Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Long ago and far away

From film directed by Liv Ullman
It's raining outside right now and has been for most of the day. Not too unusual for the Pacific Northwest, but we've got several days of this ahead. I'm busy reading a LONG series of novels which I first read when I was a young woman, long ago... and far away.

The novels are a trilogy of books written by Sigrid Undset in the 1920s, Kristin Lavransdatter.  I read an early translation (by Charles Archer and J.S. Scott) when I was in my twenties and living in Flint, Michigan with two small children. Reading was my escape, and I remember reading these books while the housework piled up around me. I couldn't put them down, so a few weeks ago I wondered if I would feel the same way about the books.

At first I figured I'd just download them onto my iPad from iBooks, since they would (I foolishly thought) be free as many other classics have been. No, they are EACH full price, so I got a copy from the library. They had two copies on the shelf and I'm now almost finished with the first book.

They are different, but then again, I am different. And it's a new translation! It's been almost fifty years since I last read these books. I found this information on Wikipedia:
A new and complete translation by Tiina Nunnally was released by Penguin Classics in 2005, and is considered by many critics to be the superior of the two, particularly for its clarity, reflective of Undset's "straightforward, almost plain style." For her translation of the third book, Korset (The Cross), Nunnally was awarded the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize in 2001.
Hard to say how much of the story I remembered, since they feel brand new to me. There are little pieces of the story that I still recall, but most of all I loved being wrapped in a different time and place, the 14th Century in medieval Norway. Undset won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1928, mostly based on these stories, and Liv Ullman, an actress I have long admired, wrote and directed a Norwegian film in 1995 based on the novels. Also from that Wikipedia link:
Critics gave it a lukewarm reception at best, and many considered it to be more true to the present than to the medieval era in which it was set. However, as it was viewed by as much as two-thirds of the population, it became one of Norway's most domestically successful films: an important cultural event. The release of the film coincided with rising national interest that centered on Norwegian medieval cultural history, and cemented Kristin Lavransdatter and Sigrid Undset as a part of the Norwegian national identity.
 And now, as I re-read these novels, I am again transported into the world of Long Ago and Far Away. I'm still not sure how I feel about them, but they are a good antidote to the world outside me right now.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Scary storm

From Wunderground.com
I've been watching this storm develop (as most anybody with an internet connection or TV has been doing) for the past few days. People are calling it "Frankenstorm" partly because it's going to hit right around Halloween during a full moon. And my sister Norma Jean is flying toward it while everyone else is escaping it!

Norma Jean was scheduled to fly to Virginia to stay with her daughter Allison and granddaughter Lexie for a week, leaving on Tuesday. But she had to change her plans when the airline offered all passengers scheduled to fly Monday-Wednesday the possibility of changing their flight without a change fee. She elected to leave today, Sunday, instead.

Of course this has meant I've been watching the news to see if anything has changed from previous forecasts of this storm, and it seems that the scary parts of this storm only continue to intensify. They are making predictions of it being unlike anything we might have seen before, since the hurricane will be colliding with a Nor'easter and becoming an extratropical storm. Whew!

Many of my blogging friends are also in the path of this huge storm. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will not be as bad as they are predicting. Anybody else have a sense of foreboding?

Here in the Pacific Northwest we are having a fairly dry day, with clouds and sun, no wind. There's not enough sunshine for me to have the possibility of making a skydive, however.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Last High Country hike 2012

