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4/30/18

New Campsite

Adventure Location: Decatur, Alabama
Adventure Date: April 30, 2018
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The big campsite move happened early this morning.The OFM was ready to get it done. So about 0800 he started to moving things. The distance was only about a 9 iron distance but the putting away etc was full size.

The tow over to the new site must have been close to four minutes. Then backing the Castle into the site took longer because the OFM kept getting his steering wheel turning directions backwards. It was definitely not one of his better performances. 

The site has turned out to be an excellent HUGE site. It is right across the street from the laundry, one of the rest rooms and the campground office and ice cream buying place. Here is the view about 0845 this morning with about the most sun the site gets during the day.



After setting up the OFM took a picture looking behind the Castle from the door.



Then it was back to trying to fix a leak in the bathroom lavatory drain line. We just checked it again at 2030 while writing this blog and there was another drop of water seeping out. This is getting tiresome since the available access area is a bit smaller than the OFM’s fat body. We already have pains and bruises enough for the next two years. Eventually it will get fixed.

We are hoping that tomorrow will bring some calming down of all the activity that has had us running amok since we arrived. Then we can settle down to some serious trying to have tooooo much fun.

4/29/18

No Wet Feet Allowed

Adventure Location: Decatur, Alabama
Adventure Date: April 29, 2018
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The flooding has started back down into the lake. We had a lot of happy folks out here today. The other news is that the OFM Teams will be moving into their long term campsite tomorrow. It is in a very optimum spot in the campground. It also is about three times the area as the current site. We should be here until sometime after Labor Day.

Now let us finish up the pictures from the last couple of days. These small white flowers to be are next to the road around the soccer fields. They are very small buds that make 3/4 inch white flowers. The bushes were covered with thousands of the buds waiting to explode.



In the years past the Teams have had lots of fun spotting and photographing fungi of all sorts. It looks like a crop of new fungi are about to burst forth. These are all about a 1/4“ across. From the looks of the coloration they will be quite showy when they grow up.



Laying on one of the trails was this ruptured flower pod.


It was beautiful. Other more mangled pods were here and there along the path. We hope to get a better picture of one tomorrow after the moving of the Castle.

The long walk was stopped by this flooded section of the pathway. The water was only about 3 inches deep but the OFM shoes are not that tall so he chickened out of wading and having a mile or so to walk back to the Castle in dirty wet socks and shoes. He is a major wimp you know.



A new week starts and the Teams are excited to get busy trying to have tooooo much fun.

4/28/18

Flooding Picture

Adventure Location: Decatur, Alabama
Adventure Date: April 28, 2018
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Apparently the flooding has peaked out at 1/4“ lower than the road in the campground. Here is a picture from the highest level. Notice the closeness of the camper sites.



It was a relief when the lake went down a tenth of an inch this afternoon. The rains did bring out a massive bloom of clover in the fields. This picture is very near the lake. Right behind the tree line is the creek that goes into the campground. At least the blooms are pretty and fragrant.



At a few places the water has flooded some flowers and made some interesting scenery. Here is a yellow flower with its roots under about 6 inches of water. The log you see is normally sitting on the rocks along the shore of the slough.



To fill his time lately the OFM is practicing golf so when he gets to play a real round of golf, he will be able to count as high as needed for keeping his score. Shooting the best score you can no matter what it is can be a great way of trying to have tooooo much fun.

4/26/18

Pontoons

Adventure Location: Decatur, Alabama
Adventure Date: April 26, 2018
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It has been an interesting day. Last night at bedtime the forecast was for light occasional rain today with a total of 1/4“ of rain for the day. Well it did not happen quite like that.

 By the time the sun got the OFM moving it had been 1/4 inching for a good while. It continued for the day until near supper time. The creek was rising and the park manager was checking the flood level during the day. As of an hour ago we were about four inches from the water coming over the banks of the creeks into the campground.

But the rain has stopped and Wheeler Lake is releasing water as fast as they can into the next lake down stream but the whole area is saturated. We are really hoping this next few days will give the TVA time to get some of the extra water gone from the area.

