Thursday, January 31, 2019

British Army trail 2019

Up the Alternate Incline trail
Thirteen Senior Trailblazers decided today to head to the Upper Trailhead on Blanchard Mountain to reach the British Army trail. Since we are in this general vicinity often during the winter months, we decided to try a different trail than our usual one. We walked up the road until we got to the Alternate Incline trail to start our trip, first to Lizard Lake and then to the British Army trail.
We went from cold to just moderately cold
The weather was pretty nice, considering that the rain that was forecast for the day had been moved to this evening. It hasn't started yet (now after 5:00pm), so that made our day much nicer than we expected. Hardly any wind and hiking uphill meant that we needed to shed some of our gear. We got to Lizard Lake and then went down the British Army trail.
Melanie and Tom pointing out the trail sign
Once we got here, we knew that the trail would lead us back down to the road, but we wanted to explore it, so we headed down the trail until we were ready to turn around. Then we hiked back up the trail until we again reached Lizard Lake. Since it was almost noon, we stopped there for lunch.
Today's lunch spot
Once we sat down, of course we had to don all those extra clothes again. A slight breeze also helped to make us feel a bit on the cold side. But considering how cold we might have been, if it had rained, we were quite happy to enjoy ourselves and even take our time at lunch.
Lizard Lake
After lunch, I walked over to get a view of the lake. It seemed to me that the level is a bit lower than I've seen it in past visits. Al said the lack of rain could be the reason. Well, tonight and tomorrow we are expected to receive plenty of rain, and it'll fill the lake back to its usual level, I suspect.
Turkey tail mushroom
Melanie pointed out this pretty mushroom to me. It's hard, not soft, leading me to believe it's a turkey tail mushroom. I looked it up online (hence the link) and found that it's filled with antioxidants, if one wanted to eat it. To me, it's not very appealing. The link is interesting, though.
Nearing the end of the hike
We walked back following the Lily/Lizard trail instead of returning the way we had come. When we cross this bridge, I think of the hike as being almost finished. In any event, we covered around eight miles and 2,000 feet up and down. A good day, filled with delightful conversation and exercise. And no rain!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Weird holes in the clouds

Courtesy of the Stringmans on Whidbey Island
A friend asked me yesterday to take a look out the window, where a strange phenomenon caught her eye: a hole in the sky! I then found that this was happening all around the area, and Cliff Mass wrote an article all about what was happening. You can read the entire post here.

I snagged that picture from his blog. Here is what he had to say about the weird holes:
No...these were not alien incursions into Washington air space, but the impact of aircraft passing through a cloud deck of supercooled water (liquid water at 32°F or below).   The planes climbing or descending through the clouds caused the supercooled water to turn to ice crystals and fall out, leaving a circular hole.  These features are also known as "punch hole" clouds and often form in mid-level altocumulus cloud decks.
Actually, I think he was just covering up for the aliens. I've never seen anything like these before. Have you?

Saturday, January 26, 2019

My Saturday routine

Reflection in still water at Lake Padden
Ahhh... it feels so nice to be back in my old routine. First, a quick trip to the coffee shop with Lily this morning to greet our friends there, before heading off to Lake Padden for our two-times-around walk. It was nice to see everybody again, and just for a minute, it seemed like Florida didn't even happen. But as I said before, just the chance to get away gives me the ability to appreciate my surroundings with new eyes.

I had a great time with my sister and nephew, along with their two dogs. I really miss them, if I give myself a chance to go there in my mind. But the beauty of Lake Padden this morning, walking in mild temperatures without the normal rain, was healing to my heart and soul. It's lovely to have traveled there, and it's lovely to come home.

And I didn't get sick! Usually, when I travel I pick up a bug because of the stress of travel. This time, I can safely say, "so far, so good." I have a massage scheduled for tomorrow, and I'll happily enjoy it. After the nine-mile hike on Thursday, my right hip has been bothering me. Each day, however, it has felt a little bit better, and it wasn't an issue at all today. All is well.

