Monday, September 30, 2013

Hiking Indian Hill Loop Trail with a Crazy, Lazy Dog

So we finally did it. We have been threatening to make Desmond go hiking, real hiking, for almost 3 years now, and we finally followed through on our threat. This was no simple wooded walk through a park in Queens. This had inclines and rock climbs and a nice view and then a whole going-downhill part (those are not my fave).

We drove up to Sterling Forest State Park, north of Tuxedo Park, NY, in between Southfields and Arden, in search of a hiking trail that Joey's family used to go to, called the Red Dot Trail, about a mile from the Red Apple Rest, which was apparently a pretty big deal in its day. (I didn't know much about it, until the hubs filled me in. Pretty cool stuff.) If none of that rings a bell, you may have heard of Sterling Forest due to your interest in the Renaissance Faire. All in all, it's about 90 minutes north from NYC.

Problem was that we had no idea where the Red Dot Trail was or if that was even really its name. Joey's parents didn't remember it well either. And we learned how old we really are when Joey was talking to them about it. When my father-in-law explained that it's not so easy to remember something you haven't done in 25 years, Joey argued, saying that he and his sister had been there with them. And then Dad pointed out that, yes, that was 25 years ago. Le sigh.

So, we just sort of looked it up a little and went on our way and decided we would do whatever trail we could find, wherever it wound up being--wait, wait--my mom reads this blog.

No, that's not at all how we did that. I'm super joking. We totally looked up all the relevant information first and absolutely printed out this sweet trail map and took it with us and, it's all good anyways, because I definitely had cell service and a GPS the whole time...


Moving on...

So, we found two trail heads about a mile from the Red Apple Rest and went with the one that seemed bigger or more populated, due to the fact that it had a sign pointing to it from the road and a real-deal parking lot (with cars in it). The other trail head we found was just in the middle of a residential street and had more of a pull-over-here-and-leave-your-car-it's-cool gravel area.

Part of me was happy to see cars. The other part of me was like, oh crap, this crazy dog is with us. The other main reason we came up here to this random-ish area is because we need to go to places that are dog friendly but, well, have no dogs. It's funny because it's true! So I was immediately concerned about a freakout in the woods that would involve my husband getting dragged down a cliff or something. Not cool. Still, we went in.

Now, if you click on this sweet trail map I referred to earlier, you can see the trail we did (look at the top right of the map). It's called the Indian Hill Loop Trail. We did part of that trail (the yellow markers) and then part of the blue trail when those met, and then turned around.

When we got to the lookout, I was able to get a signal, and Google Maps told us we were here:

Come on--that's funny!
But I zoomed out to discover that we were here:

Thank you, Virgin Mobile, for giving me a signal at the lookout and providing a last-known-whereabouts for my body, in case I was to be ravaged by a scary mountain lion or man.
We didn't do the full loop, and we didn't make it allll the way to the top lookout, because we didn't want to push Desmond too far (and wind up having to carry him back down the mountain). But it was far more successful than I expected it to be.

I fully assumed Desmond was going to have an over-threshold reactivity moment followed by collapsing at the top of the mountain and refusing to move again, due to his being crazy and lacking endurance. I'm pleased to report I was wrong.

Not only did he not have any opportunities to go over threshold, thanks to a total lack of other people (we still have no idea what all the cars were doing in the parking lot), but he also rocked the crap out of the trail. He was having a blast! He kept wanting to go faster, having no regard for self-preservation, and when we stopped to rest--about 20 minutes--he was all ready to go again when we gave the signal.

Plus, on the hike back down, Desmond led the way. We kept him in front of us the whole time (on leash of course) and let him make the decisions about where to go, where to turn, what to climb over. It was seriously impressive. We're guessing he smelled us, and that's how he was able to figure it out. I don't give this dummy enough credit, huh?

Definitely a fabulous time, even though it wasn't the trail we were looking for. I'd love to go back and try to find it though. Especially now that we have a map! Here are some pix from the hike:

Just starting out 
And stopping within moments to sniff something awesome 
Really awesome, apparently

The changing colors were pretty sweet. I hadn't been hiking in the fall before, only spring and summer.

Lots of acorns were falling, and we were the only folks around, so the acorns made quite a bit of noise. Desmond kept stopping to "investigate." And by that, I mean look all around in a near panic. 

These old stone walls cut across the trail a few times. We had to climb over parts that were half knocked down.   
The tree trunk going across the pic was huge. This photo doesn't do a thing for it. I should have made them go stand by it. It had fallen right over the trail but landed in such a way that it doesn't block the trail--you just go under it.  I'm super glad that happened when we were not there.
We tried to get Des to climb up on this big rock, but he didn't seem to think he could make it
One of the rock-covered hills we had to climb up (and later down)
A snake Joey and Des totally almost stepped on. Excellent camouflage job, Mr. Snake.
Continuing up the rock hill. These rocks were a huge pain to get up, and I was a bit concerned about getting back down--for both Desmond's and my sake. Truth be told, Joey did wind up having to carry Des down the steepest of the rock-covered inclines. Also, the spaces between the rocks were all covered in twigs and leaves and whatnot, so you couldn't tell what was real ground until you stepped there--a lot of the spaces were really just holes your foot would fall into if you stepped there. You were actually better off using the rocks to climb up. Desmond, of course, fell into one of the holes at some point and earned himself a battle wound on his front right leg. 
At the top of the rock hill, it leveled out a little bit but there were these huge rocks--boulders or little cliffs or something--running all along the side of the trail. Hard to see here, but they are beyond the trees, the white/gray thing on the left is one. I think it we had kept going at the point where we wound up turning around, we would have climbed up on top of these eventually. 
Getting the first hint of a view
This is the first lookout area we came to, so we stopped here to rest for a bit and assess Desmond's energy level 
We could have kept climbing down a bit on these large rocks, to what probably was another open area to get a view, but we thought that might be pushing it with the wonky-legged dog. Some of them were pretty far away from each other.
"Climb down these crazy rocks? I don't think so."
"I'll just enjoy the view from here."

