Wednesday, January 31, 2018

This is embarrassing

Dirty Dan hanging out in the rain
Yes, I know: this is yesterday's post, once again being composed on a Wednesday. At the coffee shop this morning, John said, "Hey, you didn't write a post yesterday." I was aware of that, but it wasn't until the middle of the night last night when I realized I had, once again, forgotten.

I snagged that picture of the statue of Dirty Dan, whose website tells me that he was considered the founder of Fairhaven, off of Facebook. I see this statue in various states, from covered with rain like this, to wearing a considerate woolen scarf when it's really cold, and in the summer he's been known to sport sunglasses. The birds like to sit with him sometimes, too.

Anyhow, this time next week I'll be with my sister Norma Jean, and hopefully I'll be enjoying the Y's outdoor pool with her. She swims more than a mile every weekday, but I'll be lucky to last for twenty minutes. Then I'll go inside and ride the stationary bicycle while I wait for her to finish. I looked at the weather ahead, and it looks like it will be in the mid-70s and just about perfect! Wish I could just transport myself there, but I'll be spending the entire day on Monday in travel mode.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Lake Padden walks over the years

Yoga moves in September
For some reason I didn't even think about pulling out my camera this morning when we ladies walked around Lake Padden. I've been doing this trail with the Fairhaven walkers for several years now, and I knew I'd have plenty of pictures in my files to choose from. I got lost in time going through them, realizing that it was January 2010 when I first started joining the ladies. Cindy has been leading these Saturday morning walks for more than a decade, and many of the women who started with her back then never stopped. We come and go, but every month she posts where the walks will begin, along with the scheduled route, and if you make it by the early hour (8:00am) you are most welcome.

That first picture was taken on a September morning, as I saw a woman on the deck practicing her yoga routine. The weather was fine that day. Today, it wasn't raining but boy was the wind blowing! I see that we had gusts over 30mph, making the temperature feel much colder than it was. We managed two trips around the lake anyway, and then some of us headed over to the local cafeteria for coffee. We have become real friends over the years, and it makes me realize how much I look forward to our times together.
A much colder February walk
We come on these walks rain or shine, but Cindy will cancel any walk where there is a chance of ice on the trails. We had one cancellation earlier this winter, but so far we have mostly lucked out with the weather. Of course we always come prepared for rain, but sometimes, like this morning, the rain waits for us to finish walking before the skies open. Lake Padden is always visited at least once each month, and for some of us it's a favorite. Twice around is exactly 5.2 miles, our average distance: sometimes we go a bit more or a bit less, depending on where we are.

I hope I will have many more years of traveling around Lake Padden with this group, in rain, sunshine, wind, and the occasional glorious perfect weather.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Trailblazers go rogue

Peggy, Mike, Heather, Kirk, Chris, Sue, Linda, Ward
We had no leader again today, and nobody was exactly thrilled about driving more than a half hour to walk in the rain at Deception Pass, which was what was on the schedule. I had in mind that I'd join the second group today, but then heard from Chris that maybe our group would decide to hike somewhere closer to home. I headed down to the Senior Center to see who showed up, and here are the culprits, plus me behind the camera.

We decided to drive the much shorter distance to the Chanterelle trail near Lake Whatcom, since we didn't have a sign-in sheet, and it was pretty much up to us what we would do. Rain was in the forecast for either location, and this hike can be shortened or lengthened depending on how we felt.
Moss and ferns growing right out of the tree
We do live in a very wet part of the country, and these scenes of licorice ferns and moss-covered trees have become a familiar sight to me, but I am still not so accustomed to it that I don't still love to see and share these scenes with you.
Snow on hills, Lake Whatcom behind the tree
The Chanterelle trail leads to this viewpoint, and I tried to capture both the fresh snow on the opposite hillside and the lake below us. We climbed to this point and decided, since it wasn't raining yet but snowing lightly, that we'd continue on for awhile until we were ready to turn around.
First snow on the trees
As we climbed, the snow continued to fall, a distinct improvement on rain. It's funny how much less daunting a few snowflakes are than a similar amount of precipitation in the form of rain. By the time we reached the power line section of the trail, the ferns were covered with snow.
Ward and Linda in front of white ferns
Moisture in the air makes these power lines sing. We were treated to loud buzzing and humming as we crossed under them, almost sounding like a roaring waterfall. Sometimes they are quiet, but not today.
This was our turnaround point
By the time we had climbed into the open areas, the wind was strong and the snow kept falling. We decided to turn around, giving us somewhere between 6.5 and 7 miles of hiking by the time we reached our cars. We stopped for a quick lunch at the viewpoint, but as usual when we stop, we began to get chilled so we hurried on back down the 2.5 miles of the Chanterelle trail.
Heading back down
We were back to the Senior Center not long after 1:00pm, making a short day for us, and by this time the rain was light but steady, with no sign of snow in the lower elevations. I'm very glad I went; the day was enjoyable and the company, as usual, was perfect.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A mixed bag of news

