Saturday, December 16, 2017

Yuletide greetings

Our Saturday walkers this morning
Today we ladies met on a crisp morning at the gazebo behind Barkley Haggen's store, which is all decked out for the season. I was especially happy with the wonderful variety of colors we all wore. I was behind the camera, but in this picture, everyone looks as happy and ready for our five-mile walk as I was. (There is a male in the picture, Riley, Linda's dog.) A few more walkers joined us after the picture was taken, so we had around twenty in all. Men are more than welcome, but somehow they just don't keep coming back.
Two ravens
My friend Melanie sent me this Christmas card and I just had to share it, I love it so much. I hope you like it, too. If I were a sender of cards, this one would be my choice, so consider it sent from my home to yours.

Tuesday is the big day, the second cataract surgery, and I'll be posting again to let you know I'm home and all's well. I hope, anyway. In the astrology world, when Mercury is retrograde (as it is right now), things sometimes don't work out as planned. Fingers crossed for a good outcome.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Christmas hike and party

Some of today's trail walkers
Today many of the "half-fast" group met at the trailhead of what is now called the Hertz Trail, on the north shore of Lake Whatcom, to make a 6.2-mile round trip before heading off to Sue and Jim's home for our annual Christmas potluck. The weather was fine, cool and mostly clear, the last nice day for awhile, it seems. Rain is headed our way, but not today.
Ward, Linda, Louann
Some people arrived a little late to be in the picture, but I always have a soft spot for Ward and Linda and got this picture of them before we turned around to head back to the cars (there were nineteen of us in all). Louann is one of our newer hikers, and I was happy to see her joining us for one of our easier and shorter hikes.
Chris, Melanie, Peggy
You can see what a nice trail this is; it was a railroad grade (information is available in the link above) and I hear there are plans to make it longer at some point. It's relatively flat and well maintained and mostly well shaded by abundant trees.
Some of our incredible desserts
Then we made our way to Sue and Jim's to join the other group (the "relaxed" hikers) to have a wonderful potluck. The desserts were outstanding, and I must admit I tried almost all of them. Bob and Melanie brought cranberry tortes, simply delicious. Of course I ate too much, but there was also a wonderful vegetarian chili and plenty of salads, which I enjoyed before digging into the desserts.
At the long table enjoying a feast
There were between thirty and forty of us, scattered among several rooms, where we managed to eat our fill, with festive and joyous chatter and lots of laughter. If you took your plate to the kitchen to refill it, your place at the table was usually gone by the time you returned. No matter; there were plenty of places to sit and visit with others.
Victoria back from Whoville
And our very own Victoria with her whimsical headgear, always photogenic, wishes all of YOU, dear readers, a wonderful and wonder-filled holiday season. Now that I'm home and the post written, I need to take a bit of Alka-Seltzer.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

All about salmon

Looking for salmon swimming upstream
Last Saturday it was cold enough for frosty streets, so our leader changed where we would have gone to a nice trek from Bellingham to Fairhaven and then on part of the Interurban trail. The trail crosses Chuckanut Creek and at this time of the year, it is possible to see adult salmon heading back to the place where they were born. One or two of my commenters made me realize that the life cycle of salmon is not well known, so here you go!

First of all, this link will give you plenty of details about the seven stages of the salmon's life cycle. But mostly, it's good to know that salmon are born in freshwater before heading to the sea, where they spend the majority of their lives. Salmon live for different numbers of years, depending on the species, and then they head back to the freshwater where they were born to spawn. Spawning is when they begin to make dramatic physical changes and begin the process again. From that link:
Interestingly, salmon in the spawner stage will migrate back to almost the same exact spot where they were born. Species like the Chum salmon will migrate up to 2000 miles to spawn! The distance they go depends on the species and the river. Upon reaching the gravel beds, the females will lay their eggs in the gravel while the males fertilize them with something called “milt.” This spawning “run” occurs during the summer months and provides the best fishing opportunities. 
We saw two adults resting in the water, still alive, but on their way out, having done what they set out to do: return to the spot where they were first born. I learned that these salmon are not good to eat (by humans, at least), but they provide nutrients for other creatures.