The OFM spent the day cleaning the Castle, cleaning golf clubs, eating tooooo much and visiting the nice folks in the campground. With a little luck we will get to hit the trails again tomorrow with the camera. But EVERYTHING is HEAVILY SATURATED. Some sunshine would be very welcome. If you are heading toward north Alabama or southern Tennessee be sure the pontoons on your vehicles are in good shape. You might need them. 

In the meantime the OFM is going to be studying making charcoal drawings as a way of trying to have tooooo much fun.

4/25/18

Stinks Pretty

Adventure Location: Decatur, Alabama
Adventure Date: April 25, 2018
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So far no flooding has happened but the water line is right to the top level of the creek in the campground. We have a little more rain forecast for the next 24 hours but it is not heavy rain.

The OFM took it a bit easier today since he was sore and achy. However he still did a lot of walking and some golf ball hitting. He definitely needed the practice in hitting the golf balls straight. Next we will practice hitting them straight but towards the proper target.

The OFM worked hard getting a few pictures for tonight. It is flowers because everything is about to explode with flowers for spring. Little buds are all over the vegetation in the area. It should be spectacular and we are ready to report on it.

In the meantime the roses in the front of the campground office have been doing a great job of getting the visitors to OOO and AWWW at them. Here is an example of one of the magnificant clusters.



Later the OFM set off on a walk toward the golf course since it is smooth paving over to there and his knee will have more healing time before the next uneven trail we tackle. Of course the path leads right along rows of trees and shrubs that are prepping for the bloom extravaganza. When we got to the golf course entrance, there were some bushes with really nice blossoms on them. So the OFM stomped around in the wet dirt getting lots of pictures for the blog tonight. Here is one of the beautiful clusters of blooms.



And just the other side of the entrance was a pair of trees that we think are dogwood trees. If we are wrong please correct us. In fact identification of any of the flowers would be appreciated.

The two trees had white flowers on them that were past their prime. But the center of the blossoms was interesting to check out. The flowers were about 2-3 inches across and the small center was about 3/8“ in size. 



Then we grabbed a macro of the center and worked it over a bit for this picture.



After all this excitement we headed back for the Castle. The walk was nice and gentle. The fragrances the vegetation is inundating us with is really nice. Enjoying natural sweet fragrances is a great way of trying to have tooooo much fun.

4/23/18

First Walk

Adventure Location: Decatur, Alabama
Adventure Date: April 23, 2018
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It was our first time through the nearest path leading to the huge amount of paths in the park since our last visit last year. It was like an old friend welcoming us back.



Sure enough shortly down the path the pictures started calling to us to capture an image of them. We attempted to oblige and culled many pictures for the few shown tonight. Yep this area abounds in photo opportunities. This small swamp called to us in an enticing way and we were rewarded with a nice picture.



It was not very long before a beautiful white flower attracted us over to it. Spring is just now getting going around here so maybe we will get lots of flower pictures over the next month or so.



The OFM Photography Team meandered on around and down a short trail to the bridge over the slough. Yep there it was another neat picture of the turtle parade.


 They apparently had been practicing for us because all of them held really still until the shutter clicked. then the meandered off to take care of their business whatever it was.

And just as we could see the rain shower coming our way these neat flowers appeared out of nowhere for our pleasure (or to delay us for the rain to catch up).



Those are some very nice flowers. Maybe we can catch them another day in the sunlight instead of the gray light rain. We will be watching.

This is the second day of significant rain around here and the river is rising. We are watching for flood trouble but hoping it will not show up. Flooding gets in the way of trying to have tooooo much fun.

4/22/18

Grandkidding Is Tough Work

Adventure Location: Harvest, Alabama
Adventure Date: April 22, 2018


It was another of wild exciting having toooooooooooo much fun grandkidding day. Between the fresh cookies  baked by Gavin with help from his mother and Piper learning how to wrinkle her nose with the OFM helping her learn, the OFM was a worn out fellow when he headed home. And now the OFM is heading for a shower and bed after so much trying to have tooooo much fun. Goodnight.

