OLT cleveWisconsin and most of the mid-west has had such a drawn out winter. I’m hearing that many of the upper state and Minnesota lakes have had to cancel or delay the beginning of fishing season and respective competitions due to ice STILL covering lakes and/or high volumes of run off down the Mississippi River. All I can say, is that I was ELATED to walk yesterday on the 80 degree day. And, if you will note, how extremely green the grass is. The transformation of color over the 3-day stent of sun/rain seemed rather magical! The heat and warm on my skin, however, felt unwillingly abnormal; almost a foreign feeling. Without my annual trip south in winter… yes it really feels THAT odd to feel the sun, but not to worry!  This summer I plan to make up for all the missed time!

I believe this will be my last excursion along the western link of the OLT. I again picked up from where I left off last week, this time being sure to take a water bottle, and going another 2 miles each way between 116th St and Howard to 124th St and Lincoln. The majority of this route was on the same roadway as the Root River Parkway, in and of itself a nice winding drive. The first stretch was still in the wetlands preserve and I finally got to try out my new Merrill hiking boots in the mud and puddles!  They did a fantastic job, so that pleased me and may have given me a boost of confidence to return to the more rustic routes.

My observations this weekend: the more I headed towards the busier streets, the more I wanted to turn around and retreat to seclusion. It’s funny- these are street names I’ve grown up with all my life, and while traveled at high volumes to the east where I live, they feel familiar to the west as well. That said- it was kind of a funny observation that along streets I’ve driving East/West,  crossing them in a North/South manner and further out of my range felt like a whole different approach. I could recall many driving trips to my daughter’s friends upon one of the roads, yet to dissect that intersection going cross-wise it was such a shockingly different feel! As you can see, that caught me off-guard. And made me think about all the routines we have in life; traveling the same roads, going to the same stores and gas stations. When approached by a different direction, or interrupted with a new pattern or destination, how peculiar yet fun the journey is!

In cutting wood or meat, there are certain theories about when you should or shouldn’t go with or against the grain. The direction chosen for the cut brings about a different result of look, feel or even taste. I suppose that is the best way to describe my walk; it went against my own grain and it provided different looks, and feels along the way. That, in and of itself, made the trip more of a personal journey. There are so many ways we can assimilate this concept into our lives. I suppose it just starts with being willing to take the first step further to the right or left and see what happens! Even the small things of life can take on a whole new meaning or bring another level of satisfaction!

In a few weeks I will be coming up on 1 year of the Pondering on Paths series. While I certainly didn’t meet my original goal last year when I fell and broke my wrist, I feel like I got a jump on the season this year, just by checking off more portions of the very lengthy Oak Leaf Trail and more realistically, to get my walking legs back. My theory now, is to find the more scenic paths to fill my senses during the high peak of blooming and good weather. On my list for the summer is the Scuppernong Trail and the elusive Ice Age Trail as well as a few one-offs that look beautiful!

In the meantime, I’m going to take off a few weeks from writing. Between the first Mother’s Day I can spend with my mom in 6 years, and other family events planned, planting and helping with Victory Garden Blitz! I will have little time for the trail. I am most excited to mention that my husband and I have decided to cross off one of our frequently discussed bucket list ventures and head SW in our 1961 VW Beetle and get our kicks on Route 66!! Regrettably, I doubt we will get as far as Arizona, New Mexico or Cali (the states I’d actually more PREFER to see) but that shouldn’t hold us back from getting through Oklahoma (a never been to state for me) and back. I’m considering running a short blog on the daily adventures of the notorious trip. Probably more pictures than writing, as I don’t want to lug my computer along this time. So, be on the look out in a month or two for something new coming from An Only Child’s Song!  Until then… happy hiking!

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