As mentioned in my other blogs I have travel companion, who is also my partner, Aria. Aria is a six-year-old female, sable shetland sheepdog. For her breed she is on the high side, coming in at 38lbs but for me, she is perfect.
I can still remember the day I got her. A local breeder was selling them and we, my dad and I, went over the farm to pick her up. We arrived and this little gal, probably about six or seven, comes out carrying a sheltie and plops her in my arms. I asked if this was it and she said no, there was one more and another little girl brought out the second one. The adults follow behind them and says put them on the ground and let them run around.
The second little girl puts hers on the ground and I do the same with the other. They both run off a few feet away and start doing their business. Mine is far off still finishing when the second one looks over at her sister and charges her. No kidding she pounced on her sister before she was even done. I started laughing and leaned over to the owner and said, "she's got personality."
The woman laughs and says, "oh yes she does."
Sold! I'm taking that one. She was big even as a puppy and sat on my lap the whole way home, becoming quiet and reserved. I was hoping this was only going to be temporary, but when we got home she just found a corner, laid down and remained quiet. Understandable, new surroundings, then my mom came home and had their sheltie who was a year old and the runt of her littler. She sees my Aria and cautiously approaches her, Aria lifts her head and lets out a large bark sending their dog off running. Someone knew she had a voice.
So begins life with Aria which I wouldn't trade for the world, even if she put a hole in the wall of my apartment and clawed at another section of the wall. Carrier was the only way to behave, and the things she found to get into still amaze me to this day. Socks are very tasty and on more than one occasion she has eaten one. How I don't know because when they came back up, YUCK!!
She rolls with the punches and as long as we're together she'll tolerate all the changes we've gone through as a team. I can't say enough about her traveling she enjoys being on the road as much as me. Her excitement is contagious as she jumps out of the car and goes silent at the new surroundings, different smells, and the large mountains that surround us.
Feeling sand on her paws had her pause for only a moment as we came around a bend and there was the Pacific ocean before us. Again silence and amazement fill her face as she sees the water and hears the waves crash against the beach. Then the seagulls, hello new birds to chase, these lead to the ocean. So on more than one occasion, I had to call her back so she didn't go into the ocean. Later I learned that wouldn't be an issue, the movement of the water over her paws and back gives her pause and no amusement.
Like me, she is full of sarcasm and sass. When telling her to be quiet or relax or go park it somewhere it is quickly followed with a talking growl sound or a long, drawn-out sigh. I talk to her like a person and when I start to talk about a plan for a road trip she quickly gets up and walks away. Of course, I call her back and make her sit, this way she can't go anywhere but this doesn't stop her from turning her head so not interested in the details just the when.
She makes me laugh a lot and I'm a believer that laughter is the cure to any bad day. There have been many and she is always close by to give me the boost I need to keep going. Of course, traveling with her has opposed one little problem, she needs to have a king-size bed.
No lie, since I put us in a room that had one she has been 'a monster' when we don't have one. She walks into the hotel room, looks around, and gives the whole 'I guess it'll do' look and then goes from one bed to the next deciding which one she prefers. When I'm back on my own, I think that'll be a requirement. King-size bed, check!
But if you have pets you know, that a king-size bed can get pretty small when you have a dog that can increase its length and take up most of the space. More nights than not I woke up to realize I only had a quarter of the bed and she was taking up seventy-five percent. Now try to get her to move over? Yeah, dead weight that doesn't move, a growl, sigh, and extra slow movement turns into a ten-minute ordeal in the dark in the middle of the night with an eight-hour drive in the morning.
Screw it! Take the bed I'll make do with my space. The monster is here to stay! She continues to be this persistent with our morning walks. A new routine I started about a month ago and now that she's in the groove I will get the evil eye if we don't go. One morning she woke me up before the alarm went off. I get up at 530a.
As she stands over me, I look from her to the window. First off, the alarm hasn't even gone off. Second, it is still dark out. She goes and lays down next to me on the bed. Two minutes later the alarm goes off and she is up and back to standing over me. It's still too dark out, she looks from me to the window and back with a look of, 'we can do it.' No, we're not risking our lives just for a morning walk, we'll wait until it gets lighter out.
