Saturday, March 25, 2017

BB Visits Rib Mountain

Today is BB's final full day of his stay with us. We'll be heading down to Madison tomorrow to return him to his "mom." And although it's been challenging to walk two dogs at the same time (I can never keep the leashes untangled!), we'll miss having him around. He's got a playful spark and youthful spirit that makes us laugh constantly. But I'm sure he'll be happy to get back home and into his normal routine again too.

Anyone who has ever had a guest visiting them knows that there are always a couple "must see" places that they like to show off in their home town. Wausau has several of these, but Rib Mountain State Park is a top choice for most people who love outdoor activities, so I decided to take BB and Charlie hiking and sight-seeing there this afternoon.

Despite the gray, cloudy day, the air had a tinge of "spring" to it and the snow-melt filled the tiny streams that trickled down the hillsides. It was a very peaceful walk along the lower trails on the backside of the mountain.

We toured the crumbled remains of the old Dynamite Shack and then drove up to the top of the mountain to take in the views of Wausau. It's always a bit of a surprise to drive past the ski lifts still operating on the ski hill when there is no snow anywhere else. BB enjoyed the trails and the leisurely drive around the park with his head hanging out the window taking in all the scents.

Tomorrow will be a road trip day and hopefully a couple of short hiking adventures along the way. Then we'll begin our week again... weekends always end too soon!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Finding Toys

Charlie has this knack for finding toys... sometimes in the least likely places. I've seen her dig up old buried tennis balls on wilderness trails where people are rarely seen.

She finds lacrosse balls under logs and in marshy bogs along the athletic fields near our house (she even "snorkels" for them in shin-deep water).

She also sometimes steals toys from other dogs' yards while we're out on walks. She's so sneaky about this one that I don't even realize she's got a toy in her mouth until we've been walking for a while and I have no idea which house it could belong to.

So the other day, when we were hiking at Big Eau Pleine County Park, she found a toy on a sign post. Someone had obviously lost it and then another someone put it on the post for the first someone to find it. Charlie found it. And she wasn't going to give it up. So I just let her keep it. Right, wrong, oh well.

In any case, she's keeping it close and having a good time with it. Seems these "found" treasures are like Christmas morning to her!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Be Our Guest!

BB in the backseat.

We have a guest staying with us! BB, my stepmom's dog, is visiting us while his mom goes on vacation. He is one of the few dogs that Charlie gets along with and it's such a relief to have him around for her to play with knowing that he's not in any danger of her fear-aggressive outbursts.

You have no idea how much weight this lifts off me. Watching them play, hike and romp around together gives me so much joy. It's rare for Charlie to have this one-on-one dog time and I love that she gets to be a normal dog for a while.

I have no idea what it is about BB that makes her feel so safe, but she's completely at ease with him.

BB is a 50-lb. black lab/beagle mix and will be celebrating his 11th birthday in a couple of months. Despite his age and a few benign growths on his body, he bounces around like a 2-year-old! Most people mistake him for a puppy because of his small size, his big "dumbo-like" ears and his youthful spirit. It's amazing to see a dog in his later years enjoying life so much and keeping up with a youthful dog like Charlie.

On this last day of winter, we enjoyed balmy temps in the mid-40's and plentiful sunshine. Although the lake at Big Eau Pleine County Park is still mostly frozen, the shoreline is starting to thaw out and we saw a line of buckled ice where water is flowing and pushing underneath.

The recent wind storm had knocked down many of the dead-wood trees in the forest, making a challenging obstacle course of the road and trail. We had a lot of fun dodging downed trees and branches although a bit challenging at times with two leashed dogs! It never failed that one dog would go under the log and one would go over and then I'm stuck deciding which way to go and how to maneuver the leashes. It was a good workout for all of us and a chance to enjoy sunshine on our faces and wind in our hair!

I'm looking forward to the start of Spring tomorrow and more opportunities to be outdoors, as well as the possibility for new beginnings and fresh starts!

Playtime at the semi-frozen beach (VIDEO):

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Light in the Woods

Took a long hike with Charlie and a friend yesterday... the day before daylight saving time. As we exited the woods around 4pm, we started talking about the way the late-day light was filtering through the trees and getting excited about how much daylight will be left after work in the following weeks.

The days are definitely getting noticeably longer and the sun is higher in the sky, so even on cold days like yesterday, it feels more like spring than winter.

Light at the end of the tunnel.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Interesting Day in the Woods

It was supposed to be a nice, warm day today... and even though temps are in the 30's, it's a cloudy gray day. My mood is less than sunny as well... so I chose to hike Plover River Segment today as it's my place for quiet reflection and energizing my soul.

No one had been on the trail since the last snow so we made our own way through the woods on the untouched path. Luckily the snow was easy to hike without snowshoes because I really wanted the freedom of just hiking today.

Once we got to the river, I let Charlie off-leash to find a stick so we could play fetch and take a little break to enjoy the sounds of the flowing water.

As we explored the riverbank, we found a spot where something had recently lost its life. On a whim, we followed the blood trail and tracks through the woods to see what we could find... but after a while we turned back without finding anything too exciting.

We back-tracked the trail toward the parking lot and I continued playing fetch with Charlie. Her stick dwindled in size as she chewed it down to a tiny nub. As I thew it for the final time, she didn't see where it landed and began a frantic search to find this tiny wood chip.

In my effort to assist her in finding it, I turned back so I could point out the spot where it landed. Just as I was nearing the spot, a huge white rabbit with light brown spots streaked across the trail where we had just come from. To my great relief, Charlie did not see the rabbit, but continued searching for her stick in ever-widening circles.

Moments later I heard a loud "hoot-hoot-hoot" of a nearby owl, presumably hunting the white rabbit or another such animal in our vicinity. I stood still, listening to the repeated owl calls, while Charlie continued her search.

It was definitely an interesting day in the woods.