Thursday, January 31, 2013

Another day in Paradise

Yesterday, Norma Jean, her neighbor Doris, two dogs, and Yours Truly went off to St. Petersburg to frolic in the surf. Florida's west coast has many beautiful beaches, and we were originally headed off to Fort De Soto Park, which has a dog-friendly beach. We decided to stop first for a nice lunch, and found a place right on the beach and ended up going no further. We watched pelicans diving for fish, walked in the surf, and enjoyed the magnificent sunshine. There was quite a breeze, as a storm was due in by evening. Doris' dog Jingles was afraid of the wind, the water, and the unfamiliar surroundings, so she held him most of the time. He did get a bit better before too long.
Can you tell it was windy? Jingles is a 12-year-old rescue dog that Doris has had for two years, since her husband died. Nobody knows what Jingles history was, but he growled, bit, and was generally disagreeable when he first came to live with her. Doris persevered, and now Jingles plays with Norma Jean's dog all the time and has learned to play with dog toys. It took more than a year before he was comfortable in his new environment.

Since the drive to St. Petersburg was more than an hour, and after we had finished lunch, we decided we had already had a fine time at the beach, so we decided to skip the park and drive back home. Norma Jean and I took a nice little walk around her community and spied these little ducks looking for lunch. We laughed as they paddled their feet to keep themselves in this position.
As I approached to get more pictures, the ducks decided that maybe they should take off before we got too close. The setting sun behind them caught the light and made this a favorite shot. Yes, indeed, another day in Paradise. I am so enjoying being with Norma Jean and sharing the life she lives these days.
The projected storm came through during the night, with wind and rain and more than a twenty-degree drop in temperature. Yesterday was in the 80s, and today it's in the 50s. But the sun is still shining and I will miss seeing it like this. I still have another week, and I'm going to enjoy it!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

She is wearing me out!

Norma Jean finishing her 3/4 mile swim
Before I got here, I did think I get a lot of exercise, but I am not kidding: Norma Jean makes me feel like a wimp. I haven't been swimming at the YMCA regularly lately, since I can't seem to get a lane to myself during the times I want to swim.

But here in Florida, Norma Jean took me to her YMCA, where the outdoor pool is not all that busy when it first opens at 6:30. Yes, that is 6:30 in the morning! She swims three-quarters of a mile, without stopping, before coming home, changing clothes, and going out for a four-mile walk with her dog. If you can call it a "walk," since I must jog alongside her to keep up. She is most comfortable with covering four and a half miles every hour. That means before 8:30, she's had enough exercise that would be the envy of someone decades younger.
Checking email
This is where she sits when we have our wonderful video chats twice a week. Notice that it's early and quite foggy outside. Although it's been sunny every day I've been here, there have been several mornings with dense fog. Yesterday it was over 80 deg F, and I was almost too hot as I rode Norma Jean's bicycle around the community.
Many of the trees around here are covered with this beautiful Spanish moss. The squirrels are abundant, with Sandhill cranes and Muscovy ducks everywhere around the ponds as well. I'll try to get some pictures, but so far I'm so tired after trying to keep up with my younger sister that you'll just have to wait a bit. Maybe on Thursday...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

First post from sunny Florida

I took this picture from Norma Jean's backyard this morning. Notice the trees, a kind we just don't see much of in Washington state. We haven't seen this much blue sky lately, either. It was very cold last night, for Florida at least (41 deg F), but when the sun came up, it warmed up quickly and is now in the mid-70s, just about perfect.
Norma Jean used her recently purchased Vitamix to make a wonderful smoothie for our lunch today. She uses raw kale, acai juice, flax seed, frozen mixed fruit, and yogurt; it was absolutely delicious and incredibly nutritious. We'll be having this often, since it's her usual lunch fare. We walked somewhere between five and six miles this morning on the streets near her home in Betmar Acres, a 55-and-over mobile home retirement community. She walked more slowly than she usually does, to allow her elder sister to keep up.
We went to the health food store and then to the liquor store to stock up on red wine. We saw this bottle and couldn't resist buying it, since Norma Jean is the middle sister of our original three siblings. (When I was sixteen our parents decided to have another three children in quick succession. The last two were born after I left home.)

