Sunday, May 31, 2015

Thru-Hike Encounter

Charlie and I took a scenic drive through rolling countryside and bright blue skies, heading toward the Grandfather Falls Segment of the Ice Age Trail today.

It was a perfectly iconic summer day with mild temps, puffy white clouds and the bluest of blue skies. The trees were leafed out to their fullest and they were waving to us as the breeze blew through their canopy.

Birds were chirping, butterflies were floating and bees were buzzing; I wish I could live in this moment forever!

As we pulled into the parking area for the trail head, there were 2 people looking at the Ice Age Trail kiosk with trail maps. I hopped out and said "hi." They wanted to meet Charlie and then proceeded to ask a few questions about this segment of the trail, which I was more than happy to help with since Charlie and I are almost "experts" on this area. One was a thru-hiker and the other was her "trail helper" and they were mapping out the next leg of her journey - very cool!

After saying goodbye we headed up the trail and had a fun hour-and-a-half of hiking adventure along the Wisconsin River. It was a good day for a hike!

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.