It is currently 2° outside here in Milwaukee.

Or, as your typical Wisconsinite might say, it’s starting to get chilly.

[Note: I’m pretty sure Paul is horrified by every weather forecast he has seen for the last week, thanks to wind chills featuring minus signs and double digits. Because this isn’t enough of an introduction to winter in Wisconsin, my parents are taking us snowmobiling in northern Wisconsin this weekend. Thankfully, there is booze involved with that, or I might come home from work on Monday to find that Paul has hopped the first flight to Florida and left a note indicating he’ll be back in June (when summer will have (hopefully) arrived.]


Two years ago at this time, I had just started my year (or, what turned out to be a year and a half) of traveling with Choppy across the U.S. and Canada. Being up in the cold and snowy Midwest, we immediately headed south.

One of our first stops of the trip was Gulf Islands National Seashore – the part outside Pensacola, Florida. We spent several days dodging armadillos and storms, just getting used to the rhythm of being on the road and camping. I also decided I needed to spruce up the blog a bit, having started to get actual visitors.

Hence, the taking of the header photo you see above.

Now, Choppy is great at taking photos. I can pose her, move her and basically manipulate her like a toy – at least, I can do this when I have her dressed up.

In her regular life, things aren’t quite the same.

I had seen some photos of people walking down empty roads, the sun backlighting the scene and outlining them against the sunset, and I really wanted something similar for the blog. So, as the sun set on the Gulf of Mexico one evening, Choppy and I found ourselves attempting to take just such a picture along the main – and only – road through this part of Gulf Islands.

This was not the best idea I have ever had.

Almost immediately, the problems began.

First, the wind. It turns out, attempting to take a picture mere feet away from the ocean? Not the calmest place ever. It took me several minutes to figure out how to get the tripod to remain upright in the gusting breezes…

…which is when the first of the cars drove by. Thankfully, I had anticipated this problem, and thus picked an area to take the pictures where I would have plenty of warning. Unfortunately, this still meant having to grab the tripod and get off of the road, only to have to reset it up (see, Problem One, above)…

…at which point another car drove by…

…and another…

…and another.

It was getting rather comical out on the road, until I saw that the sun was quickly setting. Choppy and I only had a few minutes left in which to get these pictures. With storms expected for the next couple days, it might be our last chance to get the picture.

Thankfully the cars stopped coming, so I could get the camera set up.

Unfortunately, this is when I had to deal with Choppy. After a bit of trial and error, I realized that to get the picture I wanted, I had to run a fair bit down the road before the camera’s timer went off. This wouldn’t have been a problem, except the only time I run around Choppy is when we are (a) attempting to get out of the rain when we don’t have an umbrella, and (b) playing.

In Choppy’s mind, what we were doing definitely fell into the latter category.

And so, picture after picture, Choppy ran around after me, looking like she was having a great time (because she was), but preventing me from getting the picture I wanted. With the sun making its mad winter dash for the horizon, we only had a couple minutes to attempt to get the picture.

And then, like magic, we did.

Choppy was still fooling around, but somehow, at the moment the camera snapped, we had the picture. It’s still the header of the blog, and I love it to this day (hence why I have never changed it – and likely won’t until I get a similar picture somewhere else).

Here's what it looks like when everything works out...
Here’s what it looks like when everything works out…
...And here's what it looks like when it doesn't quite do so. Then again, I've grown to like this picture as much (if not more) than the good one. It's also the Facebook page header (things you may never have noticed!).
…and here’s what it looks like when it doesn’t quite do so. Then again, I’ve grown to like this picture as much (if not more) than the good one. It’s also the Facebook page header (things you may never have noticed!).


In semi-related news, the high in Pensacola today is 61. I think I know where Paul may be headed on Monday if that whole Florida thing happens.

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