Thursday, October 31, 2013

Raptor Ridge on Halloween

Raptor Ridge
It was a dark and stormy... day, Halloween 2013, when nine Senior Trailblazers headed up to Raptor Ridge and Madrone Crest to experience a typical Pacific Northwest winter hiking day. It was pretty much opposite from the sunny and beautiful day we had last week, but we still had a very good time.
Soggy leaves on the path
When we started out, the rain from the night before had stopped and although overcast, it was fairly warm and comfortable. Good hiking conditions. However, it wasn't long before a light mist began to cover everything, so we stopped to put on our rain gear. This trail is a well-traveled one, well maintained and right in town. We saw several people out for a run or taking their dogs for a walk, but we went a fair distance today, more than ten miles total.
Fog, rocks, gloves
We decided to hike all the way up to Madrone Crest before we stopped for lunch, but I was unaware that it would be so far. It was almost seven miles, so I was pretty darn peckish before we made it to Madrone Crest where we had no view (again) and I could finally enjoy my lunch. Next time I'll take more than trail mix to munch on while I'm hiking to keep me from getting so hungry.
Al would check with us to find out whether or not we wanted to continue on or stop. Since it's rather uncomfortable to stop when you're damp from both the light rain and exertion, we went out to the viewpoint, even though we knew there wouldn't be any. But amazingly, as we were finishing lunch, the clouds began to part and we saw blue sky!
Rita showing us a picture on her iPhone
As we began our downward hike back to the cars, it began to get downright pleasant. We had some good conversations, and Rita told us about her recent trip, sharing some pictures with us on her iPhone. It amazes me how much our lives have changed with the advent of smartphones. We also had a conversation about the meaning of different colors, and I was able to look up the definition of mauve, puce, and taupe to decide which best describes the color of Rita's pack rain cover. (It's puce.)
Linda, Ward, Rita
I also got a picture at Huckleberry Point of three of my favorite people, with the sun finally winning out over the fog and rain. Once we returned to our cars and made our way back to the Senior Center, we all agreed it had been a very good day, not dark and stormy at all. I'm glad that it will be decent outside for the little ones who will be out in costume tonight. I hope some of them visit me so I won't be forced to eat all that candy myself.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Back to my routine

The wind piled up these leaves
Sunday afternoon, as I was driving north up I-5 from Linda's home (where I had left my car when we carpooled to Vashon Island), the wind started up. It blew for the rest of the day, with some gusts reaching 50mph (80kmh) in Bellingham. It made short work of the fog we've had for two weeks, as well as taking leaves off trees all over the area.

The picture was taken of the leaves in front of my local coffee shop yesterday morning. It was early enough that store owners and customers hadn't yet disturbed them. Although it's hard to tell from the picture, they had piled up almost to my knees. I walked happily through them on my way to the Y, and a man traveling the opposite direction playfully kicked some of them towards me. We had some fun with the leaves, and he was at least as old as me. Imagine two kids playing in the leaves, and you've got a little bit of the feeling I had.

The brilliant blue sky has lifted the spirits of passersby and my fellow bus riders. It's been a good morning. I learned that the weight of the pumpkin I showed you last week (here) will be revealed on Halloween, which is now only a couple of days away. We'll be hiking that day, and the forecast keeps promising some precipitation after three days of sunshine. Oh, well; I'll still have fun. Wonder if any of my fellow hikers will dress up for the occasion. You can never tell about us. Reminds me that I have a black cape somewhere in my closet.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Vashonistas meet again