4/21/18

Worn Out Grandpa

Adventure Location: Harvest, Alabama
Adventure Date: April 21, 2018
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The call came in as the OFM was finishing the laundry. Come on over was the message. So plans were quickly changed and away we went to the grandkids home. Here is Piper flirting with everyone while gumming a stalk of celery.





Gavin was in a good mood today and we all had a great time. Tomorrow the Teams are due over there for more fun. It should be another great day of trying to have tooooo much fun.

4/20/18

Ugly Surprise

Adventure Location: I-65, Alabama
Adventure Date: April 20, 2018
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We ended up with a 43F start this morning but a nice gentle ride through the countryside. About 1300 we pulled in to the campground and went in to pay and get the campsite assignment. At 1600 it is a very nice cool day.

Then the surprise hit us. The surprise is that the campground is having a $93 a month increase on the standard rate starting May 1. All the other rates are sky rocketing also. This means our 5-6 month stay must be re-evaluated. $549 a month is a bit steep for the OFM Teams. That is still cheaper than an apartment. However Point Mallard Campground is still running 100% full so the price must be ok with a lot of folks.

The OFM needs to work on some trying to have tooooo much fun to override the surprise.

4/19/18

Beautiful Campground

Adventure Location: I-20 , Texas-Alabama
Adventure Date: April 19, 2018
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We were rolling at 0812 this morning and quit rolling about 1800 for a ride of a bit over 400 miles. We shortened tomorrows trip by a bit over a hundred miles since the OFM was feeling like keeping on going.

Our location is a beautiful camping spot with nice trees and facilities for the price of $0 near Eutaw Alabama.



We should make it to our new home for a good bit tomorrow morning. Like all the times in the past we have been there, it should not be any trouble to try to have tooooo much fun.

4/18/18

3/5 There

Adventure Location: Hwy 79, Texas
Adventure Date: April 18, 2018
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Morning started with an 0800 start in strong winds again. The traffic was not much and we made good time all the way to tonight’s destination. That is three days of travel and we will clear Texas tomorrow morning. Two days left to Decatur Alabama.

Martin Creek State Park is our location tonight. The campsites are nice and decently spaced apart.

The parks folks are doing controlled burns around the park. While walking near the fishing pier, a nice smoke event was noticed.

The controlled burns have not bothered the Teams at all. The OFM got in a nice walk along and around the lakefront areas. He gets pretty stiff sitting and driving  for long time periods. Walking certainly helps him feel better. And feeling good helps in the trying to have tooooo much fun.

4/17/18

The Middle Stretch

Adventure Location: Hwy 29, Texas
Adventure Date: April 17, 2018
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Morning started with nice sun and moderate wind. The Teams pulled out of South Llano River State Park about 0815. The goal was Taylor Park near Taylor Texas. The drive is not long at roughly 180 miles but the wind quickly got strong and made it exciting.

 This is the first time in our time together that the wind has bothered the Castle and tow vehicle. They behaved well and no differential sway was noticed. BUT several times when we came out from behind a hill the wind would move us over three or four feet. That was scary.

This means we are 2/5 of our way to North Alabama. Tomorrow is another short day of 215 miles. After that it is a couple of 300 mile days on Interstate highways. 

After that the Teams will have some grandkid help with trying to have tooooo much fun.

4/16/18

Herd of Fools

Adventure Location: Pecos River, Texas
Adventure Date: April 12, 2018
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We get to start the Pecos Adventure Part 3 of this blog entry series. On the trek back up the boat ramp the OFM began to notice a lot of interesting geology, mainly caves. The first on the trek back up we named Bushes Cave. The way the bushes grew it was not really noticeable on the way down. But on the way up a short trail at an angle went into the bushes and brought the trail into view.



The OFM worked diligently to get a picture of the inside of the cave, but was smart enough  to stay out of the cave proper. Yea for telephoto zoom lenses.



After that episode we stayed away from the rest of the many caves we saw along that cliff. But about half way up the OFM noticed a worn trail going up the cliff. Why is there a trail going up there? Here is the picture with the rough route of the trail shown in red.



Once again shrubbery had hidden the object of interest. Check out these braces helping hold those pebbles from bouncing down to the road.


