Thursday, December 29, 2022

Last hike of the year

Viewpoint today

Melanie and I decided last week that if the weather might be passably good today, we would hike up to Fragrance Lake, one of our favorites. As you can see, the view was pretty monochromatic, with little difference between the sky and the water. Plus, it was not really all that cold, with only a few "sprinkles" expected early. It did not disappoint, and we ended up having a pretty wonderful day.

Our trail, with a special old tree

I've taken pictures of this particular tree before, but it always catches my eye as we ascend the Fragrance Lake trail on our way to the lake. We usually take the trail to the lake, go once around (and sometimes go a little farther down the Two Dollar trail) and then head back taking the logging road rather than retracing our steps.

Still lots of green to soothe the eye

This being the Pacific Northwest, anything fallen and beginning its journey back into the ground is covered with moss. Even live trees often are a little mossy, but it doesn't seem to keep them from flourishing.

Fragrance Lake 

There was little wind to make it feel colder than it was (right around 5°C (42°F), so we were even able to take off a layer for a short while. We never were in any danger of seeing the sun, and after we went around the lake, seeing pretty winter scenes such as the one below, we began to feel a bit chilly.

Woodland scene

It was the little leaf, glistening in the wet, with a tiny mushroom above it, that caught my eye. And before long, the sprinkles increased by just a little bit, enough for the light wind to make us ready to put our layer back on.

Just a little rain at first

If you look carefully, you can see a few drops are falling on the lake. We decided to skip our usual trip down the Two Dollar trail, but we went far enough to visit one of our favorite spots at the beginning of the trail.

Mel's shot of me

Although my eyes are closed, you really do need something in the picture to show the size of these logs and rocks, so I thought what the heck. At least you can see that we were having fun, right? When we were here last, we ran into two women and we chatted with them for awhile. But, try as we might, we couldn't recall their names. 


And then, as we walked back down the logging road, we saw that the waterfall is once again full and looking beautiful. Last time we were here, it was almost completely dry, with only a little trickle keeping it from being totally absent. This is just about the perfect amount of water to enjoy its beauty.

By the time we got back to the car, we had traveled 6.5 miles and traversed 1,500 feet of elevation gain and loss. We also had a little more rain, which I'd call "moderate sprinkles" until we began our drive home, when  it picked up yet a little more. All in all, I would consider it a magnificent final hike for the year. Special thanks to Melanie for gifting me with her brilliant buckwheat cardamom chocolate chip cookies! It was all very lovely and delightful.


Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Our belated Christmas breakfast

Our holiday gathering, a few days late

Although it's not a very ancient tradition, both Lamont and Lily have invited a few special friends to join them at Avenue Bread for a lovely Christmas Eve gathering for the past few years. This year, we couldn't even get out of our driveways, so we had a belated gathering this morning, the Tuesday after Christmas. In the foreground on either side of the table are Paula, Gene's special friend, and Gene, looking very Santa-ish with his lovely full beard. Next on the left are me and Lily, and Lamont and John on the right. I had a smoked salmon omelette with their famous home fries, which are different from other places but very, very tasty. I was very full after we finished, but I didn't let that stop me from finishing it all. I did leave a little of the sourdough bread, but I ate everything else.

Lily and Lamont have started bowling a couple times a week, since they now live near an alley, and they asked me if I would join them today. Since I had promised to do so awhile back, I agreed that today would be a good day. We played two games, and I was surprised at how much fun it was, even though you can probably guess who was thrilled to have made two spares (no strikes) in two games, and came in last but still had a very good time with a couple of forgiving friends. The game has changed somewhat since I last played many years ago. It's all computerized now, and when you make a gutter ball, the entire screen makes sure everyone knows it! I will join them again, and I can see how you can get quite obsessed with the game.

Me at the bowling alley

I hope my arm will not be too sore from throwing the nine-pound ball down the alley twenty times, but it reminded me that I need to get back to some regular weight lifting. Another thing the pandemic cost me was my usual twice-a-week strength and tone classes at the Y. You don't think you're doing much, but I was accustomed to some light soreness the next day even using just three- and five-pound weights.

