In an unscheduled break from the Hawaii chronicles….

As the Fourth of July weekend is typically a long one, or people tend to make it a long one, I needed to do more than just eat and drink and be merry.  After hosting a party for 10 on the 4th, where neighbors set off fireworks AROUND THE CORNER FROM MY HOUSE, I figured I needed to burn off all the Americana I’d consumed:  Burgers, beers, and brats.  

Three friends joined me in my quest to explore and expend calories:  Louboutini, Robot Chicken (RC), and RedvsBlue (RB).  RC and RB are pretty active and it was their idea to go for a hike.  After some deliberation, we chose Heliotrope Ridge.  I was a little apprehensive since it was rated as Hard, which on AllTrails, actually means HARD.  But who knows, it might not be so bad….so off we went.  


It was about a 90 minute drive to the trailhead, and the last 8 miles was dirt, potholes, and a single lane.  We passed what looked like the remnants of a landslide, and decided not to linger to look at it, lest the mud giveway again and sweep us off the cliff. 

At last, we made it to the parking lot, and after suiting up (because it was COLD), we set off.  It was pretty steadily up, and I felt it in my quads immediately, but overall it wasn’t too difficult….yet.  In fact, I got this!  We’re all good!  We were talking, laughing, joking, and kept going….and we did ok for the first 2/3 of the uphill hike.  

I didn’t know Heliotrope was actually a flower.  We saw these lovely purple flowers all over the mountain, and realized they are wild all about town – we’d just never noticed.  While it will probably be a few weeks before all the wildflowers are blooming in full on the mountain, the various types of flowers we saw added splashes of color to an otherwise verdant-heavy hike.  (The spikey ones were my favorites, but yes, they hurt.)




About 2 miles in, we were greeted with a sign.  I’ve never seen one on any hike I’ve ever done in my life.  But it was pretty awesome, and thoughtful of the trails association. IMG-20190706-WA0029


Believe me.  You haven’t lived till you’ve pooped in a mountain toilet. 

While the hike said “hard” and the idea of hiking up far enough to see a glacier was daunting, we pressed on.  But it really wasn’t too bad, all things considered.  Sure, there were stream crossings (5!), and yes, there were “steps” that required me to lift my foot above the level of my hip.  But they were the obstacles that, looking back, you scoff and shrug it off.


Nope.  Not a bad hike at all.  That was until RB said, “I have some bad news.”

We’d only climbed 850 feet, and were only about a mile from the end.  “But isn’t this about 2000′ of elevation gain?”  Well, yes, yes it is, and going about 1000′ in a mile is HARD.  Really hard.  While I had led the initial parts of the hike, I now fell back to 4th, because….well, I have little legs and it was hard.  Did I mention how difficult the last mile was?  Sure Miley Cyrus, it’s about the climb, until you have to climb THAT FAR.  I went slower, slower, and even slower still, but I was suddenly inspired, and the hike gave rise to a song:

Slow and steady wins the race
As long as you don’t fall on your face

I can’t say I followed the song to the T.  There were several times I nearly faceplanted into some Game-of-Thrones-esque slate.  And yes, I was tired, sweaty, stinky, and wanted to quit.  But I didn’t, and damn.  Was it worth it.


After an extra 0.75 of a mile of climbing and scrambling beyond the trail end, up to another ridge, we stopped to take in the beauty.  Flowers plus blue-white ice, plus all-colored, all-material rocks.   Eat your heart out, Night King.  I’m the king of the world. 


I would be remiss if I left out the critters we saw on the way back down.  There are marmots all over the mountain, and it was warm enough for some of them to come out and entertain us.  They are these big fuzzy things you want to hug, but then they let out a cry and while at first I thought it was some sorry hiker that fell in the crevasse, now every time I see the attached YouTube video, I laugh like a hyena.


I would also be remiss if I were to leave out the part where I fell in the stream (pictured above) on the way back.  Yes, I fell in, yes, it was cold, no, I wasn’t thrilled.  It did, however, allow me to say “screw it” to trying to navigate the other streams though, so I happily splashed across since I was already wet. 

I have to say, of the hikes I’ve done since I’ve lived here, this ranks close to the top.  Another trip to Olympic National Park awaits later this month, but for now, it will be hard to usurp Heliotrope.  After all, this is America at its finest, on its best weekend. 





