water

Seal wavingPrior to going on our whale watching tour, I hadn’t given any more thought to seals, otters, and sea lions than I had to whales. In fact, I wasn’t really sure which one was which. Maybe I should have known that, but then maybe some of you don’t either. After our whale watching tour, I decided that maybe I should clarify that in my own mind…especially if I was going to write about them.

So, here is what I found out. The seal has smaller front flippers and an ear hole, no flap. They can’t move around on land as easily and the sea lion. It is a seal that can be seen waving to me as I took its picture. The sea lion is bigger than a seal. It has an ear flap, not just an ear hole. It also has larger front flippers, allowing it to move more easily on land. Sea lions love buoys. They seem to think that is their personal sun bathing space. Apparently buoys have to be cleaned periodically…I did not know this either, and the only way to clean it is to use a type of crane on a boat to lift it out of the water. Otherwise, the sea lions keep climbing back on and won’t allow the buoy to be cleaned. So it was the sea lions I photographed on the buoy. I didn’t see any otters, but apparently, otters get cold, so they are covered with hair for warmth. they have as many hairs per square inch, as are in the entire human body! Imagine being cold enough to need that much hair. But then, I guess they do spend a lot of time in the water.

We really enjoyed watching the seals and sea lions. They were so cute. When I took the picture of the seals, I had no idea that I had captured one waving at us…until I looked at my pictures. I was so excited then. I had heard that the seals like people, and liked to put on a show for them. This little guy sure did. He not only waved at us, but it looked like he was calling his friends over to join in. All the pictures I took of the seals were great. There were dozens of them, just floating in the water, relaxing, enjoying themselves. The sea lions were so funny. They kept vying for a space on the buoy. It reminded me of a bunch of people trying to get to the front row of a free standing room only rock concert. I never thought of that kind of thing happening in the wild, but I guess all animals try to prove their superiority…or they Sea lions on a bouywere simply sunbathing and that was the only buoy in the area.

We never had the chance to see an otter, but if I ever do, I will know what it is now. I think once you take the time to learn about something like that, you never really forget. I don’t have to look at my pictures to see the sea lions and seals, they are imbedded in my memory files now. Spending a little time around these amazing animals, and around the whales was so special. It was the trip of a lifetime, and a tour of a lifetime. These animals were amazing!! Would I go in search of whales, seal, sea lions, and otters again. Absolutely!! Just give me the chance, and I’m there.

The other day, I wrote a story about my cousin, Elmer…Uncle Bud to his niece, JeanAnn and now, her children Mykenzie…Kenzie, as her mom calls her, and Ethan. That story has sparked another story…one that I think you will find very funny. I know I did when Elmer and JeanAnn told it to me.

Elmer enjoys taking JeanAnn and the kids out to the lake, where they go boating and swimming. They all have a great time. Now, the kids are always picking on each other. Kenzie especially loves to pick on her little brother, and Ethan, being the younger one, didn’t often get the upper hand, but that could be changing. Ethan is all boy, and if you have ever been around boys, you will know that they are full of mischief…in fact, sometimes, I think they spend hours dreaming up ways to pick on or get even with their sisters.

Ethan loves going to the lake, but he would much rather be in the boat or on the land or dock, because for some reason, at this age, he is afraid of the water. The kids are always wearing life jackets if they are going to get in very far, or in the boat, of course, and still, Ethan doesn’t like to be in much past his knees.

On this particular day, Kenzie was swimming near the dock, and Ethan decided that he had found a great way to get even with his sister. So Ethan was running back and forth on the dock with a cup of water, that he was doing his best to dump on his sister. Of course, a boy running on a dock with a cup of water is bound to spill plenty of it, so the dock got wet from all that water, and when Ethan was running along the edge of the dock, the inevitable happened. Ethan slipped right off the dock.

Now that may seem like it wouldn’t be funny, but I think you will agree that it is. When Ethan fell off the dock, he landed directly on top of his sister. No one was in any danger, because they both had life jackets on, but that really didn’t matter, because they were both screaming and crying like they were in the middle of a hurricane. Elmer said it was so funny to see Ethan get his just desserts for all his teasing.

Now, it’s true that Ethan had been caught in his own trap, but there was someone else who got caught too…JeanAnn. You see, JeanAnn was right beside Kenzie, and when Ethan fell in the water…on top of Kenzie, he also fell on top of JeanAnn. So with both kids screaming and crying, JeanAnn had the lovely job of trying to walk them up and back on the dock, but that proved a little difficult, since  Kenzie wouldn’t let go of the dock, and Ethan wouldn’t let go of Kenzie’s head. Obviously outnumbered, JeanAnn couldn’t pry them apart, and finally ended up throwing them both on the dock…at which point it was Mommy who was the last one dunked. Can’t you just picture it right now.

