told me not to get too close to them and that raccoons could bite you and carry diseases and such, but I was intrigued by them. How could anything so cute and shy be that bad, right? Well, one summer’s night I was sitting on the steps of our back door, talking on the phone and enjoying the cool night air. I was holding the phone with my right hand and looking out across the lawn. Mid-conversation, I heard this hissing/growling sound… really loud… really close to me. I pulled the phone back and looked to my right – there were two large raccoons hunkered down, in almost a pouncing position, about 10 ft. from me. Their eyes were locked on me, teeth barred and they were hissing/growling at me. Needless to say, I freaked out. I screamed, ran inside and slammed the door. So much for being cute and shy animals! I spent the rest of that summer scared of going outside at night. I learned my lesson though and from then on, have always kept a respectable distance from raccoons.

So, learn from me. Don’t let their cute, lovable exterior deceive you. Be safe this summer and repeat after me – Raccoons are not friends.

Lily Lake, Oyster Dome and Bat Caves, Oh My!

This last Saturday, July 10th, Mal and I went on our first hike of the season. It was a pretty late start for the hiking season this year, since the weather wasn’t that great in June. Last year we had been on several hikes by this time, so we had to make this a good one… and a good one it was! We drove up to the Samish Overlook, and got ready to go.

Getting Ready to Go

Getting Ready to Go

After surveying the land…

View from Samish Overlook

View from Samish Overlook

…we started off toward Lily Lake. Of course, we couldn’t take the “Lily Lake Trail,” we had to take Max’s Shortcut to Lily Lake instead. The path is pretty well maintained and not too difficult for the first .5 – 1.0 mile. Then, you get some elevation gain… about 550’ of it all at once. Maybe if you are an avid hiker you would think differently, but for us that a workout! After a few breather / water breaks, the trail finally leveled off. Another .5 – 1.0 mile and we reached Lily Lake… or what we thought was a dried up Lily Lake:

"Lily Lake"

It turns out that the actual lake was just a few more steps down the trail, but we didn’t take it that far. Oh well, I guess Lily Lake will just have to wait until another hike! After a break at “Lily Lake,” we took the trail loop over to Oyster Dome. The trail took us up another 150’ or so, where we reached the summit of our hike – Oyster Dome:

We Made It!

We Made It!

The views are spectacular – Samish Bay, the San Juan Islands, and a beautiful evergreen forest spread out beneath us.

View from Oyster Dome

View from Oyster Dome

After looking around, and “prancing around on the edge of a cliff” (that’s what Mal says when I’m walking close to the edge), we decided to hike down to the Bat Caves right below Oyster Dome. The trail down is about a 0.1 mile hike with a 260’ elevation loss. It is not a good trail for the weak-kneed (like Malorie), but she managed alright with a couple breaks.

Looking Back Up at Oyster Dome

Looking Back Up at Oyster Dome

The Bat Caves were also a lot of fun, for me at least. I love jumping around from rock to rock, over cracks and crevices in the rocks. There were also lots of caves and caverns that you could crawl in and down into, which were also fun to explore:

Looking Into My Cave

Looking Into My Cave

In My Cave

In My Cave

Mal Looking Into Her Cave

Mal Looking Into Her Cave

...And Now Mal's in Her Cave!

...And Now Mal's in Her Cave!

The afternoon sun was really hot when we were out on the rocks. Once we crawled into our caves though, it was a lot cooler. Quite pleasant actually, I could have camped there! After taking shelter from the sun for a few minutes, it was finally time to head back to the car.

All in all, it was a great hike to start the summer off with. You can’t go wrong with Oyster Dome, and adding on a few other side hikes just makes it that much better!

Here is a map of our route. I was learning how to use the GPS software on my phone, so the two straight lines in our path are where I accidently turned it off. 🙁

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=http://www.garafa.com/GPSKit/tracks/f6f9a3864ba1f271b3f437e693004ff8fb1a661b_2.kml

Now get out there and hike it!

-Jason

Happy One-Year-Dating Anniversary To Us!

Jason: So who here can believe that Malorie and I have been dating for one year? I wouldn’t believe you if you told me that, so you shouldn’t believe me either. Actually, you should believe me, because it’s true! We started dating on July 6, 2009.

