Hungry Horse Thursday Doors

For this week’s Thursday Doors, I am offering all you starving Door-Folks a small selection of Doors we discovered in the little town of Hungry Horse, Montana. Hungry Horse is just a short drive from the West Entrance to Glacier National Park, and just about 30 miles south of the Canadian Border…

The day we arrived in Hungry Horse, we walked from our lovely B&B (Hungry Horse Hideout) to the grocery store. On our way back, we wandered around and found some interesting doors. I started this gallery off with the door to the shed in the backyard of our B&B. It looks pretty new, but already it is showing a bit of weathering! Then as we walked, we saw this great green door fitted neatly to the front of a little green bungalow! And, of course, one green door deserves another… the next one the entryway through a stockade fence. Look closely through the screen in the closeup and you can see the vertical logs of the house, and just a snippet of the front door of the house. Since a green door can be used in the fence, why can’t a gate in a fence be used as a door? And since a rustic gate has qualified (in my mind anyway) as a door, why not the barely visible chain link gate?

To see what the DoorMaster, Norm, considers to be a door, as well as other Door Watchers from around the globe, go to Norm2.0  home of Thursday Doors...

61B5F987-B56F-4897-B923-64D5A88C0A7E
Shed door @ B&B
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Green door on green house
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Green screen door in fence…
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Closeup
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Rustic gateway (call it a door please)
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Chain link gate

 

Thursday Doors… NOLA

The Mrs & I just returned home yesterday evening after almost 2 weeks on holiday in coastal Alabama and Louisiana. We packed up the van with all sorts of travel and vacation stuff. Pretty much anything we imagined we could want, need, use. Well, everything except my FujiXP digital camera with full charged battery and totally empty 32GB memory card. I dutifully left it sitting next to my computer as we left the house. So, my Thursday Doors photos were taken with my old-dumb-flip fone “camera function”. I think the image quality is measured in Crayola-MessyBits…

All these photos were taken in the Garden District of New Orleans on Tuesday, March 14th. We walked just about 10 miles this days…whew…

NOLA glass doorwayNOLA round window door

NOLA moss steps
I confess I noticed the ivy growing on the steps before I noted the door…. (sorry Norm)

NOLA corncob house

This last doorway, as well as the attached house/mansion AND metal corncob fence, is for sale, FYI…

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Visit Norm 2.0 for more doors and details. When you get to Norm’s site, look for The Blue Frog rectangular box thingie and click-it.

 

Bumbling into Utica

The 19th of September (2016) was the second day of our anniversary week mini-vacation. We had stayed overnight in a rental cabin at Starved Rock State Park. This Monday morning we awoke a bit groggy, having been awake for what seemed to be half the night killing mosquitoes… seems the damper of the wood-burning fireplace was open, and three of the screens had bends in their frames big enough for a Fiat to drive through. I had smashed 4 or 5 midnight marauders in the dark after closing off all the portals of entry, and another 14 in the morning light…

We had coffee, tea, and a light breakfast, and by the crack of 11:00, we were on the trail to St. Louis Canyon for a wake-up hike to see the beautiful 80-foot waterfall there. Leaving from our cabin, it was a short walk on a dirt trail before we got to a wooden walkway…

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came to a set of stairs…

 

and then the canyon…

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We took a few photos and enjoyed the quiet, then headed back to the cabin. We had visited  Starved Rock earlier this year, and The Mrs has much more information and several photos of that trip on her blog-site, Graceuncensored. After returning from our hike and having a bite to eat, we decided to do some touristy stuff and go driving to explore the area.  Just about 1 mile north of the park is the little village of North Utica, although, since probably the 1850’s,  it is commonly just called Utica.  Wondering why? Read here !

It took us only a couple of minutes to drive through the heart of the village when we got there, but I saw some interesting doors that I told The Mrs I wanted to photograph for future Thursday Doors postings. I turned down a side street and we parked right near a gorgeous B&B called Landers House.

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There is a house two doors away from LH that caught my eye so I walked there and took a picture of that door first…

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I had taken this picture of the door at 131 and was walking back towards LH visually framing my next picture in my head, when a white-haired guy about my age who was cleaning screens at LH asked if he could help us. I went into a long, wordy, disjointed soliloquy about visiting Starved Rock, and blogging, and Thursday Doors, and taking pictures, and being an historian, and do you think the owner of 131 would mind if I was taking pictures of his front door….

