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  • 12/28/15--11:54: Ease into it, or else!
  • I took all four days of the four-day weekend off from walking. The trip to Howarth Park and back was a bit more than I felt like doing, so I figured I'd do a loop in the park and see where the morning took me. I probably could have started the week with a walk somewhere flat, and figure the quick climb so early in the walk is why my shin started hurting pretty early on. But shin pain isn't like back pain, and it usually goes away, so I pressed on. Figuring it'd behoove me to stay close to home, I just went for a second lap through the park.

    Today"s awesome walk, 4.36 miles in 1:20, 9,367 steps, 457ft gain

    It'd been a while since I walked down the street next to ours, so I figured I'd do that and take the shortcut home. Unsurprisingly, there was a fallen tree in the shortcut and I had to turn back. I was ok with that, though, because it just added to my distance. The shin pain had gone away long before that, anyway. One of my neighbors walks up and down our street and maybe the next street over. I can see why he would do that, they're both very nice streets. I don't like too much repetition, or I might do the same thing. Maybe 20 years from now.

    It was a little frustrating seeing how underutilized the pool at the park was early today. I'd love to go tread water in the mornings, but the lanes are reserved for lap swimming, and the rest for parent-tot swim. I saw maybe one person in a lap lane, and, strangely, a few older women in the deep end. There might be a class that shares the pool with parent-tot, I'll have to look at the schedule.

    I suppose I could also try lap swimming. I'm not a very fast swimmer, so laps seem a little intimidating to me. But one of my big dreams for this house is to have a swim spa, and I'd be swimming in that rather than treading, so maybe I should try it out. Now that I think about it, this week would be a smart time since a lot of people who go before work might be out.

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    I recently realized I still haven't checked out some of the side streets on my current typical route, the ones that are East and North of my path here, near the three-mile mark.

    Today"s awesome walk, 4.92 miles in 1:29, 10,583 steps, 592ft gain
    4.92 miles in 1:29, 10,583 steps, 592ft gain

    But I decided today would be a dumb day for it. It was pitch black out and I'd like to see what the houses actually look like, not just their porch lights and glowing TVs. Some other time. Nice walk, though, and I saw something you're unlikely to see later in the day.

    Owl pal.

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  • 12/30/15--12:54: Sunny and Cold
  • I'll never forget the first time I saw a really sunny winter day in Seattle. I was in the office and couldn't believe how bright it was, and figured it'd be so nice and warm outside. Wrong! During the winter, the clouds are the PNW's cozy little blanket. Clear days are the coldest of all.

    I didn't know today would be one of those days when I decided to stay in. I just wasn't feeling so hot after a night out at Taco Tuesday and Naughty Bingo. The timing was so great, though, because everything was completely frosted over when I finally looked out the window.


    I don't really mind walking when it's cold, as I don't feel cold because of the activity. But yesterday when I got back and got in the shower, the hot water hurt when it hit my legs, they'd gotten that cold. I have cold weather tights and may have to bust them out if this keeps up.

    Naughty Bingo was fun. The host who took over a couple of months ago lives next door to our friend Drew, who joined us, along with his brother Kyle, who's also a good friend of ours. They're Garrett's oldest friends, in fact. Bingo's free to play, and the prizes are sex toys and the like. Garrett and another guy tied on one round, and Garrett lost the tiebreaker, so his prize was a half-price drink ticket. The real prize was a deck of cards featuring Colt models in leather, which the winning guy didn't want, so they traded. It's pretty awesome that such a gay prize was even in the bag.

    Got the recycling and garbage ready for tomorrow and am quite proud of how many boxes I managed to collapse and stuff into the tiny bin.

    Mad recycling skillz

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    So dramatic.

