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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Treasure Hunt: Picnic Island

As most people are attending church this morning or heading off for an Easter-egg hunt, Charlie and I took a drive over to Picnic Island park near downtown Wausau to search for a key.

Yep, you read that right, a key.

A couple of months ago we received the charter issue of Our Wisconsin magazine in the mail - a new magazine with photos and stories about life in Wisconsin. I immediately signed up for the discounted new member subscription. To gain interest in the magazine, they're having a "Wisconsin Treasure Hunt" to find a hidden key in a public park and win a new KIA Soul. Each issue gives additional clues as to the whereabouts of the hidden key and eliminates a few more counties where the key is not hidden; my home county, Marathon County, is still on the possibility list.


So each weekend, as Charlie and I head out for our hikes, I spend a considerable amount of time nonchalantly (so as not to draw attention to myself) searching for this key. Last month the clue stated "It's attached to wood" and the clue in this month's issue was "Nice place for a picnic" so naturally I had to check out Picnic Island park in Wausau... alas, no key was found today.


I'll continue to search during our hikes and outings, but honestly I wish someone would just find it and put me out of my misery! It would be a lot easier to enjoy our hikes if I wasn't distracted searching for a key all the time.

I've procrastinated on getting my taxes done, so it's time to buckle down and finish up today. I'm off to eat my grilled cheese lunch and get to work.

Happy Hunting!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Picture Worth A Thousand Words


We attempted to take a walk this morning, but the rain was too heavy and we were instantly soaked. Charlie was miserable and wet so we went home. Upon returning home, we realized the power was out. It was a neighborhood-wide outage and we were without power for over 2 hours. I had been in the middle of dehydrating a batch of dog biscuits that needed to be delivered today. Needless to say, that didn't happen. Charlie went from window to window looking outside, bored out of her mind. Definitely not the fun Easter weekend I had hoped for.

The power is back on now and the furnace is catching up, gradually warming up this dreary day. I think I'll head back to the kitchen and bake up some chocolate-chip cookies... the instant cure to a crappy day.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Trail Update: Sunnyvale Park


The snow has taken on a dense, mushy texture... making it a bunch more difficult for hiking. I kept losing my footing and needed to really dig in with my boots to keep momentum. This slushy, muddy part of spring is not my favorite. I have a feeling our hikes are about to get really dirty for awhile!






The propane tank from the Polar Plunge hasn't been removed yet and the upper parking lot is still gated off, but there's plenty of parking in the first lot and the trail, while mushy, is still packed down enough and ready to be hiked. There were a few other dog-walkers on the trail, but we all maintained our spacing and were able to keep the dogs off-leash.

As it gets nicer out, more people will be out with their dogs which makes it harder to have a dog off-leash... but it's still nice to have these places where dogs are allowed. I have to admit, though, that I was pretty disappointed to see so much dog poop on the trail. I suppose a winter's worth of poop that wasn't picked up is going to be exposed soon. It's unfortunate because those are the kinds of things that ruin it for responsible dog owners.

I get it. It's gross carrying around a bag of poop until you get back to the garbage cans... but it's part of being a responsible dog owner.

Let's be responsible, people.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

40!

No... it's not my birthday (although that number is coming around soon enough)... we finally hit 40 degrees today for the first time this year! There were miniature rivers flowing down sidewalks and you could hear the constant drip, drip, drip of water melting off rooftops. Snowbanks are receding and I actually wore tennis shoes on my walk to work today instead of boots! Such happiness. We're expected to have highs in the 40's for a couple more days and then reverting back to 30 degree temps next week.

One ugly side-effect of snow-melt is as the layers of snow are peeled back, garbage is exposed everywhere. I'm going to have to start carrying a garbage bag with me on our hikes to clean up the trails ~ it grosses me out so badly.

The area schools are on Spring Break this week and our neighborhood (which has an elementary school a block away) has been so quiet. Even traffic has decreased a bit. I hope the kids are enjoying some of the sun and warmth while it lasts. I have such school-day nostalgia as I pack my lunch each morning and strap on my backpack for the walk to work. It almost makes it feel a little less like work on the days I walk... which is why I'm glad the weather has improved enough to make this a daily habit!

