Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How times have changed

Snagged from InStyle
After I watched the Oscars, I was happy that Meryl won, finally, and I really enjoyed all the dresses and jewels that dripped from all those celebrities. But then I wondered if Jane Fonda had attended, since I didn't see any pictures of her, so I googled "Jane Fonda Oscars 2012" and the link from InStyle (under the picture) came up. Here are Jane and Gwyneth Paltrow at the Vanity Fair after party.

Just look at Jane! Did you know she is 74? And in love, it seems. I used to follow her blog but gave up on it, since I think she began to let someone else write it for her. It took a distinct change in tone one day and I realized I wasn't really all that interested in hearing what she (or whoever) had to say any longer. Nevertheless, she's a very fascinating person, and I read every word on her Wikipedia page. Since I will turn 70 this year, I'm look for mentors. Many of the blogs that I currently follow are written by women who are around my age or older, and I love thinking about what might be next in my own life.

The title of this post was born out of an event that happened to me this morning. I was walking to the coffee shop after my morning workout (my schedule on Tuesdays has me getting a bun workout that would make Jane proud) when I saw a man coming toward me, obviously engaged in a conversation. But there was nobody around him and at first I thought perhaps he had an invisible friend. He was gesticulating wildly, shadowboxing with the air, and I decided to give him a wide berth. It wasn't until I saw the bluetooth in his ear that I relaxed. Oh: he's having a conversation on the phone, with no visible phone OR recipient in sight. How times have changed.

In days gone by, someone acting like he was would have been hauled off to the loony bin. That made me wonder about people who are actually a bit on the unhinged side: do people see them on the street and assume they are talking on the phone? Yep, our assumptions can no longer be so cut and dried.

Another way that times have changed is that a hundred years ago, or even fifty, nobody who is the age that Jane Fonda is could have looked like that. I read that she has had plastic surgery on her chin, neck and eyes. Since she just wrote a book about aging, she didn't feel she could deny that she's had "work" done. And she continues to work out, but with an artificial knee AND hip, she probably isn't doing a lot of the stuff that's in her old exercise videos. That new book came out last year, called "Prime Time" about many aspects of getting older. I read her 2005 autobiography and enjoyed it, so I will give this book a chance once it comes out in paperback.

Another way that my own personal times have changed is that as I grow older and notice that the signs of aging are taking a distinct turn towards letting gravity have its way with me. Bags under my eyes, sagging skin in places I didn't even realize COULD sag, and a need to get more sleep at night... all these things make me realize that the trajectory is only heading one way. It's normal, I tell myself as I flap the skin under my arms around, or try to find a more flattering way to cover my neck. Just as an aside, I read a wonderful book a few years ago by Nora Ephron, "I Feel Bad About My Neck," which is available on that link from Amazon. A very good read. Maybe I should go back and read it again. As I remember, I laughed repeatedly at some of her observations.

I just remembered that I need to get some bird seed for my wild birdies before the storm hits that is heading our way. I'll go ahead and wrap this up now so that those little cuties will have something to nibble on in the morning.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


This scroll hangs on the wall in our living room. Smart Guy bought it on our last trip to China, and I like to look at it and ponder the brush strokes. It is the Chinese character for "Destiny." Or at least that's what I thought it was for all these years, but when I went to Google to look it up just now, it's not the one that comes up. It looks entirely different. Hmmm. It makes me wonder what the meaning of this symbol really is. Whatever it means, it has always drawn me to think of movement. We move through life, through our years on the planet, and one can imagine that our destiny in some way, is preordained.

I've been wondering about my mental faculties lately. I've always had a facility to remember numbers; telephone numbers are very easy for me, and I don't often need to look up a number more than once or twice, even if I don't call it very often. The other day I went to the Food Co-op and usually give the five-digit account number to the cashier, but I simply couldn't remember it. I was disconcerted, so she looked it up for me and for the past week it is there in my memory banks. At the bird store a few days ago, I was telling a story about seeing a hawk come right up to the porch where I was standing, while I was outside. I said, "it landed on the..." What? She looked at me and I had a complete blank, and I said, "you know, the thing that keeps you from falling off the porch." "You mean the railing?" Yes! Of course, the railing. Another uncomfortable moment, which passed, and I have THAT word right on the tip of my tongue now. But where was it at the time? What is happening to my prized possession, my memory?

