Older, not wiser

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Our last day on Orcas had us bidding farewell to the boy. We put him to work making a nice scramble and then took him to the ferry. I was surprised that there wasn’t a mob scene at the ferry, but was still glad we weren’t trying to leave on the holiday. After we dropped T off, M & I had to figure out what we wanted to do with our day. We both felt like we needed to do something, so I decided to take another crack at open water swimming and she did another hike around the lake. This time the lake seemed even colder and less fun than last time. I only swam to the buoy & back a few times then called it a day. 30 minutes of freezing cold lake is plenty, thank you very much!

After we got back to the house, we saw something alarming outside. The sky was this weird color:

Could it be? Sunshine? Well, sort of…

We decided to walk into town and poke our heads into some of the cute shops and check out the pie store I’d only just seen on our way back from the ferry. (How I missed a pie shop in a town this small, I don’t know… ) The pie shop had a terrible name, but yummy pie:

It was nice to actually feel some sunshine, even if it did keep ducking behind the clouds. M usually walks to a beach to watch the sunset, which we hadn’t been able to do because of the weather, so we made plans to do that tonight. Unfortunately, because of the weather we hadn’t been paying any attention to when the sun actually set. So, we headed to the beach around 7. And for the record, the sun doesn’t set until at least 8:30 or 9. So we waited and waited… and waited… and then it started to rain… and waited… and then it got hilarious.

But the beach was very pretty:

And though we didn’t see the sunset from the beach, we did see an amazingly bright rainbow on our walk back. And we have a new inside joke to add to our arsenal about “if only there were a way to look up what time the sun sets… ” and I haven’t laughed that hard in a good long time. In some ways, it was the perfect ending to our little trip. Starting my fourth decade with some silly antics seems only fitting…

Not so Sunday, continued

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We had a few hours before our kayak appointment, so we took a little nap to relieve some of the crankiness. I can’t speak for my cohorts, but I felt a lot better afterward. We were ready a little early, so we headed over. The folks who run this kayaking tour used to have a B&B, but now just rent a cabin and do these tours. If you ever find yourself on Orcas Island and want to do a kayak tour, I cannot recommend them highly enough.

I haven’t kayaked since around 1996, so I had no idea what to expect. Sandy, our guide got us all suited up in our gear and gave me the special chili pepper paddle:

Spicy! She also helped T & I into our kayak first, so we had a little time to fool around and take some funny pictures, courtesy of new camera float:

(Yeah, not the hottest picture of me on the planet, but at least the boy is cute.) Here is official photographic evidence of M in a kayak:

When we first got in the boat, it felt very tippy and a bit scary, but once we started moving, I felt totally comfortable. Despite the rain that had just started, we were really lucky with wind and currents and actually got to go all the way around Obstruction Island.

But with all of our gear, I didn’t notice the rain at all. Plus, the rain meant there weren’t many other boats on the water:

Someone’s porch:

M & Sandy spotting a bald eagle in a tree:

Blurry close-up of said eagle:

We even encountered a ferry in the pass:

It was pretty crazy. Luckily, they slowed down so there wasn’t too much wake to contend with. M took a couple of pictures of T & I in action:

All in all, it was a very fun excursion. T had some trouble finessing the steering of the kayak, so we did some extra mileage and had one near miss with some rocks, but all in all it was a very successful partnership. Plus as M so wisely pointed out, no wife on earth thinks her husband can steer a kayak. Take that, rain!

If only Sunday contained actual sun…

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All right, I won’t lie. The weather was officially starting to get annoying. We’d tried being good sports about it, but now we’d moved into the whining phase. We had a bike ride and kayaking trip planned. (Originally, the kayaking was supposed to be on my birthday but a storm blowing in kept that from happening.) We’d lugged the bikes all the way out here, so we felt compelled to ride, even though none of us really wanted to. I’d initially wanted to do the big climb on the island – up Mount Constitution, but the crappy weather made that plan very unappealing. So, we headed into town to talk to the bike shop folks to see if they could recommend a ride that wasn’t too crazy hilly and didn’t have a ton of cars, since none of the roads here have what I would consider a bike lane or even shoulders, half the time.