Half Marathons

One of my under-30 goals was to run a marathon.  As you might know, 30 came and went three years ago, and I still have not run a marathon.

In place of this, I ran my first half-marathon in June of 2017, and my second in August.  Prior to the June race, the furthest I’ve ever run when not training was 4 miles.   To run 3x+ that was an insurmountable task, until I started training.  Also, now that I’ve successfully completed 13.1 miles twice, to run 26.2 sounds insane.  I think I’ll skip it…for now.



I started running to curb my anxiety, and realized I loved it.  No, not because it helps me stay slim. I’ve not lost any weight; in fact, I’ve got these giant thighs that have been known to tear my jeans.  No, not because I like to win races; I’ve not finished better than top 60% at any race I’ve done.  Instead, I love it because it gives me time to focus on myself – anywhere from 30 to 150 minutes at a time.  Yes, 150.  Two and a half hours.  I’m slow.

I could wax poetic on the benefits of running – or the pains it causes.  But I think the biggest lesson here isn’t that running is great, or it will kill your knees, which it is and it can.  The big lesson here is that if you want to do something, it takes time and dedication.  If you want it bad enough, you will be able to do it.

I don’t think I’ll ever be competitive; I just can’t match the times of those with legs as long as my body.  What I will be, however, is happy and accomplished.  And who knows, maybe I will make a full marathon my under-40 goal.


86! 12! 11! Hike!

One of the nice things about Victoria is that once you’re outside the city, you are surrounded in forests full of amazing hikes.  Weeble and HMR live in Houston, TX (they’re fine, btw – Hurricane Harvey left them relatively untouched), and they wanted to be outdoors in nice, cool weather rather than sweating their both proverbial and literal balls off in Texas.

Because it was their vacation, they chose the hike – around 7 miles round trip – through the forests.  We set off, and I was the idiot who found a beach area on a trail offshoot that was at a 45° angle over rocks.  The beach was worth it, but that up and down was brutal.   Had I known, I’d have skipped the extra half mile detour to the beach.



I even made a friend on the beach!  They were everywhere, and this little dude was sadly too slow to escape our clutches.  We did let him go, but not after a key photo op. IMG_4195

HMR and Weeble met playing soccer, so they figured they would be fit enough to hike.  Unfortunately, they were a bit underprepared (I’d use the word “woefully” but that seems mean).  Pro tip:  Bring at least one more bottle of water than you think you’ll need, wear comfy, stretchy clothes that you won’t mind ruining with dirt and sweat, and if you are the type to get hangry, pack more food than you think you’ll need.

Despite HMR’s deliberate heaving, we still managed to make it to the end of the trail.  I know I overuse the word “gorgeous” when describing the vistas on these hikes, but I’m not sure there’s another word that would encompass what they actually are.



Birthday Hike!

Birthdays are rarely a treat for me.  Growing up in New England, it was always cold, caked with snow, and generally forgotten (I’m looking at you, 21st birthday).  But here in the PNW, I was lucky enough to get a sunny and 52* day, and a visit from my dear friend Jade.

Jade lives in San Antonio, and she visited specifically for this event, so we had to show her a good time.  And so, Sandwich, Louboutini, and I took Jade hiking at Fragrance Lake.  We parked at the parking lot to Larrabee State Park, and the trail head was conveniently right across the street.  Chuckanut Drive is really fun when there’s no one on it, and I was having a super time.


It’s rated as Moderate on Alltrails, so we figured it would be just challenging enough so that we could burn off all the birthday dinner calories we’d later consume.  Let me tell you.  My butt felt GREAT after this one.  The above photo was taken before my quads were on fire – stairmaster, eat your heart out.


I think the 50s are my favorite hiking temps, especially when working on elevation gains.  This one isn’t too bad, only 1100′, but it can hit you with some steep inclines.  I tell you, I have never been so excited to wear a t-shirt in March.


The lake itself seemed so drab to me – colors will come out in a few months – but Jade loved it.   I suppose there’s something peaceful about the reflection on the water, but I can’t wait for all the green!

The best part of the hike, however, was a little lookout over Bellingham Bay.  I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of this view.   And the best part is that all it takes is a little leg work (literally)!


