Roy the Mighty Hunter

Roy Yawning

CW: Murderous cat—includes graphic imagery.

It has been a pretty long four months mostly cooped up at home with Rain and Roy. We’ve been coping in different ways. One of Roy’s coping mechanisms has been pretty unique to him: going on a killing spree.

Once the weather warmed this spring Roy started hotfooting it outside again after breakfast. On several mornings the next time I’d see him he’d have a bird in his mouth. He’d want to come inside the house, possibly to deliver it to me or to eat his bird in a safe spot. I would shut the door before he made it inside.

Roy with Scrub Jay

Highly recommended comic: How Much Do Cats Actually Kill? by The Oatmeal

Roy Bats at Dead Bird in Kitchen

In prior years Roy has killed far more rodents than birds. My theory about why this shift happened has to do with the poultry enthusiasts who used to live across the street. Chickens tend to attract rodents, so when the neighbors and their flock moved back in March, it’s possible the rodents moved on to new food sources in other yards. Or Roy might have lost a territorial disagreement with the younger feral kittens that live next door to the ex-chicken house.

Roy with Dead Bird on Back Slab

Either way, for a few weeks there Roy was regularly coming home with birds. One morning, he showed up with two different birds over a couple hours! And these weren’t all invasive species or small birds, sometimes these were scrub jays, juncos, and towees. The second bird he ever brought in the house, a few years back, was a hummer.

Roy Relaxes with Dead Junco

People cheer a lot less for a cat killing songbirds compared with a cat that kills rodents. When Roy was having his spring killing spree, we looked into the BirdsBeSafe collar, scientifically proven to thwart cat predation of birds.

While I was mired in indecision about which pattern to get, the dead bird parade just stopped.

Roy with Dead Bird in Mouth on Front Porch

After Roy stopped killing birds, things were completely quiet for over a month. Then we got a couple summer days with warm enough weather that I left my front door open at night. I was up late when I heard an urgent-but-muffled meow in tandem with a soft thud coming from the front room. It was about midnight, and Roy had a tiny little mouse that he released in the kitchen but wasn’t quite dead. He soon fixed that situation and had himself a midnight snack.

After a big breakfast the next morning, he came in with a northern flicker—his biggest bird yet. He brought it into the kitchen and released it from his jaw. After the bird took two seconds to regain cognition, it started flapping, flying from the kitchen around the living room a bit before landing on the floor. Roy was on it, and captured the bird again. I shooed him out and closed the doors.

After properly killing the flicker he took it to the back door, where eventually he had a nibble and just abandoned the prey after. It wasn’t too long before flies and yellowjackets discovered the bird, and I decided to move it to a place where scavengers could enjoy the bird. It shouldn’t have died in vain, right?

Roy with Dead Flicker

Rain and I were watching a movie around 11 PM that evening when I barely noticed some movement out of the corner of my eye. It wasn’t until the movie was over that I discovered Roy had once again delivered the bird carcass to the living room! It was returned to its prior resting place before we went to sleep, and after witnessing a bit of crow interest a day later, the carcass seemed to disappear.

Roy is starting to show some age. Just when I think he’s becoming a mature old cat who is more interested in hanging out with Rain and I than prowling all night, he’ll prove me wrong by bringing me a cavalcade of prey. He’s a mighty hunter, I always tell the vet when I take him in, but I feel like they don’t understand just how much. Usually it sinks in when I tell them that he has brought squirrels into the house a couple of times.

Audubon and other bird organizations say that educating cat owners about their cat’s damage doesn’t do any good. Why don’t I do much in this situation, as a bird enthusiast? Roy came to us unintentionally—his house was originally across the street. I’ve been very careful to not be too possessive of him, or at least in a way that’s visually obvious. Putting a bright clown collar on him might spur a neighbor confrontation I don’t really want. If the cavalcade of dead birds picks up again though I might be forced to take riskier measures.

Rain Finds a Litter of Kittens

CW: Death.

Rain and I were about a block from home one morning when she stopped to sniff a spot in the grass. Rain lingered a little too long, and I got curious about whether she was sniffing another dog’s odor or was now munching on someone’s cast-away Ding Dong. I fought to pull her back slightly, and spotted some tiny lumps of fur in a depressed area of the grass.

Kittens in Grass

Looking around for more clues, I noticed there were four tire divots in the dirt around the mashed-down grass. Since it was Monday morning, I pieced together a theory that the kittens had been born under the car over the weekend, then the car had rolled away to work Monday morning, narrowly missing the litter.

