Category Archives: Hiking

Perspective: a guest post by Lola

Lola's Serious FaceThere’s a lot of writing going on at our house, but somehow it isn’t getting onto the blog, so I decided to help out again. I’m very busy patrolling the yard and taking my person out for walks, but I don’t mind sacrificing a nap here and there so I can have a chat with friends.

My person has been working on a lot of short stories lately. She says it’s nice to actually complete a project sometimes. I guess novels are so long that they can seem impossible to finish. Dogs don’t ever let the size of a job intimidate them, though.  If you see a big pile of dirt, just start digging. Eventually, it will be flat. If there’s a tall hill in front of you, you don’t have to make the trip in one leap. Put one paw in front of the other and you’ll find your way to the top.

A big job doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It’s all in how you look at it. Perhaps one day my person will understand this.

Kway Paay Peak is a steep climb, but if you keep moving forward, you get to the top.

Kwaay Paay Peak is a steep climb, but if you keep moving forward, you get to the top.

She reads some of her stories to me and I like them a lot, especially the ones that are about dogs.  I was even the main character in one of them. In that story I’m outside in the back yard at night and then… never mind… I don’t want to spoil it for you.

If she works hard, she might get it published and then you can read it, too. Maybe the same will be true of her novel. It’s more about people than dogs, but there are dogs in it and she said I might have a cameo role.  I don’t know what that means but it sounds delicious.

It’s almost time for my next nap and I need to make one more pass around the yard. I hear a hawk calling and he’s probably perched in one of my pine trees. I’ve got work to do!

   Barking       Hawk

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Filed under Dogs, Gardening, Hiking, Lola, novels, Short Stories, Writing

Sedona

A guest post by Lola

I have mixed feelings about suitcases. Whenever they come out of the closet, one or both of my people leave. I hate that. But sometimes I get to go along. Although I prefer home overall, great things can happen when we load the car. I love to sniff the vents as we drive down the highway. The trouble is, those rides last way too long. I get tired and thirsty, but I don’t want to drink the water they keep offering because I never know how long we’ll be on the road.

Last week, we drove to Sedona. Every time we stopped to rest they carried me from the car to a tree and back again. I do not like to be carried. I’m not a little dog. Then I stepped onto the blacktop and I figured it out. Youch! I’ve never felt anything so hot in my life.

Finally, we got off the big highway and I knew that meant we were almost there. Thank goodness.

As soon as we arrived, I took a big drink and started to explore. I liked what I found at our hotel. It wasn’t as hot there as the places we had stopped along the way and there were lots of dog smells for me to study. Our room had a cool stone floor and a back door with a small yard just for me. I wasn’t the first to claim it, but if I have my way, I’ll be the last.

Just outside our front door was an inviting lawn but I wasn't allowed to roll in it or even walk on it. A dog can dream.

After dark, we set off on a walk, my favorite thing to do. We went to Ken’s Creekside American Bistro for dinner and I had my own menu. I really wanted the steak tartar, but my people said it would be too much food for me. So I ordered a couple of jerky cookies and they were quite tasty. My people seemed to like their food a lot, too, because I only got a tiny nibble.

This enormous spider ran out onto the sidewalk as we went by.

I wanted to sniff the tarantula that we almost stumbled over, but my female person squealed and leapt away from it, pulling me along with her. My male person watched it for a while and took the picture. I think his reaction was much more appropriate, don’t you?

The Fay Canyon Trail is shady and I loved how easy it was to walk on the sandy path.

On Tuesday morning, we hiked in Fay Canyon. Hikes are even better than walks because they last longer and there are more things to sniff.

When my people spotted the arch above Fay Canyon, of course, we had to go up. Personally, I love a good climb, but it was a little hot on that rocky path.

When we got to the top, I cooled off in the shade while they took pictures.

My people really like taking pictures. I guess if a camera could record all the fascinating odors I pick up on a hike, I would take a lot of pictures, too. It would be nice to have an olfactory souvenir of our trip.

This was my view of the arch over my head from my cool spot against the rock wall.

After our hike, we had lunch on the deck at Red Rock BBQ. I was content to sprawl in the shade of our umbrella with my bowl of cold water. Then, I got my own dish of pulled pork. People in this town really know what dogs like!

The West Fork Trail crisscrosses a flowing stream

It was cool when we started out on Wednesday morning, but as it got closer to noon, the temperature rose. I was so happy to wade through the water on the West Fork Trail. If only they would have let me chase that squirrel… but they never do. Still, I have to say it was my all-time favorite hike.

On our way back home to San Diego, we stopped at Montezuma Castle National Monument.

Watching my people pack the suitcases made me nervous. They would never leave me behind. I know they wouldn’t. I was feeling twitchy, though, and I was glad to get out of the car for a while, even if it was blazing hot at Montezuma Castle.

We took a short walk on a sidewalk so my people could look up at the houses on the cliff. I suppose the families who lived there had reasons for building their homes like that, but how did their dogs get all the way up there?

I appreciated the chance to stretch my legs, but I was happy when it was time to get back in the air-conditioned car and drive on home. Still, I hope we go back to Sedona sometime. I want to hike West Fork Trail again.

If you ever go there, tell them Lola sent you.

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Filed under Dogs, Hiking, Lola, Travel

Free Writing

The Vista al Valle Trail in Warner Springs is only 3 miles, but the elevation gain is 1100 feet and our time was limited, so we decided to take a short nature walk out and back instead of making the full circuit.  We had our trail map and a guide describing the terrain and the views we would see.

At marker one, though, there was a fork in the trail and we weren’t sure which route to take.  We chose the widest of the paths and we set off.  We never saw another trail marker.

Eventually, we reached a dead-end and we had to retrace our steps back to the trailhead. I don’t know what we missed by taking the “wrong” route, but I do know what we gained.  As we walked quietly, listening to bird songs and the rustle of small animals moving in the dried grass along the trail, we heard the unmistakable sound of water  tumbling over rocks.  Just off the path, we found a shallow stream.

There aren’t many creeks that run in San Diego County in mid-July, but we were lucky enough to discover one with a small waterfall that was just barely visible through the trees upstream.

As I work on my new novel, I’m starting first by drawing a map of the plot.  I want to plan my route with scenes that will keep the story moving forward and that will encourage a reader to turn the page.  I want to decide on my final destination before I begin writing.

I wouldn’t be comfortable striking out into the back country with no knowledge of the landmarks to guide me safely along the trail and I don’t want to write my novel blindly with no idea of where I want the story to go.  At the same time, I have to be open to wrong turns and unexpected vistas.  I may think I know what will happen in a scene, but when I pick up my pen, I have to be willing to let my imagination take a detour.

With free writing, if I let myself, I follow a fresh path every time I use a prompt or idea.  So maybe today I’ll write a scene and veer off in a direction that I didn’t envision when I first plotted my story.  Tomorrow, perhaps I’ll open with the same image and then try another approach.  It might lead me to a dead-end, or maybe it will be a shortcut to the place I want to end up.  I can wander through my story until I find the route that works best.  My pen might run out of ink with all of these detours, but I won’t get sunburned or rub blisters on my heels.  Still, I just might find a hidden waterfall.

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Filed under free writing, Hiking, Plot, Writing