Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Basilica Cistern

Spooky place, this Cistern (my photo)
There are two more places I visited during my whirlwind trip to Istanbul, the Basilica Cistern and Hagia Sophia. Today I'll tell you of the cistern, which I've learned quite a bit more about since I got home. What you are looking at are several of the 336 marble columns that support the ceiling of the cistern. There is still water (and fish!) in there, but it's only a few feet deep instead of the enormous amount that it could hold. Built in the 6th Century by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, it was originally located underneath the Stoa Basilica, which was reputed to be a beautiful place with gardens and colonnades that faced the Hagia Sophia. It provided a water filtration system to the Great Palace in Constantinople and afterwards to Topkapi Palace. According to that link,
The Basilica Cistern's water came from the Eğrikapı Water Distribution Center in the Belgrade Forest, which lie 19 km (12 mi) north of the city. It traveled through the 971 metres (3,186 ft)-long Valens (Bozdoğan) Aqueduct, and the 115.45 metres (378.8 ft)-long Mağlova Aqueduct, which was built by the Emperor Justinian.
When you enter the cistern, you go down 52 stone steps, and it's very dark and dank, with water dripping off the ceiling. There are walkways that have been constructed around the places one might wish to see, which are some of the more amazing columns. Also according to that link,
The majority of the columns in the cistern appear to have been recycled from the ruins of older buildings (a process called 'spoliation'), likely brought to Constantinople from various parts of the empire, together with those that were used in the construction of Hagia Sophia. They are carved and engraved out of various types of marble and granite.
And over in a far corner of the cistern, there are two columns with the image of Medusa on them. The first one, shown here, is sideways, with speculation that it's to blunt the power of her gaze. (But nobody knows for sure.)
The first Medusa column base
 Nobody knows where they came from originally, but probably from some ancient Roman artifact. The sparkly stuff in the water is from coins that people have thrown into the water. The second Medusa head is completely inverted.
The second Medusa head
Now the first one might have been placed sideways to make it fit the column, but this one would have been the same in either direction, so I'm thinking it was to negate her power. But we will never know for sure. I found some other very interesting information about the cistern on The Lonely Planet website:
Forgotten by the city authorities some time before the Conquest, it wasn't rediscovered until 1545, when scholar Petrus Gyllius was researching Byzantine antiquities in the city and was told by local residents that they were able to miraculously obtain water by lowering buckets into a dark space below their basement floors. Some were even catching fish this way. Intrigued, Gyllius explored the neighbourhood and finally accessed the cistern through one of the basements.
And it only became a tourist attraction in Istanbul in September 1987, the renovation of which was spearheaded by the Istanbul Metropolitan Museum. They cleaned it up and replaced boats with the walkways inside and now clean up in a different way by extracting 20 Turkish lira from each tourist.

It's definitely a place I'm glad to have seen, and the links I've provided will give you the whole history of the cistern. Don't miss it if you travel to Istanbul.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Chuckanut Ridge from Arroyo Park

Starting our hike in the early morning light (what there was of it)
Eleven Senior Trailblazers started our hike today at 8:30am, since the trailhead is only a short distance from the Senior Center. It was supposed to be cloudy all day (it was), with a possibility of showers early on. We only had a few minutes when it was wet, which was  relief from last week's very wet hike. There wasn't great light for pictures, but I tried to capture the day.
Some of the local flora and fauna in the mist
There are some spectacular views on this hike on days when it's clear. We saw only mist and whiteness when we got to the viewpoints. The first part of this hike starts out gently upward, but then when we reach the ridge itself, there are lots of roots and exposed spots to deal with.
Apologies to Al, but I had to use this one
Here is our intrepid leader beginning the trek up the wet exposed roots, to a place where there is a sheer drop-off of a thousand feet, with only a tree to hold onto. We all made it around, but the first time I tried this I was completely intimidated by the exposure, so I crawled ignominiously across the rocks instead of stepping carefully out on the tiny ledge. Today I managed to hold onto the tree.
New guy Roger, Lisa, Rich, Chris, Al
At Gates Overlook, we stopped for lunch. It was 11:45am and everybody was ready to stop, after having traveled for what seemed like ages to get here. We hadn't stopped since we started at 8:30. We occupied two of the three picnic tables and had a nice lunch, although we began to get chilly after a few minutes and decided to start back down before a half-hour had passed.
Still no views, but it was a nice temperature for hiking
We began our return trip to the cars and had to keep moving to keep from getting cold. After you've had your lunch and stopped for any length of time, it seems your body temperature begins to drop and no matter how many clothes you put on, you need to get moving to warm up again. Before too long, we were warm again. We had many miles to cover before the cars would welcome us.
First skunk cabbage of the year
Just before the long hike was over, I spied my first skunk cabbage of 2015. These will be prolific in subsequent posts, trust me, but this made me smile with the realization that the winter of 2014-15 is over when these guys show up. By the time we saw the cars, we had covered close to 11 miles (18 kilometers) and 2,800 feet (850 meters) of elevation gain and loss. No wonder I'm so tired as I write this!

