Thursday, February 20, 2020

Fabulous February fun

West Beach at Deception Pass State Park
Today was a day like we haven't had in what seems like ages: full sun with little breeze, temperatures rising all day long to almost warm! (10°C or 51°F) Nineteen Senior Trailblazers drove down to Deception Pass State Park to hike up to Goose Rock. I know I swore I would never do this hike again after the last one, when we were subjected to nonstop Growler jets overhead. But Melanie found a website that showed us today's skies should be much less noisy, with only a few afternoon sorties starting farther south of us.
Indian plum in bloom
We saw signs of an early spring everywhere, along with the great weather. This is the first bloom I've seen this year in nature, other than domestic ones in town. I look forward to our first trillium, which can't be far away now.
Hikers passing under a madrona tree
There are so many beautiful madrona trees in this area, and I have enjoyed them every time we've come here. Today was no exception. We circumnavigated Goose Rock before the day was done, but because of some trail closures, we took a bit of a different route than usual to the top.
Our magnificent view as we ate lunch
We sat in our usual place at the top of Goose Rock, enjoying the beautiful view, and I didn't even have to put my coat on as I sat in the sunshine. Occasionally we would have a jet pass overhead, but mostly the entire day was just plain delightful. We spent a fair amount of time here, not really wanting to return to the cars too quickly.
Not quite ready to go
In this picture, you can see one of the jets, looking a bit like a stray (and very large) mosquito. Not long after I took this picture, a vulture soared overhead, wings spread to catch the light breeze. And then, reluctantly, we packed up for our return trip.
Mt Baker through the trees
We had many views of Mt Baker as we returned, and we saw a few other mountains in the distance. That first photo shows the Olympic Range, and we saw some others we are rarely able to see, because of the clear skies and lack of clouds.
Deception Pass bridges
We walked down to the beach before we reached the cars, just to spend some time picking up rocks and enjoying the perfect day. There is some kind work being done over there, so I looked it up and found this notice.
At 83 years old, the Deception Pass Bridge and Canoe Pass Bridge are looking really good!  But, it's time for a paint job.  So, starting in May of 2019, crews will be on the job.  They'll be painting the bridge the same color it is now, Evergreen Green.
This will continue for several months, finishing sometime late this year, it seems. In any event, I'm glad they are doing upkeep on these magnificent structures, and it didn't impact us too much on our hike today. We covered just under eight miles by the time we got back to the cars and made our way back to the Senior Center. It was such a great day, and I'm feeling so glad I went along with the others!

Monday, February 17, 2020

One of those days

Lily and her mom
I sent a text to Lily yesterday, telling her how much I have been missing her presence in my day-to-day life, and she sent me this picture of her and her mother. Lily has been in Guatemala for the last two weeks, visiting her mom and hoping she will be able to get through this rough patch. I didn't ask about the prognosis, but I am sure glad Lily has been able to be there. She's missed here, though I know why she had to travel to be with her during this time. You can sure see the resemblance between them.

John must be finished with his urologist's appointment, so I'll find out in the morning what has been decided for his treatment. There are many options for prostate cancer treatment, but since he has a rather aggressive form of it, I suspect the options will be limited. I just want him to get better, selfishly.

On the way to the bus this morning, in early twilight, I saw a woman with her dog on a leash on the sidewalk in front of me. She had stopped at the local kiosk that dispenses doggy doo bags, so I went around them, stepping out into the street from the sidewalk. At least I tried: as soon as the dog saw me, he lunged at me and bit my hand. I was wearing heavy-duty gloves, thank goodness, or it would have been much worse. Here's a picture of the damage:
My glove was not torn, but my skin sure was
The owner said I should never have come up behind the dog, which (she claims) is just a puppy and didn't know any better. Well, it didn't LOOK like a puppy, being around 40-50 pounds, I'd guess, and how was I supposed to know that the dog is so vicious? She had to restrain him in a stranglehold as we yelled back and forth at each other. I left in disgust, but I sure wish I had taken a picture of them so I could report the incident. In any event, I'll be much more circumspect if I ever see those two again.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Rainy day turned out nice

