On Sunday, I ran my last race in the 45-49 age group and Carmel raced her first 10K where she didn’t do a run walk combo, she ran the whole way!
They had a “pack run” (a mini dawg dash) here in Tacoma, but they didn’t offer a 10K option, so we left Tacoma at 0′ Dark Ugly to get up there to find parking (always a “joy” in the U District) and pick up our packets. There’s nothing worse than rushing at the last minute so we got there early and relaxed at a local coffee shop (heat and indoor plumbing are big wins on race morning)
Just for fun, we decided to take our photo before we got all sweaty and gross…
*note for those who are not local, “Dawgs” are the nickname for the University of Washington Huskies; this race is part of UW’s homecoming celebration.
The race started on Memorial Way on the upper campus and the post dash bash was in Red Square. UW does have a truly beautiful campus.
It was super cold at the start (41 degrees) so it was a challenge to stay warm.
I started dancing around to the music and found myself with a dancer partner. He had some hot moves.
It was a super slow start due to the sheer volume of runners on the typically narrow Seattle streets. Since I was still recovering from a 15 mile long run, had been pushing super hard, had not had a rest day in a week and needed to run ten more miles that day for a total of 16, I decided to take it easy. (not like I had a choice at that point) but it sure would have been nice to break an hour for the first time since all the mom dying, house buying, medical and surgery stuff took me “out of the running” over three years ago.
At one point on the course I saw a woman who appeared to be about ten years older than me and thought to myself, “Look at her go! I’ll be back here doing this again when I’m turning 60.” She was tall and fit, had a long silver pony tail and was dressed just like me down to the running shoes. I was tempted to ask her how old she was, but didn’t know how that would be received, so I didn’t.
We ran up through Ravenna Park, on the Burke Gilman Trail and then headed back to campus to the the circuitous loop that comprised the 5K race.
When we got to the fountain the UW Alumni band was playing Louie Louie (*the unofficial state song)
at about 5 ½ miles (when the course was pretty much all incline) I was torn, I wanted to pick up the pace and come in under an hour because I was so close.
Alas, my right hip and hamstring (three of the four pelvic fractures I sustained in the accident were on the right side) began to complain about the pounding they’d taken all week with no rest and my heart rate spiked as well (a result over training and being stupid and having caffeine that morning) so I had to back down.
I managed a weak sprint at the finish and came in at 1:01:10 which is five minutes faster than my Iron Girl time (and this was a harder course) so I’ll take it.
I tried to do a slow easy ten miles to make it my long run when I got home, but after less than a mile of pathetic hobbling, it was apparent that my hip and hamstring would not allow it and that I would badly injure myself if I tried to push.
Yesterday was a forced recovery day.
I’m riding my bike to work and bellydancing tonight, so today won’t be total rest, but my hamstring (which is quite a bit better) is still cranky and needs another day off of running. I can’t afford an injury this close to the Seattle Marathon, so I’m going to behave myself.
I also don’t want to be limping around pathetically on my birthday run with the Tacoma Runners on Thursday night.
Next 10K, I’m breaking that hour mark and walking away without limping (because I’ll quit being a moron and over training and will take some rest days)
I like running races that are for a good cause, You Go Girl benefited the YWCA of Tacoma Pierce County and this race benefited a foundation dedicated to supporting soldiers returning from war with PTSD (a HUGE need since more returning soldiers die from suicide than in the actual war).
No matter how one feels about these conflicts, this isn’t about supporting the wars (which I do NOT), it was about supporting those who need help when they come back. I greatly appreciated one of the speakers talking about the need to “bring our men and women back from this god forsaken war.”
I am totally behind this cause and was happy and proud to support it.
Other than some organized bike rides such as the Peninsula Metric Century, I haven’t done a lot of events in Gig Harbor. Yesterday will most likely change that, as the community support was amazing.
This was one of the best organized/supported races I’ve done; the fact that people were doing it for a cause they were passionate about made it even better. It wasn’t just the race organizers, it was the community.
The weather was perfect for running, albeit a bit chilly at the start. The race started and finished at the YMCA and we were able to use the facility to warm up before the race which I took full advantage of (good thing they were kind enough to open it up to everyone as I didn’t bring my membership card)
After the start line speeches, invocations, national anthem and a zumba warmup, the gun went off (a good loud one that was easy to hear) and we were off like a herd of turtles. (starts in big races are rather anti-climatic as folks try to move through the bottleneck and then get up to speed)
I was pretty sure I’d never keep a 2:30 pace on this course, as I missed it by eight minutes at You Go Girl and this was a much harder course (hill, Hills and more HILLS) and I wasn’t sure I was recovered enough to be running it in the first place, more or less pushing but I lined up with the 2:30 pace group anyway. Since I have a habit of going out way too fast, I figured it would keep me in check, until my lack of training slowed me down later in the race.
