Monday, October 19, 2020

A quick update


John and Norma, his caretaker

Yesterday we got together for a late breakfast with John, now eleven days post-surgery, and his friend Norma (usually a dance partner), who is taking care of him, feeding him and driving him around. John's left arm has a completely new shoulder and rebuilt rotator cuff. He can't use it very well yet, and as Norma pointed out, he still cannot open the car door by himself. But every day he's making progress, and it was good to finally see him in person. He'll have the staples out and see the doctor this coming Friday, and hopefully can go home by then, or soon after.

Fall bounty at the Farmers' Market

On Saturday, I visited the Farmers' Market after a fun walk with three other ladies. It was so nice to see all the wonderful produce and see the well-attended weekly event doing so well. It helped that it wasn't raining, as it had been during the previous two Saturdays.

More veggies to ogle

I am also always pleased to see how well my community is functioning during this pandemic, with everyone outdoors wearing masks (they are a mandatory fashion item) and social distancing as well. Almost every store has markers on the floors to help keep people apart. It seems that the coronavirus will be with us for some time to come, even though many of us wish it would hurry up and go away. We are still in Phase 2 of opening, with some counties already in Phase 3. 

Our weather has been cooperating, with some rain showers but not every moment of the day. I can seem to find openings for a nice walk to help me close the exercise rings on my new Apple watch. It doesn't let up for a minute.


Thursday, October 15, 2020

Lily and Lizard Lakes from Blanchard

The trail at the beginning

 Five of us (the maximum allowed at this time) decided to take the Upper Trailhead from Blanchard Mountain and hike up to Lily and Lizard Lakes. This is not an especially hard hike, but one of our favorites during the winter months. We'll be returning again soon. Our wilderness hikes are over for the season, as the road is closed to Artist Point already.

Back, Dianne and Terry; front, Mel and Chris

It was chilly most of the day, but once we got moving we had to take off some clothes pretty quickly. You can see that the leaves are falling and we were enjoying the still air, with no rain.

Lily Lake

It was not yet noon when we got to Lily Lake, but we had a small snack and then moved on to Lizard Lake via the Connector Link, where we would have our lunch.

Lizard Lake

The only real difference between these lakes is their position in my photo lineup. I was pleased, though, with the reflection in this one. It was a nice place to spend maybe a half-hour for lunch, but we began to get cold, so we packed up and went back the way we had come.

Dianne, Terry, me, Chris

We had donned much of our extra clothing, since as I said, the lunch break caused us to get pretty cold. We warmed up on our way back, however. 

The return trail with lovely trees

We covered almost eight miles and skipped heading up to North Butte, since we didn't think we'd have much of a view. Our elevation gain and loss was around 1,700 feet: enough to let us know we had a good workout, with good friends, and another day away from the news!

Monday, October 12, 2020

Slowly getting to my new normal


View of mountains from my front porch

Today I did something that I haven't done in months: I rode the bus to town, walking the quarter-mile from my apartment to catch it. The bus administrators have done a great job of keeping people safe: no more than 12 people allowed on at a time, disinfecting between runs, and requiring masks to board. There were only three other people on the bus with me, and I felt quite safe.

Outside the Community Food Co-op

After getting my morning coffee and drinking it outside by myself, I strolled over to the co-op to get in a few steps. That is a real pumpkin in the foreground, and if things are the same as other years, customers will have a chance to guess its weight and win a prize. What do you think it weighs? I've entered many years but never got anywhere close to winning.

We have just finished with a couple of days (and nights) of rain, and now the clouds have cleared and the brisk delightful air is a great tonic. I also walked by the YMCA, and I saw someone enter, making me realize that it is open! Well, not exactly "open" as in any member can come in and work out. No, once you walk in, you must have your temperature taken and to use any of the equipment you must have a reservation. No more than ten people are allowed into the exercise room at a time. I was allowed to check out what they have done, and I was quite impressed. There is only one stationary exercise bike available, and I can only reserve a workout space 24 hours in advance, but at least there are some options for me to get a workout on rainy or cold days!

Someone's beautiful garden

When I was out walking with Lily last week, I saw this really beautiful garden, and the fall colors and well-tended area made us both stop and admire it for a few moments, before continuing on our way. I am a fan of dahlias, and this display is one of the prettiest I've seen. 

After spending a couple of hours out and about, I took the bus back, with another quarter-mile walk to my home. It was nice to feel a little bit of normal activity, and I've discovered that, although very limited, I will be able to ride that stationary bike in the future and strengthen my knees! 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Hertz Trail and Whatcom Park

Lake Whatcom from Hertz trail

 Today, my friend Melanie and I walked the entire 6+-mile trail (round trip) on the north shore of Lake Whatcom. It's a lovely place, and I've been on it in sunshine, rain, and snow, with comfortable to freezing temperatures. Since the weather would be cloudy all day, with a chance of rain, we decided against traveling out of town. It was a good choice: we kept up a brisk pace as we navigated the out-and-back trail, noticing that they have done a good deal of work on it lately, possibly getting ready for the winter weather to come.

Cute whale rock

When we got to the terminus, this little rock was there to greet us, left there by an anonymous artist. On the back, it said simply, "Whatcom Rock." No signature, but I was pleased to see it and placed it carefully back in its original position.

Remains of an old pier

There wasn't much new to see on this familiar walk, but I gazed at the stumps of a long-ago pier and thought of what this place looked like back then, when our wide and pretty trail had another use.

The Hertz Trail follows an old logging railroad bed along the fairly wild northern shore of massive Lake Whatcom, one of the largest natural lakes in the state. 