Sandi, Jann, Linda, Deb, me, Sally
Last year at the beginning of October, six blogging friends met for the first time at the Lavender Hill Farm on Vashon Island. I wrote about it here. The above picture shows the six of us this morning at the Hardware Store, the same restaurant where we ate breakfast last year. Our gathering was such a success, and we now love each other even more, so here we are one year later, with another three days together at the end of October instead of at the beginning. We even have a tradition to follow: breakfast at the Hardware Store, a visit to the Farmers' Market, and dinner together on Friday night, fixed by our very own Sandi, cook extraordinaire.
Sandi preparing last night's lasagne
Today we went on a couple of new hikes, discovered by Deb, sure to become another tradition: finding places on the island to explore together. The beautiful farm house where we are staying is a joy to come back to, after having been out and about, exploring. The gorgeous views we had of Mt. Rainier are missing this year, since we are experiencing the same low clouds that the rest of Washington state has had for the past two weeks. But it's still beautiful, and the colors!
The Shinglemill Creek trail
The first place we went is called the Shinglemill Creek trail, maintained by the Vashon Maury Island Land Trust, which is dedicated to preserving the land to protect natural habitats on the island. It's a beautiful trail, which descends into a ravine before starting up again. It's got some pretty steep parts, but it's just beautiful, if a bit on the slippery side with all the fallen leaves.
There are steps under all those leaves
After we explored the area, we headed down to a beach where we could look for shells and rocks. Although that was fun, the big excitement was watching an eagle steal a gull's lunch. The gull tried for awhile to get the treat back, but finally gave up.
It's hard to intimidate an eagle
Then we split up, three Vashonistas deciding to do some shopping in town, while three others, me being one, came back to our lovely farm house to enjoy some lunch and get some blogging done. I walked around the grounds, looking for some pictures, and could not resist this stunning display of fall colors taken from the back porch.
It really is that brilliant
When the sun is out, colors sometimes wash out a bit, but when it's overcast, I've gotten some of my most vivid pictures. Today was no exception. I plan to finish this post and head into the kitchen for some leftover lasagne. I'm enjoying myself immensely and will put a post up on my Eye on the Edge post tomorrow morning before we start to pack up and head back home. What a gift these blogging friends are!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Heliotrope Ridge 2013

Al on the trail, checking his GPS
Today, eleven Senior Trailblazers decided to head up to Heliotrope Ridge, a hike we haven't been able to do for years now, since the streams were almost impossible to cross, and the road has been closed until just last week. So, off we went on a moderate hike to see the Coleman and Roosevelt glaciers on Heliotrope Ridge. Here's some pictures and a description of our hike in 2010.
A simple stream crossing, nothing like last time
A couple of years ago, we tried to do this hike and were unable to cross this stream, since it was incredibly intimidating. Today, not so much. There was a little bit of leftover snow from an earlier snowfall, but it's been an amazing set of ingredients to give us this today: when we left Bellingham at 8:00am, it was in dense fog. When we returned at 3:30pm, it was STILL in fog, but a short half-mile outside of town, the sun is shining, and the temperature higher than anywhere near the coastline.
Coleman glacier
In a few short miles to this view, on a well-maintained trail with little to no streams to cross (very unusual for this hike during the summer months), we came to this view of the glacier. It's almost close enough to touch, really! And Mt. Baker is just to the right of this view. Both the Coleman and Roosevelt glaciers are here to enjoy, and although there was a light breeze, the full sunshine meant we were almost warm during our lunch stop.
Enjoying lunch sitting next to a glacier
I begged everybody to let me get a picture of them in front of the glacier, so they complied. Linda suggested that they all turn their faces toward the sun, so that they wouldn't be in shadow, and it worked quite well. Everybody is in the picture except me, who is on the other side of the camera.
Group shot
We had two new hikers with us today, Kirk and Carol, who are in the middle of this picture. I had no problem asking Doug to take a picture of me in front of the glacier, but instead of showing it to you, I will grace the last picture of this post with Mt. Baker, who has been absent so far, because of the glorious glaciers we've been enjoying. Roosevelt glacier is lighted by the sun in front of Mt. Baker, looking to be so close we might have decided to make the summit just for grins.
Hello, my friend Mt. Baker
Not really. This would have been beyond our ability, not to mention that I would still be up there trying to make the summit before it grew dark. When we got into our cars and headed back into town, I was simply amazed to find that we descended into fog again, after a full day of sunshine and joy in the High Country. Wow!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Spooky but sunny

A home near my apartment
Today, finally, the sun has returned after days of heavy fog. Although it hasn't been sunny here, I learned that the temperature inversion and lack of any breeze to move the air caused our gloomy days. All I needed to do was get in the car and drive a few miles up the Mt. Baker Highway to see the sun and experience warmth. But of course I was busy doing other things. This Thursday, however, looks good for another day playing in the High Country. I am so happy about that!

