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The Georgie Trail

Sometimes I need a nudge to get adventurous, to try something new, to step off my daily trail. Sometimes that nudge comes in the form of a memory…

It was a leaf-whirling September day in North Bend, Oregon. My husband and I were visiting my stepson and his family. With the grandkids napping, I pulled on a windbreaker and stepped outside. The family dogs, Georgie and Razzy, bounced around me in greeting.

“You want to walk?” I asked. Their tails wagged in the affirmative. We took off up the road that looped through this hilly residential neighborhood. I knew I couldn’t get lost because the loop would lead me right back to where I started. Georgie, the black and tan female-in-charge, ran in front and Razzy, a leggy yellow Lab followed close behind, nipping at Georgie’s tail like the annoying teenager he was.

I slowed on a downhill, trying to see through the dense forest to the blue of the ocean that I knew lay just beyond. I was impatient to see it, but there was only one place on this road where you could get a decent look, high up on a bluff, and even then, the view was partially blocked by a house.

When I looked back for the dogs, I saw that Georgie had left the road and was diving into the thick undergrowth. She turned and gazed up at me with a question in her brown eyes: Are you game?

I backtracked to see where she was going. There was a small path – well, not a path, really, just some trampled leaves and ferns. The dogs had probably done the trampling themselves – it didn’t look like anything humans used.

Georgie wagged her tail and sat, as if to say that she would wait for me to decide. Razzy plopped down beside her.

I hesitated. I like paths. On a hike, I prefer to let my mind wander, and staying on a road or trail means I don’t worry about getting lost. Razzy jumped up and spun around a couple of times in the road. Georgie’s eyes continued to rest on my face.

Oh, what the heck. Let’s see how far it goes. I should be able to track the trampled vegetation to find my way back.

For the next half hour, I followed Georgie and Razzy downhill, through trees, dense ferns and over lichen-splashed boulders. At one point, I couldn’t stay on my feet and had to slide down a muddy slope on my butt. I looked back once and had no idea which way we’d come.

I knew it was crazy – I could fall or sprain an ankle. Neither Georgie nor Razzy struck me as the Lassie type, and nobody knew where I was. I didn’t have a cell phone.

We kept going down, down until a sparkling blue vista opened up before us. Georgie and Razzy splashed into the water of a rocky cove. It was the perfect secret spot – no sign of human visitation at all. I explored the cove, plunked stones into the water (Razzy kept trying to retrieve them) and pocketed pink-lipped shells. I straddled a giant slick-skinned log, inhaling the salt air as I watched the ocean and the dogs.

Finally, I said to Georgie, “Time to go home, girl.” She led us back up the muddy slope, through the branches and ferns until at last the three of us were ejected from the forest onto the road. When we arrived at the house my husband was sitting in the yard. He looked at my muddy shoes and pants.

“Where have you been?” he asked.

“On an adventure!” I said.

An adventure I would never have experienced had I not given control over to a brown-eyed mutt.

I try to remember this as I go through life. Not every place I need to go will be reached by a trail. If I keep an open mind and a willing heart, life will present me with surprising detours, and with unexpected guides who ask, “Are you game?” and then maybe, just maybe, lead me to magical places.


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