Friday, July 29, 2011

My First Book

In addition to my summer cleaning project at home, I have been helping my mother clean out the attic at my parents' place. This has been fun, as I've found boxes of "treasures" from my elementary, high school, and college days, and the two projects together have amounted to my own little version of "This Is Your Life."

Most of the finds have been humorous, such as my 80's prom dress. The dress was so hideous, my brother mistook it for a shower curtain when he carried the box containing the dress out of the attic. I remember I was trying to go for a Molly Ringwald "Pretty In Pink" look with the dress, but it didn't work out too well, as this taffeta and lace horror with pink and white polka dots did in fact look like a very ugly shower curtain. We got a good laugh out of it, as we did with the other dresses in the box, a frightening collection of bridesmaid and prom dresses that my sisters and I had worn over the years. One of them was uglier than the next, ranging from a filmy lavender number with cap sleeves to a red and white polka dot travesty that rivaled my own polka dot embarrassment. Apparently, we liked polka dots a lot back then.

My favorite find was in the box from my elementary school years. It was the first story I ever wrote, and I had completely forgotten about it. But, as soon as I saw it, I remembered being so proud of it at the time, and thrilled that I won second place in the story contest for our grade.

The book is called "It's A Dogworld After All," and, for some reason, I covered it in pink (again with the pink!) floral wallpaper.

It's about a group of dogs sailing around the world alone in the far off year of 2001.

At one point in the story, the dogs have a New Year's Eve party to usher in 2002.

I couldn't help but laugh that even though the party was supposed to be in 2001, I drew the partying dog as if he were at a 70s disco, and even gave him a garish gold chain.  I guess it never occurred to me back then that styles change. I also couldn't help but notice that my party guy has a cigarette in his paw. Again, times sure do change. I'm fairly certain a kid today would not draw it that way.

It was a lot of fun to see this book again, and it made me smile to realize that even back then, I wanted to write about dogs and animals. It almost seemed like a sign that even though I've definitely taken the long way around, I really am on the right track now.

We're supposed to have another hot and sticky weekend ahead, and I'm planning on another round of cleaning so I can be indoors and in the air conditioning. I'm hoping I will come upon some more fun discoveries from my little walk down memory lane.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Travels With Clancy: Embshoff Woods

Due to the heat and humidity here, Clancy and I took a break from our travels last weekend. As I've mentioned before, Clancy loathes the heat, and I am right there with him. I especially hate humidity, and get grouchy after about five minutes when I'm outside in it, so the thought of going out and exploring was not at all appealing.

We did decide to take a walk back to Embshoff Woods early Saturday morning though, so I thought I would write about our experience for the latest edition of our Travels. This expedition turned out to be appropriate, as one of my goals for this project is to learn to appreciate the beauty in my own backyard, and Embshoff is right down the street from where I live. It's as close to my backyard as I'm going to get.

Embshoff is part of the Hamilton County park district, and Clancy and I have walked there on a regular basis ever since Clancy came to live with me. It's not a large park, but the walk from our place through the park and back is about two miles, so it's a good distance for a walk.

Clancy and I set off down the street and, as you can see from the limp and motionless flag at the entrance to the park, there wasn't even a hint of a breeze in the air.

It was already sticky, so we were glad to get an early start. We got to the park not long after the sun had risen in the morning sky.

Clancy was delighted to see that his friend Seamus was also there for a walk. Seamus and his owner, a super nice guy named Lou, are regulars at the park like us, and we always enjoy seeing them. Clancy loves Lou because he carries homemade dog treats in his pocket, and Seamus doesn't mind sharing the treats with Clancy. I think Clancy would drop me in a New York minute if he thought he could go home with Lou and have regular access to those treats.

Seamus is about the same size and age as Clancy, so the two of them are a great match as playmates. I always find it funny to say their names together, as I think it sounds like I am talking about two old Irish gentlemen sitting together at a pub.

After a round of play, Clancy and Seamus were ready to go on their respective walks, so we bid Seamus and Lou goodbye and continued on our way.

There really isn't much to Embshoff, but one thing I love about it is the hilly landscape. Clancy loves to run up, down, and around on these hills.