The bike store guy was very helpful. He pointed out a steep climb on the route we’d initially selected and suggested an alternate route for that part and confirmed that the ride was “pretty flat” and not too heavily trafficked. But even with his guidance, the whole ride didn’t get off to an auspicious start. I was on my road bike, which just felt weird after riding Slim Shady for the last month. M wasn’t feeling very well, and she ended up bailing out early and riding around town on her own. (This turned out to be fortuitous, since this was the hilliest “pretty flat” ride I’ve ever done.) Here’s the closest thing to flat on it:

(Note: around that bend is a giant hill. And just behind me when I took the picture? Yep, another hill!) I was pretty grumpy, but T is used to that!

The ride at least did boast pretty views:

Here’s the closed cafe at the turnaround:

And the pretty harbor:

When we got back to the house, I couldn’t find a small enough frying pan to fry an egg, but I found this cute little pan. I might be the first person in history to use one of these for actual cooking:

And just as an aside, these things are pretty useless for cooking, as that handle gets hot. I don’t recommend them as a practical kitchen implement. (I won’t comment on their decorative properties either… )

Because this post is already pretty long and I have a million pictures of our kayaking trip, I’ll continue this story in the next post. Please stay tuned…

The big 4-oh

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Nothing says turning 40 like some good old-fashioned hijinks. M & I woke up first and discovered that the coffeemaker that had worked perfectly fine yesterday was not working today. After staring at it in consternation for a little while, then trying three different outlets and flipping the on switch back and forth, we were most bummed. (Dramatized by M below:)

Going into town for coffee meant changing out of pajamas and leaving the house, so we cursed the lack of french press and starting trying to figure out how to make coffee anyway. We found a ceramic pitcher and so we decided to make our own version of the french press. First, you put the grounds in the pitcher and boil some water in the teapot:

Then you add the boiling water to the coffee and let it steep for five minutes or so. Then you pour the whole thing into the coffeemaker:

And voila, coffee:

and happy girls:

T, of course, pointed out that we could have just poured the boiling water over the grounds in the coffeemaker, since that’s basically what it does but we insist that our way makes better coffee.

There had been the tiniest glimmer of sun peaking through the rain when I woke up, but that turned out to be Mother Nature’s sadistic sense of humor. It was looking like nice weather wasn’t in the cards this weekend, so we were going to have to soldier through. I really needed to get some open water swimming in before Pacific Crest, so I decided to suck it up and head for the lake. Being the supportive people they are, M & T came with me (though I’m sure both of them were wishing that the birthday girl wanted to sit by the fire and play Bananagrams all day… )

The upside of crap weather is that you have the lake pretty much to yourself, save for some determined fishermen. We all squeezed ourselves into our wetsuits, much to the amusement of said fishermen and got into the water. I’ve been wanting the test the waterproof functionality of my camera for some time now, but wanted some sort of float on it in case I dropped it. I’d finally ordered one from Amazon, so today was it’s maiden voyage. I was glad I had it with me so that I could capture T after his plunge into the cold water:

Exhilarating! I have a cute picture of M in her wetsuit, but since she didn’t want it on my Facebook, I’ll abstain from posting it here. Suffice it to say, she’s in a lake and being cute. She was kind enough to document T & the birthday girl (BG) freezing in the lake:

Then it was time to head out for my swim. There was a yellow buoy that I initially picked as my destination, about halfway across the lake. It took about that long to feel my arms. Here’s a close up of the buoy, courtesy of the waterproof camera:

Ooooh, ahhhhh… It’s like you’re in the lake with me, right? Just take a shower and then go sit in your freezer and you’ll get the whole magical experience. 😉

I felt a little more warmed up/acclimated after that and the rest of the swim wasn’t so bad. I was wearing a thicker neoprene swim cap that I don’t like because it covers my ears, but it definitely helps keep you warm. Here’s the turnaround point, more or less:

(these pictures will be a lot more enjoyable to take when it’s sunny out.)

As I headed back in, I looked up at the shore to see if I could see what M & T were up to. It almost looked like there was a crowd of people with them, but I wrote it off to blurry goggles. But then, lo and behold, when I crossed into the swimming area there was in fact a small crowd of people watching me. It makes you very self-conscious when a group of strangers is watching you swim by yourself in a lake. Kind of like the only freak in the freakshow. It turned out that they were also triathletes, so they at least understood the madness somewhat, but it was still pretty amusing. I must confess, I did feel pretty hardcore. Nice thing to feel on your 40th birthday.

