Wednesday, September 19, 2012

County Hiking Challenge 2012--Hike 7/9

Mommy had the day off today so we did our seventh hike in the challenge.  This one was 3.1 miles long so it counts as two hikes bringing our official total to 9.  Mommy chose a hike that she loves to do, but she doesn't like to do with me. How could Mommy EVER not like doing a hike with me you ask? Well, I agree it is crazy, but Mommy says she doesn't like doing this hike with me because of the coyotes. See, this preserve has had breeding coyotes in it for as long as Mommy has known about it at least. She used to hike it with my predecessor, Boo, and he didn't care about the coyotes, but I think that lady coyotes are really, really interesting. Even when I hiked at a 5 mph pace, at this preserve I was lucky to hike at a 2 mph pace because I have to stop every fifteen steps or so to sniff something or pee on something. Then, since the preserve is woods, what Mommy calls "high scrub" and meadow I usually would get overheated and dehydrated in the meadow part because of my black fur and the fact that I had peed every ounce of liquid out before getting to the meadow part.  So, we do this hike only when it is on the hiking challenge and when the day is cool, overcast and breezy like it was today so that I don't get too hot and dried out. Mommy says it is annoying hiking with a "piss-licking teeth-clacking fool".

 Starting out the hike. "Ladies I'm here!"

 Heading towards the woods

 Taking a water break at the bench in the meadow

 I will pee on some of these flowers for the lady coyotes

Since most of my pictures look like this one I'm going to let Mommy put up two of hers so you can see what this hike looks like if you aren't interested in sniffing the ground

There is a lake in the middle of the preserve.  Usually it is much bigger and full of geese and swans and stuff, but again, the drought has changed things.

This is the high scrub area.  That tree is not a short squat tree, that is a normal sapling being blown sideways by the wind because it wasn't just breezy today, it was very windy.  Wind speeds were up to 25 mph.

Anyway, it took us two and a half hours to hike the 3.1 miles which is very slow even for me these days, I drank about half of the water Mommy carried on the hike and then needed the whole little Igloo water jug full of water when we got to the car, but I left a whole lot of pee behind for those lady coyotes to admire.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

County Hiking Challenge 2012--Hike 6/7

Today Mommy and I had a lazy day.  My hip was hurting (Mommy said my hip wouldn't be hurting so much if I hadn't decided to remove the skin tag on it at two a.m., but what can I say, it was bugging me.) and Mommy was still feeling tired from having had a migraine on Friday night so we slept in until 11:00 and then we went outside and Mommy did a little gardening (a very little) and then we took a nap outside on my sleeping bag until 3:00 and then Mommy decided we should take the hike closest to our house.  This preserve is about five miles from our house so up until last year we used to walk to it and then hike around it and then walk home about one Sunday a month.  If Mommy knew I was going to choose the preserve walk she would wear shoes and carry water and we'd do the whole preserve, but if she didn't know she wouldn't wear shoes or carry water and we'd only do this short hike we took today. When it got harder for me to do the whole long walk/hike/walk we would only do the whole preserve if Mommy drove.  Sometimes I still ask to take the walk/hike but Mommy says it is way too far for me now.

Anyway, here is the hike which takes you around a nice little wetland area on the south end of the park.

This preserve has a greenhouse by the parking lot because it is where they grow the wildflowers for the seeds that they need to restore other preserves.

Mommy and I can't figure out what happened to the left side of my jaw in this picture, but this preserve is a savanna meaning it is a mix of prairie and trees

The prairie part has all sorts of nice flowers like these little purple ones

There's also a lot of wetlands so the path has lots of boardwalks.

At least there SHOULD be a lot of wetlands, but due to the drought this summer most of the ponds and swamps are dried up. Mommy took this picture when I was taking the previous one.
Mommy and I are very worried about my friend Musky the Rat and his relatives who usually live here, in what should be a large pond. Where do muskrats go when their water dries up? Do they survive?

 The second boardwalk, this time over the non-existent swamp

Auntie Naomi, don't read the captions for the next two photos!

 Musky may be MIA but the snakes were out

 I promise, I saw a snake here

A little solid ground before we get to

 the third boardwalk by the second non-existent pond

Then it is back onto the main path.

If we had turned left we could have continued around the whole preserve, but I told Mommy I wanted to go back to the car, and since the official hike was the short walk anyway, back to the car we went. Now I think it is time for another nap.