The park is home to many different kinds of wildlife, including a variety of birds, as well as rabbits, deer, and coyotes. One morning, a large male deer came out of the bushes and stared at me as if he was challenging me to a duel. He was gorgeous, with antlers I would not want to mess with, and a stately demeanor that told me he was used to getting his way. I had no intention of challenging him, and he must have decided Clancy and I were no threat, as he disappeared back into the bushes as quickly as he had appeared. He was so graceful when he moved that he didn't move a single branch, and he almost seemed like a ghost.

I've always wished I had thought to bring my camera with me that day, but it goes without saying that I never seem to have my camera when I see the various animals in the woods. And when I do have my camera, the animals are scarce. This morning was no exception.

Clancy's favorite part of the park is this little trail that is perpetually shaded by a canopy of evergreen tree branches.

Because we walk in Embshoff year round, I have special affection for the evergreens. They are a welcome sight in the winter when everything else is dead and bare, and the cold is as biting as Saturday morning's heat was oppressive.

When Clancy and I turned around to head home, we ran into another friend, a maintenance man who works for the park district. We always see him driving around in an orange RTV utility vehicle, and he never fails to greet us with a wave and a smile.

We stopped to say hi when he had parked the RTV, and Clancy decided to try to jump in the vehicle. It seemed as if he thought maybe he could get a ride back home instead of having to walk. If you have read my blog from the beginning, you know that Clancy loves riding in the car, and I guess to him this utility vehicle seemed like the next best thing.

To Clancy's dismay, we didn't actually get a ride in the RTV. But we did have a great morning walking in the park and seeing our friends. I tried paying more attention to our surroundings as we walked, and took note of everything from the sound of a woodpecker hammering on a tree to the welcome shade that came courtesy of the evergreens.

The break from our Travels turned out to be a good thing, as it was a chance to develop a new appreciation for our home base. But I'm still hoping for a break in the heat soon, so we can venture a bit farther next time!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Christmas, 1972

Over the summer, I've been working on cleaning out and organizing the drawers and closets in my condo. I've only lived in this place for 8 years, but anyone looking at the closets and drawers would think it had been at least 25. I've actually enjoyed the project, as I've come upon things I had totally forgotten about, and I also smile every time I open a closet and see how organized it is.

One of the things I found that made me smile was this picture from 1972. My sister and I dressed in our matching outfit best, and went to see Santa. I was 4 here, and my sister was 8. She was a bit old to be doing this, but I know she did it because I didn't want to go by myself.

This picture brings back great memories for me, as I loved everything about Christmas when I was a kid.

We went to see Santa at a great old department store called Shillito's. To me, visiting the downtown store was almost like going to an amusement park, especially at Christmas time. Shillito's had amazing Christmas window displays, and I loved them. I would stand in front of them and stare, completely mesmerized, like Ralphie and his friends in A Christmas Story. (One of my all-time favorite movies, by the way. My family and I never tire of quoting it.)

Shillito's also had the best Santa displays. It wasn't just about seeing Santa, as you had to walk through an enchanting Christmas display that snaked around one whole floor of the store just to get to him. One year it was the North Pole, another it was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I can still remember the smell of the chocolate as my mom and I walked through the display on our way to see Santa Claus.

With the massive heatwave gripping so much of the country, I really enjoyed taking a trip back in time to this winter tradition.

It was also fun to see a picture of my 4 year old self. I couldn't help but think, if I could go back and talk to this little girl, what would I tell her, knowing what I do now?

The first thing that came to mind was that I would tell her to go easy on the student loans when she gets to college! I kid, but there's no question I've made some unwise financial decisions in my life. But of course, hindsight is 20/20.

I think mostly I would tell this little girl not to be so afraid to try things as she gets older. And not to worry so much about what other people think.

But at the same time, I think, I wouldn't tell her anything. Whatever choices I made or whatever fears I had, they are all part of the person I am today. And accepting myself, warts and all, is something I've finally learned to do.

What about you? If you could talk to your childhood self, what would you say? And if you are dealing with the heat where you live, I hope this little trip to Christmas past gave you some relief, if only in your mind.

Friday, July 22, 2011

More Weekend Inspiration

I had a much better week this week than last, and managed to make it through without falling on anything, or getting into any altercations with angry stinging insects.  It was also a much more productive week, and I felt like I actually made some progress on various writing-related matters. It's kind of amazing how just a small amount of progress can make you feel like you're finally getting yourself back on track. 

