CARETAKER'S LOG


Friday -- April 19, 2019
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.2     Water Temperature: 61


The ferry is CLOSED.

There is a lot of rain in the forecast so it looks like the ferry will be closed all weekend. Happy Easter!!

Monday -- April 15, 2019
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.2     Water Temperature: 63


The ferry is CLOSED.

Sunday -- March 31, 2019
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.8     Water Temperature: 54


The ferry is open.

Friday -- March 29, 2019
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.0     Water Temperature: 45


THE FERRY IS CLOSED!!

The river is below 5 feet but we are still unable to run the ferry because there is a giant tree right in the path of the ferry. We are going to do our best to remove this obstruction but there is no guarantee of success. We may have to wait for the river to carry it away.

We will be closed on Saturday too and the Workfest scheduled for Sunday will have to be postponed.

The river is still in anti-ferry mode but the Island has been super busy with wildlife. I mentioned the goose nest but now it looks like the red-shouldered hawks are also mating and nesting here. The cormorants have arrived along with the pheobes. There is also a lot of beaver activity, too much actually. Wish I knew how to discourage them from visiting our Island. The coolest thing was I saw some perfectly laid otter tracks at the bottom of the Island! Its cool to have the soft mud everywhere to record these things. That's probably the only good thing about all of this mud everywhere.

Another cool thing that I've never seen before, a snapping turtle on the Island. I thought maybe it was going to lay some eggs but it just sat there by the boardwalk all day, the left.

I haven't had to run the ferry much this year but I'm staying busy with Club maintenance. One of the many chores I do is keep the lines painted in the parking lot on Macrthur Blvd. It helps to have the lines so that we can fit as many cars as possible. It's a very popular lot, between the swimming pool swim meets and the kayakers, it can get full fast. I also shoveled all the crap out of the gutter so that the rain water can drain out. Now if we could only get a "No Dumping" sign istalled.

The Club editor is waiting for me to send him my log but I have one more story to relate. Two weeks ago I decided to ride my bike down to Chain Bridge and then to Fletcher's to do some shad fishing. (It's my goal to arrange my life so that I go shad fishing in the Spring, somehow the shad run always eludes me). So I lock the bike and hike down under the bridge, casting along the shore. The fishing is dead but hiking there along the jagged rocks was very interesting. I startled a lot of deer as I scrambled along, looking at the ancient anchors drilled into the rocks and looking at what the river has dragged down. The funniest thing was that I stumbled upon the "Calleva Dock"! The dock that was washed down to Sycamore Island from the Calleva camp back in 2014, then subsequently washed away from Sycamore Island in 2018, is now below Chain Bridge. That dock survived Great Falls and Little Falls! I'm positive that it's the same dock but interestingly, someone had salvaged the flotation off of it.

Monday -- March 25, 2019
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.9     Water Temperature: 45


Thankfully the river did not rise as much as they had predicted. It crested before it even reached 8 feet. The funny thing is that I was sort of hoping that the river would get up to 9 feet so that the Captain's float would float up and I could push it out into the river. Too bad, can't have everything.

The high water that we did get has shifted some fallen trees around and now we have half of a giant tree sitting right in the path of the ferry. It was part of the sycamore tree that fell across the river upstream. It separated from it's parent tree and it seems to be stuck there next to the ferry landing steps. I'm not sure if I can cut it out of the way or not. It's not going to be easy or fun. Maybe another flood will come along and wash it away, ha ha.

I was attacked by a goose! I can't say that it's the first time that a goose has ever threatened me with violence but this is the first time that a goose has ever gotten in a good punch before I could react. I was minding my own business, just strolling out of the screen porch by the canoe paddles when from out of nowhere a male goose swooped down on my head and gave me a good, strong peck on my bare and bald head. It gave me a lump on my head and I couldn't believe it! I got mad and threw a few sticks in the direction of my adversary before I calmed down.

I think that the goose and I have now come to a new understanding and I'm going to be a lot more careful about walking near the new goose nest that happens to be right next to the clubhouse near the paddle rack. I roped off the area to protect the members but also to remind me not to walk blindly near that danger zone.

Friday -- March 22, 2019
Water Level at Little Falls: 7.7     Water Temperature: 45


The ferry is closed. Not only is the ferry closed, but we're in for a borderline flood. 8.9 feet by Saturday! Nooooooooooooooo.

