Saturday, March 28, 2015

Some Bellingham murals

Mural at the corner of Holly and Bay Streets
Today, after our usual morning walk, I went exploring around Old Town in Bellingham looking for some murals I'd noticed before. There are plenty of them all around town, but this one has captured my interest for quite awhile. I went looking for some information about the artist (or artists) but I was unable to find out anything on line.
Whatcom County Railway & Light Co.
This closeup of the left-hand side of the mural made me wonder about the name on the building and what it was all about in the history of the town. Here's what I found:
By 1902, Stone & Webster had acquired the Fairhaven and New Whatcom. Over the next several months Northern Railway and Improvement sold the rest of its holdings which included Fairhaven Electric Light, Power and Motor Company and the Whatcom-Fairhaven Gas Company. Stone & Webster organized these under the umbrella name of the Whatcom County Railway and Light Company. (from this link)
Apparently, at the turn of the last century several businessmen from California wanted to make Bellingham into an urban area to rival Seattle and Tacoma.  But for whatever reason it didn't happen. I'm glad, since the town today is just the right size for me.

The mural below is just a short distance away on Prospect Street; I took a picture of it, since I pass by it every day in the bus. It's got so much detail but all I've learned about it is that it's a story of Salmon Woman and the Native Americans who were here first (I think).
Down the street from the museum
Bellingham was a major center for salmon fishing. At one time, the largest salmon processing plant in the world was located in the Fairhaven district. By 1925, eight salmon canneries were doing business in Bellingham Bay. This took quite a toll on the salmon, obviously, and pretty much decimated the salmon runs until the traps they used were banned. Slowly they returned to a new normal, but most fishermen moved north to Alaska where the salmon were more abundant.

I'll spend some time taking pictures of the murals in Fairhaven one of these days and will share those with you, too. I love Bellingham, can you tell?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Return to the High Country

At the Goat Mountain trailhead
What a beautiful day! Fourteen Senior Trailblazers met at the Senior Center with hopes that we could forget our regularly scheduled hike and instead head up to the High Country. And that's just what we did. After some discussion, we decided to attempt the Goat Mountain overlook. We piled into four cars and headed to our starting point. Although it rained all day long in Bellingham yesterday, today was forecast to be much warmer and partly cloudy. We hoped that whatever snow fell in up high would be minimal, so that we could make it all the way to the overlook.
Our first signs of snow
We walked quite awhile before we ran into any snow at all, and much of it was like this, just a dusting as we made our way upwards. In total, we climbed 2,700 feet (823 meters) of elevation today, and much of the last part was in real snow. Here's what the meadow looked like when we reached it.
Yes, lots of snow, and plenty of sunshine too
It's less than a mile to the overlook from this point, but it is steep and slow going through the snow. Some of us (like me) forgot to add our snow baskets to our trekking poles, which made the going quite a bit harder, with nothing to push against as our poles slipped through the fresh snow. But we gamely headed on up.
Sharon and Carol with Mt. Baker in the background
The higher we climbed, the better the views. If you look at the left-hand side of the picture, you can see the depth of the snow, much of it fresh from the previous day, and it just continued to get deeper. But we made it to the overlook around 1:00pm and sat down to have our well deserved lunch.
Gazing out at the view
It's quite a spectacular view from here, with all our favorite mountains visible, and here you also see three Tilley hats (Doug, Bob, and Al) on three of my favorite hikers. Mine was still hanging on the wall at home, since I really did think that all the weather would make it seriously cloudy today. I had only a baseball cap and my sunglasses to shelter me from the intense sun. It was enough, but I sure missed my Tilley hat!
Bob and Mt. Sefrit behind him
I am adding this picture to point out a curious observation: all the other pictures I'm showing you today were taken with my Canon camera. This one is taken with my iPhone 6. Am I wrong in thinking that the sky and the colors are superior? I have "doctored" all the camera pictures by enhancing and boosting the colors, but this one is just the way I took it.
Starting our return trip
This part of the day's exertions was by far the hardest for me: I was heading downhill in fresh snow, with the sun having degraded much of the sunniest parts, and I kept falling and trying to haul myself back up with no baskets on my poles. It was terrible. Fortunately, Kirk offered to lend me his (with baskets) until we got to more reasonable terrain. I was very grateful.
The lower trail is free of snow
Finally we returned to the more easily traveled trail, free of snow and giving us a chance to pick up the pace to the cars. I don't know how tired everyone else was, but that entire section with the snow was enough to make the mere seven+ miles we covered today feel much longer. However, now that I'm sitting in my favorite chair with my wine next to me, I'm feeling very grateful to have been given the chance to visit the High Country this year, in March! What a day!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Today the sun is shining

