Summer Recap – May to September

Wow, it has sure been a while since I have posted here. I guess I should start off with a few apologies. First for letting it go so long, and the second for the fact that for those that have been reading since the beginning, this post will no where be as detailed, verbose, or as visually descriptive as previous posts you have seen here. In making notes for what was on my list to blog about, there have been no less than 19 significant enough places / events to write about since my last post. Given how much time I usually put into writing about any given thing, this would probably take weeks to properly link and catalog everything. But, I will try to embed lots of links to Flickr pictures.

If you REALLY just want the quick and dirty, then the best thing you can probably do right now is just head over to flickr and check out the sets on the right. At the time of this writing, the last 9 sets you see on the right contain pictures of journeys I want to write about here.

Well, I mentioned the haul ash in one of my last posts. I spent more time biking and building up to that one earlier in the summer and actually accomplished it. All 41 miles. It was tough. I don’t have a road bike and had never done a ride over 33 miles before, so 41 was the longest I had ever been on to date. I find it rather interesting actually how quickly the body gives up / hits a wall though. a 20 mile ride is pretty easy for me (assuming the right conditions / flat), but just about every mile beyond that, and even more so beyond 26 miles or so is very difficult, painful even. No gradual discomfort or fatigue, just a point at which its tough to go any further. I have of course heard of this from others before, so it’s not a new concept, but I find it rather fascinating as an engineer. We aren’t like a battery that slowly runs out. We are more like a lamp that runs out of fuel. I have ridden a few more times with friends after that, but as you may find evident soon, I haven’t actually had much time to do much riding since then.

Early in May, I had a whirlwind travel tour, going to both Vegas and New York with only a matter of hours in between (but having to fly back to Seattle in the middle). Vegas was fun, but was still Las Vegas. Not that much has changed outside of the new City Center being completed. This is a time where there are so many stories from Vegas I would probably dive into here if I was dedicating an entire post to the two trips, but suffice to say that we saw a few shows, went to a few bars, relaxed by the pool, and went to some nice restaurants. The next time I go to Vegas will be too soon though. I have had more than my share over the last 7 years, going what I think is now 9 times in that time frame. I didn’t get to this time, but my best Vegas recommendations are still, Zion national park, Red Rock Canyon, Hoover Dam, and the Atomic Test Museum. We did all have a really fun time at Hofbräuhaus this time though too.

Flying to New York was fun too. I was there to see my cousin graduate from NYU. I had not been to New York since I went for a school trip back in my freshman year of high school. (I’ll help you with math, that was 7 years prior to 9/11. As an interesting note, as I sit and write this it is 9/11/2010 today.) I was glad I went back then though. I have pictures of inside the world trade center from ‘94 and of course got to ride the elevators to the top back then. I am saddened by the tragedy of course (especially since the person that lived across the hall from me freshman year in college was working in one of the towers that day and didn’t make it out), but was nice to see the city again even after and see things still as bustling as ever. I went to see a show, went to some nice restaurants, got to see central park, the Met, the Brooklyn Bridge, and of course see some family members I had not gotten to see in quite a while. It was a good trip.

At the beginning of June a group of us went camping at the Bedal camp ground which is on the Mountain Loop Highway in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, just east of Darrington. It was actually a great campground. It's right on the river and is far enough away from civilization that you actually feel like you are camping. Whether it was hiking the Sauk river, taking pictures, relaxing, or just hanging out, we all had a good time. Check out the album I link to above for even more pictures.

I also got to go see a taping of ‘Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me’ here in Seattle as well during June. That was pretty fun, but I don’t mind saying that I felt a bit distracted when I could see what was going on. Something about only having to listen meant that I was able to follow the discussion more on the radio normally, however, when I had to watch many people on the stage while trying to listen to just one, I was challenged to keep up.

The rest of June was also a busy month as well, but other than some more biking, much of it was spent helping my friends get ready for their wedding at the end of June. Once again, I also managed to preempt my birthday by having a party a few weeks earlier and not happening to mention my birthday was coming up. :) This is the best of both worlds the way I see it since I still got to spend time with friends, but without all the pressure / awkwardness of a “birthday party.” I found a few weeks beforehand was early enough that people didn’t suspect it either. I may not be as successful at preemption in future years though.

July was then the month of hiking. I love getting out in nature and hiking. There is something about the northwest vistas of trees, mountains, and sky that is very calming. A group of us went and hiked Rattlesnake Ledge. I had not hiked it before, but it was not bad at all and the views are just amazing. Next up and probably my favorite was hiking the John Wayne Trail as it cuts through Olallie State Park. I have a soft spot for bridges and trestles. This hike is over old train tracks (loose gravel) so the valleys it crosses go over amazing bridges you get to walk on. Finally, the next weekend after that was another quick hike up Little Si. Though parking for Little Si just seems to be getting worse. They basically now have signs now just after the turn in North Bend telling people to go away. Note, I don’t think the signs are discouraging enough for people, the parking lots were all packed, with lots of people still illegally parking.

