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  • 02/14/16--18:03: Sigh
  • I slept in later than I like to on Sundays because a friend wanted to come along on my walk, only to find an email once I woke up that an hour later than I like was too early after all. It was pretty rainy, too, so I decided to go to the waterfront. It's easy to keep your feet dry if you say on pavement.

    One more mosaic from Grand Avenue Park.


    There are quite a few huge apartment buildings around there. I always thought this one looked nice.


    When I came down to the waterfront from the road above, I wanted to try the stairway next to the bridge instead of following the ramp as usual. Turns out that was a mistake, since you have to cross the railroad tracks in a spot you're not supposed to. Oopsie! At least I got to see this.


    Today"s awesome walk, 5.83 miles in 1:44, 12,536 steps, 243ft gain
    5.83 miles in 1:44, 12,536 steps, 243ft gain

    If tomorrow goes as planned, I'll have a big adventure because I have the day off.

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  • 02/15/16--18:48: Schmadventure
  • A week ago at the aquatic center, I was soaping up in the shower when I heard, "Chris!" I was naked and covered and suds, and not in the mood to explain that I only go by Christopher and that I wasn't actually done showering, just conserving water since the blasts in that facility don't last very long and it takes tons of pumps to get just a little soap, so I stepped out of my stall and peeked around the wall. The gentleman I'd been talking to about hiking earlier was across the locker room and wanted to suggest Necklace Valley as a place I should check out. We'd talked about the fact that I went to Lime Kiln, which he maintains, on Martin Luther King Day, and I guess he figured I'd be looking for another new place for Presidents' Day. I figure weekdays off don't come around very often, so I may as well check it out.

    It's over an hour's drive out there, so I was a bit bummed when there was a mile and a half left to go to find this.


    A snowy mountain road? Pass. I'd already been skidding around on the dirt and gravel leading to there, and just wasn't in the mood to deal. One of the reasons I like living where I do is that it almost never snows, and when it does, I won't drive in it. I'd passed Wallace Falls State Park on the way out, so that became the new destination.

    Wallace Falls is one of the state parks that requires a Discovery Pass, which thankfully you can buy when you arrive. It's $10 for a day pass or $30 for a year, so of course I paid $30. There's a lot to see there that I didn't get to today, and also a big section that's closed for logging, so I can easily go back a couple of times. Plus there's a sizable list of other parks I should check out, too. Not a bad way to spend 30 bucks.

    It never really stopped raining this morning, but Wallace Falls is the kind of place where it mostly doesn't matter.


    The trail leading in is wide and well-maintained. The first fork in the road is an option for how to make your way to the falls. One's a wilderness trail, and the other is a trail made on the former railroad grade. I chose the latter, thinking I might actually head out and back that way because it'd be easy. Not easy in every sense; there's still a ton of climbing to do. but it's a wide path with no mud or challenging root systems to climb over.


    As is usually the case, it's a great place if you like that particular mossy shade of green.


    And the bridges are pretty nice.


    This bridge is as far as I made it.


    The lower falls weren't that much farther, but I could see at the end of the bridge that it was a going to be another climb up, and all the extra driving had left my back pretty sore. I was satisfied with the distance and figured I'd head back via the woody trail instead of the railroad grade I'd come in on. Turns out that trail runs surprisingly close to the river.


    I have no idea what purpose these stairs could possibly serve. They're like a safe route to a sure death.


    I took quite a few more pictures and some videos, which you can find in the new Wallace Falls State Park album.

    Today"s awesome walk, 4.71 miles in 1:49, 10,123 steps, 550ft gain
    4.71 miles in 1:49, 10,123 steps, 550ft gain

    The rest of the day was lovely. I stopped by yet another Japanese restaurant to try yet another chirashi bowl. It's my third so far and also my least favorite of the three I tried. It wasn't bad or anything, it's just that the other two blew it out of the water.


    I also figured there would be a sale at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop, and was right! I showed a lot of restraint by buying exactly one thing: a set of vintage fake grapes.

    I"ve wanted vintage fake grapes for years. Found these today for $13, minus 50%, at a Presidents" Day sale.

