Thursday, December 1, 2016

Hiking in the clouds

We actually went to both of these places
Only eight Trailblazers went out on a sunny day (to start, anyway), partly because most of this particular hike, to Burnout Point, is on old logging roads, such as you see in the background. Not as much fun or as scenic as trails in the woods. We knew that we would be making a loop, though, going up the logging roads but coming back via the Fragrance Lake trail.
Samish Bay in clouds and sunshine
At our first viewpoint, we could see that the clouds had begun to build, but still there was plenty of sunshine in parts of the area, but as we continued to hike upwards, we went right into those low-hanging clouds. They weren't putting out any of the "R" word, though, so we didn't mind too much.
Misty and beautiful
Until we reach Burnout Point, the hike is all uphill. A very good workout, but when we got to the top, there was no view, so we headed down the trail, making a loop, to Fragrance Lake for our lunch spot. On the way, we saw lots of this rather pretty fungi growing right on the road. No idea what it is.
It's coming right out of the dirt
One of the nice things about living here in the Pacific Northwest are all the interesting flora that proliferates because of the moisture. It's been raining more than usual (and that's saying something) for the past two months, so maybe that's one reason we keep seeing all these unusual fungi.
Me, Mikey, Kirk, Chris, Al, Rich, Peggy, Mel
At first, I asked someone to take a picture of the rest of us for my birthday memories, but I didn't really want anybody left out, so I managed to get this picture of all eight of us in a selfie. I will treasure this picture and have already put it on Facebook.
Fragrance Lake, our lunch spot
We got to the lake around noon, so we had a very nice lunch, even though it was a little cool in the breeze. We didn't spend a lot of time there, but when we headed back down via the Fragrance Lake trail rather than the logging road, we enjoyed much more pleasant views of abundant ferns and some old growth trees. I really love this particular trail. And then we were back at the cars, and it was still early in the day. Eight and a half miles and 2200 feet up and down, and my knees are still happy!

So now I am home, writing this post, and getting ready to enjoy a nice glass of wine before dinner. My wonderful partner asked me what else I'd like to have for my birthday, but frankly, I am content and happy, looking forward to the delightful food he's prepared for me. A great way to spend my special day.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Next week's trip

Me with Norma Jean last November
I can hardly contain my excitement about getting to see Norma Jean and the rest of my Florida relatives soon. At this time next week, I'll be in the air somewhere over the country on my way from the northwest corner of the nation to the southern tip in central Florida.

It turns out that the day I fly south, we here in the Pacific Northwest will be experiencing a cold snap. Not me, though: I'll be able to wear shorts and t-shirts for the first time in ages, it seems. Plus I'll be swimming with my sister in the mornings, and it's been a year since I've even been in the water. I know my muscles will be sore, but a good sore, you know?

When I last saw my grand-niece Alicia, she was crawling, nearly walking. Now she's a toddler, and little Lexie is not so little any more. How time flies! A visit once a year is barely often enough to keep up. And between now and then I'll have a birthday, a massage, and three yoga classes! Life is good.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

A wild day at Lake Padden

The hardiest of the hardy
When I woke this Saturday morning and checked the weather, I wondered who, if any, would be joining Lily and me as we drove off to Lake Padden, where we were scheduled to meet for our 8:00am walk. I knew Cindy would be there, she's the leader, but despite the wind and rain, thirteen of us showed up to brave the elements. And spend time together while making two loops around the lake. If it was simply awful, we could always skip the second loop.

So we set out in wind gusting well above 25mph, while the rain was only spitting at us occasionally. We knew that would change. By the time we were halfway around and in the shelter of the trees, it was like a different world, with the sound of the wind high above us and little rain. But when we came out of the trees, the wind and rain hit us, causing those of us who had taken off our rain gear a chance to pull it all snug around us again.

Some of us called it a day after the first loop, but the majority went on around a second time, with the rain a little stronger and the wind a little less. I was not soaked when we finished, but going out for coffee somewhere didn't tempt me much, as I was not totally dry. Lily and I went off to the Farmers' Market before heading home. At least I got my steps in for the day, and now I can lounge around and enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers once again without any guilt.
The sheltered part of the trail
This picture shows the far side of the 2.6-mile loop, where we cruised along in relative comfort. By the second time around, however, we were glad to finish our Saturday morning adventure without any trees having blown down on us, and without the heavy rain that we knew was coming. And it's here now, as I finish up my post. We've had almost an inch of rain already today! Nice to be inside again.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Day 2016

Gene, Leo, and Robert at Starbucks
When I woke this morning and went out to start my Thanksgiving Day, I knew I needed coffee first thing. (I admit to my addictions.) Since Avellino's is closed for the day, I headed over to the local Starbucks, because I knew they would be open. And who showed up but three of my regular Avellino visitors, Gene, Leo, and Robert. I couldn't stay to visit for long, however, because I had signed up to attend a special Gratitude yoga class.
Ingela at Yoga Northwest
Ingela, the founder of Yoga Northwest, an Iyengar style yoga studio, hosted a special yoga class today to benefit the Lighthouse Mission, where a meal costs $2.05 per person, and we donated at least $20 each for the class, all of which goes to the Mission. The studio was packed, and we then had Ingela's instruction for an hour and a half before heading back to our own homes, families, and dinner preparations. As I told Ingela, I had avoided taking her class, because I heard she is very hard. But I really enjoyed her instruction and won't shy away any longer.
My plate for our own special meal
For our own Thanksgiving meal, we were gifted with some of the best sockeye salmon I have ever tasted, from my fisherman friend Gene, along with new potatoes which, to my surprise, are purple, along with a complete roasted romanesco cauliflower, a delicata squash casserole, kale salad and bruschetta garlic bread from the Great Harvest Bread Company.
Me getting ready to toast our incredible feast
As I got ready to toast our scrumptious meal, SG captured this picture of me. He's got one of those iPhone6s phones, which actually (in regular picture mode) captured several frames of me lifting my glass of wine and smiling. This is the only one that came forward, though. I wish all of you, all my dear friends, the very best of days, and please accept my thanks for being such good, good friends. Blessings all around as I hoist my glass to toast a great year ahead.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Glad we're not hiking this Thursday

