Saturday, March 2, 2013

Pacific Northwest Float Tour: Where Eagles Fly!

Christmas gifts can be so boring and confusing.  Socks.  Meh.  Or yay? But this color is not right.  Is this watch too expensive of a gift?  Or too cheap?  Gift cards are the ultimate zzzzz, even though it lessens the risk they’ll hate your gift (because it’s overly safe).

I like to give experiences - usually ones that involve me spending time with the recipient, so it’s also a fancied up way of giving the gift of time.  Hopefully no one I’d actually get a gift for hates the gift of hanging out with me, so the risk seems low.  For Christmas 2012, I got Joel the gift of taking a raft down the Skagit River to see a bunch of majestic eagles hanging out in their natural habitat.  As we are not from the Northwest, neither of us have overcome the excitement of watching an enormous avian symbol of our country swoop down to catch a wild salmon, so it promised to be at least a marginally good time.

And, it was!  The raft trip was a simple float down a mostly calm river, albeit in the cold rain.  Eagles like the cold rain, what can I say?  We had to go to them.  We saw about 20-25 birds on our two-hour tour.  Most were pretty high up in trees, and another couple in the boat let us share their binoculars so we could get a good look.  Some flew around, alone or in pairs, but sadly none swooped for a fish (apparently they eat early in the day, so if you’re going to do this go early).  Still, it’s hard to complain.

 It was totally freezing, though, so when we were done we went to the gift shop/interpretation center for some 50 cent hot chocolate.  There you can see a ‘small’ nest close up.  Here’s Joel with the nest, so you can see the scale.  The ‘little’ nest is huge.  Imagine the normal sized nest!  It’d be like a king sized bed, but made of sticks and full of eggs.

 If you are into this kind of mild adventure, the company we used was Pacific NW Float Tours.  They are very funny, knowledgeable guides who have been floating the Skagit, and other rivers, for years.  Our guide had 20+ years experience (he remembers when the Skagit followed a different path!).  The company does more exciting adventures too, including white water raft and canoe and kayak tours when the weather is not totally freezing.  Until then, I’ll enjoy the scenery as dryly as possible.

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