A Trip To Mt BakerΒ 

We live in a beautiful place, there is no doubt about it. There is so much nature around that will make us go awww over it. Serene lakes, majestic mountains – we have it all around us. But sometimes you go watch something so close and see it for real, not on TV, and it simply blows your mind away. This trip to Mt Baker, last week, was one such thing.

My parents leave in a week and before they left for India, we wanted to do one more weekend trip. Murali suggested  this place and I started planning our trip. However, thanks to the awesomely incorrect maps I looked at, I calculated the travel time wrong. So even though we set out to see the mountains and the places we picked for the trip, we were not sure if or when we will get there. 😊

So, that day, when I realized plan was uncertain, we had already entered into the national forest area of Mt Baker. Now, there was no option but go forward. It was too early to give up anyway.

Some confusions and tensions later, Murali takes an unplanned detour and we end up at this falls. I said this before, where we live, it’s possible to get lost and still end up seeing something beautiful. This Nooksack falls is one example.

This falls was so reachable from our detour and as expected, so beautiful. I don’t know if I mentioned it before, I have a thing for waterfalls. For example, I try to make most of my hikes around a waterfall.

Anyway, we had our pre packed lunch here and got back on the main road, still uncertain about the destination. Meanwhile we were all teasing Murali about the trip. Yeah, I was the planner but he was the driver, so he has to be responsible 😜. We all couldn’t stop comparing this with other mountains which were more accessible and declaring this mountain was not worth the trip.

So guess what happens next. Our expectations were super low. And we see the first glance of the mountain. Okay, may be we were mistaken. Maybe its beautiful. But still doubtful. And then we stop at this place and our moods and thoughts just went exactly the opposite way.

Picture Lake

I mean, look at this view. Can you beat it? Within two minutes we all declared the drive was worth it and Murali was exonerated. πŸ˜ƒ It was really really beautiful. On the little trial around, my dad continued his usual berry picking and tasting. My mom was continuing her usual criticism of dad berry picking; Abhi was collecting things left and right; And Achu was complaining about the 0.5 mile walk. Everything was going as expected. πŸ˜ƒ

Still, our next destination was unsure to me. My target destination was supposed to be one “Artist’s Point“, which I wasn’t sure was on the way if we continued. Thanks to a tip from some strangers, we continued and oh boy, was it worth it?

The uncertainty, anticipation and excitement about whether we will reach this place were so high that when we finally spotted the place, we all just started screaming in the car. Grown ups and kids alike. πŸ˜ƒ

And we also just loved the place. No doubt it was beautiful, but I think I loved it more because my dad was so impressed and that made me remember to not take things for granted. Even though we see these beautiful places often, they are still mind blowingly terrific.

Mt Baker in clouds.
Mt Baker in clouds.

Artist’s point, has views of two mountains. We assumed the mountain in Picture Lake was Mt Baker. Turned out it was Mt Shuskan. We hiked a bit and realized real Mt Baker was another even bigger mountain. Funnily, we cared more about the other peaks and have only one picture of the actual mountain πŸ˜†.

Another fun thing today was that, there was still some snow where we parked. So my dad and kids got to play in the snow. Murali and I focused on selfies; Abhi also on climbing every rock he saw. He was particularly over active that day. Even my mom enjoyed the hike a bit. A perfect family picture also come out of this trip, and that’s a bonus. πŸ˜ƒ

Surely this is a place we will revisit next year. This time with better planning and more time for hiking around. 😊


The Vacation … So far

Wow. I can’t believe I am already in the third week of my vacation. My dad reminded me that 1/4th of my vacation is already done and I didn’t like to hear that. As much as I am trying to enjoy these days, the feelings about going back to work at some time in the future are still hanging around. I can’t help it. 