I took Rain home and returned with my mom and a box, but the kittens were gone—perhaps moved by their mother. I put a note on the doors of the neighboring two houses and waited.

In the evening I was briefed on the whole situation: one of the women has been taking care of a small feral cat colony. One litter had already been born, this was the second, and there was probably one more due at any time. She talked about saving up for live traps so she could pay to get the cats spayed and neutered: she didn’t know about the resources that Feral Cat Coalition has to help people in this situation. I wanted to help and ultimately agreed to take this litter, and that’s how we got four new tiny housemates!

Rain Guards the Kittens

Rain was particularly excited by our new guests. The first evening especially, she whimpered and whined and paced around, wanting to say a better hello to them. I put them in a box inside her rarely used dog crate, which lives in the back room of the house. I blocked access to that part of the house using an expandable baby gate.

Light Paws Being Bottle Fed

Over the next few days we all adjusted to our new situation. Getting up every two hours to bottle feed the kittens was tough, but the lack of sleep wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The kittens got used to bottle feeding, I got used to bottle feeding the kittens. Rain supervised everything from the other side of the baby gate.

As for Roy, he never did quite get used to having four kittens in the house.

Roy Looks at Kittens

During this time I pored over information about taking care of neonatal kittens, including but not limited to The Kitten Lady’s website. When the kittens seem to be having digestive problems, they got a trip to the vet, and sent home with some Fortiflora. When one of the kittens had really bad diarrhea, I got some unflavored Pedialyte to mix in with their formula, helping with dehydration per Kitten Lady.

Over the first few days I had to figure out how to tell them apart visually for the purposes of recording their weights correctly each day. Three of them were dark tabbys, so that was especially tough. Soon I figured out their small differences to come up with their names: Darkest, Light Paws, Dark Paws, and Grey [or Lady Jane Grey].

Grey Bottle Feeding

Things seemed to be going acceptably okay until the weekend, when I started noticing stranger digestive issues than before. One or two of the kittens would alternate between eating ravenously, their belly so big I was afraid it would burst, and the belly deflating back to normal but they wouldn’t want anything to do with the bottle. Even though I was stimulating their genitals after their meal, they wouldn’t reliably defecate, but then I’d come check on them and there’d be fecal matter smeared on their legs or behinds. None of the kittens was really gaining as much weight as might be typical, but one was struggling more than the rest.

Kittens in Box

Sunday evening, Darkest—who had been struggling—seemed to be crashing. She died overnight, and that’s when I really started getting worried. After much fretting, Monday afternoon I took them to DoveLewis, worried that I might lose all of them, one by one, if I didn’t. Light Paws was starting to look bad too, after all.

I ended up relinquishing them as strays to DoveLewis, in hopes of giving them all the best chance. The process of doing this was especially awkward, since vet offices are now holding clinic out of cars in parking lots rather than allowing people into their building. Before I left they had secured a potential neonatal foster placement through Oregon Humane Society (OHS). The plan was to observe them overnight, then ship them off to OHS in the morning. I was given a case number so I could call back and check on their progress after leaving the hospital.

Unfortunately the kitties never made it to OHS. After I got to enjoy a couple nights of sleep uninterrupted by bottle feedings, I called DoveLewis to make sure the kitties had been transferred without incident. They asked me to hold for a doctor, and we ended up having a pretty lengthy conversation about the whole situation. Her observations about their GI problems echoed what I had seen, and she told me that none of them had made it. Fortunately they were able to provide euthanasia when it was needed, so their suffering wasn’t longer than it needed to be.

Darkest in Blankets

Do I regret getting mixed up with the kittens? Not at all! Even though it was tough, I’d like to think I made their short lives better than they would have been under a car a mere four feet from a relatively busy roadway with no curb or shoulder. Rain really enjoyed having them around—she made sure Roy never got too close to the baby gate and she alerted me a couple times when they had managed to crawl out of their little box. She acted as if they were her babies, and I’m sure if they had gotten old enough she would have taken great care of them.

Rain Guards the Kittens

Special Delivery!

Rain in USPS Bin

Has it really been two and a half months since Rain’s exploits have been reported to the internet? Rain hasn’t just been sitting around—at least most of the time. We promise to bring you some big tales in the coming days.

Happy Tenth Birthday Rain!

Rain's Tenth Birthday Portrait

It’s Rain’s TENTH birthday today! She’s a decade old!

The day promises to be a good one, which is good since we’ve been counting down for the last few weeks now. The weather is beautiful and Rain will get to enjoy hanging outside with one of her people for most of the day. Tonight Rain will get a special pupcake and maybe even some human food with dinner to celebrate.

