Glad you're here!

Welcome to my personal blog. Squirrel(!) is such an appropriate title for this spot on the Internet. This began as a way to share the journal from my walk across England with hubby Jan. That trip is archived here for you to enjoy (June of 2012), but now when you visit you'll read my crazy musings on everything from horses, to cars, to grammar, to books, baseball, or weasels. Don't get whiplash trying to figure out a theme; just watch out for the squirrels!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Mega Mall and Waterfall--Walk Training Underway

So serious about training.
With exactly six weeks until we leave for Scotland on August 6th, I've determined that it's time to ramp up my walk training in earnest. Jan and I are avid hikers all the time, but our park hikes and neighborhood walks generally run from 3-6 miles, squeezed into weekends when the weather is good and we have no other obligations.

Our planned 95-mile hike through the Highlands will take eight days and consist of three 14-mile days, two 12 mile days, two 10s, and one nine miler.
So--in the next six weeks we'll be taking some longer treks around home just to test boots and get used to uneven terrain and hills.

Tough terrain right in our own backyard.
To that end we started out this past weekend at Minnesota's premier, super difficult hiking Mecca:  The Mall of America.

Yes, cue the laughing emoticon, but the weather didn't cooperate with our desire to walk. When a thunderstorm came rolling through at the time we wanted to leave, we gave up on our outdoor choice and headed for Nickelodeon Universe--the indoor amusement park at MOA. While there are no rocks, hills, roots or lochs at the world's second-largest indoor shopping mall, there is fantastic people watching, literally miles of floor to walk, and lots of really good bad food. We were so proud of ourselves for limiting junk intake to one Tim Horton doughnut each!

My faithful & loved Lowa boots.
I made the indoor trek about testing some new arch support inserts in my old faithful hiking boots. We walked approximately three miles, did stairs at every opportunity (even the escalators), and in the end my biggest takeaway was that I might not need to buy new boots. The next few hikes will tell, but I know the decision has to happen very soon so I'll have more than a month to break in new footwear.

Nickelodeon Universe--it's a jungle.
One corner of MOA always smells like this. Le sigh...
A random Cat Hat (for Miss E?)

After the MOA journey on Saturday, we took a 90-minute drive on Sunday to one of our favorite Minnesota state parks: Minneopa. It's special for a couple of reasons: it's one of the last places we took our beloved Magic The Wonder Border Collie for a long walk before we lost her to old age a couple of years ago;  it's also got a really cool waterfall that was the inspiration for the falls in my first book series' little town Kennison Falls.

Minneopa/Kennison Falls

The weather was much nicer for this walk and we clocked around seven miles. Instead of
Testing the ankles on root steps
smooth flooring and Tim Horton, we had rocks, roots, craggy paths, and 100-calorie almond packs. And instead of people-watching we got Minneopa's wild, no-cattle DNA bison herd and wild flowers. At half the distance of our longest days to come in Scotland--it was good
to get out on some truly uneven ground and start getting the ankles in shape.

More about long, weird training walks to come along with the saga of my right leg--which has this new tendency to fall asleep unexpectedly while I'm walking. I'll let you know...

Jan and his resting rock.


Friday, June 16, 2017

A New Adventure

The West Highland Way--from Milngavie to Fort William.
It's been a while (a long while) since I've been active here on my blog, but it's time to crack open the Squirrel's Diary and take you on a brand new adventure we're about to write. Just shy of two months from now, Jan and I are flying off for Scotland and yet another long walk. We're hiking the West Highland Way--nearly 100 miles of gorgeous Scottish country along the "bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond" and through the fabled Highlands.

To say we're excited is understatement. In addition to our hike we'll have several days in Edinburgh, a couple in Glasgow, and two in Inverness. We know there will be too little time to see all the sights, but we hope to hit the highlights and perhaps absorb some culture along with some famous Scotch Whisky!

We leave on August 6th, so between then and now I'll track our "training" progress as we prepare for 8 days of walking. Stay tuned for the weird ways we get ready and some fun facts about Scotland as we learn them ourselves.

Check out our old travelogue from our 16-day hike across northern England five years ago. It's the memories of that truly spiritual trek that have spurred us to make another trip to the U.K. Come on along!!

Stunning Loch Lomond--the largest loch (by surface area) in Scotland.