Total miles 1.2.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

County Hiking Challenge 2012--Hike 5/6

We hiked a new preserve this time.  It was a double points hike because it was 2.4 miles long which is why this makes it hike 5/6. When I say this a a new preserve I don't mean just new to us. It is so new that if you go to Google maps to check out how far you walked, the parking lot and trails aren't there, even in the satellite image!

You can't drive by this preserve because
there is a big bull at the entrance
That is because for many years this land was owned by a man who raised Black Angus cattle

 First things first, I had to check the pee mail

Then we encountered these gems which worried Mommy
Their dog was running wild off leash
and when Mommy called out for them to leash it they ignored her
She was afraid that we were going to run into a bunch of stupid McMansionites like this, but luckily we didn't

Here are their faces bigafied in case you bump into them
Mommy is pretty sure the visor one is looking at the big pile of poop
that their dog left in the middle of the boardwalk that Mommy had to pick up

You can see, that not only was their dog off leash, they weren't even carrying a leash!
What really makes us mad is that about 4 miles farther south there is a 68 acre dog park with trails and woods where they could have gone and legally let their dog run free
But they still would have been required to carry poop bags

Anyway, our worries were unfounded because they were the only ijits that Mommy and I met up with until the end when there was another off leash dog, but that dog's owners saw us in the distance and put his leash on right away. So, even though they were breaking the rules too, they were a tiny bit more responsible about it.

This hike had lots of prairie and some smallish trees

There was a lot of goldenrod, ragweed and Queen Anne's lace

There were a bunch of boardwalks too, which leads us to believe that if we weren't in a drought this year that most of this preserve would be covered in swamp and small ponds.  
Mommy says she is going to keep that in mind for the next time we are in a flood year.
We think this hike will be amazingly different then.

We came to a mowed path that wasn't on the county's official hike.
I can't resist a mowed path so I asked to go on it.
While Mommy was getting out the map trying to estimate how much extra that would make our hike
I just started up it, so Mommy gave up and let me take it.

By the end of the mowed trail, I was starting to lag behind.

When we hooked back up with the main trail Mommy insisted on backtracking back to where we turned off so that we did the whole marked trail.  Taking the mowed trail and backtracking to the branch wound up adding .6 more miles to our hike.

When we were only about a half mile from the end, 
Mommy noticed that she could see the moon really well so she stopped to take a picture.

 I stopped and took a picture too by lying down on my side in the middle of the trail.

As tired as I was, we made it back to the car for the ride home.

We hiked a total of 3 miles because of adding in the mowed trail.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

County Hiking Challenge 2012--Hikes 2, 3 & 4

Mommy and I did two hikes in one day and one the next for the county hiking challenge this weekend.  The double hikes were both short hikes (1.1 miles and 1.2 miles) and the second hike in the pair was kind of on the way home from the first hike.  The second day hike was 1.9 miles long. We used to do all the hikes in four days because Mommy would divide the county into quarters and we do one quarter's worth of hikes in one day, but that is too much for me to do these days.  However, anything around 2 miles is just about right especially if I get to rest in the car in the middle.  So here are the hikes.

The first hike was in a sedge meadow with a creek running through it.  The creek was in really bad shape when the county got the land, so they restored it.  Now they are working on fixing the problems that have made the creek polluted.  So, even though there is a creek, it was a no swimming hike for me.  Mommy and I don't remember being at this preserve before, but we could be wrong.  There is a big playground right off the parking lot, which Mommy doesn't approve of.  She thinks that playgrounds bring in the wrong type of people. People who think their kids need playgrounds tend to not see why they need natural surroundings.  Anyway, it was a nice little hike with lots of good smells.

Heading towards the sedge meadow

The creek is right in the middle of this picture
All the yellow is various sunflowers, ragweed, goldenrod, and cone flowers

Resting up on the way to hike 2

Hike two was at the river and marina.  We've done this hike lots of times before and this hike always has a background sound of Mexican polka music which is actually called conjunto norteƱo.  This is because every time we have been there there has been a group celebrating a birthday or anniversary or graduation or quinceanera and they are always playing this music.  So here is an example for you to play while you continue with this blog post:


This hike goes through the party area, where the music was playing but no guests had arrived yet, then over to the river where I get to swim in the boat launch.  Then the trail goes to a river overlook and then you can go down to the marina or turn around and walk a low trail along the river or you can keep going and go through a little bit of trees and then past the parking lots and back to the party area.  This time I wanted to do both the top and the bottom river walks so that added about a half mile onto the hike.  I didn't want to see the marina though so after looping the river walks we went through the woods and back to the party area where the guests had arrived for what turned out to be a quinceanera, but nobody was dancing.  Mommy says, "How can you play polka music and NOT dance?" and she always does a little polkaing on the way back to the car which is very embarrassing.  Also, I am never invited to these events which is wrong because the food always smells really good and I always try to get Mommy to come crash it with me, but she refuses every time.