Other than the couple pounds I brought back from Florida, I'm doing just fine. If I haven't lost them by the first of February, I'll think about restricting my diet. Otherwise, the ice cream habit I acquired might continue for a bit longer.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

First hike back home

So many cool friends
Well, although my time asleep last night was a bit on the short side, I decided when I woke up this morning to go ahead and join my fellow Trailblazers on a hike in the Chuckanuts. We started from the North Chuckanut Trailhead and hiked up and down around nine miles and 2,000 feet. I was sure tired by the time we reached Raptor Ridge, but I knew it would help me get back to normal if I went out today.
Frilly decorated mushroom
Melanie pointed out this pretty mushroom and we all exclaimed over its decoration, frilly and delightful. I am so blessed to live in the Pacific Northwest, even with all its rain (which we didn't have any of today). It's so green and lush, beauty everywhere I looked.
Happy birthday, Al!
Melanie had let us all in on a little secret before the hike started: it is Al's birthday, and she bought this lovely ginger cake and stuck a single candle in it. When we reached Raptor Ridge and had finished our lunch, we gathered around him and sang "Happy Birthday."
Al smiling at his surprise party
Cutting it into 13 pieces
We all enjoyed the ginger cake with cream-cheese frosting before heading back down the trail, where we made a loop and returned a different way, making the entire trip a very good workout, especially for those who had recently returned from travels. My long day was nothing compared to Tom's, who just returned this morning from Sri Lanka and a 13-hour flight. We were both really tired but happy to be there.
View from Raptor Ridge
Although we didn't ever have direct sun today, I saw that there was definitely sunshine in other places. It looked like it might clear off, but  then it didn't, and now it's completely overcast. But it was perfect hiking weather for us today, with perfectly wonderful companions.
It takes a village
Dianne saw these tiny little mushrooms just before we reached the cars. She sent the picture to me, and I marveled at the minute little "village" of mushrooms. They are new to me; I've never seen them before. Aren't they pretty?
The final mile of today's hike looked like this
I loved my trip to Florida, but it only took one day for me to realize that this place is my home. It's always wonderful to visit a different place, because you return to the familiar, seeing your surroundings with new eyes. Today that is what happened to me. A magnificent day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Pretty perfect final day

Sandhill cranes on the golf course
This morning my sister spent the early morning on a golf league, so she allowed me to drive her car to the Y in order for me to take a swim on my own, without her being with me. It was a first for me, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I didn't swim all that long, but it was a full six minutes longer than the last time (28 minutes versus 22) and I'm pretty sure my arms will be sore again. Tomorrow I'll get to enjoy one last swim before packing up and heading home around noon.
The golfers: Thecla, Rose, Norma Jean, Sylvia
I continue to be impressed with the energy of these four women. Thecla is 85, Rose 71, Norma Jean 73, and Sylvia 87. They played 18 holes, and I was happy to see my sister make two birdies! (For you nonplayers, that means one under par for two holes.) I wandered around the course while they played, and got that picture of the cranes, as well as this wonderful view of trees near one of their fairways.
Old oak trees
These mysterious, wonderful trees cover the three golf courses in Betmar Acres, and I am sure that everyone enjoys these nice shady grottos. Unless they get in the way of a golf ball, that is!

In a couple of days, I'll be back in my own world, having been here just long enough for me to appreciate the vacation, and having the enjoyment of my home to return to. Not to mention my Bellingham family and friends. I'll miss the dogs and family here, but there's always next year!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Idyllic Florida with family

