Friday, November 14, 2014

So what is Coffeeneuring anyway?

I was recently made aware by a friend that I had neglected to explain the term, "coffeeneuring" fully. He assumed I had made it up and it was similar to canyoneering. While somebody did coin the term, I can't take the credit. It has origins in both Seattle and Washington, DC and ties into the sport of Randonneuring.

Randonneuring, a little-known sport in cycling. It comes from the French and is basically long-distance cycling (100 to 1,000K) with lots and lots of rules. The main rule is that there is a time limit, within which all of your activities must be contained: cycling, eating, sleeping, peeing, etc. The "Randos", as they are referred to, love pedaling their bicycles and ride during the day and through the night, sometimes sleeping in phone booths or in the back of 7-Elevens (true stories from a rando friend). I once participated in a rando event called the Wine Country Populaire. It could be described as Rando Lite, as the distance was very manageable (100K – 60 miles) and we slept in beds at the end of the day. I think the organizers were just hoping to gain a few more recruits to head down the slippery road of randonneuring; something about riding these long distances makes them very, very nice people. Almost too nice.

Back to the subject at hand... these rando people sometimes like to take it easy, if you can imagine that. They ride over hill and dale through the day and night, but then tootle down the street (still on their bikes, of course) to a coffee shop to perk themselves up. That is where Coffeeneuring was born – what randonneurs do when they're not out completing their bajillion-mile rides. Joe Platzner, a Seattle Randonneur, was quoted as saying, "A bunch of us have trained pretty hard for PBP (Paris-Brest-Paris). After PBP, I'm probably going to lobby RUSA for an official "Coffee Shop Run" medal. To earn it, you need to ride your bike slowly to a nearby coffee shop and enjoy a fine beverage." Shortly thereafter, a randonneur in DC coined the term "Coffeeneur".

Of course, Coffeeneuring has rules, too, though not nearly as stringent as the Rando version. Plus, there's a commemorative patch for all my hard work at the end, which is produced the the author of Chasing Mailboxes.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Coffeeneuring Challenge, Day #7

who said anything about work?!
It looks as though this is a banner year for completing things. First nursing school and now the Coffeeneuring Challenge. Yay!

I rode one of my favorite in-city loops, starting down Roosevelt Way. The pavement cracks have been sealed recently and it's clear that all the cracks are in the bike lane (lame) which I avoided by taking the lane (totally doable when wearing a bike skirt). I turned down Roanoke Street to ride the bikeway along the lake, then connected to the bike route along Fairview and through the confusing bit where it crosses the South Lake Union Trolley (SLUT – seriously!) tracks, turning right to the South Lake Union Park (SLUP is not nearly as fun).

sunshine in November!

I found a seating area that provided some shelter from the north wind on this beautifully sunny but cool day. Several people passed by and I was ready to talk about "Coffee in the Parks" which is to say I was going to be messing with them, but no one gave me a second look. I guess brewing coffee is so commonplace, that doing it outside on a sunny day, in a park, by yourself, next to your bike is nothing special. There went my attempt at fame.

When I had poured my milk in and relaxed to drink it, two people walked by with Starbucks cups in hands. Oh Starbucks, you naughty bastards, talking about sustainability and fair trade on your website and then trying to prevent the pure-maple-syrup-state of Vermont from labeling GMOs. Want to know more? (of course you do), go here. Then here to sign a petition.
A re-located treasure

Back to my beautiful sunny day... I packed up and finished the loop with a little hillclimb where I was passed by a woman with snow boots on. I will take that as a sign, as we are expecting some chilly weather ahead this week. Perhaps I will go on to CC, Day #8 and warm up later in the week in a cafe. Stay tuned...

Also, stay tuned for another post about this Coffeeneuring business and how it came to be.