Rain at Six Weeks

Rain’s birth story is an interesting one—she was the surprise puppy at the end of a tough birth. We reflect on it regularly, and many of the other milestones in Rain’s life.

Help Rain celebrate by giving your own dog or cat some extra love today.

Rain Salutes Baseball

Rain Wearing Portland Pickles Mini-Helmet

Rain has been thinking about baseball lately.

Not only has she noticed the lack of weird smells and abandoned snacks around the baseball diamonds at our neighborhood park the last several weeks, but she has been dreaming about running the bases herself, chasing balls while being cheered by the crowd, helping out with baseball bats, and eating hot dogs. Lots and lots of hot dogs.

Rain’s favorite team is the Portland Pickles, a neighborhood favorite. Each year they have at least one Bark in the Park event where doggos are allowed to come watch a game with their people! Rain knows that she can bark the longest and loudest, so she’d win the game. [Ed. Note: This might be why she hasn’t been to one of these yet!]

Rain’s favorite major league team is the Houston Astros, who also host a Dog Day each season. She doubts she’ll ever make it to Houston to show them how she can fill Minute Maid Park with her Texas-sized barks.

Rain is sad about all the fun games that have been cancelled this year, but is glad the teams that are playing haven’t forgotten about their canine fans.

Sunday Strolls

In an effort to give Rain some fun each week, to keep her nose smelling new odors and her eyes seeing new sights, over the last five weeks I’ve been getting up early on Sunday mornings and taking Rain out for a long walk before most of the world is up and at ’em. We’ve headed out from our house in a new direction each week. Here are some photos from our outings!

Rain Sits on Baseball Bench
Rain Wades in Johnson Creek
Rain Sits on Bench at 42nd and Johnson Creek Boulevard
Rain Sits Next to Flowers and Farmhouse
Rain Sits Inside 19/71 Bus Stop Shelter
Rain at Reed College
Rain Laughs at Leash Sign
Rain Sits on SE Reed College Way
Rain at 72nd and Foster Building

The Inside Times with Rain

Rain Peers Over Screen Door

A few days after our last buzzy buster, the world started screeching to a very weird halt. Our nosework class was cancelled as panic started ensuing about the novel coronavirus hitting Washington state, and by the end of the week I was showing signs of illness. Instead of heading out on a buzzy buster with Rain, I was on the phone seeking medical advice.

It turned out I just had a cold, which I suspect I got from someone at nosework class. There was one day I had low energy and decided to just lie in bed watching movies most of the day, but that decision had at least as much to do with hiding from the world as much as feeling ill.

It's NOT Coronavirus!

As I recovered from my cold, Oregon’s governor officially announced social distancing measures in our state. After crowds flocked to the Oregon coast, national forests, state parks, and other natural areas during spring break, the authorities officially closed access to those places as well. That’s when shit got real for me—how do you expect an Aussie who needs daily physical and mental work, to fare in conditions like this?

Fortunately we’re doing okay. What routines we haven’t been able to keep we’ve adapted a bit, and we’ve got some new business in the works.

Clackamas County closed their parks, including but not limited to dog parks, but we’ve still been able to visit the park by our house each weekday morning, which is just on the other side of the line with the City of Portland. I’ve been trying to avoid the play structure, but otherwise doing my best to work Rain each day. Since we typically visit early in the morning, my thinking went, any lingering virus would have a chance to die off overnight. I’ve got procedures for putting things away and washing my hands well when we get home.

Oregon State Parks closed the system back in March, so Rain and I clearly haven’t been on any buzzy busters to state parks since Champoeg. We had generally covered most of the roomy state parks within a reasonable drive though, if the parks hadn’t closed we might have found ourselves traveling to the coast just to keep Rain’s brain smelling novel things. (What dog isn’t enchanted by the smell of dead fish?)

Nosework classes have been cancelled, although Kristina was offering some remote options. Nosework trials I had been signed up to volunteer at even got cancelled months ahead of time! Plus of course we had already been suffering through the loss of agility late last year.

Strangely enough, Rain has been taking things pretty well. It even seems like she has suddenly taken another step toward maturity! At the park each morning she has been less excited about running and playing ball ad nauseum, and more satisfied by sniffing around in the grass. One recent morning we pressured a group of geese to leave (on leash) so we could play ball, then after one throw Rain seemed completely happy to sniff around in the grass and eat goose poop for the rest of our visit. When she does get excited, she seems to recover relatively quickly.