Some of today's hikers posing for a picture
When I walked out to get in my car and join my fellow hikers, the sky was dark and threatening, but it wasn't raining. Yet. By the time the twelve of us gathered at the Senior Center, it was raining big, fat drops. The forecast was not encouraging. We decided not to drive to the Deception Pass area, which was on the schedule, and instead went to the North Chuckanut trailhead to spend some time on Chuckanut Mountain. By the time we started hiking, it was only raining a little.
Kirk and Mel at Huckleberry viewpoint
First, we left the Hemlock trail for the Huckleberry trail that leads up to this viewpoint. Although there is often a good view, as you can see behind Kirk, there's not much of one today. But it was fairly mild and only rained on us a little.
Raptor Ridge (Mel's picture)
Then we headed on up to Raptor Ridge, not expecting a view (and sure enough, we didn't get one), but by this time the wind picked up and the rain as well. Nobody stayed up there for long. It was still a little early for lunch, so we scrambled down out of the wind and made our way back towards the Hemlock trail. Going back this way, we cross over a bridge.
A little rickety, and wet as well
Once we had hiked far enough to get a little bit warmer, out of the wind, we decided to return to the Huckleberry viewpoint for lunch. We had been walking downhill, but the return to the viewpoint meant going uphill for a short bit, and I was glad for it, because I get warm much more quickly when we're heading up.
Thank you, Sir Galahad
Frank, our hike leader today, spread out a poncho onto the bench for us, since it was very wet. (That's him second from the right. Such a gentleman!) We had a rather quick but satisfying lunch. And then it was time to return back down to the cars.
Heading home
By the time we were almost back to the main trail, the rain had stopped and we even saw some sun, just a little, but enough to lift our spirits as we continued our return trip.
This lovely scene is just before we returned to our starting point. As usual, it's more impressive and abundant because of all the recent rain. It made for some muddy spots on the trail, but nothing we hardy hikers couldn't deal with. We covered right around eight miles and 1,800 feet up and down. A good day after all. It reminds me once again that the hardest part is just getting up and going anyway, even when the weather forecast is not the best.

Monday, February 10, 2020

The Oscars 2020

Voice cast of Frozen 2
Yesterday afternoon, my movie-going cohort Judy and I went to the theater to see one of the last movies nominated for Best Picture that we had missed: Jojo Rabbit. It didn't win, but I have to say I really enjoyed the movie. Neither of us had any idea what we would be seeing, but it's a mostly humorous satire set in Germany at the end of World War II. A young boy, Jojo, wants to become a Nazi and is in the Hitler youth trying to prove his mettle to the camp counselors. He is ordered to strangle a rabbit, and he couldn't do it, giving him the nickname.

The director of the movie, Taika Waititi, plays the part of the imaginary Hitler that Jojo sees as a mentor. Somehow Hitler is playful as well as menacing, but it helped to make it less scary, to me at least. The movie did get the award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Anyway, once we got home from the movies, I realized I had missed the first hour of the Oscars, but I watched the rest with real interest. There were no surprises about the four actor awards; they had also won in all the previous award shows. But the Best Picture was a total surprise: Parasite, the first foreign-language movie ever to win the big prize. I saw that movie, too, and would never have picked it for the best of the year. My favorite was Little Women, but the director didn't even get a nomination, so I knew it wouldn't win.I also enjoyed seeing all the gowns and hoopla that always accompanies the Oscars. Several of the acceptance speeches resonated with me. But oh, the dresses! I especially liked Scarlett Johansson's dress. Check them all out here.

That concludes the awards season for the time being. Now I guess I'm going to have to find something else to watch, like Netflix and Hulu stuff so I can avoid most of the political drama; I can only take so much. Did you watch, and if so, what did you think?

