Thursday, November 29, 2018

Pass Lake and Tursi Trail

Our group today, minus me and one in the loo
I was a little bit shocked at the size of our Trailblazer group today: eighteen of us showed up for a Fidalgo Island hike from Bowman Bay, just down the road from the Deception Pass bridge. I asked someone why we had such a large group today, and he said, "because it isn't raining." Yep, that's why. Although earlier in the week it was supposed to be a bit rainy today, by the time we got to Thursday, the weather had changed to partly sunny with no chance of rain.
Pass Lake through the trees
We hiked the Pass Lake trail until it diverged onto the Tursi trail. Then we followed that trail all the way to its end. On the way, we passed an old mine, which Al says was a gold mine that didn't go anywhere.
Bob after taking a quick look
The hole is only fifteen feet or so deep, and then stops. Others were more brave than I, who stayed quite a ways back from the opening just in case something might have taken up residence in there. We continued on.
Exploring an old foundation
Someone had a nice house here once upon a time, with a lovely view towards the west and a partial view of Pass Lake down below. We hiked on down the trail to the end.
The beginning of the Tursi trail
The trail comes out onto Donnell Road and some farm houses. We then turned around and retraced our steps until we returned once again to the old foundation, where we had lunch.
Tom, Chris and Bob
By this time it was almost noon, so we had a very nice lunch in both filtered and direct sunshine. It was very mild, but since we had been hiking and were a little sweaty, we had to put on more clothes to keep warm in spite of having some sun. It is the end of November, after all.
Moss on hillside
I am not sure what this white moss is, but I thought it was lovely and reminded me of flowers. Winter landscapes can be quite attractive in a different way than in summer.
Pretty mushrooms
Mushrooms were abundant, since it has been quite wet lately. We saw plenty of them, along with some mud, but not as bad as in previous years. There has been some trail work since then, with a few bridges and a new trail.
Bowman Bay
We returned to Bowman Bay, where we had begun our hike, and we figure we covered somewhere around seven miles (depending on whose device to believe), and around 1,800 feet of elevation gain and loss. There were more clouds than sun by the end of our excursion, but nobody minded the weather. We piled into our cars and headed back home after a fine day outdoors. Did I say there was no rain?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Fall is coming along nicely

Front porch and leaves a-droppin'
I've seen what is going on around the US in terms of weather these days. A huge blizzard moved through the middle of the country, and cold air and record-setting snows hit the northeast. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have had lots and lots of rain during the past week, more than usual, but incredibly mild temperatures. Go figure.

When I woke this morning, it was almost 60°F (15°C) with strong winds and rain. We have several windstorms during the fall and winter months, so this was no surprise, but it's the first for this season. Almost all the leaves have fallen from the trees, as you can see, but without a cold snap, I still have flowers on my front porch. They'll wilt and dry up once we have a hard freeze. So far, they are still doing well.

The days are very short now, moving towards the winter solstice, after which the days will begin to lengthen. By the end of January, I usually notice the slow return of the light. For now, I'm still enjoying our wonderful mild weather.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

I love Bellingham

Picture by Edmund Lowe
This morning the ladies and I walked twice around Lake Padden, and I neglected to take any pictures. I went on Facebook to the "I Love Bellingham" page to find something that would show the beautiful place I live. This picture of the ferry between the mainland and Lummi Island, with Mt. Baker in the background, shows what a beautiful place Bellingham is.

Granted, it rains a lot, and the days are very short in the winter months, but the beauty is unparalleled. I am grateful that I live here, and that I can go outdoors in all weather, with the appropriate gear, and enjoy myself. Right now I am happily looking out the front window while sitting with my trusty laptop and writing this post. I am feeling lots of gratitude right now, perfect for this long Thanksgiving weekend.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving 2018

Pumpkin pie, anyone?
This morning, I met my friend John at a local grocery store that's open 24/7 and was not closed for the holiday, as our usual coffee shop always is. We were able to get some good coffee and spend time visiting before heading off in different directions. He's going off to have Thanksgiving dinner with a lady friend at one of the local casinos.