    I've been wanting some of these for well over ten years. A club in Seattle that's no longer around that I really liked had very eclectic decor, including a whole display case full of vintage fake grapes. One of my big regrets was that I never managed to get back to that club before it closed.

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  • 02/17/16--04:27: Fog and hard work
  • With a lot of documentation to catch up on, I decided to just run to the local pool for a quick hour of treading water. Nothing major to report, but the fog was nice all morning.


    I spent the afternoon on hold and then getting really sore. I don't think I mentioned before here that my half of our loveseat has been broken and I haven't been able to recline for a month. Here's what I posted on Facebook about all that:

    The last time I mentioned Ashley Furniture was two weeks ago, when a new handle was supposed to be on the way for my side of the recliner, which as of today hadn't reclined in a month. Two weeks seems like a long time for anything to ship, so I called to follow up.

    The notes in the file indicated that the handle was actually no longer available and that several attempts to contact me were made, but my guess is that the agent couldn't face calling me back to tell me and just said she did. So a refund is supposed to come through for 55ish of the 97ish dollars I already paid. Depending on who you ask, you might be told that I paid for the replacement mechanism we didn't end up using, or the labor, which I guess was partly used when a guy came here, flipped the loveseat over, and took it apart before discovering everything was fine except for the handle. He was pretty surprised nobody came by to inspect it before they ordered a mechanism.

    Speaking of which, I have a spare mechanism now, because the technician who would have come to switch out the handle was supposed to pick it up. This is a discontinued item and they've given up on it, so I'd be surprised if they ever put two and two together and try to get the mechanism back.

    The saga of the loveseat is now finished, but only because I decided to fix it myself. It's not a beautiful solution by any means, but I punched a hole in the vinyl on the side, detached the cable from the handle, fed it through, and tied a cord to the inner cable so I can pull it to release the mechanism. It works, but it isn't pretty. Not that it matters, the eye goes straight to the peeled finish on the head rest first. And I'm sitting with my feet up.

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    I had lunch in Mukilteo yesterday with our friend Barbara, who is a lifelong resident of Mukilteo and Everett. We were overlooking the ferry terminal parking area, and she mentioned that there are plans to move the terminal over near cargo area at the beach. I'm mostly mentioning this here so I remember to try to find more info, because I can't really picture it. But I'm no engineer. She also told me about restaurants that used to be in that parking area, and asked if I'd ever been to the Japanese Cemetery. I hadn't! I often go explore something the day after I hear about it. I guess so I don't forget. Sensing a theme? I figured this morning would be a good day for some time at the beach and to check out what's actually called Mukilteo Pioneer Cemetery.

    It's really quite small. There are houses on either side, and each house sits on a lot about as big as the cemetery. And there aren't very many headstones.


    I'd parked at Japanese Gulch, and was quite surprised to see that my car was still the only one there when I got back.


    Today"s awesome walk, 3.57 miles in 1:08, 7,684 steps, 228ft gain
    3.57 miles in 1:08, 7,684 steps, 228ft gain

    My back was pretty sore toward the end of the walk, which I predicted because of how much time I spent yesterday hunched over the loveseat while I "fixed" it. That was the main reason I planned for a beach walk. It's not a particularly difficult walk, and you can do extra loops if you like, or just head back to the car.

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    It's funny how A leads to B and then C. I really only bought goggles to swim with because I wanted to be able to listen to music while swimming and needed a place to clip the iPod. I don't even wear them on my eyes while I'm at the swim center treading water, they're just around my neck. Then I found out the swim center would be closed for a while and decided I'd have to swim laps for a while. Discovered it's actually not so bad, but it hurts my neck to swim for so long because I have to hold my head up a lot. Why not try snorkeling? Snorkeling turns out to be fun, but those goggles sure fog up a lot. May as well try a bigger mask. Its strap might be good for holding up the snorkel anyway.

    It didn't occur to me until the new one came that I might have a problem forming a good seal because of my facial hair. The one I got covers the nose and of course there's a bunch of mustache hair right below mine. I gave it a shot anyway, since you just don't know until you try.

