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This is yet another incarnation of my personal blog. Here's where you can read about what I do when I'm not at work: hiking, seeing plays and other shows, eating, traveling, etc.

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Stitch Fix #YOLO Party

Posted by gck Friday, July 27, 2018 0 comments

And now for a break from the normal mountain talk…

Awhile back, I started getting boxes from Stitch Fix, a personal stylist service where a stylist chooses 5 items for you and you pay for what you want to keep. I got one of my friends hooked by giving her gift certificates, and we found it particularly fun to get boxes at the same time so we could open them and try them on together, doing our best in-person, perky imitations of Youtube unboxing videos. It didn’t take long for our unboxing parties to expand to more people (this time, men!).

My friend’s birthday was this month, and she decided she was going to do a “YOLO” fix – not write anything about what she wanted and see what showed up.

Even better… what if ALL of us did YOLO fixes in honor of her birthday?!

So we did. I think her stylist note said something like, “It’s my birthday, send me anything you want.” The rest of us just wrote, “YOLO.” One person even got an e-mail back from Stitch Fix, asking if that was all he wanted to say to his stylist and reminding him that he still had time to change it.

41857600940_a1420b0a8a_othe YOLO boxes

The unboxing was very dramatic… but as we started going around, we were disappointed to see that a lot of our first items were safe picks.

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This is not what we had in mind!

But then my friend pulled out the second item in her box, and we all burst into laughter. Low cut crop top?! YOLO! This was YOLO!

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Yessss! YOLO!

The items in our boxes continued to alternate between the very safe (socks?!) to the more adventurous (shark shorts!).

There was conservative golf attire…

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And a patterned shirt that matched the rug…

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All of us were styled by stylists that we’d had before, so the items weren’t completely random. Mine even referenced requests I had made in the past, probably frustrated by the fact that I didn’t give her anything useful this time (sorry!).

Birthday girl’s stylist won the contest for most YOLO, with the crop top, a romper, and a brightly patterned maxi skirt. Rug man’s was a close second, with the rug-patterned shirt and a lilac button down. But everyone had something in an adventurous color or style…

Except me. Mine was a good fix tailored to me, which meant nothing crazy. My stylist knows me too well! It’s ok, though, since my friend made me try on her crop top and romper.

My fix:

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The mens’ fixes:

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And the rest of the birthday girl's fix:

FortuneIvySabriaFrenchGreyPippa

ColetteRomeyGilliMorgana

And that’s a wrap! We’re looking forward to our next party. Our stylists will be probably be relieved to get more helpful requests next time.

Want your own Fix? Get one here!

The Great Ferry Race

Posted by gck Tuesday, July 3, 2018 1 comments

I’m not a very consistent runner, but sometimes things will draw me back to running. Last year, I started trail running with Northwest Trail Runs, an attempt to combine hiking and running and help me increase my speed in both. This year, I was drawn in by Orca Running’s beautiful R-Pod medal, a prize for anyone who completed 3 or more races with them in 2018. I got a few of my friends onboard and signed up for my three races: the Kirkland Shamrock 5k in March, the Snoqualmie Valley 10k in June, and my first half marathon in a few years, the inaugural Great Ferry Race.

I’m pretty sure each time I’ve trained for a half marathon, I’ve said that I have no motivation to do one again. But this event was compelling for a few reasons:

  1. Inaugural!
  2. The unique concept. The event started with a ferry ride, and the run started right off the ferry dock.
  3. The location on Bainbridge Island, with approximately 1/3 of the course on trail.


I had all good intentions of being properly trained for the race, but a large number of out of town weekends in April and May derailed it all. I ended up having to do a huge jump in long run distance to hit a number where I was comfortable going up to 13.1, and it was pretty rough. I knew it wasn’t going to be my best performance, but I was hoping for a reasonably unmiserable experience without injuries.

Seattle from the ferry dock
Seattle from the ferry dock

On race day, parking downtown by the ferry dock, as the event organizers promised, was very easy because it was early on a Sunday. The ferry terminal was full of runners, and the ferry passengers who weren’t there for the run were looking around quite bewildered. I did day-of packet pickup, and there was a mix up where many people who registered really early didn’t end up having their personalized bibs printed. They had also run out of blanks, so I was given the bib of someone who canceled, with their name blacked out. It was a little disappointing because the bib was a cool design, and I would have liked my personalized one as a race souvenir, but I guess running as Haley Strandness makes for a good story, too. My friends looked her up online and apparently she’s quite a good athlete, so I felt honored.