Swimming in the boat launch

The lower river walk
I used to be able to climb down to the river here, 
but it is too hard for me these days because it is just big rocks

Look, Mommy a handicap space close to the river walk!
Why didn't we park here? I'm handicapped.

 Falling asleep in the car on the ride home

 Home! Where a big dog biscuit is waiting for me.

My total mileage for the two hikes with the added part was 2.8 miles.

The third hike was along the river trail that we hike a lot.  Once, a few years ago, there was a cougar that was being spotted all over the county and the "experts" were saying it was an imaginary cougar because there are no cougars in Illinois and besides nobody was seeing the cougar get from one place to another.  But Mommy and I walk so many trails and bike paths in our county that we figured out the cougar was following the trails. So we would check the cougar reports before hiking and pick trails where the cougar hadn't been seen lately.  Well, we were on this trail that year when I started sniffing and wuffing and then I spotted some tracks that looked and smelled like great big kitty tracks and Mommy looked at them and started looking around A LOT.  Then she spotted something not far up the trail and we went to check it out and it was a really freshly killed bunny.  So Mommy and I turned around and walked very quickly back to the car.  Anyway, I tell you this because once again a cougar is being spotted in the county, but he seems to be following a different set of trails this time, but still, when we got to the dead bunny spot Mommy did a good and thorough scan of the woods before we continued.

It was a busy day on the trail with lots of bikers.
If you look closely you can see some people ahead of us.

 We pass a lagoon which is always covered in algae and turtles

This guy struck Mommy funny because of how much algae he's wearing.

Another biker

On the return trip I got hot and tired and grumpy because all my favorite wading spots had dried up.
There is supposed to be a swamp full of frogs to my left but it wasn't there.
I figured I'd wait for it to come back, but Mommy got impatient.

I took another breather and got a good shot looking up at the trees.

When we got to where I normally take a dip in the river the water was too low for me to get to it.
Mommy and I wandered off trail a bit and found a spot where I could get in.
Getting out was another matter and I ended up having to swim upstream a bit while Mommy walked along the shore holding my leash until she found a spot I could climb out at.
There were interesting smells there and not too much poison ivy.

 Hooray! Mommy's car!

So that was my busy Labor Day Weekend worth of hikes.  Three more hikes to go and I will have completed the challenge, but Mommy and I hope to do all the dog-friendly hikes like we've always done in the past.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

My Monthly Diary for August, 2012

August was a busy month.  First off August 1st is my official birthday.  The pound said I was born around June 27th, but they were waaaay off with my age so Mommy and the vet decided to make it August 1st.  Mommy does start telling people I am a year older around the end of June, but we don't celebrate until August.  Normally I get a new toy or some french fries or something on my birthday (my Gotcha Day is a bigger event), but this year I got to go up to Wisconsin!  I think that was a great birthday present. I got to be up there for a week and a half and I got to ride in the peddle boat every day except one when it rained all day.  We went to visit our friend Bob who live on the island in the lake, and I also got to take a short hike and wade every day and chase frogs and have Mommy with me all the time.

 Looking off a bridge on one of my hikes

One day I had been chasing frogs all morning and Mommy was on the dock reading when Mommy said, "Look Merlin!" I thought she had spotted a frog and went searching along the shore, but it wasn't a frog she had seen it was Auntie Naomi and Uncle Fred and Uncle Fred's big sister!  They came for a visit! It is always fun to see Auntie Naomi and Uncle Fred and I had never met Uncle Fred's big sister so that was exciting.  They came down to the dock and Mommy was gathering up her stuff and an eagle landed by the shore to get a dead fish that was lying there.