Yep, I've created a monster. However, in this case, her eagerness and determination keep me on the path to a healthier and happier me. Plus it is quiet and just her and I on these walks. It is a good time to bond and enjoy some time away from the house and outdoors.
My little monster, life would be dull without her.
As if Friday wasn't good enough, Saturday was the cherry on top. Two days in a row where the weather and rain hold back so I can get in driving tour videos and some great photos.
Saturday started out in a complete downpour but I don't give up so easily and have learned to take the weather channel's predictions under advisement. This will be the day that I head over to the Michigan/Wisconsin border to visit Rustic Road 100 located in Iron County, Wisconsin. This will also be the day my GPS decides to take a more scenic and 'direct' route to the destination.
Starting out, it wasn't a bad way to go at all and when the weather clears I'm definitely going to have to explore the route more because there were some amazing barns along the way. I'm from Wisconsin and nothing makes my head turn like a barn that is aging gracefully. It'll also be a good route for another scenic drive video.
Things are going smoothly, a little too smoothly as I twist and turn through the small towns and following the GPS's directions from County Roads to Highways back to County Roads. That is until one of the turns indicated that the bridge was out up ahead. So we had to bypass the route and keep going straight. Of course, I'm in the middle of nowhere with no signal. Should have known that the curse of the Rustic Roads continues.
Even though I don't believe in curses there is something about these Rustic Roads that when I go out to specifically drive one of them I get detoured or off of the route altogether. Obviously, Saturday is going to be no different. We finally come to an intersection that has one direction point towards Bruce, well from the last time I went to this Rustic Road I knew Bruce could get us back on track so I turned towards it.
To help ease my frustration I took this time to make a few stops along the way to snap a few pictures of the barns. Yes, it was still raining but this gal needs to make some money and Mother Nature isn't going to completely push me away from the day's goals. Finally, after what seems like an hour, Bruce appears ahead and a part of me is thinking I should have gone left instead of right because we are now heading South instead of North. Whatever.
The one and only gas station in Bruce has me pulling over to try and get a signal and get the GPS up and running. My niece, sister-in-law, and Aria are also along for the ride because after we visit this Rustic Road we're going over to Drummond to meet up with my folks for dinner. It is only after my sister-in-law threatens to go in and get a road map that the GPS finds the signal, calculates the new route and is ready to go. Hmmm, something is afraid of a little competition.
After a quick stop at the gas station, we are back on the road making a steady pace North and East towards Mercer, Wisconsin where the Rustic Road is located. Thankfully, this route is mostly on Highways so the speed is able to stay consistent for longer stretches. We also had the pleasure of snaking through a few more towns and enjoy the view of the Flambeau River State Forest and the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. I highly recommend seeing both of these forests if you are ever in the North-Eastern part of Wisconsin. The National Forest actually has a Rustic Road that goes right through it and that is beautiful.
Hopefully, I'll be able to sneak up there before the leaves fall completely and the snow starts falling to add that route to my scenic road videos. I drove through it a year or two ago and it was absolutely amazing. A real favorite of the Rustic Roads.
Finally, the town of Mercer comes into view. Small, quaint and very nice town to drive through. About halfway through is County Road J and not far from that turn off is Rustic Road 100. It is 13 miles long! One of the longer routes of the Rustic Road collection. Oh my gosh, it was beautiful!
The rain had stopped completely and splashes of color surround the car as I snaked through the drive. It is about half paved and half gravel. The further in you go, the rougher and more narrower the road comes keeping in mind that even though you don't see them there are homes hidden behind the trees and behind every corner is someone walking or biking the route.
I was in heaven. It is the views I found out there that day that made the entire day worth it. The videos were solid, the colors were full and beautiful, the road was quiet and every turn was leading to more and more beauty surrounding me. I was smiling from ear to ear and whispering to the Universe, "thank you, thank you, thank you. This beauty is why I love being a YouTuber and Photographer. This is why, so I can share this beauty with you, my followers, fans, and customers. I love showing these hidden gems to the world."
