Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lazy Sunday

Before snuggling into my favorite recliner with a book, I thought I'd post a little bit about this unusual (for me) Sunday: I've got nothing to do, no plans at all. The plans I had for the weekend were changed by the weather, since yesterday was sunny and bright, and this morning it's raining again. We should have a spell of some warm and dry weather after this front passes, however.

The picture I chose for this post is the best illustration I could find to direct you over to Teresa Evangeline's blog to read about the dream she had last night. She described it so perfectly that the images keep coming back to me, about floating silently down a stream in a little boat. She calls it "The Land Along the River," and I have pondered its meaning ever since I read it. It is very significant to me at this moment in time.

The other post that really got me this morning is from Friko, which she calls "Thank You, America." She's an Australian who lives in the UK and is concerned about seeing how unhappy so many of her American blogging friends are with this country's politics. Although I have refrained from posting anything about the politics of today (at least I think I have), I have not restrained myself in comments I've left on the posts of others. She reminded me of the kind and generous spirit that exists here, still to this day, and it lifted me up.

I am reminded again and again how important the virtual friendships I have made throughout the blogosphere are to me. I've even met a few in person here and there, and I find myself in a community of wonderful people who help point me toward concepts and ideas that I could not find alone. I follow a lot of blogs, and I sometimes fall behind and am forced to skip some of my favorites, but there are many moments these days when I change course completely because of something I have read, posted by a thoughtful and discerning blogger.

When I was working, I had no time for this activity. My days were spent in front of computers doing the bidding of my boss, my colleagues and coworkers -- not following the dreams and hopes and, yes, the trials and tribulations of my virtual community. Today, I can only offer my sincere gratitude for all of you for speaking your truths and opening your hearts.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sunshine Award

Sharon over at Sharon's Paws Create just graced me with her Sunshine Award, which is quite nice. We here in the Pacific Northwest have been needing all the sunshine we can get, after all!

The award, as usual, comes with something the recipient is supposed to do. I have thanked Sharon for the award and will answer the questions, but I'm not willing to pick out ten bloggers from my buddy list. So, if you are one of my followers and would like to receive this award, just say so, it's yours! These are always fun, but only if someone really wants to play. Here are the rules:
Thank the person who gave you the award.- Write a post about it.- Answer the questions below.- Pass it on to 10 bloggers who you think really deserve it and send them a message to let them know.
Thank you, Sharon, for increasing the amount of sunshine in my little corner of the world. And here are my answers to the questions:
  1. My favorite color: Purple
  2. My favorite animal: Cats
  3. My favorite number: 11
  4. My favorite non-alcoholic drink? Coffee
  5. Facebook and/or Twitter? Facebook, not Twitter
  6. My passion: Skydiving!
  7. Getting or giving presents? Getting, of course!
  8. My favorite pattern? Oblique ones
  9. My favorite day of the week? Mondays (since I retired)
  10. My favorite flower? The elegant and fragrant Rose
That was fun, actually, except for the patterns. That was a hard one. At first I thought of diamond patterns, but then I realized that patterns could also refer to the lines within them, and I became aware of the fact that I like diagonal, slanty lines, so that explains my answer.

We actually do have quite a bit of sunshine right now, and I see its effect reflected in the smiles and good moods that seem to be blossoming everywhere. I do hope you are having a good day, wherever you are!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Keep Cool once again

Right now, because of the continuing high snow levels, we are relegated to the same hikes over and over in our little Mt. Baker wilderness area. This is my second trip up to the Yellow Aster Butte area, because the first time (on July 5) we were only able to gain the meadow because of the snow. Today, we got just a little bit further, but still nowhere near the summit of Yellow Aster Butte. Here's why:
Yellow Aster Butte, July 5 and July 28, 2011
As you can see, the snow has melted a good deal off the summit of the Butte in less than a month, but the trail is still pretty impassable to that summit. We will make yet another attempt later on, but today, twelve Senior Trailblazers gave it a try. Linda and Ward, some of my favorite Trailblazers, were back with us after taking off for parts unknown, so they were happy to make an attempt and not reach the summit. Here is Linda surrounding by all the greenery at the lower elevations:
As we climbed higher and higher, we got great views of Mt. Shuksan, and then we stopped for a nice lunch break a little after noon. We had to find a place in the sunshine that gave us a view, but the deep snow meant that a nice breeze blowing across the snow gave us our very own air conditioning.
Fortunately, most of us have an inflatable little pillow that allows us to be nice and dry while sitting on top of the snow. We all had a very nice lunch and I was able to take this wonderful shot of Mt. Shuksan from our vantage point. After lunch, we headed back down the trail and made it back to our cars before 3:00pm, with a fairly long drive back to the Senior Center. On the way, I saw this very interesting fungus that demanded that I take its picture.
We are so fortunate to have built-in air conditioning (it still is a rare day this summer to see 80 degrees F on our thermometers in Bellingham), and in the High Country, we were still in the sunny sixties today. I hope that my friends in the hotter part of the United States will be able to cool off a little while joining us on the Keep Cool trail today. We walked less than six miles and gained and lost around 1,700 feet elevation. It was truly a great day, sunny and warm. Our first one this month!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mellow Wednesday