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  • 01/01/16--06:30: SchadenFriday

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  • 01/02/16--07:03: CATURDAY

  • BONUS Saturdogs

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  • 01/03/16--12:27: Walkend
  • Saturday is my designated day off from morning walks. This dates back to years ago, when our Saturday morning ritual was coffee and Fashion Police. Yesterday was a rare exception, though, because Garrett decided to spend the day working on a freelance project. I decided to finally see a couple of places near Big Gulch that I've been wondering about.

    Today"s awesome walk, 4.18 miles in 1:26, 8,980 steps, 440ft gain
    4.18 miles in 1:26, 8,980 steps, 440ft gain

    Whenever I've parked at 92nd Street Park and walked down to enter Big Gulch, I've wondered about Olympus Terrace, the neighborhood opposite the one I cut through. At first glance, it looks like it'd be very similar, and at first, it is. Very fancy houses perched precariously on steep hills with killer views and scary drop-offs. Unlike on the other side, which is fancy through and through, there's suddenly a private road with a bunch of smaller, weirder houses, along with property for sale. I even saw a tiny house. You know, the ones that are all the rage. Apparently it gets its heat from a wood-burning fireplace, because its wood shed was about as big as the house.

    I shouldn't have gone that way, though. The "private road" warnings on the side I entered made me think maybe it was for one of the driveways, but about halfway through, I realized I should have heeded the warning. I thought it was scary enough when the road went from two lanes to one, and the former second lane was crumbling off on a cliff, but it got even worse down below where it was covered with ice all the way across. I'm shocked I made it all the way through without slipping and falling. Once I emerged, I saw a sign on that side warning that pedestrians are prohibited, and you know what? I'm cool with it. That road's not good for walking and I won't be back. The climb was good, though.

    The straight part of the walk where mile 3 is, is a path I've wondered about. I've seen both ends of it on other walks because one's close to 92nd Street Park and the other's close to the business park I often cut through when I do the Japanese Gulch. So I finally walked it. It's kinda boring, but you know what? A lot of streets in that area where I walk are boring and don't have a nice separate trail. I'll take it.

    I was determined to get up and do a walk this morning no matter how cold it was, and of course, the challenge was there. I grabbed my phone and refreshed the weather app. 17 degrees out. That's fine. I've been wanting to return to Spencer Island and Langus Riverfront Park, so I jumped in the car and went.

    It didn't feel so cold at first, but it definitely caught up with me. My beard froze again, and for the first time that I remember, I couldn't take a drink from my hydration pack because the water in the tube was frozen. It was still quite beautiful out.


    Today"s awesome walk, 4.02 miles in 1:12, 8,634 steps
    4.02 miles in 1:12, 8,634 steps

    I wasn't going to cross over to the island because the bridges can be pretty slippery when it's icy out, but I wanted to get to four miles, so I crossed one bridge and went until the app said I'd gone two miles. I chose this map view today because I was so delighted by the contrast between the Western and Eastern halves.

    I'm still trying to shake off the cold feeling, though. I swear my thighs are still burning a bit from the shower when I got home.

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  • 01/04/16--16:35: Icelands
  • I really wish I'd gone to Japanese Gulch yesterday. Its Facebook page posted a video of the snow falling there and I asked if it was cold enough to make the mud that's in the center trail freeze. They said yes, but it was already warming up. Probably could have had a decent time if went there. Oh well. This morning, it was out of the question. Everything everywhere was wet and slick, so I decided to just go to Lowell Riverfront Trail where it's paved. I definitely wasn't going to be walking in my neighborhood, which requires walking up the curve of Mukilteo Boulevard with cars speeding by and no sidewalk. I've long since gotten over the fear of it in regular weather, but if I know the roads are slick? Noooope.

    Today"s awesome walk, 2.57 miles in 45 minutes, 5,535 steps
    2.57 miles in 45 minutes, 5,535 steps

    I hoped the construction crew wouldn't be around because I've been wanting to walk past their site (the big white area on the map) and up the road to do a big loop. Not only were they there, but they were actually on the trail, blocking my way to the very last portion of it. How rude! I wonder when this new neighborhood will finally be done.

