Thursday, September 29, 2022

Stimpson Nature Reserve

Our lovely trail

Today, I asked Melanie if we could do something easy and relatively short, and she thought that would be a good idea. I suggested the Stimpson Family Nature Reserve, and she readily agreed. We've done it many times before, and when we were hiking with the Senior Trailblazers, this was one place to come when the weather was iffy. But today it was just simply perfect for us: moderate temperature and mostly cloudy skies. 

Magnificent old growth tree

There are many beautiful old growth trees in this reserve. It's 370 acres of forested land and wetland habitats protected by the Whatcom Land Trust and the Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department. And it has lots of old trees that are truly lovely to wander amongst.

More of the trail

There are two parts to the trails in this reserve, the first and longest loop goes up the side of the "mountain" (nothing compared to last week's mountain), which is 2.8 miles around, and then a loop that goes to Geneva Pond, 1.2 miles. We went around the short loop twice, in order to get a total of 5.5 miles and 1,100 feet of elevation gain and loss. I felt great today and was happy to be out and am not at all tired.
Geneva Pond

Today the pond looked a little scummy along the top of its usually clear water. I think it must be detritus from the trees. I know I've been sneezing a bit lately, and consider it might be some of the pollen set loose during the changing fall season.

Sunlight filtered through the trees

As we began our final push back to the car, the sun came out and shined brightly through the trees. The day's delightful excursion turned out to be just about right for both of us. 

We each had a half martini

Since it was just a little after noon, I suggested that we go somewhere for lunch. Melanie had taken me to Scotty Brown's before, but this is one of the few times I've eaten out since the pandemic hit, and I felt pretty safe since we have both received the latest booster shot and we sat in a covered outdoor patio. She suggested we share a basil grapefruit martini, and they brought it in two different glasses. A nearby patron took this picture of the two of us.

It was a sublime way to finish the afternoon after a lovely easy hike, and then we headed home, having had a filling lunch that cut the effects of the martini. I am not much of a drinker, but I sure did enjoy it, along with the great Thursday outing!


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

The needle man

Warren of

 Some of you have asked me about acupuncture and what I get out of it. Well, I just got home from my latest treatment, and this time I asked him to concentrate on my mental state, which has been suffering from sadness and humiliation after having had such a hard time on last Thursday's hike. Not only that, but finally I understand the meaning of "doomscrolling," or continuing to deal with the horrifying news that is overtaking all my news channels. I can't seem to catch a break, and Warren listened carefully, and then stuck me with needles in my legs and head, mostly.

My legs look a little pink, because Warren put a warming lamp over my feet, so I'd be comfy as I lay on the table. I've also got a few needles in my knees, which suffered from the beating I gave them last week. However, after a few days, I was surprised at how much better my whole body felt, so Warren didn't actually need to concentrate on any overuse injury. By Sunday I almost felt like my old self again.

Then he went up to my head and put in my favorite needles: the ones in my scalp. Most of the time, rather than feeling a pinprick like in other places on my body, I get a serious rush of pleasure from head to toe. Sort of like a happy shock.

For some reason I cannot seem to put a caption under this image; each time I try it disappears and when I try to load it again, it's fine until I attempt to write something underneath. (Oh, well.) Anyway, you can see the pins resting on the table above my head. 

After he puts all the pins in, he sometimes spends a few minutes massaging my shoulders (he calls them trigger points), and then he leaves me alone with quiet piano music playing on a device for about a half hour. I don't move around much, because I've discovered that it usually hurts if I do. Those pins are carefully placed.

Once he comes in and removed them (I'm always a little sad that it's over), we spend a few minutes chatting. He takes my credit card and schedules me for three weeks from today, which I have found is just about right. Of course, if I could afford it, I'd come weekly.

When I walk out of his office, I always feel lighter and brighter. The effects tend to last for close to a week, and slowly they fade into the background. However, the knee he works on each time I'm there is much better than before I began treatment with him three years ago. I initially started because of a heel pain, which has never returned after he worked on it for six or seven sessions.

There are many different varieties of acupuncture, and Warren's is more physically based, which you can read about if you visit his website. I don't think I will stop getting treatments any time soon.


Thursday, September 22, 2022

Goat Mountain, one last time

Sign at trailhead

 Today Melanie and I went up to the viewpoint on the Goat Mountain hike. It's something I've done many times in the past, but this was by far the most difficult hike I've done in two years, at least. I wasn't sure at all that I could actually do it, but I knew if my friend Mel would join me, she would let me set the pace, and keep me from hurting myself. And that's just what happened today.