Lilac buds
When I stepped off the bus today on my way back from town, I saw that the lilac buds have increased in size overnight. At this rate, it won't be more than a week before I see the first blossoms. Yes, spring is definitely busting out all over around here. I'm hoping it won't be long now before the snow is gone from the East Coast, too. It's crazy to see the difference in weather patterns between the coasts for the foreseeable future. Take a look at this:
Climate Prediction Center's temperature outlook for USA
Yikes! It looks like it will be warm and dry here for the next week or so, although we have rain predicted for tomorrow, it will remain warmer than normal. Sorry to see those below-normal temperatures just where they don't need it.
A little snip
Although I was assured by the claims adjuster that my car is safe to drive, it worried me to have that piece sticking out from the right side like that, so I was hesitant to drive it anywhere. My fisherman friend Gene was kind enough to cut off that offending snag hazard, and now I feel much better driving it. It just seems weird to me that it will be an entire MONTH before it could be fixed by Olsen Auto Body here in Bellingham. They received the payment from my insurance company on March 10th.

If my car had been unusable, they would have fixed it sooner. At least now I'm more comfortable driving it around. People still look at me funny as I drive by, though.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Listening to the rain

When I walked to the bus last Friday, I saw that some of my favorite blossoms have begun to come out. These don't last long, so I usually try to get them when they are covered with dew or rain with early morning light. It wasn't raining then, so I'll try again Monday. But for now, I'm sitting inside listening to the rain drum on the rooftop. Our Saturday morning walk was a wet one, too, but for awhile it seemed like it would clear up. Nope, not yet.

I still have more than two weeks to drive around my crippled car before it gets fixed. I think I could put the whole thing behind me much more quickly if I didn't have to be reminded every time I drive it. Plus, even though the adjuster said it's fine to drive it on the freeway, there is no way I'll do that until it's fixed. It goes into the shop on April 6, a full month after the accident. It reminds me that there must be a whole lot of car accidents in Bellingham every day.
Gene's hand, Leo, and his dad's torso
I also got this picture of Leo on Friday, showing how quickly he is growing up. He doesn't come into the coffee shop nearly often enough for me these days, but he's in school much of the time, and next year it will be even worse. He kept making faces, so Gene distracted him so that I was able to capture this picture of my favorite six-year-old friend.

Hey, the rain just stopped, and it got significantly brighter outside. I may have some sunshine today after all! Hope you do, too.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

British Army Trail and more

Stream crossing
I sure didn't expect to see sixteen Senior Trailblazers show up on a day when it was forecast to rain all or most of the day, and on a hike that is definitely not one of our favorites, the British Army Trail on Blanchard Mountain. It's rather long and spends a good deal of the day on old logging roads. It's part of the PNT (Pacific Northwest Trail) and was constructed by PNT volunteers and visiting British Army soldiers during the late 1990s. We started from the Upper Trailhead parking lot, after having dropped a car off at our ending point. This would allow us to make a one-way hike, which we did last year. I wrote about it here. It was sunny then, but today we expected any minute to be in rain. We were ready.
Time to strip off some layers
But since the rain didn't seem to be coming, other than a little drop or two (nothing for us seasoned Pacific Northwesterners), we stopped to take off most of our rain gear. It was very mild and I soon realized I too was wearing way too many clothes. After this stop I was much more comfy.
Must be a woodpecker heaven
I saw this tree that looked like a sieve, with all those holes. We speculated that it must have lots of beetles and other tasty treats for the woodpeckers to find under the bark. Our hike took us to Lily and Lizard Lakes, but we didn't see any lilies or lizards today. It was too early to stop for lunch by the time we got to Lily Lake, so we headed on over to Lizard Lake for our lunch stop.
Stopping at Lizard Lake for lunch
By the time we got to Lizard Lake and pulled out our lunch and made ourselves comfortable, it still wasn't raining. Just a few little drops on the lake, but nothing really. I walked around the area and found this recent tree cut down by a beaver or two:
Stump with lots of cuttings and the tree next to it
I looked at this endeavor and wondered whether the tree simply sheared off once they got it close to finished. The top of the stump doesn't have any teeth marks, and the position of the tree makes me think the tree just gave up. I guess beavers must know about the way a tree is going to fall, since I haven't seen any dead bodies lying around, but plenty of felled trees.
Trillium bud
And look! A trillium just getting ready to open. Now I know that spring is really here. I'll be seeing more and more of these as the time goes by. When they are gone in the lowlands, we will be hiking in the High Country and seeing them there. It was so nice to say hello to my first one of the season.
This sign shows the section dedicated to the British Royal Army
By the time we got to this point, we were all ready for the hike to be done. But we still had miles to go before we got to the car, most of it on logging roads. Before it was all over, we had covered more than nine miles and 2,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. You would think I'd get used to it, but I was very tired by the end. The five drivers piled into the one car and drove to our starting point to get the other cars. Since it wasn't raining, the rest of us didn't mind the wait too much.
It started to rain once we got in the cars
On the way back to the Senior Center, we got rain! Once we were inside the cars, the heavens opened up. Do you think somebody was watching out for the Senior Trailblazers? I do! It was a nice way to end a day where we all got lots of exercise and stayed (mostly) dry!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The tulips are coming out already