Happy Walking!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Downward Dog

Have you ever noticed how much your dog stretches? Charlie wakes up in the morning, sits up, stretches her neck upwards with her nose pointing to the ceiling while her shoulder muscles noticeably pull downwards ~ stretching her chest, throat and shoulders. Then she hops off the bed and goes directly into a downward dog pose, stretching her legs and back.

Throughout the day she continues these stretches during her normal activities...

Jump off the couch. Stretch.

Pounce on a toy. Stretch.

Run outside. Pause. Listen. Stretch.

We should take a cue from our pets and stretch more often. I've never heard anyone regret stretching.

I have been really busy lately and I tend to use lack of time as an excuse of why I'm not taking better care of myself. The reality is, if you don't take the time now, you'll pay for it later. A few minutes of stretching - throughout the day, not just once in the morning - takes little time and you feel great afterwards!

So after I got to work this morning and started feeling a cramping sensation in my right calf ~ the result of walking to work without stretching once this morning ~ I had to have a little talk with myself. And I committed to make a conscious effort to take regular "bathroom breaks" and get away from my desk to stretch in private. I feel a lot better and it really wasn't that difficult.

Stretch, people. Breathe deeply. Take care of yourself.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Another Snowy Sunday


We did a quick early-morning hike at Sylvan Hill Park this morning... nothing unusual or special, just a hike. The sky is cloudy and gray today, wind is bothersome, and there is still snow everywhere. Charlie met up with some of her fur-friends from a dog-walking group and had a ton of fun romping in the snow with them.


I, on the other hand, was out of breath and tired from slogging through the snow and couldn't wait to get home to a fresh pot of coffee and a book. A little while later, Charlie started barking in the kitchen... there were doves on the electrical lines outside the kitchen window!

View from the kitchen.

They cautiously watched me snapping pictures of them, bobbing their heads back and forth listening to Charlie's barks... and then flew off to a nearby tree. Charlie is now standing vigil at the window waiting for more birds, or perhaps a squirrel, to run by so she can bark again. Typical border-collie trait ~ she needs a job to do; I guess it's going to be keeping squirrels and birds out of the yard.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Trail Update: Eau Claire River Trail

Picnic Dreams

I attended the Dog Owners Seminar at Ace Hardware in Weston this morning. Charlie's favorite dog-sitter, Heide's Pet Care, was one of the presenters there to talk about training tips and dog behavior. She even mentioned Kanine Kitchen treats in her presentation! I didn't stay long enough to listen to the other presenters since I had Charlie waiting for me in the Jeep... we were heading to the Eau Claire River Trail nearby to go hiking!


The trail is still covered in snow, but it's nicely packed down and not slippery. The terrain is uneven and a bit rough, but not difficult. Most of the water is still ice-covered so you can't hear the trickle of the stream yet. As I walked along, my boots crunching in the snow, all I could hear were the hollow thudding of woodpeckers in the trees and the caw of the crows. Newly-hatched insects were crawling in the snow and clumsily flying through the air.

Charlie ice-walking along the shore.

We've got a long way to go before all the snow is melted and it finally feels more like spring, but the days are getting longer, birds are singing, bugs are hatching, and slowly the temperatures are warming. In the meantime, Charlie is still enjoying the snow.

Here's a cute video of her trying to "stomp" the mice and moles out from their sub-snow tunnels.

video


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Errand Hike: Downtown Wausau

Charlie waiting for me at the book return.

It's been awhile since we walked downtown. During the holiday months, we frequently walked down the well-lit Third Street to the mall, where Katzenbarkers had a temporary holiday location; Charlie would get to dog-browse the store and I'd buy her a duck foot or bully stick while we were there. But since the pet store closed for the season, we hadn't been back that way.

I figured since I had some library books that needed to be returned and it was still wonderfully light out after work, we'd take a walk downtown and kill two birds with one stone:  return my books and get Charlie's evening walk done!

There's something really rewarding about running your errands on foot and taking your time. I could have just as easily loaded Charlie in the back of the Jeep and drove the mile to the library and been home in 10 minutes.

Instead, we got an hour's worth of exercise, Charlie had a chance to sniff the new smells in the neighborhood, breathe in fresh air, and bond with me while we worked on some leash-training and street-crossing exercises... all the while I talk to her and tell her when she's being a "smart girl" or doing a "good walk" and then reinforcing these words with her dinner kibble in a baggie in my pocket as reward.

