This morning, before heading out on my morning walk with Sophie, I went in Suzanne’s house to see if she wanted to come with us and maybe make it a bigger adventure. I’ve been walking to the marsh down the street most mornings, which is awesome, but I’ve been seeing signs for this thing called the Hammond Coast Trail for the past two years. Every time I’ve mentioned it to Suzanne, she’s had a “Oh, sure, we could do that someday,” response. This morning she said, “Yes, let’s go!”

We drove off to a mid-point of the trail, unloaded the dogs and started walking. Within a quarter of a mile or so, I said, “Wait, is this trail like an urban trail? Are we seriously going to be walking past chain link fences the whole time?” (I paraphrase: I was not quite so scornful about the chain link fences out loud, because I wouldn’t want to be rude to the owners of the chain link fences. But I do find them so ugly, and not at all conducive to pleasant strolling.)

Suzanne replied, (again paraphrased, because I don’t actually remember her real words), “Yes? It goes up through McKinleyville.” She gestured to a playground on our left, and said, “There’s a dog park over there, including an area for off-leash dogs, but it’s not fenced. The trail goes this way.” She gestured straight ahead to the road.

I believe I said, “Pfft,” or some other basic noise of disgust. All this time I imagined the “coastal” trail as a scenic wilderness trail with views of the ocean, soaring birds, and probably incredible smells of salt water and eucalyptus. No wonder Suzanne always said, “Oh, someday,” about this walk.

But the aforementioned park to our left had a dirt path running through a field of dry grass. In a choice between your basic asphalt road, and a dirt path, I’m always going to try the path, so I veered off that way. I think Suzanne might have offered a faint protest — “That’s the wrong way?” — but she wasn’t opposed to checking out the dog park, so she followed me.

The dog park was a big empty field, not fenced. We let the dogs off leash and they ran around like crazy creatures in the way that puppies do, with Riley meandering along checking out all the interesting smells. Some other dogs appeared, but their owners kept walking along the path and disappeared into the distance.

Suzanne said, sensibly, “Let’s see where this path leads.” And so we did.

Guess where the path led? If you’re guessing “to a coastal trail with views of the water, floating birds, and delightful woodsy smells,” congratulations, you hit the jackpot! So did we.

Somewhere along the way, in a woodsy section where the dogs were disappearing into the undergrowth and I was taking deep breaths of ocean air, I called out to Suzanne, who’d gotten pretty far ahead of me, “I’m feeling very pleased with my life choices.” She laughed, but I seriously was appreciating the sense of smugness that comes when you find a really good walk.

Sophie appreciated my choices, too. A walk that includes a place to get wet and muddy is the best kind of walk, in her opinion.

Of course, I should have been writing a book. It was a Monday morning, after all. I’ve got an assortment of practical business things to deal with, including getting the audiobook of A Gift of Thought posted and finishing off some covers, but I’ve been trying to write fiction words every day, ideally at least 1000 of them. Today will be the day when I reach 20,000 words on my WIP, which is a nice solid chunk. I’m guessing the WIP is not going to be a short story, and probably won’t even be a novella. I might be 1/3 of the way through, though, so probably a short novel. Assuming, that is, that nice walks don’t get in my way.