Check out the Tulip Bloom Map
I found this awesome picture on Facebook under a page created by a local real estate agent, Rick Moore, who has lived in Bellingham his entire life. His page is entitled "LoveBellingham," if you are a Facebook user and want to like his personal page. He puts up some really beautiful pictures of our area, and I snagged this one just to show how the tulips have already started to pop out in the Skagit Valley just down the road. The link under the picture will take you to the Bloom Map, and I noticed it was updated as of today, St. Patrick's Day. None of the tulip fields are "turned on" yet, but all the daffodil fields are at their peak color.

I would be heading down there soon, but my car is really not something I want to take out onto the freeway in its present condition, and it's not scheduled for repair until the week of April 6-10. I will be getting a rental car, however, while mine is in the shop, so that's when I'll be heading down to take my own look at the tulips. I'm thinking they should just about be in perfect condition in another three weeks. That's what I'm hoping, anyway. There are early, middle, and late tulips in the big gardens, but this year I'll bet they will all be gone by the end of April! I'll be showing you my pictures when I get down there.

Oh, and since it's St. Patrick's Day today, please remember that if you are going to drink green beer to celebrate, find a designated driver or stay home to imbibe. Better to be safe than sorry. I also found this great picture taken of the seniors from the YMCA during the St. Patrick's Day parade last Saturday.
A little rain didn't keep the seniors away
I found this great Irish quote to leave you with: "May you have the hindsight to know where you've been, the foresight to know where you're going, and the insight to know when you've gone too far."

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Safety Day 2015

Me and Christy this morning at Safety Day
I got up this morning with Smart Guy, and the two of us set out for the 75-mile-long journey down to Skydive Snohomish in the rain, so we could attend Safety Day. While we were there, before the seminars began, I asked Christy for a picture. I do think this will be my last Safety Day and my last season of skydiving. No, I mean it this time. She and I made a skydive a couple of weekends ago, and it was simply lovely. I'm looking forward to at least a few more weekends this summer where we get to play in the air.
The large crowd, along with the potluck breakfast treats
Skydive Snohomish hosts this well-attended event, which gets us all ready for the upcoming season after the winter layoff. The weather has been so fine that many people have already made some skydives this season (including me), but the five seminars cover aircraft safety, the skydive, equipment, canopy flight, and emergencies. The Drop Zone provides pizza for lunch and hosts a large dinner afterwards as well. I've never attended the dinner, since we have such a long drive home.
Fiddling with aperture settings
This morning I was reading on one of my favorite blogs, The Furry Gnome, about aperture settings and how to use them. I tried a dozen different ones as I gazed out the front window of the car at the windshield wipers as they swept back and forth in the rain. Of course, I wasn't driving, Smart Guy was, so I had plenty of time to ponder what happens when I changed the aperture setting. I noticed depth of field and the amount of light all change considerably. This is going to be fun! And finally, I'll leave you with one of the humorous cartoons that was shared today by Dieter, one of our pilots.
I laughed at this one