Friday Harbor Lunch Flight, August 2017

Our friend Catherine Howe is currently living in the flat state of Texas and she decided to come back to her previous living area of beautiful Seattle area to visit friends over a long weekend. She stayed with Linna and I in our recently new address of Fall City after living in Seattle proper for 21 years.

She asked if she could fly us from the Renton Airport to Friday Harbor for lunch in her Cessna 172 Skyhawk. The Cessna 172 is the most produced plane in the world with over 43,000 assembled and is still in production today. Her plane is hangered at the Renton Municipal Airport about 12 miles southeast of downtown Seattle near the south end of Lake Washington. The Renton airport is where all new Boeing 737’s take off for the very first time after assembly, the Boeing plant is right next to the runaway.

It was a perfect day for flying, it was sunny and warm with a light breeze. We flew off towards the North and headed in the general direction of our house, in ten minutes we were circling our Fall City compound of 4.5 acres. After a few photos, Catherine put the heading towards Friday Harbor.

Friday Harbor is part of the San Juan Islands and is the only island that is incorporated. There are over 400 islands that are part of the San Juan chain. Friday Harbor is a small town of 2,500 people and mainly caters to tourist people like us. Catherine smoothly landed the plane at the small Friday airport and taxied to a visitor parking lot for small planes. After securing the plane to the ground, we walked just 10 minutes to the quaint little town of restaurants and boutique shops.

We found a perfect spot for lunch over-looking the ferry boats coming in and the many tourists walking by. After lunch we departed and headed straight for the Renton airport…what a fabulous day.

Bandera Mountain Sunrise Hike, June 2017

Bandera Mountain
Date: June 30, 2017
Difficulty: 7 out of 10
Distance: 8 miles / 12.88 kilometers round-trip
Elevation Gain: 3,400 feet / 1,036 meters
Time: 5 to 6 hours
Location: Exit 45, I-90
Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only
Permits: Discovery Pass Required
Trail Conditions: Dry to the top
Hiking With: Linna Freeman, Matt Kerby & Macho the Dog Wonder

My wife Linna made a lifetime goal of 100 sunrise hikes…after today we will only need 98 more! We met up with Matt Kerby at the local Home Depot at 2:00 a.m. and loaded everything into his new SUV. We started at the trail-head at 2:45 a.m. and reached the summit in 2 hours…which means we had actually had to wait for the sunrise for 30 minutes.

It was perfect weather through-out the morning, but the mosquitoes were so nasty it affected your movements. I put on my jacket so only my face was shown, I came down the mountain with only one bite. Matt ended up with a couple of welts on both sides of his forehead.

It’s a good feeling when you are descending down the mountain heading back to the car and it’s only seven in the morning and seeing people heading up wondering…what the hell.

Granite Mountain Sunrise Hike, May 2017

Granite Mountain
Date: May 27, 2017
Difficulty: 7 out of 10
Distance: 8.6 miles / 13.8 Kilometers round-trip
Elevation Gain: 3,800 feet / 1,158 meters
Time: 5 to 6 hours
Location: Exit 47, I-90
Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only
Permits: Northwest Forest Pass Required
Trail Conditions: Dry to Snow Packed
Hiking With: Mike Curry, Linna Freeman, Matt Kerby, Craig Schilling, Tao Song & Macho

Seven of us decided that getting up at 1:00 a.m. to summit Granite Mountain to see the sunrise would be worth it…and we were right. Our group consisted of Mike Curry, Matt Kerby, Craig Schilling, Tao Song and my wife Linna Freeman. This will be the first sunrise hike for most of us and probably the earliest start for a hike too.

I am not sure how we decided on Granite Mountain for a sunrise hike, but we all knew they would be a lot of snow on top left over from a very wet/snowy winter. After reading the WTA trip reports, the avalanche conditions were minimal and post holing wasn’t an issue. We had to be a bit more cautious on the snow when it started to open up on top, there were numerous foot trails going in different directions, but I have been up Granite so many times I had a good feel for our direction to the summit.

Matt Kerby reached the summit in time to snap some beautiful sunrise pictures, some of the photos posted will be his art. There were many groups coming up as we were descending and by the time we got back to the parking lot it was nearly full.
Craig and Tao invited us back to their house for breakfast. Of course when we got back home Linna and I took a long nap.

Mt. Baker Trip, March 2017

Six of us spent a 3 day weekend in Glacier, Washington enjoying the Mt. Baker area and the vast open country for snowshoeing.

Hex Mountain Snowshoe, January 2017

A group of us thought we could find the top of Hex mountain….but we were a few peaks off.

Gothic Basin Backpack, August 2016

Gothic Basin
Date: August 6, 2016
Difficulty: 8 out of 10
Distance: 9 miles / 14.5 Kilometers roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2,840 feet / 866 meters
Time: 5 to 6 hours
Location: Mountain Loop Highway
Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only
Permits: Discovery Pass Required
Trail Conditions: Dry
Hiking With: Linna Freeman, Rick Freeman, Jim Darmiento, AJ Soule and Macho

This was the first backpacking trip for Linna and I together and it turned out to be a beautiful weekend. Our friends AJ Soule and Jim Darmiento joined us for this mid-summer overnight trip up to the amazing Gothic Basin. I hiked Gothic Basin a couple of years ago and envy came over me when I saw people camping, so I had to come back with a tent this time.

We left our house in Seattle at 6:00 a.m. on Friday to assure a spot in the tiny parking lot at Barlow Pass…we also wanted to make sure we had first come to campsites. The first mile is a nice warm-up especially with a loaded backpack, it’s pretty much a flat gravel road that follows the Sauk River. After you pass the Weeden Creek sign you start to gain elevation. The trail becomes steep in areas with many boulders to cross…not a fan of scrambling with something heavy on my back! This is a tough hike but it’s all worth it when you have huge beautiful views around you.

