Thursday, June 27, 2024

Fort Ebey State Park

Some of the Trailblazers on today's hike

 Our leader today, Joe, took twelve Senior Trailblazers on a wonderful journey down to Whidbey Island and all the way to Fort Ebey State Park. I had never been there before, although I had gone to Ebey's Landing in the same general vicinity. We almost didn't go because the weather looked iffy, but often when it's raining in Bellingham, it's dry or almost dry on Whidbey Island. It's a long trip, but it was worth it.

Trails were signed and similar to this one

There were many different routes we could have taken, but Joe mapped out one he felt would give us a good idea of the park, covering somewhere around seven miles of terrain. It was a wide loop hike, starting on this type of trail, and then taking us on a cliff walk above the ocean, before we headed back to our starting point.

Indian Pipe or Ghost Pipe

One sharp-eyed hiker saw this Indian Pipe plant, which I've seen before, but it's so eerie looking and unusual that I had to share it with you. Indian Pipe is a parasitic plant that lacks chlorophyll, so it is unable to obtain energy from sunlight as most plants do. It is one of an estimated 3,000 species of non-photosynthetic flowering plants (from Adirondacks Nature.)

Our lunch spot (also known as Nirvana)

After lunch, we began the second part of our hike, where we headed toward the beach. Joe showed us on a map where we were and how far we had come.

Joe showing where we started

I could see that we were headed for the bay, south of his pointer, before we would head back to our cars. By this time, we had covered a good bit of mileage, but we still had more to come.

There it was, the beach

Finally, we got several good views of the beach below us, and a stiff breeze off the water made me don my jacket once again. We walked along the cliff side, protected from falling by lots of barriers. And then into history!

Fort Ebey 

Fort Ebey was built on Partridge Point in 1942 as a World War II coastal defense near the mouth of Puget Sound. The fort was named for Isaac Neff Ebey, a pioneering homesteader on Whidbey Island. The fort included a battery of two 6-inch guns. We all went inside, where if we hadn't had a few overhead lights, nothing would have been visible at all in a pitch-black scary, dank environment. But we all managed just fine, including me (thanks to Don's sturdy arm). When we emerged from the Fort, we all watched a paraglider try to get his canopy off the ground.

A paraglider playing with the wind

He did get airborne a few times, but I was glad when I watched him collapse the wing before he got too high off the ground. And then we hiked back to our cars, happy to have covered at least seven-ish miles, and stayed not only dry, but enjoyed a great outing, thanks to Joe's leadership. 


Thursday, June 20, 2024

Summer is here

Mt Baker from the Chain Lakes loop

I didn't go on the hike today to Noisy Creek today. It's a very long drive, one of the longest that we make (75 miles one way) and then the hike itself is more than ten miles long. You start early and don't get back until very late.  I suspect I'm done with that sort of hike. It's not like I haven't done it many times, but I was younger back then.

I'm hoping I will be able to navigate hikes like the Chain Lakes loop, since it's only six miles (but a long-ish drive) and much more doable. I've enjoyed almost every one of the Chain Lakes hikes I've ever done. It's always wonderful to experience the beautiful wilderness that surrounds us, but as I've gotten older, I notice that I do much better when it's cloudy and cool. When I took this picture, I had really suffered going up Herman Saddle in the full sun, but by the time I got to where I took this shot, I had recovered somewhat. I'm just glad I can still do them at all, at my advanced age.

Steve pointing out our destination

This picture was taken most exactly ten years ago, and I cherish it, as I look at those who are gone. Steve died a couple of years ago, and the man at the very back (Richard) also died since we took this hike to Yellow Aster Butte in 2014. That is one drawback to hiking with the Seniors: sometimes we don't have unlimited decades ahead, but in a way it makes it so much more precious and poignant. I know that those seniors who traveled all the way to Noisy Creek today and spent the entire day together will cherish the memories they will create.

I was at the acupuncturist's office when I realized that we had just moved from spring to summer. Today is the first day of summer, the longest day of the year, and now we will start slowly moving towards fall, when the days and nights will be equal again. Some places in the country are already sweltering, but we will make it to the high seventies (25°C) and enjoy just about perfect weather. No clouds out there, but they will return soon, I hope!


Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Red River walk/potluck

Our road walk condition today

Today 21 Senior Trailblazers met at the Senior Center and headed to the Silver Reef Casino parking lot in Ferndale. We were met by Kim, one of our hikers, who led us on a lovely walk through farmlands, along the South River Road going out, and then returning via the North River Road. It's all open, and we had a light breeze and quite cool weather to make the six-mile walk very comfortable. 

See the big eagle in the tree?

We chatted as we walked, saw lots of wildflowers growing along the sides of the road, and the occasional raptor overhead. One alert hiker saw this mature eagle in a tree, and we all stopped long enough to get a good picture. There were also many little ducklings following along their mother in the river, but try as I might, none of my pictures showed the event properly. I suspect that the eagle might have been eyeing lunch as we watched them paddle by. So many little ones just don't make it very long which is why, I guess, there are such large broods. 