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Nice dry Saturday walk

Ladies taking in the view
Today I headed over to the meeting place to start our usual Saturday walk. Some were going to "go flat" while the others would hit the hills and make for a bit harder walk, but after hearing about the view of the falls, we all decided to stay away from the hills and see the falls instead.
Whatcom Falls today
Every time I've seen these falls lately, there has been even more water roaring under the bridge. But the good news is that we do have a few days ahead without any rain, and hopefully many of our flooding rivers can stay within their banks. It's really pretty, though, and quite exciting as well.

After the walk, Hubby and I went to the local Target store to change over from Verizon to Consumer Cellular. Many of my friends and family have already done this, and the difference they are paying in monthly bills was what finally pushed us to make the change. Although I want to buy one of those newest iPhones, I decided to wait to do that at a later time and just get the SIM cards switched out. It was relatively painless, because we had a good tech person to help us.

And now I look forward to saving money, too! Not to mention that we have more text and data than we did before, and should see a bill about a third of the amount we paid to our previous provider.

So now we're beginning to think about severing the link to cable, but I'm in no hurry to leap into that steep learning curve. We've got plenty of time to figure out the best way to do it. The world is changing right before our very eyes!

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Wimped out today

Ten brave wet hikers (Mel took the picture)
I went to the Senior Center this morning, thinking I might be able to deal with the rain, if I would just adjust my attitude a little. But I just couldn't. The wet and cold rain pattered on my hat as I stood around outside and made me grit my teeth, thinking about the day ahead. So I simply didn't go.

At first I thought I'd skip the 8:00am group and go with the relaxed group at 9:00am, but somehow I just couldn't get my head around it at all, and so I left for the Y to get a bit of time in the workout room. I knew I'd miss my step count today, but it still didn't motivate me.

Melanie went with the 9:00am crowd and sent me this picture of their lovely group, which headed up the Pine and Cedar trail, deciding to skip going to Raptor Ridge but still getting out. As you can see from the snapshot, it was quite drizzly and never let up. Now, however, at noon, I see that it's beginning to change over to "showers" from "rain" on the weather app. Too bad, I'm inside and happy to have escaped the fun my friends obviously had.
Trudging up the Pine & Cedar trail
Although I didn't actually get wet today, there's just the tiniest bit of sadness (guilt?) for not being willing to head out in the elements today. The rivulets of water running down the steep trail made me realize that perhaps I'm just getting too old for all this. Then I think, nah: look at these other old geezers making me look bad! I'm hoping for better conditions next week.

Monday, February 3, 2020

A bit of this, a bit of that

Snowdrops through the fence
While walking home this morning from my bus trip downtown (for my usual coffee shop visit and gym workout), I spied my neighbor's snowdrops through their fence, and see that they have begun to emerge from the ground, with some daffodil sprouts as well. And I realized that we have indeed turned the corner from the dark of winter towards spring being just around the corner. (I suspect that those are fake flowers on the right, though.)

When I first woke up two days ago and went outdoors, I was surprised at how warm it was: 51°F (10.5°C). But then all day long the temperature dropped, until we got below freezing that night. This morning it was still cold, but a few degrees warmer. Tonight, however, we are expecting some snow and colder temperatures before a gradual warmup.

I myself would much rather have those pretty snowdrops than actual snowFLAKES. It's true that we are usually blessed with exceptionally mild weather in the winter months, other than a wee bit of rain. We have had so much of the wet stuff that several of our rivers are currently overflowing their banks. The town of Sumas to the northwest is pretty much underwater.
Sumas on Sunday, courtesy Whatcom Emergency Management
Here, however, we aren't suffering quite so much, although make no mistake about it, we are getting just a tiniest bit tired of so much rain.