So, coming to my vacation, BFF asked me in the first week itself to write all about my vacation days. She and I know how much I needed this, so when we write it down, I could go back and live it again. See, this is why you need best friends. They even think about feelings from your future days. πŸ˜ƒ

Anyway, my vacay so far is going great. You know the first day, I felt nothing like I was missing work . Even today, it just feels natural to me to stay home, like I have always done this. When you work continuously for some 13 years, you might notice that change, but not me. 😊 

So what do I do all day now? I have a todo list as always and I love checking things off the list. Surprisingly, I am making time for many things. First few days was more into cleaning; Getting things into a cleaner state. Packup toys and clothes for donation, clean the cars, closets etc. I watched “Wonder Woman” movie with Murali. My second time and still loved it. It’s an amazing movie. The same week, I went to my favorite outdoor activity hiking. We used to hike regularly before we had kids. This is now me getting back to it full time. I have hiked almost every week now. First week was a Rattle Snake ridge. I planned to hike alone this time but luckily I have a group now. 

Next week we went on a much harder hike – Tiger mountain. I was sore for three days after the hike. πŸ˜ƒ

What’s better? I am even talking kids on their first full hiking trips. I should do a separate post about that, so I can remember that better. 

One of my main goals was to spend more time with kids, take them out. Enjoy more of summer and also work on their reading skills. So every day, I try to make time to read more to them, and as well make them read. I have more time to pick and order interesting books. We were talking about tornadoes and I could find time now to go order  good books, pick them up and read to them. Help them understand more. It’s just so good to put my kids back in the priority list, instead of being in survival mode. 

I picked up on some of the home decoration projects. I picked up a book shelf for painting. It’s still going on. The day I finally hung these pictures, I felt so accomplished. πŸ˜ƒ Makes my bedroom wall more beautiful.

Add to this, ME is still my first priority. I go for a walk or yoga every day. Some days, both. I am staying active. My fitness monitor is buzzing everyday. Last week when I went on the hard hike, I clocked close to 20,000 steps. 

Oh! The best of all. I fulfilled one of  my bucket list items and got myself a tattoo. I started small not knowing how it would feel , but I love it now. Wish I went for a bigger one. This is definitely not going to be my last one. 😊

I am also doing good at reading books. I gave up on the popular series book “Magicians”. I didn’t like it. Story was great but the narration was too passive. I read this mystery novel and finished it in two days. I picked up a classic now. Let’s see how that goes. 

One of things I wish would improve is my sleeping. It hasn’t gotten any better. I still sleep late, despite waking up early. My leg pains are at one of their worst times. I am considering trying acupuncture now. 

My days are certainly better now. I haven’t felt sick or exhausted in the last couple of days.  I have company at home, food available, that’s great too. End of this month will start bringing lots of changes. First my parents will leave, then Murali on his 2 week trip out of the country, kids will be with me full time and my top worry thing, they will start new school in September. I am not looking forward to any of these changes. I can only hope to stay positive and enjoy these days as well. 

Welcome Lily

So once every few months, a serious “let’s get a pet” fever takes over us. 

(Achu has thankfully stopped asking for a dog, she is just happy with petting every dog she sees. And that’s good for me because even though I would very much like to have a dog, I am not ready for the extra work.) 

So this version of pet fever wasn’t started by me. It was solely kids and Murali. And luckily it was going to be another pet fish. This one would be our fourth attempt at having a pet fish actually. It’s definitely us, all our last four fish died in the bowl. Yeah, we are the fish killer family. 

I was hesitant to get this one but kids were already psyched, even picking names, so with lot of responsibility lectures, we headed to a pet store. This time I seriously considered getting all the cleaning and filtering equipment. To see if that would save our fish. Despite all that we went with the Betta fish, because that fish still has better chances of survival. Achu was so keen on getting some glow fish, which really were very pretty, but we didn’t do that, given our record. I mean if a fish that can even survive in swamps won’t survive in our house, how could we keep alive a fresh water fish? What are the chances? 😊

And so enters our house, Lily. Our new fish. 

Lily is actually a male fish. Achu and Abhi brainstormed a ton of names. Including pretty strange names like Xbox; xbox fluttershy if it was a girl fish; Also Xbox bird house. Abhi was lot into Xbox that day. Other names, Batman, or just directly Bruce Wayne. Booster; Bubbles Beetle Bomb. Best name I thought was Yolo. It was Abhi’s suggestion. There was also the name, Lily wedding. Looks like we are going to host a fish wedding in the future. Anyway, luckily they decided on Lily. So even when they picked a male fish, I didn’t want to bring up the topic of picking another name. So he will be called Lily. 