I'm a little tired from the travel and the three-hour time difference between Pacific and Eastern Standard Time. I used that as an excuse to keep Norma Jean from going even farther this morning. Tomorrow we'll go a shorter distance but at HER pace. I'll get a good night's sleep so I'll be ready.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Alger Alp 2013

Squires Lake
Every winter the Senior Trailblazers make this trip to Alger Alp. It's accessible from the Squires Lake trailhead, just a short drive south of Bellingham. Before today, we never once had clear skies in order to see the view since I started hiking with the group. Although you can't tell it from the picture, Squires Lake, where we start this hike, is frozen from the recent cold weather we've had. One of the guys pitched a rock "into" the lake and it bounced!
Before the fog lifted, I captured the sun's rays coming through to make this lovely scene. These pictures don't often turn out looking as beautiful as they look to me at the time, but this one comes close. We then headed around the beaver pond before starting our ascent to Alger Alp.
There was plenty of recent beaver activity around, as you can see here. The tree itself was nowhere in sight, probably already hauled into the pond. We never actually see the beavers, since they don't come out when people are around, I'm told, and do their chopping work at night. Since they are busy as, well, beavers, they probably spend the daylight hours working on the lodge's interior where we can't see them.
Rita looking out at the view
We did indeed have somewhat of a view today. This is the fourth time I've gone on this hike. Last year it rained, but today we lucked out. Eleven of us made it to the 1,350-foot summit. Here you can see it was still rather hazy here and there, and it wasn't exactly warm if we stopped moving for any length of time. It's not a long hike, less than three miles to the summit, so after a short break to admire the view, we headed back down.
Mike and Al are indicating various mountains and other points of interest. It's nice to have finally seen some scenery up at the top. Here we look out over a valley, with Samish Bay in the distance. The clouds never completely cleared off, and they were beginning to thicken up again as we headed back. Wonder of wonders, we did actually have a view of Mt. Baker; as we started down, the clouds lifted just long enough for me to get this picture.
Yes, there it is, our old friend Mt. Baker. The view disappeared again not long after I captured this rather washed-out picture, but this will remind me next year what I am missing if I don't see anything but clouds again. I had been told that there is a view; now I know it's real!
When we returned to the cars, Amy brought out cupcakes to celebrate Al's birthday, which is today, while we all sang the requisite birthday melody before digging in. I'm never quite sure whether we need to be reminded how fast the years are flying by, but I always enjoy the celebration. All in all, it was a good day with no rain and lots of good company.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Senior play date

Al taking a picture of me taking a picture of Amy
Al sent around an email last week asking if any of the Senior Trailblazers might be interested in a snowshoe outing before the weather changes. Three of us showed up early this morning and spent the day in the High Country on snowshoes! We left foggy and overcast Bellingham and headed up the Mt. Baker Highway to find sunshine and warmer temperatures. It felt almost balmy, until a breeze picked up and kept us wearing our coats all day.
Taken at the parking lot with my iPhone
On the way to the meeting place, I realized I had forgotten my camera, and there was no time to go back for it, so I decided to make do with my iPhone camera. Al brought his camera, so these pictures are a mixture of his and mine. I was very pleased with the quality of the pictures I was able to get from a cellphone, but it doesn't have a zoom and makes decisions for me that I would not make on purpose. Not perfect, but WAY better than no camera at all.
We headed up to Huntoon Point from the Heather Meadows parking lot. We really didn't need our snowshoes, since it has been at least a week since it snowed, and we were mostly hiking on what is affectionately known as "Cascade Concrete." The only time it was serene and quiet were the few moments we were in untracked snow.  A storm is due any time now, which is why we decided to go today.
The sunshine left us as we saw a bank of clouds building, but we had magnificent views of our two favorite mountains. Here's Mt. Baker looking regal in the sun, a picture taken with my iPhone. As we continued our upward trudge to Huntoon Point, the snow became marginally better as we gained altitude.
Also taken with my phone, this picture shows Mt. Shuksan with Al in front, as we reached the point. If I had my regular camera, the mountain would look much larger because I would have used my zoom. As it was, I had to crop the picture anyway because my thumb was over the top part of the picture. I'll need to get better at this if I keep forgetting my camera. We sat down to have lunch, and one of our favorite friends, the grey jay (also known as the camp robber) showed up. I fed him a few bits of my trail mix and put together this collage. Pictures are all taken by Al.
You can click on the picture to admire it properly
I have done this before, putting some nuts in my hand and letting the jay take them. The feeling of his little sharp claws on my hand is interesting. He wasn't going to let go or leave until he had crammed every last bit in his beak. I watched as he picked up one, two, three almonds, stopping for a moment to pose for the camera before taking off.

