Friday, June 22, 2012

The Very Hungry Osprey

Wednesday was a wonderfully warm day. I wore a tshirt and capris and was still warm. I didn't turn the AC on in the cabin since there was a great breeze. Everyone was happy and friendly since it was warm and sunny. (Of course now, two days later, it's only 60 degrees and pouring rain. Sigh.)

Late in the afternoon, I looked over at a snag that's very close to the ramp on the east side. There was an osprey sitting on a very low spot of the branch, almost in the water. A closer glance, then looking at it through the binoculars, and I realized he had caught a huge fish. (I shared the binoculars with a bicyclist who came aboard. That was a mistake. He'd been riding for 20 miles already. He put the binoculars up to his eyes, looked, then handed them back to me. When I put them up to my eyes, the rubber around the lenses were wet with his sweat, which then made rings around my own eyes. SO GROSS!) I'm guessing the fish was at least 14 inches long. Most likely, he caught the fish, and it was too heavy to fly up to the nest, so he stopped in a low spot, somewhere he could reach. (click on any picture to view it larger)

I could see that he was doing his best to eat the fish, most likely to make it light enough to fly it up to the nest. You can see him testing the weight and trying to take off. He did this frequently.

He sat there, all told, for at least 45 minutes eating his fish. At one point, a crow got very interested.

Until finally the osprey made a noise toward the crow and it flew away.

On my next trip back to that side of the river, I could really see that the osprey had eaten at least half of the fish. One whole side had the skin and a good deal of flesh taken off.

A few minutes later, the osprey flew off, taking the fish with him, back to his chicks in the nest.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Random Musings

I haven't posted in awhile. I came down with a terrible cold that turned into a terrible sinus infection. I think I was sicker with this cold than I've been in years. I actually took time off work, which can sometimes be a big deal. To call in sick on short notice (the week of is short notice), you first call the supervisor and let him know, then you call the pager phone. There's a handful of people who don't work full time on the ferries, but have their licenses and work elsewhere for Public Works. They're Relief Ferry Operators. Some work on the bridge crew, other on road crews. They rotate who has the pager phone, and when they have it, they're on call and if needed, stop what they're doing and head to the boats. Or come in on their days off. By the time I got off the phone with my supervisor, had a coughing fit and blew my nose, he'd already called the relief on call. So when I called the relief, he answered the phone, "Hey sickie!" He had no problem coming in, which was great. Some people make a bigger deal out of it, usually because the commute can be pretty long, especially down to this boat. But now I'm mostly all better and am back at work. I think the osprey eggs have hatched. I was looking through the binoculars, and I'm pretty sure I saw two grey fuzzy heads poke above the nest when a parent landed with some food. I can't wait until they fledge. It's hard to see them when they're still so small. Even though the nest is so close to the ferry ramp, it's up a 30 foot pole, so I can't see into the nest. The best view is from the other side of the river, looking through binoculars. Yesterday, my sister drove down with her kids, ages 5 and 2, to spend the week with family. They made it to the boat a mere 15 minutes before I closed for the night, which was perfect. My nephew helped me close up, by pushing closed the gate, carrying the flag, and wrapping the chain. It was great fun, and my niece ran along with us. I love it when kids I know come on board, there's so much fun stuff to show them. My nephew and I climbed down into the machinery room to turn off a machine for the night, but while we were down there, the air compressor was on, which makes a huge roar. I think he liked that, it felt very industrial. Today, a guy from the sign shop came down to the boat. I was so happy to see him. When they originally placed the signs for the ferry, they didn't get them all right. On the west side of the river, the stop sign is up so far that if a car stops there, I can't see them at all if I'm across the river. So a car will come to the ferry, stop at the sign, like they should, and sit there, not knowing I have no idea they're over there! So that sign will be moved down, closer to the ramp, so I can actually see them. On the other side of the river, we've got a big problem with semi trucks following their GPS and thinking they can come across the river. The problem is that there's nowhere for them to turn around. If a semi comes down, it'll have to be backed up a quarter mile, and around a sharp corner. Not fun. I've gotten into very heated arguments with truckers about that, when they try to insist they'll fit on the ferry just so they don't have to back up. I think I recall actually saying to a trucker once, "I am the captain of this vessel and what I say goes!" Shut him up quick! I wish I was more familiar with bird songs. There's a bird that sings right when I show up in the morning. It's loud and sweet. I would love to know who's singing to me! Sunday this week was crazy busy. Wings of Wonder, a butterfly garden in the little community here, closed its' doors and Sunday was it's last day. On top of that, it was Father's day, a sunny day, plus, it was graduation day at OSU, 20 minutes away, and Michelle Obama was the keynote speaker. I didn't have a break in cars at all between 9:30 am and 6 pm. At one point, I was struggling to come with a few spare moments to use the bathroom! I've been seeing a lot of heavy tractors this week. I took one tractor across, that was pulling a plowing thing or seeder or something, that could plow 24 rows at once. Right now, as I'm writing this, I'm carrying a large truck with a large tank on the bed, and the truck is towing a trailer that takes up both rows of traffic. On the trailer is a tractor that looks like it's a sprayer, for fertilizing fields. Big tanks, narrow wheels and long arms that swing out on each side. The driver just had to climb up onto the tractor to bring one of the arms back in, it'd managed to swing out. Hmmm, I'm sure I can come up with more random things I've seen or dealt with in the last few weeks, but I'll stop here.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Odd car stuff