My knees complained a bit during the first mile, which didn’t bode well for my recovery or for finishing this race uninjured. Once I was fully warmed up, the issue went away.
The course support (both official and from the community) was amazing. Lots of groups of high school cheerleaders, other organizations and even a PONY!!! (actually, it was a miniature horse) who made their appearance with a gaggle of cute goats.
Community members who weren’t involved in the race lined the course to lend their support and encouragement.
Right after mile two, the course took a huge dip, which naturally meant a huge climb out. There was another big (and long) climb before mile four.
We got a treat on the long hill leading up to mile six, a bag piper.
Mile six was where “the incident” occurred. This is where I start using my baggie of blackstrap molasses in place of energy gels.
The first hint that things weren’t going to go right in this regard, was that since my last orthodontic adjustment (two days before) none of my teeth were lined up correctly to bite the corner off my baggie (had they been lined up properly, they hurt too bad to do it anyway) so I was able to tear a small hole in the corner using the end of my arch wire.
The hole was way too small so I had to squeeze the bag extra hard to get the goo out. Of course, this was too much pressure for the cheap store brand zip closure and it blew open. Black,sticky gooey mess everywhere… in between my fingers, on my race singlet, all over my race number and running down my legs (that looked really gross, I’ll let you use your imagination there)
There is almost as little dignity in distance running as there is in triathlon.
Not long after this, at mile 8 ½ I knew there was no way I was going to be able to stay with my pace group (which at that point was the pacers Betsy and Kim and myself because everyone else had dropped) so sadly, I dropped back to a 11:40 minute mile pace.
After mile 10, I was firmly in the “Bite Me Zone” and backed off to a 12:20 pace. I had completely given up on 2:30 with these hills and would consider it a big win to even match my You Go Girl Time.
The support we received from the residents was amazing, unofficial water stops, music, and one house that had a “sweet stop” giving us candy. I had my coconut water with me and was on top of my hydration, but let me tell you, when a five year old runs out into the street to give you a cup of water you smile and drink it.
One cute little kid was in his driveway dressed as Captain America high fiving all of us. Senior citizens, teenage girls, little kids, families and dogs all lined the streets to support the cause and cheer us on. I’ve only experienced levels of community support like this in Spokane for Bloomsday and Victoria for the Royal Victoria Marathon.
Along the entire course, we heard cheers of THANK YOU!
When we came out of Canterwood (and it’s many hills) and hit the main road (I think it was Peacock Hill Road) one of the Gig Harbor motorcycle cops was riding up and down the course. He wasn’t just doing his job, he was on his PA system encouraging us and cheering us on.
The last 2 ½ miles were long, but relatively level (all except for the end) and with all the cheering and community support I was able to stretch it out a bit and get back up to pace. At mile 12, I picked it up to a 10:16 pace and could still see my pacers.
For the last half mile or so, I picked it up to 9:30 pace which really hurt, but I had a chance to come in close to 2:30 (and I was really ready for this to be over)
I crossed the finish line at 2:30:50 (my Garmin said 2:29:56) so I’m calling that a win. It was 8 minutes faster than You Go Girl on a way more difficult course (Garmin says 737 feet of elevation gain, my fitbit said over 800) so I felt pretty good about it. That was an 11:13 average moving pace (You Go Girl was 12:06) with one spurt of a 5:53 minute mile pace.
Betsy and Kim were there and determined that I did make it
They were great pacers and I am happy to have had them user me in to my Half Fanatic status. (Betsy made sure I wiped the molasses off my face before the photo)
My shiny thing count for this comeback is rising
I feel pretty good this morning, hamstrings and hips are a bit tight, but my Achilles isn’t acting up yet. I did a good job stretching it out and took some good advice from the Physical Therapy folks who were there and don’t walk around barefoot first thing in the morning (had to do for someone like me who doesn’t like to wear shoes)
I made sure everything was nice and loose last night.
Next up (well, insofar as major goals) is the Seattle Marathon on Thanksgiving weekend and if I get through that uninjured, the Yukon Do It and one other as yet to be determined marathon for my “Marathon Maniac” status.