I got my flu shot this afternoon, and when I walked out the door of the pharmacy, the sunshine greeted me and immediately lifted my spirits. Speaking of spirits, this home caught my eye with its spooky ghosts fluttering in the sunshine. I dragged my feet through heavy piles of fallen leaves, too, loving the shush-shush sound. It's a very melancholy time of the year, and some people take every opportunity to enjoy it to the fullest.
The eyes have it
Little Leo walked into the coffee shop this morning with a portion of his Halloween costume on his head. He has eyeballs at the end of every point of the hat, and when I asked him what he's going to be, he said, "an eyeball!" as if I should have been able to guess. I asked him what else he's going to wear, and he told me that he would be covered in more eyeballs. (Of course!)

I'm looking forward to spending time with my blogging buddies this weekend. It's funny, it doesn't seem like it's been a year since we first met, but it has. Oh, by the way: I got an email from Alaska Airlines about the fiasco I experienced getting to southern California recently. They gave me a $300 discount on my next trip, good for a full year! That sure made me happy, and I guess it means I'll be taking another trip, perhaps in the middle of winter, to a sunny climate. But for now, the sun is shining and life is good!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The great pumpkin

How much does it weigh?
Outside the Community Food Co-op, this enormous pumpkin sits, with a box to collect guesses as to how much it weighs. I woke up this morning pondering how one might figure that out. If it were a person, I'd guess in the 300-pound range. But it's a pumpkin, so I'm thinking it might be even more than that. Anyway, it's huge. It's the time of year when pumpkins and falling leaves remind me that winter is just around the corner.
View of a maple tree from the fourth floor of the Y
We've had two full days of fog, basically negating any chance that I might have had to get a skydive under my belt here in Washington state before the season ends. Next weekend I'll be spending on Vashon Island with my blogging friends, so this was my last chance. We expected that the fog wouldn't hang around all day, but we were all wrong. It's because we've had a temperature inversion and little to no wind to blow it all away. It will probably be sunny and bright tomorrow, just to spite me.
Normal sized pumpkins
I've been enjoying seeing the fall colors and decorations that my blogging friends have posted on their websites, so I figure I should at least show you what it looks like around here. I'm reading three books at once and sort of forgot that I needed to put up a weekend post, so this is my attempt at quelling that nagging feeling inside that I was missing something...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Keep Cool trail

Fall colors viewed from the car
Today, eleven Senior Trailblazers headed up the Mt. Baker Highway on a glorious sunny day to hike the Keep Cool trail, our second time this year. I looked back to see when we last hiked this trail, and it turned out it was on July 11, with lots of snow still present from the previous winter. You can read about it here.
Nice waterfall
This trail is an alternate route to the summit of Yellow Aster Butte and is not maintained, so we had lots of brush and fallen trees to navigate. And it's very steep, bringing us up almost 2,400 feet in around three miles. By the time we met this waterfall, we had negotiated some pretty challenging spots, but we had perfect hiking weather, around 50 F, full sunshine when we weren't in the trees, and the occasional glimpse of wonderful snow-capped mountains.
Brilliant foliage
Once we climbed up to the meadows, we crossed them and began our ascent up to a lunch spot, with magnificent views. At about 4,700 feet, we hit fresh snowfall. Well, fresh in terms of having fallen this year, but because of the days of sunshine since last week, the snow was not all that soft and crunched loudly as we crossed it.
There was snow from here on
We made our way across the valley in the snow, looking for a place to stop for lunch, because we were all getting pretty darn hungry. It was already noon. Finally, after climbing some switchbacks, we found a place with lots of views all around and satisfied our hunger as well. A light breeze made it a bit cold, but I found that even though I put on my coat, I didn't really need to be bundled up.
Top: Karen and Rita
Bottom: Diane, Carl and Jonelle
Along with our glorious views, we enjoyed a very nice and rather leisurely lunch before heading back down. I was reluctant to leave this place, because the season is definitely winding down. All three of the hikers in the lower two pictures (Diane, Carl and Jonelle) will be leaving to head back to their desert environment for the winter before our hike next week. It was wonderful to have such a beautiful final day for their 2013 High Country season.
Mt. Shuksan as we headed back down
Oh, and one more thing: while I was in Elsinore, I placed an order at REI for a new pair of boots. It has been more than two years since I purchased my last pair, and the 20% off a full-price item at REI caused me to look forward to a new pair. I found that my favorite boots, the Lowa Renegade, now comes in colors. So, you guessed it, I ordered a pair of purple boots, which came yesterday! I wore them today and found them to be just right.
My new boots
At first it was a little disconcerting to look down and see my violet-colored feet, but before long I knew that it was just right! I look forward to several more years of enjoying these pretty boots. Now that I'm home, I made sure they are drying out so that maybe they will last for at least three years. I noticed that in 2 1/2 years, the tread had worn down quite a lot on my old boots and my feet were no longer perfectly dry, as they had been for two solid years. When you wear out your footwear as quickly as I do, you are sure happy to have found a good brand. I'm a lifelong convert to these wonderful boots!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Back home in Bellingham

