Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A beautiful kayaking morning on The Sea of Cortez

The above picture was taken about three weeks ago from my trailer as the sun rose over The Sea. It was a kayaker’s dream morning. The Sea was flat like a lake, no wind predicted and a slight, slight cloud cover so it would not be so hot as the sun climbed higher. I don’t recall whether I saw anything of particular note that day, just the quiet and tranquility of being with Grandmother.

I may have mentioned in an earlier blog that my land partners, and adopted French Canadian family, The Q’s, are all superb athletes and devoted to the study of the marshal arts. Jean-Luc is a black belt in Judo and instructs in Quebec. My dear Brigitte just completed her tests in karate, and is now ‘Shodan”, a first-degree black belt.
Brigitte Mercier, "Shodan"

I am extremely proud of her. She has three grown sons, runs a restaurant with Jean-Luc, maintains a household, attends karate classes devotedly (where she helps instruct) and looks like a 20 year old. This picture does not do her justice, CONGRATULATIONS Brigitte!

I enjoyed watching the Summer Olympics except for the usual hyperbole that has become a consistent trait in American journalism. I was particularly annoyed with the business about Michael Phelps being “The Greatest Olympic Athlete in History”. I was a water-polo player and swimmer so I do know the effort it takes to be the best in the water (not that I was) and I honor that. He very well could be the greatest competitive swimmer so far in history…but “Greatest Olympic Athlete” is a bit much. When one considers the ALL AROUND athleticism of a competitor in the Decathlon (two days/ten events), one can talk about “Greatness”. My favorite choice would be The Native American Indian, Jim Thorpe. He won gold medals in both the decathlon and pentathlon in 1912!!

Jim Thorpe, a truly GREAT athlete

Mexico’s gold medal in soccer was a special treat. I watched it with the neighborhood cantina owner, Alfonzo, who opened up his place at 8:00 am in the morning so I could watch it on his big screen.

My homeland of Estonia received two medals; one for wrestling and one for discus…go Estonia!

And one last word about The Olympics. You have to give credit to Terri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor. Three consecutive gold medals in beach volleyball, that’s twelve YEARS of being the best!! Amazing.

Terri Walsh....."digging it"

On a different level entirely, here’s a little something to ponder.

Keep in mind please, there are TWO heads on the overpopulation monster…People Overpopulation and Consumption Overpopulation. Two distinct but EQUALLY serious problems. Nevertheless, look what we humans do sometimes.

 I was also delighted to see the landing on Mars of the rover Curiosity. Even if a single reproducing cellular organism is to be found, every cent is worth it. And if one living organism is not found, what an incredible feat of technology nonetheless, makes me proud to be a human.

Curiosity, the Mars rover

Check out the NASA website to see how they landed this vehicle…unbelievable!!

And here’s a picture it sent back a few days later

That's Earth, Jupiter and Venus....from Mars!

On a more earthly note, we FINALLY got our first summer rain on the fourteenth. A good three-day constant watering…the desert is thriving!

The manuscript about my life with the whales is now in the hands of Balboa Press. The working title is: The Others, “The Whale People”: A Personal Journey of Discovery, Transformation and Healing. There will probably be much to be done yet but I am hoping to be published by Christmas.

Speaking of Cetaceans, check this out.

Dolphin sound

White beaked dolphin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris) sounds, wavelet graph. This image was produced by converting the frequencies of sounds made by a white beaked dolphin into a graph using a mathematical process known as wavelets. Wavelets reveal structure and detail that are not always visible in standard graphs of frequency over time (known as a spectrogram). This image has been plotted as a polar coordinate (circular) graph but wavelet graphs can also be in rectangular form. Dolphins produce a wide variety of high frequency vocalizations, such as clicks, whistles and cries. These sounds are used for echolocation and communication with other dolphins. They can be recorded using underwater hydrophones. Image created by Mark Fischer from Aguasonic Acoustics, USA.

Well, that’s about it for now my friends. I hope with all my heart that your journeys are going well…and I leave you with this little bit of wisdom.

Que les vaya bien, amigos

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Big story coming up regarding a recent swim/dive I made with a humpback whale while kayaking out at The WZ.

