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A wet hike and reluctant Walmart shoppers

So… I think we can all agree that I’ve been terrible about blog posting.  Life has been so crazy and hectic.  Not in a bad way… just in a “the merry go round keeps spinning and I don’t really have a chance to get off for a breather” kind of way.

I could try to go way back and talk about everything that Mike and I have been doing since the first of the year, but that’s too far back.  And who knows how good my memory actually is anyway… it probably doesn’t even go back that far.  January feels very far away.

So let’s just go back a month or so.  The one and only bestie Lia came to visit in mid June!  What a blast!  We had a very fun week together… a good mix of hiking, nice restaurants, and tourism (the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit at Seattle Center!).  And I still have to get you Mike’s and my pictures from your visit, Lia… oops!

I took the whole week off of work, had a job interview on Monday (more on that later), and then Lia flew in on Tuesday and stayed the rest of the week.  The job interview on Monday was a little surreal.  These all-day tech interviews always seem a little surreal to me.  I interview with five or six people over the course of the day, and then at the end of the day I find myself in the parking garage or at the bus stop thinking, How did that go?  Did they think I’d be a good fit?  Do I think they’d be a good fit for me?  Basically I walk out of there not knowing anything and having no feelings yet.  I typically need a good night’s sleep before I can actually process the interview and decide whether I think it went well, whether I think they’ll want to hire me, and whether I think I’ll want to take the job.  So it was especially perfect that on Tuesday, rather than continuing to think about the job interview, Lia flew in, and instead I got to hang out with her and take off my job-hunting hat for awhile.

Lia!  In Seattle!  :)

Lia! In Seattle! 🙂

Mike didn’t have Tuesday off and worked late (which is mostly what he’s been doing this spring and summer), so Lia and I Uber’d up to Capitol Hill and went to a great tiny hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant and shared several dishes.

Yummy Indian!

Yummy Indian!

The spinach curry was especially amazing!  After that we headed back to Mike’s and my house, and lucky Piper got a catnip mouse present from her Aunt Lia.  What a lucky cat!  She definitely went crazy over the catnip mouse!

On Wednesday we went to a couple of different shopping areas and had lots of fun.  Well, Lia and I did.  Mike may or may not have enjoyed this part.  He did get two new pairs of shoes, though, so at least he benefited from the trip.

We had decided to go hiking on Thursday, which we did, although in retrospect maybe we should have tried to find a drier day!  It was drizzling rain in Seattle, but as we drove east towards the Cascades the rain increased, and by the time we got to Lake Serene where we were planning to hike, it was raining pretty atrociously.  However, we had all brought raincoats, so in theory there was no issue.  We decided to at least start hiking, and see how it went.  The first 15 minutes was fine.  Our rain coats still gave the impression of being water proof, and our feet were still dry (despite the fact that the trail in some places resembled a creek more closely than it resembled a trail).  Half an hour in, we were definitely wet.  Wet as in: our coats were definitely water resistant rather than water proof, and their resistance had given way to the endless rain.  By this point our feet were starting to feel a little damp as well.  It’s amazing how many other things can be endured as long as one’s feet are warm and dry.  Damp feet lead to damp spirits.  There are my words of wisdom for the day.

We continued hiking for another hour, and ended up at the most beautiful waterfall!  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  I had literally no idea that there was anything so beautiful so close to the city!  Mike and I had seen Snoqualmie Falls several times, which is amazing, but this was amazing in a much more rugged, wild, kind of way, whereas Snoqualmie Falls has a hydroelectric plant surrounding it.  😉

You can google pictures of Bridal Veil Falls in Washington State.  It was raining too hard for us to take pictures (although it looked strangely mystical and ethereal through the rainy mist).  Once we had stopped for a few minutes at the falls and were no longer climbing up a mountain, we realized that we were actually freezing and a hasty trip back down would likely be in order.  Soaked honestly didn’t begin to describe us… drenched may be a better word.  We returned back down the mountain path pretty hastily, noting that the trail resembled a creek even more closely than it had done on our ascent.  We finally arrived back at the car and weren’t even sure how to proceed to get into the car.  We were all dripping water, and although I had thoughtfully remembered to pack about thirty protein bars and 2 gallons of water, somehow had neglected to pack so much as a hand towel.  We at least got out of the wettest of our clothing (i.e. those outer “water-proof” jackets) and decided we would stop at the first store we came to so that we could buy towels, a change of clothes, and warm up and dry off, so in the meantime we packed into the car and drove away shivering and still very wet as Mike kicked the car heater into high gear.  We drove for about twenty minutes without seeing any store that looked like it would have clothes and towels.  (There seems to be a problem with these wilderness hikes…. there are no hot showers or malls nearby.  This is my main problem with hiking.  Really it’s my only problem with hiking.  Can someone solve this?)

