Friday, October 31, 2014

Another Halloween win for Ashley

The nice part about having a sister who's an evil genius for costumes?  She's there for you when you when you need to win at Halloween.  

At first I was excited when my friend Dana invited me to her annual "Epic Halloween Party".  For the first time in, like, forever I thought I would finally be able to dress up for Halloween instead of working late and going to bed early.  Only then I panicked -- what do I wear!  Everyone at this party is going to be smart and witty and artsy, and they'll all have the best costumes ever!

Then I called Ashley.  "Ashley," I said, "I need all your best costume ideas.  It needs to be awesome and witty and easy to put together and is it too much to ask that it also make me look hot?"  And in response, the woman who gave us The Mummy, the iPod person, Flo, and Cruella DeVille, called back with no fewer than 20 fantastic ideas and careful instructions for each.

My two favorites were at the top of her list:
Get a rubber chicken, an electrical cord and a blue shirt.  Tie it all together and, voila, "Chicken Cordon Bleu"!
Put on a stereotypically French outfit -- nautical stripes, beret, scarf -- and then paint your face like Gene Simmons.  You're a "French Kiss"!
I picked the Chicken Cordon Bleu costume because it was the easiest to pull together.  But I regretted passing on the French Kiss -- it's such a great idea -- until my friend Brad told me he didn't have a costume and would be going to the party in plainclothes.  I peer pressured him into trying the French Kiss costume ("Please, you'll be the most popular person at the party." "But I don't want to be popular." "That's ridiculous, of course you do.")  I lent him my nautical stripes and he found the rest.

"French Kiss" and "Chicken Cordon Bleu"

We were both a huge hit at the party.  Everyone loved the costumes, and it was a great way to talk to people -- either they would start cracking up from across the room as they figured out the pun, or they'd come up and ask, and I'd walk them through the elements:  Chicken. Cord. On blue.

Ashley, start brainstorming for next year!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Hike: Autumn color in the Enchantment Lakes

The last time I went on an overnight backpacking trip was, gosh, probably sometime during the year or so after I got my Eagle Scout award.  So, early high school, roughly 20 years ago.  Since then I've hiked, and I've camped, but both together?  Not until this last weekend.

On Wednesday my friend Colin asked if I wanted to go backpacking with him and his friend Corinne in the Enchantment Lakes over the weekend.  The Enchantments, he said, were among the most spectacular nature destinations in the state of Washington, well worth the trip at any time during the year, but especially now.  The high glacier lakes are surrounded by groves of larches that turn bright gold in autumn and transform the place into a magical wonderland.

Although my non-spontaneous self would have preferred more than two days' notice, I decided to give it a go.  I mean, what's the point of living here if I'm not willing to run off with only four hours of sleep into the rainy Cascade mountains to climb sheer rock faces and camp in the cold?  Between generous friends and a trip to the rental counter at REI, I managed to cobble together enough gear lined up to avoid dying of exposure on the mountainside.  And when 5:30am rolled around on Saturday morning, I was ready to go.

We took two cars so that we could do a "through" hike, meaning that we could hike the full 18-mile trail that ran from one side of the mountains up over Aasgard Pass, through the Enchantments, and down through the Snow Lakes to a different trailhead.  No need to retrace our steps with a simple out-and-back itinerary.

I wouldn't say this was an easy hike.  Aasgard Pass was insanely steep, and 18 miles of hiking -- steep or not -- is going to leave your feet and back and knees feeling a little worse for wear, especially if you're using a borrowed pack that doesn't fit so well.  And the weather wasn't exactly cooperative, either.  Saturday was cold and rainy, with a persistently blustering wind that burrowed right into sweaty clothes every time we stopped.  It took us quite a while to find a decent campsite amidst the snow and the rocks and muddy lakeside marshes.

But oh! -- the scenery!  Breathtakingly beautiful and otherworldly.  The sort of thing in the nature that makes fairy tales and fantasy seem plausible.  I'll let the photos do the rest of the talking:


The few from the top of Aasgard Pass
The snowy, rocky terrain atop the pass was not encouraging.

But soon we started seeing hints of the golden larches.

The sun broke for a fleeting moment and lit the trees most gloriously.

Most of the trees were slightly past their prime,
but there were a few standouts left.

After much searching, we found a suitable campsite next to Leprechaun Lake.
We pitched the tents, ate a quick and chilly dinner, and went to bed with the sun.

Morning dawned brighter than the day before, but still blustery.
Colin and Corinne seemed to think that photos were unnecessary.
While my companions slept late, I wandered around the lake, soaking in the peaceful beauty.



Leaving the Enchantments basin, descending towards the Snow Lakes
on our long hike back to civilization.
Mountain goat!

Cascading waterfalls were everywhere. We were never out of earshot of roaring water.
Maybe that's why they're called the Cascade Mountains.

This was a pretty neat shot.  The mist you see is a thick cloud bank that sat on the edge of the
lake and most of the way down the mountain.  The last five miles or so was a misty,
mysterious world.

The trail ended in an oddly deforested section, with scars of an old forest fire brutally visible.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The House: Moving Day!

Finally, at long last, and FOR PETE'S SAKE, I moved into my new place today!  I technically have another month before I need to be out of my old place, and I had hoped to paint and redo some light fixtures (and maybe trim some more moss?) before moving in, but apparently Lesson No. 1 in the New Homeowner's Manual is called "Resign Yourself to Everything Taking 87 Times Longer than You Think It Should and Just Move In Already."

The move couldn't have gone more smoothly.  I had everything packed and ready to go (most of it having never been unpacked from the initial move from DC), and the movers were prompt and quick.   Seattle demographics being what they are, there was no rapping this time; instead, I was entertained to overhear the three three twenty-something white guys wondering aloud how one of their mutual friends could not want to be a P.E. teacher.  They surveyed the pros ("everyone wants to be a P.E. teacher") and cons ("the higher ups" "you mean principals?" "yeah, they're total hardasses") and still came out in favor.  Part of me envied what seemed to be a simpler world than the one I inhabit.

The movers left around 1pm, and I spent the rest of the day unpacking and organizing, with a brief interruption when the Comcast tech came to set up the Internet (seamless Internet transition -- way to go Comcast!).  He was a character, too.  Mighty grumbly about Comcast as an employer (he's quitting soon to become an apprentice crane operator) but also super competent and even volunteered to recode the visit as a different type of service so that I wouldn't be charged for it.  

After he left, I spent several hours in organization heaven (a.k.a. The Container Store) working on custom plans for my master closet -- and although I'm so excited about it I thought seriously about pulling an all-nighter to get it installed, I decided to go to bed anyway.  

So no closets and moving pictures tonight.  Just this one:


Because even though the house is a mess and full of boxes and packing tape, that's no excuse not to have fresh flowers.