Living here in the Pacific Northwest, I've learned to appreciate the varying flavors of several different species of salmon, but my favorite is Sockeye, and I learned that they live the longest before returning home to spawn.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Clear and cold

Fog rolling in
Today eighteen of us ladies met in the cold weather to go for our usual Saturday morning walk. Since it was slippery in spots, our leader, Cindy, decided that we would walk to Fairhaven along Boulevard Park instead of going up the Taylor Dock stairs and down, which would likely be treacherous. Although we had to watch our step, it was just beautiful, and nobody tried to walk fast today, just in case. The beautiful clear day changed, though, as we approached the water, as dense fog rolled in.
Lauren and Cindy walk into the fog
We walked all the way to the Interurban trail in Fairhaven and saw a couple of big salmon resting in the creek waters (no picture, unfortunately) after having spawned and getting ready to die. They were at least a foot or two in length! Then we walked back to our starting point, having covered around five miles. It is definitely cold today and where the low sun doesn't hit, the frost will stay until we warm up a bit.

I am still, every day, surprised by the clarity of vision I now have in my operated eye and am looking forward to the time when I've finished all this eye business and can get distance glasses and see even better. It's wonderful to live in a time when this commonplace surgery is available to people like me on Medicare. I am grateful.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Pine and Cedar Lakes, and Raptor Ridge

First light coming through the trees
Eighteen Senior Trailblazers came out today, on a wonderful sunny (but cold) morning to hit the Pine and Cedar trail and make a side trip to Raptor Ridge as well. This is the trail that gives you more than a thousand feet of elevation in just over a mile and a half. Here's a good description of the entire trail. It says that this is "possibly the toughest 1-2 mile stretch in the Chuckanuts," and I have to agree. The last time I did it I thought I would never do it again, but lo and behold, there I was, happy to be there and grunting my way up the steep hill.
Richard helping Lisa over a downed tree
First we headed down the trail to Cedar Lake, and Al wanted to be sure we went to the Overlook, since we would most likely have a wonderful view of Mt. Baker and the Sisters. We had a couple of downed trees that we had to navigate, and after I made it across, thanks to Richard's help, I captured him helping Lisa to make it over. And sure enough, this is what we saw at the Overlook.
Mt. Baker on the left and the Sisters to its right
I have been here many times before, but usually we have no view at all. Today it could not have been better. The still air and sunshine warmed us up nicely, but with the sun so low in the sky all day, it never did feel balmy unless we were in full sun. Like this:
Most of our large group today
No wind, full sun, and happy Trailblazers posing for a picture at my behest. You can see why so many of us came out today; it was perfect weather for hiking in the Chuckanuts, and we had such great company! We are standing here looking in the direction of Cedar Lake, which was simply beautiful on this perfect December day.
Icy boardwalk and ice-covered stick
As we walked carefully on those frozen boardwalks to the lake, I saw this frozen stick looking quite elegant in the water. It was treacherous, walking on those boards, but I was careful not to slip. And then we walked back to the trail and headed over to Pine Lake.
Pine Lake with a little ice
This lake, not far from Cedar Lake, had some ice on it, as you can see here. It doesn't get a great deal of sunshine at this time of the year, but look at those golden trees on the left! Still a beautiful place to visit, even now.
Lou Ann on Raptor Ridge
After a short discussion, we decided to make a side trip over to Raptor Ridge, where we would stop to have lunch. Lou Ann is a fairly new Trailblazers, and I was able to capture her with the sun shining in her hair. If you look very carefully at the horizon, you can also see Mt. Rainier, very faint but definitely visible today. It's rare we actually have a chance to see it.

And then it was time to return to the cars and make our way back down those steep 1.7 miles. My knees did better today than last year, so I am very happy. By the way, I want to apologize to anybody who was waiting for my last Tuesday's post. Obviously, I forgot, and I will try not to let myself get buried so deeply in a book next week that I forget my blogging duties, accidental though it was.

All in all, I only missed one week on the trails, and my surgeon has given me the All Clear to rejoin my usual exercise routine. What a day it was, and I was thrilled to be one of the magical eighteen.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

A Diamond Jubilee

Making a wish with Lily and Hedi
I had a simply wonderful Diamond birthday yesterday. You can see me here making a wish as I celebrated with my friends. I'm wearing the new vest that Lily gave me, and a beautiful red rose from Hedi. We enjoyed a strawberry cake that was filled with everything but calories, according to Lily (I didn't believe her but enjoyed it no matter how many calories).  Notice I am NOT wearing my glass because my new eye allows me to see incredibly well without modifying the old eye. Oh Joy!
John's cranberry and my chocolate and coconut almond ice cream
My friend John took me to Mallard's Ice Cream Shoppe on a rainy and cold day for me to enjoy a double scoop of the best ice cream in the world. By the time I finished it, I vowed never to eat ice cream again for awhile, feeling more than a little full. But it tasted so good while it was going down.