Once we hit Gothic Basin we decided to hike up Foggy Lake which was another ½ mile and 500 feet gain pass Gothic Lake. We asked a few backpackers who were on their way down about camping spots and they recommended a secret sweet spot. This was another 15 minute trek on rock at the end of Foggy Lake but well worth it, because it was a magical place for three tents.

We were exhausted by the time we unloaded the backpacks and secured the tents in our new enchanted kingdom. I jumped in the cold water with my clothes on so I could rinse the sweat and dirt off my body and clothes. We heated up water to cook up our Mountain House bag meal, Linna and I shared spaghetti and meat-sauce. It was delicious…probably because it was loaded with salt and we were really hungry.

The next day we had rice/chicken from Mountain House for breakfast and I must have been hungry again because it was delicious. After a hearty breakfast we started to descend through the hordes of hikers coming up on this Saturday morning. When we got back to our car in the early afternoon there were cars parked everywhere along the roadside…must have been over 50 cars.

Winthrop Ski Trip, February 2014

We make a trip to Winthrop, Washington at least once a year for cross-country skiing. We took off from Seattle on Thursday making a four day holiday. Our group consisted of Rick Massie, Jim Darmiento and his wife Ione and my wife Linna Wei. About half way to Winthrop, we stopped for lunch at the Milepost 111 Brewing Company www.milepost111brewingcompany.com in Cashmere, Washington for a sandwich and beer.

We have been staying at the Cottonwood Cottage www.cottonwood-cottage.com for the last four visits. This three bedroom cabin is located on the outskirts of Winthrop right on the Methow River and walking distance from Methow Valley Trail System. The Methow Valley www.mvsta.com is considered to have more cross country ski trails than any other place in United States.

After settling into the Cottonwood Cottage we were off to our favorite pub house in Winthrop….the Old School Brewery www.oldschoolhousebrewery.com This small place has been around for years and if you don’t get there early on weekends, you will find yourself standing. They have live music on Friday and Saturday and usually a different band each night.

This year the state of Washington didn’t receive much snow including the Methow Valley which limited where we skied. We actually had to drive to higher elevation to find quality skiing.

Winthrop Ski Trip, January 2012

Jim Darmiento, Rick Massie, my wife and I planned a trip to Winthrop, Washington for some cross-country skiing. Much of Washington didn’t have the normal snow fall for this time of year and our ski trip wasn’t looking good. This all changed a couple days before our departure from Seattle, we received a major snowstorm that hit the whole state. Luckily Jim drove his F-250 4-wheel drive truck over with 500 pounds of sandbags in back. After two mountain passes and numerous white-outs we made it to our cabin after 4 hours of driving.

Since our cabin was just across the river from Winthrop, we had dinner in the small village our first night at the Old School House Brewery www.oldschoolhousebrewery.com. This place is a local favorite and also attracts all the tourist too. The second night was Chinese hotpot that Linna Wei put together, after our first day of skiing nearly ten miles, spicy hotpot was the answer. Before we went out the second day, Linna and I cooked up some fluffy pancakes and thick bacon. We headed right out after breakfast and skied nine miles. After another great day out in the winter wonderland, Linna and I headed back to the cabin for a nap and other activities. For dinner, we headed back into Wintrop and hit the Old School House Brewery again, this time there were two guys playing music, Tim Snider and Redwood Son www.bit.ly/z2E4TP. I didn’t record this video, but found it on You Tube and it was the night we were there…I remember the lady dancing in front of us.

Sunday, was pack up and head back to Seattle. Since it was still snowing and the passes would be nasty, we decided to drive one pass via Stevens Pass versus Blewett and Snoqualmie. It was slow going over Stevens, but as we descended….snow become rain and then we just had wet roads home. After unpacking and taking a quick shower, Linna and I ended our evening at the Paramount Theater seeing David Garrett www.david-garrett.com.

Seattle, Live Painting, August 2011

My wife Linna and I had the distinct pleasure of hosting a live painting in our back garden area by artist Sayoko Hirano from Kyoto, Japan. She was visiting Seattle and New York with other artists, Bosshiko, Gan-Ghan and Chiaki. I met Sayoko through an Japanese Art Auction on Facebook.

My friend Allan Leal was posting the artist website on his Facebook page and I thought it was the least I could do was to purchase a piece of art; all the donations were for the Japanese disaster relief campaign that generated from the tsunami devastation. The piece of art I bought “lovers” is placed above our Buddha in the landing with a beautiful frame around it. I befriended Sayoko on Facebook and found out that she was going to be in Seattle for a few days before she went on to New York for her own art exhibit. So I asked if her group would be up for a barbeque and fire-pit party at my house, her reply was “yes, could we do live a painting?”, and of course I am like “oh hell yes!”

Linna and I invited twenty-five guests over to enjoy the festivities in our backyard garden, we had it catered by Duos Catering www.duoscatering.com, which I highly recommend. Even though we started the fun around 6:00 p.m., the live art didn’t happen until 9:00 p.m. which actually gave the event more drama with the spot light on the live 30 minute drawing.

After the drawing, Gan-Ghan provided a story telling event with prizes; he spoke in Japanese…but with his facial and body expressions you could still follow the story. Chiaki performed a 5 minute dance that incorporated hip-hop and martial arts. This was a perfect evening and to top it off, Sayoko Hirano gave me her live painting!

Winthrop Ski Trip, January 2006

It has been a long time since I have been to Wintrop cross country skiing.

Winthrop Ski Trip, February 2009

Winthrop Ski Trip, January 2007