It’s not all good news, though. Rain got a bit of an ear infection and at times has been appearing to baby her front right shoulder. I can tell that Rain is jumbling things up a little bit at times too, like when I’ve signaled an agility move from further distance from an object and she does something different than what I’ve asked for. Last month I started teaching her a new trick and it seemed to take her a bit before her brain started thinking about what I wanted.

Rain and I have started a new weekly outing in place of the buzzy buster. On Sunday mornings we’ve been getting up early and going for a long walk from our house, exploring a new way each week. It’s an attempt to avoid people but still get some better exercise each week. Rain usually arrives home happy and relaxed for the rest of the day. In the next couple of days, look for some short reports with photos.

In an effort to work Rain in some novel ways that we can do at home, I also signed up last week for Home School the Dog, a program put together by online trainer Susan Garrett. Molly suggested signing up for one of her programs during our agility summer break last year and I did, but I was so overwhelmed by the information that I never really progressed. This time I’m putting in the effort to work through the roadblocks from before, and we’ll see how it goes.

Other than that, Rain, Roy and I have been spending The Inside Times about like everyone else:

We’ve just been hanging around…

Rain on Back in Bed
Roy Balancing in Closet

Snacking too much…

Rain and Her Spare Ribs
Ripped Greenies Bag
Roy with Scrub Jay

Baking bread…

James Beard White Sandwich Bread Loaves
Whole Wheat Bread on Kitchen Cutting Board

and wearing our masks.

Rain Wearing Homemade Mask

Buzzy Busting at Champoeg State Park

If I didn’t note right at the top that I am catching up, people might be concerned that we were visiting a state park in the midst of our societal shutdown. Do not fret! I’m just catching up a bit.

Rain at Champoeg Marker

Rain and I were on a roll, having visited three state parks for three weeks in a row, enjoying a beautiful sunny day while doing it. Well, if there’s anything one should know about sunny days in Oregon in early March, it’s that they’re an exception, not a rule. And thus, our next outing was wet from start to finish.

Champoeg State Heritage Area sits roughly 25 miles south of Portland down the Willamette Valley, where the conditions create fertile farmland. The town of Champoeg grew by the banks of the Willamette River inside the state park but a series of floods eventually wiped the town out completely by the early 1900s. Before those floods, a group of settlers made the decision in 1843 to form a provisional government, effectively creating the Oregon Territory. A marker commemorating that site was erected in 1901. Today, Champoeg’s large park encompasses a visitor center, pioneer barn and orchard, river access, archeological sites, a long multi-modal path to neighboring town Butteville, campgrounds, and plenty more.

Fun Fact: Back in 2004, I was part of a team that developed proper exhibits for the visitor center at Champoeg. They’re a hit with staff, volunteers, and visitors to this day!

Navigating through the park to the off-leash area, two cars were already present in the small gravel parking area. We pulled up and two dogs were close enough to our car that Rain got extra barky. The human and her two Labs were heading out, and after they did Rain was very excited to get out after our ride.

Rain Sniffs at Champoeg Off Leash Area

It was difficult to tell by the park map just how far the exercise area stretched, but evidence (and the behavior of the other person visiting) suggested that it was positively enormous.

Rain Shakes Off Near Marshy Grass

Rain thoroughly explored the place, from mud puddles to drainage ditches.

Rain Wades in Water at Champoeg

After we had walked around the ginormous field next to the gravel parking area, we saw a break in the edge which had mud caked with both canine and human footprints. It lead to another enormous field, almost completely ensconced from park roads.

Muddy Entrance to Secret Off-Leash Area at Champoeg

Rain didn’t want to play ball as much here, she was content to just follow me around the field, sniffing and making wide herding circles around me.

Rain Happy to Visit Champoeg

Rain and I spent a solid hour just walking around this area collectively. When we were done, I sat in the car and ate the lunch I brought, offering a couple of carrots to Rain. After all, there was still plenty of park to visit on leash!

What a funny thing it was, then, when I noticed another huge off-leash area just on the other side of the road!

Champoeg Off Leash Area #2
Rain Near Pet Exercise Area Sign
Rain Sits Outside Pet Boundary Line

Rain seemed just as happy to get out and explore the new area as well. It had better boundary markers, but was generally unremarkable save for an oak tree and a dry drainage ditch, which we hopped across a few times. A red-tailed hawk perched on some nearby trees to make sure we weren’t attacked by rodents or a snake.