It was a wonderful day spent in the mountains a mere hour or so away from town. Thursday the rest of us will gather for a hike that is predicted (again) to be in rain.  But I don't really mind; I had today in sun, clouds and snow, and Friday I'll be in Florida!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tulips make me smile

This year, the Bellingham Farmers' Market has started to host a winter market, meeting one Saturday a month at the usual time in the usual place, during January, February, and March. The every-Saturday market will start up again the first Saturday in April. Until then, those of us who are addicted to our favorite local vendors will be able to partake once a month. I showed up for the first one today, after our Fairhaven walk was over.
There was only one stand with vegetables. I bought three of those kale bunches on the far end. They were very robust looking, and I asked the vendor if they had been raised in a greenhouse. She told me no, these were harvested yesterday from the field. They didn't last long; by the time I left in a half-hour or so after arriving, this entire stand was bare except for a few stray potatoes.
Even so, the market customers were pretty sparse, compared to what I am accustomed to seeing, but it was foggy and cold this morning. The mushroom man was waiting for people to buy his wares. It was early, however, with many hours to go before the place will close at 3:00pm. And then we will have to wait until mid-February for the next one.
It was this man, a tulip expert from the Skagit Valley, who told me that although garlic and onions are good for your heart, the reason we need tulips is to make us smile. I told him that during this season, these beautiful tulips did indeed brighten my day. He says nobody ever comes over and gazes at the tulips without taking a smile along with them. Outside the window you can see a group of young people singing a rousing song. I love this place!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Burnout Point without the clouds

Samish Bay behind me
And to think I almost didn't go today, because of the cold I picked up earlier in the week. As it turned out, it was no problem at all; my cold is definitely much better. Yesterday, however, I was unsure if it was a good idea, so I went to bed earlier than usual and slept great (thanks to Benadryl). When I woke this morning, I packed up and dressed warmly, as it was a brisk 26 degrees F. It was a clear night and all the warmth from the previous day had dissipated.

Last March we made this same hike, with nary a view to be had; instead we had pea-soup fog to deal with. I wrote about it here. But today we are in the midst of a spell of dry, sunny weather. There is a fair amount of fog around in the early morning when it's like this, but it burns off quickly. I scraped heavy ice off the car and headed to the Senior Center to meet ten fellow hikers. We started this loop hike from the Clayton Beach parking lot.
One of our newer members, Ross, shows you that it wasn't warm when we began. The old logging road we trudged up just didn't give us a break, but it did allow us to gain elevation quickly. We ran into snow not long after we started, and we began to shed our outer layers of clothing pretty quickly. I thought the picture below would give you an idea of how steeply the road heads upward, but it doesn't do it justice.
We ran into these pretty icicles, ones I took a picture of last year (available in the aforementioned link). This year I noticed that there were even more icicles, and they glistened in the beautiful sunlight. Although we make the same hikes year after year, it's truly amazing how much they change in character from one occasion to the next.
And finally, we reached the summit of Burnout Road, where the clearcut logging operation of a few years back has opened up the view. We had never before seen this view since clouds and fog have always obscured it on our earlier excursions. Mt. Baker and the Twin Sisters are covered with snow, and they are magnificent as always. Every time we see them they look a little different, because of a different angle or because of a completely different weather day.
Amy and Peggy standing on the clearcut area
As we came around a corner, we disturbed a snowy owl who flew overhead on his way to a more secluded spot. They are BIG! From a different direction, you can see that the logging operation has also opened up a magnificent view of Samish Bay, which I captured here.
Blue sky and low fog, with Mt. Erie jutting up above the clouds, puffs of steam coming from the Anacortes refineries, it's all a part of Samish Bay. Forest trees are in the foreground, with a piece of clearcut forest in the lower left of the picture. Although the view is spectacular, I also feel sad when I see the detritus from the clearcut operation, reminding me of what was once beautiful forest. However, I use wood products, too, and there is plenty of market for all those gorgeous trees. I know they grow back, but still...

By the time we had returned to the cars and our starting point, we had covered around nine miles or so, with an elevation gain of 2,000 feet. Exclamations of contentment came from many of us, and I was glad to have one of those days that remind me why I live here, and why I can so quickly forget about the rain.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Got your flu shot yet?

