Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Big Island

 We had an amazing trip to the Big Island. We spent time with family and friends, and were there for just over a week. Highlights included hiking through a live crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, snorkeling with manta rays, whale watching off the Kona Coast, and lots of good fishy eats.

Here are a few pictures. The picture above is the manta ray experience, which I'd recommend to all friends who go there. You float, hanging on to a surfboard, with snorkel and goggles, and then they turn on an LED light. This is at night. The light attracts phytoplankton, which is dinner for the manta rays. They come up and do somersaults with their mouth wide open, taking in the phytoplankton. The mantas are 8 to 16 feet wide. Big. And they come up right next to you. Totally amazing experience, like nothing I've ever done. My sweet wife surprised me with this as a gift.

Whale watching was nice. Humpback whales, swimming in pairs. March is still Hawaii whale season, and I really wanted to get out there, at least once, to watch. We saw a bunch. My photography skills are lacking.

Our condo was terrific. We stayed at the Kona Reef. The photo right below is the view from our lanai. We were walking distance to town, which made it really fun.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park included a hike through a lava tube! Short, but how often do you get to do that? We didn't see hot, red lava--maybe we should've tried harder. We did hike across a crater, and visit the main volcano. We also went down to Hilo, and had a wonderful lunch, and visited the local stores.

Friends Mike and Fran were there for part of the time. So awesome! I hiked with them to the supposedly green sands beach. There's a picture or two below. We have lots of green algae beaches in the northwest that are much greener, so consider me unimpressed. My favorite part of this was sharing the walk with Mike and Fran, which had a sort of desolate, bottom of the world kind of feel, looking out at the blue sea.  On their final day, we also got to visit a Kona Coffee Farm and a Macadamia Nut Farm.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I ran the Brewfest 10k in Kona. Gosh, that was hot, and I was slow.

What more to say?  This was one of my favorite vacations ever, and I want to go back, because there is much left to explore, and because it's Hawai'i.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Kona's Run For The Hops 10k

Last weekend we were in Kona, on the Big Island of Hawai'i. It happened to be Kona Brewfest weekend, and to kick it off, there was the Run for the Hops 10k. The race supports some good causes, including kids, culture and the environment. I signed up and ran it, slow.

I find running in Hawai'i very challenging. The heat and the humidity don't sync well with me.

The course starts at the BMW dealer and heads down by the water, with a couple out and backs. Then, it heads up hill through the industrial section of town. There was lots of aid on the course. I found myself walking, and I wasn't alone, though I was towards the back. The sun got my ears. The sun shows up in the picture above, catching my shadow as I stopped to take a pic.

Terrific event organized by the non-profit PATH. Cool shirt, and a finish line full of papaya, melon, bananas, oranges, and Kona beer. Glad I happened to be there to participate.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Birch Bay Half Marathon

Great day up at Birch Bay, running the half marathon. The skyline was beautiful, with Canada in sight throughout the course, snow on the ground, snowcapped peaks in the distance. A fast course, but I didn't run fast--I was out for a trot. The weather was terrific, at about 34 degrees at the start, but climbing to mid-40s as the day got going.

The first three miles are along the waterline, and then the course heads over to Drayton Harbor. I was able to see the Peace Arch--the actual Peace Arch, as well as White Rock, in the near distance. Then, onward over by Semiahmoo, with a finish back to Birch Bay State Park.

Rich has the marathon on his calendar for a while, and ran an amazing race. I was happy to come up, trot my half, and then cheer him on at the end. Great to see Linda, Reed, and some other great peeps. Somehow missed Stan, but I heard he was out there. The Pearsons and their team put on a terrific event. When the weather is good, this is as beautiful a course as anywhere. That was today.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Orcas Island 25k

This guy showed up at the Orcas Island 25k last weekend, and crossed the finish line. I was pretty close to not going, but the weather forecast was good, the fee was paid, and I figured I'd kick myself if I didn't. Bravo, me!

I took the 5:35 AM ferry over. Early does it. Stayed in the car, typing out some work stuff. By 7:30, I was at Moran. Good to see Randy, Kurt, Glenn, Heidi and other friends before the race.

