Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Getting toasty around here

Flowers along the harbor

Melanie and I walked around the harbor one day not long ago, and I loved seeing these late summer flowers. You can see in the reflection that the sky was overcast, making it quite lovely to be walking outside that day. We had a nice respite from the heat, but then it came back, with a vengeance. I see that Seattle will probably break its high temperature record today and tomorrow, with a slight respite on Thursday. It's just after noon on Tuesday, and we are already well above the maximum comfort level for my body. Fortunately, I returned from my walk well before it started to get hot. 

All the fans are going and windows open, and inside our un-air-conditioned apartment, it's quite comfortable, and I don't think that I'll be going out again any time soon. Hopefully it will remain bearable around here. If not, I'll be forced to go shopping in someplace that's got A/C.

I woke this morning feeling pretty stiff with lots of sore muscles. I had to think on why that might be, since I did a Zoom yoga class yesterday with my usual practitioner. Then I remembered some of the stuff she had us doing, and the soreness made sense. We did something called the "pigeon pose" or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana in Sanskrit. We also did a few of the variations. Here's what the basic pose looks like:

We used a blanket to sit on first

Now, it doesn't look like this should make me all that sore, does it? But we also bent forward from this position until our foreheads were on the mat. Then she got creative and had us doing some very unusual twists:

Hahaha! It's not me and never will be

No, we didn't do this entire pose, but I did manage to reach back and grab the toes behind me. That is when I got a severe cramp in my back leg, but once I worked it out, I was able to manage something similar. I needed both hands to help me, though. Now you know why I felt so sore this morning, eh?

I do enjoy attempting to tie myself in knots, bending in unusual and quirky ways in these poses, but mostly I just enjoy the stretching and bending. Since it's a Zoom class, I don't have to be too exact but I always give it my best. 


Thursday, August 25, 2022

Delightful late summer hike

Samish Bay from the Viewpoint

Anybody who follows my blog knows that this is a current favorite hike for Melanie and me. We've done it several times already this year, and we will probably make a few more trips up to this lovely spot before winter a showing. The short spur trail off from the Fragrance Lake trail takes us to this viewpoint, which always looks a little different. 

Maidenhair ferns along the trail

Although it's late summer and many flowers are gone, we saw a few stands of my favorite fern, the maidenhair. Nearby was a dried-up stream, which must have been the reason this moisture-loving fern is still hanging in there.

Fragrance Lake

The lake was looking especially inviting today, although we didn't stop to wade; however, we saw a towel drying on a branch and probably somebody was out there swimming, but we didn't see them. One fellow hiker made his way to this spot and we chatted for a few minutes before heading the rest of the way around the lake.

Me, rock with tree growing out of it

Melanie took this picture of me standing in front of a giant tree that seems to have established itself on top of a rock. You can tell the size of it all by comparing my size to it. This is the beginning of the Two Dollar trail, that starts about halfway around the .75-mile loop trail around the lake.

Our lunch spot

We climbed up to this pretty spot for our lunch break before heading back down. Instead of returning by the Fragrance Lake trail, we opt to take the service road that leads to the parking lot, giving us a chance to make a loop rather than an out-and-back trip.

Anybody know what flower this is?

I saw several small groups of these pretty purple flowers growing in the midst of a stinging nettle patch. I assumed they must be the flowers of the plant, but upon researching it I find they are not associated with the nettles. Hopefully some reader can enlighten me.

We had a wonderful day and were mostly in the shade so we didn't experience the heat as being too bad. The times we were in full sun, though, made me glad we didn't choose to hike somewhere and have to endure the direct sun. We also had a nice breeze for most of the day. We covered more than six miles (6.3 to be exact) and 1,700 feet up and down. I am pleased that I still have a little oomph left in my knees. I never know how they will behave until I've done it. Feeling pretty darn good!


Tuesday, August 23, 2022

The change is beginning

Green to gold

 My morning walk takes me by this lovely tree every day. I noticed last week that several of the green leaves had begun to turn, but today I see that only a few leaves are still green, and all the rest have begun their journey into fall. And fall they will, in another month or two, for sure. For now, they are glowing gold in the sunshine.

The temperature today is sublime: a fresh breeze and cool temperatures make it perfect to be outdoors this morning. But it's all forecast to change by later today or tomorrow for sure: another heat wave is heading our way. It will be short-lived, but it will definitely make our Thursday hike less enjoyable. I notice that both of the Senior Trailblazer groups have changed their plans and hopefully will not be in danger of overheating. I know Melanie and I will stay in town and on a mostly shady hike and not out in the full sun and heat of the day. Our heat waves are thankfully getting shorter and not quite as hot, since fall is definitely approaching, and the above tree confirms it.

Well, fall is my favorite season, with all the colorful leaves and cooler weather, I am looking forward to it. Summertime used to be fun, but then I got older, and it got hotter.