I got my flu shot back in October, I think. It might have been in early November, I'm just not sure. But I am very glad I got it! The epidemic is increasing all over the country. I went to the doctor's office today, in spite of the fact that I have caught a cold and hope I didn't spread it to anybody today. Even went so far as to wipe down the pen I used to fill in the paperwork. The doctor assured me that the flu shot should protect many of us in the area, and the strain he's seeing is covered by the vaccine.

It was nice to see my doctor for my annual physical and to be given a pat on the back for how well I seem to be doing. My cholesterol numbers are the best they have been in the four years I've been coming here, and all my other numbers made my doctor quite pleased. Walking out of the clinic, I was gratified to see the sunshine and glad I was able to head home, not wanting to expose anybody else to this cold.

It's only a cold, I'm sure, since all I've got in a stuffy head and a scratchy throat. My temperature was normal, and my weight was even cause for celebration! Two years ago when I went to see Dr. Whitehead for the first time, I realized I had gained ten pounds during the previous year, and now I am not only where I want to be, but maybe I can actually start eating a little bit more every day. It's interesting that I don't seem to have all that much difficulty losing weight once I get on the bandwagon, but you can't stay in a losing mode all the time. Two years ago I started using an app to help me keep track of what I was eating, and during the recent holidays my sister Norma Jean introduced me to HER app, and now I am using it every day. It's called "Lose It" at the app store, and it's even better than my previous one. My iPhone allows me to scan the barcode and it goes into my food diary. Is that cool or what?

Maintenance is my goal during the coming year. If I can enter December 2013 weighing the same as I do right now, I will be thrilled. But it's been a battle: when I stop counting calories and just eat, I begin to gain weight. When I'm tracking every bite, I think about what I'm doing when I put food in my mouth, and it's not as big of a deal to keep under a certain caloric number every day.

Smart Guy and I drove to Snohomish last Sunday, not to make a skydive or anything, but to pick up my repacked parachute harness and container system, which had been languishing at the Drop Zone for months, since there was little to no chance of making a jump. Sunday was sunny and beautiful, the roads were great, but when we got to Harvey Field, the frost had only recently retreated, and all the trees were covered with frost! That did not deter the youngest among us from going up into those blue skies, but I wasn't interested, not at all.
Cessna and jumpmaster (student inside plane practicing exit)
The white on the ground is from the frosty fog that had not yet been burned off from the sun, which had only recently made its appearance. After I paid my bill and made a hasty exit, I'm sure that many more skydives were made that day. I didn't realize at the time I was coming down with a cold, but it didn't matter: I was not tempted.

Today I am sitting in my chair writing this post, while paroxysms of sneezes capture me and I give thanks that I am in a warm, dry place with a partner who is busy making my dinner for me while I write this post. Not to mention that I got a "well done" from my doctor! Life is good.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Two imagined historical figures

Anthony Hopkins and Alfred Hitchcock
I just got back from seeing the movie Hitchcock with my friend Judy. It was released in 2012, and I saw that Helen Mirren garnered an Academy Award Best Supporting Actress nomination for her portrayal of Alma, Hitchcock's wife. The movie doesn't seem to be very popular, given that it's only been on for a week and there was hardly anybody in the theater. The reviews are mixed, partly because it's not historically accurate, I guess. I checked on line and found this NPR link, Fact Checking 'Hitchcock': The Movie and the Myth. The movie was a dramatization of the trials and tribulations that Hitchcock faced in trying to make the movie "Psycho" in 1959. The movie was a real departure for him, but it became a classic.

I wonder what people will think of this movie who know little to nothing about the man himself, as many of the mannerisms and looks that Hopkins does so well are ones I remember from seeing Alfred Hitchcock on TV over the years. He was a familiar figure to me. He loved to make fun of himself and had a great sense of humor. That NPR link has a line that I completely agree with:
To some extent, Hitchcock — you know, the film that we're talking about — is something that he would delight in even if he might be horrified at aspects of it, because it is partly the consequence of this long process that he started in the 1920s of building himself into a public personality that we could take delight in.
He would start and end a program with a cameo, which are also present in this movie. I left the theater happy that I had seen it and can recommend it as a really good movie, but not a great one. Mirren was also good but I don't think her performance will win.

The other movie that we saw last week is Hyde Park on Hudson, a movie about Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his spinster cousin Daisy with whom he has a long affair. (Ed: I fixed this where I had called Daily his aunt instead of his cousin. Sorry!) You might be as surprised as I was to find that Bill Murray played FDR. Laura Linney played Daisy. The movie covers an actual event that happened at Hyde Park in 1939, when FDR and First Lady Eleanor invited the King and Queen of England to their home in upstate New York right before World War II broke out.