Icarus and Charley
My sister loves dogs. When I was here last year, their dog Zen was hanging on, even after he was expected to go a year or so earlier. He finally died at 17, with the final trip to the vet once he stopped eating and was having trouble walking. Icarus was so lonely after he was gone that Norma Jean got another rescue dog, this one a Papillon mix (Charley). He's an adorable dog and was owned by a woman who had moved and found that she couldn't have a fence for him to run, and she, unable to even take him for walks, put an ad on Craigslist to find the right place for him. It turned out to be at home with my sister, her son Peter, and Icarus.
Buried in furry love
Charley was originally named Harley, which nobody really cared for, so they changed it to Charley; he doesn't seem to notice the difference. He's 3 to Icarus' 8 years, so he has plenty of energy and took to me right away. In fact, I had to ask Norma Jean to call him to her so I could write on my laptop. He sleeps with me and we think I might remind him of his previous owner, whose white hair is similar to mine. I'm happy to accommodate this adorable bundle of love.
Deedee, who lives a couple of doors away
Every morning when we walk, Norma Jean takes Deedee with us. She's only a year old and needs the exercise and training. When we come to get her, two homes away, she's waiting impatiently for her. We walk between three and five miles with her. Norma Jean gives her a treat before and after, and in the three months they've been doing this, Norma Jean has only missed one day.

Of course, she also has me along with her, so the three of us enjoy the idyllic Florida weather. You might notice Norma Jean is dressed warmly, because the first two days I was here it was downright cold in the morning. I didn't really mind, except we missed our swim. We went yesterday, though, and I am now happy to say the weather is warm and really delightful.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Busch Gardens 2019

Peter and Norma Jean on the way to Busch Gardens
This morning we three all left for Tampa's Busch Gardens, with me as the honored guest of Peter, who is an annual pass holder. We drove there to spend the day at the place I visited for the first time last February. The two of them visit several times a year. And I didn't even get on one ride.
The Falcon's Fury ride
Last year, I did ride this one with Peter (Norma Jean does not do such rides), and I enjoyed it. Insteady, today we watched a couple of shows and saw ABBA, along with a lovely ice skating show, incredibly well choreographed. Lots of costume changes and flawless performances.
The Serengeti Plains
Then we enjoyed a fun train excursion to the Busch Gardens' version of the Serengeti Plains, with lots of animals like giraffes, zebras, and rhinos. You could choose, if you wanted, to take a closer look with a pricey safari, but instead we took this one, which was included with the regular price.
Enormous rhinos from the train
It was a fun day, very different from my usual trip with the Senior Trailblazers, but we did a fair amount of walking, and Norma Jean and I had also walked almost four miles earlier. We weren't able to swim today or yesterday because of the cold weather, but tomorrow looks to be on track for a good swim, my first of the trip so far. From here on, it should be smooth sailing as far as the weather goes.
A ride I didn't take today
It seemed a little strange not to get on any of the rides, but in some ways I was relieved. No need to get overly frightened today, and the company with the three of us was wonderful. More on Saturday.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Florida here I come

Taken at sunrise from the plane
I didn't get much sleep last night since I had to catch the "pajama shuttle" at 2:10am this morning. I've been traveling ever since. Three hours on the shuttle, two hours going through security (which was an awful experience, not just for me but for everybody) and finally making it to the gate before it was time to board. But just barely. And then once on board, I settled in for a nice long five-hour flight.

Palm trees and sunny skies greeted me when I disembarked, and Norma Jean picked me up soon after. Then another hour's drive from the Tampa airport to her home, and finally I am here, ready to write my Tuesday post.
My fabulous dinner salad, compliments of Pete
Peter, Norma Jean's son, had already prepared us one of his wonderful salads, which awaited us when we stepped out of the car and into the dining room. Between that, and Norma Jean's two dogs (one of whom has just been adopted), it's been quite a full, full day.

And now, given that I'm not only fed and watered (well, wined, really), I'm beginning to feel the effects of the day. I'll probably last another few hours before hitting the sack. Tomorrow, swimming!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Another glorious Saturday

Zuanich Point
I'm beginning to wonder exactly what miserable January weather I'm going to be escaping when I head to Florida next week. It's been incredibly beautiful, and today is no exception. We ladies (and one man) met in front of a coffee shop and all 22 of us walked briskly to Squalicum Harbor and Zuanich Point. Those in the picture are waiting for some of us who are slower to catch up. Although it's hard to see in this picture, we could see the Olympic mountains in the distance.
Boats in the early morning sunshine
We continued our walk around the harbor and admired the glass-like water reflecting mostly clear skies. I was the only one of the walkers who ended up taking off my jacket; even though it was cold, I warm up quickly. Guess I tend to either wear too many clothes to begin with, or my internal thermostat turns up fast. We didn't walk far, maybe four miles, but it was quite simply a lovely walk with delightful company.
All smiles
I feel incredibly fortunate to have made such good friends, all of whom like to exercise. I don't think any of us look old (we're all "of an age") because we like to sweat! When I get to my sister's home in Florida, believe it or not, my exercise routine will be pushed up a notch. Not only will I be walking briskly every day with Norma Jean, I'll also be swimming alongside her before breakfast!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Alger Alp 2019

