Table Mountain

Table Mountain is in the North Cascades in the Mt. Baker area. The photo above is taken after we’d been hiking for awhile. We ended up on top of that flat-topped peak on the left. These photos are from August 13, 2016. I’m not sure how long it should take to drive up to the parking areas, but it took us about 14 or 60 hours to the lowest parking lot because of all the bike riders on the road up who apparently forgot about the “share” part of “share the road.”

This is a hike that almost anyone can do, as long as one can walk uphill, and then downhill, for hours, because it’s not technical. And, you’ve properly accomplished something when you get to the top. It’s steep in places, but people were on the trail in Tevas and tennis shoes. One woman proved it could be done in a flowy skirt and barefoot shoes. When I stepped aside so she could pass me, she said, “No worries, no hurry. Do any of us really have anyplace better to be?” She was right.

Near the top an older man – who surely would be welcome outside the fence, next to the cooler with Hank Hill and his pals – was coming down and lost his footing briefly.  Another older guy on his way up, clearly a veteran climber (no mere hiker) said, “Would you like to know a trick to coming down?” The guy now sitting down after having just arrested his slide, rocks raining down on people lower on the trail, said, “Not be from Texas and never have done this before?” When I admired his shirt with a picture of Reagan and the caption that said, “I smell hippies,” he said, “Ain’t it fun?” in that Texas way where each word sounds two or three words long. People are awesome.

In the interest of capturing this hike, I voluntarily stayed behind the rest of our party of four so that I could take pictures of them up ahead. One of whom, when asked if he could ride the billion miles up the steep, windy mountain road with the rest of the bike riders said, simply, “Yeah.” If that were true of me, it would be tattooed on my forehead. Documenting the hike: that’s the only reason I stayed in the back and begged them to not wait for me.

Backing up the lawnmower trailer has paid off for the boy

Many years ago I was talking to my mother-in-law on the phone when I looked outside and said, “I gotta go! My birthday present is here!” “Oooh, exciting! Call me back!”

When I was done instructing the driver where to deposit my birthday present, I called her back.

“Tell me! What did you get?”

“A dump truck load of gravel!”

“You did not ask for gravel for your birthday.”

“More than once.”

She was accustomed to receiving a different class of rock as gifts, albeit not by the dump truck load.

It feels like my birthday because we just got lots of gravel. Very nearly 30 tons, which is three times more than that long-ago birthday present. According to the quarry, there is approximately 1.3 tons per yard, a figure I find hard to fathom. I’m pretty sure I’ve spread at least one yard of gravel back in the day, which means I’ve moved at least 2,600 pounds of rock with a shovel and a rake. My trophy must have gotten lost in the mail.

I did not move one ounce of this load. Not until I get my trophy.

It occurred to me that I know someone with access to a big truck, and the quarry where they make gravel, where all the local gravel-sellers buy it and then sell it for more than double what we ended up paying for it (which does not include truck time), is close by. I could not be more excited.

C1 backing into our driveway. Only he, Captain OCD, and I believed he could do it. That’s why the relatives showed up to watch. He did it.

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The ferry traffic will just have to wait.

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Nana is doing a good job of making sure he stays off the lawn.

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So far, so good.

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The next tricky part: he has to essentially jack-knife the truck, in not-much room, in order to dump the load.

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Jack-knife achieved. Captain OCD’s sister/our next-door neighbor. Lens hood in the way.

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Now, we dump.

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Is that all there is?

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Yep. Still gravel.

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It’s not going to spread itself, ladies.

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I don’t think those LED lights are stock. It wouldn’t be the first work truck that he doesn’t own that he’s outfitted with after-market parts.

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Nana riding shotgun. C1 has been driving things like this for quite a while, but it’s only just occurred to me that he gets paid to do what his younger self could hardly have dreamed of. Before he could talk, before he knew what his dad did for a living, he was fascinated by big trucks and machines. He first controlled a Bobcat when he was three, sitting on Captain OCD’s lap. At five, he dug part of a pond (to the left of the wire fence), with an excavator, while sitting on no one’s lap. We ran outside when we heard the excavator start, because, uh oh, where’s C1? But we won’t tell CPS that.

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Watching Captain OCD operate machines is like watching a ballet. You wouldn’t think he and diesel-powered heavy metal would be graceful, but you would be wrong.

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That pile didn’t look like enough. Now we know: 30 tons of 3/4 washed is enough.

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How to pit cherries

Thoughtful friends or neighbors offer you lovely cherries fresh from their tree. Who doesn’t love cherry pie? Warm cherry crisp? Fresh cherries have to be better than the bright red viscous ooze you buy in a can, right?

Unless you have or intend to immediately buy a cherry pitter, tell your considerate neighbors no, thanks, but I have more pressing matters to attend to, such as unspooling and measuring the toilet paper to be sure I got all 318.7 square feet Costco promised me. Then buy some cherries already pitted.

Next best method, buy a damn cherry pitter.* It’s the only way. Chopstick? Liars. Smash under a knife and remove the pit from the glop stuck to your cutting board? Might as well chew it up and spit what’s left of the cherry into one bowl and the pit in another. Use a straw to push the pit out? Maybe, if your straw is made of titanium. Use a nut/lobster/crab/dental pick? Only if you have unlimited time to produce cherry mush. Cut around the pit, then twist the two halves away from the pit? Sure, if the pie you’re making requires no more than five cherries and you don’t mind wearing more cherry than you eat. All of these ideas? Lies, lies, and more lies.

*This is the only cherry pitter I’ve ever used, so I don’t know if there is a better one. It worked great, and I’ll need it only once every five years or so, which means my search for a cherry pitter is over.

I found all the bees

Styrax 02-5579 Styrax-5561

So many bees in this styrax tree that it sounds like there’s a NASCAR track nearby. The bees get so overloaded that they fall to the ground, unable to fly away.

There are easier ways for the government to poison us

Contrail low tide-5678

In an effort to sleep better at night I’ve decided to believe that chemtrails exist and therefore explain everyone who believes in Donald Trump.

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