Next week, I’m keeping the long run easy (on Friday) before cranking up the long runs for the Seattle Marathon and am doing the Kitsap Color Classic bicycle ride with my biker scum cycling friends including (but not limited to; Julie, Leo, Kevin, John, Deb, etc…)
I can neither confrim nor deny that tutus will be worn…
Oh, and this was my first time in the 50-54 age group. USA Triathlon regulations specify that you race in the age group you will be on Dec 31st of that year. Since I turn 50 in a few weeks, it was my first race as a fifty year old. Woo Hoo! New age group for me!
I did do several things right, one was using natural “real” food for electrolytes/hydration. I used blackstrap molasses instead of energy gels and coconut water in place of sports drinks. I’m very pleased with both choices.
I overslept just a bit, but arrived at Meridian Lake in plenty of time to pick up my packet, get everything set up in my transition area and get through the port a potty lines. Come on race directors (all of you) you’ve got a bunch of athletes who’ve been hydrating like crazy, drinking coffee like mad (this is after all the Pacific Northwest) and really need to take care of other [ahem] bodily functions before squeezing into their wetsuits.
It was a lovely clear morning with steam rising up over the water.
I did the Friday Night Swim Race here the previous week so I knew the course which made me more relaxed and confident. I did one open water swim at Steele Lake the previous week and wasn’t feeling too good about my swim performance, my technique was terrible so I was working way harder than I needed to and was pretty darn slow.
This is something about having buoys to site on and other swimmers in the water that put me right back into the “tri zone”. I was not fast at the swim race, but I came in at just over 20 minutes (and that included getting out of the water and running up the ramp)
On race morning even though I was not at my best physically (see aforementioned blog post) once we were off and running (errr… swimming) I was really “in the zone”. I started and stayed in the back. It wasn’t too long before I started to pass people (those who started out too fast) I wasn’t swimming fast because all I wanted was to get through the swim with enough energy left to complete the bike and run. But I really felt good, relaxed, in control of my breathing, and with pretty decent rotation.
After the third buoy I found myself in a “swimmer sandwich” getting kicked in the head by the gal in front of me, and kicking whoever was behind me in their head. Such is the way of things. I wasn’t giving up my line.
I exited the water at 21:17 almost a minute slower than my race time the previous week. It wasn’t a great time but I sure wasn’t last, so I’ll take it especially since I was trying to conserve energy and had to stop and fuss with my goggles.
Next was the bike.
My transition time wasn’t great, 3:11:09 but it certainly wasn’t terrible and I made sure to get some more blackstrap and coconut water down. I do need to work on getting out of the wetsuit more quickly and would be better off getting my bike shoes on if I dried my feet off a bit before putting my socks on.
The course was mostly rolling hills; I was able to get some extra speed and stretch out a bit on the aero bars. My friend Russ recognized me from behind (I was pretty easy to spot with the word “Hammer” emblazoned on my ass in bright pink lettering) so we chatted a bit on the course.
There was one super nasty hill (worse than the hill in downtown Portland on the old STP route) which had volunteers stationed at the bottom to warn us to gear down.
as you can see, four out of five cyclist in this photo could not get up on their bike…
You KNOW it’s ugly when I come up off the saddle (I’m normally a sit and spin girl)
I took 1:03 to get through the bike course, which while not my best time, was not terrible according to my time, I averaged 15.5 mph which included the mount and dismount areas and getting in and out of transition. My bike computer says that I averaged 17 miles per hour which isn’t bad.
My T-2 transition time was pretty decent at 1:46:6 and I was off and running… Literally. I of course had a wicked case of “rubber legs” after getting off the bike and was just determined to finish this thing upright. I did have to make a short visit to the bushes which didn’t help my time any, but 35:14:06 was not horrible for a 5 K, especially after swimming and bike racing first.
I raised my arms in the air in triumph as I crossed the finish line right after this pic was taken.
Total time… 2:04:35:09 Not stellar, but not really that bad.
I almost cried. I had done it. I had overcome all of it, the hemorrhaging, the weight gain caused by not being able to work out for almost two years, the arthritis and scar tissue in my spine and pelvis which also got worse during that time, the stress, the dangerously high blood pressure and two surgeries.
I may not be fast, but I’m back and this triathlon medal means more to me than all of the others combined.
Oh, after a quick nap, I rode out on the RAPSody bike course to meet up with my long time ride partner Leo and ride a few miles in with him since I wasn’t able to do the ride this year and missed the rest of our usual rides reffing together for CBC.
