Thursday, October 27, 2022

Chanterelle Trail in the fall

Leaves, moss, rain

After last week's truncated hike (because of terrible air quality), this week we went across the parking lot to hike up the Chanterelle trail to the viewpoint in pristine air. We do this hike rather often, and today we wanted somewhere that we could turn around quickly, in case either the torrential rain forecast for later today came early, or in case the wind picked up too much. Fortunately for us, neither event kept us from making it to the viewpoint, a nice five-mile round trip.

Rickety bridge crossing

This hike has been a favorite for years, long before it had been renovated to be less steep with some nice switchbacks added to make it feel less arduous. We used to call this hike "Cub Creek," but these days it seems more friendly and winds its way through lovely forests. 

A few leaves remain still attached

I love to see the changes in this environment from season to season. We saw no flowers today, but lots of colorful leaves carpeting the trail. Many big-leaf maple leaves have fallen, and if today's windstorm materializes, most of them will be gone soon. It's a beautiful place to take in nature's magnificence. 

Lake Whatcom, Bellingham in sunshine

When we started out, we were fully dressed in our raingear, but since it didn't materialize as we continued our upward trek, we shed some of it, and watched the trees around us bounce and creak when the wind would pass through. It didn't stay windy, though, although we weren't anxious to extend the hike, in case the high winds got worrisome.

Mossy log and fallen leaves

We saw only a few other people who ventured out in what was supposed to be a very soggy and windy hike, but we were so fortunate to be spared the worst of it. I do expect later today it will be much more inhospitable. But for us, we managed a nice five-mile hike with about 1,200 feet of elevation, and it was just about perfect.

Me among the ferns

Melanie captured this picture of me, feeling happy to be outdoors in the forest, getting my steps in, and enjoying her company. When we finished our hike, it was just after noon, so we went out to eat again before heading to our respective homes. It was a fine day, and another time when the forecast was worse than what we expected. Another memorable hike!


Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Late October rain showers

Light rain falling

It's sure a different world for us these days. When the rain began and cleaned up our air quality, it also brought us a bit of wind and we ended up with dense leaves on the trail. This was taken this morning in Cornwall Park. I wanted something that would show what our environment is these days. I don't mind the rain at all, but that will probably change after days and weeks of the stuff. We've only had a couple of inches in the past few days, but there are other places in the state that have been inundated around here.

I was reading in bed last night when I heard the rumble of thunder, and shortly after a huge rainstorm moved in, with rain battering the roof loudly, and so I stopped and listened until it ended. Then I went back to reading and got caught up in the story and didn't fall asleep right away when I stopped. When that happens, I usually miss getting my routine eight hours or so, and so tonight I'll not start, so I can catch up on my sleep. I always feel much better when I wake rested without an alarm to artificially get me out of bed. 

I'm trying to finish this up so I can get to my hair appointment. Looking very shaggy these past few days; it surprises me when I can go for weeks without even thinking about my hair, and then suddenly it's all over the place. My haircutter lost her studio and has moved her salon into her home, so I would have needed a few extra minutes to make sure I know how to get there, but my friend John drove me by her new place before dropping me off at my usual spot. I am very fortunate to have such good friends, don't you think?


Thursday, October 20, 2022

Hertz trail, truncated

Leisurely walk

After learning that both groups of Senior Trailblazers canceled their hikes for today because of horrendously bad air quality, I called Melanie to see if she wanted to find a way, any way, to get in a few safe steps. We finally decided to make a trip to the Hertz trail, which follows an old railroad grade on the side of Lake Whatcom.

Lake Whatcom with log

We've done this particular walk in sun, rain, wind, as well as in ideal conditions. This is the first time we did it because it is flat, so we could walk slowly enough not to breathe too deeply. We wore masks all the time we were hiking, but I found that my N95 is so good at blocking everything that in no time at all, it was dripping from my breath, even though we were walking slowly. It wasn't exactly fun, but we did manage to walk the trail for two miles before turning around. We only walked a portion of the trail, unusual for us, but neither of us wanted to take any chances on a day like today.