Once Rain had thoroughly explored the new off-leash area, I decided to pop over to the provisional government marker to get a photo. A crew was clearly setting up for an event—there were several vehicles parked nearby, with people coming and going from the nearby cabin, and several pop-up tents set up outside. We got our photo, and continued walking down the roadway to start exploring on leash.

Rain Poses at Champoeg Town Site

Eventually we came to the edge of the field with the Champoeg town site. After a quick photo Rain and I continued on the paved multi-use path. Each summer a student archaeology team from Oregon State University digs somewhere in the town site, unearthing bottle fragments, nails, bits of china, and other remains from the town. Some of them are on display at the visitor center!

Rain Looks at Small Creek

Eventually we made it to the other side of the park where the disc golf course, day use areas, and campgrounds lie. Since it was a rainy weekday in early March we didn’t see a lot of visitors, which is exactly how we (I) like it.

Rain at Disc Golf Hole

Since the campground area might have people and dogs, we cut through the disc golf course toward the river and headed down to the dock.

Rain Sits on Champoeg Dock

We were starting to get pretty wet by this time, but we were still having plenty of fun exploring by ourselves. In order to head back to the car and close the large loop around the town site, we took a small hiking trail at the edge of the riverbank.

Rain Looks Out at Willamette River

This trail was a nice change of pace from the wide, paved, open-air paths we had mostly been on thus far. At one point while Rain was sniffing some critter odor, I spotted a small group of trillium flowers in bloom!

Trillium in Bloom at Champoeg

Once we continued past the end of the dirt trail and back on pavement, we started passing signs that were clearly meant for runners, which lead me to believe the event set-up was for a run which would probably be happening the next morning, Saturday.

Rain Next to Motivational Running Sign

Some of the other motivational signs we passed said pain is temporary, may the course be with you, and you’ve got the runs. Hopefully the event wasn’t a marathon, or that last one might be informational more than motivational!

It was perfect timing—I wanted to leave the park by a certain time to avoid heavy traffic, and it was nearing that time. We cut across the second off leash area to get back to the car where we spent some time shaking off and wringing out all the water we had absorbed during our three hours roaming around at the park. We were thoroughly soaked, but had a great time—Rain’s buzzies were successfully busted yet again!

As we wound our way out of the park, our red-tailed hawk buddy perched on a low tree to offer us a nice photo at the very end of our visit.

Red-tailed Hawk Atop a Small Tree at Champoeg

Back at the Gun Club: Nosework Report

If I didn’t note right at the top that I am catching up, people might be concerned that we were having nosework class in the midst of our societal shutdown. Do not fret! I’m just catching up a bit.

Baron Enters Kitchen Search

Rain and I were back to the gun club for nosework class this week. We had a pretty full house with eight dogs and five humans, but class was fairly uneventful otherwise. Maybe it was me—I had done a decent amount of physical labor earlier and was feeling pretty beat by the end of the day. Plus it was Super Tuesday and I was rooting for someone who wasn’t doing as well as expected.

Kristina had finally beat down the last of a cold she had been struggling with a while, but a human classmate had picked it up and talked during class about how long it was hanging on. Dear reader, I am fairly certain I caught that cold that very night, as I was feeling fairly miserable by the end of the following week.

It's NOT Coronavirus!

Well okay, technically it IS a coronavirus, but not the one you’re probably thinking of. And don’t worry, I’m 99.99999% better now!

Our first search took place in the kitchen and dining area. It turns out that whoever filmed our first search made a classic blunder with my video device, so this video is a bit difficult to see. I fixed it as much as I was able.

Our second search was in the side room. Rain did pretty well! I’ve been feeling lately like we haven’t been doing our searches very well, but this is apparently video evidence to the contrary. Or maybe, as usual, it’s just me.

When all eight dogs had finished up for the evening, I was pretty excited to head home and go to sleep. It had been a day where everything seemed all over the place, and I was ready to rest up. Fortunately for me, Rain tends to have most of her energy in the morning, so I didn’t hear any arguments on the way home.

Buzzy Busting at Stub Stewart State Park

Rain Sits by Old Stump

Our weekly buzzy-busting adventures continued this week with a jaunt that was a bit further afield than our prior outings. After some vacillation about which state park we should visit next, I undecidedly decided on heading to the far opposite end of the Portland metro area and L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park, outside of Banks, Oregon.