One of many boardwalks

We walked up the trail while enjoying the lovely fall weather, cool and crisp, with no clouds to start with (more came as the day wore on), and a breeze that was cold at the beginning, but we shed our jackets and gloves within a very short distance.

Lots of green still around

Although that first picture of the boardwalk looks bleak, the higher we climbed, the more foliage we ran into. These were the first flowers we saw on our way up, pearly everlasting, a pretty white flower that lives up to its name by being around for a long time every year.

Pretty Indian paintbrush

Once one reaches the meadows and emerges from the trees, there are plenty of blueberry bushes and a few sparse flowers still around. In a little more than three miles, this hike takes you up almost 3,000 feet (2850 to be exact) to a viewpoint. I did fairly well on the uphill, moving slowly but surely. At one point Mel went on ahead, which made me happy since I knew she could probably travel at twice my speed.

A glimpse of the actual mountain

This was taken not far from the summit of the viewpoint, and you can see all the foliage is beginning to turn color and move into its fall finery. By this time I was barely keeping Melanie in sight, but she stopped and kept an eye on me now and then.

Mt. Baker, hidden behind clouds

We finally reached the viewpoint, where we can see three marvelous mountains: Mt. Baker, who is hiding behind those clouds above, but still looking gorgeous to my eyes.

Mt. Sefrit on the left, and Mt. Shuksan on the right

It was lovely at the viewpoint, and we enjoyed the incredible view for awhile. The two of us were very happy to be there, and after we stopped for a nice lunch and to rest a bit, I asked Mel to take a selfie of us on top. Here's the shot.

Me and best pal Melanie

Then it was time to head back down the steep trail. At first it's very dicey, with lots of rocks and steep sections before you get back down into the meadow. We were careful and took our time, Melanie because she was with me, and me because not taking care with each step and taking a fall would have been no fun at all.

One last look around

It could not have been a more perfect weather day, for the first hike of the fall season. Once we got back into easier trail, I took a few more pictures, but once we were about a mile from the end, I realized that I had pretty much run out of steam and slowed way down. It was touch and go for me during that last mile, and I realize that this was my Goat Mountain swan song. 

Our return trip in dappled late afternoon light

And here I now sit, much later than I usually write this post (it's almost 7:00pm at night), feeling very tired but extremely happy to have actually done it, traveling up and down all that distance and elevation and not having a meltdown. Mel might have thought she was going to have to carry me that last mile, but I slowly made it back. I've learned a very important lesson about my limits as I approach my big birthday.

I truly am grateful to have a friend like Mel, who doesn't see me as a charity case, when she certainly could if she was of a mind to. But she is a very good friend who doesn't stoop to such thoughts. But from now on, I'll be making much shorter and less strenuous hikes! And now it's time to shower and take my tired bones to bed.


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Sign of the times

Just out this morning

 When I stopped by the Co-op on my way to my morning walk, after being fueled by some really good coffee, I saw that the annual pumpkin parade has begun in the area by the front door. Before too long, we should see an enormous pumpkin where we can guess its weight. I surmise it's still out in the field, gathering itself for the contest and continuing to add poundage. 

This is my favorite time of the year. It's crisp and cool in the mornings and the skies are mostly super-clear and delightful. The air is clean at the moment, with smoke from fires not affecting us at the moment. 

I've been visiting various blogs and noticing the variety of flowers and foliage on display around the country. While it varies a great deal, everywhere the feeling of fall is in the air. Except, of course, in the Southern Hemisphere where winter is giving way to spring. I still find it really fascinating at how different our world is, depending on where you live. I'm just glad that we haven't had any of the natural disasters showing up around here, at least for the moment. It's always changing, and I'm hoping that those people suffering from floods will soon be able to dry out a little.

Are these Black Eyed Susans? 

I am pretty much recovered from having received that third booster shot a week ago. I will still continue to wear a mask when in stores or crowded areas, but I'm feeling a little less anxious about catching the Ba-5 variant than I was before I got the shot. How about you? Are you feeling like the pandemic is over? (I'm not.)


Thursday, September 15, 2022

Summer's final hike

Taken on the Salal trail

Today Melanie and I headed off to Chuckanut Mountain for a short-ish hike on the Lower Salal trail and the Hemlock trail. Everywhere were signs that fall is definitely in the air, and that this day would be the last summer one in this calendar year. When we hike next week, it will be on the first day of fall.

I love this trail

This really is one of my favorite hikes, and we started from the usual parking lot trailhead, went up the Hemlock trail until it splits off into the Lower Salal trail. We ventured out on this trail until we reached the cutoff to the full Salal trail, and then took the regular Salal trail from the junction. It led us down to the Hemlock trail.