Those pebbles could do some serious damage to people and cars if the came down at the right time.

When we got back to the top, the OFM went back to the view point of the mouth of the Pecos River and took a picture of the rock cliff across from the viewpoint to show our readers what we mean by caves all over the place. Here is the picture with the obvious caves labeled.



While he was labeling the caves, the OFM noticed a strange object in one of the caves (Deer Cave). When he enlarged the picture the surprise was waiting for him.



It looks like two  deer were in there watching the Teams meander on the cliff like a herd of fools. We wonder if watching fools taking pictures on a cliff is a way deer try to have tooooo much fun.


4/15/18

Screaming Calf Muscles

Adventure Location: Pecos River, Texas
Adventure Date: April 12, 2018
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We get to start the Pecos Adventure Part 2 of this blog entry series. Our event is a trip down the boat ramp and back to the top. The OFM had two nights of screaming calf muscles from this walk. Here is the view from the bottom of the ramp right at the waters edge looking upstream at the “High Bridge” as it is frequently called.




Folks can put in here and paddle up stream for many miles. Power boats can run around very carefully also. This is also a river with a launch point many miles upstream where folks put in and paddle down to this point over the course of several days of wild adventures.





The view above is from the bottom looking up about a third of the way to the top of the ramp. The road curves to the left and out of sight. It is a muscle cramping trek for a flatlander like the OFM.

Sometimes along the way the flowers are blooming and more frequently not. But today there was this little beauty of a flower.




Very close by was this reminder that things fall down with significant force when you are around cliffs. Apparently this boulder took aim at the gate post and launched itself from the cliff behind the photographer. Or maybe the rock was wanting to go swimming.




Also near is whats left of stairs that went down to the Federal Boat Landing when there was enough water to float a patrol boat. They are VERY steep and the OFM did not even consider going down them again.




We meandered our way back to the top of the ramp and Sierra with many “stops to take pictures of the caves”. But we all know that it was really just an excuse to stop, breathe and rest from all the excess effort to get that big fat body back up the hill. The good part is there is plenty of pictures of caves and other stuff to report about in Part 3.

We did find a nice cactus blossom in some shade back at the top. It even had a bug and some ants helping pollinate the flower.




This proved to be a rather muscles involved type of adventure for trying to have tooooo much fun. Where’s the ibuprofen?


4/14/18

Pecos and Rio Grande Rivers

Adventure Location: Texas
Adventure Date: April 12, 2018
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We took a hot ride down to the Pecos River mouth where it joins the Rio Grande River. The continuing drought shows its effects all to well in this area. This will be at least a three blog report due to all the pictures involved.

This National Park area is down below the Texas Highway Department lookout point up on the top of the canyon/river cliffs. Plenty of parking is available and you could park a few trains in the parking lots. It is a nicely maintained and pleasant area in spite of being remote enough to make “out in the middle of no where” seem like in downtown Del Rio, Texas.

The necessities building is always clean and welcome for an old fat man. The drinking water fountain has good tasting water. 




A word of warning is in order. Except for the floors in the necessities building, there is no flat horizontal surface in the rest of the area. In the picture above the slope of the parking lot in front of the building is real.

We let Sierra do the walking for us to go around and down to the head of the lower area were the boat ramp runs for what seems like a half mile when you are walking back up it. This is looking upstream from the boat trailer parking lot.

That white open structure on the left used to have a nice welcome shading roof on it. Time and weather took it away last year. A few years ago, the OFM met a Mexican couple there who were having a snack. They offered the OFM some samples and it was great food. We visited for over two hours that day.

In a later blog we will cover a few of the interesting things we saw on the walk down to and the trudge back up from the boat ramp.

Near the upper parking lot is a great nature trail that leaves the lot and meanders along the top of the cliff. It finally comes out where the cliff gets next to the road between the parking lots.




As you can see the views of the area get nicely dramatic. Sometimes you might get lucky and get to see a Border Patrol airboat coming in from a patrol of the river. It helps give you perspective of the height of the walls of the canyon. By the way this is an excellent kayaking place if you time it between the strong winds.