Distance from home: 5.2 miles
Coffee: Conduit's Rwanda Decaf

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Coffeeneuring Challenge, Day #6

Stumptown at Chaco

Today (Friday) I broke with my coffeeneuring pattern and, instead of brewing my own in the great outdoors, I had someone make it for me, then I drank it at a park. That was not the original plan, but after spending a ridiculous amount of time driving this week, and a lot of it in traffic that, frankly, shouldn't even exist at the hours in which I was on the roads, I was feeling like I needed some TLC.
Total Love Coffee. Coffee baristas: show me the love in my cup, please! I am a road-weary traveler in need of some caffeine to set things right. I lack the energy it requires to pack up my brewing gear and create fire. Oh, won't you be so kind as to pull me a lovely shot or two of espresso and make it look pretty with some foam on top?

One of my favorite restaurants in Seattle is a place with organic and vegan food. Yes, that's right, this meat-eater loves vegan food. They make cheese from nuts, eggs from tofu and have the best cupcakes and pie anywhere, without the use of butter. I've been there for brunch, lunch, dinner, a Valentine's Day celebration and study groups; it comes close for return visits with Mr. Gyros (where I get my weekly Lamb Gyros). They also serve Stumptown Coffee, don't charge extra for non-dairy milk and their baristas are neither hippies, nor too hip to be friendly.

nothing average about Chaco

It was a beautiful day and I locked my bike up outside, noting that their outdoor seating was in the shade, a shame on a sunny day in November. After getting a hazelnut chocolate cookie in a bag and my latte in a to-go cup, I set the cup into a pocket of my Detours bike bag to drink it at a park. It seemed a little precarious, but I had no other choice, as I had not brought my personal cup. While several blocks of 12th Ave NE is baby-bottom smooth, plenty of it is not and so, when I arrived at the park along boat street, I had lost about 2oz of my coffee. Oh well, it was time to clean my bike bag anyway.

From the park on Boat Street, I could see the I–5 bridge and how slowly traffic was moving in the southbound direction and, for the first time for the week, seeing traffic was very satisfying.

Distance from home: 2 miles
Coffee: Stumptown Indonesia
Cost: $4.50

Monday, November 3, 2014

Coffeeneuring Challenge, Day #5

worth the braking!
Today, I fully realized the downside to putting off the start of my challenge – November is a month renowned for crappy weather. First, the rains begin, then the wind comes (and with it, down come the leaves), then the time goes back to Standard, making it that much more dark. I got a break in the rain, much like I did on Day #1, and set off toward Ravenna Boulevard, taking the path of most resistance. Yes, you read that right, most resistance, as in more gradual downhills so that I wouldn't have to brake too much on the wet roads. Braking on wet rims leads to less ability to stop effectively and I was going to be descending from Phinney Ridge down toward the Ravenna neighborhood and I wanted to be as safe as possible.

It ended up being a very nice route, as I cycled on the recently re-paved section of road that went south around Green Lake, then along Ravenna Blvd and to my destination near 20th Ave NE, at Seven Market & Cafe. I don't know how many times I have passed by this cafe/store which used to be called Boulevard Grocery. But this was the first time I was stopping in for something hot and creamy. This was not an uncommon sentiment heard at the cafe; it is the only commercial building among houses and on a section of downhill that does not lend itself to stopping. But stop, I did, and I locked my bike up right in front.

Almond Milk Latte
The barista welcomed me and when I ordered, asked if I wanted the standard of 3 shots in my latte. Whoa... 3 shots... I wouldn't have to pedal home! She brought my almond latte over to the table where I sat with my book. I looked around and saw some people with laptops and some with, like me, actual pen and paper. Like the grocery store we were in, with shelves stocked with all kinds of things that a nearby resident would want (snacks, chocolate, makings for a quick dinner, tea and coffee), the customers seemed to be throwbacks from an earlier era. I fit right in with my book.

