Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Camping with Stinky, Again.

The trick to traveling and living in extremely cramped quarters is to remain organized. Everything in its place and it goes back to its place or you end up rooting around for your PJs in the rain.
Second trick is to keep the car clean. It took Cole less than a day to throw that rule out the window. Mr. Fussy Britches decided he didn't want his breakfast, so he dumped his bowl in my sleeping bag. Canned pheasant over kibbles.
Here he is feeling apologetic, trying to creep into my lap.
Not to be a hypocrite, I have to admit that I contributed to the mess with my single serving peanut butter packet. The oil separation makes it necessary to fully knead the packet to reconstitute.

 Not something that should be done late at night, on the freeway, doing 80 mph, after half an hour of forearm workouts.
The packet had ruptured and I didn't notice for the longest time. One must therefore knead gently. I did salvage most of the PB on the steering wheel though.
Once we'd arrived in Canada, I stopped at a cheese factory. The owner granted me permission to let Dummy run in the field behind the building. Cole quickly discovered where they dump the whey and spoiled milk.
Doesn't he look smug?
In spite of washing him with my laundry detergent, he's still aromatic.
My goal in all this was to buy curds. Best when they're fresh and squeaky.
So delicious that I had to share. Later that day, I regretted giving the King of Flatulence so much cheese.

Our first running stop of the day was at McGregor Point Provincial Park.  A dog beach and miles of trails along Lake Huron. 
His Majesty.
...in Lake Huron.
On the trail, we saw turkeys, a garter snake and one porcupine that had Cole thinking it was a really fluffy cat.
Wrapping myself around a tree was the only way to stop him from dragging us right into it. My genius now has health insurance, but still...
Between the dog washing and flower gazing,
(wild Bachelor's Button)
(definitely domesticated Hibiscus)
I was cutting it close to make it to Bruce Peninsula/ Cyprus Lake campground before closing. When I got there, something about the group that was there camping had my Spidey Senses tingling. I listened to my instincts and went to Plan B: a private campground a few miles away. 
The wind howled and it poured overnight. Guess what windfall I found at first light?
I was sitting in an old apple orchard.
Five different heirloom varieties including one crab apple I recognized as 'Dolgo'. Oh, there's a bagful in the trunk today!
With all that's been spilled, stored and stinking in the car now, I shall rechristened the Hyundai: Bear Bait.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Michigan hospitality

Monday morning I started back out on I-75. Alas, the car had another attack of shunpiking (the act of avoiding major highways). I miraculously found myself at Van Buren State Park.  I was wearing my running clothes and Ohio was missing  in our tally of states where we've been trail running.  Coincidence, I think not. 
Packing lists for me, Cole and canoe trip (6 pages total). 
Considering I'm a list maker, the Ohio run had been planned for months. 
A little jewel of a park. The Kid and I ran five miles through hardwood forests and along corn fields. We suffered our first casualties of the trip here. I caught my toe on a root and performed a blue ribbon face plant. On Cole's side, his arthritic toe acted up after the run and swelled right up. Getting old ain't for sissies!
The troop marched on to Michigan to meet a fellow blogger for the first time. As much as I rail about how evil computers are, it is pretty cool to be able to create a friendship with someone 1000 miles away.
The author of the blog Change is Hard is one fine cook! I only stayed overnight, but ate enough to sustain myself for a few days.
Dawn and her husband are fascinating people, one evening isn't enough time for all the conversations. 
And then there's the superstar, Katie, the couple's sheltie.  A dog who so totally understands the demanding lifestyle of an adored pet.
Katie and Cole, being blue bloods and all, feigned indifference towards each other. Cole even retired early for the night and wandered back into the Master bedroom and tucked himself into their bed. His manners are impeccable! Not.
I consider myself to be extremist fortunate to have truly great friends.

Blazing North

Saturday morning I had to tear myself away from my hideaway in North Carolina.

The grand scheme was to run a 5 mile loop trail in the Smokies before heading on to Ohio. I know that dogs aren't permitted on the trails in national parks, but I spaced it, showing up at the trailhead only to have to turn back.
All dressed up and no place to go.
More than mildly annoyed to be on the sidelines.
Steady traffic through the park was replaced with stop and go traffic in a little place I call Hell.  Pigeon Forge, TN. Kiddie Vegas:  miles of arcades, mini putt and go-carts . My kind of town is small, one that has a store called Geraldine's Hair salon and bait shop.
Not this.
Nor this.
This was very groovy, but I had to hate it on principal.

The town had one redeeming quality:  helicopter rides.

 I found one company willing to take Cole up.
One more thing crossed off my Bucket List.

Cole is now wondering why we ever bother running up mountains when flying is obviously  easier.
But not as much fun...
We spent a few hours in Big Ridge State Park, TN.  
Found the Norton family cemetery in the middle of the woods. Found a tiny little grist mill too.
Getting him up there was easy, down...not so much.
Between the traffic, the flying and the running, I wasn't going to be making it to my planned overnight stop in the state park in southern Ohio before closing.
 Moving on to Plan B. There's always a Plan B and C and D.. 
The plan:  sleep in the armored tent (aka the car). This is why I remove seats, to make room for my bed. Check out the curtains that attach with Velcro. Chic, no?
South of Pima, Ohio, there's a rest stop with a good size park right out the door.
Cole spent an hour the next morning herding squirrels up trees.  I imbibed heavily on coffee.
A watched pot never boils.
My Aeropress coffee maker and simmering pot to keep the water warm.
The buffet line... In the trunk.