I didn't have a great deal of time to devote to the A to Z Visitors Hop this week, but I did make it to a few sites. Of the sites I did visit, the majority were either shut down or hadn't been updated in months, so I didn't really find any new blogs to highlight on this week's hop.

This made me think of my own blogging experience though, and the fact that I am more than a little amazed that I am still blogging on a regular basis. To say that I have a history of trying things only to quit before I even gave them a chance is an understatement. And I admit, when I was first blogging back in January and February, there were plenty of times I thought, this is not for me, I'm not comfortable with this, I hate it, etc.  

Quitting would have been a familiar and all too easy choice, and I can't say enough how glad I am that I didn't revert to my usual pattern. Seven months in, and I can't imagine giving up the blog. I'm thrilled that I have met so many great people and learned so much along the way, and I now look forward to opening up my dashboard (when Google is cooperating!) and checking in to see what's new with my blogging buddies.  

For the record, I do not mean this to be critical of any of the blogs I came upon that had not been updated or were defunct. Hopping through them just made me think about my own blogging experience, and how many times I thought about taking the blog down. I couldn't help but relate this experience to my writing journey as well. There have been plenty of times I've thought I should quit that, in spite of the fact that I've barely started it. 

I'm glad that I haven't done that, and I don't intend to any time soon. As I thought about the week, I was reminded of this quote from one of my favorite books, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up. ~ Anne Lamott

Whatever you're hoping and waiting for, whether or not it is writing-related, I hope you don't give up.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Devil Is In the Details

The descriptive details, that is.

I signed up for an online course on writing descriptive settings this week, as I am finding that description is a real weakness for me.

When I am writing, I can see a scene or a character perfectly in my head, but when I transfer the physical details to words, I think my descriptions are lacking. I have a terrible time describing the clothes characters are wearing, or the details of where they are, whether that be an office, their home, or somewhere outdoors. My biggest problem is I find myself getting stuck on using the same words again and again, so I wind up scrapping the whole thing and ending up with a blank page.

I read a lot, to put it mildly, and I have started paying close attention to the way the writers I am reading describe the details of their characters and locations. I know how important this is for bringing a story to life, and I want to improve my skills in this area. But I also want to avoid over-doing it, as I have often found myself bored with stories that go into so much descriptive detail that I feel like the book is more about the physical description of a location than it is about the characters and plot.

At the same time, I am not a fan of what I consider "flowery" writing, so I want to be able to convey the physical details of scenes and characters without going overboard with unusual words. Along those lines, I have always liked this quote from Stephen King:

"Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule."

I suppose when it comes to description, I struggle with how much is too much and how much is not enough. I feel much more comfortable writing dialogue, and about the emotional aspects of characters and their actions, but I know I need to include physical details as well.

Does anyone else have trouble with this issue? If so, can you suggest any tips or resources that have been helpful to you?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Travels With Clancy: Withrow Nature Preserve

Clancy and I had a guest along for the ride on our latest travels, as my brother was in town for a visit. So the three of us got up early Saturday morning and headed to Withrow Nature Preserve. Clancy was surprised to have company, but he always enjoys having another passenger in the car with us whenever we go somewhere.

Withrow is part of the Hamilton County Park District, and is located on the eastern side of Cincinnati. I'd read good things about the hiking trails there, so it seemed like a great place for an early morning walk.

The parking lot was nearly empty when we arrived at the preserve, and we were able to get a spot right near the start of the Trout Lily Trail.

According to the sign, red foxes are a common sight on the trails, and I can't deny I was hoping to get a glimpse of one. But there were no foxes to be seen, and maybe that was for the best. I have no idea how Clancy would react to a fox, and it's probably better not to find out how a fox would react to him.

All was well as far as Clancy was concerned though, as he met a new friend, an adorable and friendly chocolate lab, at the start of the trail. There's nothing Clancy loves more than interacting with dogs. The lab seemed just as happy to make Clancy's acquaintance, so they had a good time saying hello and checking each other out.

Here we are at the start of the trail into the woods.

We had hoped to take the Hepatica Hill Loop trail, which is the longer and more scenic route, but unfortunately the loop was closed due to landslides caused by the heavy rains we had back in the spring. So we just stayed on the shorter trail, which was a nice walk, but didn't really have any noteworthy scenery. 