The adult eagle getting the fish

Then a young eagle came flying up to him begging for the fish and they flew away, but the young eagle came back and landed on the trees behind the boathouse.  Mommy and The Sister went to the edge of the dock to see if she could see him.  Auntie Naomi spun around on the bench she and Uncle Fred were sitting on at the same time that Uncle Fred decided to stand up and the next thing I knew Auntie Naomi was lying next to me on the dock saying, "Ow ow ow!" Then everyone started running around and Mommy put everything away and got dressed and made some phone calls and closed all the windows and doors and then everyone left!  An hour or so later Mommy came back and gave me some dinner and sent me upstairs to bed.  Then really late that night everyone came back with pizza and Auntie Naomi had this weird thing on her arm.  After dinner we all went to bed and the next morning Mommy got up and went shopping for something called a sling and some other stuff and Auntie Naomi remembered to give me my present  (it was a small black squirrel which I played with every day for the rest of the week.). 

Auntie Naomi with the thing on her arm
and Uncle Fred giving me the attention I deserve

Then they packed up Uncle Fred's car and everyone went out for lunch but me (but Mommy brought me back some french fries) and then Auntie Naomi and Uncle Fred and The Sister left!  It was a very strange visit.

Anyway, after that weird visit, Mommy and I had some other visitors.  First off, one night I woke up around 2:00 a.m. and looked out the window.  I thought I saw a big dog in the woods so I barked "Big dog! Big dog!" and woke Mommy up, but then when the thing in the woods got closer I could see it wasn't a dog so I barked, "Monster! Monster!" Mommy said, "Go back to sleep" because she doesn't worry too much about monsters since they are sometimes porcupines or tarps or Christmas decorations, but this WAS a monster.  Then it stood up and I thought it was a person acting strange so I barked, "Creepy human! Creepy human!" then it dropped back down and walked by the side of the house and I barked, "Monster! Monster!" again.  Then I ran to the door and told Mommy we should go chase it.  Mommy said, "I am not getting up at two in the morning to go chasing werewolves through the woods in the dark.  Go back to sleep and we'll track it in the morning."  I didn't go back to sleep for at least a half hour though and instead I ran from window to window snuffling and snorting.  As soon as it was light I got Mommy up so we could track the monster.  We went out the door and there were footprints all over by the side of the house.  They came out of the woods and then led down to where the salt lick for the porcupine is.  The salt lick had been rolled about a foot and the ground where the lick was was all scratched up.  Mommy said the footprints belonged to a black bear, not a werewolf or any other kind of monster.

The other visitors we we had were

Baby loons
 Pileated woodpeckers who kept banging on the house

 And this nosy turkey

That turkey kept peeking into the house and when I would go up to the window to look at her she'd run back into the woods.  Then about ten minutes later she'd be back.  I don't know if you have ever seen a turkey run, but Mommy says it is one of the funniest things she has ever seen and it looks something like this:

On the last evening of vacation Mommy decided to do laundry so instead of sleeping in a bed that night we slept in sleeping bags.  The minute Mommy put them down on the ground I announced the red one was mine.  I left Mommy the little blue sleeping bag though, so I don't know why she was grumbling.

When we got back from vacation Mommy took me to the vet.  I was so nervous my ears were all the way back on my head and I was shaking.  Mommy said, "What are you so scared about?" Was she stupid?  Last year we went to the vet and then on vacation and then we came home and went to the vet and the vet STOLE MY TOE!! I had no idea what the vet was going to cut off this time!  Well, it ended up that the vet wasn't going to cut something off.  Instead I was there to start my laser treatments for my back.  The vet took me into a back room without Mommy, which is ALWAYS scary, and she waved a glowing thing over my back and hips for about a half hour.  I was sore after the first treatment, which the vet said was normal.  The second treatment they waved the glowing thing over my knees and ankles too and I was sore after that one too.  Then after the third one I started feeling really good.  I'm bending my knees a bit and I don't foot scuff as much or knock my toes on the steps when I come in the house.  After that I decided I LIKE these vet visits and when Mommy tells me I'm going to the vet I run to the back door.  I went every-other day for two weeks and then this week I only went twice (although I woke Mommy up at 5:30 on the day I wasn't going because I thought we should be) but the effects of the treatments seem to last.  Next week I'm only scheduled to go once and then Mommy says we'll see what happens.  The only down side is that I'm not supposed to hike after the treatments which is making it a bit hard for Mommy and I to do the fall hiking challenge this year.  I did get one hike in though and you can read about it in my previous post.  I'm hoping it doesn't rain all day tomorrow and Monday like they are saying it might because Mommy and I are hoping to do two hikes this weekend since it is a holiday.