The movie is billed as a "comedy-drama," and it certainly lives up to both aspects. I found myself quite amazed at Murray's ability to portray someone very different from himself in looks and temperament. (Or as I imagine Bill Murray is, anyway.) I enjoyed the movie, not as much as Hitchcock, but it was passably good. It certainly helped that I read the reviews before I saw it and they were almost uniformly bad. My expectations were suitably lowered, so I was pleasantly surprised. It was fun; you can't expect much more than that from a movie, can you?

The gist of these two movies is that historically, they are nowhere near accurate, but they were well imagined and enjoyable. If you go to either one, I'd love to know what you think!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Railroad Trail and more

Al, Peggy, Linda, Ward
Oh no, not again! I awoke this morning to the sound of the rain drumming on the roof. It was only a 30% chance of rain today, with sun breaks and drier weather predicted after a few "lingering showers" in the morning. This was NOT what I expected as I drove to the Senior Center in the gloom, windshield wipers removing wet sloppy rain that had some ice mixed in. Only six of us met today to do an around-town walk in the rain. Not pictured is Mike, and I'm behind the camera.
We know this walk very well, and it's pretty when the weather is fine. When I took this picture, the rain had begun to turn to snow and was beginning to stick on the foliage. There wasn't much to photograph today, so I figured that maybe I could give my readers a sense of our experience. Be sure you imagine plenty of moisture. We walked almost ten miles, covering lots of distance from the Barkley Village parking lot, our starting point. We had to cross a few streets to go from one park to another, and at one intersection I saw a perfect image for the day: Peggy's hat.
There's some ice mixed in with the water on her hat. This is known as a "Seattle Sombrero" for those who want to find the latest in rain gear. It not only does a good job, the longer brim in the back keeps the rain from running down inside your jacket. I tried this one on at REI but couldn't make up my mind. Presently I use the hood on my rain jacket with a billed cap. Here's a map of today's route, for those who might be interested.
We started from the Barkley Village Mall at the middle left and went through the Roosevelt Nature Area, on Railroad Trail to Scudder's Pond before we had to walk on roads (the dotted lines). After a short excursion to look at Whatcom Falls, we went to Big Rock Garden and made our way to the Klipsun Trail before heading back to the parking lot at the mall. I took this picture of one of the sculptures in the Big Rock Garden.
A wet tugboat in Big Rock Garden park
By the time I took this picture, the rain had begun to ease up a little. It wasn't too awfully long before we noticed that the clouds had begun to thin overhead and a little bit of blue sky was beginning to peek through. Now, at 2:00pm, I can see actual SUNSHINE outside. After having been out in the cold and wet for several hours, though, nothing much is going to pry me from my comfy chair in the living room.

It's supposed to clear off and the temperatures drop to the teens tonight, our coldest temperatures of the season so far. It's only two more weeks before I leave for my sister's home in Florida, where I noticed today it reached 85 degrees F. I hope it won't be too much of a shock to my system!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Snug and dry at home

Looking out at the rain
Yes, it's still raining. I know it was only last Thursday when we walked around in the sunshine, and Friday was sunny too, but then the rain began again and hasn't let up at all. We expect another inch or so today and tonight. When I woke this morning,  I realized I wasn't hearing the sound of the rain and thought perhaps it had finally lightened up, but was just a break between storms.

This is my fourth winter in the Pacific Northwest, and it's the first time I've gotten grumpy from the rain. Usually we get a little rain and mist, then some pretty white puffy clouds, a little blue sky, and then it starts all over again. Not lately, though. Day after day of rain. At least I have the gear for the weather, plus I'll be in Florida in a few short weeks. And it's supposed to be sunny again on Friday, so I'll be okay.

It would be nice to go out and do some shopping, but when I am sitting here all warm and dry, it's hard to make myself go out when I don't need to. I caught the bus before the sun came up, standing outside with my warm coat and umbrella and had a great workout at the Y surrounded by my friends, who were also grousing about the weather. By the time I headed home, I was happy to think of being in a cheerful environment with my partner, with my morning workout completed and nowhere else I need to be.
I have a whole bunch of pictures taken on my hikes when the sun was shining, like the one above. I took it last Thursday at Lizard Lake. One thing about living up here in the Pacific Northwest, we do get some pretty snow scenes. I never saw fuzzy snow like this in Colorado.

