Today was the day Mike and I set aside to groom the path through our woods. Before we did that, however, I took some time to water the pots, feed the birds and take a walk around the garden. I'm loving the petunia baskets, and I'm especially fond of these two-toned purple ones. The hummingbirds really like the petunias too.

And I can't look at pansies without thinking of my mother-in-law who always said they look like little girls bending over to show their panties.

Most years, I plant snapdragons, but this year, I didn't. Then, it didn't seem as if any were coming back from previous years as they usually do...until now. Now, they are starting to show themselves.

The first ripe cherry tomato has made an appearance.

And when I saw that, I went to check on the tomatoes in the greenhouse. Lovely. Marvelous. Keep on growing, my darlings. You will make some excellent salsa someday.

The powdery stuff on their leaves is just sulfur dust, which discourages little sucking mites.

The green leaf lettuce is huge now, and we've been eating it in salads and on sandwiches. Nothing better than fresh picked lettuce.

And the second round of red leaf lettuce is coming along. We still have plenty left on the first round to last until this is ready for picking.

The stars of the garden right now are the hydrangeas. Ours mostly turn blue with no prompting from us. We must have a lot of iron in our soil...either that or lots of nail debris. Not sure which it is.

I like these that are pink on one side and blue on the other.

Also I checked the cherry trees. We've been watching them with great anticipation because the cherries are close to being ready for picking. Only when I looked at them today, I couldn't find a single cherry. Not one...except for this one.

Except for this one remaining cherry, the entire tree had been cleaned...picked clean...by raccoons. And here's evidence of their skulduggery lying on the ground beneath the tree. Drat.

We actually have two trees, and the other had only about half a dozen cherries left. I imagine if I check again tomorrow, all of the cherries will be gone. So disappointing. I'm not sure there's anything we can do about this. I don't know how we're going to keep raccoons out of the trees, and furthermore, we never even see them.

Oh well. Such is life. The bees are loving the lavender right now...as am I. It's my favorite scent.

And the purple butterfly bush is blooming now. We have a yellow one as well, but it blooms later in the year.

So by then, we were ready to tackle the path through the woods. A little history is needed here because I haven't walked in the woods since before our kitty George died. George was actually the one who coaxed me into the woods the first time. He would disappear for long periods of time during the day, and one day I asked him, "George, where do you go during the day?" I swear I am not making this up. He took off trotting toward the woods, looking over his shoulder to see if I was coming. He clearly wanted me to follow him, and he took me down to the woods and showed me where he walked. 

When I told Mike about it, he decided to use his chainsaw and tractor to cut actual paths through the woods. When all was said and done, we had foot paths cut so that our (then three) kitties and I could go for little walks. George and Krissy were the only two who really liked it. Gracie went a few times too, but she was always very nervous, and eventually, she quit going altogether. She would sit at watch from the house. Here's a picture of the three of us at the end of one of our walks back in 2006. I like this image because each cat is looking in a different direction, watching for predators, I presume.

So...fast forward to today, and I am hoping I can get my little buddy, Smitty, to pick up the slack where George and Krissy left off. So far, I haven't been able to get him to go with me, and maybe I never will. I'm going to keep trying though. Today, I thought I could get him to at least follow me to the edge of the path.

But then he got distracted by bugs and hoppy things in the grass. 

"Doing just fine up here, Mom."

So...no dice.

I want to give you some idea what I'm talking about with the path through the woods, and so I created this image from Google Earth to show you the property. The woods take up about 2 acres of our nearly 7-acre parcel, so we're not exactly talking about a national forest here, but it still gives you that woodsy feel. The woods are off to the left of the house in the image below. (And, by the way, I've seen this image many times on Google Earth, and it cracks me up because you can see our fifth wheel trailer parked next to the garage. We were either just returning from a trip, or getting ready to leave on a trip.) Anyway...here you go...and I've indicated where the paths are cut.

We walk down from the house where the middle pink line heads toward number "1" (I'll explain the numbers in a minute), then up and down a rather steep hill to #2, then up a hill, and then we double back toward #1...or we can exit there into a shady tree area we call the "park blocks". Usually, though, I double back toward #1, then down a hill and along the fence line to #3, continuing on around the corner, up a hill and out at the bottom of the image. Capisce? The numbers are to indicate where the sets of chairs are located. At first, there were no chairs, but after walking the path with George many times, I decided I wanted to put some plastic Adirondack chairs in so that George and I could sit down. And we did. We started with the #1 and #2 sets and then added the #3 set later. They stay there year-round.

So now that you're situated, I'll tell you about our day clearing the path. The last time George and I walked together would have been around 2011, and things were already beginning to obstruct the path then. I've been bugging Mike to help me clear it out again, and today we finally had time to do it.

Oh look! It's Mike Bunyon and his trusty blue ox, Babe!

Babe's job is to run over the things growing on the path and smash them down. So here we are at the first set of chairs...you can see them to the right of this image. The path wasn't too bad here.

But when we turned to head down the hill toward the second set of chairs...oh my. I know...it looks like a tangle in the image below because that's pretty much what it is.

