Thursday, December 28, 2023

Alger Alp

Senior Trailblazers at Squires Lake

Today I joined Group 1, my old stomping grounds, for a hike up to Alger Alp from the Squires Lake starting point. I hadn't been with this group since the pandemic, and it was a lovely reunion for me to see my old friend Al once more. Also, I accidentally cut off everything in this picture but the shoulder of my old friend Kirk (sorry!). There is a real problem with trying to take pictures with failing eyesight, as I'm learning. I took two pictures, but in the other one, I completely cut off Cindy on the right, so I'm sticking with this one.

Leaving Squires Lake behind

We followed Al as he led us on several trails until we reached the ridge, which leads to this park boundary and the beginning of the Pacific Northwest Trail. This we followed until we reached the uphill logging roads. At about this time, it began to sprinkle. I would not call it rain, but just a little bit of spitting.

Al and Edward, in the lead

We followed the signs and Al's GPS, only taking one wrong turn, and Al quickly set us on the right path, which would take us to our destination, Alger Alp. 

Looking out at I-5 and the distant mountains

By the time we got here, it was too early for lunch, so we meandered around the area for awhile, taking in the view and having a quick snack, but not yet lunch.

Cindy looking pretty

It wasn't the best day for pictures, since the skies never cleared, and even gave us some more sprinkles, but it never turned into real rain. We Pacific Northwesterners know what that's like, and we never got anything more than a little teaser.

Squires Lake

This is where we finally stopped for lunch, and gazed out at the sprinkles that dotted the lake. We covered almost six miles and more than 1,300 feet up and down. I got to chat with several of the hikers and enjoyed so much being with this group once again. Many of the hikers are beginning to jump between groups, depending on the hike, rather than sticking all together like we did for many years. Today I didn't join Group 2 because I had an appointment at 2:30 and was pretty sure I'd be able to make it if I went on this shorter hike.

And sure enough, I not only had enough time, I also spent almost an hour in the gym at the Senior Center doing some upper body exercises. And now here I am writing this post, feeling quite good, with a spiffy new haircut, as well! Life is good.


Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Fairhaven to Chuckanut Falls

On the trail

 Today, known as Boxing Day in Canada (the day after Christmas), 15 Senior Trailblazers set out from Fairhaven Park to Chuckanut Falls and returned. Three turned back fairly soon, since one was still in recovery mode from a fall, and the other two had appointments but wanted to get a little exercise in first. So, twelve of us hiked from the Fairhaven parking lot to the falls, somewhere around 6.5 miles in total.

Arroyo Park bridge

We traveled over the newly finished bridge, which has been out of commission for three years because of a tree that fell right in the middle of the bridge. It is totally reconstructed, and it so good to have it back once more.

Turnoff to the viewpoint

We followed the signs and were happy to be out and about on a fairly nice day in winter, with the temperature around 45°F (8°C) with no rain, but lots of puddles to navigate from earlier precipitation. 

A fair bit of rain made for a nice waterfall

It was a nice view of the falls, which lately have been sparse, but today had quite a nice display. It was time for me to take out Olga from my backpack, so she could take a look around.

Olga enjoying the falls

We then made a short trip up to the Hemlock trail, which we followed until we returned back to the Chuckanut trailhead and our starting point. But first, I had to see if I could get all the Trailblazers on the new bridge.

The bridge and the Happy Wanderers

It wasn't quite the picture I'd envisioned, but it was good enough to show you our spanking new bridge and the group having fun today. It was a really good day, and our hike leader, Barb, hit another home run by taking us on a wonderful hike. The weather was perfect and the company was sublime. I am very happy to have found this group.


Thursday, December 21, 2023

Samish Crest to Lake Padden

Most of our group today

 Today, the Group 2 hike of the Senior Trailblazers was organized by our leader, Barb (seen only in the yellow jacket at the right), bringing 13 of us to Samish Crest where this picture was taken by Don, before we trekked on to Lake Padden, where we went around the lake and then stopped for lunch.

The view from Samish Crest

Barb took us from our starting point at Racine Street through a bunch of very soggy trails to this point. We were all ready for rain, but there wasn't so much as a sprinkle as we made our way from this spot.