At the end of the trail, we came to a solitary bench nestled in the middle of a lush and green clearing. The bench offered a perfect view through the trees to the Ohio River below.

Clancy's labrador pal was just leaving the clearing as we arrived, so the two of them enjoyed another quick round of doggie bonding. After saying goodbye to the lab and his family, my brother and I sat on the bench and had a nice chat, while Clancy checked out the scents and took a well-deserved rest. When we were all ready to move on, we turned around and headed out of the clearing.

Back at the parking area, we came upon the Highwood Lodge, which is used for weddings.

I can imagine it is a very pretty setting for weddings, as the benches can be covered with white cloth, and the ceremonies are performed in front of this white lattice backdrop. 

According to a sign at the park entrance, a wedding was scheduled for that afternoon, so I hope the bride and groom enjoyed their day.

Off to the side of the lodge, there is a gazebo at the edge of the woods. I'm sure the gazebo is very popular during the weddings, as it provides a wonderful backdrop for pictures.

Throughout the morning, Clancy fussed whenever my brother held his leash. This picture was no exception, as he stared at me and whined as if I was abandoning him just by walking fifteen feet away to take a picture. 

It was clear he'd had enough of pictures, and was ready to get back in the car. The humidity was starting to build up anyway, so we were all fine with taking our leave.

Clancy and I enjoyed having a guest with us on our travels, and the visit to Withrow Preserve turned out to be a perfect way to spend a Saturday morning.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Weekend Inspiration

I came upon this poem from Shel Silverstein's Where The Sidewalk Ends yesterday, and I immediately wanted to add it to my favorite quotes. I'd read it before, but had forgotten about it, and the timing for finding it again couldn't have been better.

This has been a long week, and I'm very glad to see the end of it. Nothing particularly bad happened, it was just a series of irritations, like falling on a wet floor and twisting my left foot one day, and getting stung by a bee on my right foot the next. Taken together, the minor nuisances added up to a major headache. 

It was also the kind of week where I seemed to be losing my ongoing battle with the doubts and insecurities in my head. The poem provided me with not only a smile, but also a much needed shot of inspiration. And, if I'm being honest, the kick in the pants I needed to stop wallowing and get on with it. :D

So for anyone else who might be needing a smile or some inspiration, I hope Mr. Silverstein's words will touch you, too. 


Listen to the MUSTN'TS, child,
Listen to the DON'TS
Listen to the SHOULDN'TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me --
Anything can happen, child
ANYTHING can be.

Happy Friday, and Happy Weekend, all! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A to Z Blogs of the Week, and Belated Thanks!

I've made my way through more of the A to Z Bloggers list and, as expected, I came upon many more wonderful blogs. I'm happy to highlight three of them this week.

1) Cheekyness

I love the title of this blog, and Su writes about lots of interesting topics with a fun and "cheeky" style. From what I have seen so far, her blog is a great read.

2) Cheap Therapy

Another great title! I discovered "Project 52" on Cheap Therapy, and I think it is a really clever idea for goal-setting. I may have to do my own Project 52 next year.

3) Writers' Ally

Great blog title number 3. When I first saw the web address for S.A. Larsen's blog, I read it as "writer sally," and was expecting a writer named Sally. Instead, I found Sheri, and though she is taking a bit of a hiatus from blogging over the summer in order to focus on her writing, she and others created a Facebook group to support bloggers called Writers Support 4 U. I've joined, and I think it seems like a fantastic group.

So those are my blog hop highlights for this week. Shannon at The Warrior Muse has re-opened the submission link for the A to Z Visitors Blog Hop, so if you'd like to join, there's still time! I have a page at the top of my blog where you can add your link, or you can sign up at Shannon's page or at Life is Good.

Also, I want to send a very belated THANK YOU to two bloggers who were kind enough to give me blog awards in the past few weeks.

First off, the very sweet nutschell at The Writing Nut honored me with the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award. Thank you, Nutschell!

And, the creative and talented Deirdra at A Storybook World gave me the Creative Blog Award. Thank you, Deirdra!

It's always a treat to get these awards, and I'm very grateful to both ladies!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Travels With Clancy: Versailles

In spite of what you might think, Clancy and I did not head to France and the palace of Louis XIV for our latest travels. Although it sure would have been nice if we had! But, Clancy's never been on a plane and we don't have that kind of time or money right now anyway, so we stayed much closer to home, and drove to Versailles, Indiana.

