Saturday, June 29, 2019

Summer is here

Sky and lake early this morning
This morning Lily and I joined the ladies for a brisk walk around Lake Padden in glorious sunshine, as you can see in this picture. A few clouds made for some lovely reflections. We had almost an inch of rain on Thursday, but then yesterday it was breezy and dry, cool with clouds and sun. Today, we've got much the same, but it's much warmer, and most of the clouds are gone. Lily went once around the lake, but I went twice, getting in more than five miles.
They taste as good as they look
Then we both went out in the garden to harvest raspberries. There are so many ripe ones right now that I picked some for us and some for our neighbors. And I didn't make a dent in them, and there are many, many more still to ripen. I couldn't believe how much work it is to pick them, so I suspect many will go to waste. Nobody told me that raspberry bushes multiply like rabbits!
My garden with flowers
I also spent some time out in my garden weeding, which was easy after all that rain. I've got kale and cauliflower doing well, celery and lots and lots of raspberries. And lettuce and tomatoes! The raspberry bushes are behind that watering can and little green table, which I use to sit on to pick. The temperature has climbed past 70°F (21°C), and I was beginning to tire.

When I see what's happening in Europe right now, I wonder if I would survive those temperatures without A/C, considering my inability to handle even mild heat. Rain may not be all that pleasant to hike in, but at least it's not life threatening. My heart goes out to all who are suffering.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

A very wet Thursday hike

At the beginning of today's hike
We only had nine intrepid souls show up on a day that was expected to be wet, very wet, and it lived up to expectations. Both groups were scheduled to go to the High Country, but with solid rain and thunderstorms in the forecast, we wisely called them off. Our group decided to drive to the Samish Bay trailhead and head up towards Oyster Dome and the Lily/Lizard Lake trail. It was raining when we started out, and it never stopped.
Dense wet foliage
Still, it was very beautiful, and we headed up to the trail junction and said we would make a decision once we reached it, whether to head up the rest of the way to Oyster Dome (where there would be no view) or off towards Lily and Lizard lakes. We skipped the final push to Oyster Dome and went towards the lakes.
The fast hikers waiting for me (Mel's picture)
The first part of this trail is rather steep, and I kept trying to keep up and wore myself out. Finally, I told Melanie (who was acting as sweep) that I needed to slow down. She caught this picture of me; she asked me to turn around before taking the picture. I've done this trail enough times to know that once we get to the junction, it's relatively flat, but I struggled to keep up with them.
Our trail
I don't have many pictures of today's adventure, because I was otherwise occupied: it was wet and I had to find my phone each time I wanted to snap something, and often by the time I fished it out from all my layers, the others were long gone.
Enormous skunk cabbage
You can't actually tell from this picture how large those cabbage leaves are, but trust me, they are huge. Shiny in the rain, I was determined to show them to you anyway. I didn't have any way to indicate their size. But the rain never let up, and by the time we had traveled towards the lakes, we decided to cut the hike short and take Max's Shortcut back to the cars. We only covered a bit under six miles and 1,200 feet of elevation today, and headed back to the Senior Center for lunch.

When we arrived and enjoyed a nice warm venue for lunch, we saw the other group arriving from their own hike, which was just as wet. They all looked as bedraggled as we felt. They did a local hike, hoping for the rain to let up, and when it didn't, they too came inside for a nice dry and warm lunch.

Next week, hopefully we will have another chance to take to the hills. I was very happy to have my friends with me as we braved the elements together. At least we didn't drive for over an hour in order to walk in the rain, when we had perfectly good rain right here in the Chuckanuts!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Lazy Tuesday

Taken last Saturday on Lummi Island
I'm having a bit of trouble trying to get used to some changes in my routine. For starters, it felt like Wednesday all day, because instead of taking my usual Tuesday yoga class, I've decided this semester to try a little bit harder one. It's on Mondays, and after having taken the first class out of ten, I think I will learn a lot and maybe even enjoy it. It's a much smaller class than Tuesday's, so that will be good: I'll have plenty of individual instruction.

But today I kept forgetting that I wasn't going to class today and would stop and try to remember what my schedule was. On class days, I drive to town instead of riding the bus so I can head to Yoga Northwest in Fairhaven. After looking for my car, I remembered that I had taken the bus. I'll get used to it, but it might take awhile.

