Friday, April 21, 2017

Cougar Mountain #Hike - Sunny #SaturdaySnapshots

Although the people who plan our hikes and walks often come up with new places to explore, they also revisit ones we've already tackled. So yesterday we went on a walk at Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, a place we explored last April. After days of rain, the sun came out and the clouds stayed away. Such a great time to be out in nature!

Since I've already posted photos of some of these trails last year HERE, I'm posting a few different pictures today, showing the obstacles we face and my hiking gear. [As always, you can click on photos to enlarge them.]

Obstacles

Tree roots, rocks, and mud puddles often keep hikers focused on the trail directly in front of their feet. This group stops occasionally for water breaks and to give us a chance to look around and enjoy the forest surrounding us. 

The people who maintain the trails have several ways of dealing with fallen trees. Chopping a notch out of this log enabled hikers to walk over it easily.

We were glad to have this sturdy bridge with handrail to help us navigate Coal Creek.

Gear

Waterproof hiking shoes, adjustable trekking poles, and day pack. The pack has an insulated compartment to hold my lunch (today: blueberry yogurt, a granola bar, and apple slices) as well as water, a plastic garbage bag (for draping over a damp log before sitting down), and other just-in-case items. My little camera is always in my pocket. Even though we had a sunny day, the trails held lots of mud puddles to navigate around (or through).

While shopping for a waterproof cover for my day pack, I came across this water delivery system. It works very well. I only fill it halfway because water is heavy, and that's been plenty for my hikes so far. It fits nicely into my pack, too. Of course, I always wear my trusty FitBit.

Views

Since we had a gorgeous day, we added a side trail to our hike so we could enjoy a view we weren't able to see last time because of clouds and rain. Lake Sammamish is in the foreground, and that's snow-covered Mount Baker on the horizon. Worth the extra steps.

Also, although we stopped at this same place (Coal Creek Falls) for lunch last year, the waterfall's flow was much stronger this year because of all the rain we've had. The sound of falling water created a soothing ambiance for our meal.







PS: Check out last year's post for more info on the park's history, along with a map of the trails: HERE.


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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Third Time's The Charm! - Sunny Nisqually N.W.R. - #SaturdaySnapshots

Even though I've posted photos of beautiful Nisqually Wildlife Refuge in the past, they were taken in dreary weather. On Tuesday I went there for the third time and, at last, the sun appeared. This time both the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier showed up! Here's what I saw. [Click on photos to enlarge.]

View from the visitor center. The park was filled with birders, 
all carrying binoculars and cameras with huge lenses. 

These little guys left an intricate pattern of footprints while 
searching for food. The tide was out during our visit.

The Olympic Mountains in the background, still covered in snow. This is the first time they've been visible during my visits to the wildlife refuge.
Mount Rainier looked like a big white cloud on the horizon...
...so I zoomed in for a closer look. Clouds are moving in.
A last look at the visitor center from the boardwalk, then time to head home.

Links to my earlier (rainy) posts about the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge:

Zoom in (+) for a closer look or out (-) to see the surrounding area

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Still Alice - #BookBeginnings on Friday and The #Friday56

     Written in 2007, STILL ALICE is as relevant today as it was ten years ago. Author Lisa Genova takes her readers into the mind of Dr. Alice Howland, a Harvard professor diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's Disease. The story is an unforgettable look at this devastating disease.
     I saw the movie several years ago (starring Julianne Moore), but the book offers so much more detail. By the way, although the paperback edition of the copy I have was published by Simon & Schuster, the author says in her "A Conversation With Lisa Genova" appendix that she self-published Still Alice because she "... knew it would take years to find a publishing house" and she "...felt an urgent responsibility to get the book out immediately." So many wonderful books start with self-publishing!

Book Beginning:
September 2003
    Alice sat at her desk in their bedroom distracted by the sounds of John racing through each of the rooms on the first floor. She needed to finish her peer review of a paper submitted to the Journal of Cognitive Psychology before her flight, and she'd just read the same sentence three times without comprehending it. It was 7:30 according to their alarm clock, which she guessed was about ten minutes fast. She knew from the approximate time and the escalating volume of his racing that he was trying to leave, but he'd forgotten something and couldn't find it. She tapped her red pen on her bottom lip as she watched the digital numbers on the clock and listened for what she knew was coming.

The Friday 56 (from Page 56):
     "Okay, I'm going to tell you a name and address, and you're going to repeat it back to me. Then, we're going to do some other things, and I'm going to ask you to repeat the same name and address again later. Ready, here it is - John Black, 42 West Street, Brighton. Can you repeat that for me?"