However, we eventually came across a store, and as my luck that day would have it, that store was Walmart.  I have ethical problems with Walmart and have basically sworn them off.  But now, freezing and drenched and forced to choose between my Walmart standards and my warmth, I am somewhat ashamed to say I chose my warmth.  (Only somewhat ashamed because… you all know you would have done EXACTLY THE SAME.)

We walked into the store as a confident, bedraggled, group of three, looking like we’d just emerged from living in the wilderness for the past year, and we left a dripping trail of muddy water as we headed directly to the clothes section.  The squeaking from our three collective pairs of water-logged shoes was loud enough that it drowned out the 90’s pop music playing on the Walmart sound system.  I was forced to admit to myself that Walmart may actually have been the only store in the history of the world where we didn’t even stand out despite our disheveled appearances.  An advantage of shopping at Walmart: You can literally show up wearing ANYTHING.  And people do.  All the time.

We immediately split up, Mike heading for the men’s section, and Lia and I heading for the women’s section.  Five minutes of frantic searching later uncovered a terrible discovery.  All of the clothes were SUMMER WEAR!  It’s fifty degrees outside, the air conditioning is blasting inside, we are all soaked to the bone, but it’s JUNE!  And the only thing we can find in the clothing aisles are tank tops and bikinis!!  I was beginning to think I was getting what I deserved for breaking my never-shop-at-Walmart standards when Lia located some hoodies.  They had no hoodies in our size, so Lia and I both had to get a couple sizes up and we both snagged a couple pairs of long workout pants as well.  Lia was slightly more selective in choosing workout pants, which proved to be a good choice later when we put them on and mine were so baggy they basically hung down to my knees and I had to inelegantly bunch the waistband up in front of me with one hand.  Underwear was next, and it was nearly impossible to find that in our size too.  We also found a couple of towels which were surprisingly fluffy given their $2.97 price tag.  (How can a full size bath towel be that cheap?  Isn’t that the price of a Nestle candy bar?  Or a pack of gum?  Or… I don’t know… the tax on a movie theater ticket?  Is this why people shop at Walmart??)

After hurriedly paying for our purchases and getting exactly no weird stares while in line at the checkout (again, it must be remembered that this is Walmart), we all headed for the restrooms to towel off and change into our new luxury clothing.  Fortunately the restroom was almost empty when we entered, and Lia and I took our bag of goodies into one of the big stalls and shut the door.  Stripping out of the wet clothes and drying off with the surprisingly fluffy towels did a lot to revive us.  Getting the hoodies and workout pants on did even more to revive us.  While we were in the midst of changing and talking and giggling through chattering teeth, a couple women came in to use the restroom and I honestly have no idea what they thought we were doing in there.  Especially when we both emerged from the same stall with soaking wet hair wearing clothes 4 sizes too big and then primly washed our hands thoroughly at the sinks as though having bathroom hands was the biggest issue we were facing at the moment.

Back outside we located Mike and drove home.  And for dinner, we out for steaming hot bowls of Vietnamese pho to recover from the experience and warm up from the inside out.  We also had spring rolls, because spring rolls are always amazing.

Mmm… I had planned to get a little more info in this blog post, but I think the hike took front and center.  Maybe that’s as it should be.  It was a hike worthy of remembering.  And for the record, after one time through the wash, the surprisingly fluffy Walmart towels were surprisingly un-fluffy.  They basically had no more fluff and resembled thin cloths.  Who knew that a towel could lose that much fluff and still remain physically in one piece?  That’s almost an art of design in and of itself.

Interestingly, although that was a very unusual day for me, I actually had a deja vu moment related to that hike a couple of weeks later that I’ll detail in the next blog post.  Which will hopefully not take a month to arrive.  🙂

Friends!

Friends who hike together get wet together!

 

And… I must include a picture of Piper because she is loving the sun these days!

Gorgeous sun-cat!

Gorgeous sun-cat!

