Monday, June 13, 2022

And So It Begins

I’m not sure how to tell this story. The Coast to Coast hike is one of the most diverse and mentally engaging hiking experiences so far, and there are many angles to the trip. 

Very close to the hotel is the marker for the beginning. The walk is not nationally recognized, which means there is no one correct path. There is also limited signage as a result. A map is crucial, and I have all the maps digitally available offline on the Gaia app. The satellite shows you exactly where you are and has saved us from making significant mistakes.

Before starting, it is the custom to dip your toe into the Irish Sea and select a small rock to carry to the North Sea. I picked a small white rock with some gray layers.

We have 190 miles to go! Since we’ve had to do a little backtracking already, I’m going wager that we will add a few extra miles to this number.

Ancient cliffs, looking back at the trail and forward on St Bees Head, the first section of the trail.

Many interesting birds live and breed on these cliffs this time of year. Most of the birds in the video are guillemots, but there were also plenty of the endangered herring gulls.

Every lighthouse should come with a set of cows! This is farm country, and livestock is seen everywhere. The next few photos show how many different types of paths the trail uses. Sometimes you walk through a field, on a country lane, through a town next to someone’s amazing gardens, actual hiking trails, logging access roads, a city walking path.

We made it to the top of the first summit, Dent. It was a pleasant climb to get started. We also had a decent view of some other cities, including Sellafield, a nuclear facility. THIS is the scarier article, if you want to go down this rabbit hole.

We met several other Coast to Coast walkers in the last section and enjoyed some good conversation. People are very friendly and there is a sense of community on the trail as our paths cross over time.

This concludes the first day’s views! I thought I would lump several days together, but it seems like this is a good place to stop. Each day ends in civilization, and I can’t tell you how nice it is to have a bed, shower, and yummy dinner waiting for you at end of each long hike!

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Walk on the LEFT!

Sunday morning, 6:30 London time, I found myself stumbling off a red-eye flight and fighting against a crowd of oncoming people when I realized that the left side of the hallway was completely empty. Welcome to England, lassie! (When does one become too old to be called lassie? I’ve been called this 3x. Not sure how I feel  about this.) Just like driving, people walk on the left here. When traveling, I am often astonished how reflexive our cultural traditions are, how we don’t have to consider the rules when we are “with our people,” and how much effort it takes to become one with the new people we encounter. Since that moment, I’ve been in many other people’s way on stairways, sidewalks, going in the wrong door while others are trying leave by it, etc. I am constantly reminding myself to stay on the left.

Continuing travel to the rural countryside and ending in St Bees on the coast of the Irish Sea, I’m rediscovering that saying “hello” is specific to our location. My staid Midwestern hello, good morning, hi is greeted with an enthusiastic “Hiya!!” I quite like the excitement of the exclamation! It completely captures my mood on the trail in particular. Also, I usually don’t find the English language to be very musical, but spending time with Scottish people on the train and listening to how the English accents change from town to town, I am charmed by the lilting turns of phrase and syllables with slightly different pronunciation and emphasis from what I am accustomed to.

I am here to walk the Coast to Coast Trail. Much of the trail crosses private land, through pastures full of grazing sheep and cows. I am filled with gratitude for this tradition and the trust of the landowners to allow me and fellow hikers to walk on their land, a tradition no one back home would consider without getting somewhat uneasy. Strangely, there are many similarities to my treks in Peru (second trip still not documented on blog…) where many of the trails were covered with decaying animal dung and the temperature was a delightful 60*F.

Finally, just a little note about St. Bees, the village at the beginning of the hike. It’s a sleepy little town with a nice beach, hiking, charming houses, pubs, and B and Bs. We took a look into the church priory this afternoon, and it was a place for deep meditation and awe. It was founded around 1130 and history from every era was oozing out of every corner. The organ has 2000 pipes and was the last built by Henry Willis. Especially moving were sculptures by Josefina de Vasconcellos in the Lady’s Chapel. She also had sculptures in a garden outside of the church that was built at her request after her death.

Tomorrow we walk… on the left side of the trail!

Monday, June 6, 2022

The Garden Awakens

*garter snake alert - 9 photos down. Some find them alarming; I think garter snakes are cute and helpful.

Spending Memorial Day weekend at my mom’s house means that you get to take home “all the plants.” This year, the Lady with the Greenest Thumbs” planted extra pepper and tomato seeds, “just in case some don’t come up.” 

They all came up!!! And the majority got put into the entire back of the Subaru. It’s becoming quite the Farm Car.

I thought it would be a good idea to freshen up the garden beds with not one, but TWO yards of compost/topsoil mix. I may have overestimated my dirt needs.

Some of the first butterflies to visit the newly added soil.

Garden bed number 1 finally ridded of weeds, aerated, new soil added, and ready for planting. Look at those amazing roots on those tomato plants!

20 minutes later…

20 minutes after that…

Round 2…

A third bed of tomato plants…

Garden friends! Someone had babies, and there were at least 5 cute garter snakes that I saw this week. Go eat those insects!

Fourth bed with peppers! Sadly I didn’t get a fifth bed finished before leaving the Farm for a spell. But my neighbor took the remaining 20 pepper plants to his church and gave them away. Looking forward to harvest and lots of tomato sauce!

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Welcome, Cherise!

Friday, May 20 greeted us like this:

We weren’t expecting a cria this soon (late August, early September was the earliest), and we were caught unprepared. No scale, no solution to wash the belly button, no emergency colostrum, no bottles.

Peggy-O had “abandoned” her first cria, so we were on high alert. The little one was quick to get up, but did not want to nurse. We were worried that Peggy-O didn’t have enough milk, or some other problems. At any rate, the cria was not getting the colostrum it needed to start its immune system.

After spending most of the day stressed, we headed for the Purdue Farm Hospital. Alas, none of our neighbors  had a truck and trailer for us to borrow, so we loaded the crew into the back of the Impreza! I had to babysit in the back - the little cria was constantly nosediving into the space between the front seats and where the back seats folded down. 

Finally, we settled in for a little nap to make the ride go faster and with less stress…

The Farm Hospital was brand new, and the duo got to spend four nights getting care. It turns out that Peggy-O had plenty of milk and was amenable to nursing after all. The cria probably had a rough birth with too many minutes of oxygen deprivation which led to “dummy foal” syndrome. Apparently horses have this problem regularly. She got plasma infusions to get the antibodies that she missed from the colostrum and was carefully coached to start nursing. We think this probably also happened to Peggy-O’s first cria, and the farm she lived on was just far better prepared and started bottle feeding right away.

On Tuesday the 24th we picked them up again in the Subaru. Peggy-O had a lot less patience this time, but we made it work.

We finally felt like we could name the cria. The Farmer picked out Cherise, from the Grateful Dead song Rubin and Cherise. It means dear one or darling, which is spot on! We are thankful for the positive outcome and delight in Cherise’s antics and scampering about.


Till soon, friends! More good news is imminent…

PS If you were wondering why the baby cria was so early, apparently Peggy-O had been bred last May, and again in August. We’re not sure why she didn’t reject the second breeding. Glad Cherise is here with us now, and we don’t have to wait till August.