Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fall in full swing

On the Interurban trail
More than a dozen or so of us ladies were joined this morning by a new couple, and one of them is a man, who was a little surprised to find that he was going to be alone with all of the rest of us ladies on the walk. We'll see if he returns. I hope so; they are both very strong walkers and stayed in the front with the ones I hardly know, since I can't possibly keep up with them. No matter, I sure enjoyed bringing up the rear and walking at a more leisurely pace. I did keep up for the majority of the walk but decided there was no need to push myself.
Bridge in Arroyo Park
Now that I've gone on my usual Thursday hike and my usual Saturday morning walk, I'm settled right back into my routine after our wonderful five days on Vashon Island, which now seem like a distant memory. My, it amazes me how quickly I can forget the lovely time we shared. I must admit to having had several ideas for writing come up, but so far nothing has emerged. Just a wish to find a way into creative writing on a regular basis.

I burst into tears yesterday when I watched the news before heading off to the gym. The devastation in California is beyond tragic. When the news of the world feels so desperate, I have to tune it out. So yesterday I took two yoga classes in a row, three hours of asanas and stretching. Afterwards I did feel much, much better, but today I am just a teensy bit sore in places that I didn't know I have. It's curious: when I think back over what we did, I cannot figure out how I ended up with sore thighs and buttocks, and the backs of my arms tender to the touch.

We are on track for more rain, starting tonight. How I wish we could slide some of it over to northern California, where it is truly needed. My body is not the only part of me that is sore, my spirit feels a little bit vulnerable, too.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Puttin' on the Rain Gear

Gearing up for the rain
Sixteen Senior Trailblazers met this morning to discuss where we should go. Our scheduled hike into the High Country didn't make any sense, since it's raining and snowing up there today. Rain in the Chuckanuts was easier to deal with, since it's a short drive and we could turn around or, if the weather cooperated, we could even go further if we wanted. We chose Lost Lake, a regular winter haunt, and one we will visit many times in the next few months.
Chris in her rain gear, including rain skirt
Chris and her husband Rich both have created rain skirts for themselves, which makes a lot of sense since you can let air move through, as opposed to rain pants (which I and many others wore today). We used raincoats, ponchos, pack covers and rain hats to keep ourselves warm and dry. It was cool and showery, with the temperature around 50°F (10°C), so we weren't terribly cold as we made our way to Lost Lake.
Reflection in Lost Lake
We never saw the sun all day, and once we got to the lake, we decided to have an early lunch (it was around 11:00am) and head back the way we had come. Rich, who is famous for taking a dip whenever there's water around, crept away and did his thing, which we only knew because we saw the waves he created in the water.
Having lunch at Lost Lake
While the rest of us were bundled up to keep warm, he was busy covered only in goosebumps before sneaking back fully clothed to grab a quick lunch before we packed up to start back. He swears by it and Chris says he never takes a hot shower at home, only cold ones. He's a certified "interesting character."
We saw these very interesting mushrooms and wondered about them. They look almost like they've been sprinkled with cinnamon, don't you think? We saw several other varieties that I recognized, but I don't think I've ever seen any quite like these before.
Leafy Interurban trail
It rained quite hard as we made our way down the return trail, but since we were moving at a good clip and bundled in our rain gear, it was almost pleasant. No views today, but good company, and we covered well over nine miles and 2,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. I'm feeling pretty good, now that I'm dry and warm as I write this. A very typical Pacific Northwest kind of hike in the rain, and now I'm ready to snuggle up in my favorite chair with a good book.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Home again, safe and sound

Sandi and Deb on our last Vashon morning
Every single day of our retreat, the three of us left the farmhouse just before sunrise to walk three miles around a loop we discovered a few years back. It was the perfect way to start the day before spending so many hours sitting and writing, reading and sharing, and listening to each other's positive feedback about our writing.

And now it's over. Our sixth and final Vashon Island gathering of the bloggers who have called ourselves "Vashonistas" has come to an end. What lies ahead isn't clear, but I truly hope that I will see the magical island of Vashon again someday. I only know it in October, and this year the weather was more than perfect. We got many glimpses of Rainier, and on our last night, we were treated to the mountain in alpenglow.
Rainier and Quartermaster Harbor
I'm filled to the brim, but also glad to be back in the apartment with my dear partner. I've picked up my car, which has been repaired, and returned the rental car. Tomorrow my familiar life returns, but I've got a hankering to stir things up. We'll see what happens.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A beautiful place for a retreat

Young deer
Every morning three of the four of us ladies start the day with a nice three-mile walk. With each year that passes, I've noticed more deer, which seem completely unfazed as they stroll by or lie in the grass, looking up with little curiosity at the people passing by. It must be an idyllic place for them to live.

It's actually a lovely place for most creatures, including people, at least at this time of year. This morning when I'm on our walk, I'll be thinking of my usual Saturday morning walk with many more of us ladies enjoying the fall colors. I'll be present in spirit in Bellingham, but I'll be here on Vashon.