Then I headed off to the yoga studio, which is closed except for a benefit class taught by Ingela, who owns Yoga Northwest. For a donation of $20, she held an hour-and-a-half class, which was pretty hard in some ways but very beneficial. The benefit is for Homes Now, Not Later, a local group of volunteers working together to provide homes and shelter for the homeless in Bellingham and Whatcom County. On the way to the class, I saw three different homeless people. One was asleep on the floor at the post office, and two were bundled up, carrying their belongings with them in shopping carts.

Hubby and I are not having any meat in our Thanksgiving feast this year. Instead, I made ratatouille in the Crock Pot last night, and we'll nosh on it all day, with some crusty artisanal bread and a salad. We were going to have a sit-down meal, but instead we agreed that it would be more fun just to eat a little, all day long. Here's a picture of some ratatouille that looks a lot like what I made.
Snagged off the internet
I won't make my usual number of steps today, since there's no hike, no buses, no gym, and other than the great yoga class, no exercise. I'll be lucky to burn more calories than I eat. But hey, that's the way you're supposed to do Thanksgiving, isn't it? I have so many wonderful elements in my life that give me plenty to be thankful for. I wish you the best Thanksgiving ever!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Brave new world

So many to choose from
Last year at this time, I was just getting ready for my first cataract surgery. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I've worn glasses for many years and had become quite comfortable with progressive lenses that allow me to see in the distance as well as up close with just a tilt of my head. I'll bet many of you use them, too.

Gradually, the cataracts had gotten bad enough that they couldn't be corrected completely, especially in my left eye. So, my eye doctor told me I would need to have cataract surgery to see well once again. At about this time last year, I had the first eye done, and a few weeks later, in mid-December, the second eye was operated on.

Other than the seemingly endless eye drops, several times a day, the procedures both went extremely well. Even with advanced AMD (age-related macular degeneration), my eyesight increased to be almost 20/20, with corrective lenses. I opted to have near-vision lenses implanted and need to wear glasses for distance. The missing vision I suffer from in both eyes is able to be compensated for by the other eye, and I have still not lost any central focal vision.

I purchased some progressive lenses once again, since I found that it's easier to see both near and far with glasses. But for everyday, like now while I'm writing this post on my laptop, I don't need any glasses. I can also look up and see the TV across the room with pretty good clarity. (I would need to put on my glasses to see perfectly.)

A year ago, I couldn't have read anything on this page, or even seen much of anything on the TV without glasses, before the cataract surgery. Once in a while I'll forget how much better I can see today. It's truly a brave new world out there.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Another sunny Saturday

Me with beautiful Bliss
This morning we had a huge group of ladies, 24 in all, to walk from the Farmers' Market to Zuanich Park at Bellingham Bay. It's a fairly straightforward, easy walk, with no big hills like Cindy (our leader) will sometimes challenge us with. Afterwards, several of us went to The Bagelry for coffee and, you guessed it, bagels.

Lily had to work today, so she didn't join us, or we would have been 25! She will work every day between now and Thanksgiving, when she will have four days off in a row, so she will join us next week. I miss my surrogate daughter when she's not with us.

We are moving into the time of year when the holidays get in the way of my regular routine. This year, I'm determined to enjoy every single moment of each day, rain or shine. Today was one of the easiest ones to appreciate, with abundant sunshine and great company.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Oyster Dome, Lily and Lizard Lakes