Distance from home: 3 miles
Coffee: Seven Roasters
Cost: $4.27

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Coffeeneuring Challenge, Day #4

gazebo below my perch

all the gear fit to brew
This morning, I helped kids at a local elementary school learn how to ride their bike safely and this afternoon, I rode out to another Seattle park for some coffee – making and scenery enjoying. While I was riding up the Arboretum's park drive, first I saw a patrol car and then a Seattle Parks maintenance vehicle coming the opposite way. It was then that I first had the thought that perhaps what I was about to do (brew coffee with a campstove) might be either illegal or frowned upon by officials. A sidebar might be titled, "Why is this park different from other Seattle Parks?" Well, the University of Washington owns the land here and it is maintained by Seattle Parks. So good thing they had just passed me going the other way, their patrol had apparently ended while my mischief was about to begin (am I a bad person if I admit that this thought gave me a rush of excitement?).

these rocks were made for my bike

I decided on a spot that was just off the drive, overlooking a gazebo with some really nice fall color surrounding it. For me, there was a park bench and for my bike, a duo of rocks that held my bike up as if that's what the intended purpose was, like nature's bike stand. My water boiled very quickly since this time it was water for only the coffee and I pressed the coffee soon after, adding the pre-steamed coconut milk. After putting away some of the possibly incriminating evidence, I sat with my hot cup of coffee and enjoyed my surroundings before heading off toward home.

ah, simplicity

coffee: Rwanda Korenge from Conduit
distance from home: 7 miles
cost: insignificant

Monday, October 27, 2014

Coffeeneuring Challenge, Day #3

Neither I nor Laura can quite remember how we first met. It was either that we were cycling together on Mondays and then she showed up in my yoga class, or a gal from my yoga class appeared on the Monday night rides. Regardless, we have stayed friends mostly from sporadically seeing each other around the city, in a yoga class or, mainly, on Facebook. When she saw last week's post about coffee en plein air at Discovery Park, she asked if I'd like to join her in a collective coffeeneuring circle of cycling joy (or something like that).

We met up at Voxx Cafe on Eastlake Ave, she on her folding Brompton which she kept neatly (and easily, I might add) folded up beside us and me on my Surly, locked to a nearby rack. I had one of the cafe's seasonal specials – Cardamom Vanilla Latte and a ginger cookie (I guess I was in a spicy mood). They were both delicious, with not too much spice in either item.

Amid our conversation, a black lab interjected his snout, looking for cookie or at least cookie crumbs. It wasn't until his person disappeared inside and he began to bark that the crumbs made an appearance within the confines of his leash length. We returned plates that were licked clean.

After coffee and conversation, we two gals with longtime cycling connections made our way down to the obscurely–named Cheshiahud Trail which encircles Lake Union. We rode the soon-to-be-a-cycle-track area of the parking lot on Westlake Ave, then across the Fremont Bridge, at the north end of which we parted. I am sure our paths will cross again soon.

coffee: Lighthouse
cost: $7.88 for latte and cookie, plus tip
distance from home: 5 miles

Friday, October 24, 2014

Coffeneuring Challenge, Day #2

Today's coffeeneuring experience was a little bit different. While it's nice to visit coffee shops in different neighborhoods, I was also craving a little adventure. So I loaded up my bike with two panniers that contained my Pocket Rocket stove and fuel, my Aeropress coffee press (best cost/quality ratio), pre-ground Conduit coffee (El Salvador's El Bobollon that had been delivered to me via bicycle), some pre-steamed coconut milk, as well as some dried quinoa mushroom risotto left over from backpacking so that I could prepare and eat lunch, too.

the rear seat is for kid #1, front is for the babe

Just as I was getting my panniers stuffed with all my gear, my friend Elias posted on FB that he was out on his baby tandem (see photo) at a park north of Ballard and contemplating where to go next. I commented that I would be in Discovery park within the hour and could share my coffee with him (and his baby). One component that was particularly refreshing, other than the fact that I was going to brew coffee en plein air, was that it was going to be a low-tech outing. My phone is a flip phone and, while texting is possible, it is not convenient; I also have an iphone, but it has no service connection and is used solely with wi-fi, meaning that I wouldn't be able to contact Elias on exactly when and where I was or would be once I had left my house.

