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Saturday, November 26, 2016

#OptOutside


Charlie and I didn't get to go hiking yesterday in honor of OptOutside, the movement intended to replace Black Friday shopping with spending time outdoors, since I was one of the unfortunate people who had to be at work.


And even though it's still gun-deer season in Wisconsin, the nice weather lured us outside today to one of our favorite county parks that was blissfully free of hunters and gunshots.


The water level of the reservoir was finally low enough to allow access to the tip of the peninsula that we haven't been able to explore since last year.




We took the opportunity to comb the shores and walk the waterline along the beach. I admired shiny bits of exposed quartz rocks and the swirl of sand beneath the water as the waves rolled in, while Charlie purposefully dropped her tennis ball in front of each of my footsteps in hopes of a game of fetch.




On days like this, when I can walk on a beach in late November with a warm breeze blowing my hair and the sun shining on my face, I feel like a kid getting away with something.

Like it's almost too good to be true. But at the same time, it absolutely is true.

And I glow.



Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sometimes You Need a Break

With colder weather arriving and the beginning of gun-deer season this weekend, Charlie and I are taking a short break from hiking. Charlie's noise-reactivity has grown over the years, and even the echo of a distant gun-shot sends her into a stressed-out frenzy and she just wants to seek cover and hide.

So we'll be sticking to long neighborhood walks after work on weeknights and fetch in the backyard on weekends for a bit.

Our hiking excursions always slow down during this time of year. Once the snow sets in, many of the parking areas for our favorite trails are snowed-in and not accessible. Some of the trails are taken over by cross-country skiers and therefore off-limits to dogs. And because of the temperatures, we often can't hike as long or far as we used to.

In essence, winter kind of sucks for hikers.

And for a highly active dog, like Charlie, the lack of exerting activities can cause some behavioral problems and a certain level of stress when cabin fever sets in.

So what is there to do?


Well, we've always been able to find indoor "games" to play and work on training exercises. But sometimes I want a break too... just to watch t.v. or read a book. And at those times, having a long-lasting treat like a bully stick, helps tremendously.

Earlier this year, I was contacted by BullyBundles.com asking if I'd be willing to try their bully sticks and write a blog post reviewing Charlie's experience with them. We received a free 5-pack of 12" bully sticks and Charlie happily enjoyed them over the summer.

I like giving Charlie bully sticks because they're all natural and they take her a little longer to consume than a raw hide (which I don't give her).

I was really impressed with the quality and size of the sticks and when I checked out the pricing for their monthly bully stick delivery, the value is impressive. I've always seen bully sticks as a VERY occasional treat for Charlie due to their expense, but after calculating the cost of the price per stick on BullyBundles.com, I signed up!



Winter season is a good time to find something constructive for your dog to do when they're bored. Along with finding fun indoor games, you might want to consider signing up for monthly delivery of bully sticks from BullyBundles.com as well.

And if you're looking for a thoughtful gift for a dog-lover on your holiday list, this would be high on my list of favorites!

Because sometimes you just need a break.







*Disclaimer: I received a free 5-pack of 12" bully sticks from BullyBundles.com for this review. All opinions and thoughts are my own and I would never recommend something I didn't believe in. I promise!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

New Wood Segment ~ Ice Age Trail


This post is a little out of order since we hiked it back in mid-September... and apparently I forgot to write it up! That's what happens when you're busy hiking, enjoying nature and bonding with your dog; the business end of what you're doing doesn't matter as much when you're having fun!


We had initially intended on hiking the Turtle Rock Segment on this day since it's my favorite time of year to do that one, but when we arrived at the parking area there were a lot of cars and trucks as well as a bunch of hunting-looking dogs. This wasn't going to work well with Charlie if there were a bunch of people with dogs on this normally secluded trail, so I decided to drive on to another segment further west that we hadn't done before - the New Wood Segment.

Lucky for us, this one was all on private land where no hunting was allowed, so we had it to ourselves this day.



The trail was a bit challenging with a strong dog strapped to me and pulling forward at warp speed, so it took quite a bit of effort to slow her down and make sure I didn't trip or twist my ankle.

The landscape had a lot of little ups and downs, water crossings (since it followed along a little river), and plenty of rock pilings hidden with ground cover that made me take care in my foot holds.



We heard a lot of wildlife in the surrounding brush just off the trail... likely deer or small mammals. Charlie was on alert and wanted to be free to chase these animals, which added to the already mounting challenges of the landscape.



When we finally reached a scenic spot by the river with a leopold bench, I let Charlie off-leash to go swimming and sat down on the bench for a break. She brought me sticks which I threw down the slope into the river, over and over again, hoping to tire her out a little with a long game of fetch before setting off for some more hiking.


Charlie had a blast alternating games of fetch, swimming and hiking on this trail and it was refreshing to see new scenery on a segment we hadn't been to before.

Breaking out of routine and exploring a new area was a good choice for us this day and we both came home feeling renewed.



Sunday, October 2, 2016

My Birthday Girl


Today is Charlie's birthday! Hard to believe she's 6 years old already... where has the time gone! She's become such a part of my life that it's hard to remember what life was like before her.

I talk to her, she understands a lot of my words, we walk and hike together like a team, she snuggles with me at night, and waits by the door for me to come home from work. She's my baby and I love her so much.

Today, we visited Culver's for frozen custard and drove to Big Eau Pleine Park... one of Charlie's favorite places. It was a gorgeous fall day... sunny, blue skies, warm breeze and colorful trees. An awesome day for a birthday!

Waiting in line at the drive-thru for ice cream... so much anticipation!

It's almost here!

Ahhh... sweetness!






Saturday, September 24, 2016

Parrish Hills Segment ~ Ice Age Trail


A couple of weeks ago, on September 11th, Charlie and I were going through our normal lazy Sunday morning routine... coffee and breakfast while watching CBS Sunday Morning and snuggling on the couch. It was turning into a beautifully sunny, blue-sky day and I definitely wanted to get outside to enjoy the sunshine!

Everything on t.v. was filled with images from September 11th fifteen years ago... a lot of sadness and disbelief; still after all this time. And with that, memories of my dad started surfacing. As anyone who has ever lost a beloved friend or family member knows, you miss them every day, but some days are harder than others.

I believe it's important to remember these tragic events and take a moment to honor lives lost, but I also didn't want to get mired down in sadness for the day, so I figured we'd head out to a brand new segment of the Ice Age Trail that we had never been to before and ignite a sense of adventure in honor of all those who are no longer with us. This was the kind of day my dad loved and I'm sure there's no place he would have rather been than hiking on a trail just like this.



We took a leisurely hour-long drive up to Langlade County to take on the Parrish Hills Segment, parking at a small wayside next to Townline Lake where the trail began along the steep banks of the lake amidst towering pine trees.


Recent rains had left large puddles and lots of mosquito-breeding grounds along the trail, but with a quick and constant pace we were able to avoid too many bugs. Charlie had one small tick on her after this hike, but that was to be expected with all the tall grass she was running through.


The variety of trail types available on this segment ranged from single-track dirt trail, 2-track dirt trail and wider gravel trail that was most likely a well-used logging road or ATV trail. Butterflies flitted about occasional meadows of wildflowers and the distinct sound of cicadas filled the air.







Towards the end of the hike, where the trail turned into a large puddle making it impossible to proceed, we took a short side trail that revealed a beautiful hidden lake filled with migrating cranes and geese. It was so rustic and wild, it took my breath away.