Years ago I was worried about the fact that I was forgetting things, and when I went to my regular doctor for a checkup, I mentioned my concern to her. She ended up giving me a test. When I read the novel about early-onset Alzheimer's, "Still Alice," I wrote a post about recognizing the test she gave me as being the same one that Alice was given that confirmed her diagnosis. Although I made a few mistakes, I was reassured that the memory loss I was experiencing was normal.

It does seem progressive, however. What causes those little brain farts that come increasingly more frequently? Do you have them, too? I know that I am doing all the right things to keep myself from becoming more disabled by memory lapses than I already am, but it is so worrisome that I'll ask my new doctor if he will give me the test and let me know if I'm okay or not. What do you do if you find out you have developed a "condition"? Sigh. I hope I don't find out. In the meantime, I'll continue to exercise both my body AND my mind.

On another matter, tomorrow I'll be watching the Oscars and hoping my favorites will win at least a few awards. I'll go to bed having been saturated with beautiful gowns and jewels, and hopefully won't be too awfully bored. Sometimes I just wait until the next day so I am not tied down by three hours of rather dull reality TV. Bet some of YOU will be watching, too.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sugarloaf and Mt. Erie

Today was a mostly dry but overcast day (well, mostly overcast) for our regular Thursday Trailblazers hike. Twelve of us met at the Senior Center, and we set out in three cars to drive 40 miles south to the trailhead near Heart Lake. You can actually drive to the top of Mt. Erie, but there are numerous trails in the Anacortes Community Forest Land that give you plenty of options to get around without taking your car up there.
Carol and Sally show up every few months to join us. I was struck by the color of Sally's new raincoat. It's almost iridescent, don't you think? The rest of us were the regulars who rarely miss a hike; rain or shine we're out there. The weather forecast had promised little to no rain, and that's what we got, although yesterday's clear blue skies were what we kind of hoped for. However, as you can see from this picture near the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, the air was damp and hazy, with a bit of view but nothing spectacular.
We are looking out at the San Juan islands and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Usually we hike to the top of Mt. Erie first and then descend a bit and climb to the top of Sugarloaf. Today we reversed it, and visited Sugarloaf first. We knew that it wouldn't be likely we would linger terribly long for lunch today, since it wasn't very warm and although we weren't soaked through like last week, we hoped not to let ourselves get too cold. Today the view from Mt. Erie was nothing like we had last year.
Here we are, settling down for lunch, just as the sun broke through the clouds. Although we did have some sunshine, the humid air and a breeze kept us from hanging out for long. If you took a look at last year's picture, you know that sometimes we are able to see Mt. Rainier in the distance. Not today.
Looking down from the top of the mountain, you can see a road running across the middle of the picture. That's what we took to get to the trailhead. I have now seen this view three times, and every single time it's completely different. Since you can drive to this spot, usually we have plenty of other visitors on the summit with us. Again, not today. We saw one other car; otherwise we had it to ourselves, except for a nice man we met on the trail.
On the way home, I took this picture from inside the car looking back up at Mt. Erie from that road in the middle of the last picture. We hiked right around eight miles and covered 2,400 feet of elevation gain and loss. My knees are feeling it, too. As I've said before, without those trekking poles I wouldn't be able to do these weekly hikes, so I'm glad I have them. These are not the best pictures I've ever taken, but it is  a fair and true chronicle of today's hike. I'm glad to be home and am now ready for my nightly glass of wine, which always makes my knees feel better.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fitness enthusiast

Climbing two fourteeners in one day
That person walking on the saddle between two 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado was me, many years ago. I was thinking about when it was that I became interested in fitness. I moved to Colorado from California in the mid-1970s and met some people who liked to climb these "fourteeners" -- actually they thought of it as "bagging" them. Two of them, not far from Boulder, are Grays and Torreys Peaks and one day I joined three men I worked with on a fine day in the winter.

I had been cross country skiing with one of them, John, on a regular basis, and he felt I might enjoy spending the day with them. We all met at a parking lot and carpooled up to the road off Highway 70. One of the guys had climbed this route many times before and it is so well used that he refused to climb it any time except during the winter. The road wasn't open, so we skied to a place where we could stash our skis and continue on up to the peaks. To be considered separate peaks, the saddle between them must lose at least 3,000 feet of elevation; this one required us to drop down more than 500 feet before climbing up the other mountain. It was a long day, with plenty of exercise and I, being the lone female, was determined not to lag behind. Although I wasn't all that old (back then I was in my early thirties), the men ascended the mountain much more quickly, and John got this picture of me. I was tired and sore at the end of the day, but I kept up and was proud to have been "one of the guys."