I rode down Fremont Ave, crossed the bridge and took the Ship Canal Trail through Fisherman's Terminal and out to Magnolia and up to Discovery Park. It probably took me longer than I thought it would, as riding with a couple of panniers uphill for a while is a slow-moving affair, but once I got up to the Officer's Quarters by the parade grounds, I spotted a tall guy on a long bike with a baby. We set up at the flagpole, an area that had steps, was dry and had a fantastic view out to the Olympic Mountains that were a treat to see on a cloudy day. After the water boiled, I first poured some into the baby bottle so Elias could make goat milk for Luca, then some for my risotto and, finally, when the water had cooled to an appropriate temperature, into the aeropress for some brewing.
the mighty Aeropress, brilliant in its simplicity

The coffee was delicious, though strong on its own so I added the coconut milk which was a fantastic complement. I have no idea why more coffee shops don't offer it as a dairy alternative (the two I know of are Chaco Canyon and Flying Apron – feel free to comment if you know of others). The risotto was a little, uh, old, but still plenty edible and provided me with some calories and warmth on this cool day. I also brought a cookie I had purchased from PCC – Chocolate Chick (as in chickpea). It was interesting. Then, I got my turn holding Luca, who probably kept me warm more than the other way around, due to his baby fat. He's cute, too, another fantastic Elias–Hitomi production and babies are so sweet with innocence and goodness. When he began to squirm, it was back to dad who bundled him up in the bike (car) seat for their journey home.
coffee: Conduit's El Salvador, El Bobollon
cost: insignificant
distance from home: 5 miles

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Coffeeneuring Challenge, Day #1

I decided to jump on the coffeeneuring bandwagon a little late in the game, as I tend to resist that which is popular and Cascade Bike Club (the largest membership in the US) has been posting a coffee ride every weekend due largely in part that the originator of the coffee/bike concept, Joe Platzner, is on their Board. Regardless of how many people are already doing it, I love my coffee and also love getting out and about, especially on my bike.

For my first Coffeeneuring ride, I did my research and found a most unlikely spot for a coffee shop – in a church. While the business end of the cafe has no connection to the church, the actual location is within their walls, with double doors connecting the cafe to the church lobby. Now, I'm no church goer, but I am a believer in Stumptown Coffee in that they roast a fine bean which leads to a smooth latte in the cup.

But first, I had to consult the weather radar whose images showed a mass of rain headed straight for North Seattle. Then, the wind picked up outside and as soon as I saw some streaks of rain on my south-facing windows, I said to myself, "yup, here it comes!". But the rain stopped and the wind took a break and the kids across the street in the playground continued to run and scream. That happened a few more times, until I figured that I would be waiting all day for the weather to clear while all along the weather was clear. So, despite the big, green blob that looked like it was headed straight for me, I headed out on my bike and up to the Interurban Trail. Whether it was going to rain or not was a mystery, but I had a sweet tailwind at my back, hurrying me to my destination. From a block away, I saw the white cross on top; yes, a church, it's in a church. I don't know how many times I had ridden by this church and never knew there was a Stumptown-serving cafe in there – a revelation in the making. I found bike parking on the side of the building, U-locking to a solid post beneath an awning; not exactly bike parking, but it was secure and could be seen from inside.

