Monday, June 29, 2009

I thought it might be interesting for some of you to see where I'm working. I think these pictures will give you a pretty good idea of where I work. So, welcome! Let me give you a little tour! Follow me!

When you first come in the back door (employee entrance) you walk into a common area. I don't know exactly what it's called, but I think it's a very cool room. I find something new in it every time I walk through. There are costumes for interpretive programs, a laminator (I drool over this each day), the bison box-of-parts for the ranger talks, and tons of other cool objects. For instance...

this stuffed animal is one of the objects in this room. I haven't learned much about this owl yet, but I know I will. Continuing through this room you come to the next room.

I work in the Office of Interpretation. Behind this door are our offices!

This is the view as soon as you walk into the room. Looking straight back to the back right hand corner is Lauren's desk and my desk. We eat lunch at this table closest to the door and Eric's desk and Dakota's desk is across from Lauren's in the other back corner (not seen in this photo).

And here is Lauren putting the Trail to Rails volunteer packets together!

I have not photographed the rooms between my office and the nature center's lobby...but in between is the library (complete with skylight!), and more offices. As you exit the other room of offices you come out behind the visitor center's desk and the owls are to your right. In front of you is the nature center. I think the building is beautiful. The Travertine Creek runs under the building and there are glass windows on one side of the building that looks into the Creek. The Nature Center recently got rid of a lot of its live animals---for example, the venomous snakes, but it still has turtles and other tanks of smaller amphibians and non-venomous snakes. It is the policy of the Nature Center to not keep the live animals on display permanently but rather to eventually release them back into the wild. As you might imagine, these live animals are a huge hit with the public, particularly families with small children.

One of the "main features", I think, is Crooked Horn. Crooked Horn used to live in the park, but died of old age. He was then stuffed and is now on display in our Nature Center. Being a huge bison enthusiast I think it's exciting to see one up close.

Completing the tour of the Nature Center is our book store. You can see the Barred Owls in the back behind Lauren and Natasha.

Again, it's not a complete tour. I haven't shown you the auditorium, which I will need to include in a later posting, but it gives you a basic idea. It's a very nice building and I think, has a terrific feel to it. I love coming to work at it.

This photo is dedicated to Jen and her photo collection of orange cones in National Parks. Lauren and I took it on the night of the evening program. I am happy to report that it has since been removed. Jen, this cone's for you!

Sunday, June 28, 2009


I have two updates--both related to birds.

First off, the large birds featured in a previous post that I've been seeing in the park are, from what I understand, Red Tailed Hawks. I think they're so beautiful. I have spent a good amount of time walking around the park watching them.

My second update is about the owls. Today I received this email from my friend Sarah:

"I mentioned your blog to Sue (my fellow naturalist in training) and told her about the barred owls you have. She asked where you were in OK. She asked if it was near Sulphur. I thought it was! Her good friend Lori came from Sulphur, and Sue once put up her little brother for year, and other connections etc.... Anyhoo... It turns out that one of Lori's stories was about an owl that her mother hit with the car. She called Lori hysterically and asked her what to do. Lori suggested the local park service. It could just be that one of those owls was hit by the mother of the good friend of a Capitol Hill resident! Talk about coincidences! The world is a very small place. Sarah"

How wild is this? The world is indeed small. This very well could be how the Travertine Nature Center came to attain Prince, one of our Barred Owls.

I do not usually share this publicly, but I do love me some Cops. Our law enforcement friends yes, but I was speaking of the TV show Cops here. I love the drama, the action, the interviews, everything...So, yes, on our TiVo at home we have Cops scheduled as a daily record.

What does this have to do with my Park Ranger-hood???

Well, Lauren is the bomb and hooked me up with a ride along with one of the Park Ranger law enforcers. And not just any law enforcer, the Supervisor! I spent almost five hours in a ride along with Ranger Randy Scoggins. And it was AWESOME!

Randy has been a law enforcement ranger at several parks and enjoys his time at Chickasaw. He drove us around through the campgrounds sharing what he's looking for and explaining why he does what he does.

