Thursday, May 30, 2019

First visit to Church 2019

Today's hikers up to Church Mountain meadow
Sixteen Senior Trailblazers showed up for our first hike into the High Country this year. The weather was glorious, with fog at first, clearing off to perfect blue skies.
Fog as we moved uphill
This is one of the earliest times we have attempted this hike, because Al said he learned that the snow is clearing out quickly, and this south-facing hike usually has only small amounts of snow on the trail, until we meet the meadow.
First view of the meadow
We saw no snow at all on the way up, very unusual, and when we got to the meadow after about three miles hiking steeply uphill, this is what greeted us: huge areas clear of snow and plants beginning to come alive, now that the snow is almost gone.
A huge tree blown down
While we hiked in the forest on the way to the meadow, we saw several trees that were blown down during the winter. Several of them caused quite a bit of struggle to safely navigate, but we managed to get everyone across the obstacles, with the help of some of the stronger hikers.
Our lunch spot
We found a nice place without any snow for us to have our lunch. There was such a great view of Mt. Baker and the warm weather caused us to be on the hot side, rather than having to bundle up from the wind and cold, as we usually do when we stop for lunch. Just an amazing day.
The high spot for the day
I climbed up the hill a ways above the others, so I could answer the call of nature, but once I got there, I was joined by Melanie and Owen, and since there was no place to hide, the two of them acted as a curtain for me.
Melanie and Owen
Once I was done, they looked so cute standing there I had to take this picture. The sun was blazing down on us, so we had to take some drastic measures to keep ourselves from getting damaged by the sun.
Ken and Roger
Ken has to keep his skin as covered as possible, and Roger's glacier glasses made the two of them an irresistible photo op. We were just finishing our lunch break and getting ready to start back into the forest when I took this.
Glacier lilies
These pretty yellow flowers only appear for a short while after the snow is gone. They are always a favorite, partly because of their short life cycle, and also because the delicate lily is so beautiful. I found this one alone and looking like it's holding its petals out in bliss.
Blissful sunshine
And then it was time to return to the forest and make our way back down the steep descent. Although this is not a long hike, it is unremittingly uphill and then unremittingly downhill. No messing around here. We hiked somewhere between a little over six and maybe closer to seven miles today, but we also climbed and descended 2,400 feet of elevation in that distance.
Almost back down
The lower elevations are filled with lush greenery and flowers, and we all enjoyed the day very much, our first trip to the High Country this season. There will be plenty more to come, and we will definitely be returning to Church Mountain later in the season in order to climb to the top. A great day today!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Wellness visit and more

Banana slug enjoying a meal
Last Saturday during our wet walk, I saw these oyster mushrooms on a log, but that slimy critter, the banana slug, wasn't there. My friend Cindy took this picture and posted it on Facebook. I know there are at least two different kinds of slugs in our area, and this one is native and prized above the black ones that were brought here from elsewhere. Someone once told me they come from France, but if so, I haven't heard any speaking with an accent. This banana slug is certainly looking well fed and very happy.

This morning I had my wellness checkup with my doctor, and I came out of the exam feeling pretty darn good. She said my numbers are all just fine, and that considering my age, I should be patting myself on the back because of my continuing good health and determination to exercise and stay active.

There are two things I am supposed to do in the near future: a colonoscopy (oh joy) and a bone density test. At least the bone density test is painless. Not so much the other, but what the heck, it should be my last. So I'll just get 'er done. Have you had one recently? I don't have good memories of my last one, but my doctor told me they are better and even the prep is easier these days.

My cholesterol is good, but my HDL (the good stuff) had declined a bit. She just said that the number is still fine, but now my sister's is higher than mine. What, who says I'm competitive?

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Really soggy walk today

This morning's intrepid walkers
I love this walk up to a delightful viewpoint, and today the ladies (and one man) met at the parking lot of the Lake Whatcom trailheads, one on the north shore of the lake, and the other up a winding trail, called the Chanterelle trail, our walk today. We knew it was supposed to rain a little, but we sure didn't expect so much of it. Constant rain up the 2.5 miles to the top, and then a little break when we reached the summit. I took this picture, thinking this was probably going to be the last of the rain, but no: as soon as we started back down the trail, it began to rain hard again.