In other news, although I was rooting for the San Francisco 49ers, I watched the last quarter of yesterday's Superbowl and thoroughly enjoyed it. After all, it had been fifty years since Kansas City had been in the Superbowl, and it made me happy to see their joy at the outcome. It would have been fine either way, for me. It was a good game. If you watched it, I hope you enjoyed it, too.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Back to the Chuckanuts

Pretty waterfall on the Two Dollar trail
Eleven Senior Trailblazers met at the Senior Center to start our usual Thursday hike, with the chance of a break in the constant rain we've had all week long. And sure enough, we didn't have any, for a change. It's expected to start again this afternoon, but we were fortunate to stay dry. But we were ready, just in case.
Fragrance Lake reflections
We had planned to start from Gates Overlook and hike down the Rock trail to Raptor Ridge and back again, but the gate on Cleator Road that would have taken us to the overlook was closed, right at the beginning of the Two Dollar trail, which is becoming very familiar to us this winter. So, instead of Raptor Ridge, we hiked up the almost two-mile-long trail to Fragrance Lake, then over to the closed road. The weather was mild and there was no wind, as you can see from this picture.

From there, we had several choices: some wanted to take the shortest route to Gates Overlook, but that meant hiking up the steep Chinscraper trail. Others wanted to extend the hike a bit and follow the road downward to a trail that would take them to the Upper Ridge trail, which leads to the overlook but is more scenic (and longer) than the road. Then there was the option of just trekking up the closed road to the overlook. We ended up breaking up into three groups: five up Chinscraper, four to the Upper Ridge trail, and two trudging almost a mile to the overlook. I was one of the two.
Mt. Baker and the Sisters
From the road, you get a lovely view of the mountains, so I thought maybe I could get a view through the trees, and here it is. You can see that the clouds were clearing a bit, which surprised me, in a good way. Maybe we'd even see the sun.
The view from Gates Overlook
Once we all gathered together again at the overlook, most of us decided to have an early lunch and decide what to do next. We could just retrace our steps or hike down the Rock trail to the Lost Lake trail and then back to Fragrance Lake and the Two Dollar trail. So that's what we decided to do, even if it would make the hike a little longer.
Lost Lake trail with a little sun
And lo and behold, on our way back, we saw bits of sunshine peeking through the trees. It was a lovely treat to see that yellow light instead of unremitting rain. It was fleeting, but very welcome indeed. By the time we got back down, we had covered around nine miles; some almost ten, those who did the Upper Ridge trail. Our elevation gain and loss was around 2,000 feet.

I am tired now, but not overly so. It was much prettier and easier on our bodies than last week's ten-mile hike on the hard trails in town. I heard stories about unaccustomed blisters, and I know my bunion pained me for days afterwards. Hiking in our lovely forests was much more to my liking, especially with none of the "R" word!

Monday, January 27, 2020

Getting one's feathers ruffled

Are you even listening to me?
I saw this funny picture online, and I just went searching to see if I could find out who took it so I could acknowledge the artist. But no, I couldn't find it at all. It makes me laugh just to look at it and consider just what the birds might be saying to each other. I'll bet some of my readers can come up with some doozies.

When visiting a favorite blog, I saw on the sidebar a website that looked interesting, so I went to visit it. AnvilCloud's blog, called The AC is On, is pretty funny. He recently put up some hospital reports, some of which had me laughing out loud. Here's a short excerpt:
She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life until she got a divorce.
Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.  
The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor. 
Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities. 
When she fainted, her eyes rolled around the room. 
The patient was in his usual state of good health until his airplane ran out of fuel and crashed. 
I have seen these sorts of hospital reports before, but these were all new to me. In any event, this website is filled with humorous posts, so I'll be visiting there often. Hope you will also find something to laugh about in this post, too. After all, laughter is the best medicine.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Indomitable Seniors