Lily is doing fine so far. He is eating twice a week. His water looks clean. Achu keeps asking every day if Lily needs to be fed. No body has wondered yet about cleaning the water in the bowl. We shall see how this one goes. Seriously if anything happens to this one, that is it. No more pets for us. Please pray for our Lily’s long and healthy life. And also please remind me to feed and clean. πŸ˜ƒ

Mt St Helens Trip

Summer is coming to an end here for us. Weather will still be better next month but next month will bring start of school for kids and Murali ‘a travels. Plus my parents will be leaving end of this month and so this month would mostly mark the end of our summer weekend trips.

We didn’t get out on any long trips this year, but we used most of the weekends for one day trips.

This weekend we visited Mt St Helens national volcanic monument. This one place has some mixed memories associated for us. Our last trip here, before the kids, ended up in a weird way. Till date, I think fate concocted this event to bring us down. What happened that day was that as Murali and I set out for a much needed long weekend trip, it rained very very hard. And that was summer. We were disappointed but kept going. Finally when we reached the mountain, had the first sighting of the majestic mountain, clouds cleared. Suddenly it was a beautiful day. As we were happily enjoying this change and view, in a minute, we had a flat tire. Out of no where. We ended up calling emergency, getting our car towed back to someplace and fixed. We spent rest of the day in a Wal-Mart warehouse and never went back to see the mountain. Timing this day was so weird. The moment clouds clear out, you see the mountain and the car tire blows off. What are the chances, right? That got me so down. Luckily we didn’t let the wasted day waste our trip. We still went on the river rafting and road trip.

Anyway, coming to our trip now, I constantly remembered the incident throughout the trip. But this one day went much much better. We set out really early. Reached around noon. Usual lunch and bathroom breaks later, we finally saw the mountain. It was beautiful.

This one erupted in 1980 and was a big event. What amazed me was that, look at the before picture – it was a typical mountain back then. But the 1980 explosion was so huge, it collapsed the top of the mountain, caused a crater at the top and a massive mud slide. On the way, we saw replanted trees because the mudslide killed them all. Mountain was so green back then, but the high temperatures during the explosion killed all the vegetation. Now there are barely some wildflowers around. It was all over in couple of minutes and you can see the land is still recovering from the impact. 37 years later that is. The other side of this mountain, didn’t have any impact from the mudslide is all still green.

It’s amazing to think that we live 4 hours from a volcano. Luckily it’s not highly active now but keeps grumbling now and then. Last major explosion was in 2008, so it’s not a calm one either.

The dome you see in the middle came with the activity between 2004 and 2008. Watch the video here. It’s creepy to see mountain moving on its own. Can you imagine the pressure under it that’s causing this gigantic thing to explode or even just move?

Here is a video about the explosion. Do watch it.

We also watched a movie about the explosion in the observatory and took some nice family pics. Achu wouldn’t stop complaining about the sun. Really this gal is something. We have sunny days only few days in a year and she is complaining about them. 😊

Our next stop was supposed to be at Ape caves. These are lava tubes we can explore. I was so excited to go see them but we learnt the place was a good 3 hrs away so we postponed it for next trip. We have to take our own source of light. It’s going to be amazing I can’t wait. 😊

Now that we still had time before we had to go home and that Achu was non stop complaining about sun, we decided to check out a lake close to the mountain. And oh that was a great idea because the lake was just so calm and so beautiful.

Kids and I didn’t wait to get into the water and get wet. Lakes here are pretty cold, but this one was bearable and we just jumped right in. We walked for a while, I even sat in the water. I wish I could swim though, that would have been perfect.

We enjoyed some nice time here and Β resumed our journey back home. Ate at a different Indian restaurant. Food was good. We all made it home by 9 and everybody was so tired. Even I was asleep in minutes and if you know my sleep problems, you know that’s really something. πŸ˜ƒ

It was a great trip. Especially with the touch of the lake. Hopefully for next times, I will remember this experience and not the one before it. πŸ™πŸΌ