Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Got my flu shot

Picture lifted from WiseQuacks: Doctors without Boredom
I got my annual flu shot yesterday and no, that's not me. I went to Google Search to find a picture for this post, and I laughed when I saw that one. My pharmacist at RiteAid, Tom, gave me my shot, and I think I might have grimaced a little, but I didn't actually make any noise. It didn't hurt much, just a little sting. That picture appealed to me when I went to the website and found it links to a site called WiseQuacks: Doctors Without Boredom. (This link goes to the "About Us" page, giving information about the two Canadian doctors who run the website and host a weekly talk show.)

I also learned from the link under the picture that people who get a flu shot are at lower risk for stroke, too. It's been quite a long time since I've had the flu, but I well remember the last time. I was home from work for at least a week, and I was a lot younger then. I'll do what I can to avoid the flu, including washing my hands often and getting that annual shot.

Because of my age, the pharmacist wanted to give me the double dose that people over 65 are eligible for, but I declined it. He said it's because as we age our immune systems get weaker, so they give a larger dose to the elderly. Frankly, that seems a little strange to me, since everything else gets weaker, too, and forcing our body to mount a response to the shot might affect other systems negatively. Anyway, I got the regular dose and wonder if I did the right thing. Smart Guy got the high dose shot.

I know some people never get flu shots and don't seem to get sick, but I've got very strong memories of the last time I got it, and I really don't want it again. What do you think?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A fabulous series and a fine walk

The view from the ferry terminal this morning
Today is supposed to be sunny, eventually, but this is how it looked as we ladies started out our five-mile walk from the ferry terminal this morning. I love the changing color of the trees and thought about cropping out the cars and trucks, but I didn't after fiddling with it a bit. It's the trees I wanted to show you, along with the fog. There is still fog outside, even though it's four hours later. It will be gone eventually, but who knows how long before it lifts? Nevertheless, we had a really nice dry walk at a brisk pace.

I am more than halfway through the Ken Burns series on The Roosevelts. I have already learned so much! I didn't know that FDR (Franklin Roosevelt) was 39 when he contracted polio, how it affected his life and how he dealt with it. Last night I watched the fourth in the series of seven, and it was so informative that I watched it again, with Smart Guy joining me. I have three more episodes to go, and I'm looking forward to them very much. I know that at least one of them will teach me a great deal about the life of Eleanor Roosevelt, who redefined what it meant to be the First Lady. I was also reminded that it was only a little more than a century ago (1920) that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution finally gave women the right to vote. That simply boggles my mind.

Anyway, if you get a chance to see that series, don't miss it. Ken Burns amazes me at the way he takes archival footage and brings it to life. And I'm also hoping that the fog will lift tomorrow early enough to let me get my knees in the breeze at Skydive Snohomish. My last season of skydiving is fast coming to a close.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Another soggy hike