Sunshine makes me smile

The clouds began to clear, and more brilliant leaves lighted up our hike. I rounded a corner and saw this lovely sight, with everything looking pretty perfect for a fall day in the mountains, Melanie agreed, and decided to take her own picture of the scene, with one addition.

Thanks, Mel

Me! She asked me to pose and smile, something that was very easy to do as we continued our hike. It ended up being 5.6 miles and more than 1,300 feet up and down, meaning it wasn't exactly nothin' but it was well within my comfort zone.

"The Dude"

We took a side trip down to the trail that leads to Chuckanut Falls (which we skipped because we knew it would be dry or almost so), just to visit the tree that Melanie calls "The Dude" after The Big Lebowski. Just chillin' out there smoking a doobie in the woods. Melanie leaves in the morning for a quick trip to her high school reunion in California, so she wanted to be sure she got to say a quick hello to her old friend who lives in a tree.

And with that, another summer season comes to a close. I really enjoy hiking with my dear friend Melanie during this summer season and look forward to many more seasons spent getting miles with her. It was a great day!


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Clicks and clucks

Suspicious yellow thing in cage

The mobile chicken coop in a nearby neighbor's yard had been advertising organic eggs for $5/dozen. The sign is not always there in front of the coop, but I did see what looks to me like a very recently laid egg in there. As I tried to get close enough for a shot, the chickens weren't pleased and made a bit of a racket. I got this photo and then backed away. 

It's one of the first pictures I've taken with my new iPhone 12, which so far I've been very happy with. Everything was transferred over from my old phone without any hassles, although the newest operating system (before the one released yesterday) had to be installed beforehand, and that took awhile. Fortunately I had a very nice young man (who is all of 20) helping me out. There are a few new features that I have to get used to, but already it's beginning to feel quite normal not to have a "home" button and instead have my face open the phone for use. And the camera is better and I have much to learn. No hurry, though. If I have this phone for as long as I had the last one, I'll be close to ninety before I need to upgrade again.

This morning after the coffee shop excursion, John dropped me off at the Cornwall Rose Garden, as he often does, and I took a quick look around at the late summer roses. This bush is a favorite, because of the strong fragrance of the yellow rose, which even I can smell with my poor compromised nose.

Honey Perfume

And it's always nice to spend some time wandering around in the Rose Garden and see what it looks like today. There is a feature on the iPhone camera where I can lift the rose from the picture and frame it in a nice blur, but I haven't quite figured out how to do it. In time you will be seeing my progress, but not today. Later on this afternoon I'll be heading to my local pharmacy to receive my updated Covid booster shot, which will be my third booster. I read somewhere that we might be getting an annual shot to keep our immunity in a healthy range, especially for us elders.

It's been less than a week since Queen Elizabeth II died, and the news has been nonstop coverage from Scotland and the rest of the UK. She was quite a remarkable person, but even so, I didn't expect to be so moved by it all. But I am. I found this touching cartoon online, which makes me cry every time I look at it.

Together again

I really hope that this is a possible future couple, and that it might one day be SG and me. So now you know that the title of this post has to do with camera "clicks" and chicken "clucks." And through it all, lots of love and warm wishes all around.


Thursday, September 8, 2022

Blanchard Mountain excursion

Lily Max Connector trail

Today Melanie and I set off for Blanchard Mountain, one of our favorite places to hike. Usually we go to Lily and Lizard Lakes from the Upper trailhead on the mountain, but today we went to different places, for a few reasons I'll explain here.

We started at the Upper trailhead and planned to take several different trails up to Samish Overlook and then to Lily Lake. It was a perfect day, weather-wise, with temperatures cool in the morning but full sun warming things up pretty quickly. Not long after we got to this junction, we heard about Queen Elizabeth's death. We took pictures of ourselves to mark the momentous, if sad, occasion.

Melanie upon hearing the news

It was my Apple Watch that sent the message, and although it had been expected, it was also very sad to think that the Queen is now gone. She served for more than 70 years and died at 96.

Sad news on a sunny day

We walked along the trail, admiring its beauty, and being glad we were in a magnificent setting and not sitting alone in darkness when we heard. This old tree was probably a seedling when she first ascended the throne.

Last of the foxgloves

We didn't see any flowers today, other than this pretty pink bit of foxglove on the trail. We were able to find a few blackberries, warm and sweet by the side of the trail, but it is definitely beginning to feel like fall is in the air.

