Sunday, July 29, 2012

Barley's Adventures in Wonderland

In the words of Alice, ". . . everything is queer to-day": tv channels, my cat, trail maps, my dog . . .  

Barley and I have a Sunday morning routine.  After our normal breakfast-coffee making routine, we curl up on the couch to watch Dogs 101 while I drink my coffee and decide what to do with the day.  Today, we turned on Animal Planet and Gator Boys was on instead!  (Seriously, if they were going to put on a different show, they could have at least put on one with cute animals--not the animals I find scarier than anything else in the world!)

So, we watched some Olympic cycling instead and I decided to start the next reading for the Coursera Fantasy and Sci-Fi class: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.  Technically, we're still on Grimm's Tales, but I couldn't do that anymore.  I read over half of the book, but they all started to sound the same to me--the same kind of lessons, the same kinds of characters.  And, I did not inherit my dad's mindset that if you start a book, you must finish it.  I started it, and that was good enough for me.  I read enough stories to understand the style and the themes.  Some stories I enjoyed thoroughly.  Maybe one day, I'll go back and read a few of the individual stories that I didn't get to.

After two chapters of Alice, I noticed that Soth wasn't lounging in the window sill, so I got up to search for him.  
I found him in the dog crate and he'd pulled the door almost closed.  I guess he wanted peace and quiet.  I took this as my cue to take Barley on an adventure.

We decided to tackle #31 in Doggin' Cleveland, the Girdled Road Reservation.  I studied the online trail map before we left and our book hadn't mentioned unmarked trails being a problem, so I felt confident when we left the house.  Our book had mentioned that part of Ohio's Buckeye Trail was in the park and that it was 2.1 miles of hills (they weren't kidding!) and there were other loops off of that trail that were supposedly easier.  My plan was to walk part of the Buckeye Trail and then loop off and back to the parking lot because I wasn't sure if Bar could handle 4.2 miles.

The trail map said the Buckeye Trail was difficult, but I didn't pay much attention because most of the trails we walk on are marked moderate and they never feel like much of a workout. We started out on the trail and almost immediately I knew they weren't lying about the difficult description.  We kept going downhill, which wasn't hard, but I knew that we'd eventually have to come back up--starting your hike going downhill is never a good thing because then you get uphill when you're tired and ready to be back at the car!  We kept going farther and farther downhill on a winding path.  I was beginning to feel like Alice falling down the rabbit hole.

We also found that the trail was not quite as clearly marked as we had been led to believe.  Although there were blue marks on the trees for the Buckeye Trail, the side trails were not labeled.  I decided to take one any way, since the map had made it seem like a good idea.  After about 45 minutes of walking, I was ready to be on the way back to the car.  We saw a spotted fawn.
It ran away, so I can only imagine Barley's barking was as offensive as Alice telling the mouse about her cat Dinah.
We kept walking and started to go uphill, so I thought we must be going in the right direction.  Eventually we came to a sign that pointed us in the direction of the parking lot and had a "you are here" arrow.
We followed the direction our parking lot was supposed to be in (it's at the top of the map).
We found several signs that convinced me we were going to die before we made it back to the car.  We also came across several characters on the trail.

At the above caution sign, we had pulled over for a group of hikers to go by.  Instead, they plopped down on the bench on the other side of the trail to have a chat.  It was a mother with her two teenagers. She woefully told me that she used to walk like this all the time, but now that her daughter was in school she didn't do it often because she didn't want to wait until 9 or 10 to get going (her daughter was a teenager, so I can only imagine it had been quite some time since she "walked like this").  Then she exclaimed, "I have sweat on my brow!" and proceeded to point out that both children had sweaty brows, too.  I thought about mentioning that on an 80-degree, somewhat humid day they should have been concerned if they didn't have sweat on their brows, but I decided to just lead Barley away instead. As I walked away, the daughter told me she wished she had Cody (who I hope is a dog) with them so she could hook him up to a sled and have him pull her while the mother shouted after me that she was seriously considering investing in a hoveround.
I'm pretty sure this wouldn't have survived the trails . . .
I wonder if I'll meet these people when I get to the chapter with the Mad Hatter and his tea party.

We also encountered the only people Barley has ever been afraid of.  As we were trying to survive the steep hill, we encountered more of the forewarned two-way traffic.  We could see them from a distance and I planned to pull off the trail as we got a little closer.  Bar's ears went back and her tail went down and she started doing the weird wolf-like crawl that border collies are known for.  I stopped and she crouched closer to the ground.  I tried to give her a treat and she wouldn't take it.  Instead, she cowered in the middle of the trail, refusing to walk any farther in the direction of the completely nondescript man and woman coming in the other direction and we forced them to walk off the trail instead.  Barley watched over her shoulder until they couldn't be seen any longer and then popped up and was ready to go again.  

We came to another sign pointing in the direction of the parking lot.
How did we get down here when our parking lot was at the top of the map the last time?
Of course, we were at the parking lot 1.5 miles away from where we were at. But we found some beautiful views and a creek to splash in.
Another tiny waterfall.
By the time we were done splashing in the water, I could see the nondescript people in the distance again, so we scurried up the hill so we could pick a bench to stop on for another water break before they caught up with us.

Finally, after almost two hours of hiking, we were back at the car and happy to crank the AC and head home.  

My legs have never been happier to be propped up on the couch.  I'm thoroughly looking forward to curling up and reading (finishing?) Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and then move on to Through the Looking Glass, which I really know nothing about.

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