Hers – Oak Hill Trail & Brecksville Reservation

I recently had to take a strengths finder assessment at work. One of my top five strengths is “Maximizer,” which essentially means that I aim to be efficient. I figured I would put that strength to use in this post by combining two hikes into one post. (FYI – this is my way of putting a positive spin on being lazy and not having written a post in the past two weeks.)

Casey and I have also been very efficient in our hikes these past two weeks – choosing trails that are close to home to tackle after work because our weekends have been slammed. As first I felt a little bad about this choice – like we were cheating ourselves (and you guys!) for not exploring further and taking more time for exploration on the weekends. But life happens and gets really busy, and I’m incredibly proud that we’re still sticking with this 52 hikes in 52 weeks plan.

I’ve also come to appreciate these mid-week hikes as a time to take a mental break from the week. I feel like they’ve come at the exact right time each week, when the work days seem to get hectic, the traffic is heavy, the people are demanding, the hours are long. And then I meet Casey, and we take a walk, talking about whatever comes to mind and all of the noise from the week seems to slip away.

And that’s what I think is most significant about these past two hikes. At Oak Hill Trail, I was amazed by the quietness. It’s in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park off a gravel path that led to the parking lot, which was almost completely empty. It felt like Casey and I had the entire place to ourselves and it sounded like it to. There was no traffic noise, no other conversations, no hum from civilization. Just the pure sound of being outdoors in the woods.

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At Brecksville Reservation, I was reminded of how much I value quality time with Casey – no matter if it goes right or wrong. This week especially, we both have been running around with a mountain of tasks and to-do lists. We decided to hike on Wednesday because it was the only day that neither of us had something to do. On the way to the park, I got stuck in horrible traffic. Casey had a rough day at work. We couldn’t find the trail we decided on earlier. We were both frustrated. So we said f**k it, and just started walking. About halfway through the hike, I started to feel it all slip away. I was able to simply focus on Casey and our walk, which mostly consisted of trying to keep moving as fast as we could to avoid getting eaten by bugs. As we arrived at the top of a pretty long and steep incline, I thought it was the perfect time to surprise Casey with a much-needed adult beverage (that I had picked up after my horrendous commute). We sat and drank and got bit by a ridiculous amount of mosquitos. Some hikes aren’t picture-perfect, but getting away for a bit – even if it’s to walk through mud and bug-infested lowlands – can help press the reset button.

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I know that I’m not being very descriptive about either of the two parks we visited in the past two weeks, but sometimes it’s not about where you went. Sometimes it’s more about where you’re getting away from and who you’re getting away from it all with.

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His – Cuyahoga Valley National Park – Oak Hill Trail

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Tara and I have had some action packed weekends here recently, so we haven’t really been able to keep up with our hikes. Last Saturday we celebrated my 31st birthday by visiting a few breweries and finished up with a date at a local favorite of ours, Cantine. Cantine is a tapas restaurant. There’s a lot of delicious food and beverages to choose from. Sunday ended up being a day of catch up; chores galore! That being said, Tara and I went back our roots of meeting after work during the week. I was tasked with picking the spot and wanted something as centric as possible, so I chose a new trail in Cuyahoga Valley National park – the Oak Hill Trail.

 

It was sunny but a bit brisk. The drive was full of twists and turns, peaks and valleys. I was very pleased to see how far back in the forest this trail was. I knew it was going to be a good one when I turned off the main drag into the parking lot and it was a quarter mile of loose gravel. It brought back a lot of childhood memories for me. I’m from a small town and Sundays were usually reserved for long back road drives deep in the country with my family. We’d all pile into our 1990 something Dodge Caravan, get some beverages at the store and take off for hours on end. My brothers and I always got Sprite, it’s right when they came up with the under the cap game. We’d always be looking for bragging rights as to who won the free 20 ounce.

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Anyway, the gravel road dumped into a huge parking lot, which made little sense, because this place was E-M-P-T-Y. I put it in park and just heard the vast nothingness. It was so quiet in fact, I didn’t even need to look up when Tara was coming. I could hear her car slowing churning down the gravel. I don’t want to be too mushy here, but I get so stinking excited when we meet up at a park and she pulls along side of me. I’m thrilled with the fact that I’m about to get out in the woods and just catch up on our lives and get lost in nature for a bit. This week was no exception. We hit the Oak Hill Trail and chatted away.

