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Still Hanging On

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No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. I’ve just been trying to get outside, while staring down both the end of the semester and a week of piles of work. And working on all sorts of activities.

One day I will have time to run off to the hills and have a great day outside. I sort of had one this Saturday, which was beautiful all day long, despite the weather people saying it would rain all afternoon. (Sort of because it just wasn’t long enough!) Reed and I went to Watkinsville and windowshopped in the little art/antiques/junk shops that are “downtown” and just generally wandered around over there for a little bit. This is a monument in front of their courthouse, along with the memorials to soldiers of wars past and the historical plaque telling how Oconee county was formed. There is no inscription–so what could it be?

We also went to Harris Shoals Park, which is where my unfruitful search for a letterbox took place a couple of weeks ago. The weather was so nice, and there were lots of families and dog walkers there. We celebrated our nice day out with treats from Dairy Queen, and then headed back to town.

Recurring Lesson

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If I ever need to be reminded that a little work today can result in wonderful long-term payoffs, I just have to look at my “garden” in spring. A few years ago, I planted bulbs–and now, even though I no longer have time to garden the way I would like, I still have a few beautiful flowers.

I know that tulips aren’t “supposed” to come back in Georgia, but these do–so don’t tell them that they are doing anything wrong.

Someone found the charger!

Yeehaw! Reed found the charger for the camera, so I will soon be able to take digital pictures again! I know that everyone (anyone?) who reads my blog will be so glad to see random pictures of Georgia again! Woohoo!

Also, my new thought for the day is that I would like an Indian cuisine cookbook. There is an Indian restaurant here in town and Reed and I love going there–but I would really like to be able to cook at home more than go out. Last night I made Dal with Coconut Cream from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. It’s really simple, and not too hot–but it is very basic and I would probably add pepper flakes to it (at least) if I made it again. What was interesting is that the coconut cream is the flavor that makes the dish–I couldn’t identify the taste when we eat out since I don’t eat coconut (and etc.) much. Just something I thought was interesting. Coming back into the house, it smelled so good last night–I’m not sure if it was the dal or the curry powder from the toasted pitas I made, but whatever it was, it smelled delish!

Dal with Coconut Cream 1 cup red lentils, well rinsed salt 1 garlic clove 1/4 jalapeno chile, chopped (oops, I put the whole thing in–just noticed that, guess I was cooking on auto-pilot) 1 tbs chopped cilantro stems (nope–I didn’t want to buy cilantro for the stems, and I can’t ever really taste cilantro anyway) 2 tsp minced ginger several tbs coconut cream–to taste

Combine lentils, 3 cups of water and 1/2 tsp salt in pan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until they have disintegrated and turned mushy, about 20 minutes. If needed, add more water.

Meanwhile, pound or puree the garlic, chile, cilantro, and ginger. Add to the cooked lentils. Scoop the coconut cream off the top of a can of coconut milk and stir into the lentils. Taste for salt and add more coconut cream if desired.

We served this over rice. Yummy. I just had it again for lunch. Next time, I will probably make the other dal in this cookbook, which has more spices and flavorings, but I wanted to try this more basic one first. Plus, this recipe meant we got to go to Earthfare and look at “weird” foods like red lentils and stare at all the bulk items and organic frozen foods. I love Earthfare.

My Father's Dragon

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As I was rearranging some books on one of our bookshelves after our massive re-arrangement of the house this week, I noticed my copy of Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon. Yesterday, when I was writing about bird journeys, I thought to myself that my love of travel stories was a result of the road trips that my family took for summer vacations when I was younger. But when I saw My Father’s Dragon (MFD), I wasn’t sure. Perhaps I’m simply a person who loves traveling–being on the road, seeing new people, having new adventures.

I first came across MFD at my grandmother’s house when she kept me before I went to school–one of the many children’s books she had from when my daddy and his siblings were little. I loved most of those books–Make Way for Ducklings! and the one about the little girl eating blueberries–which isn’t too hard to believe since I later found out most of them were award-winning children’s books. The same is true for MFD.