Fall colors are everywhere

Yesterday's air quality was even worse than today's, and I don't think we would have tried even this short walk then. The air quality had moved from yesterday's "very unhealthy" into the "unhealthy" and just a short distance into that category. The air is supposed to improve tonight, and we should get some rain tomorrow, which should scour out most of this awful air. I saw on the news that parts of Seattle are currently experiencing the worst air quality in the world. We are not that bad, partly because we are so close to Bellingham Bay, and also because of the wind direction in relation to the wildfires that are still burning. We will all be so glad when this particularly difficult period has passed.

Strolling through the leaves

We got back to Mel's car well before noon, so we decided to go out to lunch. Melanie treated me to a wonderful salad and garlic fries at a place called Sliced, which is a new restaurant in the old Boston Pizza location at Bellis Fair Mall. I had a lovely salad (Green Goddess) with garlic fries, which Mel and I both worked at but I still had a huge amount to bring home. I think I will stay away from those fries, though, because the garlic was strong enough that it is all I can taste, hours later. But I would go back there again in a minute, as the food was good with generous servings and excellent service (not to mention high ceilings and patrons spaced well apart).

It was a really nice way to enjoy more time together before heading home. We both hope that next week we will be having more of our usual Pacific Northwest blue skies and great air. We made the best of a difficult situation, and I am truly happy to be home looking out the window at the haze and not breathing it in.


Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Spooky tales

Music with your lemonade?

I loved this Halloween setup, which is located near Whatcom Falls. This family always has great decorations, but they produced this little lemonade stand, a new feature this year. Someone had a great time putting it together, I suspect. The harmonica player is my favorite.

And everywhere I look around my neighborhood, there are more and more spooky decorations appearing daily. It is that time of year, I guess. Most of them are delightful and much appreciated.

So much fun to see these great decorations

In just a few minutes, I have to leave to head to Fairhaven for my monthly appointment with the Needle Man. I am looking forward to it, since I know I will leave his office feeling well balanced. 


Thursday, October 13, 2022

Ptarmigan Ridge 2022

The trail taking us to the Ridge

Today Melanie and I drove all the way to Artist Point to hike the Ptarmigan Ridge (more than 70 miles). It was likely that we would have to deal with the smoke that has wafted up from the southern part of the state, where the Bolt Creek fire in Snohomish County, just south of Whatcom County where I live, might impact our air quality. It did, but we were at a very high altitude. Artist Point is at 5,000 feet elevation, and as we drove upwards we saw the visible air quality improve. 

Mt. Baker from the trail

What surprised me the most is that when we began our hike from the parking lot, although it was mid-October, the air was actually HOT. It had to be at least 70°F early in the morning. I don't think I've ever experienced anything like this at this time of year. Usually it's cold, at least 25 degrees cooler than this to begin an excursion into the mountains at high altitude.

Mt. Shuksan in the haze

We hiked from Artist Point to the junction that gives us a choice of whether to go up to Ptarmigan Ridge, or to Chain Lakes. We chose the first, because it's been a favorite of mine for years, and after the fiasco on Goat Mountain, I wanted to see if I was up for the six-mile round trip that would take us up and down around 1,500 feet. Melanie was willing to turn around any time I might need to. But we made it all the way to the viewpoint, and we were able to spend some time there having lunch before heading back down the way we had come.

Lots of fall colors

We were a bit on the slow side as we climbed up to the ridge, because (for me) it was so warm that I just don't do well anymore in heat. But we did finally make it there, I was so pleased that I was able to manage the steepness and rocky terrain.

The ridge

This trail winds around until you get to a viewpoint that used to be a stop on the way to the rest of the trail, but now I am just happy to be able to get three miles on the trail. You can go much farther, but the viewpoint is a good turnaround spot.

Mel, me, and Shuksan

We prevailed on a fellow hiker to take a picture of us with Shuksan behind us, for posterity, and to help me remember a really fabulous day in the wilderness with a super good friend. I couldn't have done it without her help, and now I am home, happy and delighted with my latest set of pictures, and not feeling half bad, either. It was probably our last wilderness hike of the season, so it was a great way to end it. 


Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Around my neighborhood

My favorite rose at the Cornwall Rose Garden

I snapped this lovely yellow rose in my walk home today from the coffee shop. There are actually very few blooms still on the bushes here, given the lateness of the season, I guess. This is one of my all-time favorites, and I'm saddened that I'll need to wait several more months before they come out in full flower. I'll make sure to capture them for as long as they're still available.

Lots of fruit at the Farmers' Market

I saw this lovely display of strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries all in a row, with myriad veggies behind them. The abundance is still here, but nowhere near in the profusion of a few months ago. It's October, after all, and we are moving towards short days and long nights, pumpkins and gourds. Our time change is less than a month away, and then it will be dark around here by 5:00pm! Our Farmers' Market, however, will continue weekly until the Saturday before Christmas.

One of my neighbors has started his Halloween decorations already. That is a mannequin in the doorway, not a guest.

There's more but this will do for now

This neighbor always has fun decorations for the seasons, starting with Halloween. I always wonder what their visitors think of the ghoul in the doorway! He has been around every October for the past few years. 

Another neighbor's flower offerings

I happened to walk down a street I don't visit often, and I saw this pretty walkway with flowers that I suspect are for sale. This person has a QR code to learn more, which I didn't do yet, but I will find out what the story is, one of these days. Our weather has been incredibly beautiful lately, cool and crisp, with little to no rain in the forecast. We could use a little, to be frank. But I know that when it starts, it won't stop for awhile. So I'll enjoy our lovely days until then.


Thursday, October 6, 2022

Beautiful day, another great hike

 Well, this is really annoying, but I had no option but to give you a post about our hike today without any pictures at all. I've tried two different browsers and several different tricks, but none of my beautiful pictures will download into my blog. Then, I went on YouTube and found a way!

I found a workaround, so I'm happy!

Thank goodness for YouTube! I found that if the regular way to upload pictures isn't working, I can simply drag an image from my desktop in the post, so I'll start this post over. But I'm still having some difficulty, so I'll cut the images into just a few. That first picture is taken at the viewpoint on the hike on the way to Fragrance Lake. We had some fog, which is what is gracing this picture.

Fragrance Lake

The water was so calm and clear, it was gorgeous looking at the beautiful reflections. I've gotten some that look like this over the years, but it's not often that it is this clear.

Melanie, using portrait mode on my new iPhone

We had perfect hiking weather, and we played with our cameras' portrait modes and I got some great shots, which you will not be able to see (except for this one which is one of my favorites pictures of Mel I've ever taken.). We hiked back to the trailhead via the logging road, rather than back down the trail. We ended up covering more than 6.5 miles and 1,750 feet up and down.

Straight trees, eh?

We last did this hike on August 25th, and today we saw this stand of trees, which I almost always notice and enjoy, but today the colorful trees made for a lovely frame to admire them even better.


Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Our new doctor

Dr Stephanie Cao

Both SG and I were stranded without a PCP (Primary Care Physicians) after our beloved Dr. Saran decided to find another position. I guess this is happening all over the country, with so many physicians quitting and/or overwhelmed during the Covid disaster. 

Dr. Cao started at PeaceHealth Medical Group earlier this year and already has a full slate of new patients, and both SG and I luckily became two of them as of today. SG had researched all the possible candidates we could choose from, and he showed them to me awhile back. I liked Dr Cao immediately, when I learned of her interests. She "enjoys cooking, yoga, and photography," according to her web page. (I cannot seem to cut and paste any more, or I'd give you more information about her.) She's Vietnamese and did her residency in Las Vegas. We feel very fortunate to have her as our new PCP.

We are required to wear masks during our entire visits, but I asked her if I could take a picture without hers, for my contact list. She accommodated me (and then immediately put it back on), and I think she's not only a lovely person outside, but also inside. Plus she does yoga! It's also nice to have a young doctor (who usually know about the most recent medical advances), but also because she's not likely to be retiring any time soon.

However, having said that, for one reason or another I keep losing my PCPs and that makes me very sad indeed. Right now, I feel in very good hands. Let's hope Stephanie sticks around for a long time to come!