Thursday, July 29, 2021

Remembering Chain Lakes

From 2014

 My workout today was indoors, at the Y. My fellow Senior Trailblazers are hiking the Chain Lakes loop today that I love so much. I'm not sure if I will ever be able to hike it again, but I went back and looked at pictures of the the more than dozen times I've hiked it in previous years. This one I chose from my collections because I'm in it, the fifth from the front. This one, taken in August 2014, shows that most of the hikers from days past are no longer hiking. I guess I need to be willing to put myself in that category, too. But some holdouts, like Al and a few others, are still going strong.

This picture was taken almost at the top of Herman Saddle, a long uphill slog that is brutal in full sun and hot temperatures, like it is today. Last year we didn't do any group hikes such as this because of the pandemic, but the two years that I hiked it before were strong indicators of how much I've slowed down. I was not willing to subject myself to it again today, not to mention that my ankle is still not a hundred percent better from the bad sprain I endured a month ago. 

So, I had my first workout at the Y since it has partially opened to its customers. I took the bus to town, went to the coffee shop as usual, and headed up to the front doors of the Y, with my pass still intact and working, and headed up to the room with the exercise bike I used faithfully before the shutdown. I had forgotten all the settings I had grown accustomed to, but once I got the hang of it, it was really nice to be able to work up a good sweat with an old friend. And then I went over to the treadmill and walked on it for awhile. My speed is much slower than it was when I stopped using it before.

I ran into a few familiar faces, people who came back into the gym long before I was willing to. I did try it once, but it was a little scary. Now that I'm fully vaccinated and have been for awhile, I was happy to get reacquainted with the way the gym is today. All the machines are now spread out, and there were very few people to contend with. I did ask, when I entered, if I would need to wear my mask, and the attendant told me no... for now. That may change if this Covid variant takes hold in our community. So far we are doing okay, but I've started wearing my masks again inside grocery stores, even if they aren't required any more. Apparently even fully vaccinated people can carry the virus and infect others. It's a small risk right now, but we all thought we were done with this awful virus. Not quite yet.

Since I might not be doing hard hikes any more, I need to rethink my Thursday blog posts and figure out where to go from here. I had gotten used to only posting twice a week on DJan-ity, with the Thursday post dedicated to the Senior Trailblazers. Now I'm casting about for what I might do in the future. I will still write on my other blog on Sunday mornings, but this blog needs a facelift. I'll think on it and see what I might come up with. Anybody got any ideas?

Until then, I'll keep hoping that suddenly I'll wake up ten years younger and filled with vim and vigor. Or at least I can see if I can hold on for another year or so and hike when it's not so hot.


Monday, July 26, 2021

Playing with my food

Zucchini, dollar bill, and big smile

After having missed a couple days of watering (and checking) the garden, this enormous zucchini emerged. I put it on the table and before long, "someone" had printed out a big smile, and added a dollar bill for size comparison (as well as eyes). 

I'm pretty sure this zucchini is the result of the sex lesson I got from Carter, who showed me the difference between male and female flowers, and he made sure that the male pollen got into the right place in the female flower. I didn't even know there was a difference, one from the other, but now I will not make that mistake again. A couple of days after my lesson, I saw a beautiful female flower just asking for a little action, but I couldn't find a male flower anywhere. And you only have a very short window of time before the flower closes up, whether or not it has been pollinated. I am really surprised at how much I've learned in this particular season, both about zucchini sex, and also about what red potatoes look like as they grow. I'm thinking I might go out and harvest some of those potatoes and cook 'em up.

We are having day after day of sunshine without any clouds in the sky. Not my favorite time of year or weather pattern. I much prefer cooler weather and some fluffy, pretty clouds to break the monotony of all thar BLUE. This Thursday the temperatures in the High Country will be too hot for me to do much, so I'm thinking of skipping joining the Senior Trailblazers and just doing something local. Somewhere that I can turn around if I get too hot and/or tired. Not to mention my ankle is better but not back to a hundred percent yet. 

