Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Three more fun skydives

Linny (with red circle), Christy, me, Tyson, Dave
That little lady with the red circle around her head has been missing in most of my skydives this summer. Last September she had a hard opening and injured her neck pretty severely (whiplash), and then in June she came out to make a couple of jumps, considering herself to be almost back to normal. She made two skydives, which didn't turn out so well, as she ended up with a busted lip and pain in the front of her chest. She then went to the doctor to find that something was sprained in there, and she's still trying to work out the problems.

This is one reason why I'm ready to hang up my gear at the end of the season: the older we get, the more likely it is that we can get injured. Christy and Tyson are both much younger than Linny and me (I'm five years older than she is), and Dave is somewhere in the middle. He's still working, so I suspect he's in his late fifties, but I haven't asked him for some reason. His wife Cindy stayed home on Sunday, so the five of us went up and made a skydive, came down and packed up and made one more! Christy, Dave and I had already made a three-way skydive before Linny arrived, and Tyson is actually the Drop Zone Owner, so he's always there. He made time to join us because of Linny.

Although it was a really good day in some ways, it was hard to see how fragile Linny is right now. Before the whiplash injury, she would make up to eight skydives on Saturday and then come out the next day and make eight more! I have always been content to make no more than four in one day, and that's with me paying someone to pack my parachute in between jumps. Last year I did make four jumps in one day and packed up each one myself, but I'm willing to be much more laid back now, in my final skydiving season. I intend to enjoy myself and not push too hard.

That said, as I'm approaching the end of the season, with only two more months to go, I am beginning to wonder if I am being premature in stopping now. I had so much fun on Sunday!
:-)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Another fine Saturday

Front trees in January (left) and August (right) 2014
I was more than a bit upset when the manager of the apartment complex "trimmed" the trees in our front yard last winter. I thought he had killed them. The little one in the middle was completely stripped, and the two on either side of it were finally completely stripped of any remaining branches in February. In June I took a picture of the beginning of the trees' coming back to life (see it here), but now in August they look like trees again! I guess next time this happens I won't get all bent out of shape. I'm just not accustomed to the way things grow up here in the Pacific Northwest.

The lawn looks pretty brown, just like it did in January, but that's because we've had very little rain during the summer months. That's the usual way of things, and for the past two summers the number of days without clouds has been a bit higher than normal. Some people like it that way, but frankly I don't mind those pretty puffy white clouds in the blue blue sky.
Organic garlic and onions at the market
After my walk with the ladies, I went to the Farmers' Market and picked up some veggies before heading home. I had my cellphone with me and took a couple of arty shots with it, since I had left my regular camera at home. I'm just about ready to get a new one, since my current camera keeps losing the date and time settings at random moments. Very annoying. I saw this wonderful bouquet of dahlias, reminding me that summer is almost over when these beauties come out.
Taken at home with my regular camera
Tomorrow I'll head down to Skydive Snohomish to get a few jumps in with my friends. I would have gone today, but I was still feeling pretty sore from Thursday's hike and needed one more day to recover. I'm already feeling much better, but my thighs and calves are still reminding me they were well used. Both days are supposed to be sunny and warm, so I decided to take it easy and enjoy the fine day. Here's the other arty shot I took with my cellphone.
I think these are red onions but I'm not sure
Ah, yes, summer may be coming to an end, but it's been such a nice one! Nothing in this life lasts, especially the seasons, and I'll be looking forward to the brilliant colors of fall. One of these days, anyway. No hurry.
:-)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