Okay, it's not ALL been as mellow as this picture indicates. This was taken this morning at Avelino's of me having my usual morning latte. Robert, Leo's dad, took it with my camera. Our usual coffee klatsch has been missing a few components, since my fisherman friend Gene was in Alaska for a few months on his usual summer fishing expedition. It's been a while since I saw him and his 22-year-old parrot, but now they're back.
Four eyes, sort of
I almost didn't use this picture because of the alien looking over Gene's shoulder. It's interesting to me how, when framing a picture, the background doesn't always come into your awareness, but when you look at it later, amazing features appear. I think it's a billboard, but I don't remember seeing it at all!
Little Leo ran over to me as soon as I came in, with a book about farm animals, which we read together. He brings me such joy, and I realize that had I been blessed with grandchildren, I would have been a doting granny. As it is, I get to enjoy Leo and my grand-niece Lexie, as well as the grandchildren of my blogging family. I sometimes gaze at the little ones and remember what it was like to have a two-year-old myself. The nice thing about enjoying them as I do: there is no responsibility for their care. Just loving them and watching their progress.

I took off at 8:45am and headed to the YMCA for my hour class, then swam a quarter mile. I learned that the pool will be closed for two weeks beginning next weekend. In previous years, it didn't matter to me at all, but now I'll miss those swims. Then, after catching the bus back home and joking with the driver, I had a nice lunch.

And then I got to go to the dentist to get my permanent crown placed. I told Olivia (my dentist) how so many of my blogging friends reminded me to hang onto her, since she was so helpful that Thursday when I only had a few minutes to get to the office to have the temporary crown adjusted. (She was pleased.) I'm now sitting at my computer, thinking about my day, and after downloading this morning's pictures figured I'd write a short little post. I am realizing that, all things considered, my life is full of varied activities. Tomorrow is the usual Thursday hike; last Sunday I got to make four skydives (all of which were good), and the weather is looking promising for this coming weekend.

Yep, not much to complain about right now.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Happy birthday, Norma Jean

This beautiful little girl is having a birthday today, but it's been a few years since this picture was taken of her. She's no longer a little girl wishing for her two front teeth, but is now a mother and grandmother. This is my sister Norma Jean, wearing her amazingly uneven bangs and a corduroy coat and hat made by Mama, who was much better at sewing than cutting bangs.

She is currently in Michigan visiting her son Peter, spending some valuable time with him, along with her sweet little dog. As a recent widow, she's finding her own way into the world, and I spend some time every week talking with her and finding out how she's doing. These talks are as important to me as they are to her, and we both have our crying hankies that we use often.

My sincere wish for her 67th year is that she find her own authentic way through all the grief and pain of the past, and that she emerges on the other side of it all, filled with happiness and contentment. I love you, Norma Jean.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's a small world

