Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pumpkins and rainy days

Big organic pumpkin
Outside the Community Food Coop, they've got another one of those giant pumpkins displayed for us to guess its weight. Here's a picture of the one from last year. I noticed how much it weighed once they told us, but I sure don't remember, or even have a clue how heavy last year's was. I'll probably guess around 500 pounds, what do you think? Maybe 555, some lucky number or something. Certainly not 600, though, it just doesn't look that big to me.

We are supposed to be getting a LOT of rain in the next few days, including (sigh) Thursday. We have had so many wonderful days that I guess I can't expect every Thursday to be sunny and dry. I'll get to try out my new rain gear, which is something I can look forward to... sort of. We had rain and gray skies two out of the three days that I spent last weekend on Vashon Island. Sunday, the day we had to leave, was the first time we got a glimpse of Mt. Rainier from the back porch.
The mountain was out!
I took this from inside, which is why you see those streaks from the window's glare, but I thought it was such a spectacular view that I didn't even care. It's just a memory for me now, a good one one that will keep me going back to the Lavender Hill Farmhouse for many more years, if it comes to pass. My blogging buddies who are now actually friends for life will need to join me for it to mean anything, but I'm hoping this time next year we'll be back together. I really had a great time with these unique characters. The blogosphere has definitely changed my life for the better.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Vashonistas meet again

Linda, Jann, DJan, Deb, Sandi
Well, this year we are only five Vashonistas, as Sally had to cancel at the last minute because of illness. We are so sorry she's not with us for our third gathering at the Lavender Hill Farm on Vashon Island. We are all blogging women who got together two years ago here for the first time, and now I believe we are on a roll! This is such a fine way for us to meet each other as "skin friends," since we already knew so much about each other from our blogs. Links to our previous meetings are here and here.

And for the third time we had our Saturday breakfast at the Hardware Store (a restaurant on the main drag) and now it's a tradition. We also had the same waitperson, and we asked if she remembered us, which is doubtful, considering the number of visitors that come every year, but she didn't let on that she didn't remember us.
The view from the back porch of the farmhouse
It is such a peaceful and wonderful place, and we had a great time last night as we ate Jann's wonderful lasagna and enjoyed some great uproarious laughter together. I just returned from a short walk with Sandi and Deb so I could write this post, but there will be more tomorrow on my other blog. I'm really glad I came and I sure wish the rain would stop so we could perhaps capture a view of Mt. Rainier (which is actually available from one of our previous visits here). You can never have too many views of mountains, can you?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Goat Mountain Fall 2014

On the trail
Seventeen Senior Trailblazers started up the Goat Mountain trail for our third visit this year. We had some fitful stops and starts, but we eventually all got sorted into two groups: a few would try to get to the actual summit of Goat Mountain, rather than the overlook, where we usually stop. I was in the second group, just happy to be getting up into the High Country for yet another wonderful trip, without rain! This is the only day this entire week when we were not expecting rain, and sure enough we stayed dry.
Mushrooms were everywhere, all sorts of them
Since there has been so much rain lately, mushrooms had sprouted out of the ground everywhere. These (above) look almost like slimy loaves of bread. I was hoping that we would have a good view of the surrounding mountains after struggling for almost 3,000 feet of elevation to get to the overlook, but the skies might have been dry but they were certainly not cloud free.
Owen in front of Mt. Sefrit
We were joined today by a new (to me) guy who usually hikes with the other Senior Trailblazer group. Here is is standing in front of Mt. Sefrit, for his first time ever up to the Goat Mountain overlook. He has a wry sense of humor and had me laughing more than once today.
The Goat Mountain summit in snow
By the time we got into the open, we saw that the summit group would be dealing with fresh snow that must have fallen overnight. As you can see, however, the surrounding hills were alive with fall colors, even with gray skies that make it difficult to determine the summit from the background.
The group below me, with autumn in full swing
I wasn't able to capture very many pictures today, as I was struggling the entire way, feeling like my legs had lead in them. I wasn't alone, but those four who decided to try for the summit were only a short distance from the top before they turned around. We used the walkie-talkies to communicate with each other.
Those wonderful fall colors
As we began our descent, we knew that we should meet up by the time we got to the cars, and it all turned out well in the end. Although it was late before we got home (since the daylight hours are so much less than earlier in the summer), I think I can say we were all very glad to get home and enjoy our evening after a fine day in the wilderness. If this precipitation keeps up all next week, we might have just done our final trip for the season, but we are hoping for one or even two more. We'll see. Anyway, it was another great day, but I am sure tired and glad to be home!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What an aurora

From Astronomy Picture of the Day
Part of my morning routine is to read my blogging friends' latest posts, make a quick check of the news of the day, read a few of my favorite comics, and check out the Astronomy Picture of the Day. This is today's picture, and I was simply amazed when I looked at it. I've never before even seen a picture of an auroral corona. Taken last month in Norway by Harald Albrigtsen, the page gives more information about it:
Somewhat uncommon, an auroral corona appears as a center point for a surrounding display and may occur when an aurora develops directly overhead, or when auroral rays are pointed nearly toward the observer. This picturesque but brief green and purple aurora exhibition occurred last month high above Kvaløya, Tromsø, Norway. The Sessøyfjorden fjord runs through the foreground, while numerous stars are visible far in the distance.
Wow! It's such a beautiful picture I figured I'd share it with you, along with perhaps get you in the habit of looking at some fabulous part of our universe each morning. I am always bedazzled by spiral galaxies, mostly, but this... just wow!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Another long weekend, for some

"Homeland Security: Fighting Terrorism since 1492"
Gene was wearing this t-shirt at the coffee shop yesterday, and I thought the message was quite appropriate for the upcoming holiday on Monday: Columbus Day. This is a federal holiday (meaning we won't get mail delivery and the banks will be closed) around the country. I just looked it up for this area, however, and found that the schools will be open and actually, most of the banks as well. There's quite a kerfuffle brewing over Columbus Day here in the Pacific Northwest.