The course is obviously shorter than the very tough 50k, but it still touches most of the highlights, and has some 4000 feet in climbing. The power line climb is as tough as ever. The last push to Mount Constitution is also worthy of curses. I was ok on the uphills, horrible on the downs. I finished towards the back, just over 5 hours. I was jogging, not racing, but just shooting for the finish line. As much as anything, I wanted to clear my head of all the nonsense going around, and just focus on some green trails for a long morning.

The view from the top was as good as I've ever seen. Squinting, I could see the tall buildings of Vancouver, and turning south, Mt. Rainier. And everything in between--though as I write this, I don't recall looking for Seattle. So, most of Skagit and Whatcom were easy to pick out. The Olympics too.

Great weather. A little overcast. Maybe 35 to 45 degrees. No rain, little wind. This race can get some tough weather. Not this year.j

I didn't have a lot of juice to stick around. I headed to the ferry afterwards, and missed my ferry by three cars. Subsequently, a three hour wait, eased by fish and chips at the Orcas Hotel.

This race has changed as much as any race I've been a part of.  I ran the 50k in year one, maybe ten years ago, or so, and there weren't many runners--maybe 30 to 40, I think. We might've got a little lost. Now the event is broken down into three weekends, with 25k, 50k, and 100m. James and the people of Rainshadow Running have created a classic. So many smiling faces. Great to take a Saturday and join in.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Nookachamps 10k

Ran my first race of the new year today. The Nookachamps 10k. I didn't feel too much like running, and I switched down from the half marathon. So, I ended up walking parts of the final three miles, finish in 1:12.

The weather was terrific. I did see swans. The crowd seemed a little thinner, perhaps because of the Women's marches going on in Bellingham and Seattle. There were some runners in pink, showing their support for the marches.

I didn't run enough in December and early January, and so I've fallen off. That's when you get back on the horse, or so they say.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Best of 2016

Every year I do this---here’s a list of the best of 2016:

1.     Lime Kiln Point

I took a week off work at the end of the summer, but we didn’t travel far.  Deb and I hit the ferry for a day trip to San Juan Island—the ferry landing is only a half hour from home. We spent a full afternoon just sitting on Lime Kiln point, waiting for Orca whales, which we never saw. The breeze was right, the temperature was right, everything was right.  Canada was across the way. Porpoises and other sea creatures came by. This was a magical afternoon, which took very little work. I was so content, just sitting with Deb, looking out across the water. I've been to many national parks and preserves--Lime Kiln Point is as special as any of them.

2.     Maui

I’m a big fan of David Bowie. When he passed away in early January, I was surprised, shocked. He was there in my teen years, as I offloaded produce at the Farm Market. He was there in my college years, as I was digging into his older stuff, while playing cards with my best friends. When he died, and I saw a good deal on Maui, I said to Deb, life is short, David Bowie died, we need to go. There's never a bad reason to go to Maui, but this was ours.

The trip was awesome. We shared a condo in Maalaea with Deb’s daughter and husband. You could see sea turtles in the surf, at the seawall, from the lanai. I hiked the Acid War Zone trail, a short point to point hike on the west side of Maui, by the Nakalele blowhole. Amazing--I’ve never seen anything quite this short trail of combed and pored rock. We went to Mama’s Fish House for dinner, which rightfully lands on many national restaurant lists. We went up to Haleakala National Park, which is over 10,000 feet above sea level. From there, views of the Big Island, red rock cinder domes and craters, and all the eccentricities of high altitude life in such a strange place.

Never had a bad day in Hawaii.

3.     Pelton Basin

Mike and I hiked on a rainy summer day over Cascade Pass in the North Cascades, and down into Pelton Basin. I’ve never been into the Basin, as I usually turn around or go up Sahale Arm. This is an ancient trade route. Pelton Basin turned out to be a special place, with wide open valley space, long views down valley, and tall mountainsides. The plan is to return and find some way down to Stehekin or perhaps over Park Pass.

Another hike with Mike, to a favorite lookout of mine. We failed to make it to the top a few years back. This year, we made it to the lookout, while there is still lots of snow on top. This is a hard one, and I’m an hour or more slower than I’ve been in the past, but steady does it. I was actually pretty pleased with my day. We saw a bear, which accommodated a selfie.

