About Mary Hiland

Need a keynote speaker? Want a workshop that will wow your conference attendees? Been looking for just the right person to present a sensational sensitivity session? Mary Hiland is an “Advanced Communicator” in toastmasters International, a member of World Champion’s Edge, and is an experienced public speaker.

Battelle Darby, 14 of 19 Metro Parks

The attraction of this park for me was that many of the trails were not paved but grass only. We were able to walk for 3 miles without any stress or pain in my back or leg. In addition, despite the sign that warned “No Pets,” I took Dora’s harness off and let her lead the way. There was absolutely no one else around, and she had the time of her life. Sometimes, it seemed as though she didn’t quite understand why she wasn’t dragging me around, but once she got the idea, her tail almost wagged itself off. I should have titled this post “Waggin’ Trail.”

Little yellow flowers all over the place and tall grasses on one side of the trail and shorter varieties on the other interested Dan, along with the huge butterflies that were constantly fluttering up as we tromped by, apparently disturbing their naps.

We had no maps, but Dan could see how one trail would loop into another and how one seemed to have a serpentine design through the field. After Dan’s fitness device announced that we had walked 3 miles, we thought we should try to figure out where the heck we were, and more importantly, where the car was. That was the most adventurous part of this hike, as tall grasses, butterflies, and an almost silent ambiance were the only features. If you want a get-away park to walk in, this is the one. All 3 of us enjoyed it without the attractions of some of the other parks we’ve visited, such as overlooks, climbing walls, beautiful lakes, and challenging hills. You can tell how relaxed Dora and I are in this photo.

Here’s what the internet says about this park.

Battelle Darby Creek features more than 7000 acres of forest prairies and wetlands. It stretches along 13 miles of the Big and Little Darby Creeks, both state and national scenic rivers. Besides the areas surrounding the creeks, there are also over 1600 acres of restored wetlands and prairies. Bison have been re-introduced to the park and roam freely within two and closed pastures.

14 Trails are listed

miles – moderate – hike – grass Three connected trails through prairies and wetlands.

We did the Harrier Loop, Rail Way & Teal

Trails, which were very easy and were possibly the wetlands, given that there was a boardwalk over one section.

This is one I’d like to go back to and try another of the many trails. 5 more parks to go.

Mary Hiland

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir

And

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available at www.dldbooks.com/maryhiland

www.seeingitmyway.com

3 Parks in 1 day

Three Parks in One Day

So far, Dan, Dora, and I have walked/hiked in 10 of the 19 Metro Parks in the Columbus area. Although we did not attempt to walk every foot of every trail, we did manage an average of 3.5 miles per park. I was satisfied with the distances, given that lately, I’ve been experiencing a return of a grumpy Sacroiliac. So as we traveled northwest of Columbus toward our next adventure, Homestead Park near Hilliard, I wondered if my leg would behave. I hoped I wouldn’t be the party-pooper and have to leave before Dan and Dora had had a good walk.

Lucky for me, we hit 2 in 1. Homestead Park is where Heritage Trail begins or ends, depending on where you start. We walked a very short distance on a paved path at Homestead. Paved paths are the most painful for me, so I was delighted to have the diversion of exploring a train car, as pictured here. Sad that we don’t have train service in Columbus, but I remember riding them as a kid. The train car was preserved to be displayed there to add to the “rails to trails” concept of Heritage Park. A paved path that ran for miles is popular with cyclists and walkers who are out for a good flat surface to run, jog, walk, or cycle. But there isn’t much to entertain you along the way, or so I assume. The closest we got to experiencing that was to walk into the covered bridge, pictured here. We chatted with a very pleasant ranger who was happy to inform us about the two parks. He told us that the big structure that looks like a bubble is the Bo Jackson Sports Facility. One of the benefits of making the rounds of our Metro Parks is that we feel like tourists, discovering the little known fun facts about the area.

Because I wasn’t able to walk on that long paved path without pain, we moved on to Prairie Oaks, on the recommendation of our friendly ranger. The paths there were mostly grass, dirt, and gravel, exactly what I needed.

The feature of this park is the Hopewell Indian Mound, pictured here, although the size and integrity of the Mound has been diminished by flooding, farming, and archaeological digging over the past 2,000 years, according to the plaque. Earlier in our walk, we thought we had found the mound, but it turned out to be a tiny island in the pond. Funny place for a mound, but what did we know? As we passed by that lake, or maybe it was a different lake, we saw a lone fisherman in a boat, catching and releasing. He must have been there just for the peace and quiet. Dan took a picture of a particularly pretty lake scene, with reflections of the trees in the water, which was the deepest of blues, a rare sight these days in Ohio.

Once again, we found a stretch of grassy path, where Dora could trot ahead of us, swinging her tail like crazy without the restraint of a harness. But after she took care of her business in the weeds, she came back and seemed to be eager to get back into her working uniform. It is such a joy to see her have such a glorious time in the country.

On our way back to the parking lot, we let her “have her head” as she was positive she knew where the car was. She did take us to a parking lot, but it turned out not to be the right one. Since I was spent by that time, Dan jogged down the road to where he had parked the car and came back for us. After 4.5 miles, we were all ready to head down the road for burgers and shakes. Dora and I are indeed the luckiest dog guide team to have Dan for a friend.

Mary Hiland

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir

And

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available at www.dldbooks.com/maryhiland

www.seeingitmyway.com

Walnut Woods 10 of 19

As we drove east of Groveport, I began to feel that we were out in the country, especially when the GPS took us off the main highway. The road zigged and zagged through corn and soy bean fields. It reminded me of bike rides where the scenery was described to me as “corn fields on the right and soy beans on the left.” But just as I was beginning to wonder if we were being led to the end of the world, a parking lot appeared. Dora sat up and looked around with great anticipation. She knew this was going to be the highlight of her week. Mine too. Once a week, my friend Dan takes us to a Metro Park to break up our boredom with staying home the rest of the week and to continue our quest to do all 19 Metro Parks around Columbus. Here’s how Dan describes the park.

“Walnut woods consists of three sections, The Buckeye Area to the east, the largest and center section of predominantly wetlands and meadows and the Tall Pines Area to the west. Our hike began in the Buckeye Section following the Buckeye Trail and then The Monarch Trail which runs along Walnut Creek near the north and then parallels the west boundary of the center section. The Sweetgum Trail then leads into the Tall Pines Area. On the return trip we chose to follow the Kestrel Trail which takes a more southern route through the center section back to the Buckeye Area parking lot. On this grass and dirt path Dora had the wonderful experience of doggie freedom. The harness and leash came off and we were like three kids out on a summer’s day!”

Most of the path we walked was paved, which made for a smoother and therefore faster pace, but not by much. My sacroiliac was really bothering my left leg, but I pushed through the pain, because of the peacefulness of this park. Going on a weekday is always a smart thing to do, but in this particular park on this particular day, we ran into very little traffic. We started on what is known as The Buckeye trail, but it’s not the one that goes all around the perimeter of Ohio. It took us beside the Walnut Creek, and I wondered if it was the same as The Big Walnut that runs through the town where I live.

The Monarch trail was aptly name as a beautiful Monarch butterfly chose my arm to take a ride on. I know that is supposed to be a very cool experience, but butterflies don’t belong on my arm. Neither did the cricket that decided to take a ride on my behind. Dan thought it was amusing, but I demanded that he “Get it off of me!”

One of the attractions we hadn’t expected was observing the rows and rows of carefully planted and consistently spaced trees. It was marked as a nursery.

But my favorite trail was the one that went through the meadow by a pond. Because there was absolutely nobody around, I took Dora’s harness off and let her trot along with us and not be tethered to me. At first, she didn’t know what to do with her freedom, but when I urged her to go run ahead, she caught on and had a blast, never getting more than a few yards away and always looping back to make sure it was OK. On her last trip back, she decided to walk right between Dan and me, like a little family. I too was enjoying that trail, because it was easier on my leg. This was another 4.3-mile walk. In the photo of Dora sitting on my feet with her harness off, you can tell by her big grin how much fun she was having. Have you ever seen a happier dog?

Mary Hiland

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir

And

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available at www.dldbooks.com/maryhiland

www.seeingitmyway.com

Chestnut Ridge, 9 of 19

What do ballerinas and hikers have in common? Give up? They both put wool in the toe of their shoes. It’s obvious why dancers who use point shoes need a little cushion between their big toes and the hard material of the shoe that supports their weight. If you’ve never tried them, believe me, that little piece of wool is the reason ballerinas can dance on their toes. But what about hikers? As you trudge downhill, your feet are thrust forward into the toe of your shoe or boot, so a cushion of wool makes the descent much more comfortable.

I was reminded of this connection as Dan and Dora and I were about halfway down a very long and steep hill. And Dora was so excited about running downhill, that I had to hold her back to prevent my landing on my nose. It was almost as challenging as plodding up the many hills that led to the ridge. I should have known that when the name of the park has Ridge in it, it’s going to mean climbing. Thank Goodness for Dora’s drive, because I’m not sure I would have made it up those hills without her pull. She’s a little tank.

The reward at the top was well worth the effort. In one picture Dan took, we were standing on a boardwalk where the hillside went steeply up on one side and terrifyingly down on the other side. Dan discovered an inch worm measuring a railing on the board walk, so he had to take a picture of it. And of course, I had to sing him one of my favorite songs from the musical, Hans Christian Anderson, called Inchworm. It’s about an inchworm that is so busy measuring the Marigold that he doesn’t notice “how beautiful they are.” Who knows how this lonely little inchworm got out on the middle of a boardwalk. Maybe it got a ride on somebody’s shoe. Anyway, after looking it up on the internet, Dan saw that it was just a caterpillar. It was still cute.

Dan took a photo of a sign that describes the ambiance of this beautiful park this way.

“The ridge might even be said to have a soul, at least a place that is always beautiful, from which beauty radiates. There is a little grove of sugar maples on the upper west slope just below the spring wildflower covered mound. The maples are young, no more than 60 years old, but some thing about the place makes them seem venerable . . . A quiet emerald light plays on the slope in summer, and in autumn the crisp sunbeams that stream through the golden canopy make the Grove sparkle like cloisonne. In winter the trees stand as gracefully against the snow as in those leafless woods through which knights hunt wild boar in medieval book of hours . . . Other tree species will move in as the maples grow older . . . The trees will die, the slope will be leveled by erosion, and the ridge will start all over again as a sandbank on some distant shore.” Wish I had written that, but I’m glad David Rains Wallace did. He lived and worked on the property for 2 years. .

After a brief rest at the bottom of that steep hill I mentioned, we agreed to go around a second time. At the top, Dora took me right out to the overlook, because she thought I wanted to go there again. That’s how dogs think. I’m glad we did, because Dan’s photo showed the tree tops on the hill below—proof of how hard we worked that day.

Mary Hiland

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir

And

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available at www.dldbooks.com/maryhiland

www.seeingitmyway.com

Highbanks, 8th of 19 Metro Parks

I have fond memories of hiking and skiing at Highbanks back in the day, that is, when I was in my 50’s and at the peek of my physical fitness. This week, I had vague glimpses of those happy times as I tried to relive those feelings with Dora and my friend Dan, but my happiness came not as a result of my elusive strength or endurance but because of my friendship with a man who was willing to trudge along with me on our quest to hike in all 19 Metro Parks in the area. Dora wasn’t on the same mission. She was just thrilled to not have to walk around the same old neighborhood sidewalks. Here were gravel paths, big and mighty trees, a few ruts to guide me around with precision, and now and then a dog or a little kid, but thankfully no bikes.

Almost the moment we climbed out of the car and adjusted our sun glasses and fanny packs, we started uphill on the Overlook Trail. The terrain underfoot waved up and down, as if the glacier that formed this park moved in fits and starts. We’d get to the top of a rise, only to start down the other side, but not for long. It was the most interesting and challenging walk so far. Funny how I don’t recall it’s being challenging back in the day. At one park bench strategically placed at the top of a rise, I used the excuse of needing to give Dora a drink for my own need to breathe. Dan took advantage of that time to capture the beauty of what he called an enchanted tree, because its branches spread in all directions while the surrounding trees paled in comparison.

At last, as we started down another descent, Dan announced that he could see the overlook platform. But the sign told us that we were 110 feet above the Olentangy River. Dan pointed out a tree that appeared to be growing through the deck of the overlook platform, but of course, the builders had protected the tree by constructing the deck around it, as you see in the picture. The Olentangy is not particularly pretty or wide, but it does meander past this spot, providing a rewarding view after a strenuous hike to get there. Even though I couldn’t see them, a rarified feeling overtook me, knowing we were looking down upon the treetops. I could hear geese around the bend, but none made an appearance for us.

After a brief rest on a bench back at the beginning of this trail, we agreed that it would be fun to go back and do it again, since we had only traversed 2 miles. But here’s where that old saw was so appropriate. The spirit was willing, but the flesh weak. My left leg was really giving me trouble, but I didn’t want to quit just yet. So we found another trail that was a flat mile and a half, part of which ran alongside the Olentangy, thus giving us a whole different perspective of the river. . Still, it was a tranquil walk, with trees on our left and a meadow on our right.

As usual, Dora chose to walk either right down the middle or hug the left side of the path, but at this park, the other walkers seemed to recognize that Dora thought she owned the right-of-way, and would either step off and let her pass, or go to their left, our right, avoiding an awkward moment. Maybe they knew that guide dogs are trained to hug the left shoreline. I’d say probably not, but it was amusing to observe yet another kind of encounter as we walked on other than neighborhood sidewalks. Eleven parks to go, but many have very short trails, so we might be able to do more than one in a day. Stay tuned..

Mary Hiland

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir

And

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available at www.dldbooks.com/maryhiland

www.seeingitmyway.com

Rocking Around Rocky Fork Park, 7 of 19

I had never heard of Rocky Fork Park until Dan and I began our quest to walk in all 19 Columbus Metro Parks. What a treasure we discovered. Not only is there a dog park there and a paved path, but nature-lovers can bask in the ambiance of a walk on a grassy path that has been carved out of a real meadow and wooded area. Prairie grasses and wild flowers lined the path, so it was easy for Dora to keep us on track. Our shoes and socks were wet in minutes, as we got there early in the morning before the sun could dry up the rain from yesterday. It was cool and quiet. A Cardinal sang to us as we walked along, but that’s all we heard. It truly was like being out in the middle of nowhere. We stopped to read the signage on a tower built for Swifts who like to make their nests in structures like chimneys. We learned that their feet are too small for perching, so they cling to vertical structures like that tower, and only one nest can be built per chimney. This loop was a little longer than a mile, so after we next walked on the paved part, I suggested we go back to the meadow for one more tour. This time, we heard frogs in the swampy area, even bull frogs, and butterflies gracefully accompanied us. We could have sung “Zippity Do Dah What a wonderful day.” No bluebirds landed on my shoulder, but the mood was just like the song. Only we were really enjoying the peacefulness. Dan sent me a few photos he took of Dora and me, but he also sent this sign about the meadow.

“This native meadow has a story to tell. From the Ice Age to the present, significant events have happened and are still happening here.

Mile thick glaciers covered much of Ohio during the Ice Age. As they advanced, they reshaped the landscape by filling in valleys, wearing down hills and moving large boulders. They created the broad and flat land of this meadow and throughout Central Ohio.

Imagine prehistoric people living and hunting this meadow. Hidden treasures such as stone tools have been revealed over time. These artifacts are evidence that people from multiple cultures lived and hunted in this region dating back 10,000 years.” It went on to name the animals and plants we might find there in each of the 4 seasons. Sounds like a good place to visit whenever the seasons change.

We also enjoyed striding out on our walk around the paved path, which is shared by walkers and cyclists. One reason we loved the meadow walk was that no bikes were allowed. But only one cyclist was a jerk and whizzed by us without a single word of warning. One apparently desperate dog had left a present on the paved path, and its owner had just ignored it. But Dan, being the excellent citizen he is, took one of our pick-up bags, and removed it from the path and deposited it in the barrel placed nearby just for that purpose.

By the time we were ready to leave, I stopped to give Dora one more drink from the portable bowl I always bring on these days. One of the photos here shows how she is enjoying it. I was ready for a rest anyway, as we had put in 4.73 miles, the longest walk so far. Stay tuned for our next adventure at High Banks.

Mary Hiland

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir

And

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available at www.dldbooks.com/maryhiland

www.seeingitmyway.com

Three Creeks Take 2

Last week when Dan, Dora, and I visited Three Creeks park, we had a nice time and a good walk, but we were scratching our heads in puzzlement. We only saw one creek. We decided we needed to go back, only this time at a different entrance to find the other 2 creeks and the confluence of them all, as advertised.

Very soon after crossing the parking lot, some friendly women directed us to the Bluebell Trail, which would take us to Blacklick Creek. To get to it, we had to hike down a steep hill with tangles of roots covered with mud. Yes, Dan could see the creek, but to get close to it, we would wish we had worn boots and used hiking sticks. Now this was hiking as I remembered it from my early Hen Hike days. But this day, I was wearing tennis shoes and shorts and only had Dan’s arm to save me from tumbling into the mud. But before I realized I needed a hand, Dan managed to get a couple of really nice pictures of the scene. Here’s what he said in his email to me with the photo attached.

“Fascinating how some pictures randomly turn out. You and Dora are walking on the Bluebell trail with shadows dominating the photo except for what appears to be a spotlight of sunshine directly on our stars!”

In another photo-email, he said, “This is a very good photo! You and Dora both have pretty smiles standing on a ground covering ofvarious sizes of tree roots with little Blacklick Creek.”

After climbing back up that shady bank and continuing on the trail, an enormous moss-covered tree caught Dan’s attention, and we had another photo op. The moss was not that velvety kind but the kind that feels like grass growing out of the bark, which was extremely thick, and protruded prominently like waves. I did touch it, but I am not a tree hugger. Posing in front of one is more my style.

This day was the most pleasant one we’ve had in weeks, so it seemed that half of Columbus had had the same idea of walking in the park. So did the cyclists. Unfortunately, they have the same rights to the trail for walkers. I say unfortunately, because most of them had no respect for the walkers. It is common practice for cyclists to call out “On your left!” when getting ready to pass a slower moving vehicle or walker. It is a courteous way of saying, stay in the right lane, because I’m about to pass you. But the cyclists on this path acted like they had never heard of that. Dan had to keep swiveling his head to look back to check for cyclists and then tell me to direct Dora more to the right. She had a tendency to like to walk down the center line instead of keeping to the right. Once, Dan had to pull me over and off the trail as an inconsiderate cyclist passed a group of people coming toward us, so he was headed right for us. He was trying to squeeze between Dora and the walkers , a certain disaster if Dan hadn’t seen what was happening and made the split second decision to pull us out of danger. I must say here that Dan never pulls or pushes me, but he was very firm, let’s say, in his suggestion to move to the right and off the trail. As Dora continued to insist on walking on the center line, and the cyclists continued to be jerks, I took Dan’s arm and just heeled Dora for the last half mile or so. I wish the people who design these trails would make completely separate ones for walkers for their safety.

We never did see the confluence. We learned later that it is indeed there, but the trees and weeds have hidden it. I was expecting a bridge or dock, but we got to see 2 out of three creeks, and we put in almost 3.8 miles. . This was number 6 and 6B. I can hardly wait for number 7.

Mary Hiland

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir

And

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available at www.dldbooks.com/maryhiland

www.seeingitmyway.com

Three Creeks Metro Park part 1

The people who are taking Covid 19 seriously are not necessarily staying home. They are going to the metro parks all over the city. They are walking, jogging, fishing, cycling, birding, and enjoying the out-of-doors despite the blistering heat.

Geared up with masks, water, sun screen, hats, sun glasses, and a bowl for Dora’s water, my friend Dan and I set off for Three Creeks Park early one day last week to try to get in our walk before the melting point.

The first sight to catch Dan’s attention was a beautiful blue heron, pictured here. Next, as we walked around the pond, a little family of ducks entertained us as Mama Duck led her babies toward the water, possibly for their first swimming lesson. They part waddled, part flew, and part paddled an inch above the ground, practicing and trying to keep up with their mom.

The wind mill you see has a purpose other than lending visual interest. It keeps the water from forming algae. Several trails presented a variety of options, depending on whether we wanted to walk or bike. Since we had no bike with us, we chose the walking trails at first and then tried the trails that allowed both cyclists and walkers. About half the time, the cyclists we encountered would call out “On your left,” as they approached us from behind, as cycling trail etiquette calls for. The others, who obviously were not used to sharing trails with walkers could be considered rude and inconsiderate. But given that most of those riders were overweight and were not wearing helmets, we gave them the benefit of the doubt and just called them rude names under our breaths. We both are cyclists at heart, so to be honest, we were jealous of the cyclists, but I can’t ride a tandem and still be six feet away from my captain. For now, my exercise has to necessarily be walking.

Dan caught a photo of Dora and me crossing a little wooden bridge over the Alum Creek, but to my knowledge, we did not see the other two for which the park is named.

We passed a fisherman and a man who was flying a toy helicopter out in a field. As the sunshine got hotter and hotter, Dora chose which side of the trail we would use. We’d be walking along, and then suddenly, she’d swerve over to the left side of the trail and then back to the right. We realized that she was leading us from one piece of shade to another. In case you’ve never noticed, Dora is a very smart dog.

In each park we’ve visited, our average distance for walking has been right around 3 miles. The heat has been keeping us from increasing our distance. But today, we got up to 3.6 miles, mostly because we had to make a choice when we got back to the pond. If we went the shorter way, we’d run into a field of goose poop, deposited by a gaggle of about 30 geese, so we chose to take the longer way around, which gave us a few tenths of a mile more to claim.

On these hot days, our ritual has been to let Dora find the car in the parking lot, which I always think is impressive. Then while Dan gets in and gets the AC going, Dora gets a big drink of water. I offer her water on the trail as well, but she enjoys this one the most, because it means we’re done. Don’t get me wrong. Even though we’re all hot and tired, and Dora’s tongue is almost dragging the ground, she loves getting out to the park.

Stay tuned for Three Creeks Take 2.

Mary Hiland

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir

And

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available at www.dldbooks.com/maryhiland

www.seeingitmyway.com

Favorite Things

When we hear the song, “A Few of My Favorite Things,” we think of winter and Christmas time or the musical, Sound of Music. But today, I’m feeling a little blue, so I’ve made a list of my favorite things to lift my spirits. I have so much to be thankful for, but I tend to forget them when I’m feeling sorry for myself for being alone during this pandemic and my isolation. Maybe your list is like mine. Maybe you have other “favorite things” you could add. Please do, and maybe we’ll all feel a little better.

Here we go.

New carpet that is now paid for, Sidewalks for taking daily walks, Radio show called Sunday Baroque, Brass quintets, Barbershop quartettes, Flute music, Piano music, Ragtime style of music, Really good hot chocolate, Bourbon and Coke, A clean joke, Laughter at my joke, Bright sunshine in winter, Fluffy snow, A bike ride with friends, A conversation in the hot tub, A surprise ending in a story, A snuggly puppy sleeping in my lap, Hot Fudge Sundaes, Listening to pouring rain from inside the house, The songs of a mockingbird, A snoring dog, A purring cat, Clean sheets, My fluffy warm coat, Shoes that don’t hurt, A hug from a special man, The word Grammie from the lips of a granddaughter, A compliment from my daughter, A helping hand from my son, New dresses in my closet, A decluttered closet,

And the list goes on—the aroma of baking bread sizzling bacon, new-fallen snow on a quiet night… . Did you feel a little better after you thought of your favorite things? I hope so.

Mary Hiland

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir

And

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available at www.dldbooks.com/maryhiland

www.seeingitmyway.com

Blacklick Woods 5th of 19

The last time I visited Blacklick Woods, I went cross country skiing with some bike club friends. That was back in the day when we had enough snow to ski on. They even had skis to rent. Now you know how long ago that was.

On Monday, Dan and Dora and I got an early start to take advantage of the cooler morning air. Dan had looked up the routes of the various paths, but we chose to use one that was almost exactly one mile around. Because the trails presented no particular challenges, we had plenty of opportunity to talk about many of the issues in the news, and Dan did his usual great job of describing what was around us. Dan was intrigued with the different kinds of trees and the sense that we really were in the woods. But at one point, we walked to a clearing that opened up to a beautiful lake. The park benches looked inviting for taking a break, but we stopped only long enough for a photo op. The only paved paths were in front of the nature center or whatever they call their little building in the middle of the park. It was closed, and that was fine with us, although as we passed it, Dora took a hard right toward the door, presuming that’s where we wanted to go. But once on the path, no matter whether it was gravel, dirt, or a board walk, she knew exactly what we wanted to do. As we tromped along the board walk, Dora was very careful not to let me get too close to the right edge. She wasn’t going to let Mommy slip off the edge like she did at Innis Woods. Her confidence was impressive. When the board walk took a sharp left, we turned on a dime without slowing at all. Twice, a person was walking toward us, and Dan watched as the person stopped and stood at his right and let Dora have her right of way, right down the middle. Dora didn’t even think about giving up any of our space. She’s not that rude on a sidewalk in our neighborhood, but she was on a mission.

When we had done about 3.27 miles by repeating that trail, Dan commented that like the Audubon Park, a gigantic truck tire for people to test their upper body strength waited for the body-builders to come and show off their muscles. This time, I wanted to see what it was like. I quickly discovered that there was no way on this earth I could lift it even a centimeter off the ground. And that’s one goal I will never pursue, for the sake of my back. However, the long weighted ropes that people were lifting and slapping to the ground drew my attention and my wish to give them a try. Two of these heavy ropes were attached to a pole, and the object of the exercise was to grasp one in each hand and lift each one in turn and slap them one at a time to the ground. To my amazement, I was able to get in a few slaps, using a lot of body engagement. I’m sorry I don’t have a video for showing off, but Dan’s camera betrayed us and failed to work. Boohoo. Dan said we’ll have to go back and do it again some day, but I think once was enough. Who knows? Maybe we’ll encounter them in all the rest of the parks we visit in this project. We’ve visited 5 Metro Parks now. I can’t wait to get to the next one.

Mary Hiland

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir

And

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available at www.dldbooks.com/maryhiland

www.seeingitmyway.com