Yesterday, I went on another short walk in Whatcom Falls Park, not far away from today's walk. We (myself, along with my friend Lily) made our way down to the falls, to see what they look like at this time of the year. With the changing leaves and a respectable amount of water rushing by, it was a lovely scene.

Whatcom Falls from the bridge

I've shown this exact photo many different times in the past, but yesterday's view was especially memorable. The sound of the water and the mist in the air made us stop for several minutes just to take it all in.

Spider web art

Walking back to the car, I saw this spider web, sans spider, as we kept looking in the bushes for ripe blackberries. We did find some delicious ones (actually, Lily has an unerring eye for them) and since they were perfect, we stopped looking for more and just enjoyed the aftermath of the tasty fruit before heading home.

I was happy for the two outings, and again allowed myself to be very grateful for all the wonderful places I can choose to enjoy here in Bellingham. I hope you will also have a chance to get out and about!


Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Life changes and loss


Praying for Lily

Anybody who has followed me for any length of time knows by now how much I enjoy routine. Our lives have been upended by Covid, but until yesterday (when this was taken), I could at least gather outdoors with my coffee buddies for conversation and more. Right after this was taken, John drove down south to Seattle for his pre-operation procedures. On Thursday, he'll have a major operation on his right shoulder, replacing much of it and rebuilding the rotator cuff. He's been hampered by both shoulders being very painful and unable to function very well at all. Starting today (Tuesday), he'll start staying away from any gatherings like this and will be staying with a lady friend for a couple weeks afterwards. By the time he comes back, our outside gatherings will be over for the season.

And yesterday, I learned that my friend Lily's mother passed away. Lily is from Guatemala, and she will be unable to travel back home to say goodbye. We are all heartbroken for her, but Lily is glad that her mother is no longer in pain and has other family members around to take care of the necessary details. Her mother had esophageal cancer, which had been successfully treated, until it returned and she decided not to go through it again. Lily and her family are in our prayers.

And I forgot yesterday to write this post. I've been following a two-times-a-week schedule, and, well, oops. Maybe it's time to just go with the flow and write whenever I feel like it! But I am one of those people who does better with routine, so maybe I'll see where all this goes. Right now Thursday is the only post that I absolutely won't miss. It's been more than a decade now that my Thursdays are reserved for hikes. And a post. 


Thursday, October 1, 2020

Raptor Ridge

Hemlock trail and Huckleberry trail junction

Today I was joined by my three hiking buddies to make our way up to Raptor Ridge. We have several different ways to get there from the Chuckanut Mountain trailhead, but we decided to make it a direct route up the Hemlock trail and then return by way of the Huckleberry trail.

Lots of leaves have already fallen

It's October, and we were graced with a beautiful fall day, complete with heavy fog early on, but the forest seemed hushed, very still with mild temperatures, as we walked upwards towards our destination. Even with the most direct route, it is still more than seven miles round trip and around 1,800 feet of elevation gain and loss.

Almost to the ridge

By the time we had done most of the climbing, the sun had finally made its way up and through the trees. We have some haze from the California fires, making the sunlight seemed quite filtered and not really warm at all. But then, we walked out onto Raptor Ridge and found it delightful.

Raptor Ridge, looking northwest-ish

You can see from the ridge (above) that the sky isn't really all that clear, but it was very pleasant in the weak sunshine, with no breeze at all. Very unusual. In many of the times I've visited this spot before, it's been very windy and usually not a place to spend much time. Today, however, we enjoyed ourselves and took our time.

We can't see Mt. Rainier today

Looking in this direction, in the middle of the picture, I've been able to see Mt. Rainier quite clearly in past visits. Today the haze kept us from seeing it. I think this is looking south, but I'm not quite sure. Anyway, we ate a snack and then went back down. On the return trip, we went down the Huckleberry trail until it joined the Hemlock trail, as you can see in the first picture.

Pretty big leaf, huh?

We had a really nice time today, and now I'm home and trying to do several things at once. My new Apple watch just came, and I cannot set it up until I finish this post, so I'm going to head off into the world of technology. As if writing this and posting it on my blog isn't already technology, right?

Melanie amongst the changing scenery

This is my favorite picture of the day. You can see the sunlight coming through the trees, and we are almost back to the starting point and our cars. It's been a wonderful day and there is much more excitement to come if I can figure out how to make my new toy work!

Monday, September 28, 2020

That's so far out


Astronomy Picture of the Day

I am a daily fan of the Astronomy Picture of the Day and saw this one on June 28 when I marveled over it. If you go to the link under the picture, you can learn about how it was taken, and what you are looking at. Of course that's the Great Red Spot in the middle of the picture, but in the lower left you are seeing one of Jupiter's moons: Europa. And in the upper right is the shadow of Io, another of Jupiter's moons. 

I have been fascinated with the closeups of Jupiter that have emerged from the Voyager 2 journey that began in 1979. And yes, there is also a Voyager 1 out there. Both of them will not return to Earth but will transmit data back to Earth for a long time to come.

Voyager 2 is near the edge of our solar system and will one day also enter interstellar space. Many people are unaware that even after over 40 years, both probes are still actively generating scientific data and transmitting it to Earth.

 Sometimes I get a real burst of energy from seeing such incredible views of our Solar System, knowing that the ups and downs of our earthly travails are small in the larger scheme of things. Not that it makes it any easier, but it just gives us a chance to step back and ponder such majesty.

If you have some techniques for staying sane while the world around us grows ever more chaotic, I'd love to hear about them. Until then, I'll keep my head in the clouds and beyond.