Waiting for the planes
Well, the Jumpers Over Seventy event is behind us now, without having captured the record for the largest number of JOS together. However, we did set a few records anyway. But first, my trip home.

I'm sitting in my very own bed, early in the morning after having traveled home uneventfully yesterday. Frankie and I left the hotel at 6:30 and drove to the Ontario airport, dropped off the car, and lo and behold, the plane took off on time! We got to Portland and met her husband Jim, who drove me to the place where I would catch the bus to Bellingham, all without any mishaps at all. Quite the comparison to our trip down with broken planes and destination changes, you name it. This was perfect. When I got off the bus at 8:00pm, Smart Guy met me with a big smile. Once we got home, I gave him a quick rundown of some of the highlights, and then I collapsed into my nice familiar bed.
We are practicing for our jump, waving to the camera man
Although we didn't get the largest formation record, we did set a couple of others. Frankie and I made a jump, just the two of us, and we were able to set the record for the most women skydivers over seventy. Although there are a few others still active, they weren't there so the two of us were able to go out and have fun with no pressure to do anything much at all, just set the record!
Waving to the camera in freefall
It was the most fun of any of the skydives we attempted. In the larger group, we just didn't seem to be able to get the record; something happened every single time to prevent it, so we broke the group into two, and tried for what is called a sequential record: making two separate formations in the air, and one of the two groups was successful!
The second formation
Although I wasn't on it, I am so happy that all but 10 of the JOS who showed up walked away with a record, and I'm one of them. Frankie was on both. All in all, it was a really very special time, and I'm glad I don't have to land in those squirrelly Elsinore winds for quite awhile. However, the friendships I made this past week will last for the rest of my life. I might even be going back next year, who knows?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

First day attempts

Riding to altitude
There were nineteen of us JOS (Jumpers Over Seventy) crammed into the plane on our ride to altitude. We made four attempts yesterday (Friday), and we managed to build the formation to about 14 on our best attempt. Part of the problem of building a formation is that the base people, six of them, must build their six-way round before the rest can begin to take our grips. In a Twin Otter aircraft, many skydivers must make their way to the door from behind, and it can take a long time if everybody isn't doing their job. On the first attempt, it took me almost ten extra seconds to reach the door before I could dive toward the formation. I couldn't even see it!
Practicing the shuffle
We were given tips on how to get out faster: put our left foot forward and take fast little shuffling steps to the door. The second time it was a much faster exit, but the base didn't complete, so we couldn't start building the formation. On the third attempt, someone came into the formation so fast that they blew it apart, and we all had what skydivers often call an "air bath" because we still had lots of time in freefall and nothing to head towards. But on the fourth attempt, we must have been pretty tired, as people were exhausted from the hard work on the previous attempts, and it was the best jump of the day.
Quaffing beers after the jumps
After we were done, feeling pretty excited by the improvement on the last skydive, we stood around and drank beer, which is a time-honored activity after a good day of skydiving. These guys all know how to do it, since most of them have been in the sport for a very long time. The smiling lady in this picture is Louise, Scotty's wife, who isn't yet old enough to be on these JOS jumps. We have four men on these attempts who are over 80, and the oldest is 87, Bud LaPointe. The guy in the bright yellow shirt in the middle of the picture, Bill Jones, is 82 and has two artificial knees, one hip replacement, and hardware on a section of his spine. And he's the guy I follow out of the plane.