Ursula K. LeGuin 1929–2018
I was just sitting here minding my own business and waiting for enough time to pass for me to head out the door for a meeting. I am NOT a fan of evening meetings or driving at night, but this is a monthly meeting about the volunteer work I do for the Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement (WAHA). We are in the process of updating the Advance Directive form that I and others help people to fill out so that our clients can have Health Care Power of Attorney, in case something happens and they cannot speak for themselves. It's been very rewarding work, but I must occasionally attend these.

And in checking the news before I left, I just learned that Ursula K. LeGuin, one of my favorite writers of all time, has just died. She was 88 and died at her home in Portland, Oregon, surrounded by family. The New York Times obituary is here. If you are not familiar with her work and why so many of us are saddened by her passing, it will help to explain it.

But the other news I have is really good: my blogging friend Ronni Bennett has just finished seven months of treatment after her Whipple surgery for pancreatic cancer and is at present deemed to be cancer free. She wrote a wonderful post about it. The comments are also very uplifting, if you want to take the time to read them.

In a few minutes, I'll head out the door and will be glad I went to the meeting, I'm sure.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Siberia knows what cold means

Anastasia Gruzdeva in Yakutsk, Russia
You might already have seen this picture: it was all over my Facebook feed, as well as in the Chicago Tribune this week. I saw it and was fascinated by her eyelashes and had to share it with you. The entire article is here. I not only noticed her eyelashes, but also the fact that she seems to be wearing iPhone earbuds as she took her selfie. Well, that says something about the resilience of the phone's battery, don't you think? According to the article, it was way below anything I could imagine, somewhere around minus 80°F. Yikes!
Here come the walkers
This morning it was downright balmy here in Bellingham, temperature well above freezing and a chance of rain (it didn't, really, but last night's rain is evident in this shot). We walked around Zuanich Park, a short one of between four and five miles. Some of us then went off to join the Women's March for Peace and Justice in solidarity with several more cities around the country.
Colorful flags and blue skies
By the time I arrived at City Hall for the march, there were thousands of people already there. It was probably a smaller gathering than a year ago, but there were many more people with signs bearing a positive message this year. With the same sense of being around so many people demonstrating our right to peaceful assembly, something not everyone around the world is able to do, I was so pleased to be a part of this wonderful and harmonious crowd.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Today was a No Rainer

Halina, MaryLou, Frank, Victoria, Chris, Linda, Ward, Melanie
Today nine Senior Trailblazers drove to Gates Overlook to begin our hike, fully expecting the forecast rain, but we didn't have a drop! Not one. I believe it was partly because of Melanie's rain pants and pack cover; she was convinced it was just a matter of time before the rain moved in. I like to think perhaps it was also averaging things out after last week's torrential rain (we set a record for rainfall for the date, so it really wasn't my imagination).
Down the Rock trail
Chris acted as our leader, since Al didn't join us, but he had sent us all a map so we knew the route. Although it was muddy in spots, our out-and-back began at the Rock trail, where we made our way down the steep stairs until we met the South Lost Lake trail. We followed it until we got to the junction of the North and South Lost Lake trails, and we headed up the North trail.
This way, right?
From here, we had just one more intersection to pay attention to, and then we would be on the Raptor Ridge trail. It was really nice to have Chris set the pace and keep us on the correct trails. I didn't take any pictures once we reached Raptor Ridge, because the wind was fierce and I had no interest in sticking around up there. It was still early, so we headed back down to find a place for lunch.
Linda doing Peggy's pit warmer trick
We stopped on the side of the trail on our way back to the Rock trail and had lunch. It wasn't exactly warm, and after Linda finished her lunch she was trying to warm her hands by sticking them in her armpits, something I see Peggy doing quite often after stopping for awhile.
Melanie among the ferns
Before we got going again, I noticed how pretty Melanie looked against the green ferns, with her light hair and gentle smile. I asked her to hide her light-colored hat behind her back so it wouldn't detract from the picture.
Nature's decorated tree
On our way back to our cars, we passed by this tree without noticing it on the way in, and we joked that here in the Pacific Northwest, it doesn't take long for moss to form: maybe it had happened in just those few hours. It is pretty but a little spooky.
Rock trail stairs
The only real problem for me, today, was going back up the steep Rock trail stairs after having eaten lunch. I was lagging behind the others, and as a ploy to get them to slow down a little, I asked for a picture. We were almost back to our starting point here, having hiked a good eight miles or so with significant elevation gain and loss.