I am Haley Strandness
I am Haley Strandness

It was a nice, short ferry ride over to Bainbridge Island. It’s nice to have all of those boat bathrooms for the 30 minutes before race time instead of having to stand in line for Honey Buckets! And gear check was a car on the car deck! How fun is that? When we got close, the ferry announced that all runners were to congregate on one of the upper car decks (where there were no cars). An Orca Running person tried to shout course instructions at us, the important thing being that we were waiting for all the cars to unload, then we’d walk off the ferry and wait for a horn to blow to signal the run start. Oh, and he mentioned that the course was a difficult one due to all the hills, and hats off to us for running it.

Runners gathered on the car deck
Runners gathered on the car deck

On the ferry dock ready to start running
On the ferry dock ready to start running

As I mentioned earlier, the course/location was appealing to me. It wasn’t another Greenlake or Seattle Center or Sammamish River Trail course. And Bainbridge Island did not disappoint! Though the weather made it so we didn’t get any distance views, we still had some nice scenery. Lots of green, lovely trail through the parks, and a pretty lake. We were also encouraged by the locals, including a huge cheer from ferry passengers waiting to depart as we arrived and an adorable little boy standing in his yard playing the runners a trumpet serenade. And there were the entertaining signs that someone put up on the second half of the course, some humor to boost our spirits. The short cut was tempting!

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Fun signs along the course

I disagreed with that last sign. There was plenty of time for walking. Especially because the hills Would. Not. Stop. When I read the course description, I was under the impression that the trail sections of the course would be the difficult ones. It was the exact opposite! The trails were fantastic and my favorite part of the course. See the elevation profile below? The giant downhill and the flattish section after that was where the trail part was. I knew when we did the big downhill that we’d be in for some major gain later on, but the killer was that even after we gained all of that elevation back, it still went up and down and up and down and up and down, all the way until the last quarter mile. Brutal roads! For the sake of energy conservation, I walked most of the uphills. And so did many other people.

elevation profile

oh yay another hill
oh yay another hill

But I finished, and they called out my name correctly as I crossed the finish line, so Haley doesn’t have to worry about having an abnormally slow time on her record. I finished in 2:34:53, which is almost exactly the same as my time for the 2012 Seattle Rock n Roll Half (an easier course that I was even less properly trained for, so also a lot of walking). I’m happy with that. But I was even happier when I saw the taco bar at the end! I LOVE when there’s real food at the end of a race, and these tacos totally hit the spot. And though it dumped rain on us for most of the run (that was fun), it cleared up at the end, allowing us to sit and enjoy our tacos outside.

There was a bell for people to ring if they got a new PR. It wasn’t ringing very much, and I suspect most of those who did ring were first half marathons. But that’s okay – sometimes it’s nice to take on a challenging course. I didn’t make it to the finish line before they did the awards ceremony, but I read later on that the first three finishers were all female! That’s so awesome.

Finish line taco!
Finish line taco!

Mora Ice Cream was conveniently located between the finish line and the ferry terminal, so there was an ice cream stop after tacos! I had blueberry and maraschino cherry cream, and both flavors were absolutely delicious.

Mora Ice Cream
Mora Ice Cream

My body tends to want to shut down after long runs, so it was a struggle to stay awake during the ferry ride and car drive back, but I made it. And my legs were not even that sore the next day. My phone, however, had accumulated water from the rain through cracks on the screen protector, so there’s an unusable area in the center of my phone that’s slowly shrinking as the water dries.

The medals
The medals

Half Marathon #1 of 2018: Done. I get a very short recovery week, and then it’s back to training again for my next race… stay tuned, I’m hoping for a PR.

Meadow Roving at Mount Rainier

Posted by gck Saturday, January 27, 2018 0 comments

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Lupine and other wildflowers

I had a busy summer and fall in 2017 and have done a poor job maintaining this blog. I’m hoping that during these winter months I can do a little catch up with photo processing and blogging.

I’ve made a number of trips to Mount Rainier National Park over the past few years. One particularly memorable trip was in 2016, when I took some interns to the park to convince them that Washington was awesome, and we saw a bear! On that trip, as well as several others, I talked to a person in uniform who identified herself as a “meadow rover.” These people were always friendly, enjoying their hiking, and talking to visitors about the park. They also told me about the meadow roving program and encouraged me to sign up. I had considered it for 2016 but had my Mountaineers class already, so 2017 was the year!