Inside, it was a comfy coffee shop, with upholstered chairs, a couch, cafe chairs and soft lighting, games and books and a community notices board. These are all good qualities in a coffee shop, though the best is... the coffee. The barista was very friendly, but not in an "I'm paid to be friendly" kind of way, just honestly friendly. The name of the cafe, The Bridge, was meant as a bridge to the community of Haller Lake and beyond. And now, the coffee – I ordered an Almond Milk Latte which made my tummy very happy and my tastebuds, too. It was strong espresso without being bitter and the almond milk was foamed expertly. I sat and read my book for about an hour, during which time it did not rain. When I left, I made the ride into a nice loop by going south around Green Lake and up Linden Ave, again with a tailwind and no rain.
coffee: Stumptown
cost: $3.75
distance from home: 3 miles

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A No-Rain Ride

The ride posting clearly stated my rain policy: "I am a weather wimp; the ride will be canceled if rain is forecast" and the forecasters seemed to oblige by calling for a 20% chance of the wet stuff falling before 10AM, the start time of the ride. So, when the 11 of us set out heading north from Snohomish, it was on nearly dry pavement, with hopes of improvement.

After exiting the Centennial Trail at Machias, there was some temperature-regulating misting from the sky which was very much appreciated. The worst thing is to get overheated in the first 10 miles of a 34-mile ride, so having our personal misters following us around worked out very well. But some time after we climbed up to the Snohomish Plateau and were on Storm Lake Road (we should have taken a different road, I guess), I was aware of wetness completely covering my face, dripping down my nose and chin and entering my shoes. The fine mist had turned coarse, with the trademark "Super-Soaker" wetness that the Northwest is known for. The moisture is enveloping from the top, sides and bottom and leaves no dry areas, though it barely looks like much at all is falling from the sky, a veritable "no-see-um" on the precipitation spectrum. But it was not rain.

After careening down a steep hill with good run-out (crucial when your braking surfaces are slick), we crossed Hwy 2 into Monroe and crossed into the domain of pouring. I should note that being an optimist and declaring the ride was a go in the morning's email meant that I was not going to be carrying raingear, nor even wearing a wool jersey. The temperature was in the low 60s and I was wearing my new Ibex bra and arm warmers, so I thankfully stayed warm, but not without some concern and offers of extra layers from my fellow riders.

Leaving Monroe, we all had one thing on our minds, to get back to Snohomish and our dry cars as quickly as possible and we took off at a good pace along the Old Snohomish–Monroe Rd, accompanied by many drivers who seemed to also be in a big hurry, whizzing by us as we were squeezed toward the edge of the road. At the top of the last roller toward town, the sun came out to erase all evidence of moisture from our bodies and bikes.

Technically, it never rained on our ride anyway; it just misted, super-soakered and poured. And, after putting away our bikes in our cars and walking through town, I noted that what the riders would really remember was the very last bits – riding in sunshine and the fantastic lunch and conversation we shared at the cafe.
(l to r) Richard, Louise, Bill L, Tom, Terry, Jim, Bill P

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Land of Summer

Summerland views

We found some summer left in Summerland! While it was rainy and cool on the drive to Mt Rainier, we saw blue sky just after entering the White River entrance to the Park.

The sun warmed us on our ascent and the Mountain came out to say hello and stayed for the day. The flowers have mostly gone, but the marmots were very active, stuffing themselves in the meadows.

marmot in meadow

We heard rumor of a bear on the way down who had been seen crossing the trail, but we didn't see or hear him. Someone had been munching and uprooting all the mushrooms along the trail, making it look like The Three Bears had been there ("this one's too soft, this one's too bitter, but this one is just right...").

fun fungi

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Backpacking Rainier

meadows in Spray Park
 This entry could also easily be titled, "Chasing my Youth", as I backpacked on trails that I used to hike when I was in my 20s and arranged with work to have Wednesdays free just so I could hike at Mt Rainier. In fact, the loop I did for the three-day backpack around Mother Mountain was a day hike I did one of those Wednesdays, all 16 miles. Although I know I did the loop, as I was hiking it the past week, I could hardly remember a lot of it. Wow, I must have been fit back then!
Ipsut Pass view

Cliffs at Ipsut Pass
I started out from Mowich Lake, after having driven to the Carbon River Ranger Station to get my permit. Back in my 20s, I could still drive to the Ipsut Campground, but now, due to multiple washouts, it had become a hike-in backcountry camp area. When choosing my nightly camp destinations with the ranger, I didn't get my first choice of camps, but that would turn out ok later, when I realized how much elevation there would be on the second day.
fall comes early in the Carbon River