It was all in all a very good day, and I am now happy to be inside, safe and warm. And thanking the weather gods for our No Rainer!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

All about being in the right place

From PetaPixel
I saw this picture on Facebook yesterday and was really fascinated by its beauty and wondered how it was taken. An airline pilot, Santiago Borja, captured it while his plane was circling around the storm on its way to South America. Here's what he said about it (from that link):
"Storms are tricky because the lightning is so fast, there is no tripod, and there is a lot of reflection from inside light,” he told the Post. Still, somehow, the seasoned pilot who calls flying and photography his “two greatest passions” managed to get the shot.
The article also includes Santiago's website, which I just now checked out. It's filled with more astounding weather pictures. "The Post" mentioned in the above quote is referring to an article he wrote for the Washington Post about his picture. Which reminds me, I saw the movie The Post this past weekend and loved it!

I offer this as my mea culpa for not writing a post yesterday. There'll be another taken on tomorrow's probably rainy hike.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Trying to stay healthy

Me, Carrie, John
A couple of weeks ago, Carrie (the manager of Avellino's) gifted some of the old timers, including John and me, some knitted Avellino's hats, shown in the picture above. Carrie is wearing one, too, but you wouldn't know it if I didn't say so.

This is becoming quite a flu season, isn't it? So many people I know have gotten sick, flu shot or not, and every time I touch a handle used by many people, I stop to wash my hands once again. John succumbed to a bad bout with the flu, even though he got a high-test flu shot a few months back. He ended up spending the last week in the hospital, and I got to see him for the first time in a week this morning when Lily and I went there for coffee before heading off for our usual Saturday morning walk.

John spent four nights in the hospital and was really, really sick. He was given Tamiflu and IV hydration, along with medication for his sodium level, which had tanked. The reason he spent so much time in the hospital is that they couldn't seem to bring it up very quickly. John eats a LOT of salt, so I was surprised to find this had happened to him. I looked it up online and found that there are several reasons it might have gone so low. The medical condition is called hyponatremia.

Anyway, he was at the coffee shop this morning looking a little worn out and not exactly brimming over with energy, but upright at least. He said all he wants to do is sleep, which he intended to do once he returned home after coffee and a bagel. I'll see him again in the morning for our usual Sunday meeting, and I'm hoping by then he will be feeling better. This is a strong flu, and I'm sure hoping I can keep from getting it myself. Several women on the walk are in the process of recovering from being sick, too.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Alger Alp 2018

Squires Lake in the rain
Who's afraid of a little rain? Not seven Senior Trailblazers who set out in the rain and never had even a little respite in the more than three hours we spent outside today. Here it is, hours later, and the rain is still drumming steadily on the roof as I sit here composing this post.
Chris' new rain hat
There was not a lot to photograph today, but I did notice Chris' brand-new rain hat sparkled with raindrops and demonstrated how the well-dressed hiker might approach today's onslaught. We all had rain pants, hats, and raincoats, but even so, by the time we were done, there were many spots where the rain had encroached into our warm and mostly dry setups.
The best view I could get today
We did make it to the viewpoint that overlooks the valley and I-5 traffic roaring down below us, traveling north-south. That rock on the right has been the place where I've taken pictures in previous years, but today it was slick with rain and nobody really wanted to stick around too long. Although there was no breeze at this time, it did begin to pick up towards the end of the hike.
Richard, Frank and Richard (back)
Melanie, Chris, Mike (and me taking the shot)
This picture was taken just before we decided to skip lunch and head for the Senior Center to finish up the day inside, where we could enjoy it. The cold wind was the deciding factor for me.
Well planned lunch spot
Yes, this was definitely the best place to have our lunch, rather than huddled under a dripping tree and shivering as we tried to eat soggy sandwiches and put on a brave smile. Here we meant our smiles when we sat down to good conversation and warmth as we dispelled our dampness. Not exactly a wonderful environment on our hike today, but I am still very glad I went, and very glad to be safely home, warm, and dry.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Dreaming about summer

Mt. Baker in all her summertime glory
Sigh. Even though Mt. Baker is covered with snow year round, right now she's looking a lot more white than she does in this picture, taken in midsummer from Welcome Pass. I will be going out on Thursday this week, not to the High Country where this was taken, but into the lowlands. It's just as well, since it's supposed to be very wet and windy. Although we have been fooled in the past and gotten away with moderate conditions when it was supposed to be bad, we may not be so lucky this week.

