Sunday, February 3, 2013

Nia the New Dog and Hurricane Creek

As part of her pre-hiking, pre-camping test trials, we introduced Nia to Hurricane Creek Park today to see if she was going to be able to negotiate a trail and keep pace with the pack. Looks like our concerned were unfounded. After the first mile she was stopping on the path to look back and make gruff barks of "hurry up" and spent most of the hike backtracking to make sure that everybody was staying together. She's apparently part monkey-herder.

At one point, while crossing a foot-bridge, she decided that bridges were for cats and tried to wade across the creek. The water was quickly over her head but she managed to swim along until the current sucked her along and under the bridge. Our girl kept her cool and scrambled atop a rock to await rescue. That answers one question- she can indeed swim.

The land manager's cat was interested in Nia, but not enough to approach or leave its perch.

We couldn't be much happier with our pup's performance on the trail. It will take a longer hike to see what she's really made of, but for a first time out she did remarkably well.

Speaking of doing remarkably well... look who finally got up on the climbing wall! Esther showed a surprising amount of knack for wall-crawling and I was very pleased.

Monkey-See and Monkey-Do

Chan was also on the wall (as was I) but she had no objections to volunteering for snuggle buddy with one very sleepy pup.

Esther's entry for the day (with pictures of me and more of the puppy rescue) can be found over on her Roamschool blog. A few more pictures that I took can be seen in the gallery, right here.

Friday, February 1, 2013

January 2013 in Review

The new year started with a coyote sighting at the end of our road. The big dogs were not happy at all.

There was much eating of turnips in early 2013...

On the 12th we made another outing to the trails behind the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center with a whole flock of our homeschooling friends and their kids. We saw birds! I ate algae! 

Peanuts growing from deer bait left on the trail

Blue-green algae that I sampled- faintly flavored of greens

More sandhill cranes!

On the 17th we got our first snow of the year!

The four-way stop that constitutes our little town

The east yard

On the 18th it was the best day ever! I couldn't get out of the driveway due to the snow from the previous day and overnight accumulation (which melted by sunset) and stayed home from work. We also brought home our new dog, Nia. We are on day 6 of no accidents in the house and are now shopping around for a new buddy dog for her. She is very bright, snugly and has grown from 9.5 to 14.5 pounds in two weeks!

On the 20th four of us headed out (while one of us stayed home with new puppy) to watch kayaks brave the flooded waters of Mulberry Fork, just south of Cullman,.

On the 21st I took another business trip to Erie. I was stranded in Detroit again, but this time due to weather. There was a news-worthy snow storm in Erie that had their little airport in white-out conditions and all inbound flights were cancelled. We (Bill and I) were put up in the same Days Inn as last time I got stuck in DTW. Thankfully, I'd learned my lesson from the previous trip and packed a change of underwear, T-shirt and socks in my laptop bag along with all my toiletries. I stuffed myself on pizza and wings thanks to the vouchers from Delta that night.

The following two shots are from the approach into Detroit. This was my first time seeing snow from the air and my fascination with flight started to return.

On the 22nd we were able to leave Detroit and catch a plane to Erie- via Philadelphia! Another new city airport! The snow was less heavy towards Philly, but it quickly picked up the closer we got to Erie. The snow was amazing from the air and the sun across the tops of the snow clouds was a sight to behold. This leg of the trip really brought home a love of flying that has been waning somewhat. 

The actual landing was a little white-knuckled. Visibility was very low and the wind near the ground tossed from side to side as the ground rushed up to greet our loud little turbo-prop US Airways plane. (Also, no extra Skymiles for the detour through Philly? WTF, DELTA?!?!) 

I was not prepared for the amount of snow or the way that people above the Mason-Dixon are able to, through mutation and selective breeding, drive on the snow-covered roads. Let me say that again for all my friends and family in Alabama: there was snow on the roads, so much that they were solid white- and everybody was still driving on them. In Alabama when it snows this much you start eating your pets and burning your clothes to stay warm. In Yankee-land they hop into the car and go to Wal-Mart like it's not the end of the world. The whole two nights stay in Erie I only saw two wrecks that consisted of three vehicles. One was just a guy stuck in the mountain of snow piled on the side of the road by Erie's 4000 snow plows. Seriously, every fifth machine on the road was a plow truck. 

As we turned into the hotel we passed a Weather Channel van and camera crew. Not an encouraging sight. 

Touchdown in Erie!

View outside the hotel room window.
On the 23rd we did actual professional business stuff that I'm not going to talk about because it's boring. I will say that Bill and I were making an effort to keep some of the folks back home in a job. American labor is not as cheap as labor in some other parts of the world. I'll leave it at that. It's a commonplace story and I am not trying to make any disparaging remarks about our business partners- and I am not speaking for my company or in any official capacity (please don't fire me, 'kay?)

Frogs at doctor's offices are a thing in Erie

The "dragon" bridge

Another frog

The return flight featured more snow and a frozen and icy Lake Erie. Again, more love for the flying.

...and then I was home.