    It's really too bad it leaked, because that minute or so beforehand, everything was great. The view was so unobstructed and clear. But emptying it out at the end of every lap isn't practical, so I swapped them for my other goggles for a while. Had a pretty decent time, but finally called it a day when my nose plug kept slipping. So a while after I got home, I ordered a different style of nose plug and some bigger goggles which don't do under the nose. I think that's a better setup anyway. It's weird to have your nose inside your mask because you can change the pressure if you absentmindedly exhale through your nose instead of the snorkel. I've seen some that have a one-way filter to allow air to escape, but since I can't get the seal anyway, there's no point in trying those.

    At least with the need to carry a snorkel, two kinds of goggles, a nose plug, the iPod, the swimsuit, and a towel, I finally realized it was time to carry it all in something. A reusable nylon shopping bag ended up being perfect and really simplified my morning.

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  • 02/19/16--09:01: SchadenFriday

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  • 02/20/16--07:49: CATURDAY

  • BONUS Saturdogs

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  • 02/20/16--18:15: Dinner tonight
  • BBQ turkey tenderloin I cooked in my homemade vegetable stock in the pressure cooker, roasted asparagus, and roasted little potatoes.

    BBQ turkey tenderloin I cooked in my homemade vegetable stock in the pressure cooker, roasted asparagus, and roasted little potatoes. I'm really enjoying the pressure cooker and wish I'd gotten one a long time ago.

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  • 02/22/16--06:07: Sunday strategizing
  • I'm happy to report that winter's dark grip is finally releasing and the sun's starting to rise at a decent time. I figured it was a good day to get back into my old routine of parking at the bottom of Japanese Gulch, walking up via the residential neighborhoods to the West of it, and entering on 19th Street. But rather than leave via the Mukilteo Community Garden and come back down through the center, I wanted to see both slopes.

    I've always loved houses that are on such steep hills that there's a bridge leading to the front door, and I especially like what they've done with the lights here.


    This house used to be grey and looked so wonderfully '80s. I don't think the new wood treatment is terrible, but it was much more my style before.


    It was nice to catch the sunrise.


    The Rusty Car Trail is one of a couple of easy ways to get down to the center from the Western side and is the one I usually choose. Looks like it won't be a good choice for the mountain bikers for a while.


    The mud wasn't too bad, though I did find this particular muddy spot to be a bit scary. It's steep, slippery, and there's a dropoff next to it.


    I don't know why I never realized that you can walk right up to the rusty car before. It's easy to step right off the trail.


    The gulch toward the end of winter is interesting because you can see a lot further. At first I thought this was the big white building across from the Boeing recreation center. I was actually about 90 degrees off; it's a bunch of fog on the water.


    The shot I've taken of the West side, from the East side, countless times. This is the most brown I've ever seen it, though.


    The moss was still out in full force.


    I wonder how long this "Statue of Libertree" has been there.

    Statue of Libertree

    My goal for the Eastern side was to try to find one of the trails I've only been on a couple of times. I like it because it runs along the top of a hill that's sort of embedded into the side of the slope, so you get views on either side. I managed to find it on the first try! I briefly thought about calling it Rusty Barrel because I saw this rusty barrel, but it's small and doesn't make a very good landmark.


    I realized when I came off that trail why it hasn't really been on my radar, and that's because it ends at the railroad tracks, and I don't spend a lot of time on those.


    As I followed them back to the parking area, I could see the muddy center trail below. All that mud is the main thing that kept me away throughout the rainiest weeks of the winter, and I now see that the trail that runs along the tracks is way to bypass that. This was a really great discovery.


    Yesterday"s awesome walk, 4.81 miles in 1:59, 10,339 steps, 449ft gain
    4.81 miles in 1:59, 10,339 steps, 449ft gain

    I'm quite happy with the distance and elevation gain in this route, but it shouldn't take two hours to go that far. The muddy spots were where the extra time came from. Thankfully I only slipped once and never actually fell down.

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  • 02/23/16--04:57: Last real Monday for a while
  • I wasn't feeling so great this morning, so I figured it'd be a good day for a short, mellow walk down at Lowell. I don't think I'd been there since I'd read on Nextdoor about the trail being blocked by a construction fence, and was hoping to maybe catch a bit of a sunrise.

    There weren't any breaks in the cloud cover, so no pretty sunrise, but it was still lovely out.


    I was surprised this little guy stayed in place long enough and let me get close enough to grab a picture.