We took the deserted River Edge Parkway home and worked on her recall command while off-leash. I alternated leash-time with off-leash time and we splashed our way through some pretty muddy puddles.


I spotted another tiny bird nest in the trees along the Wisconsin River and heard plenty of bird-chirping during our walk... a sure sign of spring!


When we got home, I realized Charlie was WAY too muddy and dirty... time for another bath night! Now I have a clean, fluffy, lavender-smelling puppy and can't wait to snuggle up with her for the night. Sweet dreams...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Shopping Break: Bluegill Bay Park


Less than half a mile from the hustle and bustle of Rib Mountain's shopping district you'll find Bluegill Bay Park. Most people use this park for its boat ramp and access to Lake Wausau, but there's a scenic gravel path looping around the water inlets with occasional picnic tables and benches, which make this a wonderful spot to take a break from shopping. Next time you head out to Wal-Mart, pack the dog and your boots so you can go for a quick hike around the bay! Enjoy the great view of Rib Mountain from across the lake and catch a picture-perfect sunset in the summer.


A lot of people fish along the banks of Lake Wausau and Bluegill Bay in warmer months. There are even a couple fishing piers bobbing in the bay... although they are buried in snow and ice for now.


With the longer daylight, we were able to enjoy a hike today and take in the crystal clear blue sky. The wind, however, was howling and gusting at up to 30 miles per hour sandblasting my face with snow-powder. The winds had drifted the snow into pretty sculptures on the path, which apparently had not been walked on for some time; if you weren't familiar with the park, you'd have no idea where the path was.


Snow depths have reached the bottom of the picnic table benches, practically burying them.


But if you continue on to the end of the peninsula, there's a quiet spot in the pines where hardly anyone goes.


And if you keep going all the way out to the tip, there's a bench overlooking Lake Wausau, where you can sit in the sun, listening to the wind in the pine branches and the waves breaking on shore.


This park is a great place for bird-watching, picnicking, hiking, water-sports, fishing and just plain lounging around. There are picnic shelters to provide shade, bathrooms, and plenty of parking. This is a perfect destination for anyone looking for a break from shopping or just a quiet place to get away on your lunch break.


*Insider Tip:  If you're like me, and prefer to avoid crowds but still like to participate in fun events, this park is a great place to watch the annual Balloon Rally and Glow since the Wausau Airport (where the event is held) is right across the lake!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ode to Awareness


How many times have you walked past a street musician and looked the other way? Or maybe you didn't notice them at all. So often we put on our "blinders" - in a hurry to get somewhere or just not in the mood to deal with anything extra. But what if you're missing something really beautiful or special? In the hustle and bustle of life, we've all had autopilot moments, but life is too short to rush through without taking a moment to smell the roses. You might miss something really important.

Think about it.

Musician Glen Hansard was featured on the CBS Sunday Morning show today, who started busking on the streets of Dublin at 13, and ended up winning an Oscar for Best Song in 2008.

Or how about Joshua Bell, one of the worlds best musicians playing his violin in a subway station for 45 minutes as part of a social experiment by The Washington Post. Hardly anyone noticed him.

Take some time today to pay attention to your surroundings - whether it be out on the hiking trail, in the shopping mall or just lounging around at home. Absorb it all before it passes you by.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Weekend Challenge: Exercise With Your Dog!

As you may know, I'm a fan of Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project and in her post the other day she discussed one of her Secrets of Adulthood:  Doing a Little Work Makes Goofing Off More Fun.

This made me think about how dog trainers always recommend incorporating a few minutes of training with play time. It's easier to keep their attention on training if you reward them with play-time... all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!

Exercise, for most people, is the same ~ all work and no play. And that's why most people just stop exercising altogether. So this weekend, I want you to get outside with your dog and incorporate some exercise with your play. I'm betting that if you exercise with your dog, you'll have fun and won't even notice that you're getting a workout too!

Here are links to some sites that will give you inspiration:
Exercise With Your Dog
Daily Treat Blog
Caesar's Way ~ (indoor exercise tips for crappy weather days)

Always make sure you warm-up first and have some healthy treats handy to reward your dog. You'll feel great growing the bond between you and your dog!


Balance Beam Tree!

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Note For The Girls

If you're easily offended, please don't read any further!

Ladies,
Do yourself a favor and choose a date every year to go out and buy a new bra. Whether it be your birthday, your anniversary, some other special date or one you just pick out of the air ~ mark your calendar and go shopping on this date.