This beautiful sunny morning in Bellingham began with me meeting the Fairhaven walkers for a nice brisk (almost chilly) six-mile trek through the Western Washington University campus. Then I headed over to the Farmers' Market to pick up some vegetables, and these flowers just took my breath away. You can see some veggies on the periphery of this picture, which I also checked out. My favorite vendor, Rabbit Field Farms, already had a dozen people lined up waiting for the bell to ring so they could purchase their own bounty for the week.
Aren't vegetables beautiful in their amazing variety? I bought some collards and kale and brought the goods home to Smart Guy, who has already steamed them up and put them in the fridge in separate containers, with my greens a little bit more done than his. We'll each take a bit when piling up our plates with the rest of our dinner and stick them in the 'wave to reheat. They don't last long, since they are so tasty I often have them twice a day, for lunch AND dinner, until they're gone and we start over again.
From Climate Prediction Center
Then I got on the Internet to read the news of the day. The Climate Prediction Center just put out a new set of probability maps covering the next two weeks. This one shows that the heat in the east will continue (maybe not quite as hot, let's hope), while we in the Pacific Northwest will remain below normal, temperature wise. However, it's a relative thing: now that the sun is shining and the rain has stopped, I'm certainly not minding the temperatures heading upwards of 70 degrees F (20 C). Right now, at almost 2:00 pm on Saturday, it's 71 out there, making me feel like we're in the middle of a heat wave. But of course we're not: it is not even cooling down at night over most of the country to our daily high temperatures.

And then there's Norway. I read about the perpetrator of all of yesterday's violence in Oslo and at the youth camp on the island of Utoya. Apparently the SWAT Team had difficulty reaching the island, and the gunman mowed down child after child for one and a half hours. I was chilled to the bone when I read about it on KOMO News here. The world is such a small place now; I felt their pain and cried for their parents and the surviving students. Norway is a place with so little gun violence that most police don't even carry weapons. Somehow I think all that might change after this.

Nobody knows his motivation. Is it just me or is the world beginning to come apart at the seams? Although twenty or thirty years ago, days would go by before all the details would be available to the rest of the world. Now, something that happens in Oslo is front page news on my news reader. People are sending each other messages on Twitter which race around the world in less time that it takes for me to catch my breath. My Facebook friends will be sending me to pictures and links that they think relevant.

So maybe it's not coming apart but coming together at the speed of light. Maybe because of the Internet we are more connected than ever, and that is the change I feel. Right now I grieve and am unwilling to read any more news, for fear of becoming overwhelmed by it all and allowing hopelessness to have the upper hand. On a beautiful sunny day, at that.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

First time for Goat 2011

This will not be the last time the Senior Trailblazers will try to make it up Goat Mountain this year. But today, ten of us set out for the summit, with little confidence that we would even make it to the meadow, because of all the snow. Down at the lower elevations of Goat Mountain, however, the trillium are still in bloom, and this picture (when enlarged) shows all the RAIN we had pelting down on our heads today. Last year, we tried to make it to the summit a few times, and in this post I show the views we missed today.
I woke to the sound of rain again today, the only day of the entire week that it is supposed to fall, and of course it's Thursday. Although I went on the hike anyway, many of us were not at all happy about having a fourth Thursday's soggy hike in the rain. Al in the above picture is not smiling, he's grimacing. As we made our way across the snow field, the rain and sleet continued to fall. It's almost noon and we are looking for some place relatively "dry" to have our lunch. The skies lifted enough for me to get this partial view. See the blue? It's kind of there.
Our lunch spot was a mostly protected area free of snow nestled in the trees. The only problem is that the trees above us dripped constantly, so it wasn't what you would call a "rest area." We endured while we ate our lunch and tried to stay warm. I know the rest of the country is in the middle of a heat wave, but I couldn't get my gloves on fast enough once we stopped. This was also the first time out for what will be a constant new friend: my boots.
Boots in action
My new boots wouldn't have allowed me to stay home today. They almost pranced around the front door as I got ready to leave, letting me know that it would be a perfect day to try them out. They were wonderful! No kidding, I didn't realize that my old boots were so worn on the bottom; I had perfect traction, dry feet, and no hot spots after seven miles and 2,200 feet up and down!
On the way down (isn't it always this way?) the sun began to break through the clouds and the rain stopped. Here you see Dennis soaking up the rays. All this rain makes our environment so lush and green that it's almost impossible to be grumpy, even when it's so wet. All in all, it was a good day, and I suspect that we will again make another attempt on Goat Mountain this season, since so many of our usual summer hikes are impassable because of the snow. Once we reached our cars, we stopped on the way back down the mountain at a place known to the locals as a magical spot, where old growth trees almost a thousand years old still live. This tree was the most amazing of all.
Not more than a few hundred feet from the highway, no sign tells you to stop and park your car and take a short walk to look at these giants. This tree stretched up into the heavens, with no way for me to show you how really huge it is, except for Fred and Diane stretching their arms around the base. I stood at the base of the tree and gazed up, and it took my breath away. This old soul has been watching us all for so long, so many centuries, and will continue to do so for what I hope is many more centuries.
Some of the crags in the bark are so deep that I'm sure many small little mammals know this place as home. We will return to this place again, but for now, I wish that this ancient tree will be here for our descendants to admire for a long, long time. Until next time...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Time for new boots

