Saturday, April 28, 2018

A soaker of a Saturday

Beautiful pink and wet flowers
This morning fifteen ladies walked around five miles or so in, you guessed it, rain. After an entire week of wonderful sunshine, we returned to our usual springtime condition. And of course it was just as the weekend began, with rain forecasted right up to Monday. We set a temperature record here on Thursday, and then yesterday it began to cool down, and today is giving us a fair amount of rain.

Last week after the visit to the retina specialist, I had gone to the optical shop and bought myself a pair of fancy sunglasses and some over-the-glasses type sunglasses that I knew I would wear, instead of the rather geeky ones I received from the cataract surgeon's office. I also bought myself a couple of cool wide-brimmed hats. I must say that my eyes were a whole lot less tired after being in the strong sunlight using these techniques. Hopefully I'll be able to slow down the inexorable progression of the AMD.

In any event, it was sure nice to leave all the sunscreen, sun hats, and sunglasses behind as I joined the ladies this morning. I did need a rain hat and raincoat, but I know how to do that without any effort.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Maple Grove 2018

Our trailhead today
I was not surprised when seventeen Senior Trailblazers showed up for our hike today, which was rated "easy" and the weather was forecast to be sublime. Which it was: cool and sunny to start, then warming up as we walked up and down some mild slopes for a little more than eight miles. The drive was long, around sixty miles southeast of Bellingham, but it was worth it.
Crossing Anderson Creek
There were plenty of bubbling stream crossings: this was the biggest and most exciting of them. The bridge has a nice flat log to use for crossing, with side rails on both sides, so it was easy, after all.
Beautiful open trillium
We saw lots of beautiful blooming trilliums along the trail. I was so pleased to see them, one of my favorite flowers of the season. Lately most of the ones I've seen have been waterlogged, but not today. Glorious!
Our hiking group today (plus me)
I was able to herd the group together for a photo while we stopped for a quick snack on our way to Maple Grove. You can probably tell from the lack of jackets (mostly) and addition of sun hats, that it was a beautiful day.
Mt. Baker and reflection in Baker Lake
We saw Mt. Baker for much of the hike, but as we got close to the lake, the mountain loomed up in all its magnificence, with a day that gave us a chance to capture some dramatic pictures.
Baker Lake and our lunch spot
You can see that the lake level was very low, with all those rocks and roots in the foreground usually covered by water. We speculated that they have opened the dam to lower the lake's level so that all the expected snowmelt will have a place to go. In any event, it gave us a lovely place to sit and enjoy an hour-long lunch break.
Today's trail in sun and shadow
Then we headed back the way we had come, enjoying the four-mile return trip as much as our trip out. The weather, as I said, was perfect, and one more thing: there were no bugs! No mosquitoes, gnats, or flies. We could have stayed even longer if we wished. What a day! Thanks to all who came along and joined us for a lovely Senior Trailblazers excursion.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Retina Specialist visit

Me in my dark glasses
Lily took this picture of me when we went to the see the tulips last week. I like it very much, and I also noticed that my glasses had turned very dark. They are transition lenses, and they turn dark or light without my thinking about it. That link will tell you about the pros and cons of lenses that change, depending on the situation.

Today, I learned that they will be sufficient for most times that I'm outside, but I really should NOT go outdoors without dark glasses in full sunlight. We are just now beginning our bright sunlight days here in the Pacific Northwest, and I'll need to be more proactive about protecting my eyes from UV light.

The retina specialist examined my eyes closely and compared the pictures with those from six months ago. There is definitely progression in my AMD (age-related macular degeneration). That is not exactly news, but if I want to continue to protect my eyes, I've got to start wearing wide brimmed-hats as well as dark glasses whenever I'm in sunlight. He said that all UV light will cause damage to my poor eyes. I definitely don't want to lose any more vision, but unfortunately I will. Anything I can do to slow it down is essential. This is what happens with AMD:
Although macular degeneration reduces vision in the central part of the retina, it usually does not affect the peripheral vision. For example, you may be able to see the outline of a clock but not be able to tell what time it is. AMD does not cause total blindness.
Well, that's just peachy. (That information was in a handout that the doctor gave me today.) I get a little bit emotional whenever I visit the specialist, because I am reminded once again that my vision may or may not last me for the rest of my life. But then again, I can see well enough right now and will do everything I can to keep the damage to a minimum.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Week ahead looks good

Yesterday Lily and I went to RoozenGaarde for the April Tulip Festival. It was one of the first days that the tulip gardens weren't waterlogged after the rain we've been having, pretty much constantly for the first part of April.
Lovely purple field of tulips
Behind the display gardens are acres and acres of beautiful tulips, enough for anyone to get an eyeful of color. We spent a couple of hours there, and I took enough pictures to chronicle the displays for this year, but it is nothing compared to the enormous number of pictures Lily took (it was her first time). And Linda Reeder? If you really want a great tour, take a look at her pictures here. She always takes lots of pictures, so I don't have to.