Turns out, the gentleman I was talking to (John Pappas) WAS the owner of 131. He was the “handi-man” in the hire of Landers House B&B, and had recently bought 131, with maybe the intent to open his own B&B, or maybe he and his wife will open a catering business there. And, “no”, he had no objection whatsoever about me photographing his door. Not only did he like the idea of people taking pictures of doors, he COLLECTS old doors! Actually, it is probably closer to the truth to say he rescues old doors from destruction when old buildings are torn down. What a fascinating person! We chatted for at least 15 minutes, and he gave us a quick tour of the LH grounds. I look forward to a stay at LH sometime in the future (to The Mrs: hint, hint…).

We then wandered through the two block long downtown of Utica, coming across this little pub…

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The owner of the pub, Andy Skoog, is of Swedish ancestry, so that must make it a Swedish bar, right? Well, just down the block at the corner is the local Irish pub (Duffy’s Tavern), of course!

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When we were chatting with John earlier, he had asked us if we had been to Matthiessen Park . We had seen the signs, but had not been there. He strongly suggested we make a stop and at least visit the waterfall. Soooo, having completed our tour of “the Utica strip”, we climbed back into the van and headed back south to go visit Matthiessen Park. I will discuss that in a future posting…

Thursday Doors – Starved Rock

I did not post a Thursday Doors last week because The Mrs & I were on a mini-vacation in northern Illinois and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, while my computer was still at home relaxing. My camera, on the other hand, was busy, busy, busy…

We drove to Starved Rock State Park in LaSalle County on Tuesday last week. The Park is located on the banks of the Illinois River near Utica and Oglesby, Illinois. The main draw for most people is the hiking… there are approximately 13 miles of hiking trails throughout the park. The architectural centerpiece is what the DNR website describes as, “… the 1930s-era stone and log Starved Rock Lodge offers luxury lodging, cabin rooms, and fine dining .” The Lodge was constructed by the CCC (Civilian Conservaton Corps) during the Great Depression. My first door this week is the main entrance.

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On the other side of the building, almost directly opposite the main door, is the outside entry to the Back Door Lounge, a small indoor/outdoor bar and grill.

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We stayed in one of the cabins near the main lodge for two nights. Although the doors to the cabins are not overwhelmingly intriguing, the housekeeping staff do an incredible job of keeping the glass clean!!!

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My final door this week is of a door that I assume is an emergency exit from the Lodge, as there in no door knob… or maybe it is a Jedi Only entrance…

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The Illinois Department of Natural Resources estimates that well over 2.5 million people will visit Starved Rock in 2016…

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. It is courtesy of Norm 2.0

Impending Bloom!!!

Last week, while taking my morning coffee down at the dock, I noticed 2 things (actually, maybe more than 2, but only 2 that are noteworthy). One of the purple lilac bushes was just starting to re-bloom (for the third time this year!). And the chrysanthemum bush closest to the water was just about to bloom… see, Impending Bloom!

 

This past week, The Mrs and I took a mini-vacation to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. We spent 2 nights and 3 days at Starved Rock State Park  outside Oglesby,  Illinois. We hiked, and we ate, and we drove a bit, and hiked some more. And ate more… Then we drove to St. Ignace, Michigan and took the ferry to Mackinac Island, MI. We stayed at a B&B on the island for 3 nights and 4 days. We hiked, and we ate, and we rode bikes a bit, and hiked some more. And ate MORE…Then we drove back home to Springfield, Illinois in 2 days, getting back about 3-ish yesterday afternoon.

The really exciting parts about all this? Firstly, I got lots of pictures of some really great doors that I will be posting for Thursday Doors!! And secondly, I will make three different postings this week to cover the three phases of our trip… In between these postings this week I may hike a bit, and eat a bit… you know the routine  🙂

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Thursday Doors – Wales

Just over 1 year ago, The Mrs & I took a walking holiday along a portion of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in Wales, UK. At the time, I primarily took pictures of the incredible landscape and scenery, but did actually capture a couple of doors. This first was a gorgeous little house in Marloes.

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A couple days later, we walked to St. Bride’s and saw this little archway that faces the bay…

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This is the front door to the lovely B&B/pub we stayed at in Solva, The Cambrian Inn.  Our room was on the top (3rd) floor behind the little 6 panel window you can see to the left in the photo…

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The last door is actually the gate of the main entry to the Flying Boat Centre Museum in Pembroke. We spent a couple hours in the museum talking to various highly knowledgeable and friendly staff members, and had scones and coffee and tea in their little refreshment area.