 

This week was especially notable for me. I made the decision to accept a job offer and start new with a different company. With everything laid out in front of me, it was a mixture of excitement and nerves as I talked through the potential with my new employer. We kept the walk relatively brief, only 1.8 miles, because we still had to get home and make some dinner. I’m telling you though, this one is worth the drive. There’s also a larger four and a half mile trail, called the Plateau trail, that is intertwined with the Oak Hill trail. (I’ll make a strong push to go back and tackle that one.)

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We did our lap, laughed and talked the whole way through. We game-planned through the rest of our week and snapped some excellent pictures. All and all, it was just a great walk and it made me reminisce on old times I had with Tara and memories of activities I used to do with my family. There’s nothing like getting a little lost in order to find a piece of yourself again. Nature always finds a way to help me do just that.

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His – Mill Stream Run – 05/03/2017

I’ll admit, I’m a little behind on the blog, but we’re still honoring our 52 hikes in 52 weeks commitment. This week was strange. I walked alone for the first time since we started this blog. Mother Nature seemed to know that Tara wasn’t in Ohio this week. It rained and rained and RAINED some more. The only day I was even able to consider a hike was Wednesday night after work. It was cool, crisp, and the sun finally peeked through that evening. I didn’t want to do anything too elaborate without Tara so I chose familiarity. I went to the same place I do my distance runs every week; Mill Stream Run.

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The park is relatively featureless compared to our usual adventures. The path is miles upon miles of multi-use paved trail right next to a road. The humming of traffic is abundant. You never really feel like you’re in nature. I drove down my usual path and decided to head further down into the park. I’ve ran both ways on the trail, but never really looked around. When you’re huffing and puffing on a distance run, you seldom take in the world around you. As I drove down the road deeper into the park, I came across a hidden gem… an outdoor archery range. JACKPOT! For those of you who don’t know, I’m an amateur archer. I shoot a compound bow in local competitions right around once a month and practice (usually) weekly.

The range was right in the middle of the park. (I’m still really excited). After that I found a parking spot at Aukerman park (this park has parks within the park), got my MP3 tuned into the Indians pre-game and got going eastbound. It was a long and lonely hike. If Tom Hamilton wouldn’t have been keeping me company, I’d probably have been talking to myself. The walk was just a down and back. There were lots of sweat-suits and matching windbreakers out and about. Now, Tara had run the full length of this trail and had warned me about a big ass hill. Well… she wasn’t exaggerating in any capacity.

 

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This thing was steep and mean. My muscles were on fire as I scaled this thing. At the top of the hill there was a “zero miles” marker and another park within the park. The hill was a lot more fun on the way down. As I stampeded back I couldn’t help but be jealous of Tara’s hike. She was in Cuba, before pretty much every tourist, having a great time in the sun and sand. I turned off the path and went on a trail through Aukerman park, it was muddy, cold, and miserable. I finished out by the obstacle course they had built for dogs in the park and was just thankful to have had the opportunity to get out of the house this past week.

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All in all, it’s good to do things on your own.  Independence is a strong character trait for both Tara and I. I don’t mind being alone and fending for myself. I had some time to think about some upcoming life changes I’m considering. I gained a little motivation just by being outside. But, I have to admit, HisandHerHiking is much more fun when it’s his and her.

Hers – Havana, Cuba

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This week’s hike doesn’t really qualify as a hike. It was more a walk, a wander, an amble aimlessly around historic Havana. Yes, Havana, Cuba.

It all started a few years back when the U.S. lifted the travel ban to Cuba. My travel BFF, Emilee and I dreamily declared how wonderful it’d be to get to the island before it got too touristy. This year, we put that into action.

While our entire time in Havana was amazing, I thought I’d focus on our “Historic Havana Walking Tour.” See, you can’t just hop on a plane to Cuba for no reason. You need a tourist visa and to get said visa, you need some type of reason (educational, cultural, work related, etc.) for visiting. Taking a historic walking tour counts as educational, so we were all set.

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We met our guide, David, and started our tour in a square adjacent to the main port. It was around 10 a.m. and the sun was reflecting off the whitewashed buildings and churches. As we meandered down a side street, many of which are closed off to cars (including the fantastically colorful classic cars that cruise the streets alongside brand new Toyotas, tuk tuks and mopeds), the whitewash turned to turquoise, yellow, salmon and every color of the rainbow. The colors made the old buildings seem so much brighter. Not that they need much help with that because the sun is a constant companion in the city.