When I first moved to Colorado I was a cigarette smoker, and I will never forget the day that I realized, even back then, that I could not climb a flight of stairs without having to stop and catch my breath. I was overweight (not terribly, but enough that carrying that extra weight at Boulder's elevation made a difference). I decided to take up jogging, and after several fits and starts, I became capable enough to run a 10K race, the Bolder Boulder. And it helped me to quit smoking.

It occurs to me that those years I spent in Colorado were when I first became interested in exercise. Not only climbing fourteeners, jogging and cross country skiing, but in 1975 my friend Donna and I decided to set out on a bicycle trip from Boulder to San Francisco. We had panniers filled with our gear and sleeping bag, but we traveled light and crossed the Continental Divide five times before it was all over. It took us six weeks, and we mostly stayed in KOA Campgrounds or found a nice city park to sleep in. Within a very short period, the few times we stayed indoors (for one reason or another), it seemed stuffy and uncomfortable. I was happiest in a quiet place with my trusty steed and water bottle nearby, snuggled in my warm down bag sleeping under the stars. We only met curious people or those who wanted to help us in some way. It was almost forty years ago now, and I cannot imagine doing something like that today.

I didn't stop being interested in outdoor activities and volunteered for the US Forest Service for more than a decade, showing newbies the correct ways to hike into the wilderness and becoming more and more experienced. Then I discovered skydiving in 1991, and I stopped going into the wilderness, because every single weekend, winter and summer, I was at the Drop Zone hoping to jump out of an airplane. I packed my own parachute and found that I stayed pretty fit from the activity. Plus, as hard as it may seem to believe, I was madly and completely in love with this new activity. I met Smart Guy through skydiving late in 1992, and by the time we got married in freefall in 1994, I had only spent a few times hiking into the wilderness.

My skydiving career was long and varied, and my obsession covered almost twenty years before it began to let up. When I moved away from Boulder and retired from my job, I decided not to keep my skydiving instructor ratings either, and now I have found a nice little group of people who like to play in the sky during the summer months, and I've taken up hiking and regular exercise again. As most of you who have read this blog for awhile are aware, I joined the Bellingham Senior Activities Center to go on hikes of varying lengths every Thursday. And I work out at the YMCA on the other weekdays. I've been challenged many times by these walks, but they are with like-minded people and we are aware of our limitations. For the first year after I joined these hikes, I didn't go on any that were rated "hard" but stuck to the easy and moderate ones (some of which were MUCH harder than I expected a "moderate" hike to be). And now I feel that my fitness level is pretty much as good as an active Senior could expect.

I didn't ever make a decision to become a fitness enthusiast, and I am a bit amazed when I think of how it all came about. But it's obvious that I am not a happy person when I'm not able to be outdoors playing in the wilderness, or the air, or taking pictures of beautiful mountains and flowers and people.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Making the best of it

After listening to a howling wind blow all night long, and looking outside at first light to see that it was indeed still raining, I waffled back and forth about whether or go out and meet the Fairhaven walkers at the Ferry Terminal at 8:00am this morning. Bundling myself up, I forced myself to go, telling myself that if I got there and nobody else showed, I could just slip to the coffee shop with no one the wiser. But no, at least a dozen women were already there when I pulled up at 7:55. Sigh. I got out and joined the crowd, all of us a little amazed that we were actually there!

Our walk was in reality pretty nice, somewhere between five and six miles, out and back. Once we got into the trees, the rain was light and the wind didn't seem so bad. We visited with one another as we kept up a brisk walk, and by the time a half hour had passed, I was warm and extremely glad I had decided to come out. My feet were a little wet from slogging through the wet trails, but I didn't care, I was getting exercise and I felt one hundred percent better once we finished. We headed to a local coffee shop and I got my usual latte, this time with a lovely birdlike design. Or maybe it's a lion, or an angel. Whatever, it was delicious.