The group, Don took the photo

Although I didn't realize it until we ended back, most of this hike is slightly downhill in this direction. There wasn't much to take pictures of on the trail, other than muddy spots and lots of soggy leaves, but nevertheless we were happy to be out and hiking on the Winter Solstice.

Lake Padden

And then poof, just like that we were at the lake. We went around the lake the long way to add some distance, and then stopped at one of the picnic tables under a nice pavilion to have some lunch. I need to tell you of a new hiker who joined our group today, and she has taken me as her new partner: Olga. She is a gnome who was gifted to me by Helen, who also brought along her friend Greta today.

Helen, Greta, Olga, and me

Olga will be joining me on my upcoming hikes, as a dear friend as also as a reminder than even gnomes enjoy being the center of attention now and then. I will keep Olga safe and secure on my backpack, to join my hikes in perpetuity. Thank you, dear Helen, for gifting me with Olga.

Licorice ferns on an Irish tree

My dear partner dubbed this tree as Irish, because of the heavy lean, but I was taken by the wonderful licorice ferns that embellish it. It was a simply wonderful day, filled with lots of joy and happiness on this darkest day of the year. We covered around nine miles and a bit of elevation, which I cannot know for sure. But now that I am home, and drinking a winter ale that is making me feel pretty darn good, I cannot help but b thankful for all my blessings as we begin another journey around the sun.


Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Almost missed my post

Today's Happy Wanderers

I almost forgot to write a post today. I got caught up in the news stories, first and foremost that Colorado has decided that Trump is disqualified from being on the ballot because of inciting an insurrection on January 6, 2021. Well, that caused me to forget what I was doing until I got ready for bed and realized I had forgotten the task at hand. 

Fifteen of us met at the Senior Center and walked to Boulevard Park, around six miles there and back. It was supposed to rain but it didn't, so it was actually quite pleasant. Oh, and after the whole ballot thing, and then I saw on TV the incredible pictures of the volcano in Iceland erupting in spectacular fashion. 

It's quite a tough time in the world right now, but I am glad I am around and can enjoy the show as it passes by. Wow!


Thursday, December 14, 2023

Senior Christmas party

Three pretty sweaters

The three Senior Trailblazers groups had our Christmas party this morning, and I saw these three gorgeous ladies sporting their Christmas cheer for us all to enjoy. There were so many of us for this potluck, and we had an enormous amount of food that we managed to consume. Potlucks always make me eat more than I intend, but today I think I managed to walk out of the room without feeling stuffed. Partly that was because I wore a mask the entire time I was there. I woke up yesterday morning realizing I had a cold, with a runny nose and scratchy throat.

I gave myself a covid test, with my guy's invaluable help. It was negative, but I found out today that I should wait a few days and take it again, as it's possible the virus has not begun to shed. I was so pleased to see no positive results, and I do hope it will be the same tomorrow. Until I am sure it's just a cold, I'll continue to wear a mask in public spaces.

We did make a nice outing before the potluck, with ten of us walking on sidewalks and trails until we got to Squalicum Beach, a few miles away. In total we probably only walked a little more than four miles, but since it was lightly raining, and a feast awaited us at the Canterbury Court Apartments (where one of our members lives), nobody cared to make it a long one.

There were many more of us than this

I'm sorry that I neglected to get any pictures of the enormous spread. I was too busy socializing, and then eating and drinking, to notice it. I was surprised when I came home and looked at what I had taken: nothing of our walk, and no food pictures. I stand accused of having too good of a time to worry about such things.

Anyway, I sure did enjoy myself, and I look forward to many more hikes with these wonderful Senior Trailblazers! I am very lucky to have found these fellow travelers to share the wilderness with.  Life is good.


Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Aldergrove Park in Canada

Sign at entrance to park

 Today, fifteen Senior Trailblazers carpooled from the Senior Center in order to make a trip across our border with Canada into British Columbia to enjoy the Aldergrove Regional Park. Our crossing into Canada was incredibly easy, with no wait and a friendly border guard. Since I just recently started hiking with the Happy Wanderers, who annually make this trip, it was my first time here.