    The mud situation on the trail is a lot better.


    I've been to that trail tons of times, but never tried to use the restroom by the boat launch. Guess it's been closed for a couple of months now.


    Yesterday"s awesome walk, 2.98 miles in 58 minutes, 6,414 steps
    2.98 miles in 58 minutes, 6,414 steps

    You can see on the map that I parked in the neighborhood nearby because both parking area gates were locked. That turned out to be a good thing. A train was going by as I approached the parking area, which led to a very long backup of cars. Backups there take a long time to clear because there are multiple stop signs after the tracks.


    That backup wasn't even close to clearing when another train approached from the other direction! Luckily I just walked up over it, to my car parked on the other side.

    After lunch was my third and final research study session on Seattle. To recap, I had three sessions that were about half an hour each, and was paid $75 for each, plus a $75 bonus for completing three sessions. Not bad! I spent more time in the car than I did in their office. This final time, I parked on the roof of their parking structure, which was a bit of a trip down memory lane. Here's the Roosevelt Hotel, where I spent my first night ever in Seattle.


    The brick building in the center is where my first job in Seattle was.


    There's an empty office on the same floor as the research company, and from the door, I was able to see my old apartment. It's the one to the left of the church dome.


    I had two different apartments in that building. The first one was in the back and faced that dome. Super cool view, even though churches don't make great neighbors. I eventually moved into a similar unit in the front of the building for a better view.

    We start our vacation on Friday and aren't going back to work until Tuesday, the 8th. I usually never mention vacations ahead of time, but we're hanging out with friends for the first half and I don't really want to commit to any daily blogging. Maybe I'll send a photo here and there. I've really moved all my "moblogging" to instagram/fb/tumblr.

    Don't worry, SchadenFriday and Caturday will be pre-scheduled.

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  • 02/23/16--16:11: The gear is good
  • Yesterday would not have been a good swimming day, so I waited until this morning to head over to Snohomish to try out my new goggles and nose plug.

    I wasn't expecting any fog at all, and didn't see any until I got down by the river. Then I was in soupy, thick fog all the way down. It's really not an issue to drive in on that road, though. It's six miles with no stops, so all you have to do watch the stripes on the road and watch for cars up ahead. The aquatic center's a little higher up, so it wasn't quite as thick when I arrived.


    I've found some winners!


    The seal on the goggles never broke the entire time I was wearing them today, and they're quite fog-resistant. The nose plug works well, I think, because the parts that lay against your nostrils are long and press against a greater area. They started to hurt after a while, but the wire can be adjusted so I'll fiddle with that.

    Today was also a fun food day. I went out for lunch and got kimchi fried rice and soft shell crab. That was my first time eating soft shell crab, and it was great.

    Kimchi fried rice, soft shell crab

    I also just made some ahi poke for the first time for tonight's dinner with some frozen ahi I found at WinCo the other day. It turned out great!

    An awesome find in the frozen food section

    Ahi poke

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  • 02/24/16--05:06: Lucid
  • I didn't sleep very well between 2:00 and when my alarm went off at 4:00, so I went back to bed for a bit. The 40 minutes that passed between then and when I finally got out of bed seem like a lot more. I dreamed that Garrett and I were eating breakfast, and I thought I could see neighbors across the way in their kitchen, but it turned out to be people gathering in our living room, and the house turned out to be the last one I lived in before leaving Albuquerque.

    About 20 people started pouring in, and it turned out to be a flash mob housekeeping service someone had arranged for us. I was somewhat grateful because the house was a mess, but the people were really annoying. There was an old-timey theme to it all. They quickly hung up period art, wore costumes, and all talked over each other to try to be funny and make us feel important. I yelled at them and went to take some trash to the alley.

    I think I jumped back in time because they were gone and it was night, and the house was still a mess. Sam and Steve were there, as well as a Maine coon who'd just had a litter of kittens. I asked if we had to update our vacation cat sitting plans because of them, or if the the mom cat would just take care of the kittens herself. A legitimate question. Steve was making a very big mess of all my oldest possessions, like the jewelry I used to wear in high school. And Garrett was briefly replaced by my oldest friend Chad.