Large estuary that separates the two river roads

Finally we turned back north and began our walk back to the casino, where we had left our cars. There was intermittent sky between the clouds, but we never did have totally clear skies.

Heading back to the casino

Most of us are not so accustomed to an entire walk along flat roads, and by the time we finished, many of us were complaining about hips, knees, and sore feet. However, we climbed into our cars and drove to the lovely home of Terry, one of our regular hikers, who hosted a potluck for us after the hike. She lives right on Gooseberry Point, and we enjoyed a potluck filled with good food, desserts, and Terry provided delicious coffee for those who wanted it.

Setting up for a feast

We had so much good food, and I truly enjoyed everything I sampled. We seem to be getting in the habit of eating after these Tuesday outings, but this was just the best food anywhere: lots of salads, bread, and of course desserts. I had two helpings of Kim's trifle, with layers of sponge cake, fruit, custard, and whipped cream. You can see it in the middle of the table, off center to the left. Yum!

And now I am home, happy to have had such a great walk with friends. I think I will be skipping the Thursday hike, as it's quite long and a good distance away to boot. And I've done it many times before. I'll find a good substitute, I hope.


Thursday, June 13, 2024

Visit by a pesky bug

Wild garden

Across the street from my apartment complex is a lovely wild garden, which always looks beautiful during the month of June. I was walking home from the bus today when I saw these pretty flowers showing off. Since I am not hiking today, I took this to grace the top of my post.

I had such a good time on Tuesday, but I thought I was feeling a bit more tired than I should have been, and then wondered if I was imagining it, or was my throat feeling a little scratchy? In the middle of the night, I woke with a very sore throat, no imagining it at all. I sent a text to my acupuncturist to reschedule my appointment for yesterday, no point in spreading something to others.

Today my throat is somewhat better, but nowhere near normal. I did a couple of Covid tests and both came up negative. I also have an upset stomach, no appetite and loose bowels, so whatever it is that I caught might not be Covid but is probably contagious. When I went to bed last night, I had decided that I wouldn't be going on the hike with the Senior Trailblazers today. In any event, I did feel much better when I woke this morning, so I did my exercises, walked the half-mile to the bus stop, and went off to the coffee shop. I just needed to do something other than lie around all day. 

But when I got there, having expended a minimal amount of energy, I knew I was still suffering from whatever this bug is. I stayed masked except when I took a sip or two, and then I visited the bathroom before taking a bus back home. My plan when I set out was to do my usual three-mile walk home, but I truly didn't feel up to it. I now have just over 5,000 steps for the day, and that will have to do. Still not much appetite, but I did enjoy a salad for lunch. I couldn't tell whether I was feeling hungry or not, but it stayed down and hasn't triggered any bathroom shenanigans. 

So, I am betwixt and between, it seems: not really sick but not really well, either. I don't have a fever, no runny nose, just tired and a very sore throat. I'm up to date with all my shots, so it's possible I'm having something that isn't too bad because of a vaccine. Who knows? I will keep a low profile for the rest of the day, and will look forward to hearing about what I missed out on. 

The second eye jab (this time in the left eye) on Monday was not as bad as the first, but there's no way I can pretend that it's not a wee bit traumatic to have a long needle stuck in one's eye. If it does the trick and slows the atrophy so that I can continue to read and write, I will be very, very happy indeed. Time will tell.


Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Sculpture Garden at WWU


Jeanette and Don in front of sculpture

Today twelve Senior Trailblazers set out from the Senior Center to
 take our time walking through many of the wonderful outdoor (and some indoor) sculptures on the Western Washington University campus. We drove to the Sehome parking lot and then made our way up a steep slope to the main campus, where our leader, Barb, took us to see many of the fine pieces for us to enjoy. I'm sorry I didn't get any more information about this opening sculpture, and I've already had some difficulty in locating others, which I present here.

by James FitzGerald

This sculpture was created to "honor those who served their country in World War II." The softly flowing water creates a gentle background to the stark feeling of the bronze sculpture's essence. "Rain Forest was Western’s first public sculpture and FitzGerald’s first bronze fountain. Evoking the rainforests on the Olympic Peninsula, the vertical structure, with its bark-like pattern, suggests a stand of trees above the horizontal element of a fallen trunk" (2020 Sculpture Brochure).

Wade King

Entering one of the numerous buildings on WWU's campus, I saw this statue of a young boy in baseball uniform. I learned that it is a likeness of Wade King, one of the two 10-year-old boys who was killed by a pipeline explosion in Whatcom Falls Park 25 years ago yesterday. That link will tell you about how it happened and all the ramifications of that awful event. Three young people were killed and dozens more injured, in an accident that didn't need to happen.

Me and Persis standing in the stone rings

 Next I discovered this round stone ring, with twelve different round windows, created by Nancy Holt, who saw this creation from start to finish in the late 1970s. You can read all about it here. It's an amazing place to ponder and enjoy at any time of the year.

