It’s been pretty sparse around here, I agree. I spent last week working in Milwaukee, and just felt really stale, like I’m going in circles and writing the same things each month. I did learn a couple of things on the trip:
- from a guy who worked for a company that made joint replacements sitting next to me on a plane, I learned that artificial cartilage, like the stuff they injected into Randy Johnson’s knee a couple of years ago, is made using rooster combs
- from the same guy, that you really have to be careful that the patient getting that injection doesn’t have any bird allergies. Apparently, people don’t always have this information at their fingertips, and it becomes an emergent problem when you opt to be partially constructed of one of the little buggers
- prosthetic hips and knees are evolving from mostly titanium construction to metal alloys that simulate ceramics, because titanium is becoming relatively scarce. Reducing the incidence of rust, and that green stuff that forms on copper, I guess. They’re also trying to remove less bone when they install a hip or knee. So that when you need the second one, there’s enough bone left there to swap the old one out.
I walked gingerly off that plane, feeling a tingling in my hips and a weakness in my knees, and not at all the same sensation as when a 10-level hottie walks by - my fervent desire at that point was merely to treat my joints better.
OK, back home, the weekend was a bit gloomy and a lot chilly, and we hung close to home. We did get out Saturday night with some friends to the Baltic Room, where KEXP DJ Derek Mazzone was spinning a mix of his eclectic world music. We look forward to his world pop music show on Tuesday nights (6 - 9 Pacific - catch it from KEXP in a streaming broadcast). It got ugly later - we danced.
The weather turned break-your-heart fall sunny on Monday, and I decided that, before anyone could figure out that I was back in town, we should head for the mountains for one last fling with summer. It ain’t over ’til I say it’s over. Our son was available to accompany us, and we did the Granite Mountain hike in the Cascades east of Seattle. It’s 4 miles one way, with 3800 feet of elevation gain on the way.
The hike starts in forest cover for a mile and a half, then breaks out into steep meadow and slide chutes. The ground cover is mostly scrub maple and blueberry, which at this time of year is turning bright reds and purples. The photo on the right below looks down on I-90, whose drone provided the auditory backdrop, with an arrow to our parking lot. There was a lot of climbing!
Click any picture to enlarge
Blueberries were ripe, and beginning to turn into delectable blueberry raisins. If you look closely at this photo, you can see some blonde wildlife burrowing gleefully into the foliage:
From our lunch stop, we could see the fire lookout that was our goal (lower right). God, I needed that lunch stop. I have to admit that the trail was really kicking my ass, perhaps the “lake effect” of relative inactivity in Milwaukee. I run or walk every evening there, but I don’t get my Nautilus workouts. As hard as I was working, our kid was just blistering up the trail, and many times I was disheartened to catch a glimpse of him a quarter-mile or more ahead.
And I could tell he was doing to us what I used to do to him and his mom when he was young and prone to foot-drag when he didn’t want to be on a walk or hike: I’d be trying to keep a pace, and they’d fall back, but I knew that if I slowed down, they’d slow down even more, so I’d keep pushing. And now the bugger’s doing it to me.
Once we got to the lookout, we were rewarded with a panoramic view - south to Mount Rainier, its late-summer glaciers glistening in the lowering sun, north to Glacier Peak (you can see it in the middle photo, in a notch between two peaks in the foreground), and east toward Snoqualmie Pass.
I might be travelling in circles, but they’re nice circles to be travelling in.