Wednesday was a day of odd car happenings. Around noon, I look up the hill on the west side, and a small pickup truck rolled down the hill, and looked as if it was going to park next to my car, where there's a small gravel area, space enough for about 3 cars. Instead of parking there, the car tried to park on the edge of the gravel, right where a deep ditch starts. As I watch, the car seemed to park just slightly in the ditch, then rolled slowly forward, until one of it's back wheels was off the ground and it was fully in the ditch. What on earth!? The driver eventually got out, and stood there scratching his head, before wandering down to the boat and asking if we had a phone book so he could call a tow truck. Instead of offering him that, I suggested that he walk up to the first house on the hill, and as if they could help. The family at that first house seems to have a plethora of cars in various stages of repair, plus plenty of machinery. The ditched driver seemed a bit ashamed to go ask for help, but within 5 minutes, he and the neighbor came down in a big pickup, tied a chain to the truck and yanked him out. It was pretty remarkable that he got himself out of the ditch so quickly. It also made me very happy to have ferry neighbors like that, people I can call on for help whenever I or someone else needs it.

Late in the afternoon, about 15 minutes before closing, a motorcycle rolls on board, with it's power off. That's not super unusual, it's a steep enough hill that it's easy to coast. The rider was very friendly, and we gossiped for a few minutes before he said that he thinks his battery was dead. It was a new to him bike, and he had a feeling the battery was getting old. He had a nifty little charger that plugged into any outlet. Because of the size of the plug, it wouldn't fit into the outdoor outlets on the boat, so he rolled his bike up to the front door of the cabin, and the cord reached the outlet in there. So he and I sat and chatted for the last 10 minutes or so before the boat closed, I closed up, we went across and by then, his battery was charged enough to start, and away he rolled.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hauled Out

Last weekend, I got word that the ferry was closed, again. In fact, it was closed for the same reason it was closed the last time. The computers that work the drives (which work the motors which work the propellers) were faulty. Last time it was the upstream drive, this time it was the downstream. The electricians told us they'd have the part by Tuesday, so we were closed until then. As usual when the boat is closed, I took Sunday off, cause a 4 day weekend is pretty great. On Monday, I showed up at the shops, and knew I'd end up working up at the WL ferry, since it's been hauled out of the water for the Coast Guard 5 year inspection, and a lot of maintenance. It was so very strange looking. The whole ferry, up the ramp and on blocks on solid ground. It suddenly seemed way huger than it looks in the water.

I spent the day at various odd cleaning and painting tasks. I took down ceiling tiles and painted them. As I took them down, thousands of tiny dead spiders rained down on my head. After painting the tiles, I cleaned the roof of the cabin, getting more dirt, grime and dead bugs in my hair and on my face. I was happy to find a face mask to wear for the cleaning. It was disgusting.

While several of us were puttering on the boat, painting and cleaning, some of the guys were setting up the barge to dredge, since the river was low and they were already kicking up rock before they closed.

Of course, the following three days, the river went up two or three feet, making it impossible to dredge. I'm not sure if they can dredge even now. Supposedly, once they eventually finish at the WL, they'll come down to the BV and dredge there too. I have no idea how that'll work out, whether they'll dredge at night, close the boat or what. I'm also curious what my participation will be. A coworker who was running the boat, which you can see to the left of the backhoe, said it wasn't that hard to do, and actually a bit boring. That'd work maybe.

I just realized as I wrote this post that I've now written 103 blog posts. I don't think I ever would have expected this blog to last 100 posts when I started!