Get fitted for the correct size and buy at least 2 bras that you can alternate throughout the year. DO NOT keep your old one "just in case" you need it some day; you won't. Once you put on that new bra, you'll never wear your old one again... it'll just sit in your dresser taking up valuable real estate.

I had noticed that I was adjusting the straps of my old one constantly throughout the day; this is the first sign that your bra has worn out. I bought 2 new bras last weekend for $20 each at Kohl's... that's not a lot of investment for a year's worth of comfort ladies! 

Today, the "girls" are sitting higher, my posture has improved and most of all, I feel prettier. Isn't that reason enough?

Go shopping... you deserve it.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Movie Time!

Because the weather is absolutely NOT cooperating this weekend, Charlie and I are staying in. Here's a fun video instead of a trail report! Enjoy.

video

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Lost and Found

Last summer, Hannah Stonehouse Hudson took a photograph of her friend John holding his dog Schoep in the waters of Lake Superior. Schoep suffers from arthritis and John found that the cool waters helped his dog sleep better at night. Hannah took this photo as a favor and when she posted it to her Facebook page, it went viral. Almost overnight, donations poured in to the local animal hospital so Schoep could receive laser treatments to help with his arthritis. As a result of this overnight fame, Hannah's photography was in demand; she got to travel for photo shoots, her Facebook community grew, and she made many "Best of" lists all over the world.

Tragedy struck in January when her husband fell through the ice of Lake Superior on his snowmobile and died. It was a shock to everyone who knew, or knew of, Hannah.

Maybe it was fate that helped Hannah build her "support group" through the fame of John & Schoep's photo so that she could get through her loss. Although I've never met Hannah, her photography speaks to me and helped encourage me to purchase my camera this year and pursue my love of photography. I think about Hannah and her loss almost every day. It's a reminder to treasure each day and the fleeting beauty that surrounds us.

I learned yesterday that my best friend's dad died unexpectedly on Thursday. My friend and I worked together up until a year ago. We both quit our jobs within a couple weeks of each other ~ me because I hated working there and her to return back home and help her parents out with their business. Her mom was having some health issues and her instincts were telling her to go home and help out. Maybe this was fate's way of allowing my friend to spend this past year working with her dad every day. Maybe it was to put her in a place where she could help her mom through the grief they'll be dealing with.

~ Photo of my grandma ~

Death is always a loss. It's the pain of losing someone who was always there. It's an adjustment to the way you live from now on; aware of how easy it is to lose someone. And with time, it gets easier to remember the good things and let go of the grief little by little. I've grieved for lost family members as well as pets and not a day goes by that I don't think of them. I keep a photo of my grandma on my bookshelf and I smile at her every day as I pass by. I rejoice in her silliness because it was the essence of who she was. I light a candle each night during my quiet hour before bed when I read or write in my journal... reflecting on my daily gratitude. I think about my dog, Ben, who was the best dog ever and I miss him every day. Layla, my German Shepherd, who lived to be a whopping 14 years old! I still feel sadness for all the loss, but I also feel love for having enjoyed them each and every day. And I look at my dog, Charlie, and tickle her toes and kiss her head because I know she'll be gone someday too but I can love her to pieces while she's here.

Every day is a gift to be appreciated. Every person you pass on the street has their own story, their own joy and grief. Be kind to those you meet. Be patient with yourself and others... we are all dealing with something in some way or another. Get out there and appreciate the beauty of the world around you and tell someone you love them.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Coffee or Tea?


One of the nice things about morning rituals is that you don't really have to pay attention to what you're doing; it's mostly automatic. Your alarm goes off, you sleepwalk to the shower, go through the motions, drink your coffee, apply your makeup (or shave, if you're a guy), eat your breakfast, comb your hair... you get the picture. Sometimes it's a bit of a relief to be able to do something without thinking too hard about it.

For me though, the smell of my coffee (set to automatically brew) in the morning is what wakes me up. I don't use an alarm. My daily routine ~ meal times, work time, bed time ~ are pretty much the same every day, which helps regulate my internal clock.


This weekend is the beginning of Daylight Savings Time, and it's going to take a little while for my internal clock to adjust to this change. I'm going to miss the early-morning light, but I'm happy to trade it for the late afternoon sun. And every day is still getting a little bit longer. It won't be long before the snow is gone and I can start planning my backyard garden and taking regular walks and hikes with Charlie.