In any event, it was a wonderful day, and I am proud to say I am still at my age able to do this sort of thing and still enjoy my evening repast without needing an ambulance. In fact, I'm feeling pretty good right now as I swig the last of my glass of wine.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Topkapi Palace in Istanbul

The Gate of Salutation
I thought this gate into the Second Courtyard at Topkapi Palace looked a lot like one I've seen at Disneyland. But this palace is so huge that it makes Disneyland looks small. We toured parts of the palace on our last day in Istanbul. Our guide suggested that we visit only part of it, since it is so large that it would take days to see it all.
Model of Topkapi Palace and the part we visited
On the right-hand side of this picture is a diagonal flag that shows where the Gate of Salutation is located in relation to all the rest of it. The palace was first built in the 15th century by Sultan Mehmed II. (All the history of the place, fascinating as it is, is located here, if you want to know more.) I'll just show you some pictures I took of the parts that I experienced, except for a jewel I saw but was not allowed to photograph. Topkapi Palace developed over the course of centuries, with sultans adding and changing various structures and elements. The resulting asymmetry is the result of this erratic growth and change over time, although the main layout by Mehmed II was preserved. We toured the Second through the Fourth Courtyards.
A view of the Bosphorus and the Asian side of Istanbul
Although the weather was pretty awful, with rain and wind, it was still very beautiful, and we saw the Bosphorus below us and the Sea of Marmara, according to our guide. The palace became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, and is called "the best example of ensembles of palaces during the Ottoman period."
There were four long couches like this in the Kubbealti
We were led into a chamber that had these amazing couches, where (according to the Wikipedia link) the Imperial Council held its deliberations. I seem to remember the guide telling us that the family of the Sultan gathered there, but I'm just not sure, there were so many places and so much to see.
Line to get into the Treasury
Even though the weather wasn't great, there were still many queues, especially for the most popular places to see. This line took us into the Treasury where we saw some of the most beautiful jewels I've ever set my eyes on. We were not allowed to photograph inside, but I found a picture of the Spoonmaker's Diamond that dazzled me.
Spoonmaker's Diamond
It is the fourth-largest diamond in the world, 86 carats with 49 smaller diamonds. "These surrounding separate brilliants give it the appearance of a full moon lighting a bright and shining sky amidst the stars. Providing an additional beauty to the Spoonmaker's Diamond and increasing its value by as much again, the brilliants are considered to have been ordered or arranged either by Ali Pasha or by Sultan Mahmud II – though this, as all other details of the diamond's origins, is doubtful and disputed." (from the Wikipedia link)

The name comes from a legend that the diamond was found by a fisherman who didn't realize its value, and he showed it to a jeweler who pretended to be uninterested in it but offered him three spoons in exchange. Nobody knows for sure, but seeing this diamond is certainly something not to be missed if you get there. Plus the royal thrones that are encrusted with rubies, diamonds, emeralds and pearls just took my breath away. All the jewels I saw are memories now, but I sure did enjoy seeing such opulence.

There was much more, but mostly I have learned about the history of this ancient place from the Wikipedia links I have provided you. To have the privilege of standing in a place of such historical significance like the Topkapi Palace is something I will cherish my entire life.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

It's so good to be home

Early morning light coming through the trees
I finally feel like I'm back into my routine, after having gone on a really nice walk with the ladies this morning. Everyone wanted to know how it was in Turkey, and I responded that it was mostly positive, although I have to say there were stressful moments. I am now looking back on my trip with fondness, and I can say without hesitation that I would return to Turkey if given the chance. The people were wonderful, and now that I am home with only my memories, it makes me smile when I think back on all the adventures. I'll be posting about Hagia Sophia and the Cisterns soon, but for now I'm just happy to have made it back without getting sick or having had any travel delays.

