This is the last of the posts that I wrote while we were on vacation last week. Sorry...I got a little wordily excited about newts.
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Today we woke up to the soothing sound of rain, and the desire to stay curled up under the covers that accompanies it. Compared to the temperatures in the nineties from earlier in the week, today the high was in the high sixties. Dave wanted to go for a run and I wasn’t feeling it, but somehow when I looked at the Promised Land State Park map, the most appealing plan was a nearly seven mile loop, two and a half miles of which were open and run-able.
Upon arrival, we were immediately bombarded with vicious mosquito rampages and they found the one place we hadn’t thoroughly bug sprayed moments before—our faces. Within a few minutes the repellent had worn off and they covered our whole bodies with red, ugly, itching bumps. Oh well.
We started with the thickly forested area, where the trail was narrow and verging on overgrown. Jonah almost always likes to lead the way, but when the overgrowth was as tall as he was he chose to fit his way neatly in between Dave and me. He still wanted to go faster and every few steps I would feel a paw trying to give me a flat tire, but it was better to let me part the branches. Dave said that, whenever he could, he would peer around my leg like a car inching out before moving over to pass. As soon as the path cleared out, he was happily back in front.
We didn’t see too many types of wildlife; most of the birds, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, snakes and even bears who we knew were nearby had found places to try to stay out of the light rain. What we did see were newts…LOTS of newts. I stumbled across the first little guy just as Jonah stepped on him (he seemed fine—the ground was very soft) and we stopped to admire him. Then there were three more gathered on a rock. We began to keep track of who spotted them. Usually whoever was in front had a defi-newt advantage, but the game stayed neck and neck for a long time. Four to zero quickly became five to six, then I creamed out to a mi-newt eleven to nine lead, then the score became newt-ral at nineteen and a half to nineteen and a half (we both spotted one at the same time), and then finally we emerged off the small path onto the new(t) big running space. We thought the game would be over, but to our surprise there were swarms of newts on this big trail. We were also running at this point, and keeping score became impossible. After we’d counted one hundred newts we stopped keeping track but they were everywhere and we were doing quite the footwork to try not to step on any as we ran along in the rain, grateful to be fleeing from the bugs and out of the wet undergrowth.
When we reached the car, we were all hot, tired and soaking wet. Jonah had rolled in some poop that we had to wash off once we got home, but mostly we were all pleased when we could sit down and relax for the evening after a long hike. With well-used muscles and bellies full of a newt-ricious dinner, we settled down just in time for the rain to start pouring once again.