Oh well, it was nice while it lasted. The first time that the ferry has been open in six weeks! There were a few members and waitlist pass-holders that came down on Tuesday and Wednesday. It was great to see some kids on the Island again and I enjoyed the luxury of having the ferry back in operation. Plus, it was the Spring Equinox, the first day of Spring, how appropriate that the Island was open. Bluebells on the way.

Tuesday -- March 19, 2019
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.9     Water Temperature: 49


The ferry is open!

Sunday -- March 17, 2019
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.28     Water Temperature: 49


The ferry is closed today but it looks like we may get a break tomorrow, late afternoon. Fingers crossed.

Happy St Patrick's Day! But remember, the real celebration is on March 19,my day, St Joseph's Day. He's the saint of fatherhood, and that's the real father's day!

Saturday -- March 9, 2019
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.1     Water Temperature: 41


Well you can't say that we didn't try. We really did try to get the ferry running to have the Island accessible on a Saturday for a change, but alas, we were foiled again. We had some last-minute volunteers respond to Madeleine's plead for caretakers but after talking to them on the phone this morning we decided to err on the side of safety and keep the ferry closed. It turns out that the predictions from yesterday did not pan out and the river was actually higher than they expected. Bummer.

Unfortunately, we are heading into Spring which is the season of melting snow and river flooding. I'm about to throw up my arms and give up, but there is hope that once we get through this upcoming warming trend we could be in for a good stretch on "Island Time"!

Thursday -- March 7, 2019
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.6     Water Temperature: 41


The ferry is still closed, but there is hope. I'm keeping my enthusiasm in check, but they say the river might drop to five feet on Saturday. Of course they are also calling for more rain and snow tomorrow, so it could be a bust. We'll have to wait and see.

Good birding at this time of year. I have the new arrivals, i.e wood ducks and red-winged blackbirds, and we also have the winter residents like the scuaps and the canvas backs. I wish we had more eagles around here, but it looks like there isn't going to be a nest across the river this year.

The renovated bathroom is complete. I'm so happy and proud of the work I did. The vanity is level and the pipes don't leak! After living here for these many years, I've gotten very adept at all sorts of plumbing, electrical and other journeyman trades that I didn't do much before I moved here. So what's the next project? My plan is to give the Club a proposal to rebuild the canoe shed that got creamed by the sycamore tree. I estimated that the needed materials would cost about $500, and my labor would cost about $1200 for three days of work.

The other project that I want to propose is a new back porch at my backdoor off the back of the clubhouse. Right now it looks unfinished, it's just an ugly door, no stoop or anything, and to me it looks like someone forgot to put a porch there. The porch I want to propose would be 6 feet by 8 feet with a little roof. Just enough room to keep the rain off and to set up a couple of chairs. The roof would be a big improvement too since all the weather comes from that direction and sometimes the rain gets behind the storm door. I'm willing to provide all of the labor for free. I just need to figure out how to get the Club to approve the building of the porch and to approve the expense of the materials, about $500. I'm confident that I can build a sturdy porch and if there are any doubts, I would point to the sturdy dock I built last March. Maybe someone can bring it up at the next meeting?

Tuesday -- March 5, 2019
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.9     Water Temperature: 41


I was compelled to write an entry in the log today because I just saw my first red-winged blackbird of the season! I think that it's important to keep track of when these types of occurrences take place and to make a record of it. Close observation of nature, and it's subtle changes, could give us clues to the effects and consequences of climate change and global warming.

It's been decided that the Spring Workfest will be help on March 31!

That's a little earlier that usual. Usually the workfest is during the second half of April, but it makes sense to have the Island fully operational on the first of April. I say that because April is probably the best chance that waitlist pass-holders have to use the Island on the weekend. And I'm guessing that we'll have a bunch of eager new pass-holders ready to use the Island come Spring time.

BTW, We're searching for a volunteer to buy and cook the food for the workfest on March 31. Please consider pitching in, this club is what YOU make it. Thanks!

Tuesday -- February 26, 2019
Water Level at Little Falls: 8.3     Water Temperature: 40


Well, here we are, two months into the new year and the ferry has been closed for all but two weeks of that time. Where have all the good times gone!

The river seems to be cresting about now, but there is a lot of water and melting snow in the water shed. All of that moisture is headed our way and I'm afraid it might be another week before we can use the ferry again.

I'm still waiting for my W-2 so that I can file my 2018 taxes. I hope I can file by February 28th or I will miss the early bird special and it will cost me an additional $30 to do my turbo tax.