Malorie: It should be easy to remember our anniversary date, since it’s right after the 4th of July, but I still forgot. 🙁 I remembered on the 4th, but by the time 2 days had passed, I forgot. Jason brought me flowers which I thought was a random act of kindness, but I guess it wasn’t so random. Pretty flowers, aren’t they?

Flowers

Thanks Jason!

Us: So, we celebrated the day after. We decided to enjoy the fantastic summer weather we’ve been having by going to dinner at The Cliff House Restaurant overlooking Bellingham Bay. In retrospect, it may have been a little too nice of summer weather (aka, it was hot!), but we enjoyed their outdoor seating anyway. Dinner was delicious, as you can see from the pictures.

Walnut and Herb Encrusted Halibut

Walnut and Herb Encrusted Halibut

Seafood Pasta Primavera

Seafood Pasta Primavera

We also got to watch the sailboats practicing for the sailboat races.

Sailboats

View From Our Table

Jason: Through all the great times and hardships we had this past year, I can’t wait to see what this next year has in store for us!

Malorie: Jason and I have gotten to know each other pretty well this past year. We’ve seen each other go through good, exciting things and frustrating, disappointing things. And after a year of it, we’re still happy to be dating – I think that’s a good sign. 🙂

One Year Anniversary!

One Year Anniversary!

Four-Legged “Friends”

~ (Though I can’t speak for Jason, I feel like he would support me and my opinions anyway… Right Jason?) ~

I’ve never really understood why so many people refer to their pet animal as a “friend”, but I think it’s due to my lack of experience. While most of my friends grew up with dogs or cats (or both!), I grew up with goldfish… and a hamster, once.

You would have to verify the history with my parents, but I believe that shortly after they were married they bought a dog – and all the leashes, collars, dog bowls, dog food, vaccinations, tags, etc. that come along with them. And I believe he was a great dog, the whole 2 days they had him, before he escaped the house, ran away and was never seen again. After that, they never wanted to invest that much time, money, and effort into a dog again. They probably would have been willing to get a cat, my mom was all for it, but my dad is allergic to them. So, I had lots of goldfish over the years instead. I also got a hamster, Sweetheart, after one of our neighbor’s hamsters had babies one day (they wondered why she was getting so big!). But that was the extent of my “pet” experience growing up.

Now that I’m older, independent, and living on my own, I’ve started to think about getting a dog or a cat. Probably because I never got one when I was a kid, even though it was on my Christmas List for a couple of years. I know that right now wouldn’t be a great time to get a pet, since I live in an apartment and work full time, but I still allow myself to think about it for the future.

Since I’ve never had a cat or a dog, I decided the first step would be to decide if I am a “cat person” or a “dog person” as the people in the “pet-owner” world refer to it. At first thought, I lean towards a dog. I think because it’s summertime and all these “dog people” are playing with their dogs outside… looks like fun. …BUT I have one major problem. And every time I start wanting to get a dog, some kind “dog person” reminds me of this problem. We’ve all seen it. It’s that position of mid-walk, bag-in-hand, bending-over, going-to-pick-up-dog-poop-with-my-hand posture. It’s not going to work for me. I don’t care if it’s a bag from the “pick up after your dog” dispenser, or a grocery bag, or a bag that previously held your produce, or if it’s double-bagged, or if you line the bag with paper towels, it’s not working for me! I have no desire to pick up a hunk of dog poop with my hand. So unless there’s some breed of dog that will only poop when and where you want it to, I don’t think I could be a “dog person”.

Maybe I’m more cut out to be a “cat person” after all. Though you can’t really play fetch or take your cat for a run, they are nice lap warmers and good to play with and pet. Some doctors even recommend petting animals for therapy, so it must be a good thing, right? I started warming up to the idea of getting a cat… BUT then I heard some stories from “cat people”. Like the cat that meows all night long unless you let it sleep on your face. The cat that claws your face when you haven’t gotten out of bed to feed it. The cat that is a mighty hunter and brings its prey home to show-off to its owner – sometimes live birds let loose to fly around the living room, sometimes birds that have been maimed and the cat leaves a treasure hunt of bird parts throughout the house. Anybody still considering getting a cat? Needless to say, I don’t think I’m cut out to be a “cat person” either.

… The more I think about it, the more I miss Stripe, Goldie, Fred, and all the other goldfish I had over the years. Maybe I am simply a “goldfish person”.