On Monday's hike, I was able to ascertain unequivocally that my hiking boots have begun to leak. They had been doing this for a couple of trips now, and I treated them liberally with boot sealer, but it was obvious after walking through some streams and across the snow fields that I could not deny what was happening. These boots have been waterproof and wonderful for almost two years now, so I headed down to REI (where I purchase most of my outdoor gear) to find out why my wonderful old friends are no longer keeping out the wet.

Well, it turns out that the instructions to care for my new pair have given me the answer: neglect, pure and simple. These wonderful German boots are still in pretty good shape, except for one little problem: the hard rubber on the front has begun to pull away from the leather. There is a reason for this, I realize. Leaving your wet boots in the trunk of the car to dry out until next week is NOT the best way to care for them. Lowa, the boot manufacturer, says this:
Good footwear deserves good care. The footwear will repay the time and effort invested by remaining comfortable, water repellent and -- above all -- regular care and attention will increase the lifespan of the product considerably. Leather is a natural material with valuable natural attributes. However, even leather is subject to a certain aging process. For this reason, regular care and maintenance is a must.
For some reason, at the end of most of my hikes, my trusty shoes (which never let my feet get wet) would remain covered with mud and dirt and allowed to dry in peace. There is a specific warning against this: "Never leave footwear to dry next to a heat source, or or in the trunk of a car. Wet leather "burns" (becomes brittle and shrinks) very easily." Although I have only practiced this procedure for two years, my shoes finally began to leak. The informative person at the store told me it was possible to take them to a shoe repair shop and see if they might be able to bond the rubber to the leather once again.

But I knew that the boots had served me well, and that the fault lay not at the feet, so to speak, of the product, but at my own negligence. I decided to donate my old boots to the Salvation Army and let another person, who might not put them through quite as much stress as I do, get some wear out of them. And I will treat this new pair with much more respect and see how much longer they will last!

It's hard to believe that the shoes in the picture above are exactly the same, with only a hundred-plus hikes to separate them, a few times having been treated with water repellent stuff, and many days spent coated with all the mud and gunk from the hikes. Just a typical example:
I think leaving them in the trunk of my car coated with this particular mud might have been what pushed them over the edge. They've never been the same. From now on, I will rinse them off in the bathtub before I call the hike finished. After this particular excursion, I probably should have gotten into the shower completely dressed, and rinsed each piece of clothing before taking it off. Lesson learned!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cow Heaven