    In the back yard again, I tried to post something with my phone, but when I pulled it out, it was a small blue square, and that's when I realized I was dreaming. The whole thing had been pretty tedious, so I decided to wake up. I'm not sure if I actually did, or just dreamed that I woke up for a bit, but when I tried to turn over off my stomach, I found myself in a dream again. Realizing I was lucid, I figured I'd walk around a bit and see what I could see.

    I left via a hotel lobby in San Francisco, and the streetscape was quite realistic. One thing I noticed that was off was that the raindrops hitting the sidewalk flowed uphill. Across the street, I walked past a Thai restaurant and was amazed by the level of detail my brain created in the mural on the side, which was full of writing I have no way of reading, writing, or even faking if I drew it in real life, and it didn't shift or anything when I studied it as I passed. Behind that was an even bigger wall painted green and covered in really cool faces painted in various shades of black, green, and yellow.

    I repeated the cycle of either waking up or thinking I did, then rolling out of bed and into the hotel lobby a few more times, but I can't remember anything else I saw. I know all of this happened because I was laying on my stomach in frustration after tossing from one side to the other for those two hours, because I could see the imagery in front of me becoming the sensations of the pillow pressed against my face as I woke up. There was an article a while back which said you're more likely to have erotic dreams if you sleep on your stomach, but I'd take that a step further and say you're more likely to have detailed dreams, and if they turn erotic, that's just the option you went with.

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  • 02/24/16--16:42: XL happiness
  • Ever since I started hiking at Japanese Gulch and similar places which aren't suitable to enter while it's still dark out, I've tried to figure out how to get there as early as possible. I'm not sure why, with so many places open "dawn until dusk" and the like, that it never occurred to me to figure out when dawn is. I've googled "sunrise today" hundreds of times, but it wasn't until this morning that I thought to try "dawn today" instead. And what do you know, it's a much more useful bit of information. I saw this morning that dawn would be at 6:28 and decided that would be when I'd get up from my desk, gear up, and head out. That would be my baseline, and I could work backward from there.

    There was definitely plenty of light when I got to Japanese Gulch. I think on Friday I'll try "dawn minus 30 minutes" as my time to leave my desk.


    Excited by my recent trip through the less-familiar parts on the Eastern slope, I decided to climb up it, knowing that I could return via the railroad tracks and avoid the worst mud in the bottom. I still had to deal with quite a lot of it today, but it was mostly not a problem. Lots of the areas were nice and wide and had places to step next to it, and very little of it was super wet like the bottom tends to be.

    A lot of the Eastern slope can be deceiving. It'll look like you've got to be close to the top, but what you're really seeing is a spot that drops off, and the trail turns and there's another huge climb.


    But that's ok. I wasn't actually planning to go very far today. A hard climb is nice if the walk isn't going to be super long. In addition to finding an alternate way to access the cool ridge I followed last time, I also found the spot that has the best view of the water I've seen in there.


    In spite of a little lower back stiffness that thankfully subsided, today was one of my favorite walks in a long time. I felt the most content I have in ages. Not quite the "runner's high" rush of endorphins, just blissed out. It was a perfect morning and everything looked like art.


    Once I reached the tracks, I briefly thought about going all the way South and then back, but turned around after a bit. The morning was great the way it was and I was ready to head home.


    Though I did decide to check the state of the first trail that leads from the parking area up into the West side. I don't think I've climbed up that way since the time I found that woman's phone, and I think it's time to revisit it. I'll probably do that on Friday. It was neat to see the dog park from the opposite side again for the first time in a while.


    Today"s awesome walk, 2.39 miles in 1:01, 5,131 steps, 398ft gain
    2.39 miles in 1:01, 5,131 steps, 398ft gain

    I rode that wave of happiness all the way home, but of course as the garage door opened, reality set it. It's Wednesday and it was time to do the garbage and recycling. Oh well.

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  • 02/25/16--19:03: Smell ya later, swim center
  • Today was my last swim at Forest Park before their closure, and it was a really lovely one. I went a little later, and the pool was quite empty by the time I left. It's nice that an hour treading water is now the normal amount, since I used to stop after half an hour oftentimes because of crowds. It'll be nice to see what it's like there when it reopens. I know they're getting new lockers, which is my biggest complaint about the place.