Aldergrove Regional Park is located on the border of Aldergrove and Langley, not far from the Canada-U.S.A. border. The park's easy trails, beautiful landscape, and numerous picnic areas make it a popular destination for families. The trails in this area are very well kept, and they are marked well, too! You will see a diverse amount of wildlife here, too. (from a hiking website)

It was quite cold when we started out, just barely above freezing, but the sun was out in full force, at least for this time of the year. We were bundled up and pretty much stayed that way.

Bridge was very slippery

 We crossed this bridge to begin our hike onto the trails, and I was very glad to find that the central section was salted and the best way to get across without falling. It was definitely slick, but we carefully crossed and then made our way to solid trails.

Group shot, including the photographer

All fifteen of us walked together around five or six miles in total, completing several of the more accessible of the trails. As we hiked, we gradually warmed up. and the delightful sunshine helped, too.

Good doggies

When we stopped for lunch, we saw these two dog walkers with their charges. They were all well behaved and nothing went amiss, but I realized that the well-behaved dogs made all the difference. They eventually piled into two vans and drove away, but we were impressed!

Lunch stop

We found a couple of (almost) dry benches and stopped for lunch, enjoying the company, the sun, and the lack of wind. By this time I was almost completely warm myself, after wondering if my hands were ever going to warm up, But they did.

Overlooking farm land

We continued our hike as we climbed a short hill and were looking out over verdant farm fields, and stopped for a moment to enjoy the scenery, before continuing on.

Sky, mountains, fields

And then, after a few short miles, it was time to return to our cars and cross the border in the other direction. That also was without a wait, and with a cheerful border guard, too! We decided to head to Edaleen's Dairy for some ice cream, even if it is winter!

Edaleen's store in Lynden

I really like their cappuccino chip ice cream the best, but since they didn't have any, I tried some eggnog ice cream to celebrate the season. And then we all climbed into our cars and headed back to the Senior Center.

Delicious Edaleen ice cream

We had a wonderful day, with plenty of lovely conversations, exercise, sunshine, and more. I will not forget that ice cream any time soon! And thanks to all for a delightful day.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Super rainy day

Captured by Rita Eberle-Wessner

I wish I had taken this picture, but I didn't. It's from one of my favorite photographers and snagged from her Flickr account. I never fail to be captivated by the pictures she puts on her site, and I might one day try to emulate her gift. But first I need to buy a really expensive camera like she's got (a Canon EOS 5D). I did look it up but I would need to take out a loan to afford it. So, instead, I snag ones like her work, one that she just put up this morning.

I didn't hike today but instead walked to the automotive shop where my little Honda was getting a checkup and oil change. I also went to the Senior Center to attend the Zumba class, since the yoga class was full and I couldn't get in. But, just by chance, as I was explaining my situation to the staff, someone called and canceled her slot in yoga, so I grabbed it right up! I was very happy to switch, and I sure feel better after having attended. Plus, I was able to use the gym machines that I've been trained on so far: the abdominal crunch, the simulated rowing thingy, and the low back extender. I really like all three of these and look forward to being able to use more weights, as soon as I work up to it. I feel really happy that I have such a good Senior Center!

We have been experiencing a true atmospheric river, with many inches of rain having fallen here in the last couple of days, with more to come. Some rivers around here have overflowed their banks, but for us in Bellingham, it's just the massive puddles in the streets that one must navigate. And the rain has raised our temperature so much that I saw we are 17 degrees above normal. It makes the rain a little easier to deal with, although all this rain and warmth has melted our High Country snow. But it will return, probably in time for us to get into the Christmas spirit.

Christmas stars

With that, I'm heading off to rummage in my cupboards to find a little Christmas cheer to finish my day. Hope you're having a good (and not too busy) holiday season.


Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Three centuries later

A bit cumbersome

I am pretty sure that my mild hearing loss would not have caused me to resort to such a contraption as this one I snagged off the internet. In the 17th century, someone decided to try to create a device that would amplify sound. Of course, all it does is take a larger area of sound that is then compressed down to fit over the ear. You can get the same effect by cupping your palm around your ear or ears to make sounds a little louder. Not to mention this device is quite heavy and probably didn't do much to help one hear. But if you're really deaf, any little amplification would help.