Nearing the end, as mentioned earlier, the road gets more and more rougher and I'm now on gravel making it even more of a challenge. I'm barely able to get to 40, even though the speed limit is set at 45, this is causing a bit of anxiety in the back from Aria who isn't crazy about these slow speeds. She is also panting and jumping up and down off the backseat. Now, my niece is getting anxious trying to calm her down and keep us informed of what she is doing.
When able I let both her and Aria know that we're almost done and tell my niece to just let Aria be, as soon as I'm off this route she'll settle down. Yeah, like that ever works. But at least now there making their sounds a bit softer. A few more twists and turns, slowdowns and climbs and up ahead is the sign showing a stop sign is ahead. "This is it Aria we are through. Stop sign ahead means smooth roads are coming."
As the road slows to a stop she curls back up on the floor and begins settling down on the floor in the back. A glance back shows my niece is doing the same. I now cross the border and we've now entered Michigan. A few minutes here to stretch our legs and we're back on the road heading West towards Ashland.
From here on out, the routes just seem to be getting longer but at least the rain is holding off, although, the clouds are showing that they're starting to regroup over Lake Superior just off the right towards the North. After about a half-hour, Ashland shines through up ahead. We make a few stops before making a longer one at the Bayfield Park. Both Aria and my niece are happy to be out and away from the car.
The wind is cold and the water looks angry with mud and sand being kicked up from the bottom making it look more brown than blue near the shoreline. They walk one way and Aria and I walk another. Twenty to twenty-five minutes later we have regrouped and are heading back towards the car. We're all revived and enjoying the break from the car. As of now, we've been in the car driving for five hours. I've been for eight, still holding strong but the cool air was a good revival for me.
We get settled into the car and finish the rest of the way to Drummond. No sooner was the city of Ashland behind us that the rain began to sprinkle, drizzle and finally turn to full rain. A miss of my turn gave us another five minutes on the route but we maneuvered back easily enough and are back on track. Finally, we made it to Drummond.
The final drive back to the house started out fine with rain stopping altogether. But shortly after merging onto Highway 53 it hit us, along with dark clouds and a setting sun. It only gets better as the wind continues to pick up and oh, look at that we have road work ahead of us. Road work that didn't include repainting the lines. A little tense but I make it through unscathed, well almost, a raccoon came out in the middle of the road and I had cars around me and it just stopped in the middle of my lane. Not cool.
I apologized to the raccoon because I will do what I can to avoid these situations but rain, low visibility, at night, it was either him or me and with my niece and Aria in back it had to be him. So, again, I apologize. Thankfully, no more issues and we get home safe and sound. Even as I finish writing this, the rain continues to pour down around us. It definitely makes for good sleeping weather.
I've now officially been up for fifteen hours and was planning on going to bed over an hour ago but when this blog popped into my head I had to write while the memories were fresh. Thank you for visiting!
Be sure to check out my online shop on eBay as well as my YouTube Driving and Walking Tours with special features of the Rustic Roads of Wisconsin. The direct links can be found under my 'Welcome' tab located at the top of the page.
Enjoy the day!!!
Nothing ever makes my day more enjoyable than spending the entire day, sunrise to sundown, driving around taking photos and videos to help promote my online shop via eBay. I feel alive, hopeful and extremely happy when everything comes together so I can do this.
Today was spent driving over to Kinnickinnic State Park, say that name three times fast, and expanding my driving tours to now include State Parks along with glimpses of the trails that are found throughout. It was a cool day but after hitting the trails I quickly warmed up and was ready to get to work.
Aria and I have been to this park before but it's been a couple of years and she didn't forget the route or the location. She hit the trail at our fast pace walk when we're on our daily walks. Mind you those daily walks are on pavement, straight and more smooth than these trails. I was at a bit of a jog to keep up with her.
Not that I blame her, she knows when the retractable leash comes out she can be free to walk and do whatever she wants and today she wanted to go fast. I felt like a musher with her out at the very end of the leash's length and then there were soft, wet and slippery areas of mud. Do you think this mission-bound pup slowed down? Hell, no. Twice I lost my footing and slid along the path, thankfully I'm a quick recoverer.
