Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Mother's Day Mishap


First off, I have to defend myself and say that I had good intentions! Okay, with that being said, here's the story:

Our weather forecast for Mother's Day was supposed to be rainy, but as so often happens, the weathermen were wrong. We had a pretty decent partly-cloudy day, so I offered to take my mom hiking on the Plover River Segment of the Ice Age Trail.

I've been wanting to show her the new trail section mostly consisting of boardwalks for a while now and this seemed like a perfect day to do it. With her knee problems, I figured this would be easy enough for her to attempt. She enjoys my hiking stories and assists all the time with drop-offs and pick-ups at trail heads, but often times the trails are too difficult for her to accompany me. I wanted to give her the experience of one of my hikes in a more do-able setting.

I also figured it was early enough in the season to avoid the dreaded ticks that are so prevalent on this segment.

I was wrong.

Once we got to the end of the boardwalks, I noticed about 10 ticks crawling up both my legs and they were moving VERY fast!

I brushed them off and then started picking more off my boots. I quickly brushed through Charlie's fur and confirmed even more ticks. I turned to Mom and said we had to leave, but was afraid to tell her why... she hates ticks!

As we were walking back to the car, I mentioned that the ticks were pretty bad already. I had glanced at her light-colored pants as I walked with her to make sure she was okay so far, but when we got back to the parking lot, I realized that we were both crawling with them - as well as both of our dogs.

We quickly began removing ticks from each other and the dogs and then loaded the dogs into the car before more ticks could crawl back onto them. I knew there were still more on the dogs that I wasn't able to find but that would have to wait until we got home. (The rest of the afternoon would be spent bathing dogs, picking ticks off them and doing laundry.)

I unbuttoned my pants and saw one on my waistband. Ugh. This was going to get weird.

Since the parking lot was thankfully empty, I told Mom to get in front of the car (to block the view from the road), and we both proceeded to take our pants off. We pulled our pants inside-out and removed ticks from the inside of our pants and then off each other's legs.

You know, when I woke up Sunday morning, I had no idea that I would be responsible for my mom stripping down to her underwear in a public parking lot in broad daylight. This was not the Mother's Day I had planned.

At least she had a sense of humor about it. And even though this was NOT a pleasant experience, it'll be a Mother's Day that we'll both remember for a long time.

I can just hear it now... "Remember that Mother's Day when you stripped down to your flower-printed underwear in the parking lot?"

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Home Sweet Home

I just returned from a trip to the Pacific Northwest... a place I have been dreaming of exploring for a long time, and also a place I once considered relocating to.

It's a beautiful part of the country full of every kind of landscape you could imagine. But it wasn't home.

I saw rain forests, waterfalls, scenic beaches, mountains and all kinds of flowers and trees. But after almost a week, I was getting homesick. None of the landscape in Washington felt familiar or comforting to me. I felt out of place.

Vacations do that to you. At first you're in love with how different and beautiful everything is and you begin imagining yourself living in this exotic new place. But as time goes on, you begin to miss the things that you can count on - the sound of the wind in your native trees, the bird calls specific to your region, the gentle slope of the land so familiar under your feet.

Which is precisely why vacations are so important. It makes you realize how wonderful "home" is; so things you complain about become special again and you once again appreciate your surroundings.

On this trip, I learned that I am not a "mountain" girl. I belong in the quiet coolness of a forest next to a babbling brook surrounded by ferns and the chorus of frogs and birds. I do not belong on the top of a mountain appreciating vistas as far as the eye can see.

My whole being down to my very core knows that I do not belong on a mountaintop.

Me on a mountaintop - scared to death!
Photo by Jessica of

Some people enjoy that adrenaline rush; my body does not know what to do with that much adrenaline. My lungs crave the humid moisture of a Wisconsin forest in the summer, not the crisp thin air at higher elevations. These are the things you learn when you step out of your comfort zone and try new things.

And I also learned that I can be apart from Charlie for longer than a day without it killing either one of us. And sometimes those short breaks are important for both human and dog. I needed some time to care only for myself, resting and refreshing my body and spirit. Charlie needed that time to miss me and appreciate how lucky and well-taken-care-of she is.