Today's much better version

This is a picture of a Receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aid, which is what I have. When I returned from my last visit to Florida, and being chastised for trying to keep conversations going and missing much of the words, well, the first thing I did was get my hearing checked. Yep, missing a lot of the high-frequency sounds, which is pretty normal for someone of my advancing age. My Medicare Advantage provider sent me to get a set of hearing aids, and although I didn't get to choose the type or price, I was given a set by an audiologist that looks much like this picture. There is a part of the device that sits behind the ear and gives me control of rejecting or receiving a phone call.

It took me awhile to get used to inserting them properly, and then to learning how to use them. They are linked by Bluetooth to my iPhone, and I ended up paying around $2,000 for both, along with extra amount for a charger, rather than using batteries. I am so glad I did the whole thing, and my insurance covered the majority of the cost, leaving me with that final number. I paid them off a few months ago, and I also have two years of maintenance covered with my audiologist. She has already cleaned them for me once, and of course she set them up so that I can get the best hearing out of them. Everyone's hearing loss is a little different, and I seem to be harder of hearing out of my left ear. I only know this because when I take them out in the evening and put them in the charger, everything sounds much quieter, with the left ear allowing me to notice my hearing loss.

There are only two times during daily activities that I take them out: one, when I am getting a massage I don't want them to get in the way, and two, when I take a bath or shower. They don't like water, but so far they haven't shown any problems with the little bit they get wet when I'm out in the rain. I am careful to wear a rain hat or whatever I need to keep them from the worst of the rain.

I am mostly unaware of them, but I do know they have made my family members and coffee shop companions stop mumbling all the time! And I remember when I first heard birdsong again. Now I am used to them, and I would definitely recommend anyone of a certain age to get your hearing checked. It's worth it. And I do know there are cheaper ones out there, but I don't know anything about them. Perhaps some of my readers do, and are willing to share. I am happy to have them, and to receive my phone calls inside my ear, rather than out there... 

Life is good.


Thursday, November 30, 2023

Cypress Island

Heading out to the island

Yesterday, Wednesday, 12 Senior Trailblazers set out on our second trip with Island Opportunity Charters, a locally owned and operated water taxi that takes people on all sorts of adventures in the San Juan islands. This time we went to Cypress Island, a relatively undeveloped island close to the Puget Sound. From that link:
The island offers a scenic reminder of conditions in Western Washington prior to European settlement.  Steep Island topography provides vistas of the San Juan Islands, mainland Washington and the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges.  Cypress Island is a popular destination for boaters, offering recreation opportunities, scenic viewpoints, lakes, and miles of trails.
We were dropped off at Smuggler's Cove, and we started a hike almost right from the beach. The owners had a couple of other obligations and we said we would meet them at Pelican's Beach for a pickup at 3:00. Since it was barely 10:00am, we had plenty of time to find what the area had to offer us.

The group, with Eagle's Nest behind us

Before we left the boat, the owner took a picture of us with Eagle's Nest, that pinnacle behind us, as our highest destination spot. We were all successful in getting there, but first a bit of our day's activities.

Duck Lake

We first hiked to Duck Lake and saw a few small ducks in there, but mostly it was just a pretty view, and our first foray out into the wilderness. There was an old dilapidated cabin with a homemade "bench" for some of us to try out.

Me and Ina Sue

You know, I fully expected that we would be fighting the cold (it was subfreezing when we left Bellingham), but it was amazingly warm all day. Of course, not many of us took off much clothing, but there was not a breath of wind, making it seem much warmer. Then we went off to Eagle Cove, and noticed a sign that would take us to Reed Lake. Since it was only .6 miles, we decided to go for it. What we didn't realize is that it also ascended around 6-700 feet in that short distance. But we did get there.

Aldo Leopold bench

Don, who knows about such things, pointed out this Aldo Leopold bench beside Reed Lake. Do you know who he was? "The bench is named for Aldo Leopold, an internationally recognized figure in wildlife conservation and pioneering author and philosopher on environmental ethics and land stewardship." I learned about him from a fellow blogger, who sent me a copy of his Sand County Almanac

Reed Lake

You can see why it's named Reed Lake. And you can see how beautiful the area is, and why it's wonderful to see it continuing to remain undeveloped. There are only a few people living on the island, but they were nowhere near us.