No matter, I'll be there, rain pants and coat and hat, all ready for whatever comes our way. I won't be alone, either: it amazes me to see how many of the Senior Trailblazers are willing to forge on ahead through it all. Maybe we'll see a rainbow, who knows? Think positive.

And all this rain and snow makes for some magnificent scenery in the summertime, so it's all good. I've been known to grumble about the weather, but when you're with like-minded company, it's so much easier to take!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

First Saturday walk of 2018

Whatcom Falls Park
This morning was our first regular walk of the new year, and we had twice the number of walkers as we did on New Years Day. It was another day where it rained all night and then stopped just in time for us to enjoy ourselves in dry conditions. Way out in front you see our leader Cindy in the pink jacket. I was actually in the middle of the pack, with about the same number behind me as well. We walked around Whatcom Falls Park, along Whatcom Creek, which leads from Lake Whatcom to Bellingham Bay.
Heading back down 
Then we walked UP the city streets to Big Rock Garden Park to add a little distance. I was huffing and puffing on the way up, but when I stopped to take a quick picture, the ladies began to get away from me, so I only took the one and tried to catch up. After a lovely dry walk of about five miles, we met up afterwards for some coffee before heading off into our day. My favorite way to start the weekend!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A fun hike without any rain

Me at the starting point of today's hike
Although this picture of me (taken by Melanie) shows the sign at the beginning of our hike, it was actually taken at the end, after almost nine miles and around 2,200 feet of elevation gain and loss. Sixteen Trailblazers hiked the trail without Al leading us; instead, Chris and Richard took over the reins. But Al had figured out the itinerary and sent it along with them.
Admiring a waterfall on the trail
We started out on the Two Dollar trail to Fragrance Lake, and then went up the South Lost Lake trail until it split and then we meandered up the Rock trail. It was a good group, although there was an element of "herd hiking" with so many of us, and some I either had never met before or only knew slightly. With that many people, it's hard to spend time with everybody.
South Lost Lake trail in winter
The leaves are all off the trees, making for a definite winter scene, but the weather was mild and rain, which was in the forecast, didn't dampen us at all; the rain was expected later in the day, but you never know for sure, so we were ready.
Making our way up the steps on the Rock trail
As we were hiking up the Rock trail to Gates Overlook, I saw this picture of six of our numbers looking very picturesque, so I entreated them to stop for a picture. That's Bob and then Katie, Louann, Mike, Melanie, and our leader, Chris.
Some of the massive rocks
I have now seen this trail in many conditions, gone up sometimes and down sometimes. I much prefer going up it, because it's a hard one on the knees on downhill, at least for me.
The view from Gates Overlook
And then we were at the Overlook, where we stopped for lunch. The Forest Service has recently thinned the trees so that you can actually look down at Bellingham Bay. As you can see, the weather was still not threatening, so we allowed ourselves to enjoy a leisurely lunch before we got too cold.
Smooth Fragrance Lake
After that, we made our way back to Fragrance Lake and walked the rest of the loop (at the top of the Two Dollar trail, you can go either direction to circle the lake) and walked the final 1.7-mile trip back to our cars. It was nice to see them in the distance, as I was wishing my feet could rest a little, and then there they were! Like magic.

It was a very good day, and as I drove home, fat raindrops began to fall on my car's windshield. I smiled to myself and thanked the weather gods for another good day, Al for the great itinerary, and Chris and Richard for leading.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Seven years with these fine women

After our short walk, before snacks
It was seven years ago yesterday when I made my first walk with the ladies. Although we usually meet on Saturday mornings at 8:00am, on the first day of the new year we meet at Lake Padden and go once (or twice sometimes) around the lake before sharing goodies with each other. It's a great way to start things off right.

That first year, I stayed to watch the Polar Bears take their plunge into the frigid icy water. I wrote about it here, if you want to see what some crazy people do to ring in the new year. For a few years after that, I considered taking the plunge myself, but I never did. Now I don't even think about it. Times do change and even old skydivers sometimes starting getting sensible in their old age.
Frosty bench with goodies
Cindy always brings coffee and hot chocolate for afterwards, and several of us bring leftover food from the holidays. Peggy also brought a basket of knitted pot holders for us to take home. I've got several of them from other years; they are the brightly colored items at the far end of the frosty bench. It was a lovely way to begin our New Years Day. Let's hear it for a wonderful, sparkly brand new year!