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Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. It is courtesy of Norm 2.0

 

Day 2 of Backpacking Ramsey Lake

I was planning to finish this posting about our Ramsey Lake trip yesterday, but it was a crazy busy day…. in the morning I ended up weeding the garden, plucking hornworms off the tomato plants, and moving the perimeter fence surrounding the garden a bit further away from the garden beds to stop the deer from leaning over the fence and eating the tomato plants. There was a moderate breeze blowing across the lake and I really wanted to sail, even if only for half an hour, but just no time! My free time was only available until about noon, at which time I had to get ready for an appointment with my ophthalmologist. The visit went GREAT! Eyes healing well, and vision in right eye is now 20/25… considering that it was 20/BLIND just a couple years ago, I would say it is miraculous! Downside to the visit is the dilation drops… We got home, I lowered all the blinds in the living room and wore my sunglasses to try to get comfortable. Eventually I went to bed and napped a couple hours, but my eyes did not return to normal until late evening, much too late to start blogging… End of excuse.

Sunday morning, Garrick & I broke camp (in record time, especially considering we were drinking coffee and swinging in our hammocks) and stepped carefully out of our bramble patch and headed to the fire road which then lead us to the horse path which would lead us back to the parking lot next to the horse campsite. On Saturday, we had counted 8 horse trailers at the horse campgrounds, and saw maybe 5 riders total throughout the day. We did not anticipate any horse traffic this morning since the path we were headed on was a minor trail.

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On the trail again….

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That is just the coolest spider web!

Once out of the woods, and on the trail, we rounded a bend. We were talking and laughing, just making noise in general. Coming towards us we saw three horses and riders – a woman on the lead horse, a child, maybe 4 or 5 years old on the middle horse, and a man on the 3rd horse. We drifted to the right side of the trail in a single file, but continued to chat. One of us scuffed a foot as the lead horse stepped from bright sunshine into the shade. The horse wheeled around clockwise and the woman rider landed on the ground. She held onto her reins though! The horse with the child, and then the horse with the man both wheeled around dumping both the child and man on the ground. The man kept his reins and the woman grabbed the reins of the child’s horse. And then the little girl started to cry, although she was not hurt…. just scared/startled. I told Garrick to just stand still until the riders (now grounders??) got themselves and their horses back in order so we wouldn’t startle any of them again. After a couple minutes they called us to go ahead and pass. We asked about the child, and offered an apology, and the man and woman were friendly and said the lead horse was just startled, not expecting to see walkers it seems… The remainder of our walk was uneventful after that!

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This is Garrick back at the horse camp parking lot. Note that his rucksack does not extend either above his head nor past his sides. My ruck is exactly the same. I point this out because one of Garrick’s co-workers told him that the reason the horses were startled is because they did not recognize us as people because the packs towered over our heads and around our sides. Nice theory, I guess… reality doesn’t support it though. I think the lead horse went from very bright sunshine to deep shade and heard a noise ahead of it but could not see clearly because its pupils were still constricted.

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TSV still there, ready to hit the road…

We stopped at the Ranger Station to check out and got to chatting with Ranger on duty. He mentioned that they never get backpackers at the Park, just horse folks, or people with campers or tents who roll up in their vehicles. He then told us that the only other backpackers any of the Rangers remembered were there a few years ago, and it was two guys in homemade buckskins carrying old flintlock rifles. Garrick got a twinkle in his eye, smiled broadly, and told the Ranger, “That was me and another friend of mine…” Funny how the Rangers still talked about those two crazies, and now they have another story about crazy backpackers to talk about!!

We drove north from Ramsey Lake on US 51 to Pana, IL.  This is a little town of just over 5600 people. As we drove into town we saw a good sized park… with a CANNON! Garrick asked if we could stop, I said, “hell, yes!”

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Kitchell Park, Pana, IL

Japanese captured artillery piece

Kitchell Park (40 acres in size) was given to the town of Pana by Civil War Veteran, Captain John W. Kitchell and his wife, Mary, in 1908. It was listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places in 1992. What a glorious park!

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We drove from the park and stopped nearby for a cup of coffee and to use the FLUSH toilets! Back in civilization!

Finally, a word about the 2016 Olympics…

19 year old Competitive Shooter.
She won the FIRST gold medal of the 2016 Olympics.
She won the FIRST gold medal for Team USA.
She is the youngest female to ever win the first medal in Olympic competition (ever).
She set a NEW WORLD RECORD with her winning score.
Congratulations to Ginny!
In 2007, I trained at the US Olympic Training Center to be a Foil Fencing Coach. The training was fantastic, the other coaches and athletes I met were great, the Center was awesome! Since then, I have taken great pride in the dedication of our Olympic athletes…

Birthdays, Backpacking, & Olympics…

I wonder if I can adequately cover the three topics introduced above in a relatively concise posting…. sure hope so, otherwise I will bore myself!