I learned that the day I returned, Tuesday, it began to snow in Istanbul and kept up for two days, canceling flights and causing more than 800 traffic accidents. Public transportation was jammed up for those two days, with more than two feet of snow having fallen before it was all over. I snagged this picture taken in Istanbul on Thursday:
I was really lucky to have gotten away when I did. In fact, I had no idea any of this happened until I saw it on the news. According to that caption, the snowstorm broke a 28-year record in the city. Guess my guardian angels might have had something to do with it all. Or something. In any event, I'm glad I'm home and sleeping through the nights!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A soggy Goose Rock hike

West Beach at Deception Pass State Park
Our day started out well: twelve Senior Trailblazers met at the Senior Center to carpool to the Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey Island, to hike up to Goose Rock. It's a fairly long drive, so we got started on the beach a little after 9:00am, with a light rain already falling. It had been raining on the drive, but since the forecast was for "occasional showers," we felt sure it would probably stop soon.
Misty scene from the beach
As you can see from the picture, the sea was almost the same color as the sky, with little color to be seen anywhere, except from our colorful rain gear. After a short time hiking, we felt that the rain had stopped, for the most part, so many of us took of our rain jackets.
Rich, Doug, Chris, Rita, Peggy, Al, Susan, Linda, Ward, Steve
The only two on the hike who are not in the picture are Karen, and me behind the camera. The Deception Pass bridge is visible behind us. All pictures were taken with my iPhone, since I didn't want to take my camera out in the rain. At this point, however, it looked like I could have brought it after all. But this cozy scene didn't last long.

A few minutes after this picture was taken, it began to sprinkle and we donned our rain gear again. Then the sprinkle turned to rain. Just a shower, we all thought. However, the shower didn't stop and before long the conversation turned to other things as we made our way up to Goose Rock. There was no view to be had, just mist, so I didn't take any pictures. Plus, I had forgotten to bring my new Seattle Sombrero, so I was hampered by my inability to keep my glasses from getting wet.
Huddled under a tree on the summit
Do we look wet? Well, we were. After a quick lunch, Al asked if he could be forgiven for taking a shortcut back to the cars. He didn't get any objections, and we pulled the remainder of our rain gear out of our packs. For me, this meant my new red poncho, which replaced my soggy raincoat. By the time we reached the cars, we had only covered five-and-a-half miles in total, when we had planned a longer hike. Nobody minded a shortened hike today.
I circled Goose Rock on the map
I decided to show you a picture of the entire park, since I didn't take many pictures. It's a pretty place, and we will be back again before too long. Hopefully the weather will allow us to hike further and take more pictures of our day. Although it was wet, it was my first hike after my trip and I got to chat with my friends about Turkey, and it was good to see the magnificent park, even in the rain.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

So much to learn about Istanbul

Blue Mosque
I think I can be forgiven for having mislabeled the picture from my previous post as being inside the Blue Mosque; it was inside Hagia Sophia. And I studied pictures carefully to make sure that I have labeled the above picture correctly. Both structures face one another across the Istanbul Hippodrome, which is now a park. I love the feeling of this picture, soft colors against a dark sky. But I saw and photographed so much in just a few hours that I am now spending time on the Internet learning about each amazing place.

The weather in Istanbul was pretty awful for the two days we toured the sights: somewhere around 2 to 4 degrees C (35-40 F) with wind and rain. I got pretty good with Celsius temperatures while traveling, but it took longer for me to be able to convert Turkish lira to dollars, which meant I often had little idea at the time how much I was paying for something. I bought two Turkish bath towels, handmade and very lovely, for 35 lira each. When I was able finally to figure it out, I realized they each cost me a little more that $14. They are worth it, but I wouldn't usually pay that much for a towel!
Inside the mosque
We had to take off our shoes and women had to cover their heads to enter the mosque, and they provided scarves for women to use if they didn't have one of their own. I learned that the reason it's called Blue Mosque is because of the blue tiles on the walls, and I guess the blue stained glass windows. It was built in only six years, from 1609 to 1616 during the Ottoman Empire, in what was then called Constantinople, renamed Istanbul in 1923.
Catalina, Elsa, and Karen with our guide Hasan
I took this picture inside the mosque while we were touring it. Catalina works with the United Nations and is originally from Colombia (I think); Elsa is from Peru, and Karen is the wife of Mickey, my ex-boss and the person who arranged for me to go to the meeting.