But back to routines... I enjoy both coffee and tea. My morning coffee is more of an automatic thing, a part of the morning routine... I know it's going to be there and the aroma is what gets me out of bed. But when I make a cup of tea, that's my time to take a moment and relax. Making tea is more of a "break in the day" for me; a time to take a step back and just take care of me. There are steps involved with a good cup of tea ~ boiling the water to the perfect temperature, choosing which tea leaves you want for this particular cup (black for some caffeine, chamomile to calm, peppermint for digestion), letting it steep for the right amount of time and then sipping slowly. Tea time is a ritual of awareness and presence.

If you want to learn more about making a great cup of tea and the variety of tea leaves available for your sipping pleasure, check out Rishi Tea from Milwaukee, WI. I had the pleasure of learning the tea-making process and sampling their tea when they participated in the Woodson Art Museum's gallery opening for Maggie Taylor's Almost Alice exhibit a couple of years ago. It's really good tea!

Me with Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum at the Woodson Art Museum

If tea isn't your thing and coffee is the only way to go, I recommend Steep & Brew from Madison, WI. After moving to Wausau from Madison, I was relieved when the grocery stores here started offering Steep & Brew beans in the coffee aisle.

Take a moment for your coffee or tea break this weekend and let your internal clock slowly adjust to the Spring changes that are on the way.

Breathe, sip, relax.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Wild

I love reading books. I've had my nose buried in a book since I was old enough to read. Some people hate getting books for their birthday or Christmas... for me, that's the ultimate present!

Last year on my birthday, my stepmom gave me a book by Cheryl Strayed called Tiny Beautiful Things. And she also lent me her very own signed copy of another of Cheryl's books called Wild.

I immediately fell in love with this book and couldn't put it down. If you want to read about a true hiking experience, go read this book.



p.s.  I might be sentimental or old-fashioned for saying this, but I think it's really important to inscribe your book-gifts. I've been giving books as gifts for a long time, and I always make sure to inscribe them with something personal to the recipient; that way, every time they open that book they remember who gave it to them and why. Let's make gifts personal again and inscribe!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Foolish Fun


I would never wish to go back to my childhood to do it all over again, but I have moments where I can make myself feel like I’m 10 years old. It’s all a matter of perspective. You see, I’ve noticed on my walks to and from work each day that I tend to slow down and be a little more “playful” on the way home. I think it’s probably the same for kids who walk to school (I rode the bus, so I really can’t relate)… on the way there, you’re in a hurry to get there; there’s a time constraint that has to be respected. But on the way home, you can take all the time you want! If you feel like walking a different route for some new scenery – you can! If you want to take a break and watch the fountain at the park – you can! If you want to stop for an ice cream on your way home – you can! It’s totally like being 10 years old again.

Plus, I’ve found myself doing silly stuff… like walking on the curb to see how far I can go without falling off; launching myself off the curb at the crosswalks and running across the streets for no reason except to run; kicking icicles that have fallen from roofs along the sidewalks until they break into tiny pieces too small to kick anymore; slowing down and marveling at things.

Kids are like sponges and they absorb their surroundings, drinking up all they see and hear. When is the last time you did that? In my last post, I complained about all the icy spots on the sidewalks and then  I realized that you can either go through life complaining or change your perspective and find some good in every situation.

So on the way home from work yesterday, I decided to play a game with the ice spots. Whenever I’d come up to one, I’d stand there for a moment to assess the best route that would be the least slippery. Sometimes I’d stand there for a whole minute! Which feels like an eternity if you start to be self-conscious about the cars driving by or thinking about people watching you from their houses. They might think you’re nuts or something!

But I figure if I put a smile on some commuter’s face when they saw this grown woman walking home from work acting like a ten-year-old, then that’s okay. Maybe more people will be willing to make fools of themselves in order to have some foolish fun if they realize they’re not the only ones. Forget about your aching back, your wrinkles and those extra pounds. Go pick some wildflowers for your mom; take a turn on the merry-go-round at the playground; see how high you can swing on the swing-set; let your dog chase you around the park; smoosh your feet in some mud; sled down that hill.