All the way up Church Mountain

Al, Jonelle, Carol, Peggy, Bob, Chris, Rich, Noriko, Rita, Char
Today, twelve Senior Trailblazers went out to conquer the lookout area of Church Mountain, now that the snow is gone. In early July, we had lunch right around this spot in the meadow, on top of snow. You can see what it looked like here. This is the third time this season we have visited the Church Mountain area, but until today, it was impossible to get any farther than this area, because of all the snow. Today we were snow-free. And the flowers! They were pretty incredible.
Hiking right into a cloud
Although the fog made it possible for us to keep from getting overheated, it also came and went all day long and robbed us of a full view of the mountains. But as we trudged up the trail, I was secretly thanking the Weather Gods for the cooler temperatures. It was muggy and on the warm side every time the sun broke through.
Pink monkey flowers in abundance in the meadow
We were thinking that the sun would burn the fog away by the time we reached the top. Our destination was the spot where a lookout cabin once stood, which was more than four miles from the trailhead and up almost 4,000 feet of elevation. Like I said, I was happy that the sun kept being obscured by fog now and then. But every once in awhile, on our way up, we would see the fog begin to clear.
Mountain beginning to appear (picture taken by Char)
Doesn't it look like any minute the clouds will blow away? But it was not to be. We continued our climb to the top, which includes about a 50-meter scramble at the very end. This caused a few of our members to stay below. Here's the spot before you begin the final hand-over-hand scramble.
Rita, Chris and Char, with our dramatic view behind them
Well, we never got those clouds to clear off, but those of us who made our way carefully up those last few feet, stopped here to have our lunch. Char took this picture of Rita and me before we sat down to enjoy our repast. It doesn't really look as scary as it felt, but once we were here, we were ready to stop, put on some more clothes to keep our sweaty bodies warm, and have our well-deserved lunch.
No view, but two intrepid hikers ready for a nice lunch
After a leisurely lunch, those of us who went up here carefully made our way back down those scary ledges to join the others. One thing you have to say about Church Mountain: the uphill never lets up, and the reverse is true upon the descent: it was hard on my knees to keep going down and down, with no slackening. I finally put my knee brace on, but I made it quite a long ways before I had to give in to the inevitable.
Fireweed looking pretty
I caught this picture of the fireweed on the way down, with the clouds continuing to give us peekaboo views. By the time we reached the forest, having traversed these beautiful flowery meadows, we had almost full sunshine. But we just kept going in the dappled sunlight through the trees until we reached the cars. We had gone nine miles or so, with all that uphill and downhill, and we were all ready for a treat.
Rich, Rita, Char and Bob enjoying their ice cream
By the time Al's car had arrived at Graham's in Glacier, these four were already busy enjoying their ice cream cones. I went right in and got mine, so I could also enjoy the one thing that I allow myself on Thursdays: ice cream! Boy, did it taste good. And now I'm home enjoying my wine as I finish up this post. It was a great day, a little tired but feeling very accomplished right about now!
:-)

P.S. I got a note from the doctor that yesterday's CT scan was normal. Thanks for all your good wishes!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Getting my head examined

CT Scan information here
I went to the doctor last week because of a curious symptom I've recently developed. He could find no outward reason for it, so tomorrow I'll have my head examined by this machine: a CT scanner. I've never had one before, so it will be interesting to see what he might discover.

Basically, the reason I went to see him is that lately when I awaken from sleep, my left eye doesn't want to open. It's almost as if it's shut because of dried crust, like you get when you have a bad cold. But there doesn't seem to be any of that, and it only happens to one eye. The doctor ascertained that both sides of my face, including my eyelids, are the same, and there doesn't appear to be any weakness on one side of my body or the other. He was stumped.

So, he thought it might be a good idea to have my head examined to make sure there's nothing in there. I do hope they find something in there, like maybe a brain. I suspect they won't find a cause for this curious symptom, other than possibly age-related parts of the body giving out. Although I have used both of my eyes equally, it seems that sometimes one side wears out before the other.

While I was visiting him, I asked about some achilles tendinitis I've been experiencing on one heel, and he thought maybe it's caused by overuse. Well, I use both of my feet equally, too, and why would one begin to hurt and not the other? The pain in my heel has gotten much better since last week, although the eye thing hasn't. It's very annoying, and I have started using artificial tears in that eye to see if it helps at all, but so far (one night), it hasn't made a difference.

Anyway, I'll let you know what happens. One more thing I will have experienced after tomorrow. And it wasn't on my bucket list.
:-)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Cloudy Saturday

Our trail on Mt. Galbraith
The low pressure system that has been hanging out over the Pacific Northwest the past few days hasn't gone away as quickly as projected. It's still overcast, and on the way home from my Saturday walk with the ladies, it began to sprinkle a little. I just now decided I'll do something different than try to skydive tomorrow, and later today I'm going to the movies with my friend Judy.

Galbraith Mountain trails has been added this summer to our repertoire of walks, and today was the second time we went up. That boardwalk on the right of the walkers is for mountain bikers, who share this trail with walkers and runners. And as you can see, it's very green and quite lovely at this time of the year. I asked if we could take a group shot at the overlook, since we had at least a little bit of a view. We ran into several bikers who were happy to share the trail.
That's Cindy, our leader, in front with the white hair
I took two pictures. In this one, not everyone was present, but it's actually a nice shot, so I decided to put them BOTH in my post to share with you. Behind us you can see Bellingham below, but it wasn't exactly clear and visibility got a bit worse as the day went on. We walked for two hours, though, and everyone worked up quite a sweat (it's humid, too).
Fairhaven Walkers, Saturday group
In this picture, everyone is visible and looks ready for the shot, except for Ebba, who is peeking out behind the two on the right, and another lady whose name I have forgotten. I took the picture, but otherwise everyone is in there somewhere. In the previous shot, you can see Ebba clearly, so that's one reason why I went ahead and just published them both. Heck, it's my blog, and I can do what I want, right?