My 13th Baker Lake 50k in a row. While I was slow, I was an hour faster than last year’s fiasco, which gives me hope for improvement. I know each turn of the trail well. Always enjoy seeing Stan, John, Terry, and others here. My favorite ultra.

Nice to toe the line again at one of James and Rainshadow’s runs. It's been too long. Deception Pass is beautiful, and the 25k hits all the right trails, with cliffs, big trees, bridges, and some really good pizza at the finish line. I also like those races with start lines less than an half hour from home.

So nice to get back to Bridle Trails this year.  I did the first lap with Holley, and the second lap with Mike.  Hung out with Seth too, on the way in. So this was a friends and family thing. I was so slow that I needed to finish in the dark, but I really enjoyed my time here, and may go back next week. When the weather is bearable, I love this January event. No pictures--every picture tells a story, I guess, but not every story has a picture.

8.     Dawg Dash

Dan and I ran this 10k at the University of Washington, my fastest, albeit slow, in a few years. Nice purple shirt with a dawg on it. Dan and I have been friends since we were teenagers. Family now. Lately, he has made it out to a few races with me, like Cutthroat and Dawg Dash.

On the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, I ran our local half-marathon. Skagit Runners does a terrific job with this event, year after year. The weather was nice on this day, and I found myself in a reflective state, having gotten up early and watched the ceremonies. This world....sometimes running seems to be the only thing that makes sense.

I love this Methow Valley event. My memories of running through burned areas are special. I struggled with the sun, and I was definitely a back of packer. But this is one fine half-marathon. Recommend, recommend.

These rankings aren’t particularly meaningful. I just like to have them. The Maui trip really stands out, as do a few moments in the year, such as sitting by the sea, and more than anything, certain family events. There weren’t many, if any, truly epic endeavors. On the other hand, I'm pleased to note that I stayed active.

Honorable mentions go to finally running the Once Around Lake Cavanaugh, as well as getting down the trail at the 50th Anniversary of the Chuckanut Footrace. Other events included the Nookachamps 10k, the Great Sedro-Woolley Foot Race, March Point10k, Berry Dairy Days Half Marathon, Fort Ebey Kettles Half Marathon, and the Little Mountain 10k, and the Fall Fowl Run 10k. Great to see friends at these events, running and volunteering.

So, it looks like in total I did 5 10ks, 4 half-marathons, a 50k, a 25k, and 4 races of other distances. 15 events all total. A sampler of non-events. Honestly, I should be in better shape than I am. Strong spirit, if not flesh, I guess.

I also had a terrific day volunteering with Deb, BJ, Erica, Mike, and Aly at the Little Bear Aid Station on the Cascade Crest 100 course. I'd like to get back to that type of shape one of these days. I volunteered at a few other events.

We had many other highlights to the year, though none bigger than a certain addition to the family. We saw Patti Smith perform Horses from start to finish at the Moore. Later, she would end up accepting the Nobel Prize for Bob Dylan. We saw Springsteen at the Key, where he and the E Street Band played The River from end to end. Eddie Vedder even showed up! We were right on the rail, and Deb shook the Boss’s hand twice. Amazing four hour show. I grew a whole lot of tomatoes from seed--at least 10 different varieties. It was my nightly meditation after work. Some of us fellas went to Flight to Mars at the Showbox, with a Bowie tribute, and a whole lot of Duff and Mike. I went to an exciting Monday night Seahawks game with Dave, Sean, and his wife. We ended the year with a nice trip to Las Vegas, for a family event which made us proud.

Thank you to all my friends and family for the times shared, and here’s to more good times to come.

Friday, December 30, 2016


I had a nice day today, taking Friday off work before the New Year's weekend.  I went to Chuckanut and hiked and ran the Ridge-Lost Lake Loop. There was snow on top of Chuckanut, and snow and ice on the backside out by Lost Lake. I find myself on days like this.

Slow and pleasant. I spent over 4 hours wandering. Temps were between 30 and 40, with the snow melting constantly off trees, and snowmelt running across the trail. Lost Lake had some ice. My right ankle didn't roll, but there is instability there. The left hip has voiced opposition as well. Worth it.