I received other gifts and many best wishes for the day on Facebook, but these will do for now. What a great thing to have such wonderful friends and family for my Diamond Jubilee birthday! And now I'm sharing it with my other dear friends, my virtual community. Here's a picture of me and SG taken last evening.
Two happy septuagenarians

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Day 2 post-op

This morning's coffee and my eyeglass
Today I walked to the bus (in the rain, of course) and took myself down to the coffee shop at the usual time. Although you cannot see it well, on my closed iPad are my eyeglasses, sans the left lens, therefore they are now my eyeglass. I am using my glasses so that I can see distance with the old lens, and am now happily using my brand-new intra-ocular lens to see out of my left eye. It's always been my weakest eye, but now it's carrying me along to magnificent vision. I am thrilled with the ability I now have to see clearly at about 18 inches, and it is simply amazing me how bright and clear everything is. I didn't know how much my eyesight had deteriorated. My other eye will be operated on in two-and-a-half weeks, and I am supposed to take it easy this week until I get the All Clear to exercise normally again. That will happen on December 6, so I will be administering three different eyedrops three times a day until then, and then will cut back to two drops two times a day.

I still have missing vision in that left eye, that didn't change, but it's much less pronounced now that I am no longer so awfully nearsighted, with more light streaming in as well. Today after the coffee shop I went to the Y, not to take any classes, but to ride the exercise bike. It's a sitting design, so I didn't have to make any moves that might cause me to raise the ocular pressure in my eye. I'm debating whether it might be all right for me to take a class tomorrow if I'm careful.
Today's hiking group, taken by Melanie
Normally, I would have joined this group, but I couldn't, not today. It snowed a little on these intrepid hikers, and you might not believe me if I told you I wish I could have been there, but it's true. I know how good I feel after I get outdoors in all weather and get my heart rate up. That wouldn't have been a good idea. But next week, after the All Clear, I'll be back!

Tomorrow is my birthday, so I'll be celebrating with my dear friends and hubby, without a whole lot of sugar, but I decided that one thing I really want to indulge in is some ice cream (okay maybe a little sugar), no matter how cold it is outside. So, that will be one present I'll enjoy giving myself.
Melanie also sent me this picture of the always-changing waterfall. Last time I saw it there was hardly any water in it, but that's changed with our recent rainfall totals. I'm hoping to see some of these sights again soon, with new and improved eyes!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

One down, one to go

In the Recovery Room
My faithful partner took this picture of me when they let him come into the Recovery Room. It was not exactly a "non-event," as my friend Joy said when she had hers done, but I felt well taken care of and safe, as the surgeon went about his business. I was the ninth patient of the day, with two more after me before he would be done for the day.

I was glad for the sedative, because I was trembling from fear and cold as I waited for it all to begin. It's a busy place. I watched the light show as he worked. The only real discomfort I felt was when he placed the new lens inside my eye. And now, although I still have some residual happy feeling from the drugs, I can also feel that the eye will be sore once it all wears off and is in need of plenty of rest, so I'll make this short.

But I sure won't be nearly as much of a basket case when I return in three weeks to have the other eye done, because I now know the procedure and am no longer scared. I go back for the post-op appointment tomorrow, when he'll remove the eye patch and give instructions for the interminable number of drops I'll be placing in the new eye. I'm supposed to take it pretty easy until I've gotten the one week checkup. I'll be able to walk and take the bus to the coffee shop, but I think I'll wait until I get the all clear before going back to my regular exercise routine.

I'm looking forward to seeing what I'll be seeing tomorrow! Until then, I'm going to let SG wait on me. He's willing, so why not?