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We came to the main square flanked on three sides by cafes and shops and headed by a Catholic church. David gave us some free time to wander around, and while most people in our group made their way to the church, I made a beeline back down the alley we walked through into a bookstore housed next to the hotel that Ernest Hemingway stayed in. (#BookNerdAndProud) After making my purchase (Surprisingly they had no Hemingway books, so I picked up a book about the mafia in Havanna), I went back to the square and rejoined everyone else sitting on the steps in the shade of a café.

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As I’m attempting to form the remainder of this blog post, I’m realizing how little I paid attention to David’s wonderful history lesson. I was constantly looking around at the historic buildings, eavesdropping on conversations – attempting to make out what little I could with my poor Spanish, and generally just taking in the sights around me. The colors, the heat, the zest, the noise – it was all so different than Northeast Ohio, and I couldn’t have been happier to be immersed in something so unfamiliar. I’ve been asked quite a bit about my favorite part of the trip, and there isn’t one answer. I loved wandering around the streets of Havanna – looking, listening and learning. I loved listening to the people talk about their country and how they’re looking forward to the future, but also incredibly proud of their past. I loved eating the Cuban sandwiches and a few things that I couldn’t pronounce and still have no clue what they were (other than delicious). I loved experiencing a culture that will hopefully accept outside visitors, but resist the commercialism that comes with them. I simply loved being somewhere different.

There is something magical that happens when we jump out of our comfort zone.

His – Gorge Metro Park

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So, I have to admit, as a five year Akron-ite, I’m a little embarrassed of the fact that I’ve never been the Gorge in Cuyahoga Falls. This park, at face value, was an absolute gem. There are a few things that I’m quite disgusted with though about this park. One, Tara and I got going on the trail and not even two minutes into our walk we quickly were greeted with the major drug problems that face the city. We were a few strides behind a group of people.  A couple of them were smoking cigarettes (oh the irony of taking a healthy walk and lighting up a cancer causing agent). As they slowly walked and blocked the majority of the path, we had no choice but to listen to a story of a woman who “has been on methadone for two years and she only had ONE slip up, but she’s doing really well and getting her kids back.”

 

Addiction has been a huge influencer on my life. Although I don’t personally struggle with it, I’ve been impacted by it for most of my thirty one years. The fact that people are just so free and easy about the subject, and even make light of it, is an absolute travesty. You hear on the news about how bad it is in Akron and the surrounding areas, but moments like this really hit home. It’s become normalcy for a lot of people. It is really sad to hear people discuss it like it’s not a big deal. The second turn off at this park was the amount of trash. I think that people just have an overall lack of respect, especially in the urban metro parks, for the limited amount of nature they have. I wish that everyone that dumps their trash had a swift kick in the ass from their mom, because they were surely raised better than that. *End rant*20170423_133424

 

With that soapbox moment being taken care of – what an awesome hike! Mileage wise, we only did about 2 miles. That’s very short in terms of what we’re usually accustomed to. The terrain may have been some of the most difficult we’ve tackled so far. You have a “choose your own adventure” on the Gorge trail, easy or hard. (This reminds me of those awesome Goosebumps books I used to read as a kid.) We, of course, took on the difficult trail. The trail was labeled as primitive. The description was right on. You crossed over boulders, through carved out gullies, and Tara and I even made our own path down a dangerous and steep hillside.  It really wasn’t our intention, but the path wasn’t well marked and we strayed on what we thought was established trail. It was not.

 

Tara was a bit hesitant once we were about halfway down what turned out to be a pathway for water runoff. I was a bit sweaty palmed myself, but I’d never admit it. Loose gravel, patches of mud, and exposed roots were the main components of this “trail”. We slowly worked our way down with shuffled feet, angled bodies, and even a few butt scoots to make sure we would be safe. After we got to the bottom I just had to laugh hysterically. We gazed up the mountain we just shimmied down and I was amazed in just how difficult it was. So a warning to all of our readers, if you take on the Gorge in Cuyahoga Falls and dead end into a fence beneath a bridge that has a pipeline running next to it, turn around!!! It is #NotATrail.