On Sunday, we made tracks North.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Off Without a Hitch

Leaving the farm is one of my least favorite things. The perfect vacation would start with tossing my cell phone into the lake and puttering around for a week doing projects and playing with the oxen.
Alas, a plant gets root-bound if it stays in the same pot for too long.  I'm getting away to grow, then I'll hurry home.
I'm overnighting in my favorite place on the planet, Highlands, NC.  Cole and I arrived later then planned... Atlanta traffic had us hemmed in for two hours. I comforted myself by feeling sorry for the south bound drivers dealing with complete closure of I-85 due to an major accident.
Plus, I had begun raiding my food stash. Homemade beef jerky soothes the nerves.
At my client's house in Highlands, I found these three apples that the deer missed.  Be still my hunter gatherer beating heart!
Tomorrow onward to Ohio. This concludes my first blog posting created with my new tablet. It does appear this old dog has learned a new trick.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cleared For Takeoff

Houston we're ready to launch.

Shuttle is packed.

Crew awaits clearance.

In the meanwhile, I've been tinkering with my latest idea:  Cole Cam.  I Jerry rigged up a handle on Cole's harness to hold a camera.

Does he look disgusted, or is it just me?

We're having technical difficulties...
As this nausea causing video will demonstrate:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Second Act

Welcome to my midlife crisis.  I've been doing the same job almost a quarter century, I love being self-employed, my clientele is more family than customer, but my joints are wearing out on the repetitive motions.  
What to do?...
The solution has been right under my nose for the past 8 months:

Working out with Ike has given me a deliciously devious idea.
I'm going back to school to earn my Personal Trainer Certificate.  Our local college offers a new one year course.  I've missed the beginning, but the director believes that I already have half the required course from my B.Sc. at Auburn.  I knew that silly piece of paper would come in handy some day.  
 I will, of course, keep my regular cleaning gigs (no panic yet), this will be something to transition into very gradually.  
I owe a debt of thanks to my personal trainer/ career mentor, Ike, who has helped me get my game to the next level. Thanks to our regiment, I've lost weight, gained muscle mass and for the first time in my life I have a strong core and a trouble free back.

You ought to give him a call.  Just don't take my M,W, F (6:30 -7:30) slot, I will find you and I will hurt you.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Climbing Back in the Saddle

I live alone and usually work and travel solo.  My entire family lives over 1000 miles away, half my dearest friends are three states over... not complaining, but you remove one member of my inner fur-body circle and it makes a profound hole, lacuna, pit, you get the picture.
One week since the Roo passed. Amazing how 20 lbs tore my heart out with his absence.
A sincere thank you for all the kind emails and hugs... Every message made a difference.
Even the menagerie around here pitched in to cheer me up.
On Tuesday, I found Tommy curled up around Roo's grave.  Warmed the cockles of my pagan heart to know he wasn't alone.
Cole has been uncharacteristically affectionate and extraordinarily funny.
All I can say is that when my time comes, I'm heading straight for that Rainbow Bridge, my entire clan had better be there!
(Google Rainbow Bridge, I won't go into it here...).

The last week has been a blur, trying to tie up loose ends before leaving town.
Finally, on Saturday, our round bales were ready.

18 thousand pounders to sustain our herd for the Winter.
The new trailer in action.
A beautiful sight to behold.  Nobody goes hungry around here.
A not so beautiful sight:
Mr. Opossum harassing the chickens.  It took several tries before I could grab his tail and carry him to a more distant part of the farm.

Obviously, I need to put up a No Trespassing sign to ward off possums, snakes, voles...I love my wildlife, but I've been overrun this year!

One task that I will not be able to wrap up before my vacation: a tile demolition job.
I'd been warned that it was dreadful work -- it's the worst.  Let's just say that I'm putting ceramic tile removal on my F_____It List...rhymes with Bucket.  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Countdown Commencing

In 5 days, Cole and I begin our drive to Canada.
Packing began months ago. The spare bedroom was the staging area.
Cole seems unsure that it will all fit in the car.

Since I'll be spending 6 days in Algonquin Provincial Park, all my food has to be prepared and packed in advance.  "Failing to plan is planning to fail".  A quote I adore.
Grinding and individually packaging my favorite coffees in tiny pill pouches.  

Four of those days, my friend and I will be canoeing and portaging.  I will have the canoe to carry, plus my backpack and Cole's too.  Anne-Marie said she was willing to tackle carrying her pack and the food barrel.
This is a file photo from The Portage Store to give you an idea of what a barrel looks like.
This is the reason foods must be light weight!
But, I refuse to subsist on MRE's or the overpriced and oversalted prepackaged camping foods.
I spent the weekend cooking our own organic, low sodium grub.  The last bit of Thai lentil pilaf is finishing up in the dehydrator right now.  
Mashed sweet potatoes drying for the topping of the shepherd pies.  
Homemade beef jerky, refried beans, sausage and kale risotto and scrambled eggs from my hens.  You can take the girl off the farm, but she'll find a way to take her produce with her!
I packed enough entrees and healthy snacks to add up to 3500 calories per day for the 4 day canoe trip.  Not only will it be below freezing at night, requiring extra calories, but full days of paddling will burn tons of energy.

All the food for the entire road trip has been vacuum packed.  Frugal travel for when you're on a strict budget AND you'd rather go hungry than eat anything processed, with GMO's, or anything from a fast food joint, convenience store, restaurant...  I think my parents would simply call this being fussy.  I prefer the term ethical eater.  I made it up, it sounds so much better!

T minus 5 and counting, Canada brace yourself for the Redneck invasion!