 

I hope everyone is having a great week!  🙂

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Races, family, and getting back in the blog-posting saddle

Somehow my puzzling has fallen by the way side.  I’m not sure what happened.  I bought two puzzles at the same time around Thanksgiving, and had so much fun putting the first one (a gnome castle) together.  The second one (a view of Venice at night) has just been languishing on the dining room table for over a month.  I dutifully assembled the border and a few small chunks of pieces, and then it’s just sat on the kitchen table.  I’m honestly not sure what happened.  My best guess is that a gnome castle is somehow inherently interesting.  And maybe a picture of Venice isn’t (although the real experience of going to Venice definitely is).  Regardless, I disassembled the little bit of puzzle I’d done so that we have more dining room table real estate back since I don’t seem to be getting puzzling traction.  Mike is trying to be sorry that the puzzling isn’t working out, but it’s hard for him because he’s looking forward to having a full dining room table again.

I ran a really fun 15k race a couple weekends ago.  The route was scenic and went along the waterfront downtown and then north all the way up SR-99 right past Mike’s and my house before turning around and heading back downtown again.  There were 12,000+ people signed up for the race, so it was recommended that you arrive early.  I used to be so conscientious about getting to races early, and now I count it a victory if I arrive just as the start gun is going off.  It took me about fifteen races before I realized that if you get to a race early all that earns you is the right to stand in the cold (and usually wet) morning for an extra forty-five minutes.  Oh, and it also gives you the right (the need, actually) to use the port-a-potties at least twice before the start of the race.  And, really, who wants to use a port-a-potty even once (much less twice)?  So now I try to time my arrival so that I’m barely in the nick of time and I’m completely happy.

When I woke up to an almost sunny morning the day of the race, I was optimistic that I would get out of the whole race dry.  I hopped a bus downtown (picking one that wasn’t on a re-route schedule for the race).  The race started and ended at Seattle Center, which is an area where a lot of Seattle events take place.  There are two main advantages to running races that start at Seattle Center.

  1. They have a huge auditorium (several actually), and they always open up the main one before races.  So if you don’t want to stand around outside freezing to death waiting for your race to start, it’s very advantageous to pick a race like this one that has a giant heated space to do your stretching in prior to the race.  Literally the trickiest part of any race is to arrive early enough to get a parking spot while also being late enough so that you aren’t standing outside forever waiting for the race to start.
  2. Bathrooms!  Lots and lots of them.  It’s somehow in a runner’s psychology to decide fifteen minutes before the start of the race that they should use the restroom one last time.  This causes literally huge and terrible lines at all the port-a-potties stationed at the race start lines.  However, when you have a giant auditorium you have (you guessed it!) INDOOR bathrooms.  And a lot of them!

I arrived plenty early, so I hung out inside stretching.  All was well until about ten minutes before race time when people started crowding to the windows and I saw that it had started pouring rain.  I really hadn’t dressed specifically for rain.  I had a running coat on, but it wasn’t waterproof, and I didn’t have a hat.  I did have a wide headband that I figured would help a little though.  I watched as some of the more prepared people around me started pulling out disposable glorified garbage bags to slip over their heads like ponchos to keep the rain off.  I watched as some of the less prepared people wearing shorts and tank tops shifted from one foot to the other.  We all headed out en masse towards the start line and fortunately the rain already seemed to be lessening.  We headed off down hill towards the waterfront.  That was nice from a scenic perspective, but I’m always suspicious of races that start off with a mile of down hill running.  What goes down must come up (at least where running races are concerned), and I knew I’d be seeing those same hills later in the race but I’d be headed up instead of down.  We ran down along the water front for a mile or two and then turned and headed back up towards Seattle Center.  The rain had cleared and the sun was actually out.  I was getting overly warm and contemplated tying my coat around my waist but ultimately decided against it since I didn’t feel like stopping.  We ran past Seattle Center and headed north on Aurora all the way up past Mike’s and my house and almost to the zoo.  When we got close to the turnaround point to start heading back south to Seattle it started to rain again all of a sudden.  When we turned south, I realized that there was a strong south wind that I hadn’t noticed before because it had been at my back but now it was in my face in full force.  At least it was mostly downhill headed back to Seattle!  After about half a mile of running south, the skies opened up and it started pouring rain.  I tried to check the time on my running watch, but it was raining so hard that I couldn’t wipe the water off of my watch fast enough to see the time (while running anyway).  At that point I was committed.  I was already soaked so I had nothing left to worry about.  I tore back down Aurora, looking forward to seeing Seattle Center, a finish line, and a warm building (not necessarily in that order).  The rain finally let off a few miles later, and I ran the final couple of miles in only a sprinkling, misty rain.  Since I was already soaked, though, it almost didn’t matter whether it kept raining hard or not.  At some point your clothes physically aren’t going to absorb any more water.  When I finally hit the place where we turned west to go to Seattle Center I tried to kick up my pace a notch and was surprised that my body didn’t want to go any faster.  Maybe I had been running faster than I’d realized given that I didn’t have anything extra left to give at the end?  I managed to keep up my pace through the last quarter mile, but I definitely wasn’t able to speed up at all.  The finish line (with the big warm auditorium behind it) was a welcome sight, and I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:18:12 and an average pace of 8:24 min/mile.  Definitely better than I was expecting, especially given the weather and the hills.  Or maybe the weather actually helped, because I was motivated to get the race finished.  😉