Then it was back to the house for a little lunch and a stroll into town for some hot beverages and to check out the farmer’s market. This was my favorite stall:

The coffeeshop had the creepiest painting I’ve ever seen:

Accompanied by the ugliest font I’ve ever seen:

After some coffee/hot chocolate and being subjected to an overly chatty hippie local in the coffeeshop, it was back to the house for a nap and some Bananagrams. T played a solo game and still manages to put his letters sideways and upside down, which slays me. I understand when you’re under a time crunch, but by yourself?

Dinner was at a Mexican place that T & I had lunch at the day we got engaged:

We hadn’t eaten there since, so I was hoping it was still decent and it was. Not ridiculously good or anything, but just fine for our purposes. Then it was back to the house for champagne and the cupcakes that I’d bought in Seattle, kept M from eating on the ferry and stored in the freezer. Here’s M demonstrating her excellent drinking skills:

Cheers!

There was much giggling after that and a hazy memory of cupcake eating. All in all, a pretty fabulous fortieth birthday.

When life hands you raindrops

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Friday morning was foggy and drizzly.

M & I lingered over our coffee and plotted our day. T had called to say that he was heading over to the ferry around 9 am, so we were expecting that he’d catch the same ferry we had and that we probably wouldn’t see him until around 5. We decided to go scope out Moran State Park for lake swimming and do a run in that general vicinity.

There was an excellent day use area for our planned swim. It had a designated swim area, but no lifeguard to give us crap if we chose to leave said swim area and best of all the lake didn’t allow motorized boats. (Which means no jet skis. Woo hoo!) There was also a path that went around the lake that we decided would be great for our run, so we headed out. It quickly became evident that this was much more of a trail run/hiking path than a regular running path and our “run” became a hike/admire scenery/take pictures enterprise. I figured we could either do another loop or run later in the day, so I was fine with that. Plus, I got to modify my long-held belief that I hate hiking. I apparently like some hiking.

The lake was really pretty, even in the rain:

Even with the rain, we had a good time. When we got back to the house, there was a message from T saying that he’d caught a secret earlier ferry that wasn’t on the schedule, so he’d be arriving at 3. We had time to have a little lunch and chill for a bit, then heading into town to pick him up. This of course was a comedy of errors as we would rotate who’s cell phone service would drop (at one point it sounded exactly like T was speaking Sasquatch and just bellowing nonsense into the phone, which he very well might have been… ) But we managed to procure the boy and bring him back to the cottage.

After giving him the tour, we decided that we still needed to do an actual run and headed out. We ran to a beach that M liked to watch sunsets from and then back. They called it quits at 20 minutes, but I felt good so I added a loop into town and back. From the looks on the locals faces, I’m guessing the hippies aren’t much for the running. One woman looked at me with such a scandalized expression I almost turned around to see if there was something behind me. It wasn’t even really raining at that point, more of an annoying drizzle.

Once home it was hot shower, red wine, Bananagrams and M’s yummy chicken piccata accompanied by T’s homemade bread. The weather may suck but at least the food is good!

Island adventure

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With my 40th birthday looming on the horizon, it was hard to know what kind of celebration I wanted. I really didn’t want a big fussy party and I don’t have anything like sky-diving on my list of must-do’s. I finally decided that I really wanted to go some place low-key with my closest peeps. This was complicated by the fact that my birthday falls squarely in the middle of Memorial Day weekend, which usually renders low-key places tourist filled and pricey. But M came through with a free place on Orcas Island that friends of her family own. Since I love Orcas Island (I got married there, for gawdsakes!) and I love free places to stay, it was the perfect solution.

Originally, it was going to be the four of us, but J had to bow out for his brother’s third graduation ceremony, (Long story.) so it ended up being M, T & I. Needless to say, you should feel very sorry for T. Poor, poor, T… 😉

Because the ferry to/from Orcas can be a bit of a cluster on normal weekends, I was nervous about the holiday weekend impact so I took vacation days on either side of the holiday weekend. T had final projects/school work coming up, but luckily it’s not too tough to park on one side and walk on the ferry, so he could come and go on days more likely to be impacted by the holiday traffic. So, Thursday morning, M & I loaded her car full of way too much food/stuff/bikes, etc. and hit the road.