MFD is fantastic. It had a wonderful map inside the front cover of the Island of Tangerina and Wild Island, and wonderful illustrations of Elmer and the creatures he met. If you’ve never read MFD, it’s a story of Elmer Elevator and how he rescued a baby dragon who is being used to ferry animals over the river. Elmer learns of the dragon and how to rescue him from a stray cat that he is kind to. Doesn’t that sound like the most wonderful story? Elmer takes a bag full of the oddest supplies on his journey–but they all have a purpose, just you wait and see! Plus, it is a chapter book–so you know you’re grown up when you can read it. Heehee. (So what that it’s only about 30 pages in all? It has chapters!!)

MFD is by Ruth Stiles Gannett, who wrote it not long after graduating from college. Her stepmother illustrated it–Ruth Chrisman Gannett–and the illustrations really make the book. Ruth C. Gannett also illustrated Miss Hickory, which I also loved as a child.

To celebrate MFD’s 50 years in print, Random House published a hardcover edition of all three tales written about Elmer and the Dragon in 1998. Of course, once I saw it in the store, I had to have it. (I know I’ve said this same thing two days in a row–but there are very few things that I’m like this about. Apparently, books are high on the must-have list.) It’s not quite the same to read it out of a book that doesn’t have some scribbles on the inside and a torn page or two like the one I read when I was little.

The only problem with MFD is that it reminds me of another book (or two?) that I read once that I can’t remember much about except that I liked it. (See my problem–this is what it would have been like if I hadn’t been able to remember Kingbird Highway for a few years. “Can you help me? I’m looking for a book that I wanted to read.”) This book is about some cats whose owner is a ship captain(?) and who have some adventures at home (?), but who then have adventures on the ship that their owner takes them on. While on the trip–and it’s on like a freighter, not a cruise ship–they meet an Abyssinian cat. I think they also meet a Siamese cat. It also takes place in the 1940’s or 1950’s. I think one of the captain’s cats was named Peter. The reason that MFD reminds me of this book is that both of them involve ships carrying cargo overseas–something that was incredibly interesting to me. We didn’t take a trip to the ocean until I was nine, so the whole ocean voyage thing was very exotic. Now I’m going to have to Google this.

Bird Journeys

Have you ever read about something–a film or a book–and turned thoughts about it over and over again in your mind? Years ago, I read a review in the Smithsonian about a book, Kingbird Highway, by Kenn Kaufmann. It’s a memoir of sorts, describing how Kaufmann fell in love with birding and his Big Year attempt in the 1970’s.

The review fascinated me–I guess it did what reviews are supposed to do, present you with a book that you just have to read. I remembered that review for a couple of years, and what’s more, I remember the name of the book. Sort of important, otherwise I would have been thinking–there’s this book, and it starts with a J…

Anyway, at long last, I thought to look for it in the bookstore and there it was. Of course, the moment I laid eyes on it, I had to have it. You can’t have a thought of years materialize and just leave it on the shelf!

Kingbird Highway is a great book, and an excellent introduction to birding as something more than feeder-watching! Much more. In it, Kaufmann spins the tale of how he became a birder and how that led to the ultimate challenge–a Big Year. A Big Year is where someone tries to see the most birds in North America–all in one calendar year. The record now is over 700 species. The tricky part is that there aren’t 700 species of birds in North America, so birders rely on rare birds that somehow wind up over here.

The book introduced me to things like Rare Bird Alerts, local orinthological societies, and pelagic trips to see off-shore birds. I loved it (and still do)!

Recently, while Reed was looking for something in the Science Library, I pored over the bird aisles and found a new book in this same vein–The Big Year by Mark Obmascik. This is the tale of three very different men who decided to do a Big Year during 1998, the last big El Nino year. (I remember that year–I was a freshman at UGA and it rained for months. I gave up on umbrellas, it was so windy–and my little rain jacket was worn out by the end of the semester, because when you wear the thing everyday, you might want to wash it just a bit. Apparently, just a bit is more often than it should have been washed.)

I just finished reading The Big Year, and I enjoyed it very much. It’s very different from Kingbird Highway, partially because it feels in some parts like a bit of an epilogue, but mostly because it does take place over twenty years later. The birding world had changed by then–and the world itself had changed, too.

I wonder if a woman has ever done a Big Year? I haven’t read of one–but then, how many books about North American Big Years can there be?