I'm eating that nose right now

I am also accustomed to getting up and finding such delights as this one on the kitchen counter created by my dear partner. There's no doubt he'll see some whimsy and find a way to share it with me. I'm pretty lucky, with friends and family like I've got, there's no dearth of smiles and happy moments around here. Now that the weather is actually kind of nice, back to wind and rain, our old friends, it's like all the holiday diversions never really happened. Only one more week to navigate before we enter a brand-new shiny year!


Thursday, December 22, 2022

No hike today

Behind the counter at my favorite coffee shop

We, Melanie and I, didn't venture out to hike anywhere today. Although it's way more conducive to outdoor activity today than it has been for the past few days, it's still super cold and, even if the wind has moderated, it's still not much fun out there. Both Senior Trailblazer groups canceled their hikes and suggested that people stay indoors during the worst of the weather. We have a foot of snow (still) on the ground, and such cold temperatures that slick sidewalks are not an issue. There aren't any exposed sidewalks!

Where did the chickens go?

John picked me up and drove me to our coffee shop, where we enjoyed a very nice time inside a warm and cozy place, and then he took me home. I didn't want to venture out after my last attempt, when the cold wind made me really miserable. But today, a little after noon, I realized that the wind had moderated somewhat, so I walked to the bus stop. I noticed that the chickens in the chicken coop have been taken out of the severe weather, and I hope they are enjoying their vacation from the pen and have not been turned into dinner. I think I'll see them again once the weather improves. I hope.

There's a path under the snow

I walked in the street for most of the way, since the sidewalks are knee-deep in snow. As you can see from this picture, it's not a very easy walk. See the huge snowdrift behind? That was from the snowplow, I suspect.

Little snowdrifts making patterns

I do like looking at the wind sculptures in the many places where the snow accumulates. And I did need to find something to put into my usual Thursday post. Although it's not much, at least I got a teeny bit of exercise (but needed to dodge cars every few minutes). We have more snow coming tonight, so I don't know if I could repeat or add onto today's venture out. We'll see. 

This bad weather is pretty much everywhere right now, or if not in your area yet, it's on the way! So, please stay safe and warm, if possible. I am so blessed to have a warm apartment that is so much nicer than being outdoors with nowhere to get out of the elements. My heart goes out to those who are homeless and hope they can stay safe during this awful weather.


Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Not our usual weather

Scene when we arrived at the coffee shop

It was very cold and blustery when I went to bed last night, but I really didn't know whether the forecast for snow would pan out or not. We have been told many times that it would snow, a fair amount even, and then not show even a stingy snowflake or two. 

It was so cold last night that I began to think it was too cold for snow. Hah! Color me wrong, as I woke to heavy snowfall and really frigid temperatures, like –10°C (15°F) and the scene looked like the picture above. John called me and said he had cleared off his truck and would be around to pick me up for our usual coffee date within a few minutes. He said to BE READY. I walked outside to consider what clothes I might need, pulled on long underwear for insurance, and found a pair of short gaiters to add to my shoes to keep the snow out of my socks and boots. Finally all geared up, I walked out to see a real winter wonderland. John's chariot pulled up in the dark, ready to take me on an adventure!

My front porch "flowers"

Yes, there is no doubt that we received somewhere close to ten inches or so of snow! And for tomorrow, while the snow may be over, the cold is not. It will be extremely cold for another couple of days, before the weather moderates and the snow changes over to rain, our familiar winter companion. Until then, we will muddle through. 

I found my missing Microspikes to strap onto my boots for walking, and I might try them out today if the sun actually makes an appearance. I can see that there are some breaks in the clouds already, and it sure would be nice to get in a few steps. You know I am addicted to exercise, right? But I am also cautious and don't want to hurt myself by taking too many unnecessary chances.

This cold weather looks like it will reach most of the nation before it's all said and done. And hopefully you will also take precautions and happily find some joy and holiday cheer for the upcoming week. Saturday is Christmas Eve!


Thursday, December 15, 2022

Cold but lovely

Wintry scene, sans snow

Melanie and I decided to make our holiday hike up to Lily Lake, just the two of us. It was supposed to be sunny and cold, but it was mostly cloudy when we started out. Although the forecast was for partly sunny skies, it wasn't that way at first. However, later on the sun did make an appearance. Everything is definitely looking wintry.

Me in front of the decision spot

By the time we climbed up most of the elevation to this spot, we had a decision to make: go to Lizard Lake and make our hike longer, or head to Lily Lake and then return the way we had come. Until we got here, the trail was mostly free of snow, and then it all changed.