After I got home and spent an hour or so connecting with Smart Guy, I decided to write a post about something, not sure what would emerge, but after I went outside to take picture of the rain puddles, I spied two other exciting pictures. Look what is coming up in my neighbor's garden:
If I am not mistaken, in a week or two (or three) I will be seeing daffodils in bloom. It's the middle of February and we are gaining more than three minutes every day, moving towards spring. As I walked back (or actually squished back) to the sidewalk, I spied a bit of pink.
Covered with raindrops and nibbled by somebody anxious for spring delicacies, I believe this is the first primrose of the season. I'm not sure that's what it is, but it's definitely the first flower I've seen in bloom this year. So all this rain, grey skies, and puddles are good, if I just adjust my expectations a bit. Yesterday we had some sunshine, but today and Thursday we have been engulfed in clouds and rain. Figures. Tomorrow is supposed to have some sun breaks, and I'll be watching for them.

One thing I keep forgetting is that when I lived in Boulder, the constant sunshine was a given, like the air, and I never noticed it. Living here, every time the golden sun makes an appearance, I smile and find myself remarking on the beauty around me. Perspective is everything.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Another soggy Thursday hike

Ten of us hardy Trailblazers headed out to Cub Creek (on the south side of Stewart Mountain) in a light rain. At first it wasn't too bad, but it was already raining when we started our hike at 400 feet elevation. As we ascended another 2,200 feet, there were times when we were in the forest canopy and stayed pretty dry. We even thought maybe it wasn't raining all that much.
We only spent perhaps a mile or so on these roads, the rest of the time we were on trails. We spent some time on the roads traveling under huge power lines, which were singing so loudly from the humidity they sounded like running water. Sometimes they hum, but today they were just... loud. Everything is very green from all the rain we've been having, but once we hit the road higher up, the rain changed character, to snow.
This picture is what our upward trajectory looked like, once we had passed the power lines. By this time, since we had been traveling upward pretty steadily, we were all warm and toasty, but the wind had picked up and when we stopped for any time at all, we began to get chilled. It just didn't seem to make much sense to continue upwards, because any place we would stop for lunch would be cold and uncomfortable. So we had a conference.
We determined that we would descend into the trees and then decide whether or not we wanted to find a fairly dry spot to stop for lunch, or head back to the Senior Center, where it would be warm and dry. Just stopping for a few minutes we began to get cold, so without delay, we descended into the trees. Hiking downhill makes it harder to stay warm, and by this time we all wanted to get moving. Here you can see the power lines, and our trusty leader who had forgotten his raincoat. Al is wearing a plastic poncho he brings along in case of an emergency. This seemed to be an appropriate time to put it on.
We are actually heading downhill in this picture, although it's hard to tell, and we stayed in the snow until we reached the trees. At this point the wind was pretty strong and kept us moving until we were out of its range. One nice thing about trees on the trails is that they block not only the rain but also the wind.
 I may have taken a picture of this interesting tree before, but I was struck by it again today. There was, at one time, a "nurse log" under this still healthy tree, causing it to send its roots down into the ground around it. However, now the log or stump is gone, having done its job, and the tree now looks a little like it could just walk away.

By the time we reached the cars, we had covered somewhere around seven miles up and down in almost four hours, with very little time standing around, and managed a 2,200 feet elevation gain and loss. It was a, yes, wet day, with no views, but I still had a good time and sure enjoyed my warm and dry lunch at the Senior Center! Hoping for better weather next week.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A wonderful Valentine's Day

Closeup of a beautiful arrangement
I took this picture last Friday at the Flower Show. It's a closeup of one of the arrangements I put on Friday's post. The roses, the colors, everything makes me think of today's romantic theme. Do you know about the history of St. Valentine? Well, it turns out there is more than one of them. I found the Wikipedia entry quite illuminating. Even if it is a made-up holiday or commemoration, it's important to have at least ONE holiday that celebrates romantic love. My thoughts anyway.

I just walked in the door from seeing a movie with my faithful movie companion Judy. We have attempted to see as many of the nominated performances as possible of the Oscar competition, and today we went to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, a remake of a John LeCarré novel set in the 1970s, at the height of the Cold War. Gary Oldman has been nominated for Best Actor for his performance. The only performance we haven't seen is Demián Bichir for A Better Life (it hasn't been around for us to see anyway), and we chose not to see Rooney Mara in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, because we loved the original Swedish version so much. I think we are all set for the Oscars now.