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Favorite memories

Long ago and far away
I was sitting in bed this Saturday morning, reading my favorite blogs and thinking about the day, when I realized that I would be writing a post today and had no idea what I might want to write about. Then I began to think about memories I've shared that tell a story of love. This picture was taken a half century ago by my then-husband. That's actually me, with my little son Chris in a Michigan forest in winter. It's a picture I've cherished for many years. It has a feeling of sacred joy, to me, and I vaguely remember being there. We were looking at a bird in a nearby tree.

That wonder and joy still lives inside me, and I begin this season with it rising in my heart. I am thankful for all the little things that give me pleasure, like rising before the sun and making my way to join the ladies for our Saturday walk. Life is good.
Me in front, SG in back
I spent more than a quarter of a century jumping out of airplanes for fun and pleasure, and I met my wonderful partner through skydiving. Although it's now in the past, I'll never forget the fun we had flying our pretty parachutes around after a delightful time playing together in freefall. I cherish those memories and will as long as I live.
Melanie took this picture of us towards the end of our hike
And now, for as long as I can, I'll be spending every Thursday of the summer months hiking in the High Country, grateful for every single day I can do it with my dear senior companions. That's me in front, with Linda, Peggy, Noriko and Bob. In the winter months we still hike, just closer to home, rain or shine. This coming week I'll have to miss it, since I'll be a couple days past my first cataract surgery and will not yet be comfortable spending an entire day outdoors.

I have a pile of books next to my favorite chair, some from the library, some purchased, but all awaiting my attention. Yes, life is good. I hope you are enjoying your weekend, too.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Gratitude Thursday

Our Thanksgiving table
What a fine Thanksgiving spread we had... yesterday. SG and I decided to celebrate Thanksgiving one day early so we could have today, Thursday, to do whatever else we might want with a day completely without any expectations.

The first thing I did was hop in my friend John's truck (along with my friend Lily) to have an adventure seeking some coffee. Not only is my gym closed, but our regular place Avellino's was closed, too. We drove around in the rain looking for a place to have a good cup of coffee. All the places that I knew of were closed as well. We ended up at Starbuck's, which we usually avoid because the quality of the coffee doesn't hold a candle to our favorite spot. Another Avellino renegade was already there, and while we talked over coffee, Gene called me from the beach in Hawaii. I put the phone on Speaker, and we had quite a nice chat together.

This was the ninth year that Gene has gifted us with our Thanksgiving Alaskan salmon. I'm not sure that we will do it again next year, because Gene sold his boat and won't be going fishing in Alaska every summer any more. All good things come to an end eventually, but I must say I have really enjoyed his salmon as the best I've ever tasted.

After I got back home,  I decided to binge-watch the rest of the Stranger Things season 2. Although I don't usually enjoy scary movies, this series is campy enough to not be quite so terrifying. By "campy," I mean over the top and farcical, making it possible for me to handle the gruesome bits.

We had the most amazing weather yesterday. We reached 68°F (20°C) for the first time ever at this time of the year. It broke the previous record set in 1995 by eight degrees! Mild and windy, I was more than surprised at our wacky weather. Today it's back to normal temperatures and raining, naturally.

I start my eye drops on Sunday for the first cataract surgery set for Tuesday. Then it will be nonstop eye drops for months, if I consider both eyes. By Christmas I'll be all set with new eyes and new eyeglasses for distance vision. Wow! What a cool time to be alive. I'm grateful for the possibility to have better sight. And for much, much more, too numerous to list it all. However, one important thing I'm grateful for is YOU, my dear reader. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Short and dreary days

Railroad Avenue this wet morning
This picture was taken right at sunrise today, not that you could see any sun. It has been raining for days and will continue for many more. I was walking to the coffee shop in full rain gear, feeling the wind and rain in my face as I navigated my way down the dark street. At this time of year, our sunrise is at 7:28am and sunset is at 4:23pm. That gives us less than nine hours of sunlight, if we could see it, that is.