I slept well that night!
the Iron Girl 10K
the You Go Girl Half Marathon
and if I get through that uninjured
the Seattle Marathon.
Seattle was my first full marathon which I did when I turned 40 to celebrate that and learning how to walk again after the accident that fractured my spine and pelvis.
It seems fitting that I should do it again when I turn 50 and to celebrate overcoming my recent obstacles.
Life has been more than just a little intense lately, and it became apparent to me that I was long overdue for a solo backpacking trip out on the coast. (like two years overdue as was evidenced by the cheese and beef jerky in various stages of decomposition/creating new life in my bear cannister)
I decided that my only chance to get away (with good weather no less) was to leave the market (a ten hour work day) as soon as the vendor envelopes were turned in at 3:00 PM and run like heck to the coast.
Everything was packed up and by my front door ready to go, all I had to do was get out of there, get home, grab the cold/frozen stuff out of fridge/freezer and hit the road. The only glitch was that I could not find my titanium spork. I love that spork and it’s just not the same going without it.
I was on Hwy 16 at 3:30 PM.
It was smooth sailing all the way to Port Angeles where I stopped to get my backcountry permit at the WIC (Wilderness Information Center) I knew I could self register at Mora, but that would require taking a different fork in the last road and then back tracking, so I opted for the stop in Port Angeles.
I was in and out of there in record time and was on the LaPush Road entering the Quileute Reservation on final approach for the trail at 7:30 PM. Sunset was at 9:00 PM, so I still had plenty of time to make final pack adjustments and get down the (luckily, very short) trail and get my tent set up before sunset.
One of the advantages of having been a backcountry ranger and a river guide is that I don’t mess around when it comes to setting up/tearing down camp-I learned to become extremely efficient, even more so when there’s no one around trying to “help”. I figure the faster I can do it, the faster I can get to the very serious task of relaxing.
This is the scene at 8:30 PM; one half hour before sunset.
I was too tired between the five hours of sleep I got the night before, the long work day and the long drive to worry about a fire, so I dined on smoked salmon, cheese, crackers and kalmata olives with a small glass (and by glass, I mean my purple titanium mug of red wine.
I slept through the low tide the next morning (4:05 AM) which is just fine with me and spent the day walking up and down the beach and reading real paper books.
I managed to finish “Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister” and “The Hunger Games”
I spent the afternoon collecting firewood, which can be a real chore on a popular beach at this time of the year when the best bits are picked over, but I managed to gather enough to build a fine fire on which to cook dinner. One of the great joys of staying over on Sunday night is that when others leave, you can often find extra wood around their sites. Not so at this time of year as everyone had burned what they had. I’m not certain the energy expenditure versus calorie intake was a fair exchange on this one, but it was worth it to have a lovely fire and grilled seafood for dinner.
Once I knew I would be able to cook dinner (shrimp and scallops frozen in half strength marinade) I headed out to do some tidal pool exploring since the afternoon low tide had arrived.
This is considered “social hour” among coastal backpackers. We tend to give each other space when in camp. Even on a busy Saturday night like the night before, you feel very much at peace and alone due to the courtesy given. On one of these more crowded beaches we share with day users (I prefer ShiShi or Toleak for solitude, but didn’t have time to get out there this trip) all you need to do is hike away from where the trailhead spills out to set up your camp.
At low tide, everyone converges on the best rock formations/pools and searches for sea stars, urchins, crabs and other critters. Lots of shouts of “Hey, check out this crab” or “Look at the color of this starfish” are often heard.
While it wasn’t a minus tide, there were plenty of critters to enjoy observing.
After that, it was time to wander back and cook dinner now that the fire had burned down to a proper bed of coal.
Since I froze the seafood in marinade, wrapped it tightly and kept the bear canister in the shade, it was still nice, cool and safe. I didn’t want to rush and try to cook it the first night as I wanted to relax and really enjoy it. (it was still frozen when I arrived anyway)
Dinner was shrimp, scallops, sweet onions and bell peppers grilled over a driftwood fire.
With the obligatory s’mores for dessert.
and a cup of wine of course
After dinner and securing food/smelly trash from bears, cougars, raccoons, etc… (thankfully the bear and cougar population seems to be thinner here than at Ozette, the raccoons are not german shepherd size like at Rialto and there were none of the infamous Sand Point ROUS in evidence, that aspect of the trip was uneventful.) it was time for more sunset photography.