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After that we were relieved to work our way back on relatively flat ground. We played along the mighty Cuyahoga River, taking pictures and laughing. We worked our way up what turned out to be the “easy” trail and finally hit the highlight of the walk – a gigantic waterfall. We found a rock and parked it for a while, just admiring how powerful nature can be.  After that we hit another Akron staple, Swenson’s, for some delicious, cold and sweet treats.

 

After all we went through to get there, we earned it. If you haven’t been, check this park out. There’s a little bit of everything. The park is so photogenic. The trail is as difficult as advertised, especially when you REALLY “choose your own adventure” down the side of a cliff. As ashamed as I am of the rampant drug problems our community is facing and amount of trash in this park, the park itself is an awesome little piece of a place I’ve called home for the past five years.  Even with all the problems, I strangely miss Akron when I end up moving up north just outside of Cleveland. But, as long as there are parks to hike in, I’ll always find myself wandering back.

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Hers – Gorge Metro Park

There were so many good things about this past Sunday, and the hike Casey and I took was just was the cherry on top. Actually, I take that back. The milkshakes we got after the hike were the cherries on top…but more about that later.

We headed about 40 miles south to the Akron area for this week’s hike. Earlier in the week Casey had sent me a link about some of the best hiking spots near Cleveland, and Gorge Metro Park was on the list. Since we had both never been before we decided to check it out, and I’m so glad we did. I read on the site that the Gorge Trail was one of the most scenic, but also the most difficult being classified as “Primitive” and earning a “Class D status.” (Neither of us knew what Class D meant…but more on that in a minute as well.)

After checking the trail map when we got to the park, we found the Gorge Trail and headed off. Unfortunately, so did most of the other people that were there. The trail was crowded and we got stuck behind a group smoking (One of my absolute pet peeves – I go into nature for fresh air not secondhand smoke. Also, this Earth is not your freaking ashtray. Pick up your damn cigarette butts up. OK, rant over.) and talking about one of their friends – a heroin addict who’s been on methadone for two years with only one slip up, but now she’s on a pretty good track and forming a relationship with her kids. Luckily, I found an opening on the trail and picked up the pace to quickly leave that group in the dust. After a couple comments about the conversation we had overheard, Casey and I were able to regain some focus on the nature around us.

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As we started up an incline, we really began to lose the crowds. We came to a crossroads where one direction was deemed “easy” and the other was deemed “hard.” Naturally, we chose the hard way (is there really any other way?!). Immediately we began to climb in elevation – over rocks and through rock tunnels – until we reached the top of the gorge. We saw what looked like a path down to the river below and started down it. Loose gravel and soil gave way under my feet. I found a slight overlook and stopped for a moment. I told Casey that I really didn’t think it was a trail, but rather just a run off and asked if he wanted to continue. He said he definitely thought we could make it. I took a deep breath and kept going, knowing that after that point there was no turning back. (I think this is probably both of our biggest strength and weakness. We’re both stubborn to the point of possible foolishness.) One of my biggest fears is falling, and I was envisioning myself tumbling down the cliff face we were attempting to scale down. But I didn’t want Casey to see that fear, so I tried my hardest to just get down all by myself. There was one moment that I knew I needed to take his hand, and I’m grateful he was there to help me, but at the same time, I wish I could’ve just done it completely by myself. (See? I told you. Stupid stubborn.)

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When we finally made it down, we darted toward the rushing river – excited that we had finally made it to solid ground. Only then did we look back. My jaw dropped at the sight of the cliff we had somehow just scrambled down. It was so steep, and it was definitely not a path that we took. As we walked along the river, we came up with what Class D could possibly mean. D for “Difficult.” D for “Da fuck you thinking?!” D for “Don’t fall.” (In case you want to know the REAL definition: The Class D designation is for primitive hiking trails with steep, narrow and irregular routes and rocks and roots.)

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We continued on an easy path (anything after that would be considered easy) along the river until we finally came to the major draw of the park – a pretty decent sized waterfall. Casey and I parked it on a rock to watch the falls for a few minutes before making our way back to the car (and back to the crowds). As we were heading out, he asked if I wanted to get a milkshake. We had earned it, and it was definitely the cherry on top of a fun, difficult, scary, rewarding and totally-worth-it hike.

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His – Furnace Run Reservation

20170418_175838.jpgHike sixteen out of fifty-two. This year is really flying by! This was the first hike that we’ve been on that it really FELT like spring. We decided to tackle something close by yesterday since we did the Easter thing with Tara’s family on Sunday. So, we ended up at an awesome little metro park called Furnace Run. I really enjoyed this park aside from one thing; it’s super close to the highway which means you hear the humming of traffic throughout your journey. This park reminded me of one of my favorites – Brecksville Reservation, just a condensed version.