From Mowich Lake, I hiked to Ipsut Pass, then down the sometimes-rough trail to the Carbon River, then turned upstream. Up until this point, I had been in shade or forest and it started to look like that luxury would be ending. It was a hot, cloud-free day in August and I was not looking forward to baking in the sun, but was soon re-directed to cross the Carbon River on a series of bridges to the trail on the north side of the Carbon River, in forest. I was spared from the ovens. At the next intersection, where the Wonderland Trail continued straight ahead toward Mystic Lake, I crossed the Carbon River back to the other side on one of the fantastic suspension bridges in the Park, high above the river.
crossing the Carbon River on the suspension bridge

The camp I had originally wanted to stay at, Carbon River, was full and now, after hiking 8 miles with a full pack, I would be gaining 1,400' in 1.5 miles to the Cataract Creek camp, partway up the climb to Seattle Park. I reasoned with myself that this was a good thing, since the alternative was to do all of the gain to the 6,400' highpoint of the trip in one day, had I stayed at Carbon River. Now, I would be chipping off a chunk of that gain today, making the following day slightly easier. At least that's what I kept repeating in my head as the way became gradually steeper and more rough, with rocks and mud and overgrown brush. Hiking the Wonderland Trail has its benefits, the greatest being that it is better maintained than most of the other trails in the Park due to its greater number of hikers. But now that I had turned off from that trail, I was entering a bit more of the wild lands of the Park. It was exciting, but also a little annoying, as I slipped and nearly fell in mud.

At last, and within not too much time or energy spent, I arrived at Cataract Creek and set up my tent. While I don't mind backpacking alone, I also find comfort in having at least one other party nearby in camp, just for a bit of security. There was no one else there; it was just me, the trees and a couple of babbling brooks. I reasoned with myself that it was better than having a crying baby nearby, but I still wished for some company. While I was cooking dinner, hikers started arriving until nearly all 6 sites were occupied. Although this was off the Wonderland Trail, some backpackers used it as an alternative route because, well, it was too damn beautiful to miss.

where do you want to go today?

The next morning, I got a relatively early start at 8:45 and set off climbing up and up, through rock fields, by waterfalls and flowers, stretching toward the high point of 6,400', a divider between Seattle and Spray Parks. I have no memory of this section of the hike from when I did it years ago, though I trust myself that I did do it. While in the flower fields, I had tried to stop for a mid-morning snack, but was soon overcome with buzzing around my head and invaders poking into my skin. Mosquitoes and flies were plentiful and kept me up and moving. I finally found solace on a rocky outcropping between two snow fields, where no bugs buzzed. Another backpacker stopped with me and I finally got to have some conversation. The hiker (I never did get his name) was from Springfield, Ohio (I immediately thought of "The SImpsons", but figured he was tired of that comment) and spent his vacations backpacking in many of the wonderful National Parks. When I told him I was from Seattle, he was clearly envious, which made me fill with pride for my city and region. I did a lot of eating, while he did a lot of talking; backpacking solo will drive you to one or the other.
crossing one of the snowfields

Mother Mountain, all of it

After reaching the 6,400' crest, without too much trouble from lingering snow, it was all downhill, with flowers, views and maybe a bear or marmot sighting to come. While the flowers were a bit past their prime in the higher elevations, they were pretty amazing lower down. However, I did spot several clumps of Gentians which are known to be the harbingers of fall. I tried to ignore them, but they kept looking at me, some fully opened and some through their closed, camera shutter-like form. I had planned to do a lot of lounging in the meadows since the day's hike was only 5.5 miles, but the bugs were driving me away. I also realized that the harsh midday sun on Mt Rainier would make photos unattractive and if I waited until later in the day, I could get better shots. I decided to descend to the camp, set up, relax and return later in the day.