The trail goes through lots of forest, ferns, and it's really pretty, even in the rain. The sound of the rain hitting all the leaves and ferns made for a sweet gentle cacophony as we walked. But I was pretty darn wet by the time I finished the five-mile hike, and I was wearing my latest good raincoat. Perhaps it's time for it to get a good washing. Sometimes they lose their ability to keep the rain out when dirt and sweat gets into the fabric.

It's still raining, I can hear it on the roof as I write this. But it's much nicer to hear it now that I'm warm and dry, safe inside my home. Luena is on her way to SeaTac Airport to fly back home after her two-week visit. I'm going to miss her, but she'll be back again next year, I hope.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Start of Summer party

Both groups who hiked today
Twenty Senior Trailblazers from the first group, the Half Fast one which I usually hike with, met the slightly smaller group, the Relaxed hikers, on the horse trails behind Lake Padden today just by chance, before our potluck starting at 11:00. Melanie took this picture, which is why I am in it (thank you, Mel). It was wonderful to see several hikers who don't come much any more, like Jonelle, standing next to me in the front row. She travels a lot and just arrived in Bellingham yesterday. It was such a delight to see everybody!
Stopping to gather the group together
We hiked around some hills and dales that Al knows well, making sure we could get in around six miles before heading back down to the pavilion that we rented for the occasion.
Our trails and lots of green
The weather could not have been better, really. It was a little cool with a light breeze, which makes for perfect hiking. I wore my low boots rather than those I usually hike in with ankle protection, so I chose to use my trekking poles, which most hikers left behind on this easy hike. And then we headed down to our cars to get our goodies to share for the potluck.
Salads galore
And lo and behold, a true potluck with no rules, we ended up with a massive number of fabulous salads. One after another showed up on the table, along with nuts, deviled eggs, and some bread and muffins. And no meat anywhere in sight. Our dessert table also had a homemade rhubarb pie (delicious!), two kinds of brownies, watermelon, and Melanie's special raspberry crumble made gluten free just for Joy, although many of the rest of us snarfed them down, too.
Meredith, Linda, Joy
The reason these three ladies are standing while eating their lunch is that under the shaded pavilion, the breeze made us feel a little on the cool side. Those who didn't mind standing were happy to pose for a picture for me.
More hikers soaking up the rays
Their technique caught on, and more went outside to warm up a little. I like this picture because Luena, my guest, is in the foreground talking with Al. It was simply a wonderful day, potluck, as well as hike for our welcome-to-summer event. We must have had well over 40 people, as some people showed up just for the eating part of the day, and another marvelous season of camaraderie and enjoyment ahead has been kicked off in style!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

More food enjoyment

Luena, me, Carol, Char
When I saw my friend Carol this morning at the Y, she suggested that we meet at Jalapenos restaurant in Fairhaven for Tuesday Tacos (and also margaritas) so that Carol and her friend Char could meet Luena. Since I had my yoga class as well as an acupuncture treatment just before, it was perfect for me. Luena walked from her airbnb and we had a very lovely repast. The halibut tacos were incredibly delicious; I should go there sometime again soon. It had been probably two decades since I've been in a Mexican restaurant with such good food (as well as delightful margaritas during Happy Hour).

It seems that we have been doing little more than eating out with Luena, but it's been a great way for her to meet so many of my friends. Tomorrow she's taking the two of us to our favorite Thai restaurant, and then on Thursday she'll join me for the annual potluck with the Senior Trailblazers. Right now it seems extravagant, but that's only because I'm feeling really full right now!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

A fun gathering

Half of Hedi, Lily, me, Judy, Luena and SG
Yesterday after yoga, Luena (SG's sister who is visiting from southern California) and I went over to Hedi's for a really nice potluck gathering. My friend Judy came, too, along with Lily, who got off work early so she could join us. We enjoyed lasagna, kale and wild rice salad, cheese and crackers, wine, and afterwards, Hedi's contribution to our waistlines, cheesecake.