    The other end of the trail was also blocked. Well, not blocked off, but covered with ice. I kept going until the ice reached all the way across, and decided it wasn't worth the slip risk. I like my wrists and knees and tailbone too much.

    It was still very pretty there, though! It's a place that's always nice, like the UW Arboretum.


    It was weird to see so much of the water frozen. The main wetlands weren't, but these gigantic areas that have probably been filled with waters since the recent floods were.


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  • 01/04/16--16:40: A rare shot of my brother!
  • My brother David and his wife Maria have zero social media accounts that I know of. Well, David made one here because I require it for commenting and he wanted to comment one time. That means there are far fewer photos of them floating around since they don't take them to post. I was glad to get a chance to pose with them at my inlaws' anniversary party last month.

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  • 01/04/16--16:53: My new lamp
  • I've been wanting a lamp or two for the lounge. There are sconces on the walls, but they don't do much. There's a brighter light, but it's right above where we sit, and it's a bit much. So I figured I'd try to find a lamp or two for the end tables. I found a set of seahorse lamps that I liked on Amazon, but didn't want to grab them right away without seeing what else I could come up with. Then this gigantic wine bottle came into my life.

    Check out this ridiculously huge bottle of wine. I"m making a lamp out of it.

    Thankfully, it's very easy to make a lamp out of a wine bottle. They sell lamp fixtures attached to corks, and you just pop them right in! I didn't have to pay for the wine bottle, it was a hostess gift from my niece to my sister-in-law, and she gave it to me when I said I'd make a lamp. The kit and the shade were $58 total, but I got them for free because I paid with reward points from my credit card.

    A lamp I made out of a huge wine bottle. Apple provided for scale.

    Since I took this photo, we added a vinyl record to the top so it's not bright when you look down. That also makes a nice halo of light on the ceiling instead of a huge bright spot.  

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  • 01/05/16--15:40: Not exactly new territory
  • There was nothing new or special about today's route. The only thing different from the last couple of times I've been over by Howarth Park was that the garbage truck turned down the road I wanted to take, so I used the next one. It's always best to avoid anyone doing pickups or deliveries, as we end up getting in each other's way over and over.

    Today"s awesome walk, 5.02 miles in 1:28, 10,805 steps, 594ft gain
    5.02 miles in 1:28, 10,805 steps, 594ft gain

    It was the first time in a while that it wasn't pitch black when I got to this point, though.


    It's not that it's getting bright early, I just left earlier the last couple of times. But I had a very busy and productive morning and decided to get quite a bit done before stepping away for a spell. I've been having a harder time getting my phone to take pictures with my touchscreen gloves, not sure what that's about. That's why that one's a little blurry; I'd hit the screen several times and was clearly getting frustrated.

    Of course I could have used the morning light and explored those side streets I've been eyeing lately, but they're around the halfway point in the walk and I was pretty ready to head back.

    The new hydration pack that I wasn't expecting until tomorrow arrived yesterday, and today was the first day using it. The inner bladder's a bit more complicated than the last one, and I didn't like the new closure at first, but I've warmed up to it because it's easier to empty it out after the walk.

    My last one's mouthpiece was pretty leaky and I had to reconfigure the hose so it wasn't upside-down. It's weird to have a new one set up the way they come. Well, almost. I switched it so I drink from the left side because my iPod cord's on the right. Speaking of which, I'm curious how long that thing will last. I bought it used on eBay years ago, and I'm shocked it still works. I wanted to see who the artist was on a song today, and the whole thing got a little glitchy when I unlocked it. Eep.

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  • 01/06/16--16:19: Mellow Fellow
  • Doing yoga and swimming on Wednesday is pretty nice. My preferred walking schedule has been Sunday-Friday for a long time, but taking a day in the middle for a little maintenance is nice. I also like to get the garbage and recycling ready for Thursday's pickup; it always sucked coming in from a walk and having no choice but to get it done right away.