Doug, Kirk, Chris, Carol, Rich, Steve, and Mikey
Today looked like it might not be as wet as last week's hike, and sure enough, it wasn't quite that wet, but still. Nine Senior Trailblazers showed up on an overcast but still dry day in Bellingham, and after much discussion we decided to drive the sixty miles up the Mt. Baker Highway to Artist Point and attempt Ptarmigan Ridge. There have been many similar days on this trail in recent years, but last year, on the same date, we had some magnificent views, along with snow. Today was our first hike of the fall season as well.
Mike, Rich and Chris getting ready for the rain
As we drove up the road, the rain began, and didn't let up much at all as we arrived at the Artist Point parking lot and got ready for a wet hike. There's Rich in a poncho and his rain skirt, and Mikey looking on from behind with his umbrella. Chris had devised a belt to hold her poncho in place and it seemed to work very well.
Al in his poncho, Ptarmigan Ridge visible behind him
After we had gone less than a mile, the rain began to lessen, and we even had a quick glimpse of our shadow. Our views (and I know there are some spectacular ones here) were pretty, even if they were a little less inspiring than last year's. It was pleasant to be hiking along in cool weather, especially when it wasn't raining.
Clouds and fall colors
Once we reached the ridge, we decided to chance it and take off some rain gear. Not everyone did this, of course, but some of our number get very hot encased in plastic while exercising. We were also confident that it would not be a constant rain like we had last week. It turned out to be the perfect description of "occasional showers."
Mike, Chris, Rich, Kirk, Doug, Al
As you can see here, Rich removed his poncho and skirt, and Al changed from a poncho to his raincoat. Kirk stashed his poncho, and Mikey put away his umbrella (but not for long). We made our way along the trail to Ptarmigan Ridge. It was actually quite pleasant, but once in awhile the rain would remind us it wasn't completely gone.
Me in my new raincoat (Carol's picture)
I left on my raincoat, which I purchased new yesterday. Yes, I know I have that great eVent jacket from REI, but it sure didn't keep me dry last week, and I wanted something I could carry with me that would be very light and keep me drier. It worked perfectly; I was very pleased, even though it's not an expensive jacket, it did what I needed it to do today.
Return of the rain
And then the rain returned in earnest, and we decided not to stop for lunch but to turn around and make our way back to the trailhead. We thought we could have lunch at the Beer Shrine (or maybe beer and pizza instead of our packaged lunch) if we were willing to wait awhile longer. Nobody wanted to stop and eat, knowing we would get cold, so off we went back to the trailhead. We ended up hiking six miles with a moderate amount of up and down, but nothing like our usual distance.
The muted fall colors on our return
It wasn't even 2:00pm when we returned to the cars, so we drove off hoping for a late lunch at the Shrine, but it was closed. So down the road we went to Refugio's, having a nice (if very late) lunch before heading home. I was very pleased with my own updated rain gear, and we were happy to say goodbye to each other after having spent another fine day in the wilderness together. It turns out it was dry all day in Bellingham, so we actually drove sixty miles, unbeknownst to us at the time, just to play in the rain!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sunrise Autumn 2014

Mt. Baker casting a shadow
When I walked out of the front door this morning, this amazing sight greeted me. The sun is rising directly to the east (I said west, what was I thinking?) on this date, and I figure that Mt. Baker, which is right there in that spot where the cone is, cast a shadow on the sunrise from my vantage point that would only happen today (or maybe a day or two each side of the equinox), but I've never seen anything like this on any other day. Of course, the clouds also had to be just right, too. Cool, huh?

My friend Judy asked me if I had been watching the PBS documentary on the Roosevelt dynasty (seven parts, all available on line or for purchase). I had not, but they are also On Demand for me (since I have Comcast cable), so I went over to watch the first of them this afternoon. I am hooked, and I also learned some historical facts that I didn't know. I'm looking forward to watching the next six. They don't lend themselves to binge-watching, however, so I'll take my time. Eleanor Roosevelt is one of my favorite people; I didn't know she was the daughter of Teddy Roosevelt's younger brother.

I do hope you have a good first day of fall. It's also my sister Markee's 53rd birthday. Happy birthday, sister. When did you ever get that old? Oh wait: I'm nineteen years older than that, so never mind.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The end of summer party

Amy, Al, Carol, me, Rich, Chris, Steve, Jonelle, Karen
For three summers in a row, Jonelle has hosted an end-of-summer party at her place. She likes to go with a theme. For the first year, she said she would really like to see what her hiking buddies look like when they dress up, so that's what we did (the pictures of us in our finery are at the end). Last year, she asked us to wear the oldest thing still in our closet. That made for quite a variety of outfits.

And this year (can you guess?), it was a hat party. In the invitation she said that clothing is optional, but a hat is not. Fourteen people showed up, five in addition to the ones in this picture (taken by Jonelle's husband Carl). It was wonderful to see Amy again, who has been absent from our hikes because of a new knee and back problems.
Amy and Jonelle catching up
That's one unfortunate side effect of being a member of this elite group of Senior Trailblazers: we come and we go, and sometimes we are sidelined for a while because of injuries or our inevitable infirmities. We all, however, enjoy getting together for reunions or holidays to celebrate our connection. You don't spend an entire day together every week for long before you realize your extended family has grown.
Ross, Bob, Steve, Rich telling tall tales
While some of the guys sat around on the porch, unbeknownst to Steve a cake was being prepared to celebrate his birthday, which happened to be yesterday, the day of our party. I must admit I enjoyed the cake in spite of myself, and having eaten more than I intended, today I'm going to be very good. It amazes me that when I overeat, the next morning I am really hungry. Does that happen to everyone?
Sunset taken from Jonelle's porch
Jonelle has a wonderful view of Bellingham Bay from her expansive covered porch, and I caught this picture before we headed back to our respective homes. I again thank all my dear hiking buddies for another simply wonderful summer of hikes to many of the most beautiful places in the universe. And to Jonelle for hosting once again, and I'm already planning my outfit for next year.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A drizzly Hannegan Pass