Today and tomorrow we will have formation loads, meaning that the problem of having such a long distance to get to the formation will be solved, as we will have ten people in two aircraft, which will fly very close to one another. We will build the formation using several time-worn techniques to get us all out of the planes at the right moment. I'll be reporting tomorrow on our progress. The weather is fantastic, it was 78 and clear as a bell yesterday and is projected to be the same all weekend. More later.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Finally in Elsinore

My first night's lodging
I spent Wednesday night at my friend Frankie's home before we traveled on Thursday to southern California. Her home is at the end of that dock, and I spent the night in their "spare bedroom," the boat docked next to it. Frankie and her husband Jim manage a moorage in Scappoose, Oregon, which is shown here. Their floating home and their boat are very comfortable. I spent a very good night in that boat before we headed to the Portland airport to catch our flight to Ontario, California.

Well, that was the plan. Our plane was to leave yesterday at 11:20 and was delayed. And delayed for six hours before the flight was finally canceled. Instead of going to Ontario, we ended up flying BACK to Seattle and then routed on a flight to Santa Ana Airport (better known as the John Wayne Airport) in Orange County. We had to change our rental car from one airport to another and drive to Elsinore. Fortunately it is only about an hour's trip, so we arrived here last night at midnight.

After crashing, I got a few hours of sleep before waking at my usual time of 5:00am. I cannot seem to sleep later than 6:00, and I didn't even manage that. It's now 6:15 in the morning and I'm going to head down to the lobby for a quick cup of coffee before I take a shower. Frankie is still sleeping soundly in the bed next to me. We are supposed to be at the Drop Zone at 8:00am to start the festivities. Some people who were on our original flight ended up not getting a flight to anywhere, so I guess I should count my blessings. We are now in Elsinore, even with all the difficulties.

I'll be posting again tomorrow morning, after a day of skydiving. The weather looks pretty fantastic, clear and cold. Until tomorrow at this time, wish us all luck! Today is a day of getting our skills up to speed and tomorrow morning begins the record attempts. I'll be taking pictures!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A hike and a movie

Mt. Sefrit from lookout at Goat Mountain
I could have gone skydiving this past Sunday, it was such a beautiful day, but I opted instead to go on an "extra" hike with four other Trailblazers. We were scheduled to head out somewhere on Monday (yesterday), but the weather was so much better on Sunday that we decided to find out how much snow has fallen on Goat Mountain in the High Country. Plus, I leave for a southern California skydiving adventure tomorrow, and since I will miss Thursday's scheduled hike, I was happy to go.
Criss-crossing contrails
It was very warm and beautiful, with a high dew point, making contrails from jet aircraft visible all over the sky. We ran into snow at about 4,300 feet, but it was sunny and warm, so it got slushy pretty fast. There was somewhere around a foot of fresh snow on the lookout at Goat Mountain, with evidence of previous snows that had already melted. This might all be gone by this coming Thursday, while I will be (with any luck) having a great time at Lake Elsinore.
Taken by Diane with my camera
I used my cellphone camera for the best pictures of the day (those first two were taken with HDR on my iPhone 4S), and this one was taken with my Canon PowerShot. Notice the definition and especially the sky is much better in the first two pictures. I also took some closeups using my Camera+ app, and they were very good. It makes me think maybe I will stop carrying my Canon on these hikes. I am simply amazed at the quality I can capture with my cellphone!
Bullock and Clooney in Gravity (not taken with my camera)
Yesterday I went to see the new Gravity movie with my friend Judith. (This is a different friend than my usual movie-going partner Judy, who wasn't available.) First of all, let me say that the special effects in this movie were simply amazing. But I don't think I will hurry to go to another movie at the Regal theater any time soon. The level of sound, throughout not only this movie but all the movie trailers, was incredibly painful to my ears, even with ear plugs. I ended up giving away all the extra ear plugs I had with me, since there were other people who couldn't deal with the sound level. It was damaging not only to my ears, but I felt it in my entire body. No more.

That said, the movie itself was pretty awe-inspiring in 3D. Sandra Bullock did a great job, too. But it was very thin on plot and basically told the story of one person who survives a catastrophe in space. There were a couple of groaners involving space itself, but that's only going to bother people who know anything about orbital mechanics. Since their original space station has been destroyed, Clooney suggests that they use his jet pack to get over to the International Space Station. Well, from this review by Dennis Overbye at the New York Times, I found a salient quote:
To have the movie astronauts Matt Kowalski (Mr. Clooney) and Ryan Stone (Ms. Bullock) zip over to the space station would be like having a pirate tossed overboard in the Caribbean swim to London.
If you go to see the movie, be sure to take ear plugs and please, let me know if you enjoyed it or not, and why. I'm all ears.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Saturday soliloquy

