This weekend a required nutrition seminar took me once again to Stevens Point, WI, to both attend the seminar and visit my pal Brock. I had a couple runs planned for the weekend and was excited to get going, so my car was packed, the gas tank was full (ouch!), and the iPod Shuffle was loaded with entertainment. By 4:00 on Friday I was out of the office and heading North.
The last couple times I've driven to Stevens Point I noticed an "Ice Age National Scenic Trail" sign on Highway 54 just outside of Waupaca, WI. Being a big fan of the IAT, I was intrigued immediately and had planned on running this particular segment on the way up. I had emailed some local IAT groups to find out how long the segment was (8.5 miles to the South from the parking lot) and if there were any other interesting things I should consider. I was informed there was an alternate route about a mile into the trail ("take the alternate route, it's more scenic"), after 8.5 miles the trail dead-ends at "2nd Avenue," and, of course, "Just follow the Yellow Blazers." Sounds simple enough.
After taking a couple detours because of roads closed due to flooding, I finally made it up to the parking lot and was chomping at the bit. I took off with a bottle of nuun (I finally bought some and loved it!) and some Sport Beans and headed into the woods.
The first part of the trail in in a tree line between two fields. At times I was doubled over to avoid the branches. The footing wasn't nearly as technical as the IAT in the Northern Kettles, but the lack of upkeep of the trail made it more difficult. Nonetheless, this is my favorite trail to run on and I was loving it. I continued to follow the Yellow Blazers (and occasionally make a wrong turn) through a State Park and then through a wildlife reserve that was absolutely beautiful--and maybe a bit too beautiful, as at some point the Blazers turned from yellow to green.
Eventually this "green trail" ended up at a road marked as "3rd Avenue." I was looking for "2nd Avenue." Hmmm. This trail had progressively gotten more overgrown, to the point that I'm not only running doubled over but also keeping my feet in a line with each step because the trail is so narrow it's almost gone. I got to 3rd Avenue in 1:05 so I figured I better just turn around. So back out I came, enjoying the trail again and even running into a decent sized grass snake (at which point I did a very funny and girly-like dance around it) and several deer (who looked at me like they had never seen a human before in their life). It was amazing.
I was back to the car in 2:13 and right on the verge of a bonk. I was beat. Within half an hour I was at Brock's and in the shower. That's when it went from a "fantastic" to "fantastick."
Absolutely Disgusting. Perhaps the only living creatures I think less of than some politicians.
In the shower some little specs of dirt were not washing off. Upon closer examination I realized those specs of dirt were TICKS. DISGUSTING, LITTLE, PARASITIC, BLOOD SUCKING, GOOD-FOR-NOTHING-BUT-GROSSING-ME-OUT-AND-GETTING-ME-BANNED-FROM-MY-OWN-HOUSE-BY-ELLIE TICKS! In total, I found four of them around my ankles. I checked everywhere else too but I was clear. Down the drain the ticks went, at which point I continued to wash, rinse, and repeat for an hour and a half. (Only kidding on the "hour and a half" part)
After explaining to Brock the situation, we moved on to checking my shoes. Sure enough, another little parasitic hitchhiker was found in there and quickly incinerated via match. Continued careful inspection revealed no more scum-of-the-earth insects, but I was taking no chances. I took out the inserts and propped them up in the shoes. I decided I'd leave them like that outside. These are dumb insects*, so I figured they'd think they were on a plant and climb to the top of the insert overnight.
Ever try sleeping at night after realizing you had ticks on you? Needless to say, Friday night was a bit restless. Eventually the morning came and, after another thorough body cavity check I was getting ready for the seminar. Sure enough, there was a tick waiting on the top of my insert, legs extended and hoping to catch a ride. Another two matches, an all too familiar smell of burning tick, and the confirmed kill number had risen to 2.
Only 2, you ask? What about the 4 in the shower, you inquire? Well, when I got into the shower that morning there was a friggen tick on the shower wall. It had survived the drain and climbed back up into my kill zone. Match struck. Match applied to tick. "Die!" shouted by Nic. Body disposed of. 3 confirmed Kills.
At this point my alert level is a def com 9 for more of these damn things. None, however, were found the rest of the morning. I hopped in my car (after a careful inspection of the floor and seat) and was off to the seminar.
Want to hear something gross? Lets say you're sitting in a seminar, you're listening to someone talking about herbal nutrition, and suddenly you feel a tickle on your neck. You swipe the area with your hand. Something small and hard is felt on your fingertips. You look at fingertips. You see a tick. You are disgusted but must remain calm so as not to clue your colleagues into the fact you had a TICK CRAWLING ACROSS YOUR NECK. Apparently my scan of my carseat wasn't as thorough as I had thought.
I don't know about you, but just thinking about it has me squirming. Later on in the morning I got a text from Brock that there were 3 ticks in the shower when he got up. All were dealt with and the total confirmed kills topped out at 7.
After all that, I'd say the weekend was pretty uneventful. Brock and I played Bocce Ball in a beautiful park on Saturday afternoon. I absolutely dominated the best-of-three series, winning 21-9 and 21-4. It was embarrassing for Brock. I'm not sure he'll recover. During the games, we discussed very serious matters, liksuch as women on TV whom we had a crush on growing up (Rebecca Donaldson from Full House, Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years, Elisabeth Shue in The Karate Kid topped the list). On Sunday after the seminar concluded, I ran around on the Green Circle Trail in Stevens Point for 2:40. This trail is crushed granite and very wide, so there was no chance of Tickage.
Uncle Jesse, you're my hero.
What a fantastick weekend! A total of 5 hours of running, around 35 miles in total. Hopefully by tonight Ellie will let me enter the house again...
* Ticks actually aren't insects. They're arachnids, like spiders. They have 8 legs, not 6.