Today's Trailblazers (plus me)
With a day scheduled to be wet, wet, wet, I sure didn't expect to see nine others show up this morning. We discussed just what to do, since our scheduled hike would be very muddy and rather uncomfortable in the rain. So we decided to do an in-town hike. We started at the beginning of the Railroad trail and headed out in a pretty steady rain to visit Big Rock Garden and Whatcom Falls.
On the trail
We are very fortunate to have so many options available to us here in Bellingham. The trails are wide and well kept. All the snow we had on these trails last week is long gone, with the warm temperatures and the rain helping to turn everything into passably easy walking. I didn't even wear my hiking boots, since walking on harder surfaces in them is not fun. As it was, I wore a pair of low boots that I figured would be best in these conditions.
Pond with reflections
We followed Al's lead on the trails, as he was using a digital map that helped guide us through the myriad twists and turns. We took the Klipsun trail to Big Rock Garden and had a brief stroll through the park, looking at some of the sculptures. By the time we reached the sculpture garden, the rain had stopped for the moment.
Sculpture and pond
I couldn't tell what this sculpture is supposed to represent, but there is a snake encircling the figure. One hiker said it reminds him of his ex-wife, but softer. Anyway, we left shortly thereafter to head over to the falls.
Roaring Whatcom Falls
Every time I have seen the falls this winter, there is more rushing water, needing us to shout to one another over the din. It is the most amazing sight right now. Compare this picture to one taken last September. You can orient yourself by looking at the round hole in the rock on the left in each picture.
Same falls, different season
We had lunch at the shelter near the falls, and it had begun to rain again. We watched a toddler being pushed in a swing by the mother, impervious to the rain and obviously having a wonderful time, judging by the shouts of joy from the little one. (That would have made for a good shot but I forgot.)

We covered almost ten miles and almost 1,000 feet up and down by the time we returned to our starting point. I must remember next time to wear my bunion guard when hiking on harder surfaces, as it's a bit sore. It was a different kind of hike for us, but thoroughly enjoyable, even in the rain. I was able to have a good conversation with everyone by the time we were done for the day.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Rain will be around awhile

In the mood for a little rain?
I checked out the weather app on my phone to see what to expect for the next few days. Our cold snap is over, and the temperatures are even expected to be a little warmer than normal. We are accustomed to rain here in the Pacific Northwest, but this is a little extreme even for us. Wish there was some way to transfer portions of this wet bounty to places in the world that could use it. Fortunately, Australia is finally getting a little bit of rain, but I suspect it could use even more, and we've got plenty to spare.

It looks as though we'll have some showers to start with, and by Thursday, our hiking day, it will be raining in earnest. Thank goodness I've got all the proper gear. Around here, you can't wait for the rain to stop in order to get some exercise. I just hope we won't have any flooding. At least the warm weather and rain have melted all that snow. There's hardly any left, making walking and driving around much easier. The familiar sound of rain drumming gently on the roof is actually rather soothing.

I have a couple of books to read, one to finish and another one ready to start. Life is feeling pretty good right now, with my aches and pains having taken a break, it seems, and not bothering me.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

No hike for me today

My front steps yesterday morning
It's kind of pretty, with the lights from various sources making elegant patterns on the snow surface covering the steps down into the parking lot. I was not going to try to drive in all that snow, but I was waiting for my friend John to come pick me up on the way to the coffee shop, in his 4-wheel-drive truck. We had somewhere between six and ten inches in our part of town. Some places got close to a foot, I heard. And it was still very cold, around –10°C (13°F). The cold snap that moved in a couple of days ago has only today broken and given us temperatures close to freezing.

Since it hadn't snowed any more and the roads were reportedly to be in good shape, I finally started my car and drove to the Senior Center, only to find that it is closed for the second day in a row. A small group of diehard hikers began to filter into the parking lot. We stood around trying to decide what we might do. Al and I both had a gym workout in our possible scenarios. I noticed that those who were left might come up with something they might want to do today, if the reluctant ones (that would be Al and me) decided to blow off hiking for the day.

As I drove away from the lot, I could see the half-dozen of them huddled together, probably coming up with something that I am glad I didn't attempt. I just called Chris, whose husband was one of the diehards, and she said they went to Lake Padden and walked the upper trails behind the lake. He was back before noon, and ate his lunch at home. So they didn't do anything terribly challenging, and I could probably have gone with them, but frankly, I was happy with my own little foray out into the snowy environment, and now I'm safe at home. It's starting to snow again. The forecast says to expect a "wintry mix" for awhile.