I wasn’t the only one with that idea an I had to giggle at this poor guy (who reminded me a bit of Kevin Freitas) dancing around on one foot as the tide was coming in at him.
After another wonderful night of sleeping on the beach, being lulled to sleep by the sound of the crashing waves, I awoke to another beautiful morning.
There was even a rainbow out over the water.
Sadly, it was time to leave and return to the working world, but it was a wonderful, relaxing journey.
It was time well spent, as I did a lot of thinking, reading, dreaming and feel like myself again.
I even encountered a potential “hot wolf boy” (for those of you who have been sheltered from popular culture, it’s a Twilight reference and I was on the reservation side of the “treaty line”) that I always joke about wanting to find out there, but never do.
While the attention and effort to talk to me were appreciated, upon closer inspection, he was too young for my tastes, so I had to leave him be. Oh well… I hear they don’t house train properly and tend to not behave well if you take them home, so it’s all for the best
One of the joys of living in Western Washington is the opportunity for outdoor adventure. One such adventure involves the 4th largest Bald Eagle viewing opportunity in the lower 48 states.
On Saturday my friend Don and I headed up to Rockport in the North Cascades to enjoy a float on the Skagit River to photograph the Bald Eagles.
I was offered a comp trip back in December (one of perks of having a highly glamorus “pennies per word/pixel” magazine contract and got an assignment out of it.
Then I took that nasty fall down the wet attic stairs during the storm from hell and couldn’t go because I couldn’t sit up and was barely able to walk more or less sit in a car for several hours and go on a raft trip.
Long story short, I needed (and wanted) to go on this trip, so we booked one.
My status as “Weather Witch” continues… (hey it was 7 ½ years before I saw rain in the rain forest) as we had fabulous mist, but no rain until after we were off the river.
It was absolutely BEAUTIFUL out there.
The Eagles did not disappoint
After a wonderful trip, we stopped off in Arlington for Mexican food and Cadillac Margaritas.
I was still a bit chilly when I got home, so I came up with a creative way to warm up.
How to tell you’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest too long # 126
Oh yeah… By the time escrow got delayed by the seller not doing things he agreed to do when he agreed to do them, my scumbag neighbors being even bigger asshats than normal, lots of changes at work (that will greatly increase my already insane workout) and my mom’s probate I was well across the “batshit crazy” line. (seriously, I was scaring myself)
I had no choice, I had to get the hell out of town, away from cell phones, computers and television/radio.
I needed to go alone because people in general were starting to piss me off. Not only was it a last minute trip, but I didn’t feel like organizing or being responsible for anyone else.
I chose my favorite quick backpacking trip, Rialto to Hole in the Wall in Olympic National Park on the North Coast Wilderness Trail. It’s faster to get to by car than most of my favorite coastal haunts (more time ON the trail and less on the road) and is a relatively quick hike in (only 1 ¼ miles before you’re legal to camp)
I went in to work for a bit on Friday even though I’d already put in my 40 hours in anticipation of taking that day off to close escrow and did a few things to make sure that Stephani’s return from vacation was stress free and then headed out.
I was packed, loaded up with great grilling food and on the road before my anticipated noon departure. I was all set to be lounging on the beach, grilling dinner over a driftwood fire while lounging in my perfectly set up camp and getting ready to photograph a fabulous sunset.
I made it across the Narrows Bridge (a toll bridge) and was out on the peninsula headed towards blessed freedom, an afternoon, and two full nights of blessed solitude.
Then the cell phone rang.
It was my realtor and friend Beth (who is awesome and has been working her butt of in my best interest) “How far out of town are you?”
“You have GOT to be kidding!” was my “less than nice” reply.
Let it suffice to say that in order to keep escrow closing (just) three days late and not go even longer, I had to turn around and go sign papers at 3:00 PM (it took almost an hour for the huge pile); meaning that I’d have to drive back over the bridge at rush hour and fight to get out there, get my permit and get camp set up before dark (no moon).
I signed them I didn’t bite anyone’s head off, and then I took the sneak route to Highway 16 from South Tacoma (gotta avoid I-5 at that time) and burned rubber (or as Dale called it when my Facebook status showed when I got to the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles to get my permit, “flying low”)
I made excellent time (I am a serious “road warrior” from way back) got my permit, hit the trial head and managed the creek crossing as the tide was coming back in but before it got high. I probably made my best time ever out to my (for eight years now) camp, which I have dubbed “Ghost Tree” (because of this landmark)
I got to “ghost tree” and got camp set up before sunset (an amazing accomplishment)
check out my “wine on a tree”
and my serious “white man fire” (ONE match baby… ONE match)
I can’t remember the last time I used my wonderful REI Quarter Dome solo tent; I LOVED it!