There is a large area for Muslims to pray, and we were separated from it by barriers. Most had already left the area by the time we arrived, as we were not allowed to enter until awhile after the Call for Prayer. Muslims pray five or six times a day, and the minarets have loudspeakers that call or remind them. I could hear them easily from my hotel room and found it a soothing sound from a distance, but when I was near the loudspeakers, it was painful to hear. I made a video that I'll post on YouTube one of these days. For now, I'm absorbing all I saw and learned while in Istanbul. More on Saturday. Tomorrow I'm going hiking with my Trailblazer friends and can hardly wait!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Back home

Inside the Hagia Sophia
I just arrived back home a short while ago, and I've enjoyed a wonderful dinner and thought I'd better get my Tuesday post up before I lose consciousness. I've been up for way too long, and I will be putting up a post with the highlights of my trip soon. Not today, though.

In Istanbul, I toured the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, the Cisterns, and both the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar. It was a lot to fit into two half-day tours, and I went to sleep in Istanbul on Monday night and slept fitfully before awaking to leave at 3:00am for the airport. I've been up ever since, and that was more than 24 hours ago. Forgive me for any typos or mistakes in this post, since I'm not even going to read it over but will crash in a few minutes. After eating, I really do feel like I might be half asleep already!

More later. And if all goes as planned, I'll have a Trailblazer hike to chronicle on Thursday! I'll fit in a couple of extra posts with some of my adventures. Until then...

Saturday, February 14, 2015


Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque)
I am finally feeling like I am in a foreign country, now that I've arrived in Istanbul. I left Antalya this morning on Turkish Air and arrived at the airport on the Asian side of the city, Sabiha Gökçen, which is named after the first female combat pilot in Turkey. The city is divided by the Bosphorus into the Asian side and the European side, and I have to say I'm glad I got to experience this wonderful airport. We were taken from the terminal by a bus to load onto the plane, which had two entrances, front and back, and other than having to lug my bag up the steps, it was quick to load and we took off on time. The flight is almost exactly an hour, and they served us a wonderful sandwich and coffee, much nicer than anything I would get at home. (That is, if the airlines ever served FOOD any more, which they don't.)
Sitting down to our first food in Istanbul
The others had all arrived much sooner than we did, since they landed at the Atatürk Airport on the European side. When the four of us checked into the hotel, we found that they were already in the meeting room having started to work on the report proceedings. Once we were brought up to speed, we agreed to let everyone have a chance to wander around and see the sights and get back together this evening. While we were out, it was time for lunch and I must say I really enjoyed my wonderful food. You point at what you want and a man ladles it onto the plate.
Spinach, vegetables, rice
I was shocked at how much food it was, and had I known the serving sizes, I wouldn't have gotten the vegetables. The rice and spinach were so delicious I ate all of them but left the others, as I was suddenly way too full. This meal, plus a small bottle of sparkling water, was 30 Turkish lira (about $12). Next time, I will not get so much, but it was sure good.
Marie-Ange and Catalina
We are just a few blocks from the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia Mosque and will be touring both of them either tomorrow or Monday before we return home. Karen has arranged a half-day tour for us, which will make sure to give us a chance to experience the best of the city. Both of these beautiful women are also on the writing team, and most of us will stay until Tuesday to work on the document. Mickey assured us we will also have a chance to see the sights.
Charms to keep away the Evil Eye
I've learned that there are actually two different versions of this eye charm: this one is to ward off the Evil Eye, and the Eye of Fatima is inside a hand. I'm not quite sure of all the differences, but I'll be sure to let you know when I learn more. I'm definitely going to be buying more of these, as they are very inexpensive. I am very glad that during this part of the trip I have recovered from jet lag and will enjoy everything. Time to head down to the bar and quaff my nightly glass of red wine. More later!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A day in Antalya