Samish Bay from the Overlook

We made it to the Samish Bay Overlook and noticed a little haze and that the tide was out, exposing some oyster beds. It was quite beautiful and we enjoyed a quick snack before heading up the Chuckanut trail.

I didn't realize what was ahead

This trail starts out quite pleasantly, but soon it becomes very steep. I wasn't prepared for how steep, and I struggled up to the junction that would take us to Lily Lake. Poor Melanie had miscalculated the distance we would hike, and I knew I had to keep going, but it didn't stop me from having a meltdown at one point. Not that it changed anything, we had to keep going. From this point to the junction, we ascended a couple of thousand feet, and I was never so glad to see anything as I was to see the junction.

Maidenhair ferns

We did see some beautiful ferns growing out of the side of a rock and looking like they were also growing out of the tree. I was enchanted, since it's my favorite fern (as many of you already know).

A beautiful trail

I have to apologize for not taking more pictures, but by the time we started back down the trail, we decided to skip the trip to Lily Lake and just head back to the trailhead. I was just trying to keep myself together, since we ended up hiking more than nine miles and up and down 2,200 feet of elevation. It was really hard for me, and Mel felt responsible, but it was a joint decision to try this route, and I will definitely sleep well tonight! It's sad for me to realize that my days of traversing such trails has become much harder for me, and I'll have to take into consideration my advancing age!

Nevertheless, we made it back to the car in fairly decent shape, and we drove back down to the freeway in good time. I was never so glad to see anything as that lovely air-conditioned Rav4 that Mel drives. And I know I'll be just fine, all I need is a little rest and relaxation. Thank you, Mel, for helping me by encouraging me to be strong.


Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Cool and delightful

This morning's rose

I'm going to try and write a quick post for my Tuesday offering, since I've got to leave soon for an acupuncture treatment. I saw this lovely creature on the way home from my morning walk, which started at the Cornwall Rose Garden. There aren't many looking as beautiful as this one; many have reached their peak and are dropping petals. If you look closely, you can see some dew still on these pretty petals, after a cool morning, not frosty but close.

This is my favorite weather of the year. After heat and humidity making the environment uncomfortable, everything has changed around here to perfection. Soon we will enter into what we call Indian Summer, where the leaves change to riotous colors and the nights get colder. Soon I will bring out my winter covers for even better sleep. 

I did see on the news how awful it is right now in California, and I commiserate for those of you trying to find comfort when the overnight temperatures are warmer than it should be during the heat of the day. But as all things do, it will pass. One thing about the weather is that is doesn't stay static but dynamically changes from day to day.

Well, this will have to do for today, since I've getting ready to make a dash out the door to head to my appointment. After that, I've got another appointment for a massage, and I'll just have to grin and bear it (not!). 


Thursday, September 1, 2022

Chanterelle in September

Chanterelle looking green

We last hiked this trail at the beginning of August.  I was surprised today to see how green the area still is, after more than a month of dry weather. In other years, I've only been hiking in the High Country it this season, but I fear my days of long hikes in the wilderness are going to be limited. Plus, I don't do well in the heat, and it's been quite hot. And we are so fortunate to have many local hikes like this one.

Looking down at the lake

We decided that the Chanterelle would be a good place to spend our Thursday, and it turned out to be very nice indeed. This view is about halfway to the viewpoint, looking through the trees as we climbed upwards on gentle switchbacks. The weather has moderated from the high temperatures of earlier in the week, but the full sun made it feel very hot when we left the shady tree-lined trail.

Melanie getting a good shot

On the way to this viewpoint, we ran into Al, who is hiking alone today, recovering from an injury. It was really nice to catch up with him, and it reinforced the good choice we made for today's hike. We visited with him for quite awhile before he went back down and we continued up.

Looking out before heading back down

Mel got this picture of me looking out at the sunshine, before we began our return journey. I've taken quite a few pictures from this spot, but today I am in it, looking out at the full sun we need to navigate before getting back in the shade.

Blackberry picking

While at the viewpoint, Mel snagged a few blackberries, some of which she gave to me to enjoy. They are almost ripe all over our area, and even though they are an invasive species (Himalayan), they sure are tasty! 


The only flowers still out are these pretty orange ones, which I do believe are honeysuckle, but I could be wrong. I am not a good flower person, but I'm sure that some of my readers can enlighten me. In any event, we covered around five-and-a-half miles and went up and down around 1,300 feet of elevation. I am feeling good, as I sit at home in my apartment with a nice breeze flowing through. It was a great way to spend our hiking time together. Thanks, Mel!