    I also like to eat out once a week, and Wednesday is working out to be a good day for that now that I've got a conference call Thursday afternoons. Today's lunch outing and the swimming almost didn't work out, though. My replacement laptop was out for delivery, signature required, and I didn't want to miss it. Thankfully the guy showed up just after 11:30, so I was able to leave and swim at noon. I went straight from there to get some Thai food, which I've been craving for weeks because my neighbor suggested it when I said we should go to lunch, but she hasn't been able to go since then.

    Probably the most exciting thing that happened today was when I went to empty the dishwasher and it was already empty. I was psyched.

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    I've got conference calls this afternoon, so I decided this morning would be a good day to wait until it was light out and go look at the streets in View Ridge that I hadn't seen yet. I plotted out a four-mile route to do there yesterday, so I drove today, because walking would be another three miles round trip, and seven miles is a bit much for a weekday.

    View Ridge is a neighborhood I had my eye on when we were looking for a house, but there wasn't a single house there at the time. And that's ok, because we probably wouldn't have found anything we liked enough there in our price range anyway. There are truly stunning ones that are way too expensive, and the ones in our price range if they were available are on the main street and aren't very private. But the fact that it's so far away from any shopping, restaurants, or bars would have been a huge turn-off.

    But I love living next to it as it's a great place to walk. Always beautiful.


    Today"s awesome walk, 3.35 miles in one hour, 7,214 steps, 173ft gain
    3.35 miles in one hour, 7,214 steps, 173ft gain

    I forgot during the walk that my original route had me going all the way down to Howarth Park as I have been lately, and that would have doubled the climb, but that's ok. All the streets were very pretty, and the ones I wasn't familiar with had huge dropoffs next to them, which I wasn't expecting for some reason.


    It makes sense if you look at the map, though. Why else would there be no streets there? A lot of the houses that are there take advantage of that dropoff, with what amounts to a front door and a garage on the side facing the street, and all the windows facing the water in the back. Because why would you want to look at the street when you could look at the sound?

    I think if I had a house on a street like that, my basketball hoop would be on my driveway instead of across the street where the ball could be lost forever if I missed.


    On the way out, I saw the back entrance to the lion house. From there, you get to see the view this property enjoys.


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  • 01/08/16--06:04: SchadenFriday

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    I've become quite frustrated with the state of the spot where I usually enter Japanese Gulch. It doesn't take a lot of rain for the center trail to get to get really muddy toward the bottom, and the mud takes forever to dry up. I can't really say why it took me so long to just drive a little further and enter from the enter side. Why wait for that spot when I can just stay away from it? It makes a long drive even longer, but it's worth it.

    The business park by Paine Field is a perfect place to start. I don't know what their occupancy is, but I wouldn't be surprised if half or more of the office space is available. I'm definitely not concerned about anyone caring that my car is in their wide-open lot. I'm not sure if I ever noticed that there's a very good view of Mt. Rainier across the runway from there.


    It was definitely weird entering from the top like that. I mean, I've done it, but that was after parking at the bottom and climbing all the way up via the streets. After that, heading in was the last part of the journey. I always feel a little better about doing the climb first, because if something were to happen, it's relatively easy to walk down. Going down first just makes me picture being exhausted and still having to climb. It's never been a big deal, though. And I've walked almost 3,500 miles that I've kept track of.

    One thing that's vexed me a lot is that the strongest, sturdiest bridge across the creek leads to a path that's been trashed and covered in fallen trees for ages. I decided to have a look today, and was surprised to see that it's been cleaned up a lot!


    I still wouldn't try to walk across there, but at least with all the branches and stuff gone, it's not completely impossible.

    Once I got to the muddy part in the bottom, I turned around and set out to find a way to climb up to the Western part of the gulch. I didn't want to go all the way up to the Rusty Car trail because I wanted more of the walk back to be higher up, so I chose the trail that I didn't name until today. It's the next trail after the one I call Bowling Ball, and there's nothing particularly unique about it, so I'll call it Bowling Ball Adjacent, or BBA.