Françoise, Evelyn, Karen
Today, my usual Senior Trailblazer hiking day, was spent hiking around the town of Antalya. Since the meeting is being held in a hotel far from the town (a half an hour) and on the Mediterranean away from everything, I had not seen any of the local environs, but today I was joined by three others to have an excursion in town. Evelyn's husband, Claudio, who is with the WMO who sponsored the conference, found a car and driver and gave us a chance to have a wonderful day, getting to know each other as well as the town. Mickey said go ahead and go, so I didn't ask twice. Karen (Mickey's wife) and I have known each other for ages, but the other two are now fast friends as well.
A street in Old Town
We have the most incredible weather today, after two days of rain and wind, reminding me of home! But today dawned clear and cold, and the weather just got warmer and warmer all day long. Just perfect with a light jacket. The streets were pretty clear early on, but as it grew later, we saw more and more people. The shop owners were mostly friendly and not too pushy since it's the off season and we were obviously out to shop. There were a couple annoying ones, but otherwise we made new friends!
One of our new friends
We promised this gentleman with a silver shop that we would stop by before returning to the hotel, and we did, but when this picture was taken it was still early in the day. We wandered in and out of many of the shops in Old Town, visited an ancient mosque that was originally built in the 2nd century. It is now just a pile of old stones that I had to peer at through a fence. As we got hungry, we looked for a place that had been recommended, the Castle Hotel and Restaurant on the water.
Our table, with Karen sending a picture to Mickey
It was everything we had hoped for. We sat in the sun, feeling a nice gentle breeze off the water and enjoyed the view. We also learned that there are many feral cats in Old Town, and they obviously knew their way around. In fact, the owners of the hotel have created some nice little catwalks for them.
Cat snoozing over the water
Being fond of cats, this didn't bother me at all, as they rubbed against my legs as we ate a fantastic lunch. Karen ordered some kind of fish, but Françoise and I ordered grilled vegetables that were wonderful. Thinking of my blogging friends who asked for food pictures, I took a picture, trying to show the amazing view as well.
My grilled vegetables in a fantastic setting
After lunch, we wandered more around town, knowing we only had a couple of hours, and went into a tea shop. They have all these piles of different teas, and as soon as we walked in, the proprietor made us up some samples, knowing that we wouldn't be able to resist.
I ended up getting a Sultan and eucalyptus tea blend
When he held up the fresh tea under my nose, it immediately gave me a rush. I found out that it is because it had a great deal of eucalyptus in it. Oh my! I couldn't help from buying it. I will be drinking it for a long time to come. And then, before I knew it, we had to make our way back to the spot where we would be picked up by our driver. We went back to the silver shop, meeting our new friend Aytekin, while making promises to see each other again. I took this selfie of myself so I could be included in the day's pictures.
In the mirror, my selfie
There was only one thing I didn't buy that I wished I had: an Eye of Fatima charm. I intend to get one tomorrow, and the story of the Eye is that when you wear it, you are protected from harm. I figured it's not a bad thing to have.
The Eye of Fatima earrings
Everywhere you look in the shops, you see these things: key chains, bracelets, necklaces, you name it. I remember seeing them in Macedonia years ago, but I think this time I'm going to indulge in a few of them. They would make great gifts, don't you think?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Hello from Tomorrowland

The Mediterranean surf
My old boss, Mickey, brought his wife Karen along with him on this trip, and she and I walked along the beach yesterday together. I am writing this to you from Tuesday morning, the day that the conference begins, but where you are right now it's still Monday evening. Talk about a creature of habit: I woke up this morning at 4:00am and struggled to stay asleep until 5:00am, although it's really ten hours earlier at home. I figured why fight it, just get up and start my day. So this post will be a little bit early, but who cares?
Last night's dinner
Yesterday Karen and several other people, including Mickey (my old boss) went into town to explore, and I took the opportunity to stay behind and rest up. I am almost back to my normal habits, but I needed to take a nap and not be walking around town, so I did exactly that. I got into my nightie in the middle of the day and actually fell asleep. Then I went swimming in the indoor pool, which was simply wonderful! I was the only person in the Olympic-sized pool and I swam and swam. Today while I'm working, Karen is going to use the pool.