The same weekend of the race, Mike did a lot of landscaping work.  He pulled weeds in the front and along the side of our townhome and then laid down “beauty bark” which is apparently something that helps prevent weeds from growing in the future, although I’m a little unclear how that works.  I did lots of cooking while he did that.  I have been getting bored of cooking variations on the same things, so I made up some different dishes this week.

I started with smoky chicken with crispy chickpeas, and then made an eggplant coconut curry and a maple chicken with roasted squash.  Everything turned out surprisingly good.  I am loving Clean Eating magazine and am now getting my recipes almost exclusively from there.

Despite all my cooking, Mike and I felt like going out to dinner one night a couple weeks ago, so we went to a Taco Bar that was only a few blocks from our house but somehow we had never been there.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  I have literally never had tacos that good in my entire life.  I had the black bean sweet potato tacos and they were phenomenal.  They took tacos to an entirely new level.  I was already contemplating how soon we could return as we left.  Afterwards we went to a whiskey bar conveniently located only a block from the taco bar.  I enjoyed some scotch while Mike opted for Old Fashioned’s.  It was all entirely too good.  And it being only a four minute walk from our house?  Amazing!  How are we somehow blessed enough to live close enough to all of this stuff??  Then we came back to our house and started watching an episode of Suits, a law show that we’ve been watching off-and-on, but we were too tired to finish it.

I have been in a ‘second cat’ mood these days, so much so that I got Mike to go with me to the Seattle Humane Society last weekend to look at cats.  However, I had already poured over all the available cats on their website prior to going, so I already had one specific one that I wanted to see.  Unfortunately he wasn’t actually at the Humane Society… he was at a Petsmart in Issaquah to get more exposure.  Darn.  Again, Mike tried to be appropriately sad for me even though he doesn’t want to get another cat.  He even offered to go to the Petsmart with me to see the cat, but I declined.  Issaqah is a ways away and it was a pretty rainy day.  And I didn’t feel like I was actually going to get a cat that day so it would have been a rather futile effort.

My music choices have been beyond bizarre lately.  I’ve been alternating between old Celtic folk music, 90’s rock/alternative, modern rap, and he new Chris Cornell album (because I think Chris Cornell basically deserves his own genre).

This past week, Mike’s parents were here visiting from Michigan!  What a treat!  We got to hang out with them and with Mike’s sister Catherine and her two daughters over the weekend.  It was a whirlwind weekend that started with a ferry ride to Whidbey Island followed by a little shopping and a long drive to Deception Pass.  We were attempting to get there before dark and didn’t really manage that.  However, it was surprisingly gorgeous at night, especially with the full moon overhead illuminating the gorge and water below the bridge.  So that actually worked out well.  We ended up getting back down to Everett late, and Mike and I went out to dinner with his parents at an Irish pub close to their hotel (really about the only place we could find that was still open at 11pm).  The food there was good, though, so it turned out to be a good choice!  The next day we went on an abbreviated trip to the zoo.  I say ‘abbreviated’ because we didn’t really get to the zoo very early, so we skipped parts of the zoo and just focused on the animals that the kids especially wanted to see.  It was a nice day for walking around the zoo regardless, though, and we enjoyed it!  The following day was filled with some shopping and some wine tasting in Woodinville.  We went on a short tour of Chateau St. Michelle and I was impressed with the lineage of their wines and interested to hear about how they create their wines.  It was fun to hang out with everyone for a few days!  Going back to work after such a full weekend to a day packed with back-to-back meetings definitely felt like a change!  But at least the day flew by!

It’s already almost April…. I literally have no idea how that happened!  My goal for April is to post more blog entries.  I’ve really been letting that go lately because it literally feels like I am always 100% busy.  However, it’s important to keep the blog posts coming… I sometimes think  that writing is about the only ‘creative’ outlet I have these days, so it’s definitely important to keep it up!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!  And my mom reminded me that Easter Sunday is this weekend.  So Happy Early Easter to everyone!  (How is it already Easter?  It must be here early this year!)

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