Lake Padden this morning
Well, the title of this post is not quite right, since the meaning of "soliloquy" is speaking one's thoughts aloud whether or not anybody is listening, but I liked the alliteration with Saturday. I figure somebody is listening to my thoughts, since I keep getting comments. This morning I went for a nice walk twice around Lake Padden with the Fairhaven walking group, and I snapped this picture with my camera as we hustled around at a very brisk pace. I can walk four miles an hour, but there were four women I tried to keep up with and simply could not manage it without jogging. So I gave up and enjoyed walking with Judith, a friend I have made through this group.
Bouquets ready for purchase
Then I headed over to the Farmers' Market for some kale, taking a few pictures as I wandered around. These flower bouquets, mostly dahlias, caught my eye with their brilliant colors. That's one thing about this time of year: everything is brightly colored, including the incredible variety of winter squash and pumpkins. And peppers.
Reds and greens delight the eye
The sun had just come out for the first time today, and they lighted up these peppers so I was forced to take their picture. I've almost stopped worrying about carrying any other camera than my iPhone, since the pictures it takes are more than adequate for anything I need. Macros are better with my camera, and a few other things, but really I am quite pleased to find that I don't need anything other than my cellphone, which is always within reach.

I've got to finish packing for my trip that starts this Wednesday. I've been looking forward to it for months, and now it's almost here. I'll be heading down to southern California for another fun visit to try and get a record number of JOS (Jumpers Over Seventy) together in the sky. Four days of skydiving, which is why I'm not down at Snohomish for the first Saturday in weeks that it is actually possible for me to make a skydive around here. I've already packed up my gear. More to come on the trip, but I still have a few days before I head out. Have a great weekend, if there's anybody out there listening to my soliloquy.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Misty day on Anderson Mountain

Old tree stump covered with moss
Today eight of the Senior Trailblazers headed up to Anderson Mountain, a short drive south of Bellingham, instead of going on our scheduled hike, because of all the new snow. Nobody was ready to drive up slippery snowy roads to hike on an unspecified amount of snow. At 5,000 feet where we were originally headed, it has rained more than 7 inches in three days! So off we went to Anderson Mountain. The weather was supposed to be really nice.
By midday we were still in fog
This hike sometimes gives us some nice views, but not today. We kept hoping that any minute the skies would clear, as they were beginning to when we left Bellingham. But it was not to be. We got good exercise and visited with each other, and on the positive side, it never rained, even if we didn't see the sun. There was evidence that it had rained in this area quite hard recently, but since it was much lower in elevation, there is not yet any snow. The first time I hiked this area, way back in 2009, we did have snow and rain, and you can read about it here.
Diane and Jonelle
I didn't have many wonderful things to take pictures of, so here you see two of the seven women who accompanied Al on the hike today. The fall colors also are much in evidence behind them. Part of the hike today was on old logging roads, but we did have some areas that were overgrown with brush, some of which were blackberry bushes. Al had a run-in with them on the way up.
Halloween costume? No, blackberry bushes
We stopped to take care of Al's wounds, since he had at least a half-dozen punctures that just didn't want to stop bleeding.  Fortunately he carries a first aid kit, and we managed to get him patched up, and then he donned a long-sleeved shirt. We kept going until around 12:30pm, when we stopped at an old log for lunch. There was no view anyway, so we just found the best place we could find to sit for a quick lunch.
Me, Amy, Diane, Rita, Peggy, Karen, Jonelle, Al
I used the self timer to get this shot, and the angle makes me look to be three times the size of Al, but I decided to use the picture anyway. It shows the group who had a great workout today of about ten miles, even if there wasn't much to look at, especially when compared to the last few weeks in the High Country.
Our only view during the hike
Just as we were returning to the cars, we got a quick view as the clouds lifted a bit. We had speculated that it would clear up just when we finished our hike, and guess what? That's exactly what happened. As we drove back to the Senior Center, bright sunlight made its first appearance of the day.
Maple tree at Senior Center
By the time we pulled into the parking lot at 3:30pm, the clouds were gone and this beautiful tree gave me a chance to take a brilliant picture to add to our day's adventure. We had a great time, even if it wasn't beautiful, and we got some exercise. I'm feeling pretty satisfied right now, as I raise my wine glass to another successful hike!