How about you? How's the weather in your neck of the woods? My Southern Hemisphere friend is busy blowing soap bubbles outdoors and watching them freeze and putting the pictures up on her blog. It sure is fun to see! You can check it out here, if you want. 


Thursday, July 22, 2021

Stayed local again today

View from the Chanterelle trail overlook

Today Melanie and I hiked up to the Chanterelle overlook to take a look at the view on a glorious sunny day. It was cool, but warming up from the last few chilly days, to around 70°F (22°C). I'll take our current weather over much of what I'm seeing right now across the country. I feel very fortunate to live here, where during the summer it's usually dry and on the warm side. Although it's been more than a month since we've seen any measurable precipitation, we are just now beginning what is thought of as the dry period, with less rain than usual for us. 

Last of the foxglove flowers

It's so dry up at the overlook, and I was surprised to see that the pretty foxglove are already almost gone. These flowers grow in long stems, but it seems early to me to see that they are not still in full bloom. Most of the stalks were completely dried out.

Sunshine lighting up this area

In this picture, also taken from the overlook, you can see how much everything has dried out. It wouldn't take much to cause a fire, so I do hope that all who visit this delightful spot will take care with any fire sources (such as cigarettes). I just realized how seldom I see someone hike up here and then light up. Times have sure changed since I was young.

Dappled sunlight on the trail

This is truly a beautiful and well-maintained trail, as you can see here. It's been extended from the short two-and-a-half mile trail to the overlook, to include another winding and lovely trail up that much distance again, making the entire trail covering five miles, ten miles round trip. We just went to the overlook, as I am still nursing my sore ankle. I was so pleased to learn that this adventure did not tax it too much, although the thousand-foot descent was challenging. Now, however, here at home I am feeling so much better and even anxious to try something a little harder. Maybe by next week I'll be able to return to the whole group.

But in the meantime, I am very happy to have my friend Mel join me on these easier hikes. She was certainly capable of doing the harder hike today, but she instead let me choose my own less strenuous outing, and she was such good company for me!

It's not easy for someone who has been so active to see her horizons shrink, for myriad reasons other than injury, but I am learning to recognize my limitations and even beginning to appreciate a slower, more contemplative pace. Things do change, don't they? Once upon a time I was a runner, a skydiver, even a smoker long ago. 

In any event, today was lovely and pretty darn perfect in so many ways. I am grateful and feeling good! Hope you're having a good day, too.


Monday, July 19, 2021

Summer reminders

Chris and Melanie at Bellingham Bay

I feel so fortunate to live here, where we need our jackets in the middle of summer, when the sun is shining among pretty clouds, and the temperature hovers in the mid-seventies (around 22-23°C). It won't always be like this, but after that awful heat we had at the end of June, this feels like paradise. Plus, it's awfully pretty here.

I just finished watching the news. Now that's a very good way to ruin a perfectly good day, but I'm feeling quite confident that I can count on one thing: it will get better. Maybe not tomorrow, since the resurgence of the pandemic is causing worldwide economic havoc. And the stock market is just the latest bad news, as Germany and Belgium got hit with flash floods and the western US states are burning to the ground. Climate change is here in full force.

I've been around long enough now to react to the difficulties, but I know without a doubt that it will change, and hopefully for the better. Many things are looking up! My ankle is so much better that I might be able to hike this coming Thursday, and the Canadian border will be opening once again in just a few short weeks. And I can sit in my easy chair and watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics, which should be quite different, without any spectators, this coming weekend. And one more thing:

Don't forget to follow the rules


Thursday, July 15, 2021

Still injured, but better

Hertz trail today

Today Melanie and I went on our own walk, since I am still on the injured list. Although my ankle is much better than it was after I sprained it two weeks ago, it's still not good enough for much downhill activity. She and I went to the Hertz trail on the north shore of Lake Whatcom. She was hoping I might be well enough to do the Chanterelle trail, in the same neighborhood, but I knew that the downhill part would be challenging for my ankle, so instead we went on this lovely trail that extends for three miles from the parking lot.