    BBA isn't a particularly difficult climb, but there was enough mud today that I slipped a couple of times. I like to think I've become pretty good at navigating these trails, or else I would have not only slipped several more times, but I probably also would have fallen when I slipped.

    The trip up and back over to the car was pretty nice today.


    One thing happened today for the first time. I've never been able to see the buildings on 78th from inside the Western area before. The trees are so bare now, I could make them out quite clearly.


    And I finally figured something out that I've wondered about ever since my first time on that side. There are a couple of areas where the trail is really wide, and there are these little side trails that come right back to the main trail within 25 feet. Just a little jaunt off the trail and back. They always seemed weird and pointless, but today, the main trail by two of them was super muddy, and the side trails are ways to get around that mud. Whoever set up those side trails is my new favorite person. Here's a picture I grabbed after one of them, you can see all the mud on the left and can sort of see the side trail on the right.


    Gorgeous sky on the way back to the car.


    And I ended up taking a few minutes to enjoy the sky on the way home because I got caught behind a streetsweeper right before Harborview Park. No reason to go a mile an hour behind it when I can relax and enjoy the view.


    Thankfully Harborview Park is near an intersection, so I didn't have to wait long before I could get back on the road. Today's route:

    Today"s awesome walk, 4.07 miles in 1:26, 8,745 steps, 329ft gain
    4.07 miles in 1:26, 8,745 steps, 329ft gain

    It's good to get back in the gulch. I might take advantage of the Boeing freeway to get home a little faster next time, though.

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  • 01/09/16--06:53: CATURDAY

  • BONUS Saturdogs

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  • 01/10/16--12:46: Dog day morning
  • Wasn't actually sure I'd have a walk today, but Garrett replaced a monitor on his desk and decided to try it out with a virtual flight, so I headed out. Inspired by my awesome idea Friday, I started over by the Mukilteo Community Garden and headed North. I've been frustrated by the lack of a way across the creek where Bowling Ball joins up with the center trail, so I figured I'd just walk down it from the top and then back up. It was fun.

    I think it was the most people I've ever seen in Japanese Gulch in a single visit, and they all had dogs. I saw SEVEN dogs! Only two of them were on leashes. Every other time, I'd turn a corner, see a dog up ahead, and the dog would think for a second and then either come up to meet me or run back to their owner. Either way, they were all very sweet, though the two that were kept on their leash were a bit jumpy.

    'twas a typical beautiful stroll.


    The views today across the gulch to the other side were really quite amazing.


    I also made good use of those mud-avoiding side trails again.


    Today"s awesome walk, 2.93 miles in 1:02, 6,308 steps, 196ft gain
    2.93 miles in 1:02, 6,308 steps, 196ft gain

    I chose the OpenStreet map today because some of the trails are on it, and it's interesting to see how many aren't. The next one you see touching the creek below the one I took here is Rusty Car, which means Bowling Ball Adjacent is missing. I can't remember if Rollercoaster is North or South of Rusty Car, but it's also missing, along with a whole bunch of others on the Eastern side. It's still fun to see that some of them are available in that mapping system, though.

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  • 01/11/16--15:04: A case of the Mondays
  • I'm not the best sleeper lately by any means, and Sunday nights seem like they're always the worst. I just don't transition that well from weekends to weekdays. Especially after fun Sunday nights, like with cocktails and the Golden Globes. I woke up for a while at 1:30am and have been dragging a lot today. I definitely didn't feel like going out in the dark for a walk, so I figured I'd either do an afternoon walk, or hit the pool.

    It's been pretty nasty out today, so the swim one. I wanted a nap instead, but I headed over anyway. And once I got there, I wish I'd napped. I don't know if there's a school event or inservice day or what, but there were tons of kids there. I got 25 minutes in, saw my chance in the form of a hole in the crowd of kids between me and the ladder, and headed out.