Leslie amongst bigleaf maple leaves
Fourteen Senior Trailblazers met at Chuckanut Drive to begin our usual Thursday hike. Well, actually eleven of us were at the Senior Center to carpool, and the other three joined us at the trailhead. The destination would be determined by the weather and our leader, Melanie. If the rain didn't get too bad, we'd go up to Oyster Dome and then head over to Lily and Lizard Lakes. At the beginning, we were rain free (just a spit or two, nothing much) and set out on the steep trail, which starts right off the highway.
Stopping for a brief photo op
As we made our way upwards, we enjoyed the mild temperature and the lack of rain, thinking that maybe we'd make it the whole way without any. But nope, by the time we reached the junction that would take us either up to Oyster Dome or off to the lakes, it had begun.
Huddle to talk about options
At this point, we decided to skip going up the rest of the way to Oyster Dome, because there would be no view and we had all seen it before anyway. Al also told us about a medical procedure he will undergo at the end of the month, so we were all listening intently.
The way to Lily Lake
And then off we went to Lily Lake. The rain was light, but it gave me a chance to try out my new raincoat, which performed admirably in the light rain. I'm sure I'll get a chance to wear it in heavier rain, but not today.
Lily Lake
There was still some rain when we got to Lily Lake, and the fog was dense, so we decided to trek on over the Lizard Lake, not a long distance but over a small hill. Everyone was in a good mood and happy to be out in the Chuckanuts with our good friends.
Lizard Lake
By the time we got to Lizard Lake, the rain had lessened considerably, although it wasn't gone by any means. You can see some recent beaver work in the foreground. After a lunch break, we decided to head back to Lily Lake and take Max's Shortcut to Samish Overlook, rather than take the shorter route back the way we had come.
Tuning fork?
On the way, Bob pointed out this interesting tree with a distinct fork in it. We discussed what might have caused it. We will never know, but it created a lovely picture in the fog.
Samish Flats
By the time we reached Samish Overlook, the clouds had lessened and the rain had stopped. We were able to take the short distance back to the cars (well, maybe a couple of miles isn't quite short) rain free. We covered almost ten miles and 2,600 feet up and down, quite a good workout. Starting out at sunrise and finishing as the sun was setting, we were reminded once again about how short the days are growing as the nights are growing longer, on our way to the winter solstice.

But it could not have been a better way to spend a late autumn day, in a beautiful place with fine company. Next week is Thanksgiving, so there will be no hike, and we will be stuffing ourselves along with the rest of the country. But today, we were virtuous.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Who doesn't love rainbows?

Rainbow on Bellingham Bay
I hadn't seen this picture of me capturing this rainbow, and yesterday Lily showed it to me while we were quaffing some wine together. It was on one of our Saturday walks with the ladies, I'm not sure exactly when, but I wanted to share it with my pals. I'm late again getting a Tuesday post up (and I completely neglected to do one last Tuesday, election day).

It's been a good day. I'm sitting here after having "enjoyed" a visit with the acupuncturist and a lovely yoga class before that. So now I will have accomplished all my Tuesday tasks and can just sit back in the few short hours before climbing into bed, tired and happy.

You can never have too many rainbows.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Saturday walk by myself

A carpet of leaves
This morning, Lily had to work, and I wasn't all that excited about the long drive out to the north shore of Lake Whatcom to walk with the ladies, so instead I walked to Fairhaven along Boulevard Park. It was foggy and quite lovely, and as you can see from the carpet of leaves, our deciduous trees are well advanced in their shedding activities.
Kayaks emerging from the fog
As I walked along Bayview Drive to Taylor Dock, which takes me from downtown Bellingham into Fairhaven, the fog began to lift, and I saw these kayakers and could hear them talking to one another. Just a few minutes earlier, they would not have been visible. The fog is long gone and the sun is shining merrily at the moment.

We had a lovely day on Thursday, after a full day of rain on Wednesday, and then another day of rain yesterday with sunshine today. It's that time of year in the Pacific Northwest, and I'm loving it. I'm sure the ladies had a nice walk without me, but my own walk was serene, quiet, and restorative. It's all good.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Lost Lake and glorious views