These books fascinate me–but not because I aspire to see 700+ species of birds in a year. Really, they are books about journeys–and I have always enjoyed the idea of extended, purposeful travel. Living out on the road, seeing new places, meeting new people, enjoying the company of your fellow travelers–very little could be better, in my opinion. It’s a big part of why I liked BRAG–a week on a bike, with people you don’t know and those you do–an adventure!

The weather is looking good today, so it makes me think about getting outside and seeing what I can see in this great world. If only the house were clean! Hah.

Haha. Well, not really covered in snow. In fact, it was blazing hot last Sunday and I couldn’t wear the sweater I brought with me–which meant that my shoulders got sunburned. I got my first two sunburns of the year this weekend–they’ve both faded now, but it was a good reminder to hunt up the sunscreen. Oh, the joys of being a really fair-skinned person living in the sunny South.

So, my mom and I went letterboxing Sunday afternoon along the Pine Mountain Trail. There are actually four letterboxes along the trail, but we were short on time, so we just went after two. It was so nice to be outside on such a beautiful day–and I got some of my need for mountain views out of the way. I know that Pine Mountain isn’t the Grand Tetons, but I like it.

Our first hunt started off from Dowdell’s Knob–FDR’s favorite picnic spot. When we stopped at the park’s visitor center, we learned that there will soon be a bronze statue of FDR sitting on a car bench at Dowdell’s Knob. Apparently, they used to pull the seats out of their cars when they had picnics there.

Here’s my sad attempt at a halfway panoramic view:

In the right corner of the picture, you can see the edge of the grill that FDR had built for his picnics. (Or not, since I didn’t format the picture correctly and part of it is cut off–I’ll work on that later today.) This is the highest point of Pine Mountain, and it’s so pretty. When I was little, our parents would point out about where my grandparents lived in the valley below which was neat.

So, Mama and I set off down the trail–and I do mean down. We followed the clue straight to the letterbox–at which point, Mama shouted, which was just too funny, considering that we’re being all secretive and stuff. Anyway, we got a real treat with this lbox, since it contained a hitchhiking lbox–from California. So, now I have to find a good home for it. What an excuse to go letterboxing! 007 you are warned!

Then, we had to hike back up to the car–you know what I said about Dowdell’s Knob being the highest point? Well, guess what that means? Yep, it’s all uphill on the way back. We hadn’t noticed how far we walked on the way in, due to a rather spirited conversation (hee), so we got a good bit of exercise in.

The rest of the letterbox clues started at the visitor’s center, so we went there and hiked out to Buzzard’s Roost. There were longleaf pines all along the trail, some of which were very old. Longleafs are very slow-growing, and they used to cover the mountain–but since fire has been surpressed they have a tougher time of it now. They look like Dr. Seuss trees when they are young. I should have taken some pictures of them, now that I think of it.

Longleaf pine ecosystems are fragmented now, but at one point they spread across the South and contributed incredibly to the economy. In addition to its ecological and economic importance, longleaf pine forests contributed to a sense of place–a landscape heritage. Today, the Longleaf Alliance (out of Auburn University) seeks to coordinate partnerships to manage and restore longleaf pine forests. Janisse Ray’s Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, a book long on my reading list, also weaves longleaf pine ecology into the history of her family. You can also read some comments by Ray on the Longleaf Alliance’s website about her feelings about longleaf pines.

We found the second letterbox just past Buzzard’s Roost. It was a beautiful day, and standing near the edge of the rocks that make up Buzzard’s Roost was exhilerating. Someone, somehow, had hung three wind chimes in a tree about three feet out from the rocks–which could be annoying to find out in the woods in some areas, but on Sunday just contributed to the goodness of the day. When letterboxing, it’s nice to imagine the trees singing.

On Monday, everyone had gone off to work by the time I woke up and had breakfast. I walked around, looking for birds and taking pictures.

My brother adopted these two kitties who were dumped out at a gas station. They are too cute, but you have to watch them because they will follow you out into the street. I had to fuss at the yellow one and chase him back into the yard twice before I could get away!

As usual, the picture really doesn’t do the views justice, but this is looking out from my brother’s front yard.