Our reunion was lovely and full of sweetness. Charlie has been just a tad bit more clingy and snuggly than usual since I returned and I know she missed our "conversations." We are both immersing ourselves into our old routine again, picking up right where we left off.

Home sweet home.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Study in Texture

We're still on the cusp of spring here in northern Wisconsin and the buds on trees are just beginning to form. There's not much color in the woods yet, and on today's gray cloudy day, the beauty of the forest was hard to find at first.

But as my steps became a rhythm, my mind began to drift and I was able to focus on the texture of the landscape surrounding me.

The trails were blissfully devoid of people today and so I was able to let Charlie off-leash for most of our hike. I struggle to balance my desire to keep her safe (on-leash) with her need to run (off-leash), but today was easy.

And because she was free to explore on her own (nearby of course), I was not distracted by the constant tug of the leash.

As I continually scanned the scenery for possible dangers to Charlie (wild animals, approaching dogs, people on mountain bikes, etc.), things I would not normally have seen began to draw me off the trail to take a closer look.

This in-between time of seasons exposes different parts of nature for a brief period of time... the snow covering has been removed and the growth of the lush underbrush has not yet begun. Logs, fungi, mushrooms and tiny blooming flowers are all visible now.

And because there is little color to distract the eye, today's hike was a study in texture.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Mud Bath @ Hartman Creek S.P.

This has been a frustrating week. I came down with a horrible cold last weekend and have had absolutely no energy this week. With sunny days and temps in the 60's and 70's all week, I've wanted nothing more than to be outside and hiking with Charlie. Unfortunately, being sick, my body was not cooperating.

I've been trying to appease Charlie with short bouts of playing fetch in the backyard, but she's not happy about this. She wants to go have some adventures.

And finally, FINALLY, today I'm feeling better! So we're heading out to Hartman Creek State Park in Waupaca to do some hiking and swimming. I'm looking forward to the fun road-trip, outdoor activities at the park, lunch at Weasels in Waupaca (the best pizza ever!) and maybe stop at Jung's Greenhouse to check out their succulents on the way home (I have a "thing" for succulents).

Charlie's mud-bath last year at Hartman Creek S.P.

We went to Hartman Creek around this same time last year and Charlie took herself swimming during our hike around the lake... unfortunately that part of the shoreline was black mud. It was an adorable moment - a half yellow dog, half black-mud dog. Lucky for us, the other side of the lake was crystal clear shoreline where she could rinse off before getting back in the car.

I've heard people pay big money for mud baths... perhaps they're good for dogs too! If so, Charlie is sure to find some more mud today.

Hope you enjoy your weekend... and get outside with your dog if you can!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Napping in the Sun

Charlie found an orange ball during our morning hike today and she's been obsessing over it all day.

It's not a *new* ball, but it's new to her. However, it is extremely dirty. Which is probably why she loves it so much... it's got "flavor."

Under all this dirt lies an orange tennis ball.

After being cooped up in a stuffy office all week, I long to be in the outdoors as much as possible on the weekends. Today, however was extremely windy, and I hate wind. 

On windy days I always try to remember the quote, "Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair", but I really hate wind.

Instead of fighting the elements, I decided to hunker down in the backyard for the afternoon. I bundled up and lounged on a lawn chair while soaking up sun and avoiding most of the wind gusts.

I brought a book out with me, but Charlie was persistently placing her orange ball in my lap to throw for her, so I quickly gave up on reading.

Instead of staring at the dilapidated garage in front of me, I reclined the lawn chair until I was positioned to view only the blue sky above. I kicked off my shoes and let the sun warm my purple wool socks.

White clouds scuttled across the sun, dousing me in coolness until the sun returned to warm me up again. Like a child on a lazy day, I imagined "cloud animals" in the shapes of the cottony puffs above.

Before I knew it, I had drifted into a light sleep. But after a few minutes I felt Charlie setting her ball on various parts of my body trying to get me to play fetch again. Her persistence paid off. 

I remember my dad telling me about the time that he fell asleep in a field and woke up with spider webs all over him. He loved the outdoors and napping outside was one of his guilty pleasures. 

Napping in the sun today made me feel like he was with me and it was a sweet moment.