When this happened she did, at least, look back at me but I think it was more annoyance than concern. Broke her rhythm, so now we get to make up for it by going even faster. Thanks, Aria!! We made it through the woods and the end opens up to a field full of trails, hills and tall, tall, brush that I can barely see over.
There is a slight hesitation as Aria takes in the new view and then we're off again. Finally, I decided to take over and reel her in so I can take a video of the trail and scenery. She is reluctant and giving slight tugs but at least I can now catch my breath.
As we head back to the car, her pace is slowing allowing me to take more photos and videos of the trails. Of course, she is included in them and again, I'm given a bit of an annoyed look for breaking the rhythm. But at least heading back she slows down when we come to the slick, muddy spots and didn't have as many slides as before.
After the park we head over to Minnesota, I can't be this close to my favorite suburb and not stop by. A girl's gotta have her fresh sushi and the Kowalski Market in Woodbury has some of the best. Yum! Oh, and I have to pick up my weekly lottery ticket. We then head back over to Wisconsin so I can drop Aria off for her groom appointment. While that happens, I do a little country driving in the area.
I was able to get some great shots of barns, rivers, and railroads. Love, love, love all of it. Then after I pick up Aria we head back home where the work continues with edits and postings. I love living the dream and one day this will be my daily routine.
A new month brings about new desires. So here are mine for the month of October 2019. These are in no specific order and would like them all to be a reality by Halloween, 2019.
Be Financially Set For Life With A Lucky For Life Jackpot Win
(yes, I gamble and I don't feel bad about it all)
See My Online eBay Sales Increase
(I have the figure in my head)
Accept A Full-Time/Temporary Position With The National Park Service (must include dog-friendly housing)
Quit My Current Job
As a Pagan, I will also add, So Mote Them Be!!!
Another area of customer service comes from a management side. It's hard enough to deal with employee complaints and being an ear to their problems and concerns while trying to keep upper management happy and off your backs. But it really gets challenging when the employees take out their issues on the customers, delivering poor service and giving you the opportunity to be yelled at while trying to figure how to rectify the problem.
I had this distinct pleasure while I was living in Maryland and working as a Supervisor/Acting Manager when the manager left to pursue another career. One therapist specifically made this her ritual and when was always the unknown. I spent three years in the position doing this back and forth, not only with the supervisor but the new manager and upper management.
I don't enjoy walking on ice and I hate feeling like I am every single time I walk into work. Not knowing what kind of a mood she'd be in, what complaint was going to go against me, and what I'd be reprimanded for, the final straw to that whole nightmare was when a co-worker/friend complained about me. When it is clear that even a friend is going to go along with the majority and not even talk to you then it is time to leave. Which I did about a month later.
Management can be challenging especially when you don't have the support from your immediate manager, let alone, their managers. That became my last job in the management field and back into customer service. Customers that are not only external but internal and hopeful candidates wanting to work for your company.
In a new position as a recruiter it was quickly realized, that once again, I was going to be the scapegoat to other's wrongdoing and be snubbed for it, even if I wasn't the one who said or did it but was just following orders. Some can never do wrong, even though they do it all the time. This was quickly confirmed by another co-worker, who soon left after my arrival.
It wasn't long before I moved up and back on the eggshell walk, stress, frustration, and anger coming back in full force. Seriously, what is wrong with people? Take away the title and this all comes down to someone having to put another down in order to make them feel and look better. Then comes the double standard, higher only the best, the most qualified, but keep them on board even though their work ethics suck.
Am I really in the recruiting business or just filling spaces to keep people happy? Customer service extends to the upper managers and making them happy when it was clearly about the numbers and not the quality of candidates it's time to walk away. Which brought me to an all internal customer database as an auditor for a mainline airline.
Airlines. Sometimes I just need to be hit by a plane in order to get it through my head that things don't change. But this was a goal of mine to work for this airline but I have learned, from the last two jobs, don't take the verbal and emotional abuse. There are other jobs and nothing is worth the stress and frustration that can be put on you. So when the pattern started repeating for the third time, I was officially done. Not just with the airlines but with work altogether. I wanted more and I wanted it from a business of my own.
Hence the walkaway.