Squires Lake
This rather short hike is one of our annual wintertime treks. It's usually much colder than it was today; it was rather mild with no ice to be seen anywhere. Thirteen Senior Trailblazers started the hike at the Squires Lake trailhead, where we round the lake and start up some old logging roads to a viewpoint.
You can see I-5 in the middle of the picture
We started out with a fine mist keeping us a bit on the damp side, but nothing really to worry about. We know how to deal with rain, after all. Then we reached the viewpoint, and at about this time of the day the clouds began to lessen and gave us almost a full view across the valley.
Our group today
As usual, I asked for a picture, and as I tried to gather the group together, we saw our first rays of the sun. Nine Trailblazers are posing in the foreground, two having a discussion in the back, and me behind the camera. We lingered here for awhile; most of us climbing the hill behind us to find a private spot for tree watering.
The group at the viewpoint
I caught this shot while coming back down from my own visit. When we have enough sunlight to actually cast shadows, it's a good day to be outdoors. The company on all of these hikes is worth it, not to mention that we did get some exercise, even if it wasn't up to our usual mileage or elevation.
Looking good, everybody
Frank took this picture of the eight women on today's hike. It turned out very well, I thought. After we started back down, we decided we'd stop for lunch at the lake, about a half-mile from the cars.
Cattails in the sun
And that's just what we did. Once we got back to the lake, there was more sun than clouds, and we basked in the warmth as we ate our lunch and visited with one another. Richard snuck off by himself and took a quick dip. Some of our hikers who haven't been with us very long were amazed that he did it.

We covered around six miles total, with a mere 1,000 feet elevation gain and loss. It was even rather early when I got home, so here I am writing my Thursday post at an early hour for a change. As we headed back to the Senior Center, the clouds cleared even more. Who minds a partly sunny, warm day in January? Nobody! Another great day in the woods with my dear friends.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

How times have changed

Such a pretty petticoat
I've been watching the most recent season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, billed as a period comedy. It's set in 1959-60, the time just before I was graduating from high school. The clothes have triggered so many buried memories. The dresses brought back recollections of the days when I starched and ironed crinoline petticoats, much like the one in the picture. I was wearing mine with flats and bobby socks, not heels, however.

There was a time when I would come home from school at lunchtime and iron my skirts to get rid of the wrinkles from sitting at a desk all morning. It's almost inconceivable to me today, to think of how important it was to me. I had a pink crinoline much like this one, and I have a memory of starching it in the bathtub and hanging it out to dry on the clothesline.

There are not many people who remember the days when it was not okay for a young lady to walk around without a girdle, either. Oh, I remember so well pulling that awful torture device up my legs, wiggling my teeny-tiny little derriere into it, all for the sake of fashion. I am so glad that they are gone, long gone.

A young woman gave me a pedicure yesterday and I asked her where she was from. She was born in Vietnam, she said, as most of the young ladies who work there were. I told her I had visited Vietnam twice. She asked me when, and I told her it was in the early 1990s. "Oh, so long ago," she exclaimed. I realized that to her, it was ancient history. She wasn't even born until 1994! To me, it seems like just a few years ago. We looked at each other and marveled. Me, that she could be so grown up at 22, and her, well, who knows what she thought of the old lady in her chair?

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Wonderful walk, this time without wind

Our Saturday walking group
Look at all the people who showed up for our Saturday walk this morning. I cannot say "the ladies" because of Gordon, who has now joined us four times. He did warn us, however, that he will soon be returning to his home in Arizona and won't be with us for awhile. He hopes to return sometimes in March, however.

