Kevin Hellriegel's Blog of Worthless Advice

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Monthly Archives: January 2015

Twin Falls State Park Hike – North Bend, WA

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Twin Falls in North Bend….no one fell in so the hike was a success in my book!

The semester ended for our kids this past Monday so the whole school district has to let the kids off for the day. I’m not sure if my kids really go to school for a full five days in a row. What, with all the holidays, late start days, etc. my kids never seem to go to school for a full week.

Wait children….

However, we aren’t here to complain about the state of our education system. Instead we are here to chat about another great little hike here in the Seattle area. It is the Twin Falls Hike off of I-90 in the North Bend area. This is a short hike coming in at only two miles round trip.

Of all the years I have live here, I have never done this hike. With all of this great winter weather we have been having lately, I thought we should take advantage of going on an easy hike during the “off season” of hiking. (Die hard hikers would say there is never an “off season”). From what I have read about this hike, it is a fairly popular hike especially during the summer. Consider it is January and we usually have a bunch of rain, I figured this is as a good time as any to do this hike.

Luckily, I checked the trail report at wta.org and learned that there was a washout on the trail to the Twin Falls. This would stop is if we left from the traditional trailhead off of Exit 34. Good thing I check it out before we started our hike. The Wta.org website is an excellent resource for all hikes in Washington State and I highly recommend checking it out before any hike.

We modified our starting point to the Ollalie State Park parking lot off of Exit 38. You start your hike on the Iron Horse Trail for about half a mile until you come to the spur/trail to the Twin Falls trail. The Iron Horse Trail is an old Burlington Northern railroad bed (now a service road) so the downhill grade is mild for about half a mile. The trail to Twin Falls is clearly marked (from the Iron Horse Trail) and you won’t miss it (unless your face is buried in your phone texting a friend).

After you leave the Iron Horse Trail and use the Twin Falls Trail, you will be going downhill for about 3/4 of a mile. Just remember, you will be going down and that means the way back is uphill.

Easy trail down for my hiking partners and myself. In our hiking band, we had my wife, my daughter, and another Girl Scout (and friend) with us. No one complained about the hike so that means it is a fairly easy one for 12 year old girls and 40 year old parents.

For all you math geeks, the different route brings this hike in at 2.5 miles.

Awesome detailed map of where you will be lost. The best part? You won’t have a clue of where you are at!

Overall, this hike is a good family hike and easy to do. We left the Covington area around 2 pm and we’re back to Covington by 5 pm. That included a stop at McDonalds for hot fudge sundaes (for the girls). Hey, I’m working out so I can win the Fat Ass Dads Weight Loss Challenge so I’m skipping that stuff. Well, until I get home…then I pig out and cry into my bowl of chocolate peanut ice cream….

At least Cyndi (my imaginary stalker) cares….

See those two dots? Those would be the kids I’m suppose to be in charge of.

Well, Everyone made it back from Pinnacle Peak Hike – Dr. Martin Luther King Day

While the folks back on the East Coast are battling snowstorms, we have had sunny, clear weather with temperatures into the high 50s and low 60s. The bad part about all this warm weather?   The freezing level has skyrocketed up to 10,000 feet and that translates into no snowshoeing for us in January! Yikes! Normally we wouldn’t do this lower elevation hike (at this time of year) because I would much rather get out in the snow.  It’s winter, we want to see some snow!

So last week, instead of a snowshoe hike, we hiked up Pinnacle Peak in Enumclaw. My hiking partners this billy goat trip were my 12 year old daughter and two of her friends. All three happen to be part of our Girl Scout troop and I wanted to see if this would be an age appropriate hike and skill level for them. As it turned out, they didn’t have any problems keeping up with me.