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Meadow rovers (+a hiker) at Sunrise

So what exactly does a meadow rover do? I jokingly refer to it as being a “fake ranger.” We wear khaki hats and shirts with badges that say “National Park Service Volunteer,” but to the untrained eye, we’re often mistaken for rangers. This is by design. One of the duties of the meadow rover is to encourage visitors to follow park rules. Because we aren’t actually rangers, we can’t directly enforce anything, but the uniform makes people a lot more receptive to feedback. I’ve been with non-uniformed people who ask people to follow the rules on trails (“leash your dogs”) and generally the response is a dismissal (“yeah whatever”) or occasionally aggressive (“mind your own business”). The interaction is very different when I’m roving and I ask someone to stay on the trail (“oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t notice I was stomping all over the flowers!”).

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Pika

Being trail cop is not my favorite thing. But as a rover, we not only want compliance, but also to be able to educate people about why the rules exist and what human impact does to the beautiful scenery that people are there to see. I feel very strongly about keeping these beautiful places beautiful for future visitors, and it makes me sad when I see fragile flower meadows turn into bare patches of dirt because people wanted to get a better photo. Did you know that one step off the trail tramples on average more than 15 plants?

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A family of marmots at Paradise

Another responsibility of the meadow rover is to talk to visitors and answer questions. This is my favorite part of roving! My hiking buddies are already used to me pointing out the lupine, paintbrush, penstemon, pasqueflower, etc. and then quizzing them on it later. It’s a lot of fun to talk to visitors about what they’re seeing and what their experiences have been, and it helps me learn more, too. (I’m so bad with trees) I know that when I’m out hiking, I enjoy having the opportunity to talk to rangers. Since forest service budgets make it impossible to have as many rangers out there as we’d like, meadow rovers attempt to fill that gap. One of the most well known (and one of my favorite) meadow rovers is an 80+ year old woman named Anne Marie  who’s at Paradise almost every day, rain or shine. She still hikes up to Panorama Point in the snow! I hope I can be like that at that age.

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Showing visitors how to plunge step down a snowy slope

The last major duty of a meadow rover is to carry a radio and use it as needed. We had one incident over the summer where a parent approached us and said her children were missing, and we called in, started, and participated in the search and rescue operation. Everything ended up fine, fortunately, and it was good to be able to help out. There are often enough rovers spread out on the popular trails that someone in need could find a rover instead of having to hike down to the visitor center.

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Fremont Lookout

I hope to continue as a meadow rover in years to come! If you are interested, there is more information here about this and other volunteer opportunities. Citizen scientist? Trail maintenance? Lots of great ways to help out in this beautiful national park.

IMG_5099  Gleaming Lights of the Souls, Yayoi Kusama

A few years ago, I visited the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen. It’s a wonderful museum, and I’d spent a few hours walking through the galleries and enjoying the sea view outside. Happy with what I’d seen and almost ready to make the journey back to the city, I chatted with a stranger about my favorite parts of the museum. He said his favorite was a room with lots of lights, something that I’d managed to skip on my way through. It sounded like it was worth walking back for. It was so easy to miss because it was just a door, and there wasn’t a line of people to get in. I walked in with one other person and enjoyed this beautiful cosmic view of color-changing lights stretching into infinity. It was described as looking into a sea of city lights. I had forever to experience this universe and take all the photos I wanted (though I only took a few), and it ended up being my favorite part of the museum and one of the highlights of the entire trip.

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Life (Repetitive Vision)

I noticed that Louisiana had a Yayoi Kusama exhibit for awhile, and I briefly considered flying back to Copenhagen to see it, but it didn’t end up making sense logistically. Then I noticed that an exhibit was scheduled to be at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, and I got really excited. The Asian Art Museum is currently closed for renovations, so it ended up being at the main Seattle Art Museum. I saw all the advertisements and figured I’d catch the exhibit some Thursday while they were open for later hours… then I found out that all advance tickets had already sold out. The only way to get tickets was to wait in line to get some of the limited day of tickets.