The five hours were jam-packed but let me give you a few highlights:

1. ON THE WATER!!!! Yes, you're reading that right! I got to do a ride along on an NPS boat on the lake!!! Wooohoooo!!! It was super! We drove around the lake, showing that we were out there and waving--we were a presence. We asked one boat to show their life jackets, reminded another that life jackets had to be worn for anyone being pulled by a boat (as in on a tube), and were stopped by two moms who were looking for their sons who had been missing for an hour and a half on their jet skis on the lake. [Don't worry--they were fine, we spotted them later playing around on their jet skis. But their moms asked us to relay the message that they "were hot!" as in mad.]

Being in the boat was very fun. I haven't had a lot of time on the water and it was very fun in the speed boat, donning the uniform, boating from one end of the lake to the other while doing compliance checks. At one point we were called for a tow, but by the time we got there the boat was working again, so no tow necessary.

After almost two hours out on the lake Randy pulled the boat into the boathouse and then put it up on the lift. How cool is that?

2. Listening to all of the calls over the radio....The rangers not only hear park chatter but also calls in the county. We went to two calls. The first was to check in on a car that had been pulled over and then, when the license was run, it came back as suspended. That individual was probably going to jail until they bonded out. (Randy said that finding drivers with suspended licenses is fairly common.) The second was over a campsite dispute. Several rangers throughout the day spoke to Rose about her family's tent site and that the tent needed to stay on the gravel and not into the woods or other lots. By the time we got there they were in the process of moving so any further police action was averted. Randy quietly spoke to a family member on the side then we were on our way again.

3. Touring the park. Both Lauren and Ron took me out into the park prior to my ride along and I'm very grateful for them doing so. On Saturday, however, I went to the final arm of the park that I hadn't previously visited: Guy Sandy. This is where a lot of the locals put their boats into the water. There is also a camp site there but it isn't very popular right now because there was a prescribed burn in that area last year (to get rid of the Red Cedars) and the land has not fully grown back yet. There are also fishing areas back in that part of the park and we stopped by one spot and Randy politely asked to see their fishing licenses to make sure they were in compliance. They were, and we moved on. Randy showed me the hunting areas, told me what he looks for when he's roving that area during the hunting seasons (guns, particularly loaded ones, cannot be loaded and riding in the front seat with the driver for instance). We also went up to the dam area. This is closed to the public now because of federal regulations, but the view from the top onto the lake was magnificent. I wish I had my camera with me. In my excitement to go on the ride along I left both my camera and my iPhone back in the office.

I really appreciate the opportunity to do the ride along and my time spent with Randy. I learned a lot from him about the park, his job, and law enforcement. What an awesome opportunity!!!

And my day didn't end there....

At about 6:15 Lauren called Randy to see what we were up to. It was my dinner break time so Lauren picked me up at the Ranger Station and after thanking Randy, Lauren and I were on our way to Subway for dinner. Then back to the Travertine Nature Center to get ready for ....


I should mention here that I worked L schedule yesterday. That means that I came on at 1:30 pm and finished at 10:30 pm with my dinner break between 6 pm and 7 pm. So, dinner break was my half way point.

Lauren's evening program was about Bison. Evening programs are held in the outdoor amphitheaters---there are two in the park. We were in the amphitheater at the Point. We gathered up the trunk of buffalo parts, grabbed an extra table, our water, our hats, and my camera and we were off!

Once we got there we carried the trunk to the amphitheater and then roved the campsites encouraging people to come to our program. Lauren introduced me to the camp host for the area. The camp hosts help the campers with any needs they have: directions, the fee collection stations, questions they have, etc. They live in the park and receive a free campsite in exchange for their service.