Lake Whatcom and an old fallen cedar tree

It was cool and breezy as we made our way almost to the end of the trail. I was a little anxious about overdoing it, but the gentle trail and good conversation made it a pretty perfect walk for my condition. The rest of the Senior Trailblazers headed to Sauk Mountain, one of my favorites because of the incredible wildflowers. But I also knew it would not be a good idea for me to attempt it today, with plenty of elevation gain. I hope they had a good time and that everybody returns safe and sound.

Covered bridge on the Hertz trail

Along our walk today, we crossed two small covered bridges, with their streams just about dry at this time of the year, but it was lovely nevertheless. I noticed lots of yellow leaves on the trail, probably because of the dryness.

Dappled sunlight on the trail

Although it was overcast and breezy at the beginning of our day, the sun came out more and more as we walked. I think this serene picture will give you some idea of how delightfully calm and restorative it was. We did turn around a bit before the end of the trail, since I was a little anxious that I would need to cover the distance back and hopefully not re-injure the ankle. It feels pretty good now, as I sit here at home writing this post. And maybe by next week, I'll be able to join the Trailblazers once again!


Monday, July 12, 2021

Garden party

Some of the garden party-ers

Yesterday, Sunday, about a dozen of us gardeners gathered in our garden to share food and drink with one another, to celebrate our wonderful community area. We had quite a bit of shade, thanks to Carter who pulled out a nice canopy to keep us from being in the direct sun. A barbeque and food tables were set up outside the gate, since you are looking at pretty much the entire area we had to gather in. I didn't think to get any pictures of the food (sorry!), but we did have quite a nice time. And we all got to meet the newest member of our apartment complex.

Annabelle (with mom Naomi)

Annabelle is almost four months old, and she is quite the delight to all the mothers and grandmothers (especially me). She is wearing mitts to keep her from scratching her face. I never heard of these before, but they work very well. She's got a few scratches that are recovering from earlier bouts with those baby fingernails. 

Apartments behind the garden enclosure

You can see how close the community garden is to our apartments. We spent a short amount of time talking about the garden and our vegetable adventures, and much more time finding out who we all are, and where we come from. I learned that one gardener is going off to Alaska in a few short weeks on a scholarship to finish her dissertation (I think that's what it's all about anyway). I also met a few people I had seen in the garden but never had a chance to chat with. We are now much better acquainted.

Since I'm not much of a cook, I brought beer and sodas for us to enjoy, and I do think it was better received than anything I might have attempted to prepare. I loved the tray of cheeses, olives, and other tidbits to whet my appetite that Lynn brought. There was salad, hot dogs, homemade cookies, and lots more, but I got quite full before I even sampled everything. I skipped the hot dogs, since I don't eat red meat, but otherwise enjoyed everything else.

Carter says we'll have to repeat this at least once more this season, and I'm all for it! It was a resounding success, and the weather could not have been more perfect. Life is good and we are grateful for our wonderful bounty, in food and friendship.


Thursday, July 8, 2021

Our community garden

Taken from my apartment's back stairs

 Since I am still not quite ready to take on a day-long hike on my injured ankle (I have been able to walk for almost 10,000 steps), the rest of the Senior Trailblazers headed up the Mt. Baker Highway to take on Heliotrope Ridge. That link takes you to my pictures from 2018. I did go for a short walk with Joy (who is also injured) at Lake Padden, but for today's subject, you get to see our apartment complex's community garden. You can see how parched it's getting around here, with the dry grass surrounding our gated garden.

Gate bringing us into the garden

Come on in! Our deer fence works because of a thin wire at the top of those posts, which keeps deer from trying to jump it. I have been surprised to see how well it works; once I was picking raspberries and heard the breath of a deer on the other side of the fence chomping down berries from his side of the fence. The ice chest outside is for people to put in or take out veggies to share.

Two garden plots with a walkway in between

As you can see here, we have plenty of vegetables and flowers. The plot to the right of the lettuce is not assigned right now, but it was full of strawberries from the previous tenant, and we all enjoyed feasting on them. They're gone for the season.

Three plots growing well

Those are Carter's garlic plants looking great on the left, flowers in the middle (not sure who planted them, but they are enjoyed by everybody), and happy tomato plants in the next plot. Because of last week's very hot weather, the tomatoes are going crazy, but nobody's unhappy about it.