The reason you only see half of Hedi is that she hates to have her picture taken, and we had to coax her just to have this much. She is a dear sweet person but when you put a camera near her, she is much like Eeyore from the Christopher Robin stories.
It was really good!
We enjoyed the camaraderie, food, and wine, with plenty of laughter and just the best time I've had a while. Today, Luena and I will spend the entire day on a boat hopefully watching whales breach while touring around the San Juan islands. I'll have plenty of pictures from that. I'm writing this very early in the morning before starting the rest of my day.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Chuckanut delight

The group in action (Melanie's picture)
Sixteen Senior Trailblazers did a really nice loop hike in the Chuckanuts, with every part familiar to us from recent hikes, but a different way of doing it: we started hiking just past the Lower Ridge trail, up to the top of the Rock trail, down the North Lost Lake trail, and then up to Raptor Ridge for lunch, and a nice (rather steep but still nice) hike up to the Lower Ridge trail that we skipped at the start.
View of the Sisters from Chuckanut Ridge
Our first view was pretty nice, as you can see here, but the low clouds obscured Mt. Baker. We had to content ourselves with this lovely sight. The weather was varied, with some sunshine and plenty of clouds that kept the temperature very mild, perfect for hiking.
Magnificent greenery
It was so lush and green that I was again reminded of how really lucky I am to live in such a place and to be in good enough shape to join my friends for a hike like this one. We were all in a great mood and the conversations were numerous, with so many different friends to walk and talk with.
Kirk on the Rock trail
At one point, I asked Kirk to turn around so I could get a picture of him, since I have so many of his back. He was happy to oblige.
Raptor Ridge
By the time we got to Raptor Ridge, much of the sunlight was gone, but it was very pleasant on the rocks, so we decided to have lunch there. Many times in past visits we have been unable to sit down and enjoy our lunch here, because of wind or rain or snow. Today it was simply lovely. Once or twice the sun came out and it was almost too warm.
We spread ourselves out on the rocks, being very careful of the steep drop-off. It's only scary if you're not paying close attention to the edge. It was a very pleasant break and we all enjoyed the lunches we brought. Then it was time to head back and complete the loop.
A feast for the eyes
I was overwhelmed at times by the incredible beauty around us. I don't think my pictures adequately captured how lovely it was out there today. I keep trying, though. How many superlatives can I use before wearing out my blog readers?
Spent trillium
We did see some trillium that were fairly new, but once they have begun their decline, they turn this pretty purple color. In a way, they are even more beautiful when they are "elderly." (Much like the Senior Trailblazers.)
On our way back to the cars
It was altogether a gorgeous (another superlative) day, and everyone was happy to be together on this expedition into the Chuckanuts. Soon we will be leaving them behind for the season, while we venture into the High Country. Today we covered more than nine miles (not sure exactly, but everyone had at least nine on their devices) and around 2,000 feet up and down. Next week we will have our annual potluck to welcome in the summer months. It was a great way to bid a short farewell to some of our favorite hikes.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Whales in my future

Luena in her airbnb rental
I'm sorry that you cannot see the marvelous view of the bay from Luena's apartment she rented while visiting us in Bellingham. It was either her, or the view, but the sunshine made it impossible, with my cellphone camera anyway, to get both.

She and I are going on a whale watching tour of the San Juan islands on Saturday. It's an all-day thing, and I've been wanting to do this for a while. It's wonderful to have her to do it with. Here's the scoop, if you want to know more about it. Anyway, we will be spending all day long hoping to see some orca whales. She is here visiting from southern California, and I'm glad she will get to see the San Juans, a real treat. I'm not sure when I'll be posting the pictures that you KNOW I will be taking, because we won't be back until late (well, relatively speaking, that is).

We're having a great time while she's here. She will even be taking a few yoga classes with my favorite teacher, and she asked for my massage therapist's number, so I'm glad she will be enjoying that, too. Anyway, more later.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

A new cafe and more

Shirlee behind the counter
After the walk with the ladies this morning, my friend Gene took us out for breakfast at one of his favorite places, the Shirlee Bird Cafe in Fairhaven. He had already introduced us to the incredible yummy bear claws she makes in her cafe, but this time we got to see the whole place, such as it is.

t's a very tiny little area, as you can see, but once you walk through the door in the back, it opens up to a place shared by dozens of different shops, and there are many more places to sit than just the counter and the one booth where Lily and I sat while we had a great breakfast. Lily saw the Marlon Bundo book on the side and picked it up. She loved it and read the entire thing before we were served. If you don't know about it, you can find out more right here.