    Pho sounded fantastic, so I headed over to one of the only Vietnamese restaurants around I haven't been to yet. It's small and weird, and it's been there forever, so of course their food's pretty great. The broth in my pho was so good, I didn't even add any hoisin. One thing that place has that I've never seen anywhere else is a drive-up pickup window for phoned-in orders. I'd hesitate to use it because the parking lot is small enough that cars might not be able to turn in if I did, plus I asked for less noodles in my pho today which is a standard menu option in tons of places and he looked at me like I had two heads. So I'd just as soon not have any phone misunderstandings. Oh and even though I ordered by number today, the tendon was still left out of my rare beef and tendon pho. But still, it was amazing.

    Speaking of lunches, I think I'm just about done with my 9-meals-per-week vegan experiment. I haven't mentioned it lately because there were a lot of vacation days, and I also had a huge supply of meals I made and then froze. As I approach the last few of those servings, I'm really dreading making more, so I probably won't right away. I'll do one once in a while and I'll definitely keep making the granola, but otherwise I'm fine with allowing more regular foods back into my lunches. I'm especially looking forward to maybe adding an additional lunch out each week. There are lots of places to try and lots I already like, and once out a week isn't really enough.

    I think a better strategy might also be to serve some of those meals as dinners instead of just making them myself and having them for lunch and sharing them with Garrett in his lunches. I think part of why I've found the cooking so exhausting is that I'll spend a good portion of the afternoon making something, only to turn around and make something else entirely for dinner. Too much kitchen time for one day, for sure.

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  • 01/12/16--13:46: Routines new and old
  • This has definitely become a signature route.

    Today"s awesome walk, 4.85 miles in 1:29, 10,429 steps, 594ft gain
    4.85 miles in 1:29, 10,429 steps, 594ft gain

    It's a little surprising to find out it's a longer walk and more of a climb than this standard one I was doing at Japanese Gulch a lot. And I save a lot of time by not driving out there and back. I'm glad I looked this up, because of course I like Japanese Gulch a lot more because it's so nice and quiet and natural, but today's walk is available even in the heaviest of rain.

    Lunch today was quite awesome. I made meatloaf in the pressure cooker last night, which was great, and used a chunk of that to make some sliders for lunch. I've really missed repurposing leftovers to make an awesome lunch, which was one of my favorite things about working from home.

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  • 01/13/16--14:22: Glad I asked
  • Even though I swam on Monday, I decided to proceed with my Wednesday yoga and swimming routine anyway. Mostly because I didn't want to skip the yoga. And I hoped to have a better swim than Monday's, with fewer kids around. Having already done 30 Days of Yoga, day 4 (Yoga for Your Back) many times in a row, I figured it was time to do a different one. Day 12 (Yoga for Spinal Health) is a couple of minutes shorter, but much more difficult. Not in the amount of effort, but because there are a lot of one-legged standing poses, and they require a lot of balance. Thankfully, the ceiling in the basement is pretty low, and I can put my hand up against it to hold on if need be.

    When I got to the pool at noon, the attendant asked if I'd like to fill out a survey. One of the questions was what I'd change about their programming if I could, and I was about to write down that there should be an early morning open swim. Then I thought, I should really ask about this before I write anything. I've walked by on my morning walks recently and seen older women swimming in the deep end, so I figured maybe everyone was allowed. So I asked, during the Parent-Tot swim, can anyone come or do they have to have a child with them? She said no, that's just one of the offerings, and I should feel free to come.

    I'm being cautiously optimistic, but looking forward to trying a morning swim soon. I really do prefer mornings for that sort of thing. Obviously.

    Had another meat loaf sandwich when I got home today, using the second of two hunks I said aside for this purpose. That's a good six meals that recipe yielded: two servings the first night, one I sent as Garrett's lunch the next day, another just like that one I froze, and two sandwiches worth. Not bad!

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