Front side of my plot

Next comes my unruly potato plants in front, with red potatoes galore. Carter helped me harvest a few and cover the rest up from the rays of the sun. I think I'll have way more potatoes than I'm going to know what to do with. Many will be shared with my co-gardeners.

Nasturtiums, zucchini plants, and even some beets

At the other end of my plot, you can see how overgrown it has become, with everything sprouting at once. Carter showed me how to tell male and female blossoms apart on the zucchini, and we helped pollinate to encourage more robust zucchini plants.

Happy snail

While picking raspberries, I saw this snail who had made it up higher than my head, to a nice shady spot to beat the heat.  I wonder how long he's been there. If you go back to the first picture, you can see that we have a shady arbor on the southeast corner, with grapes beginning to appear, along with lots of raspberries and marionberries. Some that were exposed directly to the sun were burnt, but many spots were protected.

Shady respite from summer's heat

This is my favorite spot in the entire garden, not least because I can sit in a shady lawn chair and pick raspberries and pop them into my mouth. They are still getting ripe, but Carter picked enough to make several quarts of jam. Wouldn't you like to have some? I myself might actually have already reached saturation with raspberries.

We are going to have a garden party here next Sunday, and we'll share, bring stuff from both the store (cold beer and sodas), ribs and burgers, and delights from the garden to celebrate our wonderful community garden. 


Thursday, July 1, 2021

Goose Rock hike and more

Today's hikers

Just to show you can never tell what a day will bring, today we gathered at the Senior Center, 14 of us, for a hike in the Deception Pass area. The plan was to hike up to Goose Rock from West Beacvh, a favorite hike of ours over the years. We had three newbies, Patrick, Mark, and Jeannie. We decided to add the short (around a mile round trip) Interpretive Loop to make it a little longer. Within a few short steps, I took quite a spill, twisting my ankle and writhing on the ground for a few minutes, trying to decide how badly I was hurt.

Me, up on my feet again

Melanie took this picture of me right after I got up, and I thought I might be able to go on the hike after all. But no, every time I tried to put weight on my right ankle, it complained. I got them all to go ahead and hike up Goose Rock, while I would stay behind and spend my day on the beach.

West Beach

With the help of my trekking poles and being careful, I could walk around without too much pain. But I have to admit I am injured, and I won't be pushing things too much until it gets better. But, as I've said before, it's not my first rodeo. It WILL get better.

Deception Pass bridge

As you can see, it was cloudy and cool as I walked down to the beach to get a shot of the bridge, which is still being worked on, as you can see here. The bridge is wearing a coat of sorts. I think the last time I was here, more than a year ago, they had begun the work, and it's still going on.

View from Goose Rock

Melanie sent me this picture taken from the top of Goose Rock, where they had lunch. I spent my time carefully walking along the beach and enjoying the views. The skies had begun to clear a little by midday.

Could I make it to the beach?

I wanted to get down to the water, so I could stick my feet in and hopefully treat the ankle to some cold water, but in order to do that, I had to climb over those logs, no matter where I looked. I spent a good deal of time trying to find the best way to get there, and finally I did.

Down by the water

Yes, it was lovely to feel the cold water coming in on my feet. I had removed my boots and rolled up my pants legs so I could just stand in the surf and let it flow over me. The tide was on the way in, I noticed.

Sandy toes and a swollen right ankle

It felt so good to spend quite a bit of time out there as I watched the tide come in and enjoyed the heightened sense of time I had to spend doing absolutely nothing. Finally I had to make my way back to the parking lot and clean off my feet before putting the boots back on. It was painful only now and then, but now that I'm home, I've got the old RICE setup: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. How long before I'll be able to walk normally again? I'm hoping not too long if I follow the rules.

In any event, we had a good day today, and the gang returned rather early in the afternoon. By that time the skies were almost completely clear. But still, it was cool enough to enjoy the amazing beach and climb to Goose Rock (for them, that is). Next time I'll be joining them!