Do Ho Suh's creation, Cause and Effect

We walked inside another building and up some stairs to see this incredible "volcano" made up of tiny people! The story of this is rather interesting:

Individuals coming together as a group is a topic of great importance in Suh’s work. Here we see thousands of figures stacked atop one another in an ominous formation of a tornado. But the work also has a positive implication. In Suh’s words, “It is more about interdependency, a hope for human understanding, where things coexist.” (2020 Sculpture Brochure)

There were so many wonderful pieces and places, I couldn't even begin to get it all into this post. I'm running out of steam, too, so I'll close with this incredible piece by Alice Aycock, that she created in 1987 and that currently graces a lawn on WWU:

The Islands of the Rose Apple Tree Surrounded
by the Oceans of the World

When I first saw it, I ghout it looked like a spaceship, but then I saw many symbols that feel quite Native American. Here's what the brochure says about it: 

In her sculpture, Aycock translates a cosmological  diagram of the Indian Jain religion into a three-dimensional concrete form with flowing water. Here we see the middle world (the domain of humans, animals and plants) in a bird’s eye view, with its mountains, lakes, rivers and islands surrounding the sacred Mount Meru.

Whew! There was so much more, but I think I've done more than I intended. And now it's time for me to finish all this and continue on with what's left of my day. After having enjoyed Taco Tuesday with some of my fellow travelers, I headed home to write this post and catch up on the news. Hope you are having a great day, too!


Thursday, June 6, 2024

Lookout Mountain to Galbraith

Starting out today

Ten Senior Trailblazers met at the Senior Center to start our hike from Lookout Mountain over to Galbraith and back. Our leader, Joe, told us it was about nine miles and around 2,000 feet up and back. In other words, a "moderate" hike verging on "strenuous." At least, that was how this particular Senior felt about it. Although it was a sunny day, we hiked in sun and shade until we left the mountain we started out on and made our way over to Galbraith, going along the Rufus Creek trail until we met the logging road that would take us to our neighboring mountain, Galbraith.

Sitting in the wooden seat

Joe led us relentlessly across the trails until we got to Galbraith and ended up at the place where a bench with carved feathers and two large crow sculptures grace the scene. It's at the beginning of a trail that is the steepest on the mountain, a place where bike enthusiasts enjoy a long, terrifying bike trail. We, of course, were simple hikers who were interested more in the view from this spot of Mt Baker and the Sisters.

Mt Baker and the Sisters from our lunch spot

We stopped here for a lovely sunny and somewhat shady spot to enjoy our lunch, after having covered more than four miles and a fair bit of upward climb as well. From here, Joe told us we would take logging roads back to our original mountain, Lookout, and would rejoin the Rufus Creek trail.

Today's group enjoying the sunshine and view

When we started back, we enjoyed seeing all the bikers heading up to enjoy the thrills and chills they were looking for. We, of course, were much more circumspect, being Seniors and all, but we had just as much fun in our own way.

One of the side trails

We saw one biker tackle this bridge and downhill trail before we trekked back from the excitement and found our own logging road challenge. It was quite long, at least for me, but we did get back to our own mountain after all.

Crossing a stream

We headed down the trail, crossing several streams, wondering which, if any, was Rufus Creek, but we finally got to the trails that led us back to our starting point at the Lookout Mountain parking lot. We had covered at least nine miles, and plenty of elevation and my body felt every bit of it at the end. Now I am fed, watered, and showered and feel quite happy to have accomplished such a hike! 


Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Heron colony inspection

Seniors enjoying the outdoors

Today, twelve Senior Trailblazers of the Happy Wanderer variety set out from the Senior Center to inspect the Post Point Heron Colony. This is the time of year when the heron nests are occupied with parents and little ones. I've heard that for some reason there are lots of babies living long enough to fledge. I can imagine that to an eagle, these little furry creatures look like made-to-order treats. We found lots of nests that are active, with tiny heads peeking out at the world.

See those three heron heads?

It was very windy and rainy when we started out this morning, and our leader, Barb, decided we would check out the heron rookery from the Interurban trail, and if the weather improved we would decide where to go from there. Well, it didn't improve by much, but once the rain picked up, the strong winds died down somewhat.

We didn't cover much distance, somewhere around three miles, and a few of the hikers wanted to keep going, but I was happy that my driver, John, was willing to take me to the bus station so I could get home, dry out and warm up. It wasn't really all that cold, but a stiff wind in a rainstorm makes it feel even colder than it actually is.

I came hope and made myself a nice lunch before starting this post. For those who are interested, last Friday I had the first injection of the stuff that might slow down the geographic atrophy that has completely taken my right eye's central vision and is coming for the other one. If this treatment doesn't work, the best case scenario is another short year before I become legally blind. The injections don't restore anything, but slow it down by about 20% per injection. The good part is that I tolerated the treatment and now he can inject my left eye on June 10. Apparently this gunk he put in my eye is very thick and nothing like the treatment for "wet" macular degeneration. Oh well, I can only hope it will give me a bit longer to continue to read and write. I will be learning all about visual aids for people like me in the future.

There is so much to be grateful for, and I need to concentrate on that. Good friends, both physical and virtual, are holding me up in so many wonderful ways.