This morning we ladies met at Lake Padden for our usual two trips around the lake. Lily had to work today, so she wasn't there, unfortunately. I managed to twist my ankle and took a fall at the beginning of the second lap, and now I'm sitting here with a throbbing ankle. It still works, other than a twinge when I first stand on it, so I think it should be fine in a day or two. I did go twice around, thinking that moving it would be a good idea. It isn't swollen, so I should be able to work in the garden with no problem. It would be a real shame if I were to wait this long for the weather to improve and then get banged up, unable to dig in the dirt.

The best part of all this rain is that the weeds should come up without much tugging. I'm anxious to get started!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Mt. Erie and Sugarloaf 2018

Anacortes Community Forest Lands
Thirteen Senior Trailblazers drove the forty miles from Bellingham to Heart Lake, located in the Anacortes Community Forest Lands, to trek up both Sugarloaf and Mt. Erie. We do this hike once a year, and it had been rescheduled several times because of rain. Today was simply gorgeous, full sunshine and cool temperatures (58°F for a high), making it a wonderful day. We did our usual route, hiking from the trailhead at Heart Lake to Sugarloaf, before going on to Mt. Erie.
The view from Sugarloaf
Because of the recent precipitation, clouds began to form as the land heated up, but it didn't spoil the view, only adding another dimension to the photographs, making them a bit more interesting.
LouAnn and Paul
I saw the sun behind the heads of these hikers, giving them an angelic look. They are fun people, which you can probably tell from their expressions. Everybody was in a good mood as we made our way around the ACFL today.
View from the top of Mt. Erie
There were too many clouds to see Mt. Rainier in the distance here, but we've seen it before; it's spectacular even without the mountain. Mt. Erie has an interesting history, which you can read about here. From that link:
At 1,273 feet (388 meters) tall, Mount Erie is the highest point on Fidalgo Island. Mount Baker, which lies about 43 miles to the northeast, can easily be seen from Mount Erie. On a clear day, Mount Rainier can be seen in the southeast, approximately 117 miles distant.
Our lunch spot gazing out at the view
 We went back down a different trail, making a loop hike instead of traveling back the way we had come. And as I was hiking along the trail, looking down, I saw a calypso orchid, which was in full bloom. I ended up taking a bit of time trying to get it in focus, but I finally did.
Calypso orchid
It's also known as a fairy slipper, and although we saw one last week, I was unable to capture a picture in focus. This time I took plenty of pictures, determined to succeed. The orchid is very fragile and doesn't live long; you can read all about it here. So lovely!

We finally returned to the cars, and I was pretty tired after having hiked eight miles and 2,200 feet up and down. The really good thing for me is that my knees behaved. It was a couple of years ago when I tore a meniscus in one of my knees on this very hike, but today they both felt the effort but were just fine. All in all, I am happy to be home but so very glad I was able to play in the sunshine with my friends.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

In the pink

Kathy, me, and Mona
Just by chance, when I went to exercise class today I noticed that these other two ladies were wearing the same shade of pink that I was wearing. Now, I didn't have on nice black pants like theirs, but the coincidence was one I wanted to capture by asking another person to take our picture. I almost decided to cut off our legs so we'd look more alike, but it seemed like a good picture nonetheless, so I am showing the whole thing. Aren't we cute?

Kathy has just recently finished chemo and is a proud cancer survivor (I'm not sure of her age, but she's at least old enough to be on Medicare). I just turned 75 last year, but Mona is well into her eighties and exercises every day. It just goes to show you how much of a difference it can make in one's ability to keep going well into our golden years. Or should I say that we are all "in the pink"?

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The R word returns

Lily taking a picture of me taking her picture
Today fifteen women met at the Lake Whatcom North Shore trailhead to walk six miles on a mostly very flat trail. The forecast was for, what else, a little rain. I figured it wouldn't be very much rain, and I was right. But the light precipitation fell the entire time we were out today. The two of us turned around and started back to the cars before the others, deciding to take it easy on the way back and not have to walk too briskly.
Walkers with their dogs
We saw the tail end of our group once we turned around as they headed toward us and we headed back. After telling them not to worry if the others didn't see us when they returned to the parking lot, Lily and I decided to head off for breakfast a little early.
Stinging nettles
I noticed that the stinging nettles are just at the point where they are best picked and steamed. Peggy, one of our walkers, likes to make nettle pesto with them. You do have to be careful as you harvest them, because they do pack quite a wallop until they are steamed. I had a taste of this pesto at one of our potlucks, and it's really delicious!

I sure wish I could get out in my garden and start preparing it for planting. Although we've had a bit of sun here and there, it hasn't corresponded with my time to get out there. Soon, I'm hoping.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Two Dollar trail to Gates Overlook and back