Last Thursday, August 4th, Billy Bob Thornton, my buddy Garrick, and I all celebrated our birthdays. Billy Bob couldn’t make the party here in Springfield, so Garrick & I had to party on without him! My celebrations lasted for a couple days, which is funny because I really am happy not spending too much energy getting excited about another birthday. Nevertheless, I got a fair pile of loot, including Dr. Who stuff, Deadpool stuff, Archer stuff, socks, boat stuff, camping stuff, and…. a WOOBIE !!! Here are two links that pretty much cover everything there is to know about a Woobie:  Military Perspective   Civilian Perspective  .

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My new Woobie!!! It is presented tastefully in USMC Woodland Marpat and  Coyote pattern. And below is my other loot haul!!

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Not bad considering all I asked for was a Back-hoe, preferably one with metal tracks… And just for the sake of disclosure, this stuff was all given to a 59 year old guy!

Let’s talk about backpacking for a moment now. I haven’t backpacked seriously since I was in my twenties, the last time probably being when I spent 10 days in the Colorado  Weminuche Wilderness backpacking. I have camped and hiked and traveled a lot since then, but that was the last time I packed everything on my back and took off on foot. Until this weekend. My buddy (and adoptive brother cuz we adopted each other) Garrick & I decided to go backpacking at Ramsey Lake State Park, which is about midway between Pana and Vandalia, Illinois off US Rte 51. We had been preparing for a few weeks, getting gear bought, or found, and organized. Coordinating food and water supplies. And we both decided to try Hammock Camping, which meant we didn’t need a tent, just a couple trees each. And a camping hammock. Garrick bought a hammock and a separate mosquito netting add-on, while I bought a hammock with an attached netting… We did a trial set up in the back yard a week or so ago, which motivated us to change the hanging system to a strap system because it would be less stress on the tree bark. Here we are in our hammocks at Ramsey Lake…

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Ramsey Lake !  Saturday morning I drove over to Garrick’s just after 8 am in the TSV (Tactical Scooby Van), we sat and had a cup of coffee. Well 2 or 3, and chatted merrily away and then hit the road at the crack of, hmmmm 10-ish or so… I had already programmed the GPS for Ramsey Lake so we drove merrily along doing whatever the GPS told us to do until we got to Taylorville and stopped for coffee and a quick potty stop. All seemed to be going well until the GPS started taking us on very small and mostly unused little two-lane paths… The ranger at the park later told us that for some reason GPS devices are notorious for adding 6 miles to the trip from Taylorville area to the Park. We finally got to the Ranger station at the park about noon.

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We checked in at the Ranger Station, paid for my overnight camping fee (Garrick gets to camp free cuz he is an Army Vet), used the flush toilet, then headed out to park the TSV at the Horse Campground area. In no time at all we had our packs on, and Garrick started to try to figure out the Garmin eTrex GPS. He does like his toys! The Ranger had given us a route suggestion that kept us off the most used horse paths, and would guide us into some quiet wooded areas, so we took his suggestion and between the eTrex, our maps, and my compass … we were golden!

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Consulting the eTrex, Garrick is…

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Minnows in a small, clear creek in case we run out of food…

004We did encounter a fair bit of mud on the trail from recent rains, but fortunately, very very few mosquitoes!

A couple miles in and we got off the horse path and onto a walking path. We stopped to enjoy the butterflies fluttering among the wildflowers. We walked another 30 minutes and stopped at the top of a hill, in the shade, for a light lunch. We both brought tuna salad snack-boxes (a 3 ounce can of tuna and 6 crackers – 23 grams of carbs) and I brought a couple packages of fig newtons and pureed fruit/veggie pouches. A perfect light and nutritious trail lunch!

According to the GPS, we hiked a bit over 3 1/2 miles, although it was pretty hilly, so we didn’t break any land speed records. We found a nice wooded area a little distance from a fire road and walked into the brambles looking for some trees sturdy enough and spaced just right to hang our hammocks.

So we spent a little time clearing the brambles from under our hammock areas, hung the hammocks, then settled down for a quick cup of coffee.  I could have easily fallen asleep and taken a long nap! But we needed to do some more training with the eTrex. So, leaving everything but water and some snacks, we headed back out onto the trail. We logged a couple more miles on our “training hike”, and found some brackish water along the trail, and some potable water to refill our canteens.