After looking at the kitties, I walked down the road to the pasture where the cows were. There are two little calves who look like Judy–well, one only has one black eye. They are so cute! Very tiny little cows. I took some pictures of them, but you can’t see them very well, so I won’t post them. I also saw a Northern Flicker and a bunch of Meadowlarks for my life list. It was interesting, there were so many birds and so much birdsong. I don’t think there’s as much here in Athens–but maybe it’s just so noisy here that you can’t listen as well, too.

This is a picture looking up the road towards my parents’ house from the pastures. I’ve spent so much time walking and riding my bike up and down this road–although when I was little, it wasn’t blacktopped. The road was gravel-paved and there were lots of pot-holes about where the trees start. When I looked at this picture, I thought it was funny that I always say that I grew up in a hilly area (which is actually true), but if you just looked at this picture and the earlier one, you wouldn’t believe me at all!

When I walked back home, Blackjack was out near the fence, so I took his picture too. He’s my mom’s pet. I don’t think he was too happy with me, since I didn’t feed him an apple or any sort of treat. Doesn’t he look like a sweet baby.

I’m sure that most of these pictures are not very interesting to most of you, but I like having them somewhere that I can see them. Even though they aren’t the best pictures, they remind me of where I grew up, and my memory can paint them in better than any camera.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere

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My wonderful weekend, part II. It may take a while to post all of my thoughts–I think I’m coming down with something. Yuck.

In addition to the bike ride on Saturday, the other major event was my dad’s surprise birthday party. The theme was: Nothing Runs Like a Deere … Except [Daddy] at 50! My mom had been planning this for a couple of months, and it was a blast!

So, after the bike ride we went to the Agricenter and blew up balloons for the tables–they were really cute with Holstein spots and Holsteins on them (despite the fact that Holsteins aren’t what we raise, but how to make a Hereford balloon?). Daddy thought he was going to go there to talk about a road-widening project–or that’s what the plan was.

Anyway, that evening Mama and I got there–and it was packed. Almost everyone who was invited came–family, people from church, friends, people Daddy works with, the kids from the 4-H shotgun team Daddy coaches. About 15 minutes before he was supposed to get there, we all crammed inside the Agricenter and waited–because Daddy is always early. And waited. And waited! Finally, someone gave him a call–he was on his way, but he was late because the truck’s gas tank had water in it and had to be drained.

At long last, the look-outs came inside and everyone got really quiet. Then came the moment of truth–Daddy walked in and everyone yelled Surprise! and sang Happy Birthday! The joke was on us, though–he knew about it!!! Apparently, he had seen the invitation when Mama had been working on it–so he knew something was up, but until the last minute he didn’t know what day or where it would be. At least he was a good sport about it and didn’t let on until he came to the party.

Then we all settled in to having a good time–eating bbq and ribs, listening to the band, talking and catching up with people. Daddy got lots of gag gifts and John Deere-themed gifts that were very nice, and I think everyone had a great evening.

Back in the Saddle

Well, this past weekend was a blast. I’ve been waiting to write anything about it until I had at least some pictures to show. I still haven’t re-discovered the charger for the camera, but my parents had a disposable camera with some extra film.

Where do I start? I guess at the beginning–or close enough.

Saturday was the Wheels o’ Fire Century Cycle Tour, which takes place where I grew up. Last year, this was the first long ride my mom and I did in our preparation for BRAG. We did the 26 mile option again this year. I hope I’ll have pictures of this soon.

This was the first time I had actually been on my bike since BRAG last June. I could barely remember how to change gears! Not to worry too much, since within the first mile or so all you care about is being in granny gear and hauling yourself up Pine Mountain. I don’t think that is easy for anyone, but at least you’re fresh for it! We had to stop along the way and rest, but no pushing!

The rest of the ride is spectacular–mostly pastures and a few homes here and there. The climb on the return isn’t nearly as bad as the first–I only stopped once. The worst part of the ride for me isn’t the climb–it’s the hairpin turn you make coming down the mountain on the last leg. Last year, on my mountain bike, I had my brakes all the way on and made the curve by dragging my foot thru the inside turn. That curve kept me up the night before this year–I am not an adreneline junkie and I don’t like speed + curves. So, about halfway down the steepest part, I stopped my bike (while I still had the chance) and walked it down and around the curve. Last year, I told myself I wouldn’t walk a bit of the route, but this year I didn’t have to prove that I could ride 26 miles in a day. (The most I’ve ridden in one day is 67 miles.)