About last night's dinner: we all sat together after they returned from town and I asked the waiter if he would bring me a plate of the best local food. Lo and behold, here comes the chef, and the dishes above are what he brought me. The right-hand side is an eggplant dish that was wonderful, and on the larger plate is a dill yogurt, some dolmas, hummus and some unidentified tasty red stuff.
A sample of the sweets
Although there are hot dishes in the buffet line, the amazing variety of foods to choose from simply boggled my mind. I had to show you the sweets they offer, and this is just a sampling. Breads, fruits, and olives and various spreads just go on and on. And that's not even the hot food. You can get just about anything you desire. This morning I will have a simple breakfast of vegetables and eggs, with some of these cheeses:
So far I like the Turkish feta the best
There are so many to choose from, and you just can't eat it all at once. There are soft and hard cheeses galore, and with some good dark bread, and some olive tapenade, I will be in heaven. And then the conference will begin, and I'll be working. Hopefully I'll be able to do the job I knew so well, and it will come back just like riding a bike. Fortunately Mickey also has another person who will be taking notes, so I'm not going to be the only recorder as I used to be.

Three and a half days of conference work, then we have a half day on Friday to do whatever we wish. Karen is going to treat me to a Turkish sauna and massage in the hotel's spa. I will probably really need it afterwards!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The adventure begins

Not sure if it's my plane, but it's at the right gate
Well, I've made my way to SeaTac (the Seattle/Tacoma Airport) south of Seattle, rode the three-hour shuttle from Bellingham, and navigated the security situation. And my plane is now scheduled to leave almost an hour later than scheduled. I get worried when they go from a 1:09pm departure to a 2:00pm one. In my experience, that happens often when they don't really know when it will be available for boarding. Sigh.

My connecting flight in Amsterdam still gives me more than two hours, even with the late departure, to catch it. I'll know more when I actually board and we take off. But what the heck, it's begun! And look what I saw yesterday in Bellingham on my way to the gym:
February 6, 2015
The first crocus of the season! Or the year, or whatever. It makes me look forward to spring, and more of them! Now to enjoy my salad before traipsing over to the gate.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Rock Trail to Gates Overlook

Seattle Sombreros on me, Carol and Peggy
Only seven Senior Trailblazers showed up for what was likely to be a wet, soggy hike. It rained all night long, but Al had thought that we might actually have a break in the weather if we were lucky. And you know what? We were! I did go out and buy myself a Seattle Sombrero after seeing how well they work in the rain. I know you're not surprised. It is now hanging happily next to my Tilley hat. We started at the Larrabee State Park parking lot and headed up to the Lost Lake trail.
Peggy, Carol and Sharon with wet hats
As you can see, it began to rain not long after we started up the road. Sharon is wearing a Seattle Sombrero hat, too, so you can see I am right in synch with all the ladies. (I thought it was a different brand, but there is the logo right in front.) It rained on us, but just about 10:30, after we'd been out for a couple of hours, the rain stopped. Completely.
Nice waterfall
I take a picture of this waterfall almost every time we pass it. We meandered up the old logging trail that joins the Lost Lake trail and leads us to the Rock Trail. Although it was dry for hours in the middle of the day, it was obvious that it had been raining hard for awhile. The muddy ground made it slippery now and then, but mostly it was just fine.
Al, Sharon, Rich, Steve, Carol, Peggy
From this high point, we hike downhill until we reach the Rock Trail junction. And then it's a climb to the Overlook. The last time we were on this trail in December, we walked on icicles. Today it was in the mid- to high 50s F, so it felt relatively warm as long as we were moving. There was quite a bit of wind, but for most of the day we were protected from it.
Mossy tree on Rock Trail
I am always in awe of the rock face on this trail, with its striations and natural beauty. Steve worked on this trail, which was only finished about a year ago, and he joked that it wasn't easy putting all the ferns in at just the right angle to make them look natural (they were already there). I am so glad we all get to enjoy his hard work on the trail itself, though, because it's a really beautiful place to visit.
There was sun in Bellingham, but we were in fog
Once we got to Gates Overlook, we could see that it had indeed cleared up down in Bellingham, but the fog came and went and we never had a really nice view. We also didn't see the sun today, but considering what we were expecting, no one was at all unhappy.
Foggy descent

We walked on the road to the Overlook for a short ways until we came to the Fragrance Lake trailhead, and made our way back to the cars, covering more than eight miles and 2,400 feet of elevation gain and loss. We were all exclaiming on our good fortune with the weather, when about a half mile from the cars it began to sprinkle. Nobody minded.
Selfie in my Seattle Sombrero
It also gave me a chance to show you how well my new hat works. It really is like wearing an umbrella: I could hear the patter of rain but I was perfectly dry, as were my glasses, for the entire time. The only downside to the hat was when I took it off: hair going every which way! That's okay, I am very happy with my new purchase, and you can bet it will be with me on many more hikes.