Jumping back a bit in time, this year for July 4th (the same day I walked through Olallie State Park), I went to a friends place on the lake for their own fireworks show. More fireworks pictures are available in the set from that weekend. In the middle of the month, I got to go to a bbq where they actually roasted an entire pig over a fire pit. Let me tell you that was darn good bbq.

Rounding out the end of the month, my parents came out again to visit. We went to Gas Works park for a great view of the city, to Ballard to see the salmon (and have some of the best gluten free pancakes ever), to golden gardens (on what was probably the busiest day there I have ever seen), up to see the Peace Arch at the Blaine crossing, and finally rounding out the trip, a trip to Tacoma to the museum of glass.

Also on the last day of July, I managed to go to some place I can’t believe I had never been to before: Discovery Park. It was a great day to walk around the park and take pictures, look over the cliff, and even sit on the beach listening to the waves for a while. In total, that day was comprised of about 9 miles of walking. It was fun, but sure tiring. We are headed into the wrong season now, but I look forward to when I can go back there!

For another first, starting in August I was invited on a kayaking day trip! We only went about 8 miles or so and stuck to the shore near Bellingham, but it was amazing. I had never been sea kayaking before. For that matter, only one week earlier was the first time I had ever gone kayaking at all before. For that trip we just went out for a few hours in Lake Union (rented from Aqua Verde). But sea kayaking was even more fun because everything is so much more open. The plant, animal, and mineral life that you get to see (as well as the cool places to visit at low tide) is just wonderful. Sorry that I don’t have more pictures from these trips, but electronics (cameras) don’t like the water all that much, so I was trying to be more careful.

Also in August, I finally got to go to my first Seahawks game too! It was fun (and loud) and they won! This year is definitely a year where I have been following more football than in years past. ;) It’s all ok with me though, since there are times I miss following/watching.

Right around this time in the summer, my blueberries out front were also just ripening up as well. I should sheepishly admit at this point that while I have lived in this house for more than 3 years now, I had no idea I had blueberry bushes (large ones) out front. I have honestly no idea where I was in past summers not to know or notice, but somehow, I sure didn’t. While they weren’t necessarily as plump or sweet as other home-grown blueberries I have had, it was neat to have these as a snack from my front yard for a few weeks this year. Once they REALLY ripened, then the birds and other animals around just decimated it. One day all of the fruit was gone. Next year, I’ll know better though and have some netting ready.

This summer, I have decided to go back to being gluten free again. I grew up knowing that I had celiac / was gluten intolerant. For the most part, I didn’t grow up on pasta, cookies, cake, pizza, etc. However, once I left for college for sure, I had gone the route of waffles, pizza, cookies, bagels, etc. and had not looked back. I was pretty lucky overall. There were a few times where it would bother me, but for the most part, only part of the time would I feel bothered. This continued on through my twenties and it wasn’t until after I turned 30 that every time I started to eat/drink any gluten I would start to feel ill. Well this year I decided that enough was enough and gave it up (to the dismay of my drinking buddies). I have never regretted the decision though. I haven’t felt sick all of the time anymore. I feel like I have much more energy, and somehow this also managed to trigger a bunch of weight loss as well which I certainly won’t complain about. (Of course biking / hiking / no beer all help with that as well.)

This summer I also purchased a bread maker which has a gluten free setting on it. My local grocery has gluten free bread maker mixes as well which are easy to throw together and put in the  machine. I then slice it up and freeze two slices at a time to take lunches into work. I love it. It tastes close to real bread and there is nothing like having warm home-made bread out of the bread maker. So far its easy to just do this every few weeks for slices of bread compared with the frozen gluten free bread at the store.

For the last weekend in August, I went with some friends to spend a few days on Decatur Island here in the San Juans. It was a nice fun and relaxing time. There were games, gatherings, relaxing, hiking, and exploring. This was the second year I was invited and it’s been fun both years!

For labor day weekend, I was lucky enough to be able to spend several days in and around Boston. Whether it was walking around Cambridge and Salem, walking the freedom trail, relaxing in the gardens, or exploring Georges island in the harbor islands, I had a great time! One other amazing activity on the trip was being able to go to Fenway park as well to see the Red Sox completely crush the Rays. There were of course plenty of other reasons why this was such a great trip. Those that know will understand.

In terms of notable events / activities, that brings you to “current day” at this point. However some other notables are that I bought an iPhone (I love it so far). I have been discovering a lot of new music and have a new pandora station tracking the new artists as well as a few new stations corresponding to the new music too. Soon, I need to start selecting which music to put in the slideshow this year as well. I already have more candidates that will fit than I have time, but this year, I think they are all really great songs so far. Also, I have a TON of pictures to choose from this year as well and of course plenty of events to showcase too. It will be a fun time making it this year. I should start on it sometime in November or so.

Well, now you are mostly up to date on some of the larger activities of the last several months. There is just way too much detail in the middle that I would love to share with everyone, but this is the 3rd late night of typing this now, so hey, its bed time. :) I hope everyone else’s summer was just as fun! Here its back to being 60s, rainy, and turning dark just around 7pm again (it will eventually creep up past 5pm).

There is and was oh so much more left out and much I purposefully censored to protect the innocent as well. But I think much of that is for another time.


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