Pretty. Too bad I still have no idea what I'm even looking at. I can't figure out where this is exactly on the trail or which way this view faces. I kind of want to say it looks east, toward Route 17 and I-87, but it could easily be opposite. Or neither. I probably should have asked Joey before I typed this all out. 
Not that I don't appreciate this view, but I was hoping for more. More of a clearing. Less obstruction. More of a valley. Maybe a body of water. I feel like a loser for not making it to the real top. Desmond doesn't really care. Even though it's his fault.
He cared so little, in fact, that he just plopped down in the nearest, shady "soft" area. You know, on top of dry grass and a dry little weedy plant with lots of twigs.

And we're down for the count. Time to wrap it up. No summit for us today.
Some pix from back at the entrance
Very helpful info poster
Just missed hunting season, thank goodness. Not that I wasn't wearing fluorescent green anyway. Although, now that I think about it, that wouldn't really make you stand out much would it? What do you need? Electric blue?

Oh, and then this happened when we got in the car, which you may have seen on Facebook
And even after his long nap in the car, thanks to stupid, stupid NY traffic, he was still all tuckered out. Success.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Work Stinks: Desmond Wants to Quit His Job

"So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that's on the worst day of my life." --Peter Gibbons

Desmond's getting a little sick of his day job. He's really become disillusioned with the whole damn system. And, frankly, he'd really like to put in his two weeks' notice. 

"I was told that I could listen to the radio at a reasonable volume from nine to eleven, I told Bill that if Sandra is going to listen to her headphones while she's filing then I should be able to listen to the radio while I'm collating so I don't see why I should have to turn down the radio because I enjoy listening at a reasonable volume from nine to eleven." --MW
"I don't care if they lay me off either, because I told, I told Bill that if they move my desk one more time, then, then I'm, I'm quitting, I'm going to quit. And, and I told Don too, because they've moved my desk four times already this year, and I used to be over by the window, and I could see the squirrels...but then, they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn't bind up as much, and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it's not okay because if they take my stapler then I'll set the building on fire... " --MW 
"The ratio of people to cake is too big." --MW
"PC LOAD LETTER That thing's lucky I'm not armed." --MB
"Why does it say 'Paper Jam' when there's no paper jam?!" --SN
"Mr. Lumbergh told me to talk to payroll and then payroll told me to talk to Mr. Lumbergh and I still haven't received my paycheck and he took my stapler and he never brought it back and then they moved my desk to storage room B and there was garbage on it..." --MW 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Hurricane Update Part 9: Desmond is Not Amused

Remember back in July when I told you guys we were probably going home soon? Well, we're still not home. And at this point, I'm no longer taking guesses as to when we will be, because that's not serving anyone here well. I feel like I'm waiting on line for concert tickets, and they sold out just before it was my turn to buy. We keep thinking we're going home, but then it just doesn't happen.

Recently, we had a setback involving a third flood (the first was the hurricane; the second was the burst pipe over the winter, which wouldn't have mattered had the water company actually shut our water off; the third now another burst pipe in our bathroom wall that was shooting water out for at least four days, causing that whole section of wall to need to be taken down and redone from the beginning), but when you've stopped feeling feelings it doesn't really matter much.

Nothing we can do. One day at a time. Count your blessings. Eat more cheese. Drink more wine.

There are folks in our neighborhood who are way worse off than we are and aren't even close to being able to go home. My heart breaks for them. It's weird that I can feel feelings for other people, but when it comes to our situation I am numb. Must be my body's defense mechanism. In any case, it should be over soon...ish? It's only been 325 days.

In the meantime, we've been going to the house for various things like meetings, inspections, deliveries, and the ever-challenging, demoralizing experience of putting together IKEA furniture. So we are getting closer to the end.

We've been bringing Desmond along, with his blanket and ball, in hopes of getting his smell back in the house and having him get a little more comfortable with that very-changed building. (One day, I will post a little before & after timeline for anyone who is interested of what the house looked like when we bought it versus pre-Sandy changes we made and post-Sandy rebuild. It's drastic.)

As per usual, Desmond is--say it with me now--not amused. He is super pissed off that we keep bringing him to a place where he cannot lie on a couch and burrow his nose into someone's thighs. He's also not a fan of loud noises, so putting together furniture in an emptyish, echo-y house is not really his idea of a good time. Here's some photographic evidence.

Annoyed about waiting outside with no grass to roll around in
Annoyed about the down-stay (though he's doing a lovely job)
Annoyed that his blanket is on the floor instead of a couch or bed
Annoyed that we are putting together the new king size bed that he doesn't realize we bought for his benefit (and ours) and he has nowhere to run to except this dirty closet full of garbage and building supplies 
Giving up and making himself "comfortable" on top of the garbage
Annoyed that he's too big for this chair
Utterly distraught that this is not much of an upgrade
Contemplating how much better life would be if this couch were right-side up and had cushions

On another note, if you would like to purchase a Dogs of Blogville calendar--in which Desmond is Mr. October--you can do so here, via Paypal: So I've Got This Paypal Button on My Blog
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