I had seen the book advertised on the John Oliver show, and be forewarned if you know little or nothing about the book. Marlon Bundo is a bunny who fell in love with another male. The saga tells the story of how the two same-sex critters decided to get married against all odds. I just ordered it from the above link.

4Ocean website
And just yesterday, while visiting a couple apartment friends, I noticed they were both wearing sweet little bracelets. It turns out that they had ordered them from 4Ocean, which is an amazing organization.  I had a hard time deciding which bracelet to order for myself and finally went with the dolphin bracelet.
When you purchase the 4ocean Dolphin Bracelet, we’ll remove one pound of trash from the ocean and coastlines. We’ll also help protect dolphins, porpoises, and their habitats from ocean plastic and other threats. This bracelet represents your support.
For a $20 donation, you get a cool bracelet and it's a great way to help clean up our oceans. So, for a small amount of money, I have helped to pull a pound of trash from the ocean and bought a controversial but delightful book!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

British Army Trail and car shuttle

Waiting for the drivers to arrive
Fourteen Senior Trailblazers spent a long day on Blanchard Mountain, hiking the entire British Army trail from its beginning, which starts out as the Pacific Crest trail before becoming the British Army trail. (As an aside, I wrote about our first trip up this trail here in 2012, if you're interested.) Today we did a car shuttle, dropping us off and then all four cars driving to our end point, while the rest of us waited in the cool and lovely weather for them to return in just one. It didn't take very long.
The first sign affirming we were on the right trail
We started off on old logging roads, and Al, our leader, used his GPS flawlessly. We never got off the trail and continued on until we found the first sign showing that we were indeed on the correct trail. By this time, the temperature had risen to become very warm, and we shed clothing as the day went on.
A fine stand of trillium
We saw lots and lots of trillium, along with bleeding hearts, queen's cup, wild ginger, and much more I couldn't identify. By the time we reached Lizard Lake, our first destination, a very light breeze blew off the lake and cooled us down a tiny bit. Usually, we are at this point donning jackets, but not today.
Lizard Lake
You can see by the reflection that it was mostly calm and clear. The last time we were here, it was cold and windy, but today was anything but. It was almost too hot at times. Since it was so sunny and clear, Al suggested that we might extend our hike, but first we needed to get to Lily Lake.
Lily Lake
By the time we got there, that breeze ruffled the water a little, and we discussed whether or not to stop here for lunch and then make our way to the Lower Trailhead where the cars were parked, or maybe take a trip up to North Butte. You can guess what we decided to do: extend the hike.
View from North Butte
It was now time for lunch, and since it was so sunny, I had to work hard to find a nice moderately shady spot to enjoy my own lunch. It was downright hot in the sun, with the breeze barely making it up here. We had hoped for it, but only because some of us are Pacific Northwesterners who wilt in the full sun.
Feather in his cap
Frank had found this feather on the trail and stuck it in his cap while we ate our lunch. You have to climb up onto these rocks to make it all the way to the top of the butte, and everyone made it without mishap, including me. I did slide back down on my rear end, because the steepness was a little intimidating in spots.
Heading to the Lower Trailhead
Then it was time to make our way down the trail to our cars. It was a long day, but a fruitful one in the sunshine. We covered over nine miles and 2,300 feet up and down. That's one reason why I'm feeling so tired right now, but after a nice cold drink instead of some wine, I'm a little bit recovered. Tomorrow I am scheduled for a massage, which will be wonderful! Another fine day in the Chuckanuts with my best buds.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Sunny and warmer

Two colors of rhododendrons
I took this snapshot of a beautiful sunny morning on our walk last Saturday. Every bush is sprouting flowers these days. Rhododendrons are the Washington state flower; I've seen wild ones in the forests and cultivated ones everywhere else.