Pinnacle Peak is part of the King County Parks system. It is a short hike (2 miles round trip) and starts at 800 feet elevation and ends at 1800 feet elevation. Since the weather has been fairly nice, the trail wasn’t as muddy as it could have been this time of year. I wore my Merrill walking shoes and didn’t get them too muddy. There were a couple of slick spots but nothing that deter us from reaching the top in a timely manner. Here’s the link to the Pinnacle Peak map PDF

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Success at the top of Pinnacle Peak!

Success at the top of Pinnacle Peak!

One thing I neglected to do on this hike was to track the time we were on the hike. I do know that we left Kent around 2 pm and returned by 5 pm. That includes stops in Enumclaw at a chocolate shop and a stop at Kelly’s Latte Stand.

Do you have any favorite hikes you’d like to recommend?  Leave your tips and advice below!

Why I hate Driving on the Freeway….

Today, I actually had to work at my studio in Burien and had to drive today. Usually, this time of year I work mostly out of my home office. So on my way back from Burien in the middle of the day, one should expect the freeway traffic to flow easily. In the Seattle area, that is never the case. I made it past the madhouse near the Sea-Tac International Airport. Once on I-405, I get stuck behind a guy in a gold minivan doing 46 mph on the freeway that is clearly marked 60 mph. This is way I hate driving. We have some idiot on the freeway that thinks he is on a nice country drive. It isn’t a nice country drive; it’s January and it is a cool 40 degrees out. I’d like to get on my merry little way home. I don’t need you endangering my life with your slow driving.
Sure, I could whip around this guy in his golden minivan; however, I have to take the next off ramp to get onto the other freeway. It makes no sense to barrel around this guy. Of course, he takes the same exit. I wasn’t in a hurry but I was annoyed. I’m not a freeway Nazi; I just ask that you drive the speed limit. Go at least 5 mph over or at least the speed limit. Is that too much to ask? I’m not asking you to drive at an unsafe speed. The pavement is dry, the sky is a mix of sunshine and clouds, driving conditions are pretty darn good out there…just do the speed limit so the guy behind me isn’t tailgating me.
Thanks for allowing me to offer my own personal piece of Worthless Advice on how to drive on the Freeway!

Everyone loves to drive on the freeway, right?

Everyone loves to drive on the freeway, right?

Life Got You Down? Enjoy Some Pan Flute Music….

Forget about more cowbell…sometimes you just need some Pan Flute in your sad little life.

I don’t have to tell you that life gets to be a little crazy these days.  Most likely, you are just plain tired from driving your minivan from kids’ soccer game to kids’ soccer game.  Maybe your days are a blur of commuting from your house to your office and then back home again.  Perhaps, you are missing the connection between you and your significant other?  Maybe, you just need to reconnect with your inner romantic soul after a tough day at work….

May I suggest some relaxing pan flute love songs?

The Noble Profession of Changing People: You Can’t Change People, But You Can Change Yourself.

We have this misguided notion that we can change people.  We believe it is a noble cause…we are the righteous ones that are here to correct the errors of others.  If we can just make people see the same way we see things, then everything would be just fine.  Our friends would always call us back in a timely manner, politicians wouldn’t lie, our dog wouldn’t hate us, and the neighbors would stop staring at us (or is that just paranoia?).

You can’t change others but you can accept them.  You can accept them for who they are and how they act whether it is good or bad.  Once you accept them for who they are, you can change how you interact with them. You can accept their behavior in a way that is beneficial for your own sanity.

In reality, we are utter fools for wasting our time on trying to change others.  People will not change unless they want to change.  You can try to tell people how they should live their lives and what they need to do to make their life better, but they won’t do any of it.  Sure, go ahead and talk to them until you are blue in the face, they won’t change until they want to make the change.

So sit back, enjoy a frosty beverage of your choice, and relax.  Embrace the concept of acceptance.  Modify your thought process and teach yourself that is OK not to be the overbearing, control freak you want to be.DSCI0254

Don’t Give Up Coffee! Give up your expensive, fattening Coffee Drink!