By 9:00, the start of our program, we had 13 attendees. Lauren did a great program, first introducing the park, then talking about the significance of the buffalo to the Native people and the park, and then asking the participants what particular parts of the buffalo were used for. In her trunk she has a bladder (used as a water bottle), a tendon (for sewing), the tail (acting as a fly swatter), a buffalo robe, a buffalo skull, a hoof (used as a cup), a horn (used as a carrier or a cup), and a rib (as a tool). By the end of the evening we had 16 total attendees and a successful program!

We had to be careful packing up, the area is known to have brown recluses and scorpions (see my previous post that featured the picture of the dead scorpion). Well, we saw a live scorpion several times, but we made it safely back to the car.

The moon was out and beautiful and the stars were magical. I don't think you realize that you don't see stars until you look up under a dark, rural sky and see the stars was beautiful.

That was the end to my awesome day. I love being a Teacher-Ranger-Teacher.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Kim Yoo-jin, professionally known in English as Eugene, is a South Korean singer and actress, known mostly for her musical career as part of the hit K-pop group S.E.S.. By way of an audition tape, Eugene was able to be part of a music group for SM Entertainment in South Korea, even though she was still in Guam. Debuting in 1997, S.E.S. became one of the biggest Korean groups of all time, having the record for biggest selling album by a female group in Korea. While in S.E.S., Eugene became known for her beauty and was part of the reason why S.E.S. had many advertising contracts. In fact, for certain print campaigns (like for Korean cosmetics company Etude), Eugene had the leading role, being the focus of the advertisements. After the split of S.E.S. in 2002, Kim has appeared in four Korean dramas: Loving You, Save The Last Dance, Wonderful Life, and I Really, Really Like You. She has also appeared in commercials and advertisements, most notably for Korean cosmetics company Cathy Cat. In addition, she has released two solo albums. My True Style, her first album, has sold nearly 65,000 records and had one hit ballad, “The Best”. Her second album 810303 sold a disappointing 19,000 copies. Although sales were low, Eugene still had a very successful single with “Windy”, mostly due to her new “sexy” image (compared to her previous girl next door image). This song was performed on all the music video programs in Korea for many months, in addition to her second single. Promotions were stopped near the end of the year. Eugene did some promotional work for Philippine tourism in mid-2006, having appointed spokesmodel of Philippine tourism for Korea in that year. In 2007, she was one of the co-hosts of KBS’s Happy Together: Friends, taking over from Lee Hyori, until the show was overhauled for a third season. Also, she has become part of the musical version of the film Innocent Steps. She also debuted as a film actress in Unstoppable Marriage (released on May 10, 2007). In March 2008, it was announced that she would take the lead role in the drama Three Daddies and One Mommy, to be aired starting in April.

Stage name: Eugene
Real name: 김유진 / Kim Yoo Jin (Gim Yu Jin) 金柳真
Nickname: Panda
Profession: Singer and actress
Date of birth: 1981-Mar-03
Place of birth: Seoul, South Korea
Height: 160cm
Weight: 47kg
Horoscope: Pisces
Blood type: A
Religion: Christian

Uhm Jung-hwa is a South Korean female Korean pop artist and actress. Uhm is known for her roles in the films Marriage Is a Crazy Thing (which earned her a Best Actress Award at the Baeksang Arts Awards), All for Love and Princess Aurora. Actor Uhm Tae-woong is her younger brother. As a singer she is recognized as a 90s k-pop icon, and is one of the few Korean entertainers often referred to as a gay icon.[citation needed] Known as the "sexy queen" or as the "queen of charisma", Jung-hwa is signed with Trifecta Entertainment. In 2006, she courted controversy by wearing revealing outfits for her performances in support of her Prestige album, causing Netizens to heavily criticize her. On July 1, 2008, Uhm Jung Hwa released an EP titled D.I.S.C.O. It was entirely produced and marketed by YG Entertainment despite the fact that she is signed under a different management company. Uhm made her comeback on MBC's 쇼! 음학중심 (Show, Music Core) on July 5, 2008. She also held a pool party concert on July 13, 2008, performing live in front of 2,000 fans at the Walker Hill Hotel in Seoul. Apart from singing and acting, Uhm Jung-hwa launched a lingerie line, Zuhm in New York, which raked in over 10 million USD within months of its release.