There were fox tracks on the Island yesterday! Gray fox.

Friday -- February 22, 2019
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.4     Water Temperature: 40


The more things change, the more they stay the same. The river went up, and then down and now it's going up again and we're back where we were last week, high water and a closed ferry for another weekend. That's why we can't have nice things.

I take that back. I did get one nice thing over on the ferry yesterday. I took advantage of the lower water and deployed the ferry just long enough to deliver a new vanity for my bathroom. I ordered the vanity over a month ago and since I've been commuting by canoe, I haven't been able to get it here from Mary's house. Sadly, I couldn't drive on the towpath because of the snow and sloppy conditions, so I had to haul the 75 Lb. box down the sycamore trail. Not easy, but I was determined to get my bathroom finished. The side benefit was that I finally bought some puncture-proof tires for the Club's hand truck. Then, since the ferry was open for a change, I hauled six bags of construction trash and my other accumulated trash up the hill to my van.

We had to buy the new vanity because the silly old wall-mounted sink in my bathroom finally came off the wall. I've been trying for the last eleven years to make that sink usable but now I'm done messing with it. The new vanity is going to make a huge difference in the lifestyle of the caretaker. Whether it's me or the next person. The new sink has a flat surface around it so that you can place things on there like a cup or a brush. The old sink was so lame, there was no place to set anything.

While I was at it I decided to do some other much-needed upgrades in that bathroom. I recessed the medicine cabinet into the wall, as it should have been originally, which gives me room to put my head over the sink! Wow, what a difference. And, I took the time to add some more insulation in that wall. Back when they did the renovation, 11 years ago, they failed to add much insulation, just a 2 inch thick piece of styrofoam behind the waste pipe. I also enclosed the hot water heater that takes up the corner of the bathroom. That was a serious upgrade as well, hiding that eyesore behind a plywood wall looks so much cleaner.

Then I installed new towel bars and I added another wall cabinet with a beveled mirror. Then, of course, I had to paint the ceiling, walls and trim. Ceiling and trim are white, walls are a nice pale ocean green.

I'm happy to do these kinds of projects for the club in order to improve the facilities and to increase the value of the clubhouse and caretakers quarters. For this project, I provided all of the labor and a lot of the materials at no cost to the Club. I'm only asking to be reimbursed for the cost of the vanity and the medicine cabinet, since those things will stay here come the day I move away.

I can't share any pictures here but hopefully you can see some before and after pictures in the next Islander.

Wednesday -- February 13, 2019
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.8     Water Temperature: 40


The ferry is closed and will be closed the rest of the week.

The sweetest thing happened to me last Saturday. I found a Valentines Day card on my windshield. It was from a young Sycamore Island waitlister. I guess she came to find the ferry closed and left me the card. So thoughtful, Thanks Eva! And Happy Valentines Day!

Speaking of St. Valentine. Our resident geese have paired up and are now looking for suitable nesting spots. Let's hope that they have better luck with their eggs and hatchlings this year. Last year one goose sat on a nest for months and the eggs never hatched.

Sunday -- February 10, 2019
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.7     Water Temperature: 40


There aren't too many birds out there this morning, but last Sunday we woke up to an exciting array of avian visitors. It's too bad that there wasn't a winter bird walk planned for last Sunday, it would have been a barn-burner. First we saw a group of ten or so hooded megansers that are so splendidly bedecked with colorful feathers that they look as if they were made of painted porcelain. There were ring-necked ducks, there were pied-billed grebes and there were scaups. We saw buffleheads and the rarest visitor of all was the canvas back duck. It's very distinctive with it's large brown head and bright white body, which is larger than most ducks. I got a very close look at it when I went to answer the ferry bell and the canvas back came splashing out from under the dock when I got there. Scared the living day lights out of me. I thought that the canvas back would be a one-day visit but surprisingly that duck and at least one other canvas back, have been hanging around here all week.

The other development in our Island bird life is that the geese are now pairing up and have begun to look for nesting spots on the Island. I also noticed that the red-shouldered hawk has begun to build a nest in the large sycamore next to the bird feeder. There are a few large sticks in place but not a lot of activity there yesterday. Maybe the hawks changed their minds about nesting here.

Friday -- February 8, 2019
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.0     Water Temperature: 40


The ferry is closed, probably for the whole weekend.

But, I did get my internet back, so that's good. We were without the World Wide Web for exactly three weeks.