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Infinity Dots

So of course, I did that. The exhibit has been immensely popular, but it seems like there have been enough day of tickets so that everyone in line early has been able to get in at some point in the day. The experience ends up being about infinity lines: line to get in the door when the museum opens, line to buy a ticket, line for your ticket time to get into the exhibit, and line at each of the infinity rooms. Of the hour or two you spend in the exhibit, the vast majority of it ends up being in line, with only 20-30 seconds allowed in each infinity room before an employee knocks on the door and kicks you out. The 20-30 seconds seems short, especially in Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity, which has lanterns that change brightness – 30 seconds isn’t enough to experience one cycle of change. And you can go in more than once, but it might be another half hour wait in line. There were other pieces of Kusama’s art to look at while waiting in line, but they weren’t nearly as interesting as the rooms.

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Phalli’s Field

It might not be apparent to all viewers, since they’re so cleverly disguised in pop patterns, that those tentacles all over the place are actually phalli. Apparently back in the 60s, Kusama was busy making all sorts of phallic art, lots and lots of tentacles! She was working on Phalli’s Field, and she wanted more penises, but she got tired of having to sew them all. So she did some experimentation with mirrors and discovered that she could multiply the penises this way… and the infinity rooms were born. The infinity rooms in this exhibit are mostly full of whimsy: dotted phalli, pumpkins, and polka dot balloons. Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity stands out as more mystical, with its brightening and dimming lanterns echoing into infinity. It was the most similar in aesthetic and tone to Gleaming Lights of the Souls that I’d seen in Copenhagen, and it was my favorite in this exhibit. It also had the longest line.

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The Obliteration Room

Kusama’s art isn’t for everyone. Critics might say that it isn’t anything groundbreaking, it just looks kind of cool and makes for cool internet selfies, etc. What I like about it is the way it invites the viewer to participate. In the infinity rooms, the door closes you into this small physical space, but the mirrors make you feel completely immersed in an expansive and beautiful world with a very pronounced mood. In The Obliteration Room, the participation is defined: each visitor is given a page of dot stickers, and each sticker must be placed somewhere in this previously white room. Together, they interact with the room to create the art.

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Dots Obsession – Love Transformed into Dots

With such short time in each room, I tried to minimize the photo taking (but couldn’t force myself to abstain completely, except in the pumpkin room where photos are prohibited), and most of the rooms are not captured in the photos on this post. For me, the photos will help bring back the memories, but they can’t capture the real feeling of being there. Even though I griped about the lines and the short amount of time allocated for experiencing the art, I’m glad I had the opportunity to experience this unique exhibit. (Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors @ Seattle Art Museum from June 30, 2017 – September 10, 2017)

TR: Stan’s Overlook–Signs of Spring

Posted by gck Wednesday, April 19, 2017 0 comments

Distance: 4 miles
Elevation gain: 1000 ft
Trailhead directions and more on WTA.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on this blog and even longer since I’ve done a trip report! With so many hikes in the summer and raw images that require extra processing, it feels like I barely got through any photosets last year. Will have to do better this year.

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red-flowering currant, of the gooseberry family

About a year ago, I started doing weekday hikes. Nope, I didn’t quit my job or suddenly get super flexible hours. Instead, I used mornings and evenings (when there was adequate sunlight) to do some of those shorter, closer hikes that are usually mobbed on weekends. It’s been a great way to start off a day with a dose of lovely scenery and take advantage of the rare good weather winter days.

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Viewpoint on the way to Stan’s Overlook

Most people access the Rattlesnake Ledge side of Rattlesnake Mountain for its lovely view down towards Rattlesnake Lake. However, the other side is nice and quiet, with some pretty views of its own. Though the signs of mankind are not far away – the trail passes power lines and constantly intersects with a road – they aren’t intrusive.

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Left: arctic sweet coltsfoot
Center: salmonberry
Right: trillium

The weather was gloomier than I’d hoped for this day, though we were fortunate to be able to get some mountain views instead of a whiteout. I was happiest about all of the flowers, though! Spring is here. At first, it was lots of salmonberry flowers, which transitioned into a good amount of red-flowering currant, flowers I don’t remember seeing much of before.

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I’m not fantastic with names, whether they’re flowers, mountains, people, etc. After posting enough photos with captions like “pretty pink flower” and having friends inform me of the flower’s real name, I decided that I should make an effort to learn some names. The Washington Wildflowers app is probably the most expensive app on my phone, but I’ve found it incredibly useful in helping me identify flowers during hikes. Now I get to say things like, “This is a red-flowering currant, of the gooseberry family! It turns into a blue-black berry that is tasteless!”

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Stan’s Overlook

The last time I was at Stan’s Overlook, a few months back, there was snow up to the benches. Now there are flowers. Looking forward to the upcoming summer!

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