I came home and did my laundry and then snipped two kinds of kale from the garden. One thing I've noticed is how much I love growing my own vegetables. And the raspberries are getting ripe. My favorite part of gardening is the harvest, and next the eating. I just finished a book I enjoyed (mostly: the ending threw me for a loop. Have you read The Last Cruise?) So now I'm lazily completing my final task for the day: my Tuesday post. I hope you're having a lazy Tuesday, too.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Our annual Lummi Island walk

Some of the group on the ferry
Today fifteen of us gathered to catch the 8:10am ferry to Lummi Island to do our usual seven-mile loop around the northern part of the island, mostly flat. It was really cold and windy as we waited to board. Cindy captured this picture of me, wearing all my available cold-weather gear.
Yep, it was cold
I didn't think to bring more warm clothes, since I was sure that the low marine layer would most likely burn off quickly, and I wasn't expecting the fierce wind. I pulled my handkerchief up over my nose for maximum effect, and Cindy laughed when she saw me and took this picture.
Walking on the road
Once we got off the ferry and started moving a little, it got a bit warmer. And then as we got out of the worst of the wind, it was definitely much nicer, and clothes started to come off.
All of us today
A nice passerby took this picture of the fifteen of us. Three are visiting Carol from Ireland, on the left behind me, and Cindy's sister from Sacramento (in the middle of the shot) were the only non-regulars along on this trip. We didn't go very fast, since not all of the visitors were interested in going at Cindy's usual pace. And although there were still a few clouds, mostly it was quite comfortable, unless we were facing a headwind.
Mackerel sky
While we were waiting to catch the return ferry, I looked up and saw these pretty mackerel clouds. They usually portend a change in the weather, and we are scheduled to have rain tonight. The wind is still strong, but now I'm comfortably ensconced in my favorite chair and feeling glad I went to Lummi Island today.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

All at sixes and sevens

Chris, Mike, Dianne, Mel, Kirk (and me behind the camera)
Thirteen Senior Trailblazers showed up at the Senior Center to decide where to go today. We were originally scheduled to take the Mt. Baker Highway to the the Hannegan Pass trailhead, but the weather had turned rainy and cool overnight. After much confusion, we decided to break into two groups, one to go to the original destination, and the rest of us on a local hike, the Chanterelle trail and beyond. There's the six of us; the other group had seven, which is reflected in the title of this post. It is also an old phrase meaning "disarray and confusion," so it was a perfect lead-in.
Viewpoint at the top of the Chanterelle trail
We hiked up two-and-a-half miles to this overlook, and decided to go on up higher, which we've done many times before. Unfortunately for us, the side trails we usually take are blocked off, since the Forest Service is renovating the trail and eventually making a loop hike. We had to walk on the service road the whole way from the viewpoint.
Wide service road
We expected rain, but other than a very brief downpour, it was dry, although it was obvious that it had rained overnight. The road was lined with foxglove and daisies, making for some lovely views.
Lots of foxglove next to the road
The road goes pretty steeply up from the viewpoint, and other than the pretty flowers, we pass under some power lines, which buzzed as we trudged uphill, making our way upward, always up. I'm not a fan of service roads.
Closeup of foxglove
You can see from this closeup that it had definitely rained recently. We imagined bees seeing these pretty flowers and settling in for a drink. Foxglove is what digitalis is derived from, if I'm not mistaken.
Lots of daisies, too
We kept going up the road until one of us (that would be me) got a little grumpy from walking uphill and asked when we might turn around. We had decided to return to the viewpoint to have lunch, so we began our descent at 11:30.
Another part of the service road
It was quite lovely, actually, and a lot more fun to be walking downhill back to the viewpoint for lunch than uphill. We arrived there a little after noon and settled in for a nice break.
The viewpoint and our lunch spot (Mel's picture)
It was quite mild, with the temperature in the high 50s (around 14–15°C) and just a light breeze. The way back down to the cars was on the Chanterelle trail and beautiful. We covered eight-and-a-half miles total, with 2,100 feet elevation gain and loss. That would be just about the same distance and elevation that the other group must have made, but they also had a three-hour drive (an hour and a half each way) that we didn't have. When we returned to the Senior Center, their cars were still there, as we expected they would be. If I find out how their hike went, I'll put in an update. As of now, we six are back and happy to have had a good day together, albeit with half of our usual number.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Northern Hemisphere summer starts this week

California poppies
I snapped this picture on my way back from my excursion on the bus, back from my gym class and hankering for lunch. Since I'm out of the house by 7:00am, I'm usually ready for lunch before noon. Today was no exception.

I remember poppies like these when I was growing up in California. They remind me so much of our home in Fairfield. I was just a kid but some images stick in my head, as poppies and geraniums were everywhere, as I recall.

Summer starts this week, but it seems like it's been here for quite awhile already. Late spring and early summer are my favorite time of the year. The pansies I potted on my front porch are getting leggy, and it's probably time to switch them out for summertime flowers, like heliotrope, petunias, lavender, and more geraniums, which seem to do well here.

I've got a doctor's appointment this afternoon so between now and then, I think I'll head to the local flower shop and snag some colorful plants. Now that I've written my usual brief Tuesday post, I'm ready to go!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Two great guys

John and Gene
As I was leaving the coffee shop this morning, I snapped this picture of my two friends who are almost always there when I arrive. Since Lily didn't make it for the walk, I wanted to send her something to remind her that she's missed, so these two guys sent her a greeting. "Lily, we miss you!"

