Family Day and hiking out in the woods

The weather here is FINALLY starting to cool off. We’ve been able to open up the windows and bring in cool air from outside and since the air conditioning upstairs has been broken for most of the whole summer, that has been a HUGE relief, let me tell you! It still got up to 80 up here this afternoon, but it’s on it’s way back down now that the sun has set and we’ve got the fans in the windows pulling in cooling air. I’ll be happy when the midday temperatures are less than the mid-80s, that’s for sure!

Today was Family Day at work — they have this huge thing where they have tons of games with prizes for kids and informational booths for the adults and tours of the plant and music and entertainers. There’s those inflatable moonwalk things that we always wish they’d let adults play on, too. And climbing walls and trampoline-bungee things and lots of other ways to run around and have fun. Plus a ferris wheel! And, really, the main reason that we go at all: free food, drinks, funnel cake, and cotton candy! This year the main meal was catered by Jim ‘n’ Nicks, one of our FAVORITE restaurants in Bluffton. The pulled pork sandwich I got was *great* but sadly Justin’s chicken was mostly charcoal flavored and rubbery. We did manage to find him a soft pretzel later on. And I got to indulge myself with a stick of cotton candy that colored my teeth blue and some kettle corn.

So we went, wandered around, got some free food, took a turn on the ferris wheel, and came home. But it was fun to see all the kids running around and having fun and watching people with their families. We saw one kid hiding behind her mom absolutely terrified of the person dressed up like a pink monster thing while her brave older sister stood talking with it. We saw another tiny little child having a blast on a bungee thing where she was strapped into a seat and then got to go FLYING up into the air — seriously more than 20 feet up. She was just tickled!

We put in our name for a drawing, but I don’t think we won anything. The only reason we really go is to get the free food and ride on the ferris wheel. And because when I’m frustrated with work, it does me good to remember that this company really does do good things for its employees. I’m pretty sure most companies don’t have a FAIR that they invite all their employees and families to attend and then make everything FREE. I mean, there’s a TON of money put into this event — this plant currently employs upwards of 8000 people. That’s a LOT of toys to hand out as prizes for midway games. It’s nice to feel appreciated now and then by having events like this.

After getting home, after it cooled off a little, we went for our walk on the trail out in the woods. We try to go for a walk every day, but on the weekends, we make it out to a trail in the woods outside of town. It doesn’t really go anywhere — just out and back following what used to be a railroad line and now holds power lines. But the county made it into a walking trail with informational signs here and there talking about the environment and how the trail was created and stuff like that.

I love being out there because I can hear the birds singing and the crickets and frogs raising a ruckus and the wind blowing through the trees and the grass and it’s AWESOME. On weekdays, we walk up to the main road from our house and walk on the sidewalk that runs along that road, and it’s a nice wide sidewalk that’s got a lot of tree cover and everything. But it’s a well-trafficked street, so there are always car noises and it’s loud and it’s paved and it’s obviously part of town. We have to walk there on the weekdays because it takes too much time to get out to the trail in the woods and because by the time I get home and we’re heading out, it’s getting towards sundown and you’re not allowed out on the wooded trail after sunset. And for Good Reasons — it’s wooded and there are wild animals!

But when we are able to get out there on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, it’s like I’ve finally been able to take a deep breath after breathing shallow all week long. We step into the woods, and almost every single time, we both let out a sigh of relief. Like, this here? This is where we belong. This is where we feel relaxed. This is where we feel at home. With the leaves over my head and the dirt under my feet, crunching in the leaves and breathing in the smell of the grass and the fresh air. About a quarter of a mile in, we can’t see any houses anymore. When we get out half a mile, we can’t hear cars anymore. And even though we’re out there for exercise and we’re huffing and puffing and all, it’s the most wonderful several miles that we’ve covered all week long.

We don’t usually see people out there much. We’ve seen a handful of walkers, a couple bicyclists, and some people on ATVs that weren’t supposed to be on the trails in the first place (no motorized vehicles allowed). We’ve seen what I think was a fox from really far away. We’ve seen scat from unknown carnivorous animals. Justin saw a rabbit. We’ve seen oodles of different insects, including really, really big spiders. We saw a turtle today. And we’ve seen several snakes. Today we saw a ribbon snake,  a type of garter snake. But we have seen venomous snakes in the past.

So even though we love being out there and find it one of the most relaxing places to be, we are always very careful to be aware of our surroundings and keep an eye out for the dangers.

Walking on that trail, along with several other reaons, is why we know that we really would be happier living out in the country than living in town.