Trail sign

When we would come to a trail junction, we would be reminded where we were, and how far to the next spot(s) of interest. We did return to Eagle Cove for lunch, and after we finished, we headed off towards Pelican Beach, where we would take a side trip up to Eagle's Nest (seen from a distance in that group photo). The view, however, from our lunch spot was spectacular. Mt. Baker came out for a quick view.

Mt. Baker on the horizon

When we passed by here later, the mist had covered up the view, so we felt very fortunate to have been able to see this at all. But we had a long and rigorous climb ahead of us to reach Eagle's Cliff. We ascended about 1,000 feet in just over a mile, so you know it was tough. But for me it was just as hard coming down. However, at the top, we had a great view!

View from Eagle's Cliff

I was so happy to finally get back to moderately safe trails as we descended. And I was happy that nobody was close enough to hear me whimper as I went down, much of the time on my rear end. And then our trip was over, with us only a few minutes late, with our trusty water taxi waiting for us.

Goodbye, Cypress Island

It was a wonderful day, a delightful adventure, and we have our leader Barb to thank for arranging it, and Bill for leading us to the top of Eagle's Cliff without so much as a scraped elbow! I was dubious that we would all make it safely, but we did, and now it's a memory I will not soon forget. Nine miles of hiking and some unknown elevation gain, too.

Today, however, I'm a little tired. I skipped the Thursday hike but did manage to walk three miles so I could close my fitness rings. Thanks to all who made our journey so much fun!

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Enjoying my special week

A favorite tree losing its leaves

I have loved seeing this tree throughout the year as I pass it on my walk through Cornwall Park on my way back from the coffee shop most days. From the first buds in springtime, until the flaming leaves beginning their final days in late November, it's a joy to see. Today, I saw what it looks like now.

Bare branches

It was also very foggy this morning, so much so that I decided not to try to make it to the Senior Trailblazers' hike, but instead join John at the coffee shop and head home through the park. I was surprised that the fog stuck around for so long. But I also knew that I didn't want to miss my acupuncture treatment this afternoon, so it was a perfect way to get my steps in and be finished with my walk in plenty of time.

Taken from my apartment steps

We have a different species of maple tree that I see as I walk up the steps to my apartment, and it's only just begun to shed all its leaves. But there is no denying that fall is in the rear view window, and winter is beginning to take over. I had to watch my step as I walked to the bus, since the heavy fog and below-freezing temperatures meant that I could easily slip on icy tarmac if I didn't pay attention.

Tomorrow I'm going on another boat trip into the San Juan islands, this time to Cypress Island, which I know nothing about. If you check out that link, you'll know as much as I do about it. There are at least eleven of us going, and we are taking that same water taxi that took us to Sucia Island last month. It's another exciting trip into the San Juans, and we should get lots of hiking around the island as well. 

And! I bought myself a new iPad Air, and after much consultation with Apple's tech support, we (that would be SG and me) managed to get everything transferred from the old one to the new one, and everything seems to be working quite well. It's definitely a new version of my old friend iPad. And much faster, too! I am happy and only beginning my special week!


Thursday, November 23, 2023

Hassle free Turkey Day

Not a bad selfie

I managed to get a halfway satisfactory selfie of the two of us as we prepared our Thanksgiving dinner. This was the easiest, and one of the best, Thanksgiving meals I have enjoyed in years. Our local food co-op offers a "leave the work to us" Thanksgiving dinner, with stuffing, gravy, lots of turkey breast, mashed potatoes (that taste wonderful), butternut squash, green beans, and cranberry sauce. Other than the last item, everything else was freshly prepared and made from scratch.

Enough to serve four guests

We were able to prepare a lovely plate for each of us and slide them into the microwave for three minutes. It's been awhile since I've tasted such good green beans and potatoes (both of which were buttered and seasoned to perfection). 

My Thanksgiving plate

We had an early lunch, since I had skipped breakfast I didn't want to wait any longer, and then around 3:00pm we had seconds. And we still have an enormous amount of food left over for us to enjoy for the next couple of days. It was nice to eat just enough and not get stuffed all at once. I took a nice walk in between, and I have to say that this is definitely the way to go, no hassle, great food, and great company. Time for a lovely glass of wine to finish off the day.