Go play, people.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Baby Steps

My frustration level with the end of this winter is reaching its peak. I keep telling myself there are only a few more weeks to go and then it will be Spring. But it's not like when March 21st comes, the snow will just disappear. In fact, we'll probably get a blizzard on that date with the way things have been going this winter. My sarcasm is taking over my optimism.

The walk to work this morning was extremely tedious. The days are warm enough now to melt snowbanks, but the nights are still cold ~ so all the snow-melt freezes into tiny ice skating rinks on the sidewalks by morning. I get to walk at a normal pace for about 10 feet and then have to place each foot very carefully on these ice patches so as not to fall on my ass. I would normally just walk through the snowbanks along the sidewalks, but they are now well past my knees and I'd be soaked by the time I got to work.

It was only 10 degrees this morning and I had considered driving instead of walking, but it's supposed to get up to 29 degrees by this afternoon which is perfect walking weather. I guess I'll be taking baby steps until the sidewalks are all clear. I'll never take dry sidewalks for granted again!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Battery Exhausted

My mom and I drove to Milwaukee on Friday for a Shiny Toy Guns concert and then back to Wausau on Saturday morning. We drove a total of 9 hours between both days and were up past our normal bedtime for the concert. I was absolutely exhausted when we got home.

But Charlie had been without a walk for 36 hours and was anxiously awaiting my return so we could go hiking. Since I was not interested in driving anymore, we went to Sunnyvale Park for a quick hike around the lake. While we were there, we met a HUGE black lab and Charlie got to play with him for a bit after our walk while I chatted with his owner. Charlie seemed appeased enough for us to head home so I could "veg out" for the rest of the afternoon.

After spending so much time in the urban-ness of Milwaukee and also driving around Madison, I was looking forward to recharging my spirit with a long hike on Sunday. The morning was sunny and bright, but somewhat chilly. The temps were forecast to reach the upper 20's by early afternoon and the wind had died down to a light breeze... sounded like good hiking weather to me! I still wasn't interested in driving too far or stressing myself out with trying to find somewhere new, so we decided to stick to a tried-and-true comfort spot:  Dells of the Eau Claire County Park.

We had a beautiful drive out there even though the road is showing signs up winter's wear. I pulled over when we saw a bunch of turkeys crossing the road so I could take a picture, but when I turned on the camera the display read "Battery Exhausted" and wouldn't turn on. HUGE bummer. I was soooo looking forward to taking pictures along one of our favorite trails on a beautiful sunny late-winter day.

*This should have been my first sign that things were not going to go well today.*
 
When I got to the entrance of the South parking lot, the snow looked deep, but there were tire tracks going in so I figured it would be okay. Big mistake. As soon as my tires hit the driveway I had a sinking feeling that I was about to get stuck. I put the Jeep in four-wheel-drive and had to keep going; there was nowhere to turn around. I was flooring the gas to keep the vehicle in motion as I entered the parking lot area where I hoped to keep enough momentum to turn around and get the hell out of there. Unfortunately I got too bogged down and lost momentum. I had to put it in reverse and then back into drive several times before I was able to get lined up with my tire tracks and head back out. My heart was hammering and I had huge amounts of adrenaline running through me. By the time my tires hit pavement again, my whole body was shaking. I couldn't believe I had gotten out.
 
*Whew*
 
Charlie, meanwhile, was sitting in the back of the Jeep wondering when we're going to get out and play. I couldn't just go home after getting all the way out there with her, so we drove to the main entrance to the park which was plowed out up to the first small parking lot. I had to sit still for a moment and let my heart rate get back to normal, but I figured it would help to get out of the vehicle and get some fresh air.
 
There were actually several cars in the parking lot; it seemed most of them were there to snowshoe. I had no intention of going for a long hike at this point, but wanted to give Charlie a chance to explore and play in the snow a little. I threw her ball and we walked around the main picnic/playground area for about 10 minutes and then headed back to the car. The trails are pretty snowed-in right now and there isn't much access unless you have snowshoes. I don't plan on coming back here until the snow is melted and Spring has arrived.
 
Driving home, I realized I may have done some damage to my Jeep; there's a shimmy when I get over 50 miles per hour and a lot of "play" in the steering wheel. Just what I need ~ car repairs. This has been a long week/weekend and I'm physically and mentally tired. I guess, just like my camera, my battery is exhausted.
 
I'm going to spend the rest of the day reading a book by a sunny window while sipping a cup of tea and recharge my battery.