My favorites for winning are simply what I enjoyed so much: I think The Artist deserves Best Picture, or a second best would be Moneyball with Brad Pitt. He was so good in that movie! And Meryl Streep deserves Best Actress, and Brad Pitt Best Actor. But I think it's really a tossup between Meryl and Viola Davis, and between George Clooney and Jean Dujardin for Best Actor. We'll see how well my prognostications hold up in a few weeks!

 I do hope you have a very chocolate Valentine's Day. I know I did!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Seattle Flower Show 2012

A small segment of the entrance floral display
Yesterday my friend Judy and I joined the Bellingham Senior Activity Center on an all-day trip south to attend Seattle's 2012 Flower and Garden Show. It is always held at the Washington Convention Center in downtown Seattle, so it's nice not to have to drive there in traffic and find a place to park for the day. We left Bellingham around 9:00am and arrived at the Convention Center before 11:00, after stopping to pick up some attendees in Burlington and making a stop at a rest area. Although the Hesselgrave bus had a bathroom, many of the seniors didn't want to use it. I could see why; many of them were pretty unsteady on their feet.
The first thing to see after passing through the massive display of flowers in bloom at the entrance are these lovely arrangements, dozens of them from different florists in the area. It was difficult to get good pictures of these because the windows looked out on outdoor scenes, but I fell in love with the beauty of this one and got a good picture. After entering the Convention Center proper, we had hundreds of booths to navigate, selling everything from gardening implements to yard art, tablecloths, t-shirts, you name it. We made a concerted effort to see every booth and stopped at many on our way to the display gardens in the center.
Dozens of landscape artists create these little scenes from scratch, making lovely areas that draw you in and let you feel what it would be like to have this scene in your own back yard. I think there were at least 25 different settings like this one. Some of them had running water making ponds and waterfalls. It's amazing to think of the effort that goes into this five-day-long show!
Here's another scene that capitalizes on the red bush, bringing out the red checkered curtains and red pump. It looked like there were people in the little house, but of course there was nobody "home." Or even another side to the wall! How they fit all this together with one display after another had to take some doing. Walking through these gardens to get to the next section (orchids and bulbs) took quite a long time, with lots of ooh-ing and aah-ing. But back to the flowers.
Did I mention the smells? With all these scenarios and gardens galore, the odors of flowers mingled with pine chips and fresh soil... I was a little worried when I realized I had forgotten my allergy medicine, in case I needed it, but I didn't have any problems at all. My nose was in heaven. Not to mention my eyes. In one of the gardens this cute little display of an "insect hotel," which is designed to attract beneficial insects in the garden, caught my eye.
All kinds of nooks and crannies, not to mention places that little birds might find of interest, too, and this is just a small portion of the hotel! I wonder if the ants and bugs send out invitations to their friends, telling them to come on over to the Insect Hotel. After we had our fill of the gardens, we headed over to the bulbs and orchid section of the show, filled with live plants and lots of bulbs to spruce up your own garden, and incredible displays of orchids. These two were some of my favorites.
I could almost imagine these to be faces under big showy hats, looking back at me as I snapped away with my camera. At 3:10pm we were to return to the place where we were dropped off, so that we could board our bus and start our journey north. One person didn't show up on time, but once she was located and we began our return trip, a light rain was falling on the windshield. We didn't care; we were snug inside warm and dry. We got back to the Senior Center before 6:00pm. It was a long day, but a very enjoyable one. Sometimes I think that four hours is not going to be enough time to see everything, but considering how tired I was when I got home, I realize it was just right.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Gates Overlook via Chinscraper