Naturally, we were way early for the ferry and had a nice long wait in the car but better than getting stressed out and missing the ferry. Luckily, M & I have enough snark to keep ourselves amused for a good long time and before we knew it, the ferry was loading up and we were on our way. The weather wasn’t very nice, but we were hoping that it might have mercy and burn off at some point over the weekend. I always love pulling into the ferry terminal on Orcas, it’s so sweet and always looks like I remember it:

And here’s the “cottage” where we would be staying. (Somehow, my mental picture of a beach cottage on Orcas isn’t quite this fancy… )

After taking a quick tour of the house and marveling at it’s many amenities, such as the portable fireplace:

(oooooh… ahhhhh… ) It even plugs into the wall for your convenience! But then it was time to unload all of the stuff out of the car. Here’s M demonstrating the best way to get a cooler with a broken handle from the parking lot while laughing/threatening the person taking your picture with dire harm:

I love visiting people’s vacation houses. There’s always such odd stuff in there. As we unpacked, we unearthed some wonders. Behold the tea-barfing rooster that I’ve arranged so that he farts chili peppers:

And these little beauties:

M had to organize a couple of the drawers because they were just too crazy. It’s good to keep her busy. And filled with wine. (Kidding!) I made hominy chili while she did that, which was an excellent dinner givne the weather. So far, the birthday weekend is off to a great start!

Brrrrr!

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The weather forecast had predicted Sunday was supposed to be the nicer day weather wise. So M & I had planned a ride. But Sunday started out gray and cloudy. And since the gray sky could stay gray or burn off and be blue and gorgeous or totally dump rain on us. So, it was hard to know what to do, but in the end we decided to just suck it up and get it over with.

We drove to a park off the Burke Gilman to ride a different section of the trail. When we got there, every car in the parking lot had a kayak or bike rack on the roof. Gotta love Seattle, no matter how crazy you feel, there are at least a dozen other crazies out there with you. M got out of the car and immediately started shivering:

She decided that she needed another layer of warmth – the fabulous striped socks:

Quite the ensemble she was rocking:

It was definitely chilly, but luckily it didn’t rain on us. We also had the path largely to ourselves on the way out and came back just in time for the crazy groups of folks to be heading out, so we definitely timed it right. I just hope the sun will start showing up on these rides soon!

Saturday tidbits

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Despite the end of May coming at us with astonishing swiftness, the weather in Seattle thinks it’s March. But sometimes not. The weather has basically been in a constant state of flux with gorgeous sunny skies on one side of the sky and horrendous black clouds on the other. It makes scheduling weekend training very difficult, to say the least. So, to switch things up I decided to kick the weekend off with a swim, rather than pretending I was going to go to the pool after my bike ride. (Which has not happened yet and is very unlikely to ever happen, given that the couch is much more enticing post ride… )

I first talked T into making some bagels, which he hasn’t done in quite a while. Fully carbo-loaded, I drove across town to the pool with just under an hour left of lap swim to go. I was greeted with my choice of empty lanes, which hardly ever happens at my pool. At some point, I did have to share with another swimmer, but she was normal and it was still really lovely. Leaving the pool, the sun was out and I was trying to decide where I wanted to ride, given that there were still dark clouds on the horizon.

After a little lunch, T & I headed out with the final decision of riding some of the hills nearby so that if it started pouring rain we would be no more than five miles away from home. We rode to the neighborhood where I work and climbed Interlaken Park’s crazy hill twice. I didn’t beat T, but I managed to keep him in sight which was a victory in it’s own right. Then it was back to Ballard to do Golden Gardens hill and then 32nd Avenue hill. I didn’t beat T on any of the climbs, so apparently my climbing on the new bike still needs work or the boy is getting stronger. We also lucked out and it didn’t rain on us.

We rewarded our efforts with a trip to Caffe Fiore, which as a special bonus had the Parfait truck parked out front. Yum!

We settled into some chairs in the sun and enjoyed some coffee, ice cream and people watching. A group of folks next to us had an adorable Scottish Terrier named Fergus.

(When we got there, he was licking his own ice cream out of a dish on the ground, but unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of that.) Then it was home for a nice hot bath and a nap before M & J came over for some dinner & Rockband. I was planning to make gnocchi out of the yams and purple potatoes that I needed to use up from my veggie box. I thought the two would look pretty together, but I didn’t count on the weird gray color purple potatoes take on when mashed up and with flour added. Behold the zombie gnocchi:

Luckily, it tasted good. And if I ever need a Halloween dish, I now know what to make! It was a busy day, but a very enjoyable one.

What is wrong with people?