I miss my normal routine a little, but it's been such a fruitful time here as I spend my days writing and sharing, with me getting all fired up once again to find a way to write some fiction pieces, short stories, something to spice things up. A little cinnamon, nutmeg for sure, and cardamom suitable to the time of year. Fall is such a pensive time for me, with the return of the rain and cold weather, instead of waking each day to the early sun and birdsong. Yep, the season has definitely changed and I must change along with it.
it is a serious thing // just to be alive / on this fresh morning / in this broken world. (Mary Oliver)
I hope you have a wonderful day out there while I enjoy the final weekend of our retreat on Vashon Island, a magical place.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Vashonista once again

Me, Jann, Sandi, Deb at the Tea House in town
Well, our Vashonista group is shrinking. When we started out six years ago, we were six, then five for a couple of years, and this time, we are four. Neither Sally nor Linda are here for what is likely to be our very last year at the Lavender Hills Farmhouse. Renting the six-bedroom farmhouse for five nights split between four is much different than between six. Linda was going to attend this year and graciously paid her share, but I'm thinking it's probably time for us to make a change anyway.
The living room, looking out on the bay
It's every bit as beautiful this year as it was every year before, but we do seem to be rattling around in it a little more than in past years. I am the only one in the basement, with one of two bedrooms on the main floor occupied, and the suite and other upstairs room occupied by Deb and Sandi. I am using the smaller of the basement bedrooms as a place to charge my devices.
Quartermaster Harbor
Last year we went kayaking on this bay, but today three of the four of us did our usual three-mile walk before settling down to work on creative writing for the day. We started out the door just before the sun came up and enjoyed reminiscing about previous years. We are the only three that walked every single morning, rain or shine, and it was truly a lovely feeling to be back here, walking in the brisk cool air with my friends. We saw at least six deer out for their breakfast at various places, obviously very accustomed to human activity.
Mt. Rainier shining on the horizon
When the weather is fine as it is today, we have a magnificent view of Mt. Rainier from the back porch of the farmhouse. You can see a bit of the harbor, too. It's a beautiful place even in the rain, but right now it's spectacular. On the way back to the farmhouse this morning, we saw that a new place has opened up just a block from the house, The Burton Inn, a bistro and restaurant. The innkeeper, Deborah, was not open yet, but she saw us looking and invited us in for coffee and scones, although we had no money to pay her.
At the Burton Inn this morning
It's a lovely place and opened not long after our visit here last year. We made reservations for dinner there tonight and will, I'm sure, enjoy a wonderful meal, if the menu is any indication. Once we returned to the farmhouse, we got ready for a day's worth of creative writing. We are finished for the day, which is why I'm writing my post now. We are relaxing (Jann) or shopping (Deb and Sandi) or catching up on blog writing and reading (me).

So that's what is happening in my life today. We'll rinse and repeat tomorrow, unless we feel like changing things up a little. We're on a vacation with writing at the center, so we can do whatever feels best. I hope to get a post up here on Saturday, unless I forget (smile). We will drive back to our respective homes on Monday morning. Until then, I'm a full-time writer.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Tuesday post on a Monday

Our garden sunflowers
I know, I know: it's not Tuesday yet, but since I forgot to write a Saturday post, I figured I'd just continue to mess up the week's schedule. It's going to be a different week, anyway. Tomorrow I will take my damaged car to the body shop and leave it to be fixed, then pick up my rental car and take off for Vashon Island on Wednesday. In between then and now, I'll finish packing. Since I will miss my usual Thursday hike, I'll be posting something about my retreat instead. Just a mixed-up week.

Our season's garden is just about over, but these beautiful sunflowers are still going strong. A few have begun to droop, but there are others that will probably not get a chance to bloom at all. I was looking at one of them and saw this pretty ladybug nestled inside.
Ladybug in the sunflower
It amazes me what good pictures my iPhone can take. The depth of field is not very deep, but I managed to get the ladybug in focus, even if the leaves in the foreground are blurry.

I am busy trying to remember everything I'm going to need for the week. When I return, my car will be fixed and perhaps the week after will be normal. I'll try to stay out of the way of huge tow trucks!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Fall colors at Watson Lakes

Trailblazers on the way to the lakes
Today thirteen Senior Trailblazers headed south for a LONG drive to Anderson Butte and Watson Lakes. This is the first time I've done this hike, and now I know why: it's incredibly beautiful but it took us more than two hours to get there. However, the weather could not have been better, and the area is loaded with fall colors everywhere we looked.
Anderson Butte
The first thing we did is take the the trail off to Anderson Butte, which gave us a fantastic view on a day like today. See the uphill trail on the left-hand side? Yep, it was steep. The whole hike was either steep up, or steep down.
Mt. Baker from Anderson Butte
It was a clear day with just about perfect temperatures, but you sure needed your sun protection when we were not in the trees. Once we took in the magnificent views, we headed back down to the main trail and made our way to Watson Lakes. Here's our first view of them.
Both Watson Lakes in view
Once we got to the first lake, we stopped for lunch, sitting in the shade and enjoying the company and fine views. We had a new hiker with us today, Diane, who has just recently moved to the area. I took a nice picture of her with a couple of other hikers, but it didn't turn out, so I asked for a solo. Meet Diane.
Diane, our latest recruit
She did just fine, although she doesn't look old enough to be a senior, does she? She's a strong hiker and a welcome addition. I enjoyed talking with her and hope she will return to be introduced to more of our wonderful wilderness.
The farthest Watson Lake
After lunch, we walked to the other Watson Lake and took pictures while enjoying the view. Well, most of us took pictures. Some of us were busy snacking on the incredible number of ripe wild blueberries beside the trail. They were so abundant that I saw that my fingers had turned purple, a sure sign of a blueberry addict.
Red blueberry bushes
At this time of year, the blueberry bushes turn bright red when backlighted by the sun. I kept spying little blue morsels as I walked, and it was almost impossible to resist them. Fortunately, I wasn't alone. I love this time of the year. What surprised me is how many berries there were, considering that this trail is well traveled. There were so many, we barely made a dent in them!
Mt Baker from the car on our return
Once we piled into our cars and started back down the long drive, we saw this scene of our beautiful mountain with late-day shadows showing us how magnificent it is, a fine backdrop to our activities. We covered a bit more than six miles but 2,300 feet of elevation up and down, on a fine, fine fall day. It may have been my first trip here, but it won't be my last.