It wasn't a sunny day today, not at all. We never saw any sign of the sun, and a light rain fell most of the time we were hiking. This is the kind of weather we expect in February, not days and days of sunshine, so nobody was disappointed. In fact, eleven Senior Trailblazers met at the Senior Center and carpooled to the Clayton Beach trailhead. We walked up the old logging road until we got to the well-named trail known as Chinscraper. The picture does no justice to show you how steep it is. But we slogged uphill until we got to Gates Overlook, where there was no view at all.
Steve is pointing out what they would be able to see if it were not socked in and raining. Holly (in the red) had never been here before, so I suspect she'll want to come back one day and see what she is missing. You look out over Bellingham Bay from this spot. Sometimes we have lunch here, but today we were early, a little after ten, so we decided to trek on to Fragrance Lake, where we often have our midday break.
It is always green and lush in the Pacific Northwest, all year round. That's one thing you get from all the rain, and I really didn't mind the light on-and-off rain that fell before we got to the lake. We were all prepared with proper rain gear, and several hikers had worn their rain pants, which usually act as a deterrent to the rain, a Trailblazer superstition. They cause the wearer to overheat and the rain often doesn't materialize. I carried mine in the bottom of my pack and never felt the need to put them on.
You can see from the light raindrops on the lake that it wasn't a downpour. At least not yet. When we were on the ridge, a strong wind was making us feel pretty cold, but by the time we reached the lake, it was relatively warm and we had a very nice lunch break. However, when we started back to the cars, the rain increased in intensity and we trudged in a fairly steady rain all the way back down. One of the hikers pointed out this amusing nearsighted fungus to me, so I snapped the picture. It was not one of our group who did this, and I'm hoping the glasses were brought up there just for this purpose. There didn't seem to be prescription glass in them, or any glass for that matter.
By the time we returned to our starting point, we had traveled nine miles or just a bit less, depending on whose GPS you wanted to believe, and ascended and descended 2,150 feet of elevation. I'm plenty tired, sitting here writing the post, and tomorrow I'll be heading to Seattle to see the annual Flower Show. Of course you will be seeing the pictures. Until then, I wish you a warm and dry day!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sunny day on showshoes

Al sent around an email to the Senior Trailblazers last week suggesting that we might take advantage of the incredible weather we've been having here in the Pacific Northwest and get out for a snowshoe adventure. The snow fell more than a week ago, and every day the avalanche danger has been less, so today, Monday, five of us took him up on his offer and drove from Bellingham to the parking lot at the far end of the ski area to start up to Huntoon Point, a place I've visited a few times before. In the picture above, you can see the end of the road to Artist Point, with a stop sign and a little bit of snow. Nowhere to go from here, take my word for it, except to strap on skis or snowshoes and head into the wilderness. So that's what we did.
This is Amy, the other woman on today's trip, all decked out and warm as we headed up Cardiac Hill. We've all been up this way before and know that we know we will cover a fair amount of elevation in a short distance. The day was perfect, a light breeze and sunshine that just wouldn't stop. I had slathered on the sunscreen and Mike frantically pawed through his pack looking for his sunglasses, which he apparently left at home. Fortunately, Amy had an extra pair, and we were just fine after that little glitch. Cardiac Hill goes straight up for quite awhile, but we all managed pretty well. Here's a picture of Steve leaving the rest of us in the dust.
That tiny black dot, that's Steve following a well-traveled snowshoe track up to Huntoon Point, where we would have lunch. The day was so perfect that we decided to spend a bit of time exploring around the area and checked out some snow pits that must have been created by a class, teaching people how to survive if they end up in the wilderness unexpectedly.
On the way to the point, Al took this picture of me in the foreground and Mt. Shuksan in the background. It's one of the most beautiful mountains around here (I've taken many pictures over the years), but I wanted to show how incredibly SUNNY and bright the day was. My new transition lenses worked perfectly, BTW. We met a few others on the way, but I'm sure the numbers are way down from the weekend. The only thing we had to deal with was plenty of snowshoe, snowboard, and ski tracks from people who were in this beautiful place before us.
My new camera caught this picture of Mike with the sun behind him, lighting up his hat and pretty red pompom during our lunch stop. We are at Huntoon Point and the only disappointment was that Mike hoped that the grey jays would visit us so we could take picture of us feeding them from our hands. He brought the bird seed and was waving his hands in hopes of enticing them to join us for lunch. But it was not to be. We did see some ravens circling and playing in the wind currents, but they didn't care to join us. It wouldn't have been the same, anyway.
When we headed back to our car and our journey home, I got this picture of Amy and Al, with Shuksan behind them, not to mention the continuing beautiful blue perfect skies. We didn't cover much distance, considering, a little less than five miles on snowshoes, but it seemed much farther. We did ascend and descend around 1,800 feet of elevation in those miles, which helped to make the day into a good workout. With the sunshine, the company, and the delight we had in being outdoors on such a beautiful day, I'm definitely not complaining.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A disconcerting moment

While I was enjoying this beautiful latte this morning, after a thoroughly wonderful walk in the sunshine here in Bellingham, I didn't know that I would be coming home to a really disconcerting moment. When I walked in the door, Smart Guy was huddled over his laptop with a look of concentration that I know better than to interrupt. I tiptoed in and put the groceries on the table. He said, "I'll be with you in a moment." Well, that all seemed normal. But then he said, "I don't want you to freak out, but your blog is gone, it's been removed by Blogspot."