Thursday, August 18, 2022

Marine Park to Arroyo Bridge

Bellingham Bay at Marine Park

Today was supposed to be extremely hot, but low clouds greeted me when I woke and looked outside. Although it's early afternoon and all those clouds are now gone, Melanie and I were able to walk from Marine Park to the Arroyo Park bridge without experiencing too much heat. It was downright lovely for most of the hike.

Interurban trail and first rays of sunlight

It's a beautiful place to be, and Melanie and I decided to start at Marine Park and walk down the Interurban trail until we got to the cutoff to Arroyo Park and take a look at the bridge that has been out of commission for more than a year.

Bridge over Chuckanut  Creek

Although at this time of the year, there is hardly any water in the creek, it's an important area for the salmon run in the spring. And on the other side of the bridge, you can access the Arroyo Park acreage for plenty of wonderful hikes. Mostly, people have been getting there by walking across the rocks in the creek, which is so low now that it's not a problem. We stopped here and turned around to go back the way we had come.

Berries on Mountain Ash

Although most of the flowers I'm seeing today are late summer or early fall ones, I have always loved the look of the mountain ash, whose leaves turn bright yellow and orange in the fall, in contrast to the red berries. It's nice to look at year round.

We ended up walking almost seven miles and 500 feet of elevation gain and loss, not much in the scheme of things, and so different from last week's steep trek to Lost Lake. Today we spent the entire morning enjoying the mild weather, which has definitely morphed to HOT since the clouds left. But I'm inside and feeling the breeze coming from a fan. Tomorrow is supposed to be the beginning of the end of this latest heat wave. I'm ready!


Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Sultry summer days

Movable feast

This interesting chicken coop is in a neighbor's front yard, which I see these days when I walk to the bus on my way to the coffee shop in the mornings. You can see that the owner has recently moved the contraption forward by a few feet, after letting the chickens fertilize the yard, as well as eat all the vegetation, even as dry as the lawn is right now. I wonder if there's some beds in their coop that allow the chickens to lay eggs.

In any event, it's a clever idea that I've seen in some articles about how to get more "green" while raising poultry. I wonder if these chickens would qualify as "free range," since that would definitely be stretching the truth, in my opinion.

This morning's roses

I stopped by the Cornwall Rose Garden this morning, feeling the sun gradually change from delightful to, well, on the hot side. We have a couple of days of moderate temperatures before we move into another warm spell, with it getting really hot just about the day we have our weekly hike on Thursday. Sigh. All I can think of is that we only have a few weeks left of traditional summer, and Labor Day is right around the corner!

I have an appointment with my acupuncturist in less than an hour, so I'd better wrap this up before I head out the door and make my way to the Needle Man. I never thought I'd ever say this, but I actually look forward to it.


Thursday, August 11, 2022

Lost Lake

View from Cyrus Gates Overlook

Today Melanie and I drove up the long dusty road to Gates Overlook, to take a hike to Lost Lake, which I haven't visited in years. In the old days before Covid, it was a favorite long-ish hike we took at least once each winter. But now that the Senior Trailblazers are taking trips to the High Country, I am still not feeling I can sufficiently deal with the heat and altitude those trips require. So, we are going our own way.

Mel didn't suggest Lost Lake earlier because the usual way we get there is more than ten miles long, and this shorter trip we did today (five miles and 1,400 feet elevation) requires a trip up and down the Rock trail (actually, down and up).

First steps down

In somewhere over a hundred steps (and a little more than a mile), you descend 1,200 feet down to the South Lost Lake trail, where we then take the side trail to Lost Lake.

South Lost Lake trail

It is so green and lush at this time of the year, and in descending the Rock trail, we pass by some amazing rocks, which give the trail its name. Since I am not usually on this trail in summer, I was surprised by seeing my favorite fern alongside the rocks.

Rock and maidenhair ferns

Since these ferns require a good source of water, I was a little taken aback to see them growing in the cracks in the rock, as well as at the base. There must still be plenty of moisture hiding there for them to flourish like this. I tried to get some good shots of the rocks, but the bright sunlight and dark shadows made it difficult to capture anything worth sharing.

Sign taking us to the lake, along with map

We had lunch at our usual spot on the lake, a broad expanse with enough room for at least a dozen hikers, but it was just Melanie and me enjoying the place.

Me at Lost Lake

Melanie took this shot of me at the lake where we ate our lunch. Then we turned around and went back the way we had come. It was such a treat to see this place once again, but I was a little hesitant about the uphill return. As it turned out, I was right to be a little anxious, because it was hard, but I managed.

Steps on the return trip

We did decide to take a sort side trip down the road from the Overlook to a place where we can see Mt. Baker and the Sisters. We did try before our trip down the Rock trail, but clouds obscured the view. So before we climbed in her car to return we did get a glimpse of them.