Today, Bob and I hiked the next section of the Mickelson Trail. It was a 3 mile stretch one way, so going out and back put us hiking 6 miles. While this hike was half a mile shorter than yesterday’s and on the Mickelson Trail, which is much more level, the hard thing about this hike is that out of the 6 miles, approximately 5.5 of it was in the bright sunlight, with no shade to be found. We knew up front that it was going to be a tough hike.

We started our hike at the White Elephant Trailhead, so named because of a Feldspar mine across the highway that was named the White Elephant Mine. From there our hike took us on the uphill side of this portion of the trail. Our walk back would be mostly on the down slope…a good thing when you think of being more tired and hot.

When we came to the first real area of shade, which was a place where the builders of the railroad that used to occupy this trail, had found it necessary to cut through the rock for the tracks to go straight through it. Bob noticed a tree that had persevered in its fight for life by reaching through the cracks in the rocks to find the soil it needed. He found it interesting, and asked me to take a picture of it, but I saw something different…perseverance. That tree pushed itself through the little cracks in the rocks in order to live. It was fighting for its life.

As we walked along, I kept thinking about that little tree, and several others as we had seen along the way. Against all odds, they lived, because they never gave up…they persevered. As we sweltered in the heat of the late morning, going from shade source to shade source, we were thankful once again that we were experienced enough to have plenty of water…even if it was warm by this late point in the hike. The little tree stayed on my mind, and I began to see what perseverance is all about. Yes, the tree was fighting for its life, and I was just working toward the end of the trail. They weren’t even the same thing…or were they. In reality, we were both after the prize…the end of the race…the victory. Yes, that was it! We were alike, and like that little tree, I had the victory. The tree had life, and I persevered and made it to the end of another trail. With the completion of today’s hike, we have walked 48.3 miles of the 108.8 mile Mickelson…twice, since we walk out a ways and then back. That is a victory…that is perseverance.

 

Today, Bob and I went on a hike called the Iron Mountain Loop. It is a 5.1 mile easy to moderate trail that we found to be quite pleasant…except for that one hill. I’ll go into that more later. We began our hike thinking what a lovely day it was and what a nice change it was from the 90 degree days we had been having. Our first fork in the road put us onto the actual trail we wanted as it split from the Centennial Trail, which is a trail that is much more used. I thought about that old Robert Frost poem I had always loved, called “The Road Less Traveled” and felt, as I always do on the trail, like the adventure was just beginning.

Our hike continued along beautifully, and we were very much enjoying ourselves. Then the trail came to an end. There was another trail…much less traveled, that went to the right and to the left. Looking again at our trail book, I determined that the trail to the left would meet up with the Iron Creek Trail so we…or should I say, I decided that we should go that way. As we started down the trail, we immediately hoped that we would come upon the other trail, because having to come back up this hill would not be fun. The further we went down the hill, the more I began to think this was a mistake.

Finally, I decided to consult the trail book again. At that point, I realized that the Iron Creek Trail was probably right near where we were, but that was not going to be the easy way back to our car. We were going to have to go back up that hill we had just come down. The big problem I see here is that while I am an experienced hiker…I am an out of shape experienced hiker. I had now just turned and easy to moderate trail into an easy to moderately strenuous trail, and one that an out of shape experienced hiker was going to find…well, difficult!!

With a sigh, I told Bob we needed to go back up. After about 30 minutes, we finally made it to the top of that hill, and back to the trail we had come in on. While it was still easy to moderate, it seemed strenuous to our tired bodies. Finally, we got our second wind, and the trail became easier to maneuver. I can’t tell you how glad I was that we are experienced enough to have plenty of water. When we finally got back to our car, we felt tired, hot, and yet good about ourselves. Even though we were out of shape, we had made it 6.5 miles instead of 5.1, and part of it was very strenuous. I think we did really good…except for that one hill!!

Our favorite hiking destination is Harney Peak in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The first time we hiked up to the peak was in 1995, just a week after our youngest daughter, Amy and her husband, Travis got married. We had been planning the trip for a while, and were looking forward to relaxing and hiking in the hills. We really didn’t know much about where we were headed, except that it was a favorite destination of lots of people in the hills, and we knew where to find the trail head. We really thought that was enough. Little did we know!!