Now this might have bothered me WAY more if it hadn't already happened to a couple of bloggers whom I follow, and it wasn't a terribly difficult fix. That pesky button on the top of blogs that allows you to report blogs as objectionable must be irresistible to some people who want to gum up the works, or perhaps someone who works against the Preserve Galbraith group (which I linked to on my last post) might have decided to do it, who knows?

I logged into Blogspot and had to give them my phone number to receive a text message with a code in it, typed it in, and everything came back to normal. Now we all know that a free service such as Blogspot or Wordpress can make whatever changes or modifications it desires to our sites, and I have already given up on the thought that my four years of blogging material will be archived for the ages. Not gonna happen. I use my blog as a method of keeping track of changes in my life, communicating with my followers, and basically see it as a wonderful tool for keeping my writing chops in good working order.

Some of my blogging friends have moved over to Wordpress because they feel the interface is more stable, but I looked into it and don't think it's any better than Blogspot, just different. And quite a bit more powerful and complicated, which I don't need. My question to you is, does everything seem to be back to normal? A comment will tell me, or an email if you wish (which should be available to you on my profile).

On another matter, the weather here in the Pacific Northwest is simply stunning. I see that my old stomping grounds of Boulder are in the middle of a big snowstorm, the likes of which I remember well. I loved those days, but I am happy as I can be right here in my little corner of the universe.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Galbraith Mountain 2012

On some of our Senior Trailblazers outing, we get more than a workout: we get an education. Today eleven of us set out to visit one of our old hangouts, Galbraith Mountain, which I first visited in 2009 and wrote about here. If you were to study the map above, you would see that this mountain is criss-crossed with trails of every sort. It's been a mecca for mountain bikers for years, and many outstanding trails are legendary. But alas, all this is in jeopardy. The mountain was owned by Trillium Corporation until the economic meltdown, and then it was sold to Polygon, a corporation that is now logging it in earnest. We intended to start our hike on a well-known trail with the name of Whoopsie Woodle. Here's what we found:
The detritus that is left after a logging operation has come through the area: we had some flags to help us find the now-nonexistent trail, but once we reached a difficult spot, we consulted our maps and decided to retreat. The WHIMPS (Whatcom Mountain Biking Coalition) is intending to come through here on the 12th and clear this trail so that they and their mountain biking friends will be able to once again visit this trail on bikes. Some of the trails are clear and at present undamaged. But from what I have been able to discover about the future of this wonderful 3,000+ mountain is not positive at all. A coalition has been formed, called Preserve Galbraith, that is active in trying to fix what is happening to this mountain.
The dedicated groups of mountain bikers have continued to build exciting ramps and bridges such as the one above for the use of mountain bikes, hikers, and horses. But I fear it is all coming to an end soon unless somebody comes up with enough money to make the logging operations less lucrative and the access to the recreational aspects of the mountain more attractive. There are wonderful views to be had, which we saw when we finally stopped for lunch.
From the summit of Galbraith, you have a view of Mt. Baker and the Sisters (on the right). This picture isn't wonderful because the light was very flat, with the partly overcast sky making it impossible for me to get the exact right exposure. But you can see the beauty of the vistas. Galbraith Mountain is covered with lots of trails, but we kept hearing the logging trucks and finally ran into them on our way back to the cars. The future of the area does not look promising. This may be the last time in quite awhile I will have the opportunity to visit Galbraith Mountain.
By the time we reached this spot, near the end of our day's hike, we had covered more than eight miles and ascended and descended around 2,000 feet of elevation. I was tired, glad to finally return to our cars, but disheartened to some degree by the destruction of this beautiful area, and the prospects for the future. We are very lucky to have so many wonderful recreational opportunities here in Bellingham, and I am glad I am not a mountain biker seeing my favorite area going under the knife; we hikers have many other options. Not so the mountain bikers. A beautiful day, marred by politics and "progress."