And we are on our way to the winter solstice, which happens a month from now, when we will have just a little over eight hours between sunrise and sunset. (I was going to say eight hours of sunlight, but that is a little optimistic, given the amount of rain we are likely to endure.) At least in the High Country, it'll be snowing, and I will hopefully get a chance to get out there and use my new Microspikes. Down here it's just rain, rain, rain.
Wet leaves are pretty, though
I will be wracking my brain trying to think about what I might write about on Thursday, since I won't be hiking. Oh, wait! I know, how about Thanksgiving? Have a great one yourselves.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Ferry terminal and more

Ellen's mural at the Ferry Terminal
One of the walks we ladies like to do on Saturday mornings is to the Bellingham Ferry Terminal from downtown, a round-trip walk of around five miles or so. I wanted to see the new mural that has been painted by my friend Ellen, and there it is, in the upper window. We discussed whether it was something for the season, and then we saw that Santa is on top of the ferry! Yep, it's that time of the year.
A 75th birthday present for me!
My friend Melanie gifted me with something for my upcoming birthday, with the hope that I'll have a reason to return to the hiking group after my cataract surgery. I texted her that she has given me a very "pointed" reason to return so I can use them! Aren't they fabulous? She has a pair and says they are miles better than the current version of trekking-on-snow aids I am using (Yak Trax). I am also really pleased that as a septuagenarian, I can receive and use such a present!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Lily, Lizard and lots of laughter

Our group of thirteen today (me taking the picture)
What a great day! We had thirteen Senior Trailblazers hike up the south side of Blanchard Mountain, from the Upper Trailhead. We hiked up a gentle slope until we got to the first trail junction. We decided to go ahead and hike to Lizard Lake first and then take the connector trail from there to Lily Lake and Max's Shortcut, and then head back down. Al calls these hikes "lollipops" because we start and end on the same trail, but have a loop in between.
Misty trees
We expected rain at some point during the day, but the forecast didn't indicate heavy rain, just showers. Although we have been fooled now and then, we only had a few little raindrops fall on us for the entire time we were out playing in the woods.
Lizard Lake today
Lizard Lake was shrouded in mist, but it was quite pretty as we bundled up against the breeze coming off the lake. It was still early for a lunch stop, so we decided to head up towards North Butte, which is where the connector trail is going to Lily Lake. As we climbed (which was welcome, since we'd all gotten a bit chilly standing around discussing our options), a few light sprinkles caused us to don our rain gear. For my friends who like maps, here's a map of the Blanchard Mountain trails.
Yep, it's time for a little rain gear, all right
We didn't have Al with us today, but Ward (who we haven't seen in quite awhile) set a very nice pace on the entire hike. We ascended from Lizard Lake to the connector trail. And then off we went towards Lily Lake after having made our decision not to go up to the viewpoint.
Lily Lake in the mist
It was getting close to lunchtime when we reached Lily Lake, but the same cool breeze we felt while at Lizard Lake made the possibility of stopping here not too appealing. We decided to head down Max's Shortcut and possibly find a place out of the wind to stop for lunch. That's just what we did. I bundled up with all the warm clothing I had brought with me, and I was just fine. We climb somewhere around 2,000 feet of elevation on this hike, so we had both the humidity and the breeze to contend with as we ate a rather quick lunch.
Our canopy of trees
We spent a lot of time laughing and carrying on like a bunch of teenagers rather than old folks, and I had a moment when I just had to stop to give thanks for this wonderful group and the lovely place I live. Bob had just returned from a trip to Asia, and he also said he is grateful for being able to come home to such a lovely part of the world. We are indeed blessed.
Heading back down the mountain
And then it was time to gather up our stuff and head back down. Once we reached the final turn back to the cars, we had descended enough altitude and been hiking quickly enough to begin to take off some of our extra clothes. No rain at all for the last part of the journey back.
Me, almost back to the beginning
Melanie took this picture of me just before we reached the cars. Back at the trailhead, we discussed how far we had gone once we changed into our comfy shoes and shed our rain gear. We finally agreed it was somewhere around eight miles or so. It was a simply lovely day, and everyone wished each other a Happy Thanksgiving and several of the the Trailblazers wished me a successful surgery before we meet again. Another fine day!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

And so it begins

Not me, but it could be
Yesterday, I went for my pre-op appointment for cataract surgery on my left eye. SG went with me, and after we left, I actually began to feel excited for the possibility of seeing more clearly. Two weeks from today! It's true that with the AMD (age-related macular degeneration), my vision won't be perfect, but according to my surgeon, it should be much better. I learned all about the procedure and how it's done. I like the surgeon and trust him, which is important when one is going through any kind of surgery.
Teeny-tiny little lens
Once the cataract is removed, this little lens will be inserted through a small opening. Those little "arms" are designed to hold it in place. It's folded up like a taco and opens up into the space where my cloudy lens resided. The most important period is the first week, and after that I should be mostly healed. Of course, I was treated to a litany of all the things that COULD go wrong and I had to sign a release form. But after many days of researching it all (not recommended for the faint of heart), I now am beginning to look forward to it. Sort of.