Genre: Medical Fiction / Women's Fiction
Book Length: 292 Pages (plus appendices) - Trade Paperback Edition
Amazon Link: Still Alice
Author Website: Lisa Genova

Synopsis (from the author's website):
She didn’t want to become someone people avoided and feared. She wanted to live to hold Anna’s baby and know it was her grandchild. She wanted to see Lydia act in something she was proud of. She wanted to see Tom fall in love. She wanted to read every book she could before she could no longer read.
Alice Howland is proud of the life she has worked so hard to build. A Harvard professor, she has a successful husband and three grown children. When Alice begins to grow forgetful at first she just dismisses it, but when she gets lost in her own neighborhood she realizes that something is terribly wrong. Alice finds herself in the rapid downward spiral of Alzheimer’s disease. She is only 50 years old.
While Alice once placed her worth and identity in her celebrated and respected academic life, now she must re-evaluate her relationship with her husband, her expectations of her children and her ideas about herself and her place in the world.
Losing her yesterdays, her short-term memory hanging on by a couple of frayed threads, she is living in the moment, living for each day. But she is still Alice.
Still Alice is as compelling as A Beautiful Mind and as powerful as Ordinary People. You will gain an understanding of those affected by early-onset Alzheimer’s and remain moved and inspired long after you have put it down.
                

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Twitter: @SandyNachlinger
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Friday, April 7, 2017

#Windy Wandering - #SaturdaySnapshots

SEATTLE WEATHER FORECAST, April 7, 2017:
* WIND... SOUTH 20 TO 35 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 55 MPH.
* SOME AFFECTED LOCATIONS... TACOMA, SEATTLE, EVERETT, BREMERTON, AND SHELTON. 
* IMPACTS... WINDS OF THIS STRENGTH CAN BREAK BRANCHES OFF OF TREES... TOPPLE WEAKENED TREES AND PRODUCE LOCAL POWER OUTAGES. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... A WIND ADVISORY MEANS THAT WINDS OF 35 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 55 MPH ARE EXPECTED. WINDS THIS STRONG CAN MAKE DRIVING DIFFICULT, ESPECIALLY FOR HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES. USE EXTRA CAUTION. 

When the leaders of our senior center walks saw this forecast, they quickly found a substitute for our planned hike through wooded areas of Seattle. Nobody wanted to risk walking beneath swaying trees or riding in the 14-person, high-profile van through high winds! Instead, we traveled a short distance and hiked 4.5 miles through the Green River Natural Area near Auburn. The spring foliage was beautiful on this cool, cloudy day.
[Click on photos to enlarge]

About halfway through our hike, the wind picked up and a loud 
KRAAACK!!
replaced the sounds of birdsong. I wondered if we'd heard a gunshot. (Do I read too many mysteries?) We all stopped and looked around. Our leader said a tree had fallen. Yikes!  

A little farther along we smelled a skunk... or was it? Nope, the pungent scent actually came from skunk cabbage in bloom. Officially, it's Symplocarpus foetidus, and I can definitely understand why "fetid" is part of its name! 



    

Salmonberry bushes (Rubus spectabilis), trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), and bleeding hearts (Dicenta formosa) are sending out their first blooms, and fern fronds are unfurling.
Trillium
Streams and bogs line much of the trail.

More skunk cabbage!
We stopped for lunch at a little park alongside the Green River. The wooden poles are hitching posts for horses, which share this trail.


Pretty pinkish-purple wildflowers covered the field, but they didn't come close to the beauty of Texas's bluebonnets!

On the way back to the van KRAAACK!! echoed through the forest three more times, followed by loud whooshes. More trees down. We were all relieved when we'd decided to change our route from the dense forest trails to the access road and that we hadn't ventured into Seattle, where the winds were even stronger. 

Back in Auburn, we stopped at Trotter's Restaurant. Over ice cream treats (I had a root beer float) we celebrated another fun hike in Western Washington.






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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Alki Beach, Seattle - #SaturdaySnapshots

Last year about this time I went to Alki Beach (Seattle) for one of my first walks with the senior center group. We returned there last week on a dark, rainy day, as you can tell from this photo.

(Click on pictures to enlarge them.)



Luckily, the precipitation was mostly misty and didn't dampen anyone's spirits We all enjoyed views of the Seattle skyline.




Seagulls dive-bombed for their dinner. Looks like this one nabbed a juicy crab.

We stopped at the site of the old Alki Beach Natatorium, opened in 1907 and closed in 1913, and enjoyed reading the historical markers and checking out the display.


After a delicious lunch at Cactus Restaurant, we piled into the senior center bus and headed home. I hope to visit again when the sun's shining.

Link to last year's post: March, 2016
Historical photos of this area plus some nifty beachwear: Seattle Now & Then

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