Seattle voted this year to change the title of the holiday to "Indigenous People's Day" to honor the contributions of Native Americans on this day, instead of Columbus' discovery of America in October 1492. This led Italian Americans to object, saying (according to this article) that "this is a big insult to those of us of Italian heritage. We feel disrespected. America wouldn't be America without Christopher Columbus."

Sigh. And here in Bellingham, the City Council will vote on an ordinance that would have the date of October 13 designated as "Coast Salish Day." It will be interesting to see how all this plays out. Oh, and on another subject, I have already interviewed two of my friends to follow up with the idea of having a short biography here on the blog (Gene and Rita), but I've still got to write them and get an okay from each, making sure I get the facts right. I'm having fun already!
Sheltered from the rain
This morning, 14 of the walkers gathered in hopes of beating the rain that was on its way. Actually, we had just finished our walk when the heavy rain began. It kept up like this (see it coming off the roof?) for maybe a half hour and then the sun came out! It's one of those October days when sun, rain and clouds vie for dominance. It's that in-between time of year, and we all gathered afterwards for some coffee and conversation. A nice day, actually.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

High Pass Trail 2014

Twin Lakes, Winchester/High Pass trailhead
Today sixteen Senior Trailblazers gathered to hike up to Winchester Mountain, or maybe the High Pass Trail, depending on how many of us showed up. The Mt. Baker Wilderness Area requires that all groups be comprised of fewer than 12 hikers, so we decided that we would break into two groups, one going up to Winchester Mountain, and the rest of us (today it was four of us) continue up to the High Pass Trail. Since I had hiked up Winchester earlier this summer, I opted to go where I hadn't been before, the High Pass Trail.
Karen with a halo
Neither of these are long hikes: I think it's only four miles round trip to the top of Winchester, and just a little bit more than that to High Pass. But today was a simply perfect day, whichever route one took. Everyone who had never been to the top of Winchester Mountain went that direction, and we rejoined everyone at a predetermined time at Twin Lakes later. The blueberries were so profuse that we ate to our heart's content and still couldn't keep up! Where are the bears?
Peggy picking blueberries
It was impossible not to stop and pick blueberries to pop into your mouth. Each one had a slightly different taste, and I kept thinking I would find the perfect one and stop, but I never did. You can see in the picture below why I couldn't stop.
So many blueberries!
Mercy! By the time we had reached the top of High Pass, I noticed that I wasn't, for some reason, a bit hungry and anxious for lunch. And then we saw the view. Another fine portrait of Mt. Baker, one that you just don't see all that often. From this vantage point, it looks lopped off flat on the top, but from where I am sitting now (my living room), it looks completely round. Here's my view this afternoon:
Mt. Baker from High Pass
What a beautiful mountain! I will never tire of taking pictures of her, and I hope I'll have many more years of hikes in the wilderness to capture this mountain in all of her different characters. Today it was a perfect blend of temperature, clouds, fall colors, and serenity. And then it was time to start back down and join our other Winchester cohorts. It wasn't easy, because we kept having to stop and sample more, well, you know, blueberries.
Al in Blueberry Heaven
It was a really perfect day in so many ways. We only hiked somewhere around four or five miles, with a measly 1,600 feet of elevation gain and loss, which means I am sitting here at my laptop feeling like a million bucks, not tired, and filled with so much gratitude for another fine day in the wilderness. The only part I missed is not being with the larger group and spending time with my other Senior Trailblazers. They managed to have a great time without me, as I learned when we all met up at the end. We headed down to Graham's in Glacier to share some ice cream memories, and now we are in our own abodes, happy to have been on a great hike today.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tuesday again already?

Front porch pansy
I went to the garden shop a few weeks back to get some flowers that would brighten up my front porch, since many of my pretty summer plants had finished blooming and/or gave up the ghost. These lovely pansies were a surprise, because they are my favorite color and frilly to boot. The plant didn't have any blooms, but lots of them were ready to emerge when I bought it. I hope they will last for awhile to brighten my comings and goings.

Although I'm retired, I have a fairly constant weekly schedule: Tuesdays are the one day each week when I take two classes back to back at the Y, starting at 8:00am and finishing at 10:00am. I don't exactly look forward to it, because I know I'll be tired afterwards, but after a shower and a nice cup of coffee, I feel simply great. It's also the only time during the week when I lift weights. (The class is actually held two days a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I am out in the wilderness on Thursdays.) It's a class I don't like to miss, since keeping my strength up helps in many other aspects of my daily life.

I am mulling the possibility of writing some biographies about the interesting people in my life. I realized the other day that many of you think of me as being a rarified animal in the scheme of things. Not true! Maybe I could begin to interview some of the people at the Y who interest me, and write an article about each one. Would you like to know more about those fascinating people I hit the trails with? I'm thinking of Rita particularly, who is 75 and hikes, tap dances, bikes all day long sometimes, and recently took up scuba diving. What do you think?