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I’ve always maintained that people in their cars act differently than they do face to face. For example, if someone tried to cut in line in the supermarket like they frequently do when a lane is ending on the freeway, the reaction would be much more immediate and “in your face.” (Except here in Seattle, where passive aggressive is an artform, but I digress… ) But the more I ride my bike, the more I’m starting to question my hypothesis. Today, I was going to take T on my Log Boom Park to Marymoor park ride and decided to ride solo to Log Boom to get a little more mileage in. (I’d forgotten that the Beat the Bridge run and the Urban Assault ride were going on today or I might have thought otherwise.)

Now, any time I choose to ride on the Burke Gilman I know that I’m signing up to dodge people strolling along, rollerbladers, all kinds of crazy bike riding, small children, dogs, etc. I understand that the price of riding on a car-free path means that I have to deal with all of these obstacles. Sometimes it sucks, but that’s the deal. Today however, I was treated to huge oncoming packs of riders participating in the Urban Assault ride who truly didn’t give a crap about anyone except themselves. The highlight of this was navigating a huge oncoming pack riding four abreast, then hearing a pair of riders also coming toward me discussing the “poor little girl who got crashed into and lost her training wheel.” I barely had time to process this sentence before seeing the little girl in question, crying on the side of the road, while her mother tried to figure out how to fix her bicycle. I don’t care what kind of race you are in, there is NO excuse for that.

It was a very discouraging sight. And I spent the next ten miles mentally composing sarcastic sayings for bike jerseys addressing the various forms of cluelessness I saw around me. Really it all boils down to paying attention to your surroundings and/or thinking of someone other than yourself. This isn’t asking too much, is it?

Queen of the mountain

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Longtime readers of this blog know how I struggle with climbing on the bike. Early posts on this blog often discussed my Mt Tabor Hill repeat workouts: (here & here for the masochists… ) In a nutshell, climbing and I do not get along. Since I live in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve had to make my peace with it but I still can’t say that I love it. Now that I’ve been riding Slim Shady on the flat multi-use paths around town, it was time to start getting used to climbing with him. So today, it was time for the infamous Edmonds ride. This route is awesome for the pretty scenery and relatively low-traffic roads. It’s also a great training ride because there is almost no flat anywhere on it, even the things you think are flat turn out to have a slight incline to them.

I’ve had little to no problems adapting to the tri-bike, but the one thing I’m still figuring out is how to climb on it. Since the most comfortable position to ride is down in the aerobars, I’ve been trying to climb in the aerobars as much as possible. But sometimes the hills are just too steep for me to do this and then the shifting gets all crazy talk. So, in many ways this ride reminded me of back when we first moved to Oregon and I had no idea how to tackle the gearing on the hills so I’d drop down to my easiest gear the minute I saw something that even looked like a hill. So, there was some crazy shifting on my part as I tried to figure out what I was doing on this new bike. (Sorry Slim Shady, I’ll get better at it – I promise!)

Dodging the various retirement community drivers kept my skills sharp and instead of my usual Starbucks stop, I opted to just stop at the City Park for my turnaround point, which was much more peaceful than negotiating the little downtown area. (And since it is very unlikely that Pacific Crest has added a Starbucks to it’s aid station, it’s not the best idea for training purposes! :-P) Heading home, I wondered why I always dread the climb over by Shoreline Community College when the hill leaving Edmonds is pretty horrible on it’s own. But dread it I did and before I knew it, I was turning onto the street that lead to the Climb of Doom. (This climb is the one T wanted so desperately to avoid we took a different route home.) I’ve only climbed this hill a few times, so I don’t really know which part is the really bad part. Plus it has identical little cul de sacs at various intervals, so when I climbed the first section I pulled off into one of them to rest (thinking that I’d gotten through the worst of the climb.) Only to discover that the real worst part was ahead of me. I have no idea what the grade is on this hill, but it’s a killer. Plus it’s a little twisty-turny and there are invariably cars on the road when I climb it. (Which, next to a community college, is very scary.) But I huffed and puffed my way up it and managed to not barf at the top, which is always an accomplishment.

Suffice it to say, there will be many more repeats of this climb in my future. I will conquer this bad boy and become a better climber if it kills me. The rest of the ride is pretty much downhill and lovely. I was able to spin my way home without incident. When I got home I was starving and way too lazy to actually make anything, so I assembled the world’s most random recovery meal:

That’s leftover cornbread, leftover coconut chicken strips, some mango that T had cut up with cottage cheese and a Diet Coke. After inhaling all of that, I took a nice hot bath and then napped with Wally. It was a nice lazy afternoon, followed by dinner over at M & J’s place – complete with a viewing of the movie Kickass. (Which sucked, btw… )