Today only six Senior Trailblazers showed up to discuss whether to try to make one last trip into the High Country before we start our around-town hikes. Since it was a small group, and everyone was more than willing, we headed up to Goat Mountain on a beautiful day. There was no snow at the trailhead, but we ran into a small amount not long after we began our ascent. Not too bad, and the sunshine and mild temperature kept us going. We saw signs of wildlife, such as this one.
Bear! We saw several of these prints in one particular section of the trail; Al asked if someone else might like to lead for awhile. (He was joking, since bear at this time of year are foraging for food that is easier to catch than humans.) We also saw tracks of some large hares and tiny mice as well as bear. As we continued our climb, the snow got heavier on the trees and trail. Soon we saw that nobody else had been up here since the last snowfall. Our trail was beginning to get less distinct.
As we trudged upwards through the snow, which wasn't actually all that hard to navigate, the clouds came and went, giving us a nice bit of sunshine, and then grey skies. This hike meanders steeply up to a really nice lookout when the skies are clear, but we kept going because, well, nobody wanted to turn around quite yet. Here we are at the top, getting ready to have a quick lunch.
Steve, Al, Rita, and Ross (Mike and I were there, too, not pictured)
As we settled down into the heavy snow to have lunch, the sun across the valley lighted up the sky but obscured the views of Mt. Baker, Shuksan and Mt. Sefrit that we usually have from this vantage point. (If you want to see what we missed, here's a link from our July excursion to the same place.) Today we were pushing it, as the late October snowfall has already made the trail sketchy, but we were all very happy to get to the lookout spot anyway.
We didn't stay long, because once we sat down and began to eat our lunch, we cooled down quickly. My feet don't usually get cold, but after a few minutes here I realized that it wasn't a good idea for me to stay up here in the cold. Although the breeze was very light, it was enough to make me want to start down very soon. Al and the rest were willing to cut our lunchtime short.
At last we  began our downhill trek to the cars and warmth. I was hoping for a glimpse of some of our mountain friends, but it wasn't worth waiting around for. The trip downward warmed me up pretty quickly, and then just as we rounded a corner, there was Mt. Shuksan, finally coming out for a view!
Look at all that fresh snow! It's obvious that this will be our last hike in the High Country with the Trailblazers for the season, but we will still head up here on snowshoes now and then, so that we can enjoy the amazing sensation of accomplishment and High Country air, none of us wanting to wait until the spring to get up here again! We covered 7-and-a-half miles and 3,000 feet of elevation gain and loss today.

It was a lovely day, and I'm so glad I went. For those who stayed home today, you missed a wonderful time in the wilderness with us! There will be more of these hikes next year, so I'll see you when we meet again. It was a wonderful way to end the season.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The attraction of introverts

From MyNorthwest.com
I'm reading a very interesting book right now, Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain. One of my blogging friends, Linda Letters, mentioned it in a comment to me, and I also mentioned it to my sister Norma Jean. She ordered it from her local library in Florida, and I got on the waiting list at my own library. I was 20 out of 18 copies and had to wait awhile. Finally, after Norma Jean had finished the book and told me what she thought about it, I was able to pick it up at my library yesterday.

I'm already almost halfway through the book, and I've found some fascinating things not only about introverts, but also about extroverts (I'm one). I have always been attracted to introverts, ever since my early childhood when my own very favorite introvert, Norma Jean, was my best friend. She still is, in many ways. I always laughed when I said that I was attracted to introverts because they were such a good audience and never tried to hog the limelight!

But it's more than that, I've discovered. I have often wondered why I sometimes suffer from stage fright, since I'm so extroverted in most situations, but it turns out that it has little to do with shyness. To quote from her book (p. 107):
My fear of public speaking might be equally complex. Do I dread it because I'm a high-reactive introvert? Maybe not. Some high-reactives love public speaking and performing, and plenty of extroverts have stage fright; public speaking is the number-one fear in America, far more common than the fear of death. Public speaking phobia has many causes, including early childhood setbacks, that have to do with our unique personal histories, not inborn temperament.
She explains what she means by having a "high-reactive temperament" in the book, which I won't go into here. Get the book and read it; I think you'll be in for a treat. I know now it's not because I have an introverted streak that I sometimes suffer from stage fright, but because of an early childhood experience where I gave a book report in grade school and was ridiculed. It set me up for a lifetime of having to be completely prepared before I could ever step in front of any audience. It is the only way I knew how to overcome it.

And this is from someone who has taught hundreds of people what they need to know in a First Jump Course over the years. It helped that they were all terrified and I was the experienced one, but just reading this book I've learned more about the vast differences we possess through inborn temperament, as well as personal history and personality. Stage fright has given me a template through which I can relate to what it must feel like to be shy and retiring.