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This is NOT the potable water, believe it or not…

By the time we returned to our campsite, we were hungry and tired. Fortunately, supper consisted of a package of dehydrated camping food…. Mexican Style Chicken & Rice. Just needed to add boiling water, which was easy because I brought along my “SoloStove“, a great little stainless steel wood burning base unit with a 60 ounce water pot on top. It is amazing how fast we were able to boil water using just twigs and small sticks for fuel! (This is a wonderful present The Mrs gave me last year, thinking we could take it on our Wales hiking trip. We opted to only take folding Esbit stoves for that trip, because all we needed to heat was water for our trail-side afternoon tea… and 60 ounces was a bit of overkill…)

{UPDATE: 8/13/2016 – Garrick was so impressed with my SoloStove that he just bought a smaller version of mine and is on his back deck right now boiling water for coffee for his bride and himself with it!}

We finished eating and cleaning up by 6:00, and I think I fell asleep around 7. I think it was 7:30 when I awoke enough to zip my mosquito netting closed, tuck my woobie under my head for a pillow, and started snoring. By about 1:30 am it was getting quite cool, so I got up, found my sleeping bag, and crawled back into my hammock cocoon, wrapped warmly up in the SB and my woobie. I lay there listening to the incredible cacophony of the various insects and owls owning the nighttime with their sounds. I slept soundly until about 6:30 am or so.

Sunday morning… quiet, cool, the woods gently brightening with the sunrise. I got out of my hammock, set the billy to boil, made coffee, and we sat in our hammocks just chillin’.

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We had a simple breakfast of golden oat biscuits and clover honey sticks, followed by a couple handfuls of trail mix (the kind with cashews, raisins, and chocolate! YUM!) We were in no hurry, so we drank coffee and told stories for a while, then we both decided it was time to break camp. Taking down and packing the hammocks & sleeping bags took all of about 6 minutes…

We eventually got our packs closed up… Oh, the packs! I forgot to mention that we had each weighed our packs before we started this adventure. Garrick’s with water in his camelback and side pocket bottle tipped the scale at just under 30 pounds. When The Mrs & I were walking the Wales Coast Path, my day pack was about 25 pounds, with water. Well, my medium ruck, with water, scaled out around 48 pounds! When we were sitting around in our campsite, I was comparing our respective equipment to see where I carried so much more weight… Food, first aid gear, and diabetic supplies. Don’t want to run out of food on the trail so have lots of quick carb snacks & glucose tablets. And carry two extras of everything for the insulin pump and blood glucose meter. And I want enough emergency first aid stuff to handle anything that we might encounter on the trail… I don’t pack my EMT gear, but I come close to my First Responder kit… I took pictures of my gear for comparison based on used and not used on this trip.  I will discuss that in my next posting.

So I’ll wrap up with a photo of the little path we came to as we walked out of our bramble patch to head back to the horse trail and then back to the TSV… more tomorrow! Olympics get to wait too…

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Caught up, July 24th…

3rd day in a row to walk, which is good and right on schedule.  Our first 3 days in Wales will be walking days, then a rest day.  I am hoping to walk five days a week within the next few weeks to get well above the demands of anything the Pembrokeshire Pathway has to challenge us with.

We again got up early and had coffee/tea and cereal. I was feeling a bit sluggish until I put my boots on, then I felt excited and energized! That is a neat thing… So out the door and headed down the road before 8 o’clock. No driving today, just walking.

029We walked around the UIS soccer fields, up and down a couple hills there, across the sunny grass fields….

UIS woodsWe did a big loop around the fields, then along the woods/fields perimeter on the west edge of campus, then over to LLCC campus. We started aiming for shaded areas as the sun rose higher and the air warmed up. We walked under a line of shady trees east of the stadium, then past the Prairie Restoration area. We followed the shade past the LLCC Child Care Center and saw two men intently walking around what looks like a golf practice tee-off area… lots of astroturf on top of a cement footing it looks like, and a long wide open field beyond that…

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That took us back towards the soccer fields and Disk Golf course where we walked along the treeline seeking shade until we got to the woods path just west of the Spencer House. We use to walk our dog, Mollie, through those woods sometimes up to 6 days a week. The path use to be pretty clear and both the The Mrs and I could run that path. Now it is pretty overgrown and even walking it was a bit tough in spots!

We got home in just under 2 hours and credited with 6 miles of walking. I think we have earned a steak dinner tonight!!

Heavy dew = wet boots (outside)
Heavy dew = wet boots (outside)