Eight of us Senior Trailblazers drove to this trailhead yesterday in dense fog, which we hoped would let up sometime during the day. Looks dark and uninviting, doesn't it? The hike is well known as being a real ass-kicker, which is why I am up early the following morning to post this. I was just too tired once I got home and took a shower to do anything more than collapse. I found a link about this trail in the Washington Trails Association archives, and this short paragraph describes our adventure well:
Here's the beef on Cow Heaven. It's a steep and demanding climb through thick forest culminating in lonely alpine meadows. The cows are long gone from this former summer grazing area high above the Skagit Valley, but you can feast to your heart's content on splendid views of snowy North Cascades summits. A great conditioner and good choice for solitude, if you're feeling energetic, follow this steer-way to heaven all the way to the rocky Helen Buttes for even grander views.
Well, we did little feasting on "splendid views," since the fog and mist stuck around most of the day. We did, however, cross this stream numerous times, with some pretty stupendous views of falls now and then.
It was a very challenging hike, with a pretty constant climb from 400 feet elevation all the way up to 4400 feet! The trail had lots of switchbacks, which help, but it just didn't let up from the time we started on the trail until we got to the top. The trail was pretty, however, green and lush, and while we were ascending I was able to look around a fair amount. I got this arty shot of Ray in the background and a small friend in the foreground:
We were bothered by mosquitoes for much of the day, and we all agreed that DEET is neat, even if you don't particularly like the feeling and smell of it, neither do the bugs. I've got some itchy spots this morning, but they are nowhere near as numerous as they would have been without the bug spray.
As we got closer to the summit, we ran into, you guessed it: snow! Fortunately for us, our intrepid buddies Mike and Fred had gone ahead and pointed the way through the snow with markers in the trees and even some stick arrows. As the rest of us huffed and puffed our way to the top, the sun tried to break through the thick clouds, but our view was limited at best. Most of us didn't go any farther than the flat spot on the top, unwilling to budge until we had recovered a little. The consensus is that this is probably the hardest hike we have ever done, with words describing it like "strenuous," "hiker hell," and even "gorgeous!"
This tantalizing view through the trees shows some of what we MIGHT have been able to see once we got to the top, but it was just not to be. The trip back down was treacherous and required constant vigilance not to slip on slick tree roots and trail detritus that kept wanting to make you fall. In fact, every single one of us fell at least once, but nobody got more than scraped elbows and bruised egos. Al, in the front, said that the sounds coming from behind him were quite entertaining: "whoops!" "eek!" "yikes!" (thud)
But we did finally make it to the cars and headed immediately down the road to the Buffalo Run, a restaurant in Marblemount that provided a nice repast to end our day's exertions. Although they have a buffalo ranch and offered burgers made from several different animals (elk, buffalo, beef), they also had an entire page of vegetarian offerings. I got a loaded baked potato that was pretty good. As you can see from the place where I was sitting (front right), the red and white wine was already being enjoyed by several of us. That's Amy toasting our adventure.

It was indeed that, an adventure, but I think I might actually skip the next trip up to Cow Heaven. Either that or I'll need to get in better shape first! If it hadn't been for sharing the pain with good friends, I wouldn't have enjoyed myself nearly as much as I did. Until next Thursday, which is looking like yet another hike in the rain, I think I'll stick to shorter and less demanding walks.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Blessing or curse?

From Climate Prediction Center
It's raining again. I woke to light rain and wondered about the wisdom of going on my usual Saturday morning excursion with the Fairhaven Walkers. Since I was afraid it might stop and I'd be kicking myself, I went anyway and enjoyed a nice damp walk with seven other ladies. But when I looked at the weather prediction for the next week, I wondered if I would rather be in Michigan or Illinois. Nope, I'm happy to be here, where it might be cold and rainy, but I can put on more waterproof clothes. It will not be so easy to go outside and get comfortable in New York City.
After the walk I headed over to the Farmers' Market and saw that finally the raspberries are showing up, a little late but this weather is pretty good for them. The county provides about two-thirds of all the raspberries in the nation, so there are a lot of happy farmers right now. I understand you can go out and pick them yourself at some of the farms, but I haven't done that yet. One day.
Inside the large covered portion of the market, this cheese market caught my eye. It's amazing to me how many kinds of cheese they offer, and to entice you to buy, they offer free samples. I learned my lesson last week; I stayed away but took a picture instead. Yum! You can see that, even though there was a light rain, few customers stayed away from the market, since it only exists for one day a week.
After heading over to the Y to get in my usual half-mile swim, I came home and took a picture of the new flowers I bought last week for the flower pot on my deck railing. I made sure that all the flowers are irresistible to hummingbirds, and now I am waiting impatiently for them to show up. They were here when the penstemons were blooming, but they disappeared after the flowers were gone. I am keeping my camera close by, just in case.

If the weather cooperates, I'll head to Snohomish tomorrow to jump out of perfectly good airplanes with my friends. Otherwise, I'll have to find something else to do. This afternoon my friend Judy and I will go to see "Beginners" with Christopher Plummer playing a 75-year-old dad who comes out as being gay after his wife passes away. It's gotten good reviews. So, life is good, even if it's a bit on the wet side right now.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Few went to Church