We ladies walked from the Farmers' Market to Marine Park in Fairhaven, a round trip of about five-ish miles. It was overcast and very pleasant. None of the "R" word, just lots of clouds. We don't have any rain in the forecast until next Thursday, just in time for our hike. Oh, well, I'll take that over heat any day.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Goat Mountain 2019

Shady and dry trail
Today we headed back up to the High Country to Goat Mountain, and since there is a limit to groups of 12 or fewer in the wilderness, Al decided to start breaking up the group into a 7:30am and an 8:00am time to leave. Five people went on the early hike, and eight of us started at the regular time. We didn't know how many people would show up, but it worked out very well. Since there were only 13 in total, we could probably have gotten away with a "baker's dozen," but there is no way to tell, since nobody has to sign up ahead of time.
Beautiful purple (meaning old) trillium
The weather was hot from the start, after two record-breaking days of heat in Bellingham, but this hike, although steep throughout, is shaded at the beginning, as you can see from that first photo. It was hot but not brutal. Then we hit the meadow, where you begin to climb relentlessly in the sunshine to the overlook, but we took it slow and it wasn't too bad. We were looking forward very much to getting to the top.
Our combined groups at the overlook
The early group arrived at this spot an hour before us, and after a bit of chitchat about the day, the excellent views, with their lunch already eaten, they left and the eight of us settled in for our own lunchtime and rest.
Having lunch and enjoying the spectacular view
The three beautiful mountains that we can see from this vantage point were in full view. Many times we've gotten here in blustery or bad weather and couldn't sit and enjoy it like we did today. There was no snow except for a few patches on the trail coming up. This is very unusual for this early in the season, but nobody was complaining.
Mt Baker and clouds
There was a brisk breeze (which felt wonderful, by the way) while we were on top, and we noticed the clouds beginning to move in and wondered if a change in the weather is on the way. After a half-hour lunch break we started back down the way we had come.
Me and Shuksan behind
I asked Melanie to take a picture of me so I could chronicle myself at this spot. I'm wearing another new hat, hoping it won't be as hot as my others, and with the sunglasses and sunscreen I felt quite protected from the strong sun.
Returning to the cars
And then it was time to head back down. We didn't hike far today, only seven miles total, but the elevation was pretty intense: 2,600 feet (492 meters) in that short three-and-a-half-mile distance. Everyone in both groups did just fine, but I must admit that I am really enjoying my glass of wine right now as I write this. I've got to water the garden once it cools down a bit more, but I have no need to do anything more than that before settling down in my easy chair. Another fine day in the High Country with my great friends.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

I got nothin'

Astronomy Picture of the Day June 10, 2019
I have absolutely nothing to talk about today, so I'm heading out to Jupiter to see what's going on out there. As some of you are aware, NASA has a robotic spacecraft that is circling Jupiter and taking pictures that we've never seen before. As that APOD link (under the picture) tells us, that black spot is something, but nobody knows what it is.
The featured image was captured last month while Juno passed only about 15,000 kilometers above Jupiter's cloud tops. The next close pass of Juno near Jupiter will be in July.
I have been fascinated with Jupiter and its beauty for many years and have been thrilled with the pictures Juno has been able to capture. This one is, well, out of this world.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Saturday rolls around again

Taken from Galbraith Mountain
This morning the ladies and I walked up Galbraith Mountain for about six miles, maybe a little less, from the Whatcom Falls parking lot on Electric Avenue. I snapped this picture right in the middle of the brisk walk, not sure whether it would even be in focus. You can see the bay in the distance, and foxglove flowers in the foreground. It's not really much of a picture, but it's all I was able to get while moving so fast.

Some of us went out for coffee afterwards and enjoyed some laughs and good company. It's not hard for me to be having a good time, since I've got so many great friends. This is simply the best time of the year to be in the Pacific Northwest, with just a week to go before the summer solstice. People ask me if I've got any plans to go anywhere this summer, but where could I go that would be better than this? That would be an emphatic no.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Four of us went rogue

Melanie, Mike, and Kirk (and me behind the camera)
Today, when I arrived at the Senior Center for the regular Thursday hike, I had no idea where we might end up going. The scheduled hike wasn't feasible, and after last week's hard hike, I wasn't really interested in going back up to the High Country in iffy weather. So, Melanie convinced me to make a fourth for a hike to Pine and Cedar Lakes in the Chuckanuts. The rest of the group, twelve of them, decided to try Excelsior Pass up the Mt. Baker Highway. It is longer but similar to last week's trip to Church Mountain. I don't know how that turned out, since they are not back yet. (I tried to call Chris, one of the hikers but they are still out of cellphone range.)
Our beautiful surroundings today
Anyway, those of us who decided against going a long distance were on the North Chuckanut trailhead by 8:30 and headed up the Hemlock and Huckleberry trails, to our first destination, Raptor Ridge.
Raptor Ridge, looking towards Mt Rainier
When the skies are clear and the conditions perfect, you can see Mt. Rainier in the middle of the picture. Obviously today wasn't one of those days, but the clouds did thin out eventually, in defiance of the forecast.