Name:Uhm Jung Hwa (Eom Jeong Hwa)
Profession: Actress and singer
Born: 1971-Aug-17
Height: 164cm
Weight: 47kg
Star sign: Leo
Blood type: A
Family: Younger brother/actor Uhm Tae Woong
Talent agency: Sim Entertaiment

Son Dam Bi was Born September 25, 1983. Son Dam Bi is a South Korean singer who debuted in 2007. She has been the It Girl among many Korean netizens for several months after somebody accidentally uploaded her dance video online. Then, after her Samsung CF aired on TV, she officially become the “the female Rain". She made her first debut on June 29th on Channel V A-Live. Since then she has performed in concerts and music shows.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Yesterday we had our training within our division: Interpretation. Ron had Ryan come in and teach us about fee collections: for the campsites, the boats, passes, etc. since we will most likely get a ton of questions about this, especially when working the Visitor Center desk. It was a lot of information to take in! As I said in a previous post, it is really interesting to be on the other side of the desk and to have this experience!

In the afternoon we took a four hour drive with Ron to see different parts of the park. We stopped at Bromide Pavilion, drove through Rock Creek Campground, out to the Point, and then to Buckhorn. The park has more than 10,000 acres of land and the last two stops mentioned are on the lake at different points which requires driving back through the historic part of the park (the springs) to get to the different parts of the lake (since we weren't going on the water).

I should mention that in between stops Ron pulled into a Sonic. I hadn't been to a Sonic before and that it was so nice of Ron to treat us to sodas. I only ordered a Diet Coke but evidently missed the boat because in talking with my brother last night he eagerly asked what combination of drink I got and I think was sad to hear that I didn't take advantage of something better. I told him we would explore and I will update the blog more on that later.

While out at the Point's Outdoor Amphitheater, Ron showed us how to work the equipment, turn on lights, etc. He went to the box in the back and said, "Oh a scorpion!" I tried to get there quickly to take a photo but it was dead before I could get there.

Ron said we have to be very careful at that part of the park (and the amphitheater in particular) because there are a lot of scorpions and brown recluses. The scorpion was a lot smaller than I expected but it was neat to see one that had been alive just moments before I got to it.

Training has been a lot of fun---to learn about the Park Service behind the scenes and to learn about the operations of this agency.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Good night.
Here is the sun setting in Oklahoma from within the park between
Bromide Hill and Rock Creek Campground.

My blog has been a little devoid of photos so I hope this helps to give a visual of where I am, what I'm doing, and what Chickasaw NRA looks like. It's very beautiful and incredibly diverse.

I have been in what is called Flower Park two nights in a row and have seen these guys. I actually came back the second night in search of them. Aren't they beautiful? I don't know what kind of bird they are yet, but when I find out I will let you know.

This is Vendome. It is a sulphur spring. You can see the spout where people fill up their water bottles (yes, even today) with the spring water. While the water has a heavy sulphur smell, if you put the collected water in the fridge, the smell dissipates and tastes like "regular" water. In the early 1900s there used to be 13 trains a day that came to Sulphur, bringing people to these springs for the mineral waters.

More of Flower Park. Mark, Soba and I had our picnic dinners near here.

This is Black Sulphur Spring. The park used to have more than 30 springs, but now all but six have dried up or closed. Posted near the spring pavilions are postings of the mineral contents at each spring. The springs have different mineral contents and were used for different medicinal purposes. Stopping at one pavilion today we learned that sometimes the mud from these springs would be used to help rheumatoid arthritis or other skin and joint ailments.

A melodious cardinal.

This is Lincoln Bridge. It was dedicated in 1909 for the centennial of Lincoln's birth. For the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth, Lauren did an awesome school program with local elementary students. Students memorized the Gettysburg Address and recited it on the bridge.

Trail Run

I got up this morning for my run and followed the Buffalo Trail. It was beautiful, serene, and shaded....I was running along listening to my ipod (I know, but I like the company) when on the trail I see a little turtle on the path just looking at me. I stopped and we looked at each other and then as I approached he retreated to his shell. I went on my way, but thought again about how cool it is to have these encounters. I came to a fork on the trail and wasn't really sure which way to take. Mark knows I cannot resist a corner/curve because I always want to see what's around the corner or over the hill. Well, this happened to with a steep incline. I ended up walking up the last bit, but when I got to the top was treated to a magnificent view of the park and Sulphur below me. Green treetops everywhere! It was well worth the climb. I was also greeted by a sign that had distances to other parts in the park...I decided to retreat and follow the other path which took me back to where I started. A slower, but great was fun to run and explore! :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Today was another terrific day...of course. I had Seasonal Training. This is a day of training for all new employees who are just working for the [summer] season. We were introduced to each other, introduced to the chiefs of the various departments in our park (I'm working for the Chief of Interpretation, Mr. Ron Parker) and we learned what each department does. We met the park Superintendent for Chickasaw NRA, Mr. Bruce Noble and heard a little history lesson about the park from him. It was a great presentation and I took copious notes. And then.......


I was/am super excited. Our snippet was a little over an hour long, but definitely leaves me wanting to see more.

Our training went until just after 4 pm today and then we cleaned up.

I spent my lunch time talking to Eric, who is a ranger. Eric and I had the pleasure of meeting this spring when he came to DC for a meeting and I was very excited to see him again, this time west of the Mississippi. Eric is a huge history enthusiast and a walking historical fountain. He's worked at Fort Smith, so we've had some conversations about Belle Starr (and he even sent one of my students who did Belle for her National History Day project this year a packet of information about her!!!). We've also had conversations about Big Bend and Washita. You can't help but learn tons just by having a conversation with him. I'm looking forward to learning tons from him this summer.

I came home, changed, and ran to Sooners, my local grocery store for more yogurt (of course). Made dinner, made dessert, and found myself with a ton of time!!!! I went for a terrific bike ride this evening--the same loop I did yesterday around Veteran's Lake. It was beautiful and a great time in the evening to ride. It's amazing what you can hear. I heard the locust, birds, the trees can just about hear yourself think. When I was little I used to love to ride my bike in what was called "The Woods" near my house. It was an asphalt paved path in a wooded area, probably about 1/3 of a mile around. I would just ride around and around and around. I think that's where I first fell in love with my bike and biking by myself. Riding tonight, I was reminded of that tranquility and the fun of just being out on a bike in a pretty and safe setting.

Morning Run

Well, running in the morning is DEFINITELY the way to go! It has to be about 20 degrees cooler, and that is NOT an exaggeration! I am training for the New York City Marathon on November 1 and I'm using Focus-N-Fly, an online training program. I love it because, much like when I trained with Team in Training, they tell you how much you should do each day, intensity, etc.

Anyway, this morning I was scheduled to only do two miles, which I did not mind at all because I'm still getting used to the heat. Two days ago I did 3.5 miles at 8:00 pm and the temperature was 93 degrees and the heat index 101. I seriously thought I had melted. This morning was great because it was soooooo much cooler. I would say it's in the low 80s with humidity, but just felt better. I also picked a less traveled path. One mile into my run a deer and I spotted each other. We were on opposite sides of the road. I stopped and slowly continued forward, she stopped grazing and watched me and we did a slow walk-by with each other and continued on our way. About 200 feet later there was another deer and we had a similar encounter.

It is a gorgeous morning here in Sulphur and I thoroughly love having the time to get up and go for a run in the morning before work. The smells are great, the trees are awesome, and it is truly wonderful to live 1/4 mile from the park entrance and have the opportunity to use the park as my running grounds.

Monday, June 22, 2009

My First Day first day. I could not have asked for a better or more amazing one! I've compiled a list of why my day was so is in chronological order not in excitement order, primarily because I'm not sure I could rank my day.

I don't think I need to say anymore. I got to put on my uniform and was so excited to see it all together---ON ME! And the hat was the icing on the cake! :)

2. The Donut Palace
On our way into town yesterday we spotted the Donut Palace on the corner, across from the park entrance. We both were intrigued by it, but my main thought, was "Coffee!!!" I mean, afterall, where there are donuts, there is coffee! So, Mark and I stopped on the way in to "the office" and picked up a dozen donuts and two large coffees. The Donut Palace did not disappoint. Delicious! I, of course, had the Lauren said, "think Crispy Creme and you'll love these!"

3. My picture with the brown sign IN MY UNIFORM!
Well, you can see this on the header of my blog. Mark took the picture and Jon, my brother, formatted it so that it could be my blog header (thanks Mark and Jon!). This was major excitement! Not only a brown sign photo, but my first day as a Park Ranger IN MY UNIFORM! Eeeekkkss!

4. Getting a tour of the Travertine Nature Center--
before it opened to the public!

So, my shift started at 8 am as did Lauren's. We were the only two scheduled to be there at 8 am and she promptly began to show me around (after we each had a donut of course!). It was cool to be "behind the scenes"!

5. Lauren attaching my hat belt properly.
I truly appreciated her help! This is the fancy little strap that goes around the NPS hat and keeps tight on your head---who knew? And it's much trickier to do than it looks! I appreciated the expertise help from Lauren and helping to make it a completed and official hat!

6. Lunch with Mark, Lauren and Chris
Mark and I didn't really have time to go grocery shopping before the job started so we planned on doing lunch together out. Lauren and Chris joined us and all four of us (five if you count Soba) had a Subway lunch we took to and ate at the Downtown Chamber of Commerce.

7. Working the Visitor Center Desk
When lunch finished, Lauren and I were assigned to the Visitor Center Desk to relieve Lynn and Stefan as they went to lunch. I felt so official being on the other side of the desk!!!! While I wasn't able to answer very many specific questions, I did become better acquainted with our two Barred Owls that are caged next to the Visitor Center Desk (see #8). I was also assigned to try and monitor the number of guests that came in hourly. I think we had 80 the first hour and 104 the second hour we worked the desk. Wow! It was amazing to see what it's like on the other side.

8. The Barred Owls and the owl pellet
As mentioned, there are two Barred Owls that sit next to the Visitor Desk. Both owls were hit by cars (separate incidents and unrelated) and cannot fly. They are both blind in one eye as well. They could not survive in the wild. They are very cool to have next to the Visitor Desk--a lot of people don't realize that they're real, which makes sense because there are a number of stuffed animals throughout the visitor center, including Crooked Horn the stuffed Buffalo (who died of natural causes). There are a lot of questions about them. AND....very cool....was that one of them deposited an owl pellet and it landed on a narrow strip of wood right next to the counter (but in the cage). I've never seen one before. My brother said he got to dissect one in high school. I just learned what an owl pellet was about two years ago (if that) and had never seen one before. I was most excited (and relieved that it didn't look like the mouse it used to be) to finally see a real one!

9. The Horny Toad episode
So, as I am at the Visitor Center desk, two separate families come up and examine a small terrarium that is sitting on the desk (near the owl cage). Again, separately and about 10 minutes apart, each family comes up and says, "Oh! A Horny Toad! I used to play with those things all the time growing up--you don't see much of them around anymore. Aren't they on the endangered species list?" Now, I've never seen a Horny Toad and do not know anything about them. However, when the second parent mentioned that he thought they were on the endangered list, I brought this to Lauren's attention. She promptly walked over to our bookstore and started looking in a book. Sure enough, she finds the Horny Toad. It isn't on the Endangered Species list, but is on the Oklahoma Special Interest list....they are becoming harder and harder to find. So, long story short, we should not have it in a terrarium, on display.


So, what to do? After Lauren discussed with Lynn, Stefan and the park's game warden, it was decided that we should release it in the park in habitat that would be best for it (see #10). They need a steady stream of ants (adults eat 70-80 a day), heat, and sun. Our research taught us that they rarely survive in captivity.

How did we get him in the first place? The day before a man brought him in in a tin can. He was camping at our park and said he was mowing the lawn (in Oklahoma City) the day before and found him. He didn't know what to do with him, was coming to the park on vacation, and so he brought the lizard to the visitor center. Evidently, this is a regular problem for the park. The ranger at the desk yesterday got the lizard set up with a terrarium and some meal worms and thus, how we found him on my first day.

His name came to be Spikey via an 8-ish year old boy who took a special liking to him. He wanted to know the Horny Toad's name and when I said I wasn't sure he had one, he suggested the name Spikey.

10. Releasing Spikey
As I said, the Horny Toad had to go. So, Lauren and I hopped in the car and drove to a park that looked like it had enough diversity in environment that surely our little friend could survive. And if not...well, then he would at least be contributing to the food chain. We walked up an incline, turned the terrarium over and with our goodbyes, he scurried away.

11. A tour of the park
After releasing Spikey, Lauren took me on a tour of the park. It was great to see how big it was, the different parts of it, and hear a little about the park.

12. The reunion and goodbye of my boots
1995 didn't seem that long ago. But as my brother reminded me today, it was the halfway point of his life so far. That made it seem longer ago. Well, I got these boots in December 1995, right before I went to Belize for three months. I loved them. I remember going to REI or EMS, getting fitted for them, getting my big green backpack and getting ready for my first solo international adventure. Well, yesterday I said goodbye to them. I dug them out and brought them with me because I need a pair while my boots are on back order. I thought, "how perfect! I'll use my Asolos!" Well, they were perfect, until about mid morning. Then, I thought I just tripped over my own two feet (not that uncommon for me) but then realized that a little bit of the sole came loose on my right boot. By lunch half of my right boot sole was missing. By mid afternoon my right foot's sole was removed from the boot and my left foot was well onto it's way of being removed as well. You can see from the picture that they were pretty useless without the soles. And the cost to resole them was at least the cost of a new pair of boots. So, good by Asolos, hello to my new Merrell's.

13. Dinner of Mazzio's with Mark and Soba in the park
Mazzio's is a fast-food Italian eatery. I compare it to Fazoli's back east. But what I like is that they have a fresh salad bar that ISN'T by the pound---I could load up on hard boiled eggs and it didn't cost me anything extra! Cool! Mark and I were dining there for dinner the second night in a row and decided only on salads and mozzarella sticks (what a meal, eh!?). We took our order to go and went to the park and ate, enjoying the trees and the sounds of the park. Soba loved exploring while we ate.

14. Birthday cake ice cream--a cousin of Blue Moon????
So, there is this all-in-one place called Braum's. It has ice cream (much more than DQ or an ice cream shop), it's a drive thru (love that--keeps the ice cream from melting!), and also sells dairy products and fresh produce. Kinda cool. So, Mark and I decided to go in and check it out and get some of the cool creamy yumminess! And what do I see?????? A blue ice cream!!! Could it be???? I ask for a sample....and it is very close....very, very my MOST FAVORITE ICE CREAM EVER: BLUE MOON! If you are not from Michigan then this might not mean much. But Blue Moon is the ever-elusive ice cream from my youth. During the prohibition years Stroh's (as in the beer) went into the ice cream making business. Growing up in southeastern Michigan there used to be two Stroh's stores. And I would get Blue Moon almost every time, particularly in my high school years in the downtown Wyandotte store. But haven't found it outside of Michigan. This was VERY close....I would say a first cousin of it. The biggest difference was that it had cake bits in it--thus it's name: Birthday Cake. Take the cake out though and you would have a Blue Moon look alike....very exciting!

15. Saying goodnight to Mark and Soba next to me
I know it will be a while before all three of us are together again...7 weeks suddenly feels long in this respect. "The pack" enjoyed each other's company and fell asleep soundly.