Thursday, February 9, 2012

Playing Hooky, Part 2

After proudly submitting the first three proposals of my grad school career, I may have taken a 4 (and a half) day weekend.  Thursday afternoon I hopped a train, a la the 1930's, and headed north to Seattle.

I got to spend a night at my favorite bar with my favorite geologists.  This is one of the many things I miss about Seattle.  Maybe it was just the whiskey, but I think I grinned like an idiot all night.  Somewhere in the blur of pool and relations with random shrubbery I acquired an almost black eye, the origins of which remain unknown.

Zina is a super talented ceramics artist and, lucky for me, one of my closest friends.  She is doing a study on body forms and on Friday I generously volunteered to let her plaster cast my bare torso.  It was fun in that smearing-goopy-stuff-all-over-yourself-then-sitting-like-a-statue-for-an-hour sort of way.  I would post a picture, but I'm not ready to share my nipples with the interwebs, even if they are plaster-clad.  Instead, here is a picture of lovely Zina and Millie.

Love you, Z!

The whole weekend was clear and bright, the best weather I could have asked for.  On Saturday Bert, Max, Nathan and I headed to Rainier for some skiing.  We were planning on skiing up to Muir, but the conditions were such that it would not have been worth the walk.  Instead, we toured up to Panorama point amongst a swarm of wobbly snowshoers, it reminded Nathan of pictures from the Alaska gold rush.

 Nice man sweater, Max.

She's a beauty.

Alaska gold rush?  Oregon Trail?  Sunny Saturday on Rainier?

The steeper pitch up to Panorama point was chunky and icy, which made for interesting kick turns.  We topped out past the backcountry snowboarder on snowshoes who was crawling up the slope on his hands and knees.  

Chalk one up for Bert!

The wind was strong and painful once it collected a few shards of ice so we ripped skins and dropped down behind the ridge for a few stiff turns in the crusty snow.  After hopping around a few rollovers, we found a nice place for lunch.


Tatoosh with Adams and Hood 

 Lunch Spot

Eating cheese like a boss.

After lunch we continued down farther, and Max scoped out this nice hole for us . . .

 This started as a spread eagle face plant.

That is a decent sized hole.

And Nathan found some powder to whisper sweet nothings to . . .

Continuing on to Birthday Bowl, we took a lap on a powdery shaded hill and then made our way back towards Paradise.  The day earned me my first sunglass tan of the year!

It was a mellow night consisting of delicious beer from Big Time Brewery, and a few games of Backgammon (won by me).  It's hard to remember the last time I was so content.  Not that I have been unhappy, I am often happy.  There is just something different about contentment.  The feeling that I can't find one thing wrong with the day.  That at any moment I was surrounded by friends that I am blessed to have.  That my body is tired from a good adventure and I can top the day off with a silly board game, competitively played.

Sunday was more of the same.  Skiing at Skyline Ridge with the addition of Dylan, in his snowshoes, being a trooper.  We skinned up in the sun and dropped down the north side of the ridge.  The snow was nice and fluffy and the turns were good (or in my case, falls).  

 Artsy?  Or an attempt at salvaging an out of focus shot?



Dylan's first backcountry ski!

And since I have photos of everyone else on their feet . . .

When using the tree to help with a kickturn seems like a good idea . . .

It was another full day capped with an absolutely epic northwest sunset.  I had a drink with Danielle, the lovely girl who let me sleep at her place, and eat all her food.

I had to leave Seattle the next day and it was almost as hard as the first time.  This visit made me acknowledge how much I miss and value my Seattle friends.  For all the days I spent there, I didn't get to see everyone.  Lina, Amber, Katy, Jake and others, you are first on my list next time!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Playing Hooky, Part 1

I have come to realize that leaving Seattle is one of the hardest things I have ever done.  I was sad when I left.  I even shed a tear as I watched the city grow smaller in the rearview mirror (though it was still closer than it appeared), but I didn't know just how hard it was until I went back.

I spent the last 4 days in Seattle.  I will save what I did there for another post, but the point is: I miss it like crazy.  In the time I lived there, I assembled a robust group of friends from so many overlapping circles and communities that I could map them out into a virtual venn diagram.  Now they are 300 miles away.  I will say it: Seattle, I took you for granted.

Now I find myself in a funk a lot.  The winter never got to me in the SEA, but here I have to fight off the darkness tooth and nail.  I have to remind myself that I am in charge of my own happiness.  On a regular basis, this means afternoon yoga in my living room.

Sometimes, this means playing hooky on a sunny day.


On one gorgeous Friday I spent the morning working from home.  Peter was in town, so in the afternoon we took off to hike up Spencer's Butte.  At the top we found a sunny nook to sit and drink tea in.  It was unseasonably warm and the grass was dry.  I remind myself that I couldn't do this in Seattle.

The Sisters

Last Tuesday I submitted a batch of proposals to fund my Masters research, Wednesday I headed for the mountains.  Lauren, Peter and I drove up to the Patterson Mountain Trailhead off Highway 58 for a little day hike.  As we neared the trailhead, we encountered something we hadn't thought of: snow.  While I was completely underdressed for the conditions, I did have a sled in the trunk.  I dragged it up the road so I could sled back to the car rather than walk in ankle deep snow.  The trail ran through enough overgrowth that the forest floor only had a dusting in most places, but the veneer of snow transformed the scene into something much more attractive than your run-of-the-mill northwest forest.

I careened back down to the car, shrieking every time I plowed into the trees.  This is not a bad way to spend a Wednesday.  

Then sometimes, you just have to run away for a long weekend . . . 

To be continued . . .