Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Of storms and puffins

La Manche Provincial Park, La Manche Village, Bauline East

Today, our butts did not meet the saddles. After getting up at camp and having REI freeze-dried meals for breakfast, we hiked out to La Manche Village, a small, isolated settlement destroyed in 1966 by a fierce storm that swept away the houses perched on the rock overlooking the ocean). The views were, once again, spectacular, but it's hard to imagine what life must have been like for the villagers, connected to the outside world apparently by only narrow mountain-side trails.

Our hike then took us to the town of Bauline East, where we had a late lunch and then signed up for Colbert's Puffin & Whale Tours. The ship took us around an island, a huge rock whose rock strata were plainly evident, and on which many puffins nested in a manner reminiscent of Cape St. Mary's. Most fascinating was watching the adorable puffins floating and flying on the water. They are not the most gracious fliers: they flap their short little wings furiously, like a wind-up toy, as they follow their stout colored beaks in search of food. The youngest (or was it most stuffed) of these penguin doppelgangers had a hard time gaining altitude; quite often they would simply skim the surface of the water before giving up and diving under as they tried desperately to escape the pursuing seagulls.

After returning to camp, I once again marveled at the night sky. I was amazed by what a difference even a pair of binoculars makes. I think perhaps there may be an amateur telescope in my future. For now, though, we keep looking for a travel-size star chart we can consult during the next few weeks at camp.

No biking today
(back-dated entry)

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