I think if I were more confident on my bike, I would be able to make the turn. Of course, the best way to gain confidence would be to ride it more than once every eight months. Imagine. Maybe then I wouldn’t ride the brakes on downhills so much–but when my little computer hits 20 mph, I freak out just a little.

One fun and slightly scary part of the ride was the wind–it was very gusty Saturday. In addition to not liking to go fast downhill, I also found out that it’s just a wee bit unnerving to be pushed broadside by the wind. I’m such a scaredy-cat!

The only thing that bugged me about the ride were some of the other riders! Of course, last year, I was one of them–the person who didn’t know how far to ride behind people, to get off the road if I stopped, to not hog the entire road, etc. I had never ridden a real ride before–just with my mom on the roads around our house. Riding with a group or among other cyclists is different from that.

The last couple of miles before the end, there were The Plodders. Two middle-aged people going rather slow–which is not a problem. The problem was that they were riding two abreast–which is not a problem, unless one is riding next to the white line and one is riding next to the yellow line and you’re on a busy street. This means that the only way for a cyclist to pass you is to go between you, which isn’t really the best bet, and that there is no way for a car to pass you. (Not that cars are supposed to squeeze past bikes in the same lane, but I’d rather a car pass half in my lane than be behind me for a mile or so.)

So, I’m behind The Plodders and there are four or so cars behind me. I yell, “Car Back”, to let them know that cars are around and they can get out of the middle of the road. Nothing. (This non-reaction to car warnings and actual cars *right* behind them went on for a while before I caught all the way up with them. I am pretty loud, so if they had decent hearing, they should have heard me. If they didn’t have decent hearing, they probably shouldn’t have been riding slap dab in the middle of the road.) And you know, if I want to pass them, just imagine what all the cars behind me were thinking.

Finally, the road became straight enough for cars to pass me carefully and the two of them. By the second or third car, the yellow-line Plodder had moved over some–which I took full advantage of. Of course, that meant that on the last hill I couldn’t slow down because then I might have ended up behind them again! Arg.

It was surprising how much faster my mom and I were this year–we shaved an hour off of our time. We’re still kind of slow, but an hour is a lot of time! Most of the improvement has to do with our bikes, I’m sure–especially in my case. Going from a fat-tired, heavy mountain bike that is not fitted to a much lighter road bike that fits me makes a huge difference.

I haven’t even gotten to most of the weekend, but I guess this will have to be an installment piece because I’m too tired to write anymore tonight!

Letterboxing

I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was yesterday (and today too, but I’m not going to be able to be out in it)! Bright blue skies, sunny, windy, a tad bit cold–just gorgeous. So I had to get outside.

I sent an email out to my friends to ask if any of them wanted to escape, and M–who will now be referred to as 007–said she was up for an adventure if we could be back for her afternoon class. Well, there’s so much you can do in 3 hours on a beautiful day!

007 snagged a couple of slices of pizza for our lunch from the Animal Rights people downstairs at the law school and we were off! We zipped down 316 to Ft. Yargo State Park because we’d never been there and it would give us a chance to walk and be outside in a pretty area. Not the mountains, but lake walking. And there were letterboxes–poor 007.

So we found a place to park–like that was difficult–and wandered off down a trail. The lake was very pretty, but rather low–I’m not sure if it’s low for some purpose or just due to us never getting enough rain. We wandered around and found one of the letterboxes pretty easily–me getting all muddy in the process because I’m a goober. Then we climbed back up the hill–which we both agreed counted as training for the 3Day. Gah.

Of course, we couldn’t quite figure out what the letterbox-clue-writer meant for the second letterbox when he said “Go to the picnic area”, because there were two. We ended up at the wrong picnic area so we had to walk past where the clue was taking us and then backtrack a bit to the actual spot. On the way, we saw a really neat stump where a pine tree had uprooted and now its roots look all sinister. After a while, we got to the endpoint of the clue. This is where the randomness took place. We were supposed to stand a certain way and then sight 50 degrees and take so many steps to the “wise gray Indian”. Ok. This ended up meaning that we were pacing around off the trail, looking for an Indian. Or something that could possibly be about an Indian. Finally, we just forgot about the clue and started looking for a place where you could hide something–and at last we found it. Apparently, we don’t get the Indian reference–if it’s a reference and not just some random riddler type thing. Maybe this is how other letterboxers find things too, but it feels like it should be more exact.