Church Meadow (click to enlarge to get full effect)
Well, when I woke this morning to the sound of rain (again!) drumming on the roof, I figured we would have a pretty small group for our regular Thursday hike. I knew that the people who showed up today would be ready for a hike up the Church Mountain trail without expecting that we would reach the summit. We knew we would be turned back by snow before we got very far. When you compare today's trudge to the one in the same place exactly one year earlier (here's a link to that hike, with views), you can see that we are really having a difficult time trying to find SOME area near Mt. Baker that is near normal.
Al, Dennis, DJan having lunch at Church Meadow
Here you see the small number (four, with Mike behind the camera), Al, me, and a new guy, Dennis. It was his first time with the Trailblazers. For one thing, I believe that many of us, me included, were not thrilled to be hiking in the rain again, with no view. And after last Monday's beautiful and rather long hike, some were opting to skip it. I don't think any Trailblazer who is reading this and wondering if they made a wrong decision will mind having skipped today's hike.
 We had a few stream crossings that were fun, and Mike used his umbrella in various capacities almost all day long. We got up to 4,600 feet elevation before running into snow, but we were able to continue on for another 300 feet and maybe another half mile before we stopped, had lunch in the freezing rain, and then turned around and headed back down.
This snow bridge across a stream is still in pretty good condition, and we were able to walk on top of the snow without much difficulty. But hiking in the snow when it's raining, and you know that your chances of a view are slim to none, made it unlikely that we would slog along, heads down, for much farther than three miles. That is exactly what we did.
By the time we reached the cars, we had covered close to six miles and 2,500 feet elevation gain and loss. In all, it was a very good day, and we made a new friend, even if we didn't get any views and used all our rain gear for the entire day. There were moments when the sun tried to break through, but they were few and far between. That's okay; Monday we had perfect hiking weather, and today we were few enough to be able to spend time chatting with everybody.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Stepping out

The Senior Trailblazers are stepping out of our comfort zone, by adding an extra hike during the summer months, which we'll make every other Monday, PLUS going to places that we wouldn't normally go because of the longer drive. Yesterday, our first Monday extra, we went to the old ghost town of Monte Cristo. The link will take you to the Wikipedia entry with Monte Cristo's location and history. An interesting tidbit from that link:
Monte Cristo was the first live mining camp on the west slopes of the Cascade Range. There were 13 mines and 40 claims by 1891. By 1893 there were 211 mining claims.
Today, some old buildings are still standing, and the entire site is nestled in one of the most beautiful places I've seen yet. Although it's more than a two-hour drive from Bellingham, nine of us met yesterday morning to begin our adventure and step on out. We found the trailhead, which is blocked more than four miles from the site, and began our hike just before 10:30 am. Many signs warned us that there would be a treacherous stream crossing and plenty of snow if we decided to go further. As you can see, the road allowed us plenty of room to walk two abreast and chat. The gentle uphill was much less difficult than we are accustomed to.
The stream crossing was indeed exciting, but as long as I concentrated on watching the LOG and not the rushing water, I was fine. I would not have wanted to cross it in the rain when it would be slippery. Some people bring their bicycles up here, and we figured they must carry them across the log. Carefully, I suspect. The gentle hike showed us scenery with streams and mountains that are unfamiliar to those of us who mostly hike in the Mt. Baker wilderness, so we did a fair amount of ooohing and aaahing.
We reached the townsite at about noon, so we stopped for lunch and to take a little time to inspect what is left of the town. There is a historical society with an excellent website, and they provided some old pictures and information about the town for the curious on a billboard. You can read all you would ever want to know about Monte Cristo on the Monte Cristo Preservation Association website.
We saw that we were not alone, as other hikers arrived before us and were just making themselves comfy on a beautiful summer day, with some high clouds that came and went. The temperature was around 65 degrees F (around 18 C), perfect hiking weather, and plenty to explore. Once we had lunch, most of us went up the trail toward Poodle Dog Pass, just to see how far we might be able to get. The trail was in excellent condition and well maintained, but it wasn't a gentle hike any more, as we gained altitude pretty quickly. Lots of switchbacks and lots of huffing and puffing. (It's not a lot of fun to go uphill on a full stomach.)
However, we were rewarded with some absolutely astounding views. I understand that Al was behind me making faces at these guys as I snapped this picture. This is my favorite shot of the day, and I've made it my desktop picture until another wonderful one comes along. We kept going up until we met the stream and plenty of snow. The longest legged and most adventurous of our group, Fred and Mike, crossed the stream to see what the trail ahead looked like.
Once they crossed the stream and took a look at the 700 feet remaining before we would reach the pass, we all decided that we wouldn't try it today. Not to mention that it was almost 2:00 pm and we had an almost six-mile hike back to the cars. We reached our starting point at about 4:30 pm and drove to Granite Falls for a wonderful meal at a place called Omega's Pizza and Pasta. By the time I rolled into my own driveway, it was past 8:30 pm, with 11.7 miles and 1,500 feet of elevation gain and loss on my tired feet. It was a simply wonderful day, filled with adventure and good friends.

