Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Scouting the 300K route with Stoney.

I had spent the early morning hours working on the cue sheet for the 300 kilometer route that we'll ride next year on June 18. While working, I had noticed that a couple of the road names near Williams Hill were different on the computer mapping program than I remembered them. Crista Borras and Geoff Swartz are both eagle-eyed on this kind of thing and I decided I'd better check the signs in person to make sure of the names before I submitted the cue sheet for certification. Time to head out on the road.

This is Stoney, one of my dogs. Usually I would have used my bicycle for this adventure, the round trip is only about 80 miles, but it's been a long while since I had any face time with Stoney. About a year ago, we rescued a female Jack Russell that we named Rinti, and because she is small, Rinti became the default dog for traveling. In fact, Rinti became the default dog for just about everything, and Stoney started feeling like a red-headed step child. Today it's just me and the big boy.

Speaking of "default". This was his default position for the first part of the trip. I had to continually make him sit up and look out the window. My wife's car has a manual transmission, and it was too hard to shift with his big head in the way.

I finally rolled down his window. That changed his attitude about everything! Now he could sniff all the country smells as we traveled. And there were country smells - we rolled past a pig farm and we both had to hold our noses. Phew!

Sure enough, I was right (was there really any doubt?). The computer mapping system was incorrect. I'll be including these pictures as an attachment when I submit the routes for certification. That will save one email step later on.

This is the turn-around at the end of Williams Hill. As you can see there is a pump which brings spring water to the surface. This was put here by the homeowner who lives nearby, and it is open year round to hikers, cyclists, and whomever wants spring water. All that they ask is that you leave it as you found it. Remember, I said "turn-around". The cyclists who have just climbed and descended Williams Hill will now "rinse and repeat". This route will be challenging, even to those mountain goats who love climbing.

The work is all done, so Stoney and I decided to drive to the top and go for a walk. A fall day is a good day to be in the woods.

There seems to be plenty of stuff to sniff around here. However, despite the peaceful surroundings, I had to keep forcing myself to slow down and enjoy it. My mind wanted to get home and finish the cue sheet I'd been working on. We walked for about an hour and I was never really was able to just be "in the moment". My mind was racing on to other things. I have to work on that.

Stoney had no problem being "in the moment" and just enjoying the woods. When I took this picture, I was hoping that I wouldn't need it for a "Lost Dog" poster later today. I had a 20 foot lead with me, and although he is obedience-trained for off-lead work, I was still nervous about taking this picture without his leash attached to his collar. (Stoney and I finished obedience training when he was about 2. He graduated "top dog" in his class. When we entered the class, I told my wife that "top dog" was our goal, and she had laughed out loud. The class was mostly made up of pedigreed dogs and pedigreed owners. Stoney and I are neither. But we had the last laugh!)

Time to go home. It's been a fun morning for both Stonemans. Actually, Stoney was a Stoneman before I was. While I was still a Wiseman and waiting for the right time to change my name, we rescued him and named him Stoneman. Then in 2006, we both became Stoneman. While I have much in common with Rinti's personality, Stoney and I will always share the same name.

This is the other Stoneman in the car today. I asked Stoney to take a picture of me while I was driving. He did pretty good considering that he has no thumbs.

Whenever you're in Southern Illinois, always watch out for the cowboys. I would never live in the big city. There is too much traffic, too much noise, too many people, not enough trees and no cowboys. Today has been successful and productive. And it's been fun.

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