Rain, rain and more rain
This Thursday I am thankful for many things, one of them being that we won't be outside trying to maintain a positive outlook in what looks to be three-quarters of an inch of rain. Right now it's raining, but when I walked back from the bus it was mostly dry. Now that I'm inside and watching the rain come down, I'm glad I'm inside. I had a good workout at the gym, warm and cozy indoors.

As you can see from that graph, even though it's wet, it's not all that cold, so getting out and playing in the rain means I can maintain my body heat and then if I don't have to stop while outside and wet, I can easily have as much of a workout as I choose and then dry off. You have to find the upsides wherever you can.

And the other day our barista made a really cool design in Gene's latte, which I captured here. It was fun to watch as he drank it and the design morphed into an elongated headless skeleton.
Chase's delightful dancing skeleton
Well, that's about all I can think of to write in my post today. I am feeling pretty good right now, sleeping well without any assistance (other than melatonin), and my yoga classes are helping me to keep my equilibrium. I hope it's the same for you, and that your Thanksgiving will be filled with lots and lots of love and comfort food. But no tryptophan coma, okay? Read about why turkey makes you sleepy here.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The rain stayed away for our walk

Walking along Boulevard Park at high tide
As you can see from the sky above us, it was possible that we would be "enjoying" our walk in our usual style: with some wet stuff to keep us hydrated. But it didn't do more than spit at us now and then, as more than twenty women (and one new guy!) walked from the Farmers' Market building down to Boulevard Park and the Bellingham Ferry Terminal. We stopped there quickly to view the artwork on the front of the window, painted by our very own Ellen!
Ellen pointing to her creation
In that oval window is the picture she was commissioned to paint for the season. I thought maybe it would be easier to see from inside, but this is where it looked the best, even if it's a little dim. From here we walked down to the Wastewater Treatment Plant a short distance away, and we were reminded that today is World Toilet Day as we circled the plant before heading back to our starting point.

After we had covered almost seven miles, some of us decided to stop at the local Bagelry and quaff some coffee and bagels. I asked a stranger to take a picture of us. I don't particularly like the way I look in this picture, but since everybody else looks just fine, I'm going to go ahead and publish it.
Having our usual socializing while eating and drinking
It was a lovely way to start our Saturday, and we didn't even get wet, other than from our own sweat (or "glow" since women don't sweat). And now that I'm home and writing this post, I see that it's actually started to rain outside. Another amazing morning.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Not my favorite hike, but still a great day

Getting ready to start our hike at the trailhead
I was astounded that nineteen Senior Trailblazers showed up at the Senior Center for a hike we call both "Cub Creek" (there isn't one) and "Smith Creek" (because there is one). I've done this hike several times, in rain and sun, as well as just this past March. We had a view then; you can check it out here. The weather forecast was all over the place for today, but we expected that it would continue to improve during the day, and that by lunchtime we might actually have sun and some views.
First view of Lake Whatcom
We start at the level of Lake Whatcom and climb upwards for more than 2,000 feet of elevation, on trails and old logging roads. This was the first time we could see the lake below us, and you can see that the skies were anything but clear. At this point, it wasn't very cold, but we were glad when the light rain finally stopped as we worked our way ever upwards.
This was much easier going
There are sections of this particular hike where we must navigate a nearly nonexistent trail, covered with lots of bushes blocking our way and catching us with their thorns, while watching our step through fallen leaves that are busy hiding obstacles underneath. Once we made our way through that part, it was more like what the above picture shows. No views up here, so there was no reason to climb the mountain as we did in March.
Do we look cold? We certainly were!
When we stopped for lunch, everyone bundled up in whatever they had brought for warmth. I was just fine, except my hands got pretty cold. Nobody wanted to spend much time at lunch, for some reason. And then it was time to leave.
Walking into the fog
As we began our descent, making a loop for part of it (so that we didn't need to go back through the swampy thorny part), we began to warm up again. Nobody was quite ready to take off any warm clothes though, until we saw Lake Whatcom again, from a much higher vantage point.
Lake Whatcom from higher up
You might also notice that the clouds have cleared a little, and we began to get a sun break or two. I've mentioned before that I never knew that phrase until I moved here (sun breaks is entirely accurate), and between the fog and the mist, we got some nice views.
A drop of golden sun
See? A sun break! We were also under the power lines at this point, which were buzzing loudly. Ellen said she once lived under power lines like these, and if she took a fluorescent light bulb and stood under them, it would light up! That made me want to hustle right on by.
Kirk crossing a bridge
As we retraced our steps and finally made it back to the cars, we had a little discussion about how much distance we covered. Of course everyone's devices had a different number, with Al's (as usual) being the lowest number and Melanie's being the highest. I would guess we covered somewhere between nine and ten miles, probably closer to the lower number, but we also climbed 2,300 feet of elevation.

All in all, it was a fine day with little actual rain, not the best views, but frankly some of the finest company in the world. We are all happy to have gone out today and gotten some great exercise. Next Thursday is Thanksgiving, so we won't meet again for two weeks. I think everyone is glad they went today. I know I am.