If you follow the nature toward the mouth of the Pecos, you will get to a point of rock to look out toward Mexico through the mouth of the Pecos. 




As you can tell there is not much water flowing in the Rio Grande either. Look carefully and you can see that the OFM did NOT go stand on that point of rock referred to above. There are two picnic tables with shade shelters right behind where the OFM stood for that last picture.

The OFM has been here many times. Every time we come here we spot more things new to us making it wonderful as a place for trying to have tooooo much fun.

4/12/18

Carrizozo to Roswell Excitement

Adventure Location: New Mexico
Adventure Date: April , 2018
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The run from Carrizozo to Roswell on highway 380 is a very picture inviting area. The western half is through some very nice mountains on a two lane road. The tourist areas were the Smoky The Bear section and the Billy The Kid area. 

If we had not had the Castle along we could have stopped to see the sights and take pictures. The crowds seemed to be filling all the parking places so we had to keep rolling. We recommend it for a place to play tourist and enjoy the locations. It looked well worth the trouble.

After we came out of the mountains heading toward Roswell it was a major change in terrain in a very short distance. It became wide open plains with expansive views.



After all these miles today it was getting time for a short stop. Suddenly up ahead was a rest stop. We whipped in and the rig stopped funny but the OFM had more important things to tend to.

When we had time to check things out the OFM went over to the sign to see what the excitment could be in these open spaces.



Oh really. He searched the area looking for a missile silo. There was nothing to see.



When we had the chance, Google was consulted and a silo with an open door is visible. It is about ten miles west of Roswell near the rest area.This was a nice interesting road today. When we got ready to leave it got even more exciting.

The brake controller notified the OFM that it was shorted out and braking was not available. With a few hills and mountains to go, that was not good news. The OFM went to crawling around under the Castle to see where a wire was shorting out. After a bit of time scooting around on the warm pavement, he found NOTHING. 

He checked the truck to trailer connection and found nothing wrong there. The controller was still not controlling the brakes. The OFM  try to make it to a repair shop in Roswell. As he turned onto the out ramp, the controller flicked on for a few seconds. The OFM got up onto the highway and no traffic was in sight. He reached down and grabbed the wiring harness and wiggled it. The controller came on then off a couple of times. He pushed the wiring plug toward the controller and it came on.

We drove gently all the way to Brantley Lake SP like that. When we parked at a safe spot in the SP, the OFM got on the truck floor and pulled on the wiring harness and it popped loose of the controller. Then he pushed it into the controller and it “snapped” into place and has worked correctly since then. Our guess is Mr. Clumsy got a shoe hooked on the wire and pulled the plug partly loose. Then all the twisty turning bouncy mountain road worked the plug a bit more loose until it failed at the rest area.

Since then all the rest of the way back to Del Rio it gave no more trouble. After setting up at San Pedro the OFM tugged on the plug and it was still set solid. That is definitely worth checking frequently to be safe.

Having good working braking on the trailer is a major step towards trying to have tooooo much fun.

4/11/18

Tiresome Travels

Adventure Location: New Mexico
Adventure Date: April , 2018
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What a couple of days it has been! The first trouble is the computer will not let us send email. Then Tuesday morning the teams finally got rolling but had to stop at three stores before we got away from Alamogordo. 54 was the highway for our northern route to Valley of Fires BLM campground just west of Carrizozo. We had stayed there in the past and it was very nice. In fact it was full when we pulled in. 

OK chose another choice and away we went east on 380 through some nice mountains. The roads were very bouncy and some steep places. But we made it out the other side to Bottomless Lakes State Park that is another very nice campground.

 As we circled the campground, the host came out to let us know they were packed full. OK we chose to move on down to Brantley Lake State Park. By now it was getting late in the day. When we got to Brantley, which, USED to be a nice park, it was nearly full. We had our choice of the two least desirable spots.

The OFM chose one and backed in. The vegetation was black or missing. In previous years it had been a nice area. The OFM was beat and ate supper and went to bed.
The next morning he checked the weather and it was predicted to be 40-50 mph winds for two days with gusts to 95 in our area. The OFM chose no thank you to that forecast and we rolled.