Versailles is about an hour west of Cincinnati, and traces its history back to 1818, when it was established as the county seat of Ripley County. County Commissioner John DePauw named the new town after his native city in France. But as the years passed, the French pronunciation of the name was lost, and the town is now known as "VerSALES." Somehow, that Americanized pronunciation doesn't have quite the same panache.

At any rate, Clancy and I had heard good things about the park in Versailles, so we hopped in the car and headed west on State Route 50. We were expecting a peaceful drive on a sunny morning, but that didn't turn out to be the case, as I was cut off and nearly driven off the road by a guy driving a pickup and towing some kind of huge recycling dumpster behind him. While my hands shook and my heart pounded as if it would leap right out of my chest, he drove on, completely oblivious to the fact that he had nearly sent Clancy and me to the great beyond.

We probably should have taken that as our cue to just turn around and head back home.

Instead, we continued on, and quickly came to the Indiana state line. I have always found the drive across the border to be kind of funny on Route 50, as it is a tad seedy. On the Ohio side, there is a motel that has been there for as long as I can remember, and looks like it hasn't been remodeled since the 1950s. It's simply called "State Line Motel," and I would be willing to bet that the rooms are rented out by the hour. I also wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see Norman Bates and his stuffed birds behind the desk if I went inside.

The sale of fireworks is a big business around the border, as fireworks are technically illegal in Ohio, so Ohio residents who want to purchase fireworks for the 4th of July or other summer holidays have to travel to Indiana or Kentucky. As a result, Route 50 is lined with billboards advertising fireworks dealers. The signs shout "POW!" and "KABOOM!" in huge red and yellow letters, as if they are straight out of the old Batman television show. I can't help but find the signs funny, even though they are not exactly high-class.

About a half an hour after crossing into Indiana and leaving the garish fireworks signs behind, Clancy and I made it to Versailles State Park. As we drove in, we came to the Versailles Lake, and it was immediately clear that this was indeed a peaceful and lovely park.

The problem was that it was too peaceful. Because there wasn't anyone else there. Our only companions were these guys.

I'm normally not one to complain about peace and quiet, but this was too quiet. To the point of being eerie. Clancy and I walked around, and saw a huge pool with several water slides, numerous picnic shelters and tables, and a variety of playground equipment. But there wasn't a single soul to be seen. I felt like I was in some post-apocalyptic movie, and Clancy and I were wandering around looking for other survivors.

Even the boats along the lake were empty and unused.

We found a trail across from the lake that looked like the start of a great hike.

But it became obvious very quickly that this trail was heading deep into the woods.

Since I couldn't see another human being within shouting distance, and I had lost my cell signal, walking on didn't seem like a very wise decision. Clancy can be intimidating when he views something or someone as threatening, but that really wasn't enough to reassure me. We turned around and headed back out.

The more we walked around, the more my imagination went into overdrive. By the time we got back to the car, I really had the creeps. And our duck friends were still our only companions.

We got in the car and drove out, but I did stop the car and get out again in order to take a picture of this covered bridge from the 1850s. I love old covered bridges like this, as I think there is something so romantic about them. I would imagine the red of this bridge is beautiful in the winter up against a snow-filled white backdrop.

With that,Clancy and I left Versailles and headed back to Ohio. Versailles is a beautiful park, and I've no doubt that on the weekends it is alive with children playing and swimming, families picnicking, dogs barking, and walkers hiking. But on this particular weekday morning, the place was not for me.

So this trip was a swing and a miss, but I knew we couldn't have a successful outing every time. We're staying on our side of the state line for our upcoming travels, and keeping our fingers and paws crossed that we have some human companionship!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hopping Through the A to Z List, and Congratulations to Jennifer Hillier!

I've finally started on the A to Z Visitors Blog Hop, only a month later than I had planned to start, but better late than never. I thought it was great that more than 40 bloggers signed up to participate! I hope everyone is enjoying their visits so far.

I made a ticker to keep track of my visits as I thought it might help with my motivation. I've only visited 30 blogs so far, so that 1282 at the end of the ticker is a long way off, but at least I've made a little progress. 

As I make my way through the list, I thought it would be fun to do a weekly post highlighting a few of the new blogs I discover. I'm already glad I joined this challenge, as I've found some great new blogs already. Here are three that I totally missed during the craziness of April, but I'm so glad I found them now.

