I'm realizing a childhood dream this month. I signed up to take a wonderful course offered by The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, Washington. Successful completion of the course and a later practicum result in certification as a marine naturalist in the Salish Sea region (the sea off the coast of northern Washington and southern British Columbia). I can't express how excited I am. It's a very diverse course:
Week 1 A Sense of Place, Geology of the Salish Sea
Week 2 Salmon Recovery, Seals and Sea Lions, Otters
Week 3 Whales of the Salish Sea, Ecology of the Salish Sea Orcas
Week 4 Seabirds of the Salish Sea, Decline in Seabird Population
Week 5 Intertidal Ecology
The course consists of lectures and field trips. We visit various areas around San Juan Island. In two weeks we go on a ship that will dredge the bottom of sea and bring up critters (crustaceans, I think) for us to look at. All critters will be promptly returned to the sea when we're finished. Week 5 is actually a two-day session. That Sunday we get to go on a whale watching cruise. I'm trying not to get too excited about that. This time of year, orca sightings are still rare because the whales haven't returned from their winter home with any regularity. Still-WOW!
I can't express how excited I am.
There's a little bit of a downside. The course starts at 10am. To get there, I need to take a 1.5 car ride, and a 1.5 ferry ride. Both have to happen at a time of day I think is inhuman. It's completely worth it! :D However, yesterday was pretty brutal. The field trip was fascinating, but required us climbing down a steep rocky hill, hiking along the beach (oh, poor widdle me), climbing over some intense rocky areas on the beach, and climbing up a different steep rocky area. Great fun, except that 1) I had abdominal surgery in December, and am having trouble with scar tissue hurting any time I use my torso for balance (anything more than usual walking), I am terribly out of shape (but working on it), and have always had terrible balance. As soon as I post this entry, I'm off for a hot bath. Uh, that is, if I can make it up the stairs to the bathtub.
Oh, I hate ending on a bad note, because I can't express how excited I am about this course. The woman who runs the course assured me that yesterday was the toughest day by far for that sort of vertical climbing. I was inspired to see many people who were much older than I am scrambling easily over these rocks. I'm now extremely motivated to kick up my fitness routine. I don't know if my balance will ever allow me to be able to gracefully move the way those senior citizens did, but I now have several role models for fitness at any age and fitness at any size.
The class is amazing, The Whale Museum is amazing, and San Juan island is amazing.