Anyway, on our walk back to the car, we saw some guy sitting on the trail with a really old looking pug. The dog was white-ish, but his face was blue–it looked like someone had taken shoe polish and sponged it all over his face. Oh, he was vicious. Haha.

We also met an older couple with a little collie-like dog in their truck, who stopped to make sure that we hadn’t broken down and needed a ride (at this point we were walking on the road). They were nice, but 007 said they were probably serial killers.

Overall, it was a great little adventure with letterboxing and 3Day training all wrapped up in one. After I dropped 007 off at school, I went home and realized that I was only one letterbox away from my March goal–so I drove to Watkinsville and went to Harris Shoals Park. The shoals are beautiful–the trail as a whole is not, in my opinion, because it is really just a big old muddy/swampy creek area that in the summer is probably miserable with biting critters and incredible humidity. It felt like sunburn–which is probably not descriptive to anyone but me. Fortunately, you don’t have to take the trail to see the shoals. It’s a nice small-town park. Unfortunately, I didn’t snag my 10th letterbox there because I think it has been removed.

I am really annoyed that I don’t have pictures to show of my fun adventure, but the camera battery is dead and I can’t find the charger. Grr!

This entire past weekend was just incredibly fun. Friday, N and I went letterboxing and wandered around in a park neither of us had ever been to here in town. Ben Burton park doesn’t seem to be very busy in comparison to some of the other parks in town–but perhaps that is due to the fact that it is completely confusing.

The information sign at the entrance is all about the Greenway–which doesn’t connect to Ben Burton and as far as I know is not planning to connect there anytime in the near future. There is no map of the park–despite the fact that there are trails. The park needs a great deal of trail maintenance–there are lots of branches down from the ice storm and the trail (or trails) could be marked in some way. If they were marked, then we might have been able to figure out where the trail that appeared between the loop trail we were on started or ended. As it is now, there’s a loop and then there’s a trail in the middle of the loop for part of the way. We did end up on the mysterious trail for a bit because the trail we were on kind of disappeared, so we scrambled over a rocky hill and found ourselves on “the middle trail” (ominous music plays) and after figuring out the way to the top of the powerhouse ruins and back, we never found it again. All very odd. The day was absolutely gorgeous and the river was beautiful.

On Saturday, M and I went to the 3Day Expo in Atlanta. Because I calculated the time we would need to get there in my head and did it very quickly, we got there an entire hour early. There we were on Clark Atlanta’s campus at 8:45 in the morning! Seriously. I think I just get so used to giving myself enormous chunks of time to get anywhere in Atlanta (usually a great idea) that when I’m planning to go to Atlanta I always want to give myself 3 hours to get there. But on good days (the weekends without Braves games) and non-rush hour (mid-day), it really only takes about an hour and a half.

So, we parked and explored the Student Center and then wandered about on Clark Atlanta’s campus until somehow we wandered onto Morehouse’s campus without leaving the quad-like area we started on. We would have gone to Spellman, too, but the gate was locked there. They’re all very close together, so it’s not like we walked a very long way. Then after exploring a bit, we went back to the Student Center and some people had actually shown up for the training walk so we hung out with them.

The training walk was just under 3 miles, and not very challenging. I was interested to see where in the pack of people we would end up–you know, to see if we would need to work on speed–but we started out in the upper middle part of the pack for the beginning and probably could have stayed there the entire time. We ended up being at the end, partly because we always paused to hear the leader (who was walking in the back, for some reason) give directions, instead of following the group *and* we obeyed the traffic signal when crossing the road. No mad dashes across busy streets for us, thank you very much. I couldn’t tell you where we walked, except that we left Clark Atlanta and looped around the Russell fed building and came back on the far side of Morris Brown. Not the most scenic walk–in fact, not a walk that anyone would probably ever take on a daily basis. Well, not anyone who had a home and/or an option. I would bet that the person who planned the walk was not from Atlanta. But, it was nice to walk in a large group and talk to different people who all have the same goal.