1) Ella's Edge

Ella's blog caught my interest right away as I love the look of it, and I love her "Summer of Yellow" post. Really a beautiful and eye-catching site!

2) Clarissa Draper

Clarissa writes great book reviews, and I enjoyed going through her blog and reading her posts on writing and on books. She's a mystery fan like me so I expect to find lots of new books to enjoy through her site.

3) The Alliterative Allomorph

I thought this was such a great title for a blog, it caught my attention right away. I'm looking forward to reading Jessica's work.

Those are my three highlighted blogs for this week, and I've no doubt I'll find many more as I continue to work through the A-Z List over at Tossing It Out. Thanks again to Tina at Life is Good and Shannon at The Warrior Muse for this great idea!

Also, I just wanted to send a huge congratulations to Jennifer Hillier, whose book CREEP was released this week. I got my copy from Amazon today, and I'm looking forward to curling up on the couch with it. It's been fun to follow along on Jennifer's countdown to publication, and I wish her much success. Congratulations, Jennifer!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fourth of July Kitty

Nate was not the least bit pleased about wearing the celebratory fireworks bandanna....

Friday, July 1, 2011

Travels With Clancy: A Walk in the Woods

Clancy and I had a great return to our travels this week with a trip to Rowe Woods, which is part of the Cincinnati Nature Center. The Cincinnati Nature Center is not actually in Cincinnati, but is instead in neighboring Clermont County. Clermont is a predominantly rural county, but I was still surprised to find such a large, unspoiled woods less than an hour away from home.

The Nature Center has two locations, Rowe Woods in Milford, Ohio, and Long Branch Farm & Trails in nearby Goshen. Long Branch is only open to CNC members, so Clancy and I went to Rowe Woods. As usual, we went early in the morning, as Clancy has an aversion to mid-day heat. That works for me though, as I am typically a morning person, and I have to admit I am not a fan of heat myself.

I immediately liked Rowe Woods as soon as we drove in, as the road is marked with cute signs warning drivers to slow down and be on the lookout for the many animal residents.

Rowe Woods boasts ten different trails for walkers to explore. Clancy and I chose the Edge Trail, which is represented by a turtle, and listed as "easy." As we are the clumsiest pair on two or four feet, this seemed like a good choice for us.

The trails are all marked with signposts to point walkers in the right direction. I was grateful for this, as I can easily get lost in my own neighborhood. Clancy and I followed the turtle, and started off into the woods.

The Edge Trail leads walkers around the Powel Crosley Lake, and includes a boardwalk to walk along the lake's edge.

Clancy and I walked along the boardwalk, and saw numerous turtles or possibly frogs sliding into the water to get away from us. I don't think they appreciated the interruption of their day, as they disappeared instantly, leaving only a bubble in the water. Clancy was completely puzzled by the bubbles, and cocked his ears at them, staring at the bubbling water for the whole length of the boardwalk.

We continued on, and came upon a small wooden shelter overlooking the lake.

Benches line the inside walls, and the shelter is clearly intended as a place for walkers to rest and enjoy some shade. Or, since the trails are open year-round, step inside and get a break from the cold wind during a winter hike.

It was a welcome find for Clancy, as he was already getting hot.

We took a little break, and enjoyed the view of the lake through the trees surrounding the shelter.

Following our turtle sign, we continued on into the woods, where the trail gets a bit steeper.

Eventually, the trail winds around the Marsh Pond. I loved this old canoe resting near the dock.

While I can't say the pond itself is pretty, as the water is an unsightly brown, it still seemed like a peaceful, quiet place to sit on the dock and relax.

With that, Clancy and I reached the end of the Edge Trail, and made our way back to the Visitor Center and parking lot.

I was so taken with Rowe Woods that I decided to purchase a membership to the Nature Center, so I can return at any time at no charge. I want to explore the other nine trails, and see the woods through the change of seasons. I've no doubt the trails are spectacular in the fall.

As a member, I will also be able to visit Long Branch, so I am definitely adding that to my list of travels. I have next week off work, so I am keeping my fingers crossed for good weather and a cooperative car, so Clancy and I can do plenty of exploring.

Happy Fourth of July weekend to my American friends, and to my Canadian buddies, Happy Canada Day! :)