Two Dollar trail
Fourteen Senior Trailblazers decided to change our scheduled hike (which was supposed to take us to the Deception Pass area) to a closer venue. The weather forecast suggested that wherever we went, we'd be getting wet, at least a little. Nope. Our hike was dry and delightful.
The season's first trillium
We started our hike at the Two Dollar trail and went up to Fragrance Lake, then over to the South Lost Lake trail and up to Gates Overlook. The first part of the day was cool and wet, since it rained during the night and, as you can see in this picture, there was plenty of moisture still around.
Waterfall on Two Dollar trail
We crossed this lovely waterfall, which is pretty robust because of all the recent rain, and at about this time, we began to see signs of sunshine peeking through the clouds. We headed up the Rock trail until we had climbed the more than 150 steps to the Overlook, where we stopped for lunch.
Bellingham Bay from Gates Overlook
You can see the clouds beginning to lift, and when we stopped for lunch we were able to enjoy a few moments in full sun. The light breeze was a little cool, but overall we were very comfortable as we ate.
One of three picnic tables we used during lunch
I myself thought that it would be a short-lived break from the expected rain, but it just kept getting better. From here, we returned to our starting point making a loop hike, going down the road to the Fragrance Lake trail and then walked around the lake before heading back down the Two Dollar trail.
Fragrance Lake
By the time we made our way around the lake, there was more sun than clouds, as you can see here. Everybody was in a good mood, happy to be out together, with lots of banter and laughter. A couple of hikers that we haven't seen for awhile had joined us, so it was good to catch up with them.

It was a really good day, having covered nine miles and 2,100 feet up and down before it was all over. And we didn't have even one raindrop, so I guess I can call this another "no rainer." When you have as much rain as we do, it makes you really appreciate the sunny days. Wonderful place we live, isn't it?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Celestial painting

Astronomy Picture of the Day 4/7/2018
I was simply captivated by this Astronomy Picture of the Day on Saturday. I've always loved the way Jupiter's massive storms look in pictures, but this one is a closeup of Jupiter taken last December by the spacecraft orbiting the planet. It's been doctored a little:
The creative image uses actual data from the Juno spacecraft's JunoCam. To paint on the digital canvas, an image with light and dark tones was chosen for processing and an oil-painting software filter applied.
Isn't it beautiful? I look at APOD every day. It gives me a chance to gain a little perspective when things seem depressing and weird down here on Planet Earth. These days, I'm not sleeping all that well if I read the news before I go to bed. So, I'm trying to take a longer view of things, like gazing at our solar system's lovely Jovian giant.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Laughter is the best medicine

Wonder what was so funny?
My friend John sent me this picture along with some others, all from Texas, some funny and some that I would call groaners. This one is so much fun to look at and think about that I thought it would provide a perfect Saturday chuckle for all of us.

The wind and rain this morning accompanied the ladies as we walked on the university campus. Today must be when the students who are getting ready for next semester show up, because they were everywhere, being led from place to place in groups of several dozen at a time. What is it about students that marks them as such? I wondered if some of them are from out of state and wondering if today's weather is typical. Yes, unfortunately, it is.

We have quite a spell of unsettled weather ahead for the next week. I am so ready for warm spring sunshine to take over!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Burnout Point in the rain

Kirk, Mike, Frank, me, Chris, Al, Richard, Rich, Jim (Mel's pic)
It never fails to amaze me that I am not the only one who shows up on wet and rainy days. Today ten (!) Senior Trailblazers showed up in light rain to hike up to Burnout Point, one of our usual winter hikes. We did indeed have rain all day, but we were dressed for it, as you can see here.
Not much view from the Point
Fortunately, it wasn't cold, but occasionally we'd have a gust of wind that reminded me that it sure wouldn't be much fun to stand around for long. We made it up these soggy logging roads in fairly good time. I did get everyone to let me take a picture before we headed back.
Frank, Chris, Mel, Kirk, Jim, Rich, Al, Mike, Richard
It wasn't the sort of day when I had much to take pictures of, with little to no view, and having to haul my camera out from under my rain pants wasn't easy. This hike, led by Mel, was a loop trail, with us going down from this point to the South Lost Lake trail for our return trip. I was glad we had a different view on our way back, hoping for something a little more scenic.
Beautiful tall trees
Sure enough, Frank pointed out a stand of beautiful straight trees all in a row, and the people in the picture show the relative size. It's my favorite picture of the day.
This one isn't bad, either. We see this waterfall every time we walk this road, but it changes dramatically, considering the amount of rain and the time of the year. Sometimes it's almost nonexistent, but today it was magnificent.
Discussion about whether to go to Fragrance Lake or head back
At this point, we could continue on to Fragrance Lake and then take the two-mile trail back to our starting point, adding perhaps another mile to the hike as well as some more time out in the elements. We decided to head back down the road and skip the lake, since the rain had not let up all day and nobody was really interested in having lunch on the trail today.
Six of us having lunch at the Senior Center
Six of the ten of us pulled out our lunches at the Senior Center and enjoyed a warm and leisurely lunch inside. The others took off for home, and we decided that it was indeed another wonderful day in the wilderness, having covered around eight miles and 1,600 feet up and down.

I got what I came for: good exercise in the outdoors and great company. I am glad I went, but I am even more glad to be dry and warm inside. Funny how being uncomfortable for awhile can make comfort so much more enjoyable. Hoping for better weather next week!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A quickie

From the march last week in Washington, DC
Yeah, I forgot again. I just don't know how I'm going to remember my Tuesday posts. I keep thinking about that Dr. Seuss quote about "how did it get so late so soon?"

P.S.  I thought today is Wednesday. I’m losing it.