After the training walk, we went to the Expo and got free Pria bars and picked up info about breast cancer and saw what kind of tent we’ll have. We also talked to a couple of vendors about walking clothes and socks–and decided that after spring break we’ll go to REI and buy some things to start breaking in. I will tell you that I’m going to be a wreck if I get to “play” with an REI catalog–so it’s a good thing that M took that home with her. I got to meet our team captain, since she led the info session about training.

After that and some lunch, we came back to Athens and I packed up for my trip to Augusta and hit the road again! I spent the night with my cousin R and we had a great time, hanging out and catching up with what is going on in each other’s life. Fun! After a yummy dinner, we went to a coffee shop and talked more and played checkers. I haven’t played checkers in forever, so that was great! I have a feeling that I will be pleading for a board game night soon–so any adventure monkeys who read this are certainly warned.

Yesterday, we got up and went to Sunday school and church where I met some of R’s friends and someone who knows a person who was in my section last year during law school. We spent the afternoon with R’s family–it was very, very nice to see my aunt and uncle and cousin J and J’s boyfriend. With the added benefit of a wonderful, home-cooked dinner! So a nice afternoon of yummy food and good conversation.

I drove home yesterday evening and Reed and I went to the sushi bar for dinner. Delish! I can only hope that this week will be as fun and wonderful as the past weekend!!

Well, I hope it ends up being a season and not just today! Ha! I had an interview today for a summer internship at the Georgia Law Center for the Homeless in Atlanta. I think that it would be a wonderful opportunity for me to learn so much, and would really stretch me in lots of different ways. I think that it would be quite challenging, but very rewarding.

I felt when I left that they were perhaps not as impressed with me as I was with them–which makes me a bit nervous. There are other fish in the sea, of course, but I really liked the people I interacted with and the great potential for me to learn real-life skills.

But, if nothing else, today was good practice for: interviewing with non-profits, learning more about navigating around downtown ATL, and reading the packages of crackers more carefully. Note to self–remember to find a route home before you leave home. Today it wasn’t a problem because I could backtrack part of the way, and when I couldn’t continue down the road I came in on–well, by then I was on Spring Street and knew where I was going. I’m glad I made decent directions before I left because the map of downtown that I had with me didn’t have either the street I parked on or the street where I was going on it. Very helpful.

Today I also learned that companies are now making cracker packs with PB&J-tasting filling. They are completely disgusting. I thought I was buying plain old crackers with peanut butter–that’s what they looked like. But no, I really bought crackers with artificial grape flavor added to the peanut butter. It did taste like PB&J, I will grant you that. Lucky for me, I wasn’t very hungry today at lunchtime.

That’s was my day so far, and now I have to get ready for class.

Updates.

I’m going to try to list where I am in various goals or pursuits on a monthly basis. I would have done this yesterday, but I forgot it was the first of the month for a bit.

1. Dollars raised for the 3-Day: 291.

2. Letterboxes found since January: 6.

3. Pounds lost since January: 2.

4. Bird species seen since beginning of February: 29.

5. Trail miles since July 4th: about 36.

I’m very proud and excited about the 3-Day total–I have some very generous sponsors that I’m so grateful to! I don’t mind the totals in the letterboxing and bird watching categories, because I’m not devoting a great deal of time to them. They are simply things that can be built into my week as I have time and inclination. The trail miles and pounds lost do bother me–one because I really love being outside and running around but I don’t have the time (nowadays) or the people to run around with. That is really frustrating. Pounds lost bothers me a bit because I want to see a higher number–hopefully the next few months will be better because I won’t have a whole lot of stress that affects how much junk I want to eat! heehee. I’ve been pretty good about no snacks during class–which has cut my coke drinking by either 1/2 or 2/3 and eliminated my thrice-weekly peanut M&M habit. I’ve got to get back on the exercise train, too.

So, let’s see what our goals for March and beyond will be. Here are my revised goals. A bit of a stretch here and there, but that should give me a little challenge. We do have Spring Break this month, so maybe I’ll get a lot done.

1. Dollars raised for the 3-Day = 750. 2. Letterboxes found = 10. 3. Pounds lost = 5. 4. Birds seen = 40. 5. Trail miles = 50.

Hope all of you have good days. It was snowing here yesterday–and the sun was out, so it was very odd.

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