Our trip took about an hour each way from home, but it was well worth it. I’ve never explored the park much beyond the hiker/biker camp, nestled in the woods closer to the Banks-Vernonia State Trail, when camping at the park in the past. The Oregon State Parks “Pets in Parks” brochure stated there was an off-leash area and plenty of trails to explore, but I was somewhat skeptical. The random appearance of people and other dogs on trails has been challenging for us in the past, after all.

Off Leash Area at Stub Stewart State Park
Rain at Stub Stewart Off Leash Area

We started our visit with the off-leash area, which is completely fenced in—I presume for the protection of any woodland wildlife that may appear nearby. The off-leash area was sufficiently large and gave a picturesque view of the Coast Range beyond. However, it also had been placed on a relatively steep hillside which still had some thorn bushes growing up out of the ground at certain points. Rain and I played ball but as soon as she dropped the ball for a moment it would roll away. She got tired of going after it, then I got tired of walking down to the bottom again and again to fetch it. I mean, doesn’t the social contract of “fetch” place the fetching duty to the dog?

Stub Stewart Disc Golf Course

Starting to feel unexcited by the off-leash area, we wandered around the day use area, making sure to keep Rain a safe distance from some horses and their people who were staging a photo shoot. We crossed the road and used a deer path to enter the woods, where Rain used her nose to lead us both around part of the disc golf course. We never crossed paths with any disc golfers but knew a small group had recently played.

Rain was sniffing wildly, leading us through the forest and around the course, but eventually she peeled off onto another trail, and that’s where the real adventure began. I suppose my first mistake was letting Rain lead us, thinking we’d be on a modest loop sticking pretty close to the disc golf course.

At certain points I could tell we were on trails that were shared with equestrians. We came by signs pointing us to park features, and using the downloadable park map on my phone, I really couldn’t pinpoint which trail intersection we were at. Surely we’d wander to something next to the road at some point, at which point Rain and I could just walk downhill back to where we began. SURELY!

After skirting the horse camp, Rain found a couple of opportunities to roll in what I presume was horse poop on the trail. I carefully went around small portions of trail thick with mud or water, sometimes spotting horseshoe prints. Fortunately for everyone, there didn’t seem to be any horses on the trails on this day.

Rain Walks on Tree-covered Hillside in Stub Stewart

When we crossed a trail sign for a viewpoint in 1/4 mile, I made the executive decision that we’d head that way. We started heading uphill more sharply and came across the only other hiker we encountered that day. Rain got fussy when she spotted the stranger and her three dogs(!) from afar. When I asked (from afar) if Rain could go meet them, the stranger (sadly, but understandably) said no. So we climbed off the trail about 20 feet and waited for them to pass. Once they were out of sight again, Rain focused once again on getting to our uphill destination.

Stub Stewart State Park Viewpoint

We reached the viewpoint, which featured a sign informing us we were at 1,528 feet—a fairly typical Coast Range summit elevation. After taking a couple of photos, we started heading downhill before I got curious where the continuing trail lead. We doubled back to find out, but about 500 feet later we discovered an access gate with a road on the other side. Fairly certain we were off the park map, and nowhere near the Banks-Vernonia trail as I had hoped, we aborted our mission and headed back to return via the original path.

Rain Poses on Forest Road Inside Stub Stewart State Park

Instead of retracing our steps though—how could we, when I wasn’t even sure where we had been?—at a certain point we came across a wider access road and decided to follow it. I recalled seeing a similarly wide path when we were at the disc golf course, so I thought it possible that this one could take us back.

Rain Looks Into Mountain Bike Area at Stub Stewart

We rounded a bend and discovered the entrance to an area of the park that was for mountain bikes only! A large sign stood beside the entrance, with plankways and other signs inside making it clear who the area was intended for. Not far past that Rain perked up when she heard two voices in conversation. We paused our walk and eventually spotted two mountain bikers on a trail adjacent to us, presumably heading for the mountain bike area. I am certain they didn’t even know we were there as they passed through.

As I suspected though, eventually we started seeing disc golf holes once again, at which point we peeled off the service road (or whatever it was) and went back to navigating back using the disc golf course. Eventually we emerged from the trees into the afternoon sun. After giving Rain some water we visited the off-leash area one last time. Rain was much more interested in sniffing around the day use area so once she seemed satisfied with that, we loaded up and headed home again, after about a three hour visit.

We couldn’t have had a better day, although at the outset we didn’t know what it would entail. I suspect Stub Stewart wouldn’t have been so devoid of visitors on a weekend day, or another time of year—but we lucked out with weather and had another hugely successful buzzy buster. And after Rain ate her dinner a few hours later, I got to enjoy the quiet for the rest of the evening.