Group shot from Burnout Point
You only get days like this one on certain days in the fall, and they are usually sprinkled between rainy and cloudy days. Today, sixteen Senior Trailblazers were treated to one of the most beautiful, glorious days I've experienced in over a decade with this group. We woke to our first hard freeze of the year, but with clear skies and not a breath of wind. Heading up the trail from the Larrabee State Park's parking lot (used to be called Clayton Beach), we walked on the old logging road until we got to the South Lost Lake trail.
Waterfall is there
Last time we walked by this spot, it was dry. No water at all, and now it's back. It rained hard last week and this perfect day between storms gave us another look at this now-running waterfall. You can see all the leaves in the foreground that have fallen already. It's definitely fall.
The view of Samish Bay 
We took a side trip to see the view from Burnout Point, which would add a bit of distance to today's long-ish hike, but as you can see, it was worth it. Beautiful! This is where the group shot (above) was taken. But then several of the hikers decided it would be worthwhile to walk a bit farther to see Mt. Baker and the Sisters, and I began to whine that it would make the hike too long for me. I was outvoted, and this is what we saw.
Mt. Baker and the Sisters
I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this view on a glorious day. The mountains are showing off a new coat of fresh snow, the sky is brilliant, and there wasn't even a hint of a breeze as we basked in the glory. It was hard to get going again, since nobody wanted to leave the view.
Hanging out
We took the time to have a little snack and just feel the perfection of the day. I felt as if it was soothing my spirit and causing joy to well up unbidden. Since we were already here, we took a short cut down to Lost Lake, where we would have our lunch. We reached our usual lunch spot just a bit after noon.
Lunch at Lost Lake
Aahhhh.... we spread out and enjoyed a wonderful lunch break in the perfect weather. I have been here when it was cold, windy, and rainy. Today, it was none of those things, but instead it was just magical. Of course Richard snuck off by himself and went swimming in the lake while we ate, but he joined us soon after.
Lost Lake
I have seen this lake when it was frozen over, and I might again this coming winter. But today, other than frost-covered leaves where the sun doesn't reach, there was little evidence of the coming winter.
Still some remaining leaves on the trees
As we made our way back to our starting point, we were treated to several scenes like this: sunlight coming through yellow leaves that will not be hanging on much longer. But today, they still light up the forest. We ended up covering about 10.5 miles and 2,500 feet up and down. A serious hike with many of my very best friends, with a leader (Melanie) who kept everybody in sight and added so much to our simply wonderful day. I'm so glad I was there.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Another soggy Saturday

Flaming tree and sculpture in Big Rock Garden
Guess what? It's raining again! Rain all day Thursday, all day Saturday, but Friday, the day in between, was sunny and gorgeous (go figure!). Fourteen of us ladies walked this morning, and when we started out, it wasn't raining, although it had been all the night before, and we thought we might luck out, but it started sprinkling lightly about a half hour before we finished our five- or six-mile-long walk. Cindy, our leader, waited for those of us with small bladders to take a quick side trip into the bathroom at Big Rock Garden, and I saw this stunning red tree in front of a sculpture on the way back to join the others.
Lots of yellow trees in the distance
Although many of us had removed our rain jackets as we trudged up the hills, just before this picture was taken we had begun to put them back on, as the light rain coming down just wasn't stopping. But still, it was rather warm and nobody minded the rain too much. It was a good walk.
Trick or treater slug
I saw this adorable photo of the perfect Pacific Northwest costume: a slug with a slime trail. Before I moved here I wouldn't have appreciated it nearly as much as I do these days. Slugs are ubiquitous in my garden, and they do really make long trails like this one. Someone's parents were ingenious!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

More rain this week

Chanterelle trail this morning
Well, last week seems like it was dry in comparison to today's hike. We knew from the forecast that it would be wet, and of course we were ready. It was already raining when ten Senior Trailblazers showed up at the Center. Ten? Really? What a dedicated group! I was more than a little surprised. I had to wrestle with myself all morning to decide to go ahead and brave the elements.
Melanie's delightful mushroom picture
Melanie took some nice pictures; this is one of my favorites of hers, with the mushrooms and greenery showing that even when there are no grand vistas, looking closely at the ground will give rise to some beauty, even when it's wet.
Dave, Jim, Joy, Al, Kirk, Tom, Mike, Chris
This is the overlook on the Chanterelle trail, where we would normally have had a good view. You can tell from our clothing that it was wet. A steady rain fell the whole time we were hiking.
The view from the overlook
This was the view, which was better than I expected it would be. Those low clouds are full of rain, too, and we only continued a short distance up from this spot, just to make it a round trip of five miles and around 1,000 feet up and down. 
Me busy taking pictures
Both Melanie and I are not in the group shot because we were busy being photographers. She took this one of me, which shows that I'm dressed for the weather. However, I did find that my raincoat is no longer doing its job. With this much rain, I ended up quite soggy underneath, while both Joy and Chris were dry. It turns out they both have raincoats made of the same fabric. I'm going down to REI to see if I can find one for myself, before our next adventure in the rain.
Our lunch spot today
Most of us had lunch at the Senior Center (Mike took off for home instead of joining us), where we were warm and dry and could actually relax instead of huddle somewhere trying to eat something fast and get moving again before getting too cold.

It was a really nice day, even if on the wet side, and I'm glad I got some exercise with these great colleagues, and that we were able to enjoy the great Pacific Northwest outdoors together. And now I'm dreaming about finding that perfect raincoat.