I took a little over a week to go and visit my friends and family back East in western and central New York including a quick trip up to Niagara Falls while there. My parents, having been married for now fifty years warranted a celebration by the family. My sisters and their children all converged on Skaneateles, New York to quietly celebrate and reminisce under the humid warmth that is central New York. The humidity of New York cannot be fully described; it is better left to the uninitiated to experience. While the humidity saps you of your strength the heat and light breeze under the shade of a tree nestled into a hammock soothes and sends one into a bliss that cannot be simulated by spas or any other proxy: sun’licious.
As I meandered down Route 20A from Orchard Park to Skaneateles I was reminded of how much of western and central New York are places of rolling hills, small villages and independent farms. On my morning runs from my parent’s home it took me less than 90 seconds to be running along farms and up over hills with vistas that stretched over miles and miles of tilled earth. My father’s former office is within 2 miles of the house making me envious to think that sans the 190+ inches of snow they got this winter one could easily run to work every day; the only dissatisfaction is that it is too short (a quick 2 miles) to make a worthwhile morning run. Equally surprising to me is I could have circumnavigated all of the town and some of the surrounding farms every morning in one of my middle distance runs of 15km; back in Seattle I barely get out of my neighborhood with one of these runs.
On my return from far afield I found myself yet again under the less than welcome long hand of overcast clouds that have become my personal scourge over Seattle. While I had hoped to camp at Olympic National Park for a few days I opted instead to drive down toward Bend, Oregon to Goldendale, WA for an overnight camping trip. I love a good roadtrip and the vistas once you get over the passes on I-90 are well-worth the first 90 minutes under the pending hazy gloom of rain and clouds. The near eastern side of the Cascades is one of arid color and a valley irrigated with farms both independent and incorporated. I must confess that the campground I hastily found was not one I can recommend to anyone, but even still I did find a quiet meadow a few miles from the campsite that allowed me an unobstructed view of Mount Hood while enjoying many, many hours before and after the sunset at 9pm. I had hoped to get some astrophotography done that night, however I had neglected to note it was near full Moon and thus there was little in the way of crisp dark skies to photograph. Nevertheless, the hours by myself in the dark reminded me I have an over-active imagination: I was quite certain aliens were on their way to abduct me.
I woke early on Friday to drive back to Seattle. Instead of retracing my steps I instead took Highway 410 out of Yakima to drive through both Wenatchee and Mount Rainier National Parks. It might surprise people outside of western Washington that much of the mountain trails are still inaccessible to hikers due to the some 80 or more inches of snowfall resting on trails. And while there is a warm front that has settled itself over all of western Washington melting much of this as I write and you read and which means that Mount Rainier is primarily covered in clouds, the drive is still worth the time and $15 park fees. In some ways seeing Mount Rainier shrouded in clouds is paradoxically a better way to appreciate it. Clouds come and go within minutes and sometimes tens of seconds. The view now obscured will snap into shades of snow blue and sky azure that require you to remain ever vigilant. And it is not just the moments waiting between and amongst clouds that deepen your appreciate, but even on the road itself can surprise and even transcend the ordinary. As one point when Mount Rainer in the near distance, two crows broke off from a tree and flew in front and above my car. For a mile or more we glided in formation down the road while we three enjoyed a quiet moment with Mount Rainier framed by trees appeared in front of us.