It was wonderful to wake up to no wind for a change. The skies were cloudy but no rain yet, so we happily walked almost seven miles around Whatcom Falls Park. I just saw that we have another major windstorm on the way for tonight, with lots of rain, so we lucked out today.

Most of these ladies have been friends for many years, and I look forward to the socializing we carry on along the trail and, often, afterwards over coffee. We discussed movies, books, and even a little bit of politics. Then I headed home to have a nice lunch and get ready for the movies with my friend Judy. Pretty much a perfect Saturday.
Whatcom Falls
And the water was roaring over the falls this morning. I took a picture last fall, at the end of our dry summer, and there was barely a trickle. Very different today!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Windy downtown hike

Intrepid hikers
Well, the Senior Trailblazers who met at the Senior Center this morning didn't know for sure just what we would be doing today, if anything. Plenty of rain and wind made our scheduled hike into the woods a nonstarter. In fact, the other group decided to cancel their hike; all of us were a bit nervous about the wind, since two weeks ago we were lucky to escape unscathed. But still, there were ten of us, and we decided to walk from the Center and get some exercise on the streets around town.
Whatcom Creek is roaring
We stopped on the bridge over Whatcom Creek for the first picture, and we took lots of photos and videos of the amazingly loud, roaring creek before heading off to the South Bay trail along Boulevard Park.
Boulevard Park with lots of water
I laughed when I saw this picture, because everything is so wet it looks like we're walking on water. Although it was raining pretty hard, the winds were only occasionally heavy and we were quite safe. The rest of the time it was just breezy.
January blossoms
Although it's early January, I have noticed these pink blossoms next to Woods Coffee on the boulevard are always in bloom, it seems. Whenever I pass by, no matter what time of the year it is, there they are.
A little wet but new raincoat works
Melanie took this picture of me in front of the blooms, and I was quite pleased to see how wet I am, but my raincoat did its job (yay!) and my rain pants also worked to keep me relatively dry. My biggest problem today was trying to keep my hat from blowing off, despite the chin strap.
These pretty bufflehead ducks swam right underneath the bridge we were on, but they had moved away quite far before I struggled my phone out from under my rain pants. They made a pretty diamond shape, except for the lone duck who seems to have been banished from the group.

We walked up Taylor Street in order to add some elevation to our walk. We then returned to the Senior Center by walking through the Western Washington University campus. I neglected to get a picture because I was busy discussing books and movies.
Our cozy lunch spot
We ended our time together with a nice lunch inside the Senior Center. We managed to walk almost seven miles, by most devices, and 900 feet elevation, most of which was on the Taylor Street hill. Then it was time to pack up our stuff and head home, after a safe, if rainy and windy, hike. I'm glad I went and look forward to better weather next week.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Brand new year 2019

Gathering at Lake Padden
One of the traditions that the Saturday walkers has enjoyed for years is a gathering on the first day of a new year to walk around the Lake Padden and then share leftover holiday food and hot coffee and chocolate. Cindy (our leader) always brings lots of thermoses filled with hot beverages and a couple of delicious homemade goodies. The rest of us share whatever we feel moved to bring, or even something we really want out of the house as we start the new year.
The tasty spread
I stopped at the grocery store on the way to buy those mandarin oranges, some of which were eaten, but mostly all the cookies and cakes were polished off in a flash. It was really nice to see everybody, along with some friends I hadn't seen in awhile, like my friend Rita.
Me and my dear friend Rita
Rita no longer hikes with us on Thursdays because she's a dedicated dancer, and her tap dancing class was changed to Thursdays, so she has to make priorities, as do we all. But it was simply delightful to see her again, and to find out how she's doing. It seems she's just as active as ever: bicycling, dancing, and walking when she finds the time.

It's a fun way to begin a new year. The Polar Bear Club has probably splashed around in the lake by now (I think it starts around noon) and the relatively mild temperature means there were lots of people taking the plunge. We skedaddled away long before, although there were some who decided to take another trip around the lake first. But I had eaten more than I should have, and Lily and I headed off for home instead.