The whole procedure only takes a few minutes, and from the time I go into the operating room until I come out is about an hour. I'll have an eye patch and a severely dilated pupil, which will take up to 48 hours to return to normal. I'll hopefully be showing you a picture of something interesting. That week I'll miss the hike, but unless I have complications, I'll be back on the trail the following week.

I sure am glad I live in these amazing times when we can have such improvement in our quality of life, and for the most part, it's covered by Medicare. I'll end up making a co-pay of $400 per eye, which I consider a bargain. Wow!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Coffee shop excitement

Me, John, Gene
Really, there was a time when we used to talk to each other. We've gone the way of most of the rest of America, I guess, staring at a screen. Our friend RJ was in line to get coffee when he snapped this picture on his phone. I notice that the other two people in the picture are also engrossed in their gadgets. These days, one or the other of us holds up our tablet to share a particularly interesting picture or video; otherwise, we are all lost in our own worlds. A sad commentary on what passes for conversation. We do sometimes close them all up and talk, but it's not often: usually when we've been shamed into it.

However, I do find it easier to read the news online rather than turn on the TV, because I get to choose to read what interests me and skip the rest. Plus, there are no commercial interruptions unless I accidentally click on one of those annoying popups. It's become more and more common for me to read digitally rather than read words on a page. I do resist reading novels and other books online (for the most part) because I love the feeling of having a book in my hands.

This morning we ladies walked around five miles in overcast conditions, but before Lily and I returned home, it had begun to rain. It looks like it will continue for several days. Good thing I don't mind the rain all that much and prefer to load up on rain gear rather than stay holed up inside!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Chanterelle, anyone?

An old favorite with a new name
Fourteen Senior Trailblazers met at the Senior Center to hike on another rainy day. We have done a version of this hike for many years, but recently the Forest Service and volunteers have given it a facelift: a new name and plenty of good trail work to make it a much more interesting trail. I enlarged the trail description so you can read it:
We didn't find any mushrooms today
We have called this hike by different names, but basically this has been the starting point for a nine-mile hike up the south side of Stewart Mountain, containing lots of bushwhacking and whatnot to get to what would not be much of a view today. Here's a post from 2013, so you can see what the entire hike looks like in the spring. Today we sauntered up the Chanterelle trail to the overlook. The work they've done on the trail makes it much less steep and adds a little distance as well.
Overlooking Whatcom Lake
We had a little light rain, nothing like last week's deluge. This rain is what I consider to be more indicative of Pacific Northwest weather. Some of us had ponchos, and I got this picture to show our colorful array.
Frank, Joy, me, Kirk
Everyone looks at their picture and comments about some aspect of their appearance. I couldn't help but notice how SHORT I am compared to everyone else. But these are all especially tall people, I tell myself. See the nice gravel at the overlook? That's new, along with several new switchbacks on the way up, making the trail much easier to navigate.
Three people are not in the picture, I'm not sure why
We gathered for a group photo, and I'm not sure who took it. Dianne, Rick, and Melanie are not in it, so it was one of them. You can see that we are all a little bit wet, but nothing we hardy souls can't handle easily. It helped that it wasn't all that cold, although a light breeze had picked up after awhile, so we moved on up the mountainside.

Since our next section was uphill, we were plenty warm by the time we got to our lunch spot. Although it was still early, nobody really wanted to continue up higher on the logging road, so we spread out and enjoyed a nice stop out of the wind. And somewhere along the way, the rain quit.
Lovely leaves
As we headed back down, we fully expected the rain to begin again, so nobody took much rain gear off. It's partly out of superstition: once we think we're clear of the rain and act accordingly, it's like a neon sign to the elements. We had lots of beautiful spots like this one as we made our way through fallen leaves on the trail, and although we never saw the sun all day, nobody was unhappy to have it remain nice and dry. We covered around seven-and-a-half miles and 2,000 feet up and down, so it was a good workout.

Home early, being warm and cozy, it's even too early for my wine. It won't be long, though; I am feeling quite content and happy to have been outside with my good friends today.