 

This walk also brought back a lot of fond memories of how Tara and I really developed our relationship. It’s been mentioned before, we would often meet up after work and explore together. We used to take turns on picking spots to meet up at, including on our fourth date, where I may or may not have got us lost deep in the woods at Cy Hewit Park. I was supposed to know those trails like the back of my hand. I grew up in that park. I had a pond I used to fish at in my mind that I wanted to get to and we never found it.  We infamously tromped and traced every which way through the wilderness. I just remember that it got dark so fast. I wasn’t quite sure where we were anymore.  We both were a little on edge but I was able to steer us out of there just before the sun set. As a reward for her patience, I did the noble thing and bought her ice cream. By the way, I’m still determined to find the pond.

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Stories like those play through my head all the time when we’re out hiking. If it were any other woman, I surely would have been dumped by now. Tara’s love of nature and kind hearted spirit took it all in stride. Yesterday’s walk was peaceful. There were only a few other people on the trail with us. We walked hand in hand as usual and just admired the scenery. This walk was a shorter one; only about 2.5 miles, but I absolutely loved this trail. You can tell that the land was slowly shaped and molded over hundreds, if not thousands of years, by the water that flowed through it. The downed trees crisscrossed every which way. The sinking sun made the greens a bit greener, the flowers popped a little more, and made the creek shimmer as if it were lined with gold.

 

There weren’t many shenanigans; a few items for our Instagram (@HisandHerHiking) and a few small memories made. Walks like these are my favorite. You just get a chance to get out and enjoy the beauty in nature. You don’t need anything fancy. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes and a person you love.

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Hers – Furnace Run MetroPark

 

After spending the day indoors staring at the sunshine and blue skies, I was really ready to get to meet Casey for our walk. We put off going out over the weekend since we had errands and Easter. We decide to meet on Tuesday after work at Furnace Run MetroPark just about 10 minutes from where we live.

As I drove out to the park, and was reminded of when Casey and I first started dating. This is exactly how we would meet up those first few months. We’d find a park halfway between he and I, and would go for a walk in the evenings after work. It made me almost giddy to see him like I always used to feel driving down to meet up.

I also really loved the drive out to this park. It was warm enough to roll the windows down, and I got to take some rural backroads as I admired the houses and green grass. Maybe it’s just because we’ve been entrenched in gray for the past few months, but everything looks so green. Like greener than green. It’s like glowing!

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We met in the parking lot, checked out the trail map and decided to do the two loops around the park, which would total just about 2.5 miles. I loved pretty much every inch of the trails. Everywhere we looked I wanted to take a photo. There were some small creeks, a lake, a meadow, woods, fallen trees and it was all bathed in perfect sunset light.

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Aside from one steep hill, the trails were relatively easy so Casey and I mostly just moseyed along hand in hand – stopping a bit to take silly boomerang videos or to get up close to the wildflowers starting to bloom. It was just a lovely evening walk. (Random side note: Does anyone else always pronounce the word “lovely” in their head with a British accent or is it just me?)

It wasn’t the most vigorous hike, but I think this may become one of my standard parks to visit. It’s close enough and easy enough to head to after work to get some time with nature after spending most the day in an office. I’m looking forward to plenty of summer evenings here.

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His – Hinckley Reservation

noun

noun: slog; plural noun: slogs

  1. 1.

a spell of difficult, tiring work or traveling.

“it would be a hard slog back to the camp”

synonyms: hard worktoil, toiling, laboreffortexertiongrinddrudgery; More

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This is the word I will use to describe this week’s hike. There are other words that were used on the trail this week. Most of them would make your mother blush and probably would be followed up with washing your mouth out with soap. We knew going into our 52 hikes in 52 weeks challenge that they all wouldn’t be pleasant. Hiking is, literally and figuratively, filled with ups and downs. However, Tara and I made a promise to each other at the beginning of this year that we’d do this together and hold each other accountable.

The weather finally broke this weekend. Saturday was in the sixties and yesterday was in the seventies. It was a welcoming forecast considering we had a freak snow storm only day before. For those who have never been, Ohio can be a bit temperamental this time of year. I think a small contributor to why this hike was a slog this week was the amount of physical activity that I participated in this weekend. Saturday was a 5K at the Cleveland zoo (new PR of 25:39!!!), followed by walking around the zoo. I came home only to leave out again with Tara.

