Hiking, Eating, Kittens & Puppies in Backpacks.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted… nearly a month! Not a lot to report here, though. Graham is on a horrible shift, so we’re just trying to enjoy our (very minimal) time together. I do need to do a little recap on our trip to Chicago (two months ago! Gosh, time flies…) and the cruise my mom & I took a few weeks ago. I’ll do those soon.

I’ll start catching up with a post about this weekend. Do you ever have a weekend that is just so awesome that you never want it to end? This was one of those.

Saturday morning started with loading Hermione up and heading off to Petit Jean for the day. We’re not serious hikers by any means, but Hermione LOVES being outside and taking long walks with us and I like to take her on different routes to keep her interested & engaged. Not to mention it’s a good way for us to spend time together doing something active and not spending any money (we looked at our spending yesterday, and saying it’s out of control is putting it nicely). Petit Jean is only about an hour and a half away and it was an absolutely GORGEOUS day to spend outside.

The views aren’t the same as the one’s we’re used to in NC, but it was still so pretty. But anyways. We strapped Hermione in her new backpack, and headed out. We walked the Seven Hollows Trail. The map says it’s 4.5 miles, but it ended up being about 5.29. Our pace was slow, but that’s okay. We talked, we let the dog sniff & splash in streams and just generally enjoyed our time together.

 
And yes, Hermione is wearing a backpack. She is not very well behaved when walking. She’s easily distracted and that can get annoying. I wanted to get her a backpack over the summer, because none of my walking shorts have pockets and I was tired of cramming everything I need down my sports bra during our walks. When Graham got home, this was no longer a problem because his shorts/pants have plenty of pockets. Anyways, I read on Cesar Millan’s website that putting a backpack on your dog can help when walking because it gives them a job, so they’re more focused on their job & not as easily distracted.
Dogs love having jobs, and if they’re focused on walking and carrying, they are much less likely to chase squirrels or bicyclists. There’s nothing more therapeutic for a dog than having a job to do, and carrying a backpack is that job.


– Cesar Millan

It worked pretty well. She wasn’t nearly as distracted as she was when we’ve gone hiking in the past, and she pretty much stayed right in front of us and walked in a straight line the whole time. Cesar has his own brand of backpack (of course), but we bought this one: Kyjen Outward Hound Backpack
and we were really pleased with it. There are two large pockets on each side, which we filled with liter sized bottles of Aquafina and a collapsible water bowl, some doggy waste bags, and there was plenty of room for treats, food, whatever. The straps are adustible, and it was easy to get her in & out of. They come in four sizes. Hermione is around 55 lbs, and we bought the large. I’m not sure if the little bit of extra weight helped wear her out, but she was one tired girl by the time we were done =) She slept almost the entire way home.

I was pretty exhausted myself once we got home, and took a quick nap before dinner. It’s a good thing we burnt so many calories on our hike, because we were very indulgent at dinner. We tried Capers for the first time. I’ve passed this place so many times, but have never actually ate there. I’m glad we finally made it, because everything was great!

Capers on Urbanspoon

The atmosphere was nice and understated. There are two dining areas, and we ate on the side that had a fireplace. It was fairly quiet for a Saturday night, but that never bothers me. I like being able to enjoy my time with Graham without the frustration that comes with long waits. Capers is affiliated with Cajun’s Wharf, and that place has about a 45 minute wait on Saturdays, so this was quite nice.
The service was excellent, and the food was even better. We started with a half bottle of Pinot Grigio and a stuffed artichoke: “A succulent Artichoke from the Mid Coastal region of California filled with a savory blend of Mushrooms and herb treated Bread Crumbs. Then, topped with Lump Crab and Parmesan and glazed in the broiler. Served on a pool of our signature Crawfish Cream Sauce.”

  This was excellent, but a bit of a waste. The filling was delicious, the cream sauce was delicious, but it was hard to eat. The inside leaves were tender, soft and perfectly edible, but the other leaves were hard and tough. Once we ran out of inner leaves (which were soft and edible, but not the best vessel for the filling), we just ate the remaining filling with our forks. I think this would be much better if it was served with bread. Then you could layer the filling and a slice of the artichoke on the bread, or just use the bread if you didn’t feel like dealing with the tough leaves.

Graham had the walleye (“Parmesan-encrusted Walleye. Pan Sauteed and presented on a pool of Crawfish Tails, Mushrooms, and Cajun Cream Sauce, accompanied with creamy White Cheddar Cheese Grits.”), which I didn’t get a chance to take a photo of, but it was excellent. The sauce had a bit of a kick to it, and the fish was huge, and very flavorful. My only problem here was that the fish was completely drenched in sauce. Since the sauce was good, it turned out okay, but I’d maybe order it on the side.

I ordered one of their specials. It was red snapper with a red pepper remoulade & two shrimp served beside the white cheddar grits. My fish was excellent. The grits were excellent. But my fish was also covered in sauce. While Graham’s was light, mine was heavy & overpowering. It tasted kind of like a tarter sauce with red peppers, I scraped it off and ate the fish by itself. The grits however, were some of the best I’ve ever had. They were thick and creamy and had fantastic flavor.

We ended our meal with a slice of key lime pie, which was some of the best either of us had ever had, It had a layer of chocolate in between the lime custard and the crust, and was topped with whipped cream and drizzled with more chocolate. It was completely delicious and the chocolate was a really nice, surprise addition. Our waitress said most people either love the addition of the chocolate or hate it. We loved it.

And Sunday was lovely, because we hung out at home all day. We played with our pets, Graham watched his team  (the Carolina Panthers) get beat by the Cowboys, and I spent the day creating wonderful things in the kitchen. We had (our favorite) chicken & dumplings for dinner, and a homemade apple pie for dessert (I’ll share the recipe soon!).

 

And since I haven’t posted in a while, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this. Just in case I haven’t, I’d like for you to meet Charlotte. We found her hiding under Graham’s truck on a rainy Saturday a few weeks ago. Graham was instantly smitten, and we decided to keep her. I just hope she was homeless, and not some four year old little girl’s beloved pet…

 
 
She hates Hermione, but her & Buddy loooooove each other.
Have a good week, everyone!
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