With all the New Year’s Resolutions flying around, the one resolution that particular bothers me is: People giving up drinking coffee. I understand people want to get healthier. But why deny yourself something so wonderful as coffee? That wonderful drink that helps you get through the day?  That old pal that helps you stay awake?  The drink that allows you to bond with your co-workers while complaining about your boss?  Why give up on that old friend?

I know you think giving up coffee is a good time…I understand you want to be true to your New Year’s Resolutions.  However, may I make a suggestion?  Load up that cup of coffee with all the bad stuff you can find.  Make that cup of coffee the worst possible drink out there (this is exactly what Starbucks does) and then give it up.

Heck, the coffee isn’t the bad part….just think about a “coffee drink” from Starbucks.  That is what is bad.

Think about it for a  minute.  Take a wonderful cup of coffee…

Add loads of sugar (or honey…cane sugar…sweetner)

…add in some whole milk or maybe even some nice half-and-half

…make that into a coffee drink (because it really isn’t a cup of coffee anymore is it?)

and now give it up.  Give up all that bad stuff that you have come to love in your coffee.  That will make you feel better about that silly New Year’s Resolution you made in the heat of a New Year’s Eve’s moment (when you were weak because your old pal coffee wasn’t there).  You know you wouldn’t have made that resolution on New Year’s Day in the morning at breakfast.  No, you made that resolution the night before when you were with our casual friend “Alcohol”.

Sure you and Alcohol go way back, don’t you?  But Alcohol isn’t with you every day.  Do you know who is?  Coffee.

Old Alcohol was trying to get you to ditch your true friend Coffee.  Don’t ditch Coffee.  Alcohol only comes to hang out during the fun events like football games and birthday parties.  Coffee is there, day in and day out.  Don’t substitute a sure thing with something that only likes to party once in a while with you.

Of course, it isn’t too bad when alcohol and coffee get together at the same time to party with you.  A nice cold Sunday afternoon with your two pals Coffee and Alcohol makes a wonderful end to a weekend.  They get along perfectly and they make the weekend a blast.

Special thanks to Nick over at Nick’s Blog for this post idea…

Image from Flickr.com

Image from Flickr.com

It’s OK to Be Selfish

Do you sometimes put yourself on the back burner? Does your family come first at the sacrifice of your own well being?

I’ve noticed that a lot of people are making the commitment to lose weight and improve their health. I’m in the same boat. I’m working on dropping weight and trimming down. I want to be selfish and feel better about myself. But is it really being selfish?

You don’t get into shape only for yourself. You get back into shape for your loved ones. You do it for your spouse, your kids, your family. You want to be healthy so you can be with them for years to come, to drive them nuts and crazy with your oddness, your creativity, your love.

So be a little selfish. Do something for yourself that will benefit you and your family. It can anything: working out, reading a self help book, painting a photo, whatever. Just do a little selfish act that makes you happy and helps you improve your well being. Because when you are happy, your family will be happy.

Thanks for reading!

End of Winter Vacation & Fat Ass Dads Weight Loss Challenge

It’s back to the salt mines tomorrow for my family. The kids head back to school and I return to my job as a mild mannered photographer. I have some projects and billing to finish up this week. My wife has been working on and off over the holiday break so she is more in tune with returning to work. I’m optimistic that I’ll get back into the grove of things.

Over the break, I warned my fellow Fat Ass Dads that this would the tough part of the challenge: surviving the holidays and all the treats. Ah…Christmas cookies, fudge, chocolate, cakes… All the good stuff. What about New Year’s Eve? Did you stuff your face? Did you consume huge quantities of your favorite beverage?

So here we are on January 4, now I’m hoping your hangover is all cleared up and you can focus on your life. I don’t know about you, but I don’t do the resolution reforms or goals. I know there are some things I need to improve on. I also know that some things are out of my control and cannot be changed. Keeping that in mind, one should always be working to improve themselves. Work to better yourself and everyone around you will benefit.

Thanks for reading. Now get back to improving yourself.

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