Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Outside My Window

Seals and sea lions have such lovable faces!

This post concludes my stories about this year's staycation (which included day trips to various places locally), and is probably the most unusual post on my blog to date. No outfits or any cultural events - but many photos of beautiful nature and wild animals! Most of the pictures were taken by Justin, and only the few photos of a bald eagle and seals at the end are by me.

Doesn't this reef look like a giant marine mammal? 

Whale watching tours are one of top tourist activities locally, loved by kids and adults. You can either purchase a special boat tour as we did a couple of times, or (if you're lucky) you might spot these huge mammals from the city, when you least expect it! As a matter of fact, it happened to us exactly 4 years ago, when I had just started my blog in September 2013 (read my old post HERE).

This time, we bought a tour from Anacortes, a town 2 hours northwest of us, to catch a boat towards the San Juan Islands (where we traveled in December 2013, post HERE). The weather started out as cloudy, but our trip sounded promising nevertheless. Of course it wouldn't be us if there was not a little bit of a comedy involved, like a wardrobe malfunction situation, such as Justin's sweatshirt getting soaked because early in the morning, he packed it in one bag with a water bottle. Or your faithful writer, also moderately known as a fashion fan, who tried to come up with a warm, comfortable yet stylish outfit, again, early in the morning...and who ended up looking ridiculously unpractical and overall unprepared for a sea adventure. Let's just say, "early in the morning" is not our best time! It was a good thing that we had some extra time before our tour started, and we spent it driving around town, looking for a sweatshirt for Justin and an extra warm layer for myself (it is breezy and splashy on a boat). I am happy to report that our silly misjudgment happened to be a blessing in disguise, because The Real Adventure Man found a perfect sweatshirt that was even embroidered specially for him, and I purchased a genuine vintage Hudson's Bay point blanket (I wrote about those iconic blankets HERE), which kept me both warm and dry on the boat, and will be used for other trips and at home for years to come!

Cormorants are very photogenic.

The captain of our brand new speed boat did a great job - even though we were sitting outside, on the back of the boat, the whole time, the ride was very smooth. Our first stop was this densely populated reef, and the most exciting was seeing sea lions. They are enormous! Other than sea lions, there were harbor (or common) seals, cormorants, seagulls and other migratory birds. 

Harbor seals, also known as common seals, are visible from the shores of Puget Sound pretty much everywhere you go, but usually we spot only one or two seals. Here they were hanging out in large groups. They come in a range of colors, from gray to pale and brown, and have characteristic spots.

Another reef populated with cormorants.

By the time we reached whales, the sky cleared up, and the rest of the day was bright and sunny.
Even if you don't see any whales, it is a wonderful place to take a boat ride, with the beautiful scenery of hilly green islands, little harbors and inlets, and all sorts of boats here and there... But when you spot your first orca, or killer whale, you just can't help it but squeal in delight, like a kid by a Christmas tree!

This particular kind of orca live in families, with different generations, and hunt in groups. They eat fish and seals, so it was especially unusual seeing seals hanging out in water near them... shouldn't they be more careful? Justin took many photos of this nature, when he caught one or two orcas (sometimes with their legendary spray action), but they did not leap out of water that day, so I included a rare photo from a Wikipedia article - a whale leaping in Hood Canal (a part of Puget Sound), for your enjoyment. They look unreal!

 Whale leaping (behavior known as porpoising) in Hood Canal. Photo sourse

We stopped at a few places and saw many whales, and our tour guides (educated young man and women) mentioned that it was unusual to see whales so close to the shore. Unfortunately, many boats get way too close to the whales, which is understandable and almost irresistible, but legally, we must give them enough space, at least 200 feet!

On the way back, we stopped to see this beautiful scene, a bald eagle hanging out on a reef, which is one of the closest encounters I have had with these magnificent creatures (although we see them regularly, even from our window at home).

The whale watching trip was the peak experience of the whole summer for me, and one of the most exciting experiences of the whole year. Living in this beautiful area, we encounter wild nature every day, even in the city. But nothing can beat a close animal encounter in the wilderness! It reminds me that the world outside of my window is huge, wide, tall, deep, perfectly self-contained and full of wonder. It reminds me that different kinds of creatures are able to coexist peacefully in nature, respect each other's space, habits and way of living. And they've been doing this for millions of years, and without any borders, weapons, armies or regulations too.

This connection to nature helps me to live a more genuine, creative, intuitive life and provides infinite inspiration for my work. 

SUPERSEAL, our new bilingual book, is coming in 2017!

Illustration by Andrei Lialin

Find our books at
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  1. *******SIGHHHHHH******SWOOOON******
    so much beauty! you know it - i´m a great fan of all things wild nature. this post makes me very happy!!!
    justin did a great job with his camera, your phone pics of the eagle are impressive. thank you guys for taking me with you :-D
    did i tell you that i was there in 1990? on a sailboat with canadian friends. i could swear we´d eat sunday brunch in the big white house on the rocks..... we saw seals, otters, many birds but no orca.
    SUPERSEAL! how cute is that! andrei painted the loveliest seal ever - and the seagull!
    hugest hugses and much love to you - my fellow nature lover!!!! xxxxxxx
    p.s.: smiled about the wardrobe malfunctions - but you´d found great solutions!! :-)))

    1. I am happy that I made you happy and reminded you of your trip! It very well can be the same place! It's very close to Canada.

      Justin did a great job, and the photos of the eagle are also by our camera (my phone doesn't zoom as much). It's a good faithful camera. :)

      Lots of love!

    2. And especially happy for Superseal! Glad you like the title and Andrei's picture :)

  2. Amazing post, Natalia! You live in a wonderfull place ♥️.
    Andrei's illustration is very cute. Cool a new book!?
    Big hug and much love, Tina

  3. What a wonderful post! I think I'd squeal like a child if I ever saw a seal in real life, they're so cat-like and cute.
    that eagle is wonderful, too. xxx

    1. They really are like cats! In Russian, we call fur seals морские котики (sea cats :)!

  4. Loved seeing the leaping whale, seagulls and cormorants! How beautiful are these seaside vistas! Mother Nature captured with such splendid precision and artistic talent!

  5. What an amazing trip, Natalia. I love seals and have seen them in the wild in Wales a couple of years ago, but not nearly as close up as you. I love cormorants too, and can watch their fish catching antics for ages. That photo of the bald eagle is superb! Lots of love xxx

    1. Seals can be found at beaches here, we saw them even closer, but typically only one or two of them. Baby seals need lots of rest, so they rest at the beach. :)