open and closed Gentians

Camp for the second night was at Eagles Roost which is just like it sounds, perched high on a cliff overlooking the Mowich River. Through the trees, which provide shade, is a great view of Rainier. Downhill from the sites is a composting toilet with a fence for privacy and an even better view of the mountain – deluxe!

less harsh afternoon light
Once I had set up camp, hung my food bag on the bear pole and did some meal prep, I made my way up to Spray Falls and then back to Spray Park, just a mile up the trail. While the sun was at a kinder and gentler angle, the bugs were still raging. I must have been the only mammal in the area, as they were buzzing and biting non-stop. I never did see the bear that usually frequents the area; she probably knew better, less buggier places to roam. I snapped a few photos, had a snack, then retreated down toward the Falls. At that time in the day, the sun was shining on the falls, producing a rainbow and shadows of trees were projected onto the rocks. Forget seeing these falls during the day; linger longer on the trail and check them out near sunset.

my nest at Eagles Roost

Spray Falls at sunset

Back at camp, I talked with my neighbors and shared their view of purple mountain majesty – the setting sun turned Rainier pink and purple. I think everybody in camp wanted to be their friend at that point!

In the morning, I packed up and had a leisurely hike out to the trailhead at Mowich Lake. On the way, I stopped at the viewpoint which is named something like Eagle Cliff, which has an unobstructed view of the mountain and which is, in my opinion, mandatory for a stop to ogle. At the trailhead, I grabbed clean clothes from my car, headed for the lakeshore, plunged in a few times, coming out clean. Although the first time I did the loop, I was more youthful, the second time around, I was smarter and got more enjoyment from it and will take home more memories.

mmmm... Mowich Lake!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Busy Like Saturday Morning

July 26: As I find myself in the Final Four (weeks) of nursing school (!!!!!), I realize that I have let my fitness stray. To that end, I hopped on my bike and rode out to the top of Golden Gardens. The streets were relatively empty, allowing me safe crossing at 15th Ave NW and a lovely, quiet ride through neighborhoods to the west. But when I arrived at The Top (Loyal Way & 85th St), the crowds were out with dogs and babies, enjoying a cup of coffee and treats (don't worry, the cafe has a water bowl; the babies on the other hand...) at Caffe' Fiore. Across the street, which was my primary goal, was the first of a set of stairs where it looked like everyone was training today. There were the walkers, like me, though few in number today; the runners, who were the majority and the folks simply headed down to the beach. In other words, a busy day on the stairs.

Some day, I would like to interview people to find out their motivation and their goals, but today I just wanted to get in a little exercise, pet a few dogs and get back to studying.
I ended up doing 2 loops, with a walk around the block in between so my calves didn't cramp up and I alternated stairs and trails on the loops. I petted just one dog and didn't have any coffee because the joint was so crowded.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring Break Adventure, Day 11

If you're really crafty, you can get people to do your work for you. Thus, my old cycling friend, Bill Pence, writes about a ride we did.

I went out to amble around in the Fall City area to look for new roads for the Flock [this is a reference to the Goosebumps Rides, as in "flock" of geese]; I was joined by Steve and Agent Louise, who had finally escaped from the Space Aliens. She claimed to be in pitiful shape, but I saw no evidence to that effect. The anticipated sun had not yet arrived, in Fall City, so I was dressed with a winter jacket and gloves. Steve remarked that I was overdressed; it turns out that I was and I wasn't. He was under-dressed, part of the time. AL, who made no clothing changes and carried no jacket, seemed unaffected by the cold. Of course, this is a woman who regularly plunges into icy alpine lakes. Which says a lot for her constitution and not much for her common sense.