Such a great mountain

We were tired but happy at the end of our day's workout, and I was pleased that my knees managed to take the elevation without any problems. We will definitely be returning here again before too long. It was simply a perfect day in many respects, with only the occasional hiccup to keep things interesting. 


Tuesday, August 9, 2022

August feels nice these days

Cornwall Rose Garden

Walking through the Rose Garden on my way home from the coffee shop, I notice that the roses are at their peak right now. Beautiful and fragrant. At least some of them I can smell, and I never know if the others are truly not fragrant or if my smeller just doesn't register their scent. In any event, my eyes are still working well enough for me to have a visual feast.

Our heat wave broke, and now we are enjoying August the way I like it: fluffy white clouds and a light breeze, with the high not expecting to reach 80°F (26°C). Just right! I think I have also adjusted to higher temperatures a little, since yesterday's 82 didn't bother me very much. I still don't think I would ever grow used to triple digits, but you never know what's possible unless you try. However that's one challenge I will try my best to avoid. 

Today as I was walking home, I spied a rather large young buck crossing the highway. Everybody stopped to let him go by, but I held my breath until he was safe in the trees. Yesterday I saw a half dozen deer on my early morning walk, all singles, except for one doe with her baby, who has lost his spots and is growing up quickly. He lost sight of her for a minute, and I watched him spring into action and bounce up and down on his spindly little legs as he tried to catch up. On the trail, I also saw two little cottontail bunnies disappear into in the bushes when they saw me coming.

I feel so lucky to have such a beautiful place to live. We are in the season when the rain has stopped (for the most part) and the hottest days of the season are moderating. I don't have anything else on my schedule today, once I finish writing this post, so I'll sit back and kick my feet up!


Thursday, August 4, 2022

Another Chanterelle excursion

Viewpoint on our hike today

I don't know whether you might be getting tired of seeing this view from the top of the first part of the Chanterelle trail or not. It's slightly different each time I see it, and today we chose this hike based on the weather forecast. It was raining when I woke this morning, but by the time I went out the door, it had stopped and didn't return during our hike.

Last flowers on foxgloves

It seems early to me for us to have seen the last of the foxglove flowers, but it's actually now past the halfway point on our journey to the first day of fall, so maybe it's right on time. Last week was it was really warm, but now it's cool and cloudy and wonderful for those of us who don't worship the sunshine.

Mossy tree and madrone branches

I love madrone trees, and when the bark gets wet, it almost shines. And the moss-covered tree between these two sets them off and makes them look even prettier, I think. The trail takes us up to that viewpoint, and then we can choose to go on further, or head back down the way we came. 

Peeking out at the view from the trail

I've taken this picture before, but I always like to see what it looks like today. This is the beginning of the second half of the Chanterelle trail, which we rarely take, because the difference between a little more than five miles over 1,400 feet of elevation is just about right for my old knees. The second half climbs another thousand feet, and adds another five miles, meaning a pretty significant hike, as opposed to one that is fun and on the easier side. I'm happy we didn't do it today.

Another mossy tree

I did take one more shot of a tree that caught my eye. I am such a fan of the beautiful old trees that grace this particular hike. And now it's not even 2:00pm and I'm home, have eaten my lunch and am almost finished with this post. That means the entire rest of the day can be spent in whatever way will make me the happiest. I have to give a shout out to my familiar companion, Melanie, who never fails to make me feel really good about what we accomplish on Thursdays. Hope you are also having a great day!


Tuesday, August 2, 2022

We made it to August

Lily's blackberry haul

Well, I discovered a way to make a week last a long time: let it get really hot and stay that way for days on end. Last week we averaged a high temperature around 88°F (29-32°C), which is pretty darn hot for us. Hardly anybody around here has air conditioning, because we usually don't need it except for a few days in August. 

However, last week we spent the entire time above normal, both highs and lows at night. Since we live close to Bellingham Bay, we were lucky to have a bit more cooling at night, and there were only a few times during the heatwave that it felt superhot. But yesterday, our climate returned to normal: the high was 73°F (22°C) and it was actually CHILLY when I walked to the bus this morning. I had to stop and put on my jacket, which I always carry in case I end up in A/C while shopping. 

Now today, before noon, our temperature has been simply wonderful to experience. You can always add clothes if you're cold, but it's sometimes hard to cool down when the temperature and humidity climbs too high. We moved here because we like the cool and rainy weather, compared to hot places like the Midwest. We lived in Boulder, Colorado, for 15 years and decided to move someplace for our retirement years that would be more comfortable. Mostly, we have loved it here, but it seems that the changing climate is causing more places to experience this awful heat.

The good part is that the fruits and vegetables are happy with all this sunshine and warmth. Those blackberries are the first to ripen, with lots more to come just for the picking. Although these are invasive Himalayan blackberries and many people spend time and energy getting them cut back, I can't help but enjoy the sweet berries we can pick alongside the trails during August. The two fruits I enjoy right off the vine are these, and wild blueberries. Yum!