Does it look slippery? Yep, it was indeed

This is the first place where we thought that our spikes might be useful to strap onto the bottom of our boots. Unfortunately, I couldn't find mine this morning, but Mel had spares. I thought maybe I could make it to the lake without them.

Lily Lake

We did finally make it to the lake, only to find it frozen solid, and a brisk wind had picked up by this time. We huddled under a tree, while Mel put on her spikes with frozen fingers. I decided to try to make it back myself without falling, which I did, but it was with a lot of careful stepping and caution. The distance where it was icy and snowy was brief. Mel was happy to have put on her spikes, and I'll find mine before we go out next week.

Brief spots of sun broke through the clouds

As we headed back the way we had come, we saw that the sun was definitely beginning to show through all those clouds. And by the time we had returned to the car, having covered seven miles and 1,500 elevation gain and loss, there was more sun in the sky than clouds. Before we hit the freeway, it was full-on sunshine.

Happy holidays from Mel!

We went to the Evolve Cafe for a wonderful late lunch. Although it's been quite awhile since we finished, I am still full and happily so. Mel had a peppermint schnapps hot chocolate with hers, and I enjoyed some cheesy biscuits. It all went very delightfully together with a polenta dish that we both ordered.

As the sun set today at 4:13pm, we were both ensconced in our respective homes, me with my partner, and she with Torquil, her cat. And both feeling pretty good about our choice for the day. I do hope that everyone had a great day, filled with lots of good cheer!


Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Decorations abound

Down the street, two decorated homes

 As I walked out the door this morning, armed with my headlamp, I saw these two well decorated homes just a few doors down from my own apartment dwelling. You cannot really see how pretty they are from this picture, as my iPhone camera lightened the dark sky and the street in front to make it more visible, I guess. But in any event, you can see that these homeowners decided to make it really pretty for those of us admiring their handiwork. 

It was an hour before sunrise, and without my headlamp I wouldn't have felt comfortable walking, as it was nowhere as light as the picture seems to indicate. I stopped to take the picture and then turned and headed off to catch the bus. I always give myself a few extra minutes, just in case of something like this, a need to photograph the scene. It is just over a half-mile walk and I manage it within a few minutes. But I don't walk all that briskly when I'm not sure of my footing. Although it was cold, well below freezing, it was dry and no wind to make it feel even colder.  I was dressed warmly and didn't feel the cold all that much.

John at "our" table in the coffee shop

When I walked up to the coffee shop door, I saw John sitting inside, and although again the camera decided to "help" the picture, I saw the reflection of lights on his right shoulder, and a few colored lights reflected on the right part of the window, as well. It was much more dramatic in my mind's eye, let me tell you, but I needed something to put in the Tuesday blog post, so here you are. I usually sit across the table from John, and our baristas know our orders so well that they don't even ask, just tell me to sit down and they bring it to me. It's nice to have such a well-oiled routine, don't you think?

Today I'll make a concerted effort to find a new yoga studio. It's time for me to reconcile to accept something less than the perfect place I had that is no more. Sigh. The pandemic was cruel to many shop owners, and our dear studio owner as decided to move back to Sweden, after so many years here in Bellingham. Times change, and people move on in life, after all.


Thursday, December 8, 2022

Looking a lot like winter

    Always a good day to kayak

 This morning, Melanie and I headed over to Fairhaven to walk the Interurban trail, one of our winter favorites. We saw this kayaker out at Marine Park, just getting ready to take a nice tour around the bay. We almost always see at least one person out there, no matter the weather. It looks like a gull in the foreground is also taking note of this activity.

Dr. Seuss would have loved it

There was very little color as we walked more than six miles around the area, and I took very few shots, since nothing actually looked all that interesting. This moss-covered tree was fun to see, looking like something that might have been created by Dr. Seuss. You can see the there is very little (actually no) sunshine to brighten things up. The rain had lessened, however, and was not forecast to return until later in the afternoon.

Not much challenge here

This is pretty much what the entire Interurban trail looks like: straight, flat, and just a little on the ho-hum side, except for the company, conversation, and smiles we shared with each other. But Melanie had something else in mind for the remainder of the morning: how about a nice birthday lunch? After we had walked as much as we wanted, we headed over to Keenan's at the Pier, just a short distance away, where Melanie treated me to a very special birthday lunch.