Anyway, it's a good start to the weekend, and I'm looking forward to taking it easy tomorrow. Relatively speaking, that is. I hope we all have a great couple of days.
:-)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Park Butte 2014

The flowers were abundant, but the view, not so much
Twelve Senior Trailblazers made the long drive from Bellingham to Schreiber's Meadow, where we began our usual trek to the lookout at the top of Park Butte. It's a beautiful place, and it was even beautiful today, although as you can see, there was no view. Last year, we had fantastic views, which you can see here, if you want to know what we missed today.
Bridge to help us cross the stream
There have been a few years when there was no bridge to cross this roaring stream, which today was the color of tea, after the rains of the past few days. We were very glad to have it, and at this point we thought the fog might lift to give us some views of Mt. Baker. Nope.
An enjoyable day anyway
We did think that eventually we would have some bit of a view, but it was not to be, not today. However, there was a good chance we would get rained on, and that never happened. We were quite comfortable during our exertions as we made our way to the lookout. It's a very nice little cabin that looks out over the valley below (see the previous year's post for a picture of it from the outside, looking up at it).
Bob, Sue, Paula, Diane, Rita (I took the picture)
Anyway, six of the twelve of us decided to have lunch inside the cabin, while the others stayed below the final push upwards. They knew there would be no view and little reason not to simply stay below. However, Bob, Sue and Paula had never been inside, so we went ahead and had our lunch there. I kept hoping that the fog would miraculously lift and we'd have a great view of the surrounding mountains, but it didn't happen. I wandered out on the railing to see if I could get a shot, and this was the best I was able to capture to show you what it looked like today.
Nobody had lunch on the railing today (see last year's post)
After a leisurely lunch, we headed back down to our cars to head home. By the time we had finished our hike, we'd covered almost eight miles and 2,300 feet up and down. Although it's not a difficult hike, it's also not trivial. I'm feeling the miles and the toll it took on my recently injured knee. It was worth it, though.
The meadow shrouded in fog
Every once in awhile on the way down, I thought the clouds would lift. They would begin to clear, and then come in anew. So we never had a view of the magnificent Mt. Baker that looks close enough to touch, not today anyway. But the company was wonderful, the day was rain-free, and the temperature darn close to perfect. And guess what? On the way home, it began to rain! Somebody was looking out for us, I think. It was a great day.
:-)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A really wonderful Sunday

Christy, Cindy, me, Dave
Cindy had emailed me to see if I might be available to make a few jumps with her and her husband Dave, since she got recurrent after a winter and spring layoff from skydiving. Even if you have an "expert" license, if you go beyond six months without a skydive, you must follow the Drop Zone's requirements to be able to jump again. Cindy had to hire a coach and spend several hours going over things she needed to be reminded of before jumping, and then she went out of the airplane with him to show she still remembers how to skydive.

We made three jumps together, along with Christy, who joined us for two of the skydives. It was a really fun day, the weather was perfect, and my skydives were extremely enjoyable. My landings were perfect, just a nice easy step onto the ground, and I drove the 75 miles home with a smile on my face. I had to wear weights (they are strapped around my waist) so I could fall comfortably at the same rate as Cindy and Christy, who weigh more than I do. Although Dave does, too, he's got more surface area so I can fall relative to him without weights, but it's much easier to fall faster than it is to slow down if you are heavier. Just some little tricks you learn over the years.

I had been worried about my knee, but it was just fine, never even stressed a little bit on Sunday. Yesterday, Monday, I hopped out of bed and after accomplishing my morning routine, I power walked to the bus station to head to the coffee shop, join my friends, and get ready for my class at 9:00am at the Y. As I hopped onto the bus, however, and made my way to my usual seat, I hit my knee on the edge of the seat, hard. It hurt so bad I practically collapsed into the seat. You know how when you hit a funny bone on your elbow it does the same thing? Yeah, that's what it felt like.

During the ride to town, the pain diminished a little, and I took stock to see what kind of damage my knee had sustained. I could walk all right, and I went ahead and did my aerobics class. I had little pain... but when I tried to walk upstairs, I couldn't do it without holding onto the railing. I went home and iced it and took stock again this morning. It was possible for me to walk downstairs without holding on, but it's still sore going up stairs. It's better today, though, so I think I'll be all right for the hike on Thursday, which I really don't want to miss.

And then yesterday I learned about Robin Williams having committed suicide. It was devastating, as he is a wonderful, dear person who had won my heart in movie after movie. Anyone who has lost a friend or relative to suicide was impacted by this event. I broke into tears when I saw his star on Hollywood Boulevard completely swamped with flowers. Many of us loved him, and my heart goes out to his family, who will never be the same.

It makes me realize that I must again give thanks for today, for the life I have and the positive outlook I have on life. For those who struggle with depression all the time, it must sometimes seem impossible to go on, and the agony of living becomes too much. These days, we have organizations that can help, such as www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. I hope if anyone reading this either needs help or knows of someone who does, you will take action, in honor of Robin's memory. You never know when something you say or do might actually help another.
:-{