After heading south for a few minutes, the OFM chose to head on back down into Texas where the weather predictions were much better. So tonight the Teams are having wind gusts in the 20-30 mph range while camped back at San Pedro Campground at Del Rio, Tx.

We plan to rest a bit then start our migration to north Alabama where we plan on having tooooo much fun playing golf and tickling grand kids.

4/10/18

State of the Canyon

Adventure Location: New Mexico
Adventure Date: April , 2018
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This canyon view was getting in the way of the OFM’s thinking. He seemed to think it was his duty as the Blogger to head into the canyon and report on the latest State of the Canyon. It had been a year since our last trek into the Canyon. 

We reminded him that his knees were not in the best of shape for canyon meandering. He promised to be extra carefull, so off into the canyon we went. To our extreme amazement he was extra careful!

The trail first runs into the canyon as a notch in the canyon wall. One wrong step when trying lean over the edge to get “THE PICTURE” could lead to a trip to visit a coroner. But the canyon is very inviting.



Before long you start to see a small flow of water along the bottom of the wash. Soon you get to enjoy this view of a pond among the rocks and trees.


Depending on amount of water flow there can be several very nice ponds along the wash. 

As you get near the end of the upper trail, there are nice flowers growing from the wall you are walking adjacent to. On this day the main flower was this one.



They are definitely very pretty and bright.




Soon after the flower wall you will arrive at a table. We recommend that you take a few moments to sit quietly and adsorb some of the beautiful sounds of nature all around you.



At this point the OFM wisely stopped to access the knee abilities. The trail enters the wash (bottom of the canyon) at this point. The trail goes upstream and downstream. Last year the OFM was able to head upstream for a ways and it was great fun. Then when returning we went downstream for about a  half mile. The scrambling required at that time was just about the most he could do.

This time Mr. Being Careful OFM took his time to try going down to the wash from the table. First he tried the upstream trail and decided it was out of his current ability. OK now to try to get down to the downstream section. He decided that the only way he could get down to it was to fall off the rock onto the wash rocks. So that was also a NO_NO.
Here is a view of the wash entry point where the OFM was careful today. 



We were very proud that the OFM showed some sense today but it was a major surprise. From our last trip down the wash we are sure a knee or two would have given out. Then we would been in a bad fix being down in the wash without a rope to pull us out. Our guess we would have been stuck in there until a mountain lion got bad indigestion from eating the OFM.

So we turned back on the upper trail and enjoyed the views from the opposite direction. It is always amazing how different the same scenery looks when coming from a different direction. Looking both directions is good for trying to have tooooo much fun.


4/8/18

Wore Out

Adventure Location: Oliver Lee State Park, New Mexico
Adventure Date: April , 2018
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The OFM was doing a wonderful job of meandering around one of the displays in the park when he happened to look up to see this view of the canyon in the park. WOW he thought. The Teams need to tour that canyon again.



As he continued to meander the Frenchys cabin area another sharp rock put a dent in his foot. Yep the eight year (at least) daily wear shoes need to be replaced. Several months he made an excellent purchase of another pair on the Internet. It is time to upgrade.

Back at the Castle he set the two pair side by side and labeled them to make sure our readers could tell which is the old pair. The Teams think it is obvious but he is not so smart in his old age now.


The old shoe lace pattern for each shoe was used on the new shoes. Those patterns for lacing were developed over a few painful months years ago to fit the goofy shape of the OFM’s weird (to match the rest of him) feet. After the re lacing was finished and tried on for fit, he was ready for more walking.
So we took off to give them a good breaking in. Since they are Merrell brand, they really do not need “breaking in” but the shoe lacing does require some proper tensioning.

Naturally the OFM could not pass up the opportunity to photograph some pretty cactus flowers.



Soon we will see what the OFM knees can handle on the canyon trail.  Last April the OFM legs failed miserably to be able to handle the big trail that goes all the way to the top of the mountain. This year those knees will be tested on the trail going into the canyon. 

This beautiful sunset is the finishing touch to this day of getting ready for trying to have tooooo much fun.