Sunday, April 20, 2014

Bald Eagles over Anacortes

I haven't had much in the way of Adventures of late. Work is kind of a feast and famine deal lately. The work isn't too bad and the moving to different plants, mill, or refineries to do work is a way to keep it fresh and not boring there just needs to be more of it. I really should be driving trucks and not doing this industrial cleaning crap but this job takes me to all parts of the state and I kind of enjoy that part. I have done a lot of work up in Port Angeles Wa. and really like that town. They put us up in a little modest hotel and we work a couple of days and head back home. The drive up the Hood Canal to get there is about as beautiful as it gets. The Hood Canal stretches along most of the Olympic Pennisula's eastern shores, follow the link it is an interesting read. On that drive I have seen Otters and Seals playing at the waters edge and one time I witnessed a Bald Eagle swoop down and grab a fish as I spun a corner in this tiny was awesome.
Washington State is like a Mecca for Bald Eagles, we have some that even fly over our house from time to time. We drive along the Columbia River almost once a week and see Eagles all the time. There is something rather captivating about them, no wonder they won out over Benjamin Franklin's recommendation of the Turkey as the National Bird. (this Franklin/Turkey thing maybe a myth) We also have tons of Seahawks here in Washington State but that is a Football thing here...grin
Bald Eagles only live at the waters edge so they can catch fish. We had some that would show up at some of our mountain lakes in Southern California, but some over zealous bird loving enviro-knuckleheads would close those areas down so no one could see them. They have some at the Portland Zoo and they haven't dropped dead from all the people viewing them...sigh 

I was going to start this blog a few weeks ago when I was sent to Anacortes Wa for what is called a "shutdown" at one of the refineries there, but work and forgetfulness has made this almost a month late.
Anyways I was sent up north for work. They put us up in a rather nice Hotel that had a nice view of that bridge that collapsed in Mount Vernon Wa. last year. Free Breakfast every morning and a fridge and microwave in the room made it so I could save my per diam and bring it home in hopes to spoil the cute girlfriend. The first day there we had to drive up north of Bellingham Wa for some training. That was when I found out that my trip up north would be the trip of the Eagle
We arrived at this training place and as I got out of the truck something flew over my head, less than 10 feet over my head, The Bald Eagle was strolling along and zoom. I sure hoped that is some sort of good luck to the Pacific Northwest Indian Tribes, because it happened again the very next morning at the refinery we were going to work at. I get out of the truck and swoop another Bald Eagle flies over me.
This Refinery like all refineries shuts down yearly to do minor maintenance and repairs so they can run at top efficiency. This is part of the reason you see the price of gas go up every once in a while, they have to shut down and work on the place and that causes fluctuation in the prices.
It was interesting work seeing the guts of the mechanisms that make all our fuels. The first training session of course had all these videos of refineries blowing up so I wasn't sure I wanted to work there after
My job is really just to run a large truck that is essentially a large vacuum, and our guys were working up in these tall towers sucking stuff out of them. I stood next to my truck looking up into the sky at the towers waiting for signals from the guys up on top if they needed me to do something. Me being slightly ADD I get sidetracked with all the birds flying over the refinery.

It was like planes in a busy airports holding pattern above me. It took me a few minutes to realize what was happening. All these soaring birds circling over the refinery. Most of them were Bald Eagles, I counted 6 of them. There was also a couple of Hawks circling and the occasional buzzard. The first day we were busy so I just watched them circle above the refinery spires and towers, rising higher and higher. It dawned on me what these birds were doing, and gave more evidence that from chaos comes order.
Heat is generated from a refinery, and heat rises especially in cool late winter air. These bird were riding the updraft from the refinery to climb and soar. I love geeky stuff like that.
I continued to watch every day. It was cool to see them soar. On the third day, late in the afternoon I noticed something funny. I had seen them every day about this time. They were like flying black terrorist. These two Ravens flying in a rather cool tight wing-man formation would get into the updraft and occasionally harass the other larger birds. The Eagles seemed to be rather non-confrontational about the deal and would stay out of the Ravens way. (sounds like I'm doing another Football This one Buzzard they would harass would have none of that and turned into the Ravens formation from time to time and force them out of formation. Funny to watch. The Ravens flew perfect next to each other. One would turn and the other follow. They flew around the refinery towers with ease like that very cool to watch, not that I'm a Raven fan.

One time someone came up and stood next to me and was looking up with me. It is very noisy at the refinery and we have to wear hearing protection. He taps me on the shoulder and asks what I was looking at. He was yelling of course and I had to yell back and pointed, "The Bald Eagles!". He nodded and walked off. It was later when we were setting up another job on this tall platform over part of the refinery where we didn't have to have heavy hearing protection on that this guy asked me how I could tell they were Bald Eagles. He thought I had telescopic eyes or something. They were pretty far off at times. It was a gray day with gray white clouds in the sky, I'm in the Pacific Northwest what do you expect, I had to point to the bird and tell him to watch it fly. The Black winged creature would turn and the head and tail could not be seen against the clouds, Bald Eagle! I don't think he got it. He spat some tobacco on the ground and shrugged his shoulders.
Life is not all about the work at all times. You need to stay safe and focused on your work so you and the people with you don't get hurt especially at a refinery. That isn't happening at all times and at those fleeting moments you can take in the world around you for a second. It is amazing how many people I run into that have blinders on or are so focused inward that they miss the amazing, or interesting, or even the beautiful things in life.
Even mentioning a great looking sunrise or sunset is kind of alien to them. I got chided in a truck full of workers about admiring a sunset out loud. A few of them made fun of me. I asked them if they were afraid to look at the beauty around them. One of them just said he saw orange and clouds big woop. Oh well.

Anacortes was an ok job, but it was cloudy and cold most of the time. We were there more than 2 weeks and never got to see the rather prominent Volcano nearby, Mt Baker. It snowed in the foothills while we where there that was pretty to see. I'm sorry I couldn't get any pictures to share the refinery has very strict rules about photography inside the refinery
I would love to park my future boat in Anacortes for a season. It is very nice there.
I have found out recently that there are people that work only at these shutdowns and go from place to place following this type of work. There are enough refineries, wood and paper mills up here in Washington to keep someone busy for short times during the year. I'd go back just to watch the Eagles...grin

Speaking of looking at the world around you, what I'm going to blog about next is kind of really out there.
I'm leery of writing about it because one could think one crazy for going into this stuff. Stay tuned


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