One of my favorite websites, Astronomy Picture of the Day, had this wonderful picture of something called nacreous clouds a few days ago. Here's what they look like:
Mother-of-pearl clouds
An excerpt from the website:
These polar stratospheric clouds, also known as nacreous and mother-of-pearl clouds, are formed of small water droplets of nearly uniform size. When the Sun is in the right position and, typically, hidden from direct view, these thin clouds can be seen significantly diffracting sunlight in a nearly coherent manner, with different colors being deflected by different amounts. 
Now that is beautiful, and much nicer to look at than old crusty snow that isn't any fun for old fogeys like me to drive around in. Tomorrow I'll head to my yoga class and hopefully make up for having missed my usual Thursday hike.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Changeable winter weather

Saturday morning at sunrise
This past Saturday, I joined the walking group, the ladies plus one, in front of Adagio's coffee shop. I went in to use the facilities before we took off on our short walk in the rain and snapped this picture. It had been raining for days and days, and frankly it seemed to be normal to have rain, along with moderately mild temperatures.

Then we got a real change in the weather yesterday: the temperatures dropped precipitously and all the rain changed to heavy snow. We are much farther north than Seattle, and the cold air from Canada came to us first, and the cold north wind picked up. This morning when I woke, not knowing what to expect when I looked outside, I was surprised to see that not much snow had fallen, but the temperature had dropped more than 20 degrees F. I put on all my winter weather gear, my headlamp so I could see any patches of ice, and set out for the bus, a half mile away. It wasn't bad at all, except for that awful windchill. I was happy for every bit of warm clothing I had on.

When I got to the Y, however, all the classes had been canceled. Apparently we were in much better shape here, being in the north where the cold dry air kept us from getting too icy, than people who live only a few short miles south of us. I saw plenty of cars with lots of snow on them, and reports from people who made it to the Y that any icy patches on hills made for treacherous driving and even walking.

So, I had a bit of fun with the exercise bike and some weights, took a shower and caught the bus back home. It seemed like a perfect time to do laundry (finished) and turn on the TV (just starting) and staying home where it's warm! I hope tomorrow will be better.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Two Dollar/Rock Trail loop

The first snow we saw today
Thirteen Senior Trailblazers went on the hike today, with some rain and snow mix coming down as we got to the Two Dollar trailhead. The weather forecast said that we would have some early showers, with possible sunbreaks later in the afternoon. I took this picture (above) because I thought it might be the only snow we'd see on our hike today.
Our trail with snow-covered ferns
Nope. It was just the first snow we saw. Although the temperature was above freezing (not by much, but still), it is obvious that it had snowed here recently, more than we experienced at sea level. We were not cold as we hiked along, mostly moving upward, and the still air allowed me to shed my coat and gloves quite soon.
Soon the trail had fresh snow, too
By the time we had traversed both the Two Dollar trail and the Lost Lake trail (which takes us to the Rock trail), the snow had increased, as  you can see here, making for a beautiful walk in the forest. As many times as I've seen this spot, this was one of the prettiest. The lack of wind meant that the snow-laden trees looked decorated for the season.
Al ascending the Rock trail steps
I'm not sure exactly how many steps there are on the Rock trail, but it is more than a hundred like these. (I've tried to count them but never get the same number twice.) I like to walk behind Al on these upward trajectories, since he goes slow and steady. Probably half of the group was ahead of us already, but Al knows how to pace himself, so I take advantage of staying close by.
Kirk and hikers
I stopped to take a picture of the others who were following us, hoping to capture the beautiful environment. We had put our gloves and hats back on, since the temperature fell as we gained elevation and the snow got thicker. There was probably no more than an inch or two, but it made for lovely scenery as we climbed to our lunch spot at Gates Overlook.
Bellingham from Gates Overlook
When we got to the top of today's hike at Gates Overlook, we saw low clouds over Bellingham, with a bright spot through the fog, where the sun was shining, but not where we were. Not long after we sat down for a rather brief lunch break, it began to snow lightly. We had reached the highest point, and then the task was to finish the loop by hiking down the road to the trail leading us to Fragrance Lake, which would then allow us to access the Two Dollar trail for our return.
Fragrance Lake reflections
As we made our way back to the cars, we saw some peeks of sun, and the exertion of moving meant that we warmed up considerably. Plus, we were losing altitude and the snow was disappearing. Before long, we had to stop and remove clothing again.
The bay from the Two Dollar trail
Soon we could see more blue sky and the islands in the bay, which were obscured on our way up the trail. We were almost back down to the cars at this point, the snow gone and a fine 8.5–9.5 miles of hiking under our belts for the day, and around 2,100 feet of elevation up and down. (The discrepancy in the length is due to inconsistent readings on various devices.)