Luckily, the sunset fizzled due to clouds low on the horizon so that I wasn’t tempted to hike out to the point to photograph the sunset when I needed to have the fire going and coals ready to grill on. (it’s not like I don’t have several years worth of sunsets there photographed that have been published several places online and in print)
It wasn’t as relaxing as I would have liked (having to haul butt and all) but I was there and that was good enough.
It was not a good move to bring my 35 degree sleeping bag (the term “comfort” rating is subjective, it would best be renamed “you won’t die of hypothermia” rating) It was 37 degrees out and in that bag in my mesh tent, I was a bit chilly. (I went wimpy and took the lightest tent and sleeping bag I had)
I woke up the next morning and enjoyed my coffee with the silly giggling sound that bald eagles make in the background.
I finished my coffee in time to go do some tide pooling at the wonderful minus tide.
I spoke with all of four people the entire weekend, a couple that mistook me for one of their friends, and a couple of guys from Florida that really needed a local’s help in finding good photo spots. The only discussions I had involved photography and good camping spots. No escrow, no depressing current events/news, no personal stuff. (yes, normally I’m an extrovert and extremely social,but I REALLY need to be ALONE)
after the tide came back up, I headed back to camp and spent a blissful afternoon alone, reading a delicious murder mystery. (THIS is the life baby!)
After I was done, I inscribed the word “enjoy” on a blank page, wrapped it up and left it in camp for someone else to find and enjoy.
I did have one intruder on my solitude. (the cheeky critter went after my nuts)
I had a wonderful time collecting firewood (driftwood fires and legal on the beach) and keeping the fire going and waiting for sunset.
I slept very well my 2nd night out and hiked out about 9:00 AM with the low tide in order to avoid an epic creek crossing.
I headed into Forks (just a few miles) for breakfast and chose a place that looked like where the locals eat (you can tell by the cars in the parking lot) rather than one that catered to yuppie tourists from Seattle (I most certainly didn’t look or smell like one)
I was waited on by the sweetest little high school boy who appeared to be new to the job and was worried about being tired because he’d been up till 1:00 AM for his senior prom. If I was a 16 year old girl, I’d totally be crushing right now. He and the other high school kids working there served me up some great food and were very interested in my camping adventure (and I can neither confirm nor deny that they shared a super seekret squirrel tide pooling spot further North with me)
When I was getting ready to head home (in NO rush to get back to my scum bag neighbors or “real life”) I realized that one of the many blessings of traveling alone is that I could head home as slowly as I wanted.
I stopped off in Quilcene to visit with Jonathan (my best freind’s brother and my “brother by proxy”) to see his (relatively) new home. I brought him a couple bottles of wine, some cheese and some smoked salmon. He showed me the great Coho fishing hole just across the street (I need to get a salmon license this year) and his sheep.
THIS guy was a “crotch sheep” – ya know, like some Golden Retrievers are? (I have to admit that those pointy horns that close to my girly bits made me a bit nervous)
We shared a beer and some cheese (and some good news on his part that is not mine to share) and I headed home for a blessedly uneventful drive across the Hood Canal and Narrows Bridges.
Escrow is allegedly going to close tomorrow (seriously, I signed the papers, the seller signede the papers and funding is confirmed for tomorrow morning) It will be a week and a half before I can move in because I need a fake wall torn down and am having the carpet torn out and the 100 year old fir floors refinished. Swedish Finish which is the best for this purpose is very toxic so I have to delay my move. Although I will be asking for some help with the kitchen table and island on Wednesday afternoon.
Stay tuned for details, but mark Sunday June 13th on your calendar for a housewarming party.
It will start in late afternoon and go on until evening. I will have PLENTY of room for those who want to stay the night.
Oh how wonderful it is to be able to say that.
*BadKitty is still extremely pissed off that I was gone that long and is being very annoying.
Yesterday started out with a torrential downpour at about 5:00 AM which scared off most of the people from my Boulder River Falls hike (those that hadn’t already been scared off the day before by the forecast) That left three of us; myself, Don and Eric.
My backup plan in case of uber crapy weather was to bag some falls closer to home with hikes which were too short to make a day of in themselves.