Aw, the joys of working with people. I've been working in the customer service industry for a couple of decades now. The craziest one, hands down, was working for the airlines. Especially after 9/11. But when someone comes up to the counter, checks in, and asks if the gates are this way, and points towards a solid cement wall, there is a part of me that wants to say 'yes, this airport has a Harry Potter set-up' but I don't and point the opposite way.
Being on both sides I'm good at sympathizing with people when they are angry and frustrated, however, when you are missing your luggage please don't walk up to me, point a finger, and say 'you lost my bag!' Unless I have a transporter there is no physical way I could have been there to load your specific bag and then make it back to the counter. Besides the last thing, I would do with my transporter is put myself on another airport's ramp to find your bag and push it off to the side so it doesn't get loaded.
Even when you say, 'your airline', it doesn't help I know your frustrated, I'm going to be even more frustrated than you if that bag isn't at the hub and now I have to not only retrace your route but have the other airports research the other flights that departed about the same time to make sure it didn't get loaded on the wrong flight. Now, when irregular ops come into play, such as snowstorms and hurricanes, forget the attitude all together because in about two flights the whole area around the conveyor belt will be knee-high deep in bags, not just from our airline but the other airlines that couldn't get them on their flights. Welcome to baggage service!!
But, I digress and am so very happy to be away from it. After 9/11 the industry became cut-throat not only with each other but charging more for less. I stuck with it for a few years after 9/11 before going behind the scenes into recruiting and auditing but I learned quickly regardless of airline size it's all the same. So bye-bye airlines.
One month ago, practically to the day, I was informed by a doctor that over the last three years they have seen a slow but steady increase in my blood pressure. I fully admit to a weight fluctuation and the whole on again and off again diet, as well as on again off again aerobics and exercise. But when it came to a doctor suggesting I get it under control I sat up and decided to do something.
Exercise, of course, is the best way to lower blood pressure and I also admit that I hate doing exercises, even aerobics, aren't my specialty. I get a drive going for it and then fall out in the end because my 'ego' (negative voice in my head) convinces me I don't need it. So then the rollercoaster cycle begins all over, which I hate too. Anyways, there has always been one form of exercise I never minded and that was walking. So I decided, that afternoon, Aria and I were going to start walking every day that weather and time allowed.
Of course, Aria didn't have a say in the matter because she too has put on weight and we need to keep that in check. So after returning from the doctor's office, I changed clothes, put on her leash and off we went. The pace was slow, exhausting and breathing a little shallow but the sun was out, the temps were comfortable so we kept moving forward.
On the way back, I ran into a neighbor and her family from the same High School I attended. Forty-five minutes later, from the time we started, Aria and I were back at home. Not the best way to start our walking routine but catching up and enjoying more time outside certainly was a great way to end the day. I already felt better, than came the water intake which, up to this point, was about 18 oz/day.
Did I mention I hate water? I will drink it with a bunch of zero-calorie flavoring but doesn't that kind of defeat it's purpose? I say yes, and decided I will push myself to drink plain water. It wasn't easy but I am now able to drink the recommended amount without issue or complaint and have even increased it for a better effect.
Every day Aria and I increased our distance if only by a few feet until we reached the over mile mark. The first goal achieved!! Then Aria started picking up our pace which went from an easy stroll to borderline power walk. The first days she pulled that on me I felt it in my legs and my glutes. I was tender but it was a good feeling to know that my body was getting a workout.
As the days get shorter and temps get lower at night this changes our routine almost daily. More so about the when, we've had days with fog advisories, thunderstorm warnings, humid mornings, and cloudy mornings making the sun even later in getting up to lighten up the area.
These mornings have also brought about some great photos and videos, which can be found by click on the YouTube icon on the 'Welcome' pate, which I enjoy sharing with my followers and customers. As always, the scale is the last one to show the results but I never let it discourage me. I know my body is getting healthier and that is clear with every morning walk, energy level and mood I have towards everything that is going on.
I'm doing something I haven't done in a while and that is falling back in love with myself. That alone is worth every single step I take in the morning and the time Aria and I spend alone makes us stronger. I'll be blogging more about our morning walks as things occur when we're out and about. Thanks for reading, and be sure to share this with your friends and followers to help bring more people to my website.