I think a rule of life is that you find the best things when you aren't even looking.
Take the invention of the slinky for an example.
Mr. Richard James, mild-mannered naval engineer.
Not even kind of looking for a best selling toy.
Just goes and knocks one of his springs (used for keeping fragile equipment steady on shifting ships)
off a shelf and watches as Slink does his walking move that he is famous for nowdays.
Add a little marketization...
Sometimes you find really neat stuff when you least expect it.
Like little towns named after nocturnal semiaquatic rodents.
My first introduction to Beaver was work-related, on a cold, sunny morning.
On my drive back to McMinnville, I saw a sign for "Niagara Falls".
I don't claim to be a mapologist, but I knew I hadn't driven far enough to be anywhere close to Canada.
I knew I had to find out just what this sign was all about.
So two months later we set off.
Me and Dad with Argos in Sam's Jeep, Caleb and Mom with Maggy in her Scion.
From my initial inspection of the road leading to the Niagara Falls trailhead, I knew that neither a FWD Scion or even my AWD Infiniti would carry us all the way over the potholes, tree limbs and mud pits that we would have to cross.
I besieged Sam to let me take one from his collection and he thought his Renegade would do the trick.
I've made a few disparaging comments about the Jeep Patriot that I rented in Fontana, but I recant any negative remarks I made towards the Jeep company as a whole.
I had initially wanted a Renegade before I bought my Infiniti, but I hadn't actually spent a good deal of time driving it, or seeing what it could do offroad.
I left the Renegade that day, loving it 10x more than I ever had in my life.
It had guts when you gunned it, plenty of room to carry all my stuff, good gas-mileage and the offroad mud setting worked great.
Anyways, me and Dad were in the Jeep with the rest behind us, and we're trying to keep Argos from getting carsick.
You've met Argos, right?
Yea, that's him.
He gets sick and tosses his cookies when he rides in cars for long periods of time.
Keeping an 80-pound dog looking out the window is just as hard as it sounds.
So guess what.
Our caravan had to stop.
My pictures of the dogs are lacking. They wouldn't hold still.
The road to the trailhead lived up to what I had expected and it took us a good 20 minutes on the muddy road to finally reach where we could all pile out of the car.
Dad took Argos several feet ahead of me and Caleb, and we performed as a protective barrier between them and Mom with Maggy in the back.
It's not that the two dogs don't get along...
It was just that Argos was so excited to be in the wild, I had to keep a good grip on the back of Dad's jacket so he didn't go flying down the trail when Argos decided it was time to move forward.
He was, rightly, quite excited.
Or maybe Argos was just trying to get away from Dad's neon reflective jacket.
The trail was a bit exciting at some points with parts crumbling off the side of the incline and some steep wet spots...but we sure weren't going to get lost.
The predictors called for a slight chance of rain, but it was actually sunny most of the time.
We never quite lost sight of Dad.
It's not like we could've even if we'd wanted to with that jacket he had on.
Maggy's first but not last excision into the wild. Next stop for her?
This was nature's quiet way of saying "If you can't fit through here, you're probably too out of shape to make the hike back. You better just turn around."
A Tree-Root Monster being born.
Proportionately, Maggy was pulling about 3 times harder than Argos.
She was also apparently levitating too.
The sign said that it was only a mile hike, but everyone was acting like I had tricked them into a 15-mile hike.....
I will admit, there was a lot of elevation change.
Then somebody heard water.....they all stopped wanting to lynch me and looked up....
This is the smaller Pheasant Creek Falls up above, and below is Niagara Falls.
It was beautiful out there.
Caleb is still a stud when he's not even paying attention.
The sad part about leaving the falls was two-fold.
Not only did we have to leave the impressive sights,
but as I remembered it, if the path is mostly downhill on the way there....
That means it's uphill all the way back.
But that was the only way I was getting to my tuna sandwich.
My Dad, the 60-year-old Marine, along with his military wife of 36, and their wolf of not even 1 year.
Caleb, who was feeling as energetic as my parents were feeling tired, continued to run on ahead with Argos, turn around, and start shouting at us to pick up the pace, all in an Irish accent.
I'm sure the people walking by were completely amazed at how loud our foreign exchange student could get when he shouted.
Argo's muddy paws. He didn't seem to mind.