On the eleventy-seventh day of sunshine in a row, I decided it was time for a break.
Well. We've actually had more like eight days of uninterrupted summer-y glory. But here in the Pacific Northwest, that feels like f o r e v e r.
So, my overheated brain deduced, let's save ourselves from the hot streets of Muktown. Instead of the usual daily march around the neighborhood, I'll treat Ranger to a walk in a shady place where we can stretch our legs in comfort.
With my fourth-born joining in, we ventured off in the late afternoon to the cool shadows of the local Boeing factory.
But really, our destination lay just a few hundred feet beyond the Boeing parking lots, though a universe away in spirit.
Leafy and green.
Wetland, swamp, marsh and bog.
Crunchy gravel paths.
Silent save the singing birds and croaking frogs.
The Narbeck Wildlife Sanctuary was, in my mind, a perfect paradise for our afternoon walk.
Ranger, however, formed a different opinion.
Oh, at first, he thought it was all fun and games. Leaping from the car, his nose investigated every square inch of the parking area before we even hit the trail. He busily sashayed along, red fringe-y tail wagging nonstop as his head stayed low to the ground, plowing through grasses and brush in his never-ending pursuit of scents. Ranger was entirely happy.
Until we came to the first boardwalk.
As with many trails around wetlands, this one is interspersed with wooden bridges that carry the hiker just a few inches up and away from the soggy ground. Some are mere walkways; others have wooden railings that protect the passersby from tumbling over a slightly higher rise, though none of the boardwalks are more than a foot off the ground.
My first hint of the impending drama came when, at a fork in the trail, Ranger spied the first boardwalk looming up ahead. Cleverly, he weighed his options and then decisively led off toward the one without the woodwork. But I had other plans, so I stepped down the trail leading to the boardwalk, and encouraged my dog to follow along.
Ranger slammed on his brakes. All four feet dug into the gravel and my dog resisted me with every force in his body.
I laughed at him just a little bit.
Then I pleaded and cajoled, as I often do, to gain his cooperation.
Psh. Ranger can't resist me. He always gives in to my requests.
But my headstrong dog had other ideas. I was forced to haul his furry little body with all my strength, sliding him across the loose gravel for several yards until he finally gave in and resumed walking.
Good. Glad we got that behind us. Boardwalks are my favorite and I happily strode along, feeling quite pleased with myself and my brilliant ideas.
This happy glow lasted for, oh maybe another ninety seconds.
Because that's how long it took for us to pass through the section of boardwalk with the waist-high railings and reach a stretch of the flat walkway.
And at that point, Ranger promptly bailed overboard.
Alright fine. If the crazy beast prefers to four-wheel through the muddy underbrush while we walk in peace, so be it. But when we approached another section of the boardwalk with high railings, it was time to convince him to change his mind and climb back up.
Ranger was not having it.
This time, it took both my daughter and me to physically haul that feisty dog up over the edge of that walkway and then convince him to actually stand up and walk. And let me just say, it was a process.
This face may look innocent to the uninitiated, but I see flames of determination shooting out of those soft brown eyes.
My dog was straight mad.
Luckily, prayer works and after a Mexican standoff that lasted for a solid five minutes, he caved in and reluctantly agreed to get moving again. And thereafter, the trail smoothed out, the evil boardwalks disappeared, and we could all walk in peace.
Our adventure lasted close to an hour, which these days is more than enough excitement to wear Ranger out. Surely, I figured, he will not miss his usual walk around the neighborhood.
But when we piled out of the car at home, one end of the leash clipped to his collar and the other draped around my wrist, Ranger gave me a look. And I knew exactly what he meant.
"Adventures are all well and good," said my boy as we set off on our usual route. "But when it comes to our walks, there's no place like home."