The title of the post comes from the Trailblazers stepping out on a new day, a new hike, and dinner together. It is the first of several we'll make this summer. I hope you'll join us!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sunny Saturday

What a beautiful day! I got up and left the house at 7:30 am to get myself a latte before heading off for a nice 5.2-mile walk with the Fairhaven walkers in the early morning sunlight at Lake Padden. Then I quickly headed up to the Farmers' Market to catch a few pictures before going off to the Y for a swim. This sweet rose caught my eye, nestled among the other flowers, and I couldn't resist a quick snapshot. The market was filled with people right away, since it was such a gorgeous day.
As I sauntered past these delicious looking tomatoes, the vendor offered me a taste. I should have known better. No sooner had I tasted one than I had to buy some. You cannot imagine how sweet and remarkably tasty they are! The balloon man was setting up his scene to entertain us. He made this "hat" for himself while we watched, and half the kids couldn't help but ask for one.
He said that the local newspaper had itemized a hundred things for people to do in Bellingham, and he was listed as #51. He's a lot of fun, too. As I checked my watch and realized that I was getting hungry, it was only 11:00 am, but the the smells wafting through the market, coming from all around me, made me realize that I'd better get over to the Y and work out before I had my lunch.
I managed to walk away from these wonderful bread sticks, but it took some effort. I made it over to the gym in time to get a lane in the pool all to myself and swim a half mile. By the time I got home and made myself some lunch, it was almost time to head over to the theater to see Larry Crowne with my friend Judy. The movie has not received good reviews, but we both enjoyed it. It really helps to have your expectations lowered when you head out for a movie, then you can't be disappointed. Of course, any movie that has Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks can't be all bad, which is what he figured. We were right.

Last week we saw Midnight in Paris, and I enjoyed it while Judy didn't. You really do need to be a Woody Allen fan to appreciate it, but it was also a feel-good movie that had a happy ending. Have you seen either one? What did you think of them?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Wells Creek Road

I see Blogger has a new template out there, and the bugs are so very obvious. But in any event, I'm going to try to publish a new post. It's not easy these days, being a blogspot blog, is it? I can't see how I can change the size of my picture, it's missing as of right now (fixed it!). But if you click on it, you should be able to see it in full size. With me behind the camera, here are the other thirteen Senior Trailblazers.

Today, fourteen of us headed up to the Wells Creek Road to hike yet again on a road. It was nice and wide, but the difference between a road hike and a trail hike are very evident to my legs. Right now, after eleven miles on a hard surface up and back, my legs are complaining, and I know I wasn't alone.

Norm wanted to take a picture using his camera, with me in it, but once he got into position, he couldn't figure out how to turn it on!
Well, if I turn this knob, or if I make this adjustment, it should work. But you know, it didn't. Here is what we looked like as we watched Norm trying to figure out how to take his picture:
Finally, though, he said it worked (I have no proof) and we set out on the road. We hiked fairly gently uphill and finally stopped for lunch right around noon right at Barr Creek. The road from here goes fairly steeply uphill, and we had a very nice break before turning around and heading back down.
Here you see Carol and Amy sitting under the bridge as Barr Creek runs by. Both this creek and Wells Creek join at the place where we began this hike to make the very impressive Nooksack Falls. Today we repeated what we did last week: leave sunny Bellingham to head to the High Country and walk in clouds and even a bit of rain. We didn't have a view, although there is a fantastic view of Mt. Baker somewhere behind the clouds.
Today, however, the only real view we got was at the end of the hike, when some people walked over to see the Falls, and Amy, our Social Secretary, brought out the cupcakes to celebrate Mike's 70th birthday. We can always count on Amy to remind us when an event needs to be borne in mind. And this was one I wouldn't want to miss!
Happy birthday, Mike (also known herein as Mikey Poppins), and many more to come! Today we covered eleven miles, or perhaps a little more, and around 1,400 feet elevation gain and loss. It was a day that we will keep in mind as Mike moves into his eighth decade. I'm a little jealous, since I have to wait more than a year for that event. We all wish you many more hikes and birthdays!