We chose three waterfalls in the Snoqualmie Pass corridor: Twin Falls in Ollalie State Park, Franklin Falls in the Denny Creek area and Snoqualmie Falls.
Eric and I headed up I-5 blasting “Born to Be Wild”; uh yeah… we were in a mini van, which makes it that much funnier.
We picked up Don at the Eastgate park & ride, grabbed some coffee and treats at Tully’s and headed for our first target, Twin Falls.
The rain from earlier in the morning had tapered off to a light mist. I didn’t even need the rain cover on my camera bag and Eric didn’t have to play Mary Poppins holding the umbrella for me when I set my camera up on the tripod for slower exposures (to get the movement of the water)
I saw my first Trillium of the season
The falls were STUNNING!
and look, we’re DRY
By the time we were done with the hike, the rain had stopped completely and there were patches of blue sky peeking out.
We observed a moment of silence (followed by proclamations of “Sucks to be You” & peals of laughter) for those who wimped out on the trip because of the weather.
Fall #1 bagged!
After some brief snacking, we hopped into the waterfall mobile and headed over to the Denny Creek area to bag Franklin Falls.
Once again, there was no rain.
There was a bit of compact snow in some areas of the trail, but we didn’t even need Yak Tracks; it was easy hiking.
The falls did not disappoint. There was a lot of spray coming off the falls, so if we got close our lenses got soaked in short order making it difficult to get sharp photos. It was better when we backed off a bit.
We stopped along the way back to the car to take more pictures and it started to lightly rain when we got to the car.
Fall #2 bagged; and once again, we didn’t get rained on.
We weren’t too worried about getting rained on at fall #3 as the main overlook is very close to the parking area and the hike down to the bottom of the falls is only ½ mile
Luckily, my reputation as a “weater witch” held. (I always have good weather or at least better than forecast on my trips) As we drove towards North Bend/Snoqualmie to hit “the big falls” the rain stopped. We got out of the car and it was perfectly dry. (we wondered out loud how much fun the weather wimps were having at home while we were out bagging falls)
We hiked down to the bottom of the falls; it was only ½ mile, but it was quite steep.
Snoqualmie Falls are always impressive and today was no exception.
We finished off the day with well deserved munchies and beverages at the Salish Lodge (more expensive that we usually go for, but so worth it and we deserved it). As we looked out the window of the lounge we noticed that the torrential downpour had begun.
We had some great “debates” on freeway exits, directions and trailhead locations, but we all got the chance to be right at least once.
Yeah baby, we bagged THREE falls and didn’t get rained on.
On Sunday, a group of friends (new and old) and I hiked up to Wallace Falls.
We got an early start and it was lightly raining (which actually makes waterfall photography better) which meant that we escaped the most crowded part of the day on a very popular trail.
We arrived at the trail at 9:00 AM to gentle rain, and the “morning shift” heading home.
We geared up and hit the trail.
I was testing out two new items I’d recently prodealed.
First was the LowePro SlingShot 300 it’s a sling style pack (only goes over one shoulder) and slides to the front where you can pull your camera out quickly without actually opening the pack. It holds all my lenses and will actually fit the camera with the 300mm lens attached. It also has a built in rain cover which came in quite handy on this trip. This thing ROCKS!! It’s actually way more comfortable than a backpack style camera bag.
Of course, the best “rain cover” was Eric (who looks very much like Mary Poppins in this picture) who was kind enough to hold my umbrella over mine and John’s cameras so that our SLR’s didn’t get wet (I was doing slow exposures to get the motion of the water)
The other item(s) was the totally awesome pair of LaSportiva Thunder II GTX backpacking boots. They are lighter than full grain leather boots but have a steel half shank and are good for moderate backpack loads on moderate terrain. These are the first backpacking boots that don’t tear up my heels. I am sold Sold SOLD!
I wore them to work for two days to help break them in, and on the trail today there was NO pain, NO pressure/hot spots, NO heel slip and NO toes jamming into the front on the downhill.
I LOVE these boots.
OK, so the boots took us up the powerline trail and we gradually wound our way up through the lovely forest alongside Wallace Creek.
One of the guys found a pretty little side waterfall.
I also noticed that the currents are blooming. Eric’s pretty sure they are salmon berries. He may very well be right. In any case, some tasty berry is blooming.
The little Yellow Wood Violets were blooming as well.
