Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Special Moments

I dug out my fancy camera and have been reacquainting myself with it for the past week, capturing sweet images of Charlie in the living room.

Those eyelashes. Oh my.

It's the beginning of a long holiday weekend and we'll be spending it relaxing, hiking, hanging out with family & friends and being present in all these activities to absorb the special-ness of each moment.

This will be a slow and deliberate weekend to focus on meaning and to be at peace.
There will be no more rushing, no more guilt and no more expectations.
This weekend is for us.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Any Given Sunday

While most people were out Christmas shopping or watching football, Charlie and I enjoyed blissfully quiet trails all to ourselves on Sunday.

There were ice-fishermen on the barely-thick-enough ice already, which always surprises me. Their voices and noises of their drilling equipment carried across the lake and into the woods, which had Charlie curious and on alert.

And at one point on the trail, we glimpsed a large pileated woodpecker soaring through the woods above us.

Charlie, of course, proved that the best sticks are found in the woods.


Saturday, November 25, 2017

#OptOutside, 2017 version

This is our 3rd year of opting outside for Black Friday. And boy, was it a beautiful day to be outside! Filtered sun shone through interesting layers of clouds and a gentle breeze carrying 55 degree temps swirled around us.

Frozen waves washed ashore.

We ended up hiking our "go-to" park at Big Eau Pleine just because there is no hunting allowed at this park, which helps with Charlie's noise reactivity issues and gives us a sense of safety.

Fat tire bike tracks lined the shore.

The water level of the reservoir was low enough to do some beach-combing, much like last year, and we were even able to find a few treasures along the shore.

Once we completed the loop around my favorite peninsula, we headed inland to hit the trails through the woods. Some recent logging activity has changed the view somewhat, but there were interesting stumps and logs to explore.


Broken heart.

Upon returning home, I spent a leisurely afternoon sitting outside wrapped in a thick wool sweater listening to the wind whisper through pine trees and breathing in fresh air. It was a beautiful and perfect day.

I'm really glad that we've had a bunch of mild days to prolong the autumn season before true winter hits. I have a feeling it's going to be a cold & snowy winter so I want to enjoy as much of this season as possible. Tomorrow we'll be heading to another one of our #OptOutside places from the past and enjoy the trail before it's snow-covered.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Charlie's Daddy

I'm going to get a little more personal than usual and share one of the private parts of my life with you tonight. I try to keep this blog focused on our outdoor adventures, but sometimes it's nice to share the other fun stuff that goes on when we're home, just living our normal life.

If you've been reading along the past few months, you know I met a great guy this summer and he's become a big part of our lives. Charlie adores him and he feels the same about her. He calls us "his girls" and understands that we're a "package deal." Which is just fine with him... actually better than fine.

He's so happy to have found a girl who likes to do all the fun outdoor stuff that he does... hiking, kayaking, fishing and exploring. He loves it that I collect animal skulls that I find in the woods and that my bookshelves are lined with pieces of driftwood and cool rocks that I've found. It's a little spooky how similarly our homes are decorated with the pieces of nature that we surround ourselves with.

And he especially likes that I have a dog.

And so our little duo has turned into a family of three so naturally and comfortably that I hardly even noticed. Life has taken on a new rhythm of happiness.

A couple of weeks ago I was telling Alan that I was worried about leaving Charlie home alone too long while I went to an out-of-town concert. He said, "Why don't you drop her off at my house for the night?" I joked and said that it would be sweet of him to babysit Charlie and he replied, "It's not technically babysitting when it's your own kid."

I totally melted.

So Charlie spent the evening with Alan and his friends at their weekly poker night while I went out of town without having to worry about her. That same week, I bought Charlie a new tag for her collar that has both of our phone numbers and I also added Alan's information to Charlie's microchip registration.

It's official... Charlie has a daddy. And at this time of year when everyone is reflecting on what they are most grateful for, I'm grateful that I found someone who loves me as much as I love him. We're a family and we have lots of time for fun new adventures together. It's gonna be good. :)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Peak of Fall

"I find that the great thing in this world 
is not so much where we Stand, 
as in what direction we are Moving." 
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

I woke up after sleeping in this morning and found the bedroom flooded with light... sun! Even though it was a chilly 26 degrees, I decided we were going hiking so we could soak up some much-needed sunlight.

