"It is in the wild places, where the edge of the earth meets the corners of the sky, the human spirit is fed." Art Wolf

Monday, September 12, 2016

Michigan Adventures

The dogs and I drove north to Michigan to attend the Heart of Michigan's English Cocker Specialty held each September outdoors at the Brighton Recreation Area.  I haven't attended in a number of years but the setting is beautiful. The dogs and the people are the best.  The weather covered several corners from rainy, windy, humid...to cool and sunny.  With the help of others I was able to get both Audrey and Josef in the ring at the same time.  They both behaved and showed well but so did 20 or so other "specials" and several were much more "special" than than us.  But it was fun to see some top dogs and support the club's show.

After the pop-ups came down at the show site and cars drove back down the roads, I drove the RV back across the road to where the camping area and the show dogs turned into camping dogs and will remain so until Friday when they will need to get handsome again for the weekend.

As many times as I have been up to the HOM shows I have always wanted to get out on the lake. So today was the day.  Remington thought that Audrey needed to learn to kayak.   And she did.  

We brought one of the Sea Eagles for her training because it is much more forgiving of wiggles.  As you will see there were several wiggles.   

"What's that stuff in the water?"

"It is everywhere. Could I touch the bottom?"

The narrow channel that connected one section of the lake to another.

And then there was more to look at.....over there.

And down here....

"Look, I can stand on the front and see even more stuff!"

"Was that a turtle?"

"Yes, that is a turtle. Can I keep it?"

"Bye, bye, turtle...."

"You talking to me? What do you mean that maybe I could just lie down and relax awhile?"

 Just so much to see for a curious dog.

She never really did relax. She had so many things to see and watch but with help and reminders she never actually jumped in either.

Towards evening I headed out to explore the other end of the lake with a much more relaxed kayaking partner.   Remi is willing to just sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds that come to him with as little work on his part as possible.

A real relaxing paddle...

We made our way back to the small beach at the campground.  Most of the weekend folks have gone but there are several of us hanging out near the water. 

Here we are with our lake front property.

Tomorrow is expected to be another beautiful Michigan day and there is more water to paddle.  I would say that it was Josef's turn to kayak but he has some maturing to do before I try that and we could all takes bets that he would not remain inside the kayak long....

Sunday, March 27, 2016

It Wasn't On My Bucket List

This going back to work for a month or two or three sure takes a big bite out of my free time.  It does however provide for the future adventures, travels and dog shows so I will be patient.   

My camera did make its way north from being left behind in Charlotte, NC, when I stopped off to visit my daughter and her husband.   My final adventure of the winter excursion was captured inside.  

Completing a ropes course as part of team building was never offered as any part of my career experience.   I had never really thought to even add it to my bucket list.  I mean I did try scuba diving after I turned sixty.  I didn't start kayaking until after I retired but a ropes course was not on my radar.

First you need to know that I love my daughter and am honored to witness how much faith she has in my abilities.   It sometimes feels like a role reversal.  She encourages me to push my comfort zones and try new things.   "Lets go to the Whitewater Center," she says, "We can do the zip line," she says.   "Hey, and we can do the ropes course, too!"  "Would you like to try the ropes course?" "Yeah, you can do it. Its not hard," she says.......

Kate has worked summers at the Whitewater Center for many years.  She has most recently taught kayaking for the last few years but has previously worked the climbing walls, several of the zip lines and several of the ropes courses.  The center also has miles of hiking trails and miles of trails for mountain bikes.  They have restaurants some of which stay open year round and live music in the summer season.   Families can buy passes.  They can come all day with picnic lunches and enjoy any of the activities they choose.  Folks can rent kayaks and bikes or bring their own from home.  Same with the climbing gear.   

Though it was early in the season and the whitewater wasn't turned on and the crowds were small, Kate said that the lines can be long in the summer.  Watching the children scamper around on the ropes courses and head off to the climbing wall made me think how great it would be to have access to all these physically challenging activities and the skills, coordination, strength and health they encourage.   Sadly, I believe that I might have started too late to master some of the skills.

A zipline I have done before. Piece of cake.  Unfortunately the big zipline that takes you through the canopy of trees was down for constuction and renovations.  So we took the big long one that zips over where the whitewater rapids would be had the channel been filled and the water turned on.....Kate said it is pretty neat to zip over the kayaks trying to make it through the class III and IV rapids with water spraying everywhere.   But the trees are the best. Alas, no tress this trip.

Kate and Lucas

The center is in the process of building two more towers so that folks will do a double zip, down one way and back the other.  Kate said it will make it easier to get the equipment back to the starting point quicker without folks having to walk the length of the run to zip back.  You can see were the water levels are when the kayak course is running.  They do have channels or loops. One takes you down the Class III and up rapids and the other takes you through the class I and II rapids. They both complete a circle and bring the kayakers back to a central pool were they can kayak up to a large conveyor belt and ride back it up to the top for another paddle through either of the courses.

You have to imagine the kayaks slicing through the spray about here.

From the zipline, Lucas took off to retrieve his bike and travel some trails.  Kate and I headed off to the ropes course.  This is the beginners course. Kate had me do this second.  It was a good thing because had I done this one first I would have known to stay off the medium level course.  Climbing rope ladders. How hard can that be?  Remember that walking dogs and kayaking some calm waters is the extent of my physical health care program.  I talk about adding yoga for balance, flexibility and strength but haven't managed that yet.....

Again, I marvel at the dexterity of youth but then again they don't have size 12 shoes......

It was the intermediate course that tackled me first. Kate did take a couple of pictures of me holding on for life though a few of the sections. Her comments would be, "Hey, you aren't smiling."  One of my responses was. "I am not sure I am having fun...."   I did suggest that I would smile if I survived it.   And yes, I knew that I was hooked in and wasn't going to fall to the ground, but the thought of me having to pull myself back onto the course was incomprehensible to me.   I don't have much strength in my arms. I knew that it should be more a question of balance but apparently my body didn't trust that balance theory or my ability to make the balance work for me. I always felt top heavy and ready to tip.  And then there were the kids that climbed around like monkeys just to remind me of how old and out of shape I am.

The course was laid out in a long rectangular loop with about 8-9 different sections. Some seemed to go better than others.  It was pretty amazing to watch the kids work their way through, especially compared to the efforts the adults had to put in.

I reminded Kate that the contestants on The Amazing Race were often motivated to overcome their fears for the lure of cash.   She did say that if I survived we could probably head over for some lunch later......   

Just walk on the cable until you get to the round wooden cage and bend down and crawl through and then stand back up again......no problem, right?

Luckily for me Kate stayed behind me the whole way. The rules state that two can be on each section at one time.  Kate figured out all on her own that I didn't need the extra wobbles on the ropes.   She does love me.....

Later after I had survived, we headed over to take a second and third zipline through a grove of trees. It was a made up of two shorter zips, In the summer the trees make it more shaded and a nice break from the sunny areas.  Below the zipline there was another simple set of rope courses weaving back and forth through the trees and between platforms.   Every where you looked there were adults and kids climbing and zipping and moving around.  

There are many ways to enjoy the center.   People watching in the summer would probably be a good sport. Watching the kayakers try to make it through the rapids and bailing out would be one attraction.

Or walking your dogs.

So that was the last of the winter adventures.

Dog shows and work are about as exciting as it has gotten around here for the last month.  I think it might be a couple more months until the puppers and I head back out but if the adventures are picture worthy you will be able to follow along right here.