Soon there will be trillium, and [gag] skunk cabbage [ouch] devils club, and blueberries/low bush huckleberries (oh, how I love to graze on low bush huckleberries which in my opinion are tastier than blueberries)
The true (and sad) sign of spring was the two mosquitos that Eric killed. Yikes it’s early for them. I don’t even know where my bug juice is at this time of the year.
It was an easy walk to the lower falls where the picnic shelter was. We were able to get out of the rain/drizzle/mist/insert your favorite name for precipitation here, have a snack and wander around for pictures of the falls.
And of course, pose… (you can see the upper falls in the backgorund)
After our photo ops and munchies break, we headed another .3 miles up towards the middle (and reportedly the most photogenic falls).
Photo by Mike & Lin
Photo by John L
Where of course ,we had to pose… (again)
Some of the boys scampered fairly close to the edge…
A couple of us stalked each other
These falls did NOT disappoint!
and of course, more photography had to happen
(photo by John L)
We wandered down the trail taking pictures of things we didn’t the first time up because the light was better and the rain was ending. It was fresh, and green and gorgeous.
Here’s a topo map of our Garmin Track
And what does any good meetup hike need to be complete?
A palce we’ll all fit where they don’t crinkle their noses up at the smell, good food, and …
It was a great day! If you don’t mention the two accidents on 405 and the big cluster fornication on I-5 near kent that made it take way tooo long to get home.
I received the news today when I stopped by my mailbox on my way home.
He died in April, but because his family had old contact information for me that I gave them in 2004 (a business card from a place I no longer work with a cell phone number I no longer have), I did not get notice until my Christmas card was replied to this week..
He died over here, on this side of the bridge, in a hospital in Seattle and I never knew.
I can’t even read the full text of his obituary or sign his guestbook because they have been archived. Yes I could pay to unarchive them, which I won’t do. I think he knows how I feel.
But I want to remember the Lou that I knew and loved, and honor the lessons he taught me, not dwell on the negative.
Louis Mrkcvicak was my “step-father in-law”
Yeah, it sounds weird, and pretty far removed from what most people consider “real family” but he taught me a lot about what “real family” is.
My family history is convoluted at best but requires some explanation (I will leave out the drama) for this relationship to make any sense.
My parents divorced when I was three years old.
I have no memory of my biological father.
I tried to find him several times growing up, asking questions of my mother resulted in being stonewalled and lied to (I knew his name and where we lived when I was born)
When I was older (in my 20′s) I was able to use some means that I won’t go into here to find him.
I learned that he was no longer in California and lived in this strange place called Sequim Washington (isn’t that near Canada?) I had our dispatcher take a polaroid picture of me in front of my ambulance and I sent him a letter. I told him that I didn’t want anything from him other than to know him and fill in the blanks of my family history.
I waited and waited and waited and did not get a response.
I thought perhaps my mother was right, that he didn’t love me, didn’t want me and was afraid that I’d want something from him (all later proved to be untrue)
I finally received a letter back, with the last name Mrkvicka on the return address.
The letter was from my step-mother (gee, didn’t know I had one) who re-married after my father died two years previously. She and Lou met at the hospice.
I lived in California at the time (1980-something) and had never heard of Sequim Washington. Heck, I had never even been to Washington.
It was in Washington that I met my stepmother Helen, and Lou.
Lou was a jolly Norwegian who was always armed with a big bear hug and an off color joke (Oh how Helen hated those jokes)
He was the perfect offset to Helen’s rather rigid and stoic nature. I was sad that I was too late to find my father when he was alive, but I did get a “step father in law” and a fine one at that.
When I was in a Colorado hospital in 1997 with a fractured spine and pelvis, it was Lou who (unknown to me) alerted all of the friends on my email list what had happened to me and encouraged them all to send me well wishes because I had sent them cheer (in the form of silly email jokes and updates) for so many years. My room was filled with flowers, candy, balloons, well wishes and stuffed animals.
It was only when a friend brought me in a printed copy of an email that I knew what Lou did.
Helen died in 2004 and I drove the icy roads from Tacoma to Sequim to attend the funeral.
I didn’t know anyone there aside from Lou.
After the service, I was feeling like I didn’t belong because I wasn’t his “blood” family.
He and his family brought me over to their table, sat me down, gave me food and told me that I was indeed family. (as it turns out, his daughter was adopted and there were all sorts of adoptions, halves, steps and other non-traditional relationships.)
I was told that my relationship with him was not “odd’, that it was normal for him and his family and that I fit right in.
Lou taught me that family is not about blood, it is about love.