We had planned the hike for the third day of our trip, but found ourselves at the trail head the second day of the trip. We read the information on the sign telling about the trail, and as it said that Sylvan Lake was in the shadow of Harney Peak, we figured that it couldn’t be that far. So we decided not to wait until the next day…oh boy, were we wrong!!

Thankfully, it was September, and not the heat of a July day. We had jackets on and I was wearing a sweater. To make matters worse, I had my purse/planner, which was not light, and we didn’t have any water. We really thought we were going on a little walk. The hike actually took about 2 1/2 hours, each way…not bad considering our inexperience and my purse/planner!! That purse ended up weighing…oh, about 2 tons, by the time we got back down to the car. And, of course, you recall that we had no water. Thankfully there was a little snow on the ground!!

Nevertheless, despite the fact that we were not really in the greatest hiking condition, and all the other ways we simply were not prepared for this hike, we ended really loving the trail. We kept hoping that we would live to reach the end of the trail, and we were stunned at the people who had little kids on the hike…and the little kids didn’t seem to be having any trouble!! Of course, they did have water, so I suppose that helped.

When we reached the top…finally, the view was all we needed to get hooked on that trail. It is amazing up there. Still, we did not dare make that hike again for a number of years, even though we go to the Black Hills every year. I guess we were a little bit overwhelmed. When we finally took that hike again, we were much better prepared for the hike. I don’t take my purse anymore, for one thing. Now we take a backpack with lunch and a couple of 20 ounce bottles of water in it, to eat and drink at the top, because we know that it is 2 hours up and 2 hours down, and we like to spend about an hour at the top. We also have a water pack that holds about a 2 liter bottle of water, for the hike up and down, because we really can’t expect to be able to find snow when we go over the 4th of July week. Basically I guess I’m saying that while we will always love that hike, and we have gone up about 7 times now, we are a lot wiser about how to hike these days. I guess you just have to live and learn.

When you are on vacation, the idea is to relax and enjoy yourself, but all too often, there are so many things to see and do that you find yourself needing to go back to work to rest up. I have been on many of those trips. I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed my trips. I have been blessed to have gone many places, and I have many wonderful memories from my trips. Still, I must say that not all of them have been relaxing.

As a caregiver, who also works full time…when I can stay at work full time, I have a lot of stress in my life, and sometimes what I need the most is to relax…even if only for part of a trip. Today was that day. The drive from Mississippi to Florida was beautiful, with splendid views of the Gulf of Mexico. The green trees and lush grass were calming to my soul.

The time spent at the beach, however, was the best of all. We walked barefoot through the sand, which is really crushed sea shells, and laughed about the fact that is squeaked as you stepped in it. Then we laughed at the little birds who were eating something at the water’s edge. They would run out there when the water receded and then turn and run away from the next incoming wave. Their little legs were moving as fast as they could possibly go. Then they would look back at the water as if to scold it for interrupting their dinner. They were just so funny!! I only wish I could have been quick enough to get a picture.

We walked along the water’s edge, letting the warm Gulf water run over our feet. The breeze was gentle and warm. It was so relaxing to just enjoy the sensations of the water and the salt air. We stood in the water, laughing about the way the water made our feet sink into the sand,and trying not to fall down as a result. Then we found a place to sit in the sand, and we sat relaxing for quite some time. There is just something about listening to the waves crashing into the beach and the gulls squawking above that is somehow peaceful.

We talked very little. It didn’t seem like that kind of a moment. It was a time to sit and quietly reflect on the trip we had taken, and the beauty of the Gulf water around us. We watched the waves coming in and waited to see if they would finally make it to our feet. Bob found a sea shell that the waves washed in, and we watched the sea gulls trying to steal fish from a pelican.

Finally, we picked up our sandals and the sea shell and made our way back to the car…relaxed and contented, and grateful for the day God had blessed us with. It was a perfectly beautiful, amazingly relaxing, wonderful kind of day.

As Spring approaches, the minds of many men turn to…well, fishing. And it isn’t just the men either. My daughter, Corrie has already mentioned that she is getting camping fever. I suppose that really is normal for this time of year. Winter has dragged on long enough, and everyone is really over it, and ready for warmer weather. Bob and I don’t do much camping, but we love to hike, and lets face it…walking the mall just isn’t the same thing. So, as we get to this time of year, we can feel spring fever coming on too.