    I waited too long to watch Grease! Live and it was no longer on Hulu. Glad I complained about that on Facebook, because my coworker said she had it on her DVR and hadn't watched yet. And it turned out to be a good thing I mentioned it when I did, because she has to replace her DVR this weekend and will lose all her recordings! So I went over there at lunchtime today and we spent the afternoon watching it. I picked up a lovely chirashi and special cucumber roll on my way there.

    Chirashi, special cucumber roll

    All her cats are black and it's always hard to get a good photo.

    Halp, trapped

    Grease! Live was pretty amazing, by the way. I figured it would be like The Wiz live, good, but a small stage production. Completely wrong. They built a huge complex to film it on and had over 600 cast and crew present, and the audience was seated in the sets. I only spotted one small mistake and it was in one of the more challenging sequences to film on a sound stage (the drag race) and that's pretty good for something 140 minutes long without commercials. And to find out one of the stars found out her father died right before they did it made me respect everyone's skills even more.

    I just wish they would have left the set intact and filmed Grease 2 Live the next weekend. Grease 2 is way better than Grease.

    Thinking about it more, I've decided I need to send at least one photo post to lj each day while I'm gone. I've only got about a dozen days since 2009 that I didn't post during, and seeing those days in the calendar always bugs me a bit. I wonder what I was doing that led to my not posting, and realize if I'd just mentioned what I did, I would not only know, but wouldn't be asking. Ha.

    It's just important to me to keep lj alive. People complain that they miss the experience of lj in its heyday, but they won't post. And don't get me started on the ones who used to spend a couple of hours a day reading their friends list, but won't read it now that it only takes a minute or two.

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  • 02/26/16--06:01: SchadenFriday

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  • 02/26/16--11:06: Au Revoir, Gulch
  • I decided two things about today's walk on Wednesday. That I'd try getting ready 30 minutes before dawn, and that I'd climb up the trail by the dog park. I guess it's been on my mind a lot recently because one of the bridges recently had to be dug out after a recent mudslide. It's the first high-elevation trail I ever went on there, but it's never been my favorite one because I had a pretty difficult time with one of the steep climbs on it, several times during those early climbs. Not that I wasn't strong enough or anything, but that it was just so steep and sandy that my feet would slide down. One time I even had to use my fists on the ground and climb up on all fours. But the trails change over time so it's always worth it to revisit them after a while.

    30 minutes before dawn was a bit too early to leave. I didn't want to sit in the car in the dark waiting for light at the bottom, so I drove up to the business park at the top and started from there. It was at least pretty out.


    And the light was perfect as I entered.


    These "no trespassing" signs on the Eastern slope crack me up. They're on a nearly-vertical surface, about 30 feet up. I don't even know how they put the signs up in the first place.


    This house has a deck that overlooks the dog park and lowest part of the gulch. I bet that's pretty neat.


    The huge amber waves of trees looked particularly amazing today.


    This is the bridge from the link above, and the mudslide area that buried it.


    On the right is the spot where I found that woman's phone that time. On the left, a scary trail I doubt I'll ever follow again. There's a bridge made of just two boards with no chicken wire for traction, across a very big drop. That was terrifying, and then just beyond it, there was a huge fallen tree surrounded by deep mud. I didn't want to climb over that, but that was a better choice than going back over the bridge. I took the path behind me, not pictured.


    Today I found the second-best view of the water.


    Today was the first time I've spotted a building on the East side, from the West. I know exactly which building that is, too. One of my favorite trails wraps around below it.


    Today"s awesome walk, 4.69 miles in 1:42, 10,084 steps, 469ft gain
    4.69 miles in 1:42, 10,084 steps, 469ft gain

    This was a really nice last walk to have before vacation and I'm quite happy with my workout calendar for the month. Of course I might get some swims or walking in between now and the 1st, but I'm certainly not committed to it. A car's coming for us at 3pm and then it's vacation mode.

    February 2016

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  • 02/27/16--06:01: CATURDAY

  • BONUS Saturdogs

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    Heading out in a few hours for lunch with a cousin and a volcano trip with
    my oldest friend and his wife, who I finally met yesterday.

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