But we finally hacked, ripped, snorted, and cut our way down to the second set of chairs. They're a little messy from their years of neglect.

There. That's a little better. This is obviously not a place to wear your white pants. I'm usually down here when I've been working in the yard, and so I'm wearing my grubby gardening clothes. Kitties wear the same clothes no matter what they're doing.

So we continued on clearing the rest of the path until we'd doubled back and met up with the first set of chairs again, and then our task was to try to find the path to the third set of chairs. It was pretty well grown over, but we could see where the deer had been walking. Check out the image below, and you can see how the deer made good use of our path in our absence.

And then we were able to find the third set of chairs, hacking our way through until we'd cleared all the brambles away.

And we continued on around and out and then back in where the first set of chairs are. And we sat and enjoyed the peace and quiet...which is sort of the point of going down there in the first place.

I love going down there in the spring when the trilliums and other wildflowers start to bloom. And I love looking at the sun shining through the leaves over head.

There are always little surprises for me every time I go down. Today I saw these:

And these:

But that's not all we did today. No sirree. No flies on us. 

We nailed down the final plans for our trip to Minnesota. Here's the route we'll take. The little pins don't have much meaning aside from keeping us routed on the roads we want to travel.

So here's where we're going: we travel from Portland to Spokane and then through Coeur d'Alene on our way to the National Bison Reserve...I forget who told me about that, but thank you. We re-routed so we could see it. Then northeast to the Montana Hi-Line, which takes us across northern Montana, then due south once we cross the state line into North Dakota to Teddy Roosevelt National Park. Then, on to Fargo and Bimidji. We have a particular fondness for both places after watching the first season of Fargo on television this spring. 

Then we continue northeast to Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota (the whole point of this trip). After that we cross the border into Canada to drive east until we get to Grand Portage, Minnesota. This is the place we'll stay while we take boats out to Isle Royale National Park, an island in Lake Superior. We'll spend the night at the lodge on the island and then take the boats back the next day. Then we'll head south along the lake shore to Split Rock State park, then on to where Diane W. lives (Hi, Diane!!), then back west toward home. We'll drive across South Dakota and into Wyoming to see Devil's Tower National Monument. We've been to the Badlands before, and so we'll skip that this trip. We have also visited Devil's Tower before, but it was so foggy and raining so hard that day that we couldn't even see the top of the tower. We decided to give it a second try. 

Then continuing on to see my friend Marei (Hi Marei!) at her new place in Idaho, then on to Stanley, Idaho...a favorite place of ours. We were going to go a couple of years ago, but the fires were so bad that we canceled that destination. Maybe this year we'll have better luck. And then home! It's a distance of 4466 miles, give or take. We have a month to do it. There's a little wiggle room in our schedule with the exception of the Isle Royale part of the trip. We'll need reservations for the boats and the lodge, and so we'll need to hit our mark for those dates.

So that's it. We'll be leaving Portland on August 31st. Don't forget your hiking boots if you're coming with us.

And that's our Sunday. What are you up to today? 

10 comments from clever and witty friends:

gpc said...

What a great sounding trip! I've only been to a couple of those places, Teddy Roosevelt park and Isle Royale, but it all sounds fabulous to me. Your woods is lovely, another terrific vacation destination at the end of you trip! :)

Colleen said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip! Im glad you are getting Bison in! We thought it was so great when we went! The variety of wildlife, the road, the views! My mom saw info of about it somewhere and added it to her places to visit. Smitty is still young but i bet if you keep trying.

WoolenSails said...

Your gardens look wonderful. The heavy rains we got from the storm, made mine jump up in size. I used to take my kitties for walks in the back fields, they loved to walk with me and explore. Your new trip sounds like a fun adventure, I am going to enjoy following along with you.


Brown Family said...

I would love to have trails and woods like that! I am just not ready to move to the farm to get them.

Jacque said...

Whoo hooo! Cool trip! Your path clearing reminds me of what we do here on our place. And the sitting and enjoying the peace? That's my favorite part of living where we do! I love to sit with hubby and the cat and dog chillin with us!

liniecat said...

Love your little patch of heaven there! Can see why your so happily settled!
I adore hydrangeas, so beautiful when they are twin coloured too.
Have a great trip!

Diane Wild said...

When I view your woodsy trail, I start to itch. We are having a gnat & mosquito invasion and can hardly go outside without a hazmat suit. Hopefully, they'll die off soon. What an ambitious trip. Looking forward to your visit.

Kate said...

You have such a pretty place. Hope you get to enjoy your newly cleaned out walking paths.

quiltzyx said...

What a wonderful pic of the original "Three Cats" on a hike! As usual, I so enjoy seeing all the flora at your Ranch. Good job, Mike Bunyon & Babe!!

I will have my hiking boots ready for "our" September trip! You are so good to us, always taking us along on vacation with you.


Michelle F said...

Looks like you'll be traveling all of Ameria, one day...
Will your `traveling` eventually take you into Canada?