Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Vacations never last long enough, you know?

Although some can last too long. Not this one, no, but some. Mexican cruise, I'm thinking of you.

Picture heavy post ahoy: I'm putting in a jump cut.

Last Thursday, I drove out to Ohio in a driving rain. A driving rain as in: it was raining like someone was seriously pissed off with the traffic and trying to wash us all off the road. The field of vision outside my car was...probably far too short for the speed I maintained. It took me nearly twice as long to get to my friend's house as it usually does, and I needed a large glass of beer to calm myself once I'd arrived.

Thankfully, though, I did arrive, safe and (mostly) sound, and I proceeded to enjoy my time with my friend. Well, except for the part where I sliced off a quarter of one fingernail. Or the part where I almost stepped on a garter snake while hiking -- and I don't really want to be scraping garter snake bits out of the treads of my sneakers. Blech.

But other than those two things (which fall under the heading of "OMB, I'm going to be so neurotic about this sort of thing in future, aren't I?" than anything else), the trip was a blast. While there, I had a discussion with my friend about humor and jokes, which I am currently percolating into a post for later this week. Isn't it nice to know I'm thinking ahead about posts for you to enjoy?

I also got to spend some time with my favorite evil furball:

Her name is Trill, but we that knows and loves her all calls her Psycho. She's adorable, but she's got some serious anger-management issues. I tried, this time, to leave her alone, but she...well, the only way I can describe it is she forced me to pet her (what else would you call it if a cat puts her head into your palm forcibly?) and then bit me for having the temerity to touch her.

See? Psycho. She's lucky she's cute.

Her sister is sweet, seriously sweet, and emotionally traumatized by living with Psycho. I don't have any pictures of her because she spent most of her time on my lap itself, and it's hard to get a good picture of a cat that's sitting on your lap. Besides, I needed both hands for petting; Bella is soft as a rabbit.

Then I did what I usually do and made some tourist decisions that, in hindsight, make me question my sanity. Sort of like taking a detour to Rock City and Ruby Falls Caverns when I'm claustrophobic and moderately terrified of caves. Go ahead, check out the pictures. I'll wait.

See? I had no business going there. And those gnomes are darn creepy.

This time? I decided to visit a place called Cedar Bog, which is actually a fen, not a bog. It sounded right up my alley, being a park (I love a good hike when it's followed by a hot shower, some cocoa and a warm bed after) and beyond that a glimpse into what the midwest looked like thousands of years ago.

I should have figured it would look like my backyard after a rain, but noooo. I had to go see.

The map wasn't too complex:
The colors signify the different types of what, for lack of better term, I'll call 'microclimates'. There's open fen, a nasty wet forest, a bit of cedar-y forest and some fields. It's not a bad place, per se. Bits were really pretty.

I liked it quite a bit at first. Until I saw the sign warning you about rattle snakes.

RATTLE SNAKES?!!? I had no idea there were temperate region rattlers. I mean, I'm a city girl, the closest I get to snakes nowadays is my niece's corn snake, Snakie. And Snakie is pretty and sweet and totally non-poisonous. He's not even really prone to biting so long as he gets his two frozen mice per week and the heat lamp is directed at his favorite rock.

Anyway. Back to the pretty:

Not bad for a cell phone camera, I guess. I wish I'd had my actual camera-camera, though -- it has a wrist strap, unlike my cell phone, and I was terrified at several points along the hike that I was going to drop my cell phone into the bog. Excuse me, fen. And with all the signs promising danger and imminent, slithery death if you stepped off or extended an arm or leg over the magical boardwalk boundaries, I was quite concerned about the chance of going home phone-less.

Never fear, I managed to hold on to my hardware. Obviously, since you're looking at the pictures.

Despite the super-magical safety shield that supposedly keeps you safe if you stay entirely on the boardwalk, a couple of garter snakes managed to get up on the boards. One of them almost got a one way ticket to the Great Snake Den In The Sky under my shoe (that's what you get for being so still!) and a second scared the bejabbers out of me by zipping across the boardwalk right in front of me like a greased pig. I believe at that point I asked my friend why the one who missed seeing a huge garter snake to the point of almost stepping on it was the one leading the way, but she just laughed at me.

I think she was hoping any danger from the front would eat me first, giving her time to run away. Hmm.

Don't think it was all terror and dripping wet. Yes, there was an awful lot of poison sumac overhanging the boardwalks and benches along the way, and yes, the threat of snakes seemed constant, but there was also overwhelming beauty. And this:
was my favorite part of the trail. Looks so mysterious, doesn't it? As if you're about to head into haunted territory, all festooned with ghosts and goblins and creatures of the other realms.

Ah, I love the season. October and November are my favorite months of all!

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