 Steve and Louise at the Falls overlook
We set off on David Powell road to warm up, a pleasant out and back. After the back, Steve led us up an old narrow footpath with vestigial asphalt which climbed steeply towards the Lake Alice road. There were downed trees and debris on the path so we sent Louise first [!]. We popped out on the Lake Alice road and climbed a very steep section. We were all pretty warm by now. We found the Preston-Snoqualmie bike trail and followed it for 1.8 miles (flat) to the overlook (see photo below). Lovely bike path. Nice view of the Falls. The ideograms on Louise's jersey stand for "Beef with Broccoli" (front) and "Szechuan Family Dinner" (side) [little did Bill know, I was pre-ordering lunch].

Retracing our steps, we soon got quite cold, so it was back on with all of the clothing, except for Alpine Lakes in the pink. After some discussion, we determined that the rest of the trail, climbing up to Preston, was too steep and mossy for the Flock. So we headed down the Lake Alice road to Fall City. We went around the back of the town and took the Issaquah-Fall City road to the junction, then crossed the highway and headed for Carnation. Steve and AL wanted to do the climb! [he's BS-ing – Steve wanted to do the climb; I wanted to go pig out at Starbucks]. We turned back short of the bridge, as I needed to get back to work. We were forced to feed Louise to keep her going.

We made quick work of the trip back with some nice pacelines. [I didn't know I had it in me – it was a blast!]
A very nice ride. The sun came out just as we finished. Distance, about 26 miles. Conclusion: no really usable new roads up there for the Flock, but a nice way to spend the day. Steve and Louise kept me from slacking off.

Agent Louise shows no apparent harm from her time with the Space Aliens, although she is planning her impending nuptials. Not sure if she met him on the spaceship. Steve and I were privileged to inspect The Rock. She promised not to appear on the TV show Bridezillas.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring Break Adventure, Day 4

view from the parking lot!
Guess what we did right after breakfast? Yes, we stocked up on happy juice at Blackbird! We had timed our departure so that we could get coffee (drive-through this time) and still be on time to meet our friends and fellow Mountaineers at the Olympic Nat'l Park Visitor Center. Nicole was leading a snowshoe trip from Hurricane Ridge to Hurricane Hill and, while we hoped for weather like we'd had the last time on that route (sunny, blue skies), we were not completely optimistic, due to overcast conditions.

the group heads off up the road
The drive up was very revealing – we were above the clouds and the mountains came to life before our eyes, revealing the incredible vista from 5,000 feet at Hurricane Ridge. Because I had experienced a "wardrobe malfunction" that morning, which translates into not being able to fit into my winter pants, I was sporting a pair of wool tights and a skirt, my favorite cold-weather exploration gear. Remembering back to 2 years prior, when I was nearly panting like a dog left in a hot car, I was glad my layers were a bit lighter. At the first rest stop, I was baring all to the mountains in front of me as I changed to a short sleeve shirt and took off those warm tights. I was not alone in my bare-kneed endeavor; the trip leader, Nicole, was wearing shorts with her ensemble.

on Hurricane Hill, 5,757'
It was a bit of a slog to get to Hurricane Hill at 5,757', but doing the rest step, having fellow Mountaineers Rich and Nicole in step with me and the emerging views, were what was needed to get to the summit. The views were superlative! As much as I love Mt Rainier, another of Washington's National Parks, I have to admit that the views up on the Ridge were even better; there was simply more to look at and the open water could be seen in one direction.

Strait of Juan de Fuca out there

As what goes up  must eventually come down, we had to leave our perch and head back toward the cars, much of it on a soul-sucking road, angling uphill. At one point, I could swear I could hear my body talking, "Hey, fat cells, we gotta burn some of you to keep our girl going. Off to the ovens for you!" Fat cells: "Why don't you just make our girl eat some more food? It's too nice of a day to die." Body: "Our girl has to fit into her pants, so you've gotta go!"

When everyone was accounted for at the parking lot, we said goodbye and sped off (coasted) down the road and made our last stop at Blackbird for a little Joe-to-Go for our drive back to Seattle.

Rich, our only man, runs ahead for privacy