It was a wonderful day, and I'm so glad I went, even though the forecast wasn't all that promising. You just never know and have to take a chance. Now I can enjoy a wee bit of wine without any guilt.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Trying something new

Whatcom Falls last Saturday
Last week, I wrote my usual Thursday Senior Trailblazer post, but skipped my Saturday and Tuesday posts for the second or third week in a row. I almost posted again this past Saturday, but the day got away from me before I got around to it.

And I'm beginning to think that maybe it makes more sense to write a post on Mondays, since I have stopped doing volunteer work that day. My schedule is still plenty full, with yoga classes on Tuesdays and Fridays, my rarely missed Thursday hikes, and the Saturday walk with the ladies (and one man). Not to mention the four days a week at the YMCA, which I am considering shaking up, too. It's just time for me to reassess what I am doing out of habit, and what I am doing because I really want to.

For the first time in eight years, I will not fly to Florida to visit my sister this winter. Looking into the near future without having to consider how to schedule that trip, I realize that it gives me a sense of freedom that opens up new possibilities. Maybe I'll start making an occasional trip to Texas to see the rest of my family, I don't quite know yet. But at this point in my life, barreling quickly towards my eightieth birthday (well, not quite but almost), I am wanting to get out of old habits and spend my days fully engaged in doing what gives me the most pleasure, while I still can.
Some of the Saturday walking group
I am so happy that I have such a great group of friends to exercise with on Saturday mornings. Every New Years Day, Cindy (our leader, front row in lavender) brings carafes of coffee, hot chocolate, and her famous fig bars to share with us. We bring our leftover holiday goodies. Before we bring this out, however, we make one 2.6-mile loop around the lake. Afterwards, some will make a second loop, but others (like me this year) will just head home, too full of food to even consider it. This is one group that is high on my list of activities to keep. I'm afraid they would have too much fun without me!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Alger Alp 2020

Squires Lake
Thirteen Senior Trailblazers gathered at the trailhead to make our way up to Alger Alp, one of our usual wintertime hikes. It's not one of my favorite ones, because much of it is on logging roads, and once we leave Squires Lake, we just continue up until we get to a fairly nice viewpoint overlooking the interstate. It's not very long (which is a good thing when you're hiking in the rain), and the forecast was for it to get wetter as the day progressed.
Dressed for the weather
It was a little on the soggy side, but compared to what we might have faced, it was definitely good to be out and about anyway. We had some light sprinkles most of the time, but it has been raining around here for days, as you can see by the saturated ground. As we ascended to the viewpoint, the rain pretty much stopped, so we decided to have our lunch there.
The viewpoint without much view
While I was trying to figure out what to write about, I went back and revisited all of our previous trips to this spot. Most were wet (which I kind of remember) and a few times we even went back to the Senior Center for lunch. Today it was mild and the rain held off while we ate.
Packing up before heading back down
I was surprised to see how many of my posts about this hike were almost interchangeable with today's experience. One of the best parts about having a blog that continues for many years is providing the ability to revisit and compare from one year to the next. The temperature in previous years was cold enough to freeze Squires Lake, but today it was mild, giving us a chance to stay warm and comfy when we were walking. Nobody complained about the weather.

We were home early, and as I look outside at the constant drip, drip, drip coming off the trees, I'm glad we shortened our return to the cars. We only hiked around five miles or so, up and down maybe 1,000 feet, but it was enough. It was much better than staying indoors all day, and it makes me so happy to have a nice warm and dry place to enjoy the rest of this early January day.