For avid fishermen, spring brings on a pretty big yearning for the open air, the water, and the fishing pole. I have never been one for fishing much, but then again, maybe it would be kind of nice sometimes. I lead a pretty hectic life, and the thought of sitting in a chair with nothing to do but wait for the fish to bite could be just what I need. I know my kids and grandkids seem to really enjoy it.

There are a lot of the other members in my family who love to head out to Pathfinder Lake to see what they can catch. And since I have fished in the past, I can relate to the challenge. There is really something about feeling that fish on the end of the line, and the ensuing fight to bring him in. The minute you feel that first tug, you wonder who will win…you or the fish.

And you don’t even have to enjoy eating the fish to enjoy the sport, because while Corrie’s family doesn’t like fish, they simply supply other family members with a couple of meals that are well received and very much enjoyed. My mom and sister, Cheryl have been the grateful recipients of a weekend’s catch, as have Kevin’s mom and Bob and me. So I guess we can’t say that we mind the fact that they don’t like fish.

As February comes to a close, and March marks the move toward Spring, the minds of sportsmen of all ages begin to think about fishing and other water or warm weather sports. I think that if it is possible, the adults are more excited that their little fishing buddies, for the season to begin. It’s like a breath of fresh air…or the light at the end of the tunnel. Winter is losing it’s punch and with it’s death comes the promise of the coming Spring and Summer…the lazy days of Summer and fishing, camping, hiking, and…warmth…beautiful warmth.

My grandson, Caalab loves dogs..all dogs. His goal is to have one of every kind. A lofty goal, considering the sheer number of breeds out there, but he also plans to own a place big enough to handle it, at least he is planning ahead. So far he has two dogs. Rhythm is a Beegle, and Blues is a Husky/Shepherd mix. Yes, they really are Rhythm and Blues. Caalab’s dad, Travis works for the radio station, and does a blues show, so it stands to reason.

Rhythm is an older dog, And he doesn’t like to do much…in fact never has…except when Travis decides that Rhythm needs to do some dancing. Then he holds his hand above Rhythm’s head and sings “Rhythm is a dancer!!” Rhythm dances around and around. Other than his dancing, he has always been pretty lazy…probably the main reason he is much heavier than Blues. Rhythm would eat constantly if you would let him, but he will do it is a way that takes the least amount of work. That became very obvious the other day when my daughter, Amy fed Rhythm and he started eating and after a few minutes, he got tired. So he laid down on the floor in front of his bowl and proceeded to continue eating while laying down. Never had my daughter seen such a lazy dog.

Blues is the younger of the two dogs, and he is interesting in that he has one blue eye and one brown eye. He is rambunctious like most puppies and younger dogs are, and he keeps things hopping around their house. Blue thinks water is a toy. Watering the lawn or any other use of water is open season for Blues to chase the water and try to eat it. One time when Amy had the hose and was playing with Blues, she was dancing the water around, and Blues was jumping up and down trying to catch the drops as they came down. At one point, he slipped on the wet ground and landed on his side. He let out one little yelp and that was it. He was back on his feet and back at it…chasing the drops. With two silly dogs, there is never a dull moment. It’s free entertainment.

Watching the news every day, we hear more and more about flooding and sandbagging. Snow pack in many areas is 300% above normal or even more. Rivers are very high, and lots of people are sandbagging in the hope of holding back the water. People are being forced to move to higher ground, and some have had to abandon their homes.

Wyoming had a lot of water last year, but nothing like they are expecting this year. I have lived here since I was 3 years old, and I don’t remember ever having water this high, but I suppose I might not have been paying much attention as a child. Now, as an insurance agent, I have clients who live by the river, and it does concern me. I know they have flood insurance, but I don’t want their homes destroyed. You can replace the home, but the memories and pictures and things are gone, and cannot be replaced.

Bob’s extended family lives in Forsyth, Montana, and they are right by the Yellowstone River. Flooding has already started there. I have seen pictures of standing water on the football field of the high school. Bob’s uncle lives just on the other side of the levee from the river, and said that if his sump pump wasn’t working, he would have 4 feet of water in his basement.

I occurs to me that an event like this one, with flooding in so many states can change lives in such a short time…sometimes forever. The floods along the Mississippi that are devastating so much of Louisiana…not to mention the rest of the states along the Mississippi, are just horrible. Of course, I don’t wish drought on anyone, but I wish there was a balance of the two.

I know this season will pass, and the waters will recede. People will rebuild, and move forward again. Human beings are a resilient bunch. We tend to fight our way back from the brink in many ways. Of course, after the return, we will find ourselves forever changed because of the time we spent in the water’s path.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Archives
Check these out!