But first: A few weeks back I got down to the beach early to do my exercise routine (3-4 times a week, while walking a mile I do 6 sets of 40, 10 pd bicep's curls, 6 sets of 20, 10 pd presses, 6 sets of 15 each of three different stretches and 6 sets of 7 pushups). Then I swim 6 laps ( I’m working my way back after the injury to my back last year). This was a particularly sweet morning because not only was the weather perfect but I was also in the company of a number of my favorite “critters”.

From left: Sandpiper, Palmiated Plover and a Whimbrel

                                                                Brown Pelicans

                                                                Turkey Vulture

                                                                    And a Caracara

Then when I went in to swim my laps, I swam over a Tiger Reef Eel (sometimes called a Leopard Eel) and 2 Diamond Sting Rays.
Tiger Reef Eel or Leopard Eel

Diamond Sting Ray, not my pic

 Two days later I did my laps out at The WZ and came across two turtles, dove to fast for me to engage with but great to see them nonetheless.

A couple of days later I was putting on my dive booties to go kayaking and……yes, another Scorpion sting! Got my big toe and my sole. Sole was too tough for much of a sting but my toe was not so lucky. I had to cancel my trip to The WZ, took some bennies, rubbed on some cortisone cream and chilled out. They don’t really start hurting until about 2-3 hours later. Urmas 170+ / Scorpions 6.

The next day however I was ready to go out. Incredible day in The WZ. I went out early and was kayaking out to the reef when I caught some movement further out.....panga, no, a lone humpback!!! It was moving south and about a half mile out from me. The Sea was absolutely flat, no boats, just me and the whale, I mean we were ALONE. I just knew I could intercept him. I paddled like hell and on it's next blow series I was within 200'. I changed my angle just a bit and continued blow series, the whale surfaced 50' to my left. He fluked up after only 2 blows and I continued in the direction he was going at moderate paddle. Then he came up again about 40' behind me and coming directly for me. Too late to dive in but within a moment I could see him PERFECTLY under the water just to my right at about 10' depth and 15' away....BEAUTIFUL BEYOND description, the entire body so close, so clear, so intelligent and alive. I kayaked above him, just to his left until he came up for his next blow and he was right next to me! I could have touched him with my paddle. He fluked up and I again kayaked in the direction I thought was right. After about 5 min another blow, again right behind me. Grabbed my mask, rolled in and waited. Then he came...RIGHT TO ME!! He rolled a little to his left side, took a good look at me, I waved and dove to him. He continued on his way and I swam behind him till he fluked once more. Too tired to follow further, but this is my longest, clearest, closest humpback encounter so far! HOOHAH!!!! I feel deeply that this was a gift from The Great Mystery and The Whale People, I would like to think I have earned it!

I purposely do not carry a camera when I kayak because I do not want the lens to get in the way of the experience. I have missed some extraordinary shots but I am absolutely certain it is the right decision. So here are some shots I found online that come as close to my experience as I could find. These are NOT my pics.
         This is how it looked as he surfaced next to me on the second series, except way closer!

This is almost EXACTLY as he looked when I dove to him!

 Three days later I was out there again, paid my respects to the Sacred Directions and their Niericas, closed my eyes, lay back on my kayak and took a nap. The Sea was absolutely still accept for a very, very gentle roll. It was like being cradled on Grandmother’s breast and ALL was good with The World. On the way back in I crossed over the reef and saw a Spotted eagle Ray. I have only seen one of these close up 2 or 3 times before. Ran into him again, or another one, a week later and had a good long swim with him. Clear water, ten feet away……tranquil!
                                                       Spotted eagle ray, not my pic

I would like to add this little political factoid, and if it disturbs you…..well, take heart and watch the video that follows it.
                                                                       Some Truth

Sent by my daughter Kersti

We ARE a wonderful species, we have great potential, BUT our connection with the innate wisdom (nature wisdom we are born with, without sin) within us has been terribly mangled by the forces of avarice and religious oppression perpetrated by a very few, but EXTREMELY POWERFUL, among us. WE WILL NEVERTHELESS PREVAIL!!!  

Oh, BTW: two other pieces of news. Mexico is in the semi-finals in soccer at The Olympics and two, I may have a publisher for my whale book!

 As my daughter Kersti said, "all right Dad, go Mexico”!