Me considering the menu

We ended up ordering (both of us) the blackened tacos and a wonderful pinot noir for our luncheon. The only word I can think of that would sum it up is "divine." Just about the most perfect lunch I've enjoyed in ages, and the scenery was perfect, as well.

Melanie in her holiday sweater

I also enjoyed a lovely creme brûlée for dessert, while Mel had a chia-seed pudding. Both of them were outstandingly good and helped me metabolize the alcohol in the wine, which was really good, too. It was more than just divine, it was also wonderful to be taken care of so well by such a good friend. She also gave me a gift of rain pants and a back-scratcher that collapses so I can carry it in my pack. 

And now I am home, feeling great after such a nice walk and such a fabulous treat from my dear friend. She's a keeper! Oh, and the rain started up again just after I got home, so it was perfect timing as well.


Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Old memories

Taken more than a decade ago

I recently found a bunch of old photos on a thumb drive (actually, SG did), and I loved seeing this old memory again. It was taken, I'm pretty sure, by an old friend, Mike, who no longer hikes with the Trailblazers. Then again, neither do I. These days I go out with one or perhaps two others, mostly Melanie, because I have trouble going as fast these days as I once did. No matter, I am happy to still be able to go out in the wonderful wilderness that surrounds Bellingham. This was taken on a snowshoe trip, obviously in the middle of winter. The picture has a February 2011 date. Those camp robbers are everywhere and extremely bold, but it made for a nice picture, don't you think?

These last three nights I have gotten plenty of sleep, which makes everything look better. I have recovered from the time change, and although it was really cold when I first arrived home last Thursday, the temperature has moderated considerably. However, the trails and places not directly in sunlight are quite slippery. Every step is taken with the awareness that my footing might not be secure. Yep. Not worrying so much about the speed I'm walking as much as whether it's safe to venture forth. A fall at my age needs to be avoided at all costs. 

Today I have an appointment with my acupuncturist, and I'll be asking for more serenity, which usually means more needles in my scalp. They are actually my favorite ones: I get a wonderful rush of pleasure that goes right from the top of my head all the way down to my toes. Now who wouldn't enjoy that? He told me that some of his clients call them "the sparkles." I will also ask if he might be able to help my digestive system get back to normal. Other than those minor little problems, I'm feeling pretty darn good, considering. The holidays take it out of everyone to some degree. We've got another month of holiday gatherings, unhealthy foods, and dubious weather conditions. We'll make it, with a little help from our friends. 


Thursday, December 1, 2022

Home again jiggity jig

My hotel room last night

Norma Jean dropped me off in front of the Mariott Hotel at the Tampa Airport yesterday, and I went directly up to my room (see above) and collapsed after a very long week. You can see how close I am to the gates, which were literally a few short steps away, once I checked out this morning. I did sleep well, but not for long, since I was not sure about anything and once I woke up I couldn't get back to sleep. So I did my exercises and took a nice long shower, and then I went out to explore the details of the hotel. It turns out that everyone opens up there at 5:00am, so I had a not-so-good breakfast sandwich instead of a sit-down breakfast. 

Once I got onto the airport, my flight was fifteen minutes late (I worried it might be longer, but it was just fine). I was seated just behind the first class seats, which allowed me a fairly quick exit when we landed. I caught the first shuttle to Bellingham with ten minutes to spare.

As we lost altitude and we approached Seattle, I was amazed at the amount of snow I spied on the ground.

Unusual to see all that white stuff

My friend Melanie told me that it started to snow in Bellingham, but then it changed to rain and melted it away. Seattle got it instead. Although Bellingham doesn't have snow, it's really really cold. It was close to freezing when I left the airport, and the temperature has continued to fall as the day wore on. It's not even 5:00pm, but I am very tired, even though my day lost three hours. I'll try to stay awake so I won't wake in the middle of the night.

Tomorrow I'm scheduled for an afternoon massage, which I believe will be well received by my tired body. I think I managed to avoid catching anything during the trip, but I won't really know for sure for a few more days. But the stay in the hotel room got me off to a good start. I'll do that again. It's so nice to be home, to see my best friend SG once again, and enjoy another beginning!