Charlie racing through the crunchy leaves.

However, by the time we reached our destination, the clouds had already moved in and the wind had become brisk and chilly.

Determined to make the best of it, we explored the shoreline of Big Eau Pleine Reservoir, hiked around an island and then headed back to the parking lot when it got too cold.

We saw a muskrat enter this piece of driftwood, but couldn't find it when we arrived.

Despite the cool temps and wind, it was a very peaceful and relaxing hike. Charlie romped around on the beach chewing sticks with her newly healed mouth and I crunched through a thick layer of leaves on the secluded island.

On the calm side of the island, away from the blustery wind, we took our time exploring the reeds along the shore and taking a moment to enjoy the silence and the way my boots sunk into the soft sand.

Several trees offered views of their sculptural elements now that the leaves have been stripped away. And although we didn't find any "treasures" like last time, there were plenty of visual treasures that we took away with us as memories of one of the last fall days before the snow comes.

Praying Mantis tree?

Seasons are changing and I become more introspective during these times. I miss my dad a lot around this time of year and wish he could meet my new boyfriend and see how happy I am.

Life is constantly changing and evolving. As soon as you get comfortable, life throws you something new. The rollercoaster continues... sometimes good, sometimes bad, but always moving forward.

Fresh kill (mostly eaten) likely from a hawk or eagle.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Saturday With Charlie's Grandma

It's been a challenge balancing time between my new boyfriend and my mom. I know she's happy for me for finding someone to love and she completely approves of him being in my life, but she and I have been living together for the past 7 years and she's had my undivided attention during that time.

So Charlie and I decided to spend Saturday doing adventures with Charlie's "grandma" (my mom).

We headed up to Helene's Hilltop Orchard to purchase honey crisp apples, blueberry syrup and apple pie donuts to celebrate the flavors of the harvest season. Then we drove over to Council Grounds State Park to take a scenic drive through the woods and enjoy a short stroll along one of the river trails.

Mom's dog, Peanut, joined us for the trip and the four of us had a great time exploring the fall sights and smells. It was a great day for reconnecting with family and enjoying the last weekend of fall colors.

Leaves slowly drifted down all around us while Peanut plowed through piles of crunchy leaves with a huge smile on her face and Charlie raced along the shoreline looking for sticks and taking a dip in the water.

Peanut blends in so well to the leaves!

We sat on benches on the fishing piers to watch for eagles soaring over the river and enjoy the silence of the calm day. The weather was a balmy 70 degrees... so unusual for this time of year! There was no rush, just enjoying the moment and soaking it all in.

Snoozing on the front porch after a long day of exploring and road tripping.
We ended our afternoon sitting on the front porch back at home, talking about the warm weather and making plans for our garden and yard next year. Charlie and Peanut snoozed on the loveseat, while our cat, Sally, played with leaves in the front yard. The warm air swirled around us and peaks of blue sky shone through the cloud layer every now and then. It was just a whimsical magical moment on a warm fall day... sitting with content smiles and warm hearts.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Smiles on a Gray Day

This has been a gray and rainy weekend and Charlie is having some tummy issues, so we're staying in and taking it easy... but we wanted to share some of the fun we had last Sunday when the weather was absolutely beautiful!

We had come back from vacation a day early due to the weather and honestly we were just ready to be home. So Sunday, when the weather turned sunny and warmer, Charlie and I headed out to one of our favorite local trails.

The water had been drawn down a little bit on the reservoir so we were able to do some beach combing and even made it out to our secluded island that has been inaccessible for the past 2 years due to higher water.

It was so much fun!

My only challenge was trying to keep Charlie out of the toxic water. There was so much blue-green algae that the water was a glowing-green color. It was pretty, but not healthy.

The breeze was a blessing since the exposed damp shoreline smelled like mold and rot. It's been a while since any of that area has had a chance to dry out and with the nasty water, it definitely smelled unpleasant.

In any case, we had fun exploring the woods and romping on the beach. We found some fun "treasures"... Charlie found a new tennis ball and I found an artistic piece of metal that I brought home to add to my living room decor.

At the end of our hike, I sat on a picnic table along the shore and threw Charlie's ball onto the exposed sand as she tore around spewing sand up into the air as she chased the ball. She was so happy to be playing fetch again now that her mouth was a little more healed up and the weather had improved.

It was good to be home.