It's a little after noon on yet another fine sunny day. I just finished my yoga class and have two hours between when it finished and my acupuncture appointment, just a block away. So it made sense to come up to my favorite restaurant above the bookstore and have a bowl of soup while I write my regular Tuesday post. I ordered a curry-lentil bowl, which I've never tasted before, but I guarantee I will definitely order it again. My mouth is a bit tingly from the curry, not in a bad way at all.

We have about a week of above-normal temperatures, with full sun and climbing from the mid-sixties all the way up to around 80°F by the weekend. That's a bit on the warm side for me, but I'll muddle through. By Sunday it should begin to return to normal temperatures again. This is a very lovely time of year in the Pacific Northwest. Some of my blogging friends in the southern states enjoy (or at least I hope they do) much warmer temperature than we ever get around here.

Now that I'm letting my nice lunch settle, the wrestling with whether or not to have a scoop of ice cream to finish things off is busy going on inside my head. My favorite might not be there today, and if that happens, I'll skip it. Otherwise...

Saturday, May 4, 2019

A silver anniversary

Our wedding, May 5, 1994
Tomorrow will be our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, after having gotten married in freefall a quarter of a century ago! I met my guy through skydiving, so it's not all that unusual to think of marrying each other in freefall, not to me at least.

We declared on our marriage certificate that we would be married on 5/5 when we passed through 5,000 feet above Loveland, Colorado. Our Best Man was the videographer. This is the exact moment. We had already passed the Baton of Commitment back and forth to each other (in his left hand). I was wearing my brand-new jumpsuit with rainbow grippers for the first time. It ended up being worn many, many more times. After I had become an instructor, it would be the suit I would use for small female students, so it got a lot of use. Sometimes another instructor would ask if he could borrow "the wedding dress" for a student, as well.

Anyway, something worked: we are happier together today than we were when we took the leap. Since we were both in our fifties when we married, we are not likely to make it to gold, and we have no regrets, with many happy years behind us, and hopefully many more ahead.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Fine day in the Chuckanuts

Part of today's group on the trail
Thirteen Senior Trailblazers went out into the Chuckanuts for a rainless but chilly and overcast start to the day. The trail was called a "lollipop," meaning we started and ended with the same trail (the Two Dollar trail) but made a meandering loop in the middle. I was almost at the end of the line, and while these hikers stopped for us slower ones to catch up, I took this picture. You can tell by the way we are dressed that it wasn't warm, by any means.
Pretty trail with lots of fresh greenery
We've been seeing lots of trillium for weeks now, and there are many other flowers coming out everywhere, along with fiddlehead ferns and just about everything that is not already in bloom will emerge within a week or two.
Fresh, sweet trillium patch
Leslie pointed out this patch of trillium flowers that I would have missed otherwise. They are obviously fresh blooms, because this is what happens to trillium when they are at the end of their one seasonal bloom:
Old trillium just about done
They turn pink and then red before dying for the season, and then starting the process all over next spring. Such beauty, though, is a delight to see. We walked to Gates Overlook and got there early enough to have a short lunch break, before heading down the Rock trail.
Rock trail
After having climbed up to the Overlook (with little to no view and a brisk wind), we then descended down the more than 175 steps to the South Lost Lake trail. I find it hard to navigate this trail down and would rather hike up it, as my knees are feeling quite worked out as I sit here after our day's exertions.
A few of the Rock trail stairs
It's a beautiful area, and nobody seemed to have much problem with the elevation gain today, although we went up and down around 2,500 feet in just over nine miles. Not an easy day, but well worth it.
Fragrance Lake
It had been blustery and cold until we started down the trail to Fragrance Lake for a quick second lunch stop. You can see how glassy smooth the lake was as we started down the Two Dollar trail back to the cars.
Samish Bay under clearing skies
Melanie was able to capture this picture of the bay as the skies cleared. It was almost 2:30pm by this time, and the promised sunshine began to emerge just as we reached the cars. The temperature had warmed a little as well, but I was happy to see the cars and head back to the Senior Center. It was a really lovely day, and we not only had great weather (it's always better to be cooler than too warm), we also had our usual great company and I enjoyed myself immensely. I also know I'll sleep well tonight!