Wet but happy
It never fails to amaze me: nine Senior Trailblazers showed up this morning in a fairly steady drizzle to drive for more than an hour to Hannegan Pass, where we were scheduled to hike today. The optimists among us felt that we might escape the rain as we drove upwards to begin our trek. Today was just about the opposite of last year, when we hiked all the way to the top of the peak in full sunshine. Check it out here. (You newbies can see just what you missed today.)
Changing leaves, dramatic cliffs behind
It wasn't all bad; in fact, much of it was very tolerable. Last year, I remember almost fainting from the incredible heat from the intense sun; today it was quite easy to hike the more-than-four miles to the pass in a light drizzle. But we didn't ever have a view of much of anything. By the time we made it to the pass, everyone was quite content to settle down to a quick lunch repast and head back down. Nobody was interested in trying for the peak, with no view. Again, last year was very different. 
Bob settling in for a nice lunch, protected from the rain
Our conversation today was quite lively, with Rich and Chris happy to get another chance to check out their rain gear for their upcoming springtime adventure on the Santiago de Camino trail. (I knew I would see them today, and they didn't disappoint me.) We headed back down the trail before 1:00pm, and enjoyed the truncated views.
Waterfalls and flowers
There were several pretty waterfalls to see, and this one goes up quite a bit farther, but since I only had my cellphone camera today, I was limited in what I could photograph. This picture turned out rather nice, considering. As we moved towards our starting point, I kept trying to find a picture that would give a good feeling of what it was like today.
Turning maple leaves covered with water
If you were to enlarge this picture, you would notice that all those leaves are covered with moisture from the rain, which never really let up all day long. Knowing that we had two newbies who have never been on this hike before, I kept turning and looking back as we descended to the trailhead, hoping that some of the incredible views would emerge. But it was not to be.
The valley today
This was all we saw on our return journey down the valley back to the trailhead. We ascended and descended around 2,100 feet of elevation, but the view was the same the entire way: fog and mist. Now I am home, with my glass of wine finished, and now my post finished as well, as I can say that it was actually a fine day, having gotten some good exercise and spent it with good friends. And I might add that something in between last year's intense heat and today constant drizzle might be a great thing for next year!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Guess when we will get rain

Beautiful sunflower
I was in line at the grocery store when the woman in front of me was buying a bouquet of these beauties. I grabbed my phone and took this shot. It's so nice to have a camera, a fairly good one, with me everywhere I go. And they apparently continue to improve with each iteration. This Thanksgiving I will have had my phone for two years and can trade it in for a new one. You know I will, but I won't be getting the iPhone6+, that's for sure. Too big, if you ask me. You know it's large when they start calling it a phablet (phone + tablet).

And yes, the rain will be returning to our neck of the woods on Thursday. It's been sunny and more than ten degrees warmer than our normal temperatures, and wouldn't you know it? All that will leave late tomorrow (Wednesday) and stay around for a couple of days. Then back to more of the same sunny skies we've had now for what seems like ages!

It was so nice that I went to the Drop Zone on Sunday and made three skydives with my friends. It was so pleasant that Goldilocks would have approved: it was not too hot, not too cold, just right! Then yesterday it was 82 degrees F (28 C) without a cloud in the sky, a little on the warm side for me. Today, however, it's supposed to be much cooler and high clouds have already begun to move in. I don't mind, really; my raincoat has been neglected for way too long. You know where I'll be on Thursday, come rain or come shine!