Melanie took this shot at my request, so I could have one with me in it while we were on the ridge. We also heard a loud raven calling across the valley, and he did sail past us at one point. I'm not sure if it qualifies as a raptor, but it was definitely a very big bird.
Me, Kirk, Mike (Melanie's picture)
And then we headed down a different direction than our approach to the ridge, and made our way to Cedar Lake. The weather was really nice for hiking, with only a sprinkle or two as we hiked along.
Banana slug on the trail
Who says we don't see wildlife? This massively huge slug (probably more than six inches long) was making progress across the trail as we watched. These kinds of slugs are native to the area, and many times I've watched Peggy pick them up from the trail and move them out of harm's way. I did that only once, because they are slimy to the touch! Since there were only four of us, we were careful not to disturb him and went on our way.
Very big trillium leaves
We saw these huge trillium leaves and, although the flowers are gone, they are still quite beautiful to see. This was pretty much the only rain we had while we hiked, just enough to give some texture to the scenery.
Cedar Lake
And then we were at Cedar Lake. Since it was close to noon, we decided to stop here for lunch. Three men on horseback had tied their horses and were looking for a place to have lunch, too. They joined us for lunch and we had a very nice conversation with these three men from Lynden who have lived in the area their whole lives. They go out once a week for a horseback ride together.
A natural valentine
I happened to look down at one point on our way back and saw these two pretty bleeding hearts surrounded by foam flowers (those pretty white ones) and thought it looked like a painting. The environment was just a delight, and my company was delightful, too.
The sun came out on our way home
And the dappled sunlight began to appear through the trees. By the time we were back to our starting point, almost all the clouds were gone. Just a perfect day, if you ask me. We hiked more than nine miles and some elevation gain, just enough for me. (News flash: I just got a text from Chris from the other group, who said they just now reached Maple Falls, a place near the town of Glacier that has cellphone coverage. They got snowed on and hiked 8.7 miles with lots of elevation: 3,300 feet. So they will be home in another hour or so.) I'm glad I took it easy today and went rogue!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

A sticky subject

First strawberries from my garden
Yesterday, Hubby and I devoured the first four strawberries from the garden. Now we have harvested the first of the fruit, and steamed up some Russian kale as well. The first of this year's tasty treats from the garden.
My little garden patch mid-picture
I  just finished an acupuncture treatment, which is why this post is a little late for today. While in the coffee shop, I tried to write a post from my iPad without success, so I was very interested to learn that Apple is coming out with an operating system for the iPad that might fix that little problem. In any event, I haven't got much to write about anyway.

One of my blogging buddies asked me if acupuncture really works, and I've got to tell you that it sure has worked for me. I had a serious problem with my heel, which was completely fixed with a few treatments, and now I am going to Warren, the acupuncturist, for some other problems that are not quite so cut and dried. It might help to realize that I am rather susceptible to suggestion, but so far acupuncture has also helped with other annoyances that I suffer from. Arthritis pain, mild constipation, and flagging energy are all symptoms that have been alleviated by having needles stuck in my arms, legs, and tummy. Plus I always feel much better afterwards.

So who knows? Is it because I expect it to work or does it really? Frankly, I don't think it matters much if I feel better afterwards. If you're wondering, it might be an interesting subject to delve into.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Saturday again, this time no rain

Squalicum Harbor (picture by Lily)
This morning was such a gorgeous day that we had 24 walkers show up! I tried to stay up with the others so I didn't stop to take pictures, but Lily went with a couple of other ladies who didn't want to hurry, so she took lots of them. I asked for some of them, like these. Everything is in bloom!
Pretty blooms (picture by Lily)
We walked from Adagio's Cafe to Squalicum Harbor, around Zuanich Point and along the promenade that graces the harbor. A light cool breeze off the water made it seem a little cool, but really it was just perfect. Without the breeze we would have actually been a little on the warm side. That's saying something for those of us who live here. It's almost 70°F right now.
Strawberries beginning to ripen
And a little tidbit from my garden. It won't be long now before I'll be tasting these strawberries. The raspberries are still just past the bloom stage, but they are hanging heavy on the bushes. We should have a bumper crop. The bees have been working overtime out there, too. I'll be harvesting the first greens from the garden today or tomorrow and will be sure to take pictures, of course.