Staircase to Heaven

The Ginger and CDB wanted to get to their flight by 4pm, which meant we had time for only one short hike.  We chose to go to Staircase Monument, since it was on the way to SeaTac, but still promised a lovely view of a waterfall.


Again, CDC bitched about everything, despite the Ginger and my urging to get a move on (to about 3 mph).  He was more interested in breakfast oysters and beer than seeing any more of the national park, so at some point we hiked ahead left him.  Louboutini kept him company, much to his chagrin, and we secretly thanked him later for taking one for the team.

The waterfall was not a hard hike, but it was gorgeous, even if the water flow was drastically reduced.  The Ginger mentioned that it was a perfect place to propose to someone, and he isn’t completely wrong.  It’s secluded and romantic, and aside from the fact that you’d be sweaty, your hands would likely be swollen, you’d smell bad, and if you are anything like CDB you’d be hungry, thirsty, whining, and upset with everyone, it truly is an ideal place to pop the question.


Editor’s Note:  I care about being sweaty and smelly, so if you are ever planning on proposing, please don’t do it when I look like I have Muppet Hands.


What a Hoh

When I moved from Texas, everyone said they’d come visit.  However, the only one I believed was the Ginger; he said he would come visit to go hiking.  The Ginger is from the Dirty Jerz, and has lived all over the country, so it’s not surprising he is less inclined to enjoy the rolling flatness of Texas, and he’d take the opportunity to escape the oppressive southern summer.


We planned to meet at Olympic National Park, which would be my first trip there.  After picking him up around the University of Washington campus, we had a three-hour drive to figure out where to start.  After some deliberation between the Ginger, Louboutini, and the Ginger’s travel friend, Cheap Douchebag (CDB), we decided on the Hoh Rainforest (insert “hoe” jokes here).

CDB is not athletic, he is cheap (thus the C), he’s a haughty elitist (“Iiiii went to Harvard Laaaaaaw”) and he does not appreciate nature.  Nor does he appreciate people going out of their way to make it easier for him.  Needless to say, he was a very large damper on the whole thing – complaining, whining, going slow on purpose, not chipping in for anything, and repeatedly mentioning how he liked being in Seattle proper a lot better, with the restaurants, girls, and booze.  Despite his best efforts, however, he still couldn’t ruin the incredible experience we were about to have.

We chose what amounted to a seven-mile hike, that started in the Hall of Mosses.  It wasn’t difficult, but damn, was it beautiful.  Not everything that is gorgeous needs to be hard.


The main hike would be through the rainforest, and be an out and back.  The trees are so much taller and wider than I’ve ever seen – this is what ants must feel like when they come across a twig.




Yes, I realize how phallic this all seems…

Summer 2017 had been awfully dry in the PacNW, so the “rain” part of the rainforest was lacking a bit.  Only about 100 inches of rain so far, in an area that usually gets 200 inches a year.  I’m glad we didn’t get rained on, but I cannot imagine the area being even MORE green.  I felt like I was stuck in Kermit the Frog – not that it was a bad thing.





Paddleboarding Extravaganza

Gem and I were really into the idea of going paddleboarding, and Groupon had a bunch of deals from which to choose, and while we’d never actually done it, we figured it couldn’t be that hard.

The day we chose ended up being a little choppy, so we went to a calmer side of Sanibel Causeway. The lady dropped off the paddleboards, gave us some instructions, and drove away. We had four hours of boarding to attempt, and by George, we were going to do it. We were even going to attempt yoga!IMG_20170424_085308726

It had been cool out, but we certainly miscalculated how burned you can get. We did not last the entire four hours (maybe 90 minutes?), but we did pretty much everything we wanted to: played with birds diving for fish, saw dolphins, attempted yoga poses (Gem was much better at this than I was), and even swam a bit.


Gem is much better at a lot of things than I am…not just paddleboard yoga.

I even made a little friend, who was hanging out in the truck for us when we got back.


It’s quite fun, and can be a workout when people don’t adhere to no-wake zones, or when the water is choppy.


I resolved to buy a paddleboard from Costco when I returned to the PacNW. Until I saw how much they cost, and then I resolved to rent one instead.