We went to a bunch of stores for a bunch of random items. The highlight of our purchases was patio furniture from Big Lots (I’m very pumped to get my money’s worth out of it this summer). Sunday I woke up early to go grab my golf clubs, followed by basketball, followed by golf, and then our hike. My muscles are were and still are on fire. I was worn out before the hike even started. Tara assured me we could go later in the week, but, I insisted on pressing on.  We made our way out to Hinckley Reservation in Hinckley, OH.

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We probably should have just turned around when we arrived. The rest of Northeast Ohio was at Hinckley Reservation yesterday with us. We’ve hiked it together before so we set down a familiar path around the lake. It turned out to be a poor choice. The path, which is mostly dirt and roots, was drowned by all the melting snow. (Remember the freak snow storm?) Every step was cold, wet, grueling mud. I don’t know if many people know this, but I consider myself an introvert. I need time to get away from people and recharge my batteries. That’s one of my favorite attributes of hiking – peace and quiet in the woods… far, far away from people.

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There would be none of that yesterday. No peace, no quiet, no alone time… People. Were. Everywhere. It just wasn’t my day. Not only were these people out, they were annoying and in the way. One woman in particular was with her daughter and an overweight beagle named Cooper. She had some peculiar habits… she’d speed walk ahead of the daughter and the plump Mr. Cooper and when she lost sight of them would come storming back and scold them for not keeping pace.  This would usually be comical for me, but with how muddy the trail was yesterday it limited your path for walking. The lady (and I use the term loosely) clearly had very little manners and repeatedly cut us off and splash mud on me in the process. I really just felt bad for my chubby friend Coops. He just wanted to be at home dipping into his endless supply of Milk-bones and Beggin’ Strips.

We finally outpaced most of the riff-raff on the trail and got to the asphalt multi-use path. At this point Tara and I agreed that the hike just felt like work this week. We compromised to go home, knock out our chores, cook dinner and drink a few adult beverages. That’s exactly what we did. On the drive home we did confide in each other that the walk was worthwhile, even though it didn’t go as planned. I think we both got what we needed out of the hike this week even if it was slogging through the crowded woods. And to wrap this up, just because I said I would, “Go fuck yourself San Diego.”

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4/9/17 Hers – Hinckley Reservation

This week’s adventure around Hinckley Reservation.

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If we came up with creative titles for each of our blogs, this one would be named “When Nature Doesn’t Work.” Everything was off yesterday and nothing was putting me in a better mood – including hiking.

Funny enough, I started the day at a yoga retreat organized through my second job. My first/main job has been incredibly stressful lately, which of course leaks into my personal life, so I was really looking forward to a few hours of introspection and meditation. But I couldn’t clear my head, and the instant I picked up my cell phone after the retreat, I was bombarded with texts and emails and alerts. Back to being overwhelmed.

When I got home, Casey was in a quiet mood, which is definitely not his usual! He was tired from running around all morning (literally – he ran a 5k on Saturday morning then played basketball and golf on Sunday), and I could tell he would rather lay on the couch than walk a few miles. I would’ve rather done that too, so I suggested we put off the hike. Casey, however, was adamant that we go, so go we did.

I recommended Hinckley Reservation since it’s close by. We pulled in to one of the last spots in the lot along the trail. It was in the upper 60s and sunny – everyone wanted to be outside. It would normally make me happy that so many people choose to get outdoors when the weather turns nice, but yesterday I was annoyed by the amount of people. I wanted a quiet trail where Casey and I could just talk and wander.

What I got was a muddy path overcrowded with obnoxious people.

As I trudged through the gunk, I opened up to Casey and told him that I was feeling weird. As we kept walking, I kept trying to get in a better mindset and force myself into a better mood. The result was me getting even more frustrated with myself. And that resulted in me asking Casey if we could sit at a picnic table where I proceeded to cry my eyes out.

There was really no rhyme or reason to it. I had no specific reason to be upset. I just was, and I just needed to cry. The moment I let all that out, I began to feel better. Never underestimate the power of bawling your eyes out on a picnic table in the middle of a park.

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After that little debacle, Casey suggested we finish the loop around the lake, go home and get drunk. I gladly took him up on it.

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