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Immune Disorders and Why I Can’t Seem to Take a Sick Day

Let me tell you a little bit about immune disorders.

  1. If you didn’t know…they suck. (But I imagine you could guess that.)
  2. It’s really easy (and almost mandatory these days) to suffer silently from them.
  3. Because you’re suffering silently. It’s difficult to justify taking a “sick day.”

My body is pretty much always in this strange and uncomfortable dance between “okay enough to manage daily life” and “immensely ill.” I’ve learned my body’s signs well enough to know when my immune system has started to get beaten down. Mouth ulcers are a tell-tale indicator. They usually come after an extended period of high stress. I start to get unbearably tired. Like falling asleep sitting at my desk at work when I’ve had 8 hours of sleep or more. Eventually comes the chills and the aching (despite not having a fever) if I let it get far enough.

Because I know these signs, I also know when to start beefing up my vitamin D and C and echinacea intake. I know when to try to start backing off from the stress and giving myself an extra 30 minutes of sleep here and there if I can spare it. Which means most of the time, I only ever get the ghost of sickness. Aching bones and a raw throat for a day, but a dose of NyQuil and a solid 8 hours of sleep later, I usually feel fine enough to go into work the next day.

Which is all fine and good, except that eventually those illness ghosts build up and it’s like three strikes and you’re out for me. I get almost unbearably sick. This usually happens over weekends or holidays or vacation time. It’s like I rally myself throughout the week and then the moment I can relax, my immune system puts down its defenses and voila! Illness strikes.

It’s exhausting. I mean, being some level of sick all the time because your body doesn’t quite understand the difference between good and bad cells and attacks things haphazardly (for me, this mostly results in random and painful inflammation in various parts of my body, hence, the mouth ulcers). But it’s even more exhausting to be constantly managing your level of sickness.

Like what level do I have to reach before I can say, “Okay, it’s time to take a day off and sleep and nourish and try to find a balance in my immune system.” I’m always putting it off though. I’m always thinking, “But what if tomorrow is WORSE.” Why waste your time now if tomorrow will be worse anyway? Or what if there will be a really BAD attack soon and I’ve wasted my sick days on “kind of bad” days?

This is a very real thing for me. In the winters of both 2008, 2012, and 2014, I got really sick. To the point where it hurt to move at all because my joints were so sore and swollen. I’m always worried that something like that will happen again (although since I have had a fair amount of testing since then, I could probably get a doctor to listen to me easier now and maybe find something to alleviate some of the symptoms faster). I’m always comparing the way I feel now to how I’ve felt at my worst. And since I barely took off work or school during those previous episodes, it feels disingenuous to do so now.

I’m like a squirrel storing up sick days (even though they don’t actually carry over year to year.)

I also have the problem of being an extreme HUSTLER. While maybe I could take time off from my professional job without much issue, YouTube is 24/7 and it causes me more stress than good to take a “sick day” from that. So if I still have to do YouTube things, why not just go into work and do everything else?

I am a never ending robot with a Duracell battery. And I am exhausted.

I’m trying to find a way to be okay with taking sick days and accepting that the way I present illness with an immune disorder is going to be different than Average Joe who doesn’t have any immune issues.

That it’s okay to take breaks. That it’s okay to take time now if I need it rather than storing it all for the unknown immune apocalypse. That it’s okay to feel bad if you feel bad. Even if you don’t seem so terribly ill on the outside, it does not mean that you’re “making it up” or “exaggerating” the illness you feel on the inside.

These are still things I’m trying to understand and believe and implement in my everyday life. It’s hard journey. But it’s a worthwhile one.

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Dogspotting Love

Last week on the blog, I shared with you my cat obsession. And this week I felt like I couldn’t leave out my other animal obsession: DOGS!  More specifically, a Facebook group called “Dogspotting Society” which has honestly changed my life for the better.

Social media in 2017 has pretty much been making a slow descent in the toilet bowl of life. In other words, it’s a REALLY negative place to be these days. Between the constant deluge of Trump headlines, natural and humanitarian disasters, and vitriol spewed in online comments, there’s not much hope hanging out on the Internet these days. Compound that with my own insecurities so that I’m always comparing myself to others and their picture-perfect lives, and you’ve got a cocktail for unhappiness.

But…what if your newsfeed was mostly something you enjoyed looking at. Like dogs, for example? What if it was mostly people posting pictures and videos of their dogs doing silly things? What if it was telling funny or crazy or sad stories about what their dogs did recently? What if it was support for when your pup crosses over the rainbow bridge?

Well that’s what I found in Dogspotting Society, and it’s the absolute best! To give you a little taste of the awesomeness, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite photos and trends!

I love the photoshop requests and their results:

I love the memes:

I love how someone finds a cool app like Patternator or Ditty and then we get an influx of posts with everyone’s dogs starring in their own music videos or wallpapers:

I love it when photographers show off their skills and love for dogs:

I love to boop the snoot!

I love the lingo:

I love when people dress up their pups in costumes and how heckin’ concerned they look with it!

I love when people decorate photos of their dogs with stickers and truly show how much they love them:

I love how we get to know many of the dogs personalities through the posts! (e.g. Momo and how he’s ALWAYS WATCHING).

I love seeing pups with (safely) dyed fur and all the cool ways that people groom their dogs!

But most of all I love that a group like this has helped me turn something that caused me a lot of anxiety and obsessive thoughts into something that brings me joy, laughs, and relaxation. Honestly, if we’re going to use social media, that’s really what I think it should be about. It’s created a community for people who might feel disconnected in many other ways in their life, but can come together with others in a shared love of dogs. It’s a wonderful and magical thing to witness. Consider joining the group if you’re up for being friendly and excellent social dog loving. Or if cats are more your thing, consider joining the sister group, Catspotting Society! (I’m personally in both because who could get enough pet posts?)

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Painting with Cats

It’s kind of like “Running with Wolves” or “Swimming with Dolphins” but much less majestