While I actually do have a sabbatical project going, it's somewhat tangential to the thoughts I put down here. My main purpose with this blog is to keep in touch with folks and to let you all know what I'm up to. As I hope to be moving almost constantly over the next two months, I'll note whereabouts and activities here. I'll post as much as I can, as travel allows (ie, when there's internet access). And I'll try not to talk too much about the dogs or to launch into diatribes over art. I may even post some work, depending how it goes.
My sabbatical project involves travel to four different sites in the US, so I'm taking the opportunity to roadtrip with the dogs and see as many places as we can along the way. Since my favorite activity is hiking with these guys, most of the places I have planned for us are national forests, parks, or preserves of one sort or another. (You can see pictures of some recent trips on Narra's website.) So, my primary objective with this first post is to lay out a tentative itinerary for the coming two months (look forward to Part II, coming in spring):
Late Oct/Early Nov
We head south to the German Shepherd Dog Nationals in Concord, NC on Oct. 31 and will probably stay some place around Shenandoah National Park that first night. Buko and Narra are both entered in the show, so we need to arrive the afternoon of Nov. 1 to get settled in. I suspect, however, that I'll let Buko slide, and only Narra will be competing. She's in Novice A Agility, both standard and jumpers with weaves, both Wed and Thurs. She'll also be in Novice B and Open A Obedience on Fri. We'll be done that day but will stay to watch (and videotape) conformation on Sat.
From the national, we'll go further south to visit my buddy Scott and his daughters Annalycia and Natasha in Statesboro, GA. Looking forward to seeing them and then moving on to Jekyll Island on Georgia's coast. From there, we head north again to spend some time back in NC at the Outer Banks. Then, before the big swing west, a quick stop in Philly for a special 70th birthday.
The first "project" site for us will be Carbondale and Murphysboro, IL. On the way, we expect to go through the Buchanan and Forbes State Forests in PA, Wayne National Forest (OH), and Daniel Boone National Forest (KY). Once in Illinois, we'll try to stay around the Shawnee National Forest, particularly Giant City State Park (where I used to go as a kid) and Murphysboro State Park.
From Illinois, we continue west, first through the Mark Twain National Forest (MO), then the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve (KS). Our goal is the second project site and the western-most point of this sabbatical leg: Boulder, CO. While there, we look forward to Thanksgiving with our friend Cynthia and her family just outside Denver.
The turn back east will take us north to Wyoming's Thunder Basin National Grassland, then the Black Hills National Forest and Badlands National Park of South Dakota. From there, it's a long drive to the Apostle Islands along Wisconsin's Lake Superior shore.
The last two project sites are also the last two planned sites of our roadtrip, both in Wisconsin: Oshkosh and Madison. I expect there will be plenty to do there, but I still plan to be back east by Christmas.
That's the plan as it stands for now. I don't want to be too regimented, so things could change any time. By the way, if anyone reading this has friends or knows people who have land and don't mind squatters, drop me a line. The two dogs and I are happy to pull the van up almost anywhere for a night's sleep (or longer), although we do prefer cat-less, off-leash zones. (How do you make one of those smiley faces on a blog?) I should also note that Jackson--unfortunately--will be sitting out this trek. He'll be keeping his "grandparents" warm at home. We'll miss him, but he'll be happier. This blog's for you, big head.