Several of my blogging friends are having problems downloading pictures. This morning I couldn't post comments. I use Chrome as my browser of choice for blogspot, since they are both Google products and only have the occasional difficulty. I have Safari, Firefox and Chrome browsers installed on my laptop and when one doesn't work, I'll pull up another and it will sometimes fix the problem. There is also the old standby of doing a reboot. Blogger is currently having more hiccups than usual, though.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Getting tired of the rain

Well-deserved latte after a soaking wet walk
Yesterday morning I woke to light rain but figured it would probably quit (it was supposed to) before I met the Fairhaven walkers at 8:00am. It not only didn't stop, but it picked up as we huddled under the overhang at the coffee shop. Fifteen women showed up, can you believe it? Not a one of us expected it would rain like that; some were even wearing blue jeans, a definite detriment when walking in the rain. You get cold when they get wet.

I, however, had pulled on my rain pants before I left the house, figuring it was better to be safe than sorry. We walked in the pouring rain at a good clip, and after about twenty minutes I realized that I was feeling quite warm and happy, glad that I had come out for the walk after all. When we went into the coffee shop afterwards, we left puddles as we stood in line ordering our coffee.

As we warmed our hands on the mugs, we chatted about being glad we had made the decision to come out despite the rain. But yes, I'm getting tired of the rain. I learned that December broke an all-time record in Seattle for the most days with rain. No wonder we're all getting tired of it and rejoicing when we see the sun.

I have made reservations to visit Norma Jean in Florida at the end of the month. You watch: it will stop raining and turn warm and sunny. I just hope the gloom doesn't follow me there. Oh, and by the way before I go, I saw a wonderful piece about Maurice Sendak on Time Goes By. I've watched it a few times now, and every time it makes me both smile and cry. Apparently it all came about because Terry Gross interviewed Maurice about his new book in 2011. He died in May this past year, and artist Christoph Niemann drew the pictures and the New York Times published it on the last day of December 2012 to honor Maurice, a wonderful man who taught me where the wild things are.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Blanchard Mountain and a party

What's that yellow stuff in the picture? Sunshine? Well, of course that's why so many Senior Trailblazers are huddled in the rays, trying to catch a bit of sun after we experienced such a dismal December. The last three days have been sunny, and today twelve of us headed up Blanchard Mountain to enjoy the day together before making our way to Mikey Poppins' home for a belated New Years party.
Long rays of sunshine at Lily Lake
We hiked to Lily and Lizard Lakes from the north side of Blanchard Mountain. When we did this same hike back in April, the weather was nowhere near as fine as it was today. That is not to mention that today it was quite cold, with lots of frost from the clear skies at night. We saw several different kinds of hoarfrost, but this specimen of angel hair hoarfrost was especially magical.
Although it looks almost like a fungus, it's nothing but water that has "spun" out of a log and made this amazing cascade of frost. I imagine that this pretty scene no longer exists, since any rays of the sun would melt the delicate hairs. We hiked to both Lily and Lizard Lakes and found that the trail was icy and slippery in spots. Some people had received Christmas presents of strap-on Yaktrax, which are designed to slip onto your boots and make it easier to hike on ice.
It takes a village to get Norm's Yaktrax secured
After getting geared up for the ice, we hiked up to North Butte to catch the view, since we knew that today we should get quite a stunning scene, since there wasn't a cloud in the sky. The view was indeed wonderful, but getting there was not so easy. Those things to keep you from slipping were welcome as we labored up to the top.
We cut today's hike short so that Mike could host a party at his nearby home. Mike missed quite a few hikes during the summer, with the excuse that he was working on a home renovation, and he wanted to show his friends (that would be us) what he had accomplished.
We walked into his beautiful renovated home after our hike, to be treated to a wonderful repast of tacos, tomato bisque soup, egg rolls, and a dessert spread that strained our hiking pants to the brim! It was also wonderful to see a slide show of all of our hikes where Mike carried his fancy camera, pictures that most of us had never before seen. We were mesmerized.
Here we are, enjoying an incredible feast, and that's Mikey on the left with Linda. We were all pretty full by this time, but we were also amazed at what he has accomplished. He made one room out of two; you are looking at it, front and right. The dining room has become part of the living room. It seems like it should always have been this way. Now that I am home after today's sunny hike and marvelous feast, I realize how fortunate I have been to have met this great group of like-minded seniors. We sure know how to have fun!