If I could have chosen my temperament, I would have chosen introversion rather than extroversion, and this book has helped me to realize the power of introversion that I have always intuited. By the way, the link under the picture will take you to to Ron and Don, a local radio show that reviewed the book. It's very interesting.

Oh, and before I forget: I was disappointed in the movie Looper, since I was unprepared for all the gratuitous violence that was never mentioned in any of the reviews I read beforehand. It was an okay movie, but the gore turned me totally off, and it was a bit confusing as well. If you see it, let me know what you think of it, but I don't especially recommend it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Off to the movies

Taken last Thursday on Cougar Divide
I woke this morning to the sound of rain drumming on the roof, lots and lots of it, with a forecast of 70% chance of precipitation at the Drop Zone. It sure didn't look to be promising much of a chance to make a jump or two, so instead I'm going to the movies with my friend Judy. And of course just as soon as I made that decision, the weather changed: it's bright sunshine and clearing up quickly. A link to the web cam at Skydive Snohomish also confirmed that today will be jumpable. That is, if you don't mind the fact that it's only 40 degrees F on the ground! At altitude that will be VERY cold. I guess I can be okay doing other activities, although I am really not ready to say farewell to skydiving for the year just yet. We're going to see Looper today, a sci-fi thriller. Last weekend we went to see Argo, Ben Affleck's new movie.

It was a very good movie, and we both enjoyed it immensely. Since it was loosely based on real events, set during the Iranian hostage crisis in the 1970s, it is my habit to get on line and read how closely (or not so closely) the movie followed reality. In this case, it was not very much. I figured, since there were cliffhangers around every corner, it could not have actually been this way. I was right; he took quite a bit of artistic license in telling this story, but it was still very well done. I loved the period setting and had forgotten how much our world has changed in thirty years or so. Aviation glasses and wide ties abound.

I think the movie would have been better if Affleck had not starred in it himself, although he was pretty cool looking with a long mop and plenty of facial hair. I've not been much of a fan of his lately, but this movie made me rethink his talent. He is a good director and a pretty good actor, too, given a decent script. If you see it, let me know what you think of it.

From Roy Leonard
The week before, we went to see The Master, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, and Amy Adams. Boy, talk about talent! Phoenix, as you may remember, played Johnny Cash in Walk the Line and was so good as Cash that I almost forgot it wasn't actually him. In this movie, he plays a completely believable loser just back from World War II who falls in with "The Commander," played incredibly well by Hoffman, a guy who has formed a movement he calls "The Cause." I found some reviews on line that tell the tale of what this movie is about far better than I could. Here's a quote from Roy Leonard:
I sat through all 137 minutes of Paul Thomas Anderson’s movie a few days ago and despite the brilliant photography and Oscar caliber acting, I have no idea what it was about and I certainly wouldn’t sit through it again, as many have done, trying to make sense of the story.
Yes, that's right: we sat through it and watched some amazing acting, but once we walked out and looked at each other, neither of us could say what it was about, or whether we liked it or not. Amy Adams plays against type as well. I never would have thought she could come across as cruel and calculating, but she does. I can't say whether I really would recommend this movie, but I am glad I saw it.

Today's fare should be much more straightforward, a good sci-fi thriller with good reviews. Here's hoping we will enjoy it as much as we did Argo.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cougar Divide was interesting

The Senior Trailblazers don't usually do this hike, because the road to get to the unmaintained trailhead is dreadful for many miles on a rather sketchy road, and the trail itself has lots of downed trees and places to get lost. Fortunately for us, Al kept us on his GPS track, but the weather forecast for the day was not fantastic: clouds turning to rain in the afternoon. Twelve of us (twelve!) showed up anyway, and we discovered that the precipitation at lower elevations was already showing up as snow up here. It wasn't raining when we started out.
After about a half mile, we came to the first lookout spot, which should have shown us some amazing views of the nearby mountains, including Mt. Baker, but as you can see, the clouds had other ideas. It was still very beautiful and fantastic to be there, but the trail had many spots that Al characterized as brief "moments of excitement." That meant lots of ups and downs where the snow and mud caused the Trailblazers to be forced to grunt our way upwards or gasp our way downwards. We did okay, though. Then the clouds thickened up, as you can see here.
I like the way the clouds seemed to be giving us an ominous warning of what was ahead. Not long after this picture was taken, we had to don our rain gear, as the light "mist" changed to what I couldn't deny was "rain."
The fall colors, however, were still stunning in their variety, and the snow made a nice contrast, as long as we weren't traversing a steep slope either up or down. Frankly, I don't see how anybody could have walked these trails without trekking poles, and all twelve of us were using them. It wasn't cold, and since we were ready for the rain, we didn't have much problem with the conditions. But after we had gone a little more than two miles, we had a conference about whether to continue on this trail or not.
Nope. Let's have lunch and head back home to our nice warm, cozy abodes, okay? There's no view to be had, and all we can hope for is to get a little bit more exercise. We stopped and had our lunch, a quick one, and quickly headed back to the cars. The rain had picked up a little bit, making us even more anxious to find shelter. We've been spoiled by all our fine weather for the last two months!
Here we are heading back down, with our trail having turned into a muddy and slippery mess, and most of us just wanting to make it to the cars without having gotten (1) lost or (2) soaked. Our view is gone, and the rain changed from being light and almost not there to, well, wet. Amy had made cupcakes for us to enjoy at the end of our hike for our two birthday seniors. We managed to get in a quick "happy birthday," and she lit two candles for them to blow out before we hopped in our cars and munched the cupcakes down!
Amy lighting the candles for Norm and Linda
I remember long ago Al telling me that the Senior Trailblazers hike on Thursdays, rain or shine. I count on it, and I know that you can never tell what the day will be like when you start out. Today was a very interesting one, with sun, clouds, occasional wind, snow, mud, and rain. But we were having FUN through it all! I can't wait for next week.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Being plugged in

Not me, but it could have been
Smart Guy sent me this picture a while back, with a reminder that I am not the only plugged-in person in the world. He found it on Reddit, so I'm not sure where it actually came from, but I couldn't resist using it anyway. She's obviously an Apple person, too, but my hair hasn't been that color in decades. After I put the picture on my last post of two-year-old Lexie playing with her mom's laptop, I began thinking about how different a world it will be for her. She's grown up with no fear of electronic gadgets; they are part of her normal environment. Her mom Allison would quiet her with a Mickey Mouse cartoon on an iPod when she was very small.
March 2011, Lexie staring at an iPod, cousin Annabelle looking on
Most seniors my age are intimidated by technology, since it's not something we grew up with. In fact, I remember when we got our first TV set, complete with lots of snow and incredibly bad reception. Telephones were something that were connected to the wall. I was well into my fifties when I got my first cellphone, and it seemed like magic. Now it's just a part of my regular existence.

Last night I watched "Upstairs Downstairs" (PBS Masterpiece Theater) on my iPad while Smart Guy watched the debate on TV. I got on line to read the spin afterwards. It's hard to make myself sit through 90 minutes of that kind of stuff when I can get the best parts in a few minutes. When I go out this morning, I will take my cellphone with me as usual, because without it I don't feel quite right.

Tomorrow is looking to be quite wet, so I'm not sure what pictures I might be able to capture on a soggy hike. Life is back to normal in the Pacific Northwest! Last Thursday was warm and sunny in the High Country, but yesterday the road to Artist Point was closed for the season. It's hard for me to believe that there is snow up there already! See you tomorrow...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Blustery October day

A beautiful rainy and windy day, perfect to spend inside and read the paper, play with my camera and spend time with my neglected iMac. These days I spend more time with the MacBook Air and my iPad and forget about this wonderful tool. It's almost five years old now, and the software such as iPhoto has not been updated. I realize how different it is, since I have the newer version on the Air. For a price I could update it here, but I haven't decided whether it's worth it or not.
I remember learning about these, called Mammatus clouds, because they have upside-down bumps that some people think look like breasts. They are usually around severe thunderstorms and I once saw them forming just before I was getting ready to make a skydive. I pondered the wisdom of it, but I went anyway. I sure wish I hadn't gone, since the turbulence I experienced under canopy has never been forgotten. My canopy would collapse and reinflate in a terrible fashion, and there was nothing to do but land. I hurt my right knee when I landed, bursting the bursa sac and having a huge swollen knee for a month. Now when I see these clouds, I remember that day.
Lexie with her mom's laptop
For those of you wondering how Lexie, my grandniece, is doing, here's a picture that Norma Jean sent me last week. Allison had gone into the kitchen for something, and when she came back she saw Lexie sitting here, imitating her mom perfectly. Lexie turned two in June and knows all her letters and is talking up a storm. Needless to say, she is the apple of her mother's eye and is cherished by all who know her. Active and willful, she's also doted on by her grandmother and great-aunt (me). When I iChat with Norma Jean, I hear the latest stories of her exploits.

The wind is blowing hard enough to make the lights flicker every now and then, so I figure I'd better get this post up in case the power goes. My friend Judy and I will go to the movies this afternoon, and until then I'm going to enjoy being inside, warm and cozy with Smart Guy.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lake Ann 2012

Right at the beginning, red blueberry bushes on fire!
What a boring title for the fabulous hike we had today! I just cannot think of anything better. I tried a few: "Lake Ann: Uphill Both Ways," and "What a Way to Spend Your Day," but you know, nothing seemed quite right. Today is the last day of a long series of sunny days that we in the Pacific Northwest have experienced. Tomorrow the rain returns. Only eight Senior Trailblazers met at the Senior Center for this hike, rated "hard." The wet roads and heavy mist on a gloomy morning probably caused some to decide to do something else with their day. They were WRONG. As we drove to the trailhead, the fog cleared and the sun began to shine in earnest. Can you believe the fall colors?
The reason that the Lake Ann hike seems to be uphill both ways is that once you begin, you hike downhill for somewhere around 800 feet before crossing a few miles of fairly flat land and then hiking back up a thousand feet to reach Lake Ann and the glaciers on Mt. Shuksan. Three of our hikers had never been to Lake Ann before, so here they are seeing their first view of the lake as we reached the top of the pass.
The lake is shining in the sun as Jonelle, Ross, and Rita see it for the first time. We stopped for lunch in full view of the glaciers on the back side of Mt. Shuksan. On the way up, we heard what was quite possibly a huge chunk of ice falling into the valley below. It sounded as loud as an airplane going over, but it stopped quickly. We didn't hear any more, but Al got this picture of me that shows the glaciers behind me.
Last year when we reached this spot, it was covered with snow. Although it was almost exactly a year earlier, the difference in the environment was simply amazing. Check it out here. (I was astounded when I looked at the picture of Lake Ann and realized it was covered with snow on October 13th last year.)
There were still a few snow banks on the lake, but its level was low, and for the first time in the experience of many of the Trailblazers, we were able to actually hike all the way around the lake! From this point, those of us who went around the lake headed clockwise around it before joining the others. It was easy and simply delightful.
Here you see Amy and Rita, who were walking along the beach before I asked for a picture. From this point we traversed left and up to the main hiking trail before heading down. This hike is an "out-and-back" so we had to descend to the valley, cross it, and finally climb back up to the trailhead. That makes this hike pretty difficult, because after having expended one's (limited) energy for most of the day, the last part is uphill. (It wasn't as hard as other years when it was full sun beating down and no breeze. At least there was a cool breeze today.)
We were almost back to our starting point when Al stopped to admire the color of these blueberry bushes (I found a few tasty berries). The color we saw today was nothing short of breathtaking. I will put some more pictures to show this on my Flickr site, but not tonight. I'm really tired and ready to take a shower and perhaps climb into bed a little earlier than usual. But it's a GOOD tired!

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Vashonistas

Deb, Linda, DJan, Sally, Sandi, Jann: the Vashonistas
While we were at the Vashon Island Farmers' Market this past Saturday, I heard the announcer discussing a fashion show that would be held that evening, with "the Vashonistas" being the name given to the ladies who would model the fashions. I thought it was a perfect name for the six of us, bloggers all who have become fast friends after a wonderful retreat on Vashon Island. (For an extended tour of the farmhouse where we stayed, click here.) I am a little sad that this adventure of meeting five other bloggers, knowing little about each other except from our blogs, is now in the past. Please bear with me as I put up my final pictures from the weekend. I usually don't overload my post with pictures, but I've got no choice. You'll see why.
I was enchanted by the morning light coming through the living room. While standing in the dining room I saw the entire area turn to gold. Those curtains are cream colored except when the morning sun sets them on fire like this. There are also two sitting areas, and here's the one where we gathered Saturday night.
The wood in the lower right foreground is one of the arms of a large couch that seats three comfortably and makes into a bed, if needed. Each of us had her own bedroom, since there are two upstairs, two on the main floor, and two in the basement. During the day, we took full advantage of the covered porch, as you can see:
The gourmet kitchen is all it's advertised to be, and we filled the coffeepot with the provided coffee that would have lasted anybody for a week. We were treated to all kinds of tea, and we also had a wonderful time exploring all the kitchen's nooks and crannies. I didn't get a picture of the pantry, but I fell in love with it.
Everything that anybody could have asked for in order to create a wonderful meal was provided. Sandi gave us meals that satisfied everyone, including me (a vegetarian). I had some chicken on Saturday night, but she was willing to separate it if I had a problem with it. I didn't. As you look at this picture, you can see that we were in very capable culinary hands.
And you can see the actual color of the curtains in the living room: cream. It's evening in this picture and we are sitting down for our last dinner together. We did have a wonderful breakfast on Sunday, too. Since Deb and Sandi had to be at work on Monday morning (the only two not retired), we took one final picture before they left, and I used my tripod to get myself in it, too.
And even with all these pictures, I realized I couldn't leave it at this, so I made a new Flickr folder to put up 27 pictures to share with everyone. If you go to the sidebar under "My Relevant Links," choose "My Flickr Site" and find the folder called "Vashon Island." There should be enough pictures to satisfy anyone who needs to see more. The weather could not have been more perfect, and now I am happy to consider my task done. Oh, yes: I need to make sure all the Vashonista blogs are listed under "Fun Places to Visit," and THEN I'll be done!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Vashon Island retreat

Deb, Sandi, Sally, Jann (standing), and Linda at Lavender Hill
And me behind the camera! I brought along my tripod, but it was buried deep inside the trunk of Linda's car. The adventure began BEFORE this picture was taken of brand-new "skin" friends. Deb and Sandi drove north from southern Washington in Sandi's car, and Jann and I met at Linda's to drive to SeaTac and pick up Sally, who flew in from Colorado. The four of us set out for the Vashon Island Ferry. We promptly got lost, even though we had a GPS and two iPhones with maps. Getting to that ferry was an adventure in itself! We missed the ferry we thought we would be taking over to the island and, thanks to cellphones, we discovered that the other two got lost, too! They even ended up taking a different ferry that stopped at Fauntleroy ferry dock before going on to Vashon Island. By late afternoon, we all successfully ended up together.
And this farmhouse! It is the most beautiful place I could ever imagine. The late afternoon light is coming through the covered porch and lighting up the fall colors of the trees. You will be seeing more pictures of this wonderful place, but this morning we are waking up, taking showers, and getting ready to go out for breakfast. Back to yesterday: we still had the task of preparing dinner. Sandi brought the food, and three of us were happy to chop and stir, while the other three (one was me) sat and watched with admiration as the dinner took shape.
I went outside and caught this picture of our dinner coming together in this magnificent kitchen. Everything we could ask for, plus more! As we got everything together and sat at the dining room table to enjoy a fantastic dinner with each other, there was never a lull in the conversation. There was not one moment of thinking we were with "strangers." Thank you, Blogosphere! This is better than I could ever have imagined, and we have two more days!
Oh, and did I mention that we have a fantastic view of Mt. Rainier from the living room? We are blessed with perfect weather (if a bit on the chilly side), and lots and lots of adventures to come. Before I post this, I'm going to get some feedback from the others, and then YOU can join us!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ptarmigan Ridge

Today ten Senior Trailblazers drove in three separate cars to Artist Point to begin our trip to Ptarmigan Ridge. In the picture above, you can see that we had magnificent views of Mt. Shukan today, as well as abundant sunshine on this hike that offers no shade whatsoever for the entire time we were out on the ridge. In the picture above, we had already hiked more than three miles and were just about to begin to follow the ridge to Camp Kiser, five miles from the parking lot and right to the base of Mt. Baker. I knew at the outset that I wouldn't be making the entire trip, since a few of us needed to get back earlier. We decided that three of us we would turn around after lunch at 1:00pm and head back to our car, while the others would go on.
The views were spectacular, and the fall colors blended with the skyline and snowfields left over from last spring. We were surprised to find this trail as free of snow as it was, but we still had to cross several snowfields that were hard as concrete. Last night must have been a really hard freeze up here, because our hiking poles didn't even make a dent in them. Some were pretty scary, but we knew that when we returned the sun would have softened them a bit.
As we followed Al up this snowfield, I thought it looked like we would be walking off the edge of the earth. But of course we didn't, and as we rounded this corner, we saw the final destination of our hike today. That's Ptarmigan Pinnacle on the right and Mt. Baker on the left. If you look carefully at the picture, you can see the faint trail that would take my fellow hikers to their destination.
We made it to a grove of trees that sheltered us from the cold wind and had a brief lunch, before Norm, Liz, and I turned around to head back. The other seven went the other way, and as we made our way back we met dozens of people heading up. It was such a beautiful day that I'm sure there were plenty of people with indoor jobs that simply blew them off and headed up to the High Country. The other seven ended up hiking more than ten miles round trip, but the three of us went somewhere around nine miles. I found this description of the entire hike here.
Just a few minutes before the three of us reached the parking lot, I looked back to take a last look (for today) at Mt. Baker shining in the distance, with the fall colors and our trail on the right. It was a simply wonderful day in the wilderness with my friends, and there was just one other great experience that I had to share: on the drive up to Artist Point, the three of us in Norm's car saw a mountain lion cross the road in front of us! It was huge, obviously a male, a magnificent cat that covered half the road before disappearing in the trees. We could not believe what we had just seen, but each of us agreed that it was a big cougar no more than a few car-lengths away from us. What a treat! And with that last thought, I leave you as I go to pack for tomorrow's adventure to Vashon Island!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Feeling better today

October roses
Well, I feel almost back to normal today. I went outside looking for something to take a picture of to decorate my blog post, and I saw that there are still some lovely roses blooming in our apartment yard. These are so pretty that it almost makes up for the fact that our daylight is diminishing by more than three minutes per day, every day, as we move inexorably toward the winter solstice.

I spent a pretty uncomfortable Saturday and Sunday, but when I woke yesterday I felt good enough to get back into my routine, but I still didn't feel quite up to snuff. Today, however, I woke feeling much better, so this afternoon my friend Judy and I will go out to see a movie and maybe even have dinner together. I'm pretty sure it was a simple cold, since I never had a fever, but I sure felt awful for awhile. It didn't seem possible to me that I could be so much better so quickly.

At the grocery store today, I mentioned at the checkout stand that I spent the weekend in bed with a cold, and the checker told me she had the same cold: sick for two nights and then waking up feeling pretty good. So it's going around, welcoming us to the fall season. I hope I've been able to keep anybody else from getting it from me.

Sunday night the phone rang about 8:30pm (I was already asleep), and it was Linny telling me what a GREAT time they had at the Drop Zone, making five excellent skydives together, and everything worked so well! She said everybody wondered where I was, and she told them I was sick. Hmmpff! If there had been any way at all I could have joined them, I would have. The least they could have done is not had such a great time without me! (not really)

Our weather has been spectacular for two months now, no rain and lots of sunshine. In fact, we have just had two record-setting dry months here in Bellingham, according to this article in the Bellingham Herald. And next weekend I am heading off to Vashon Island to have an exciting retreat with five other bloggers. I'm really looking forward to it, and of course you will know all about it, too. We're going to be staying at the Lavender Hill Farm on the island. (The link will take you to a photo gallery of this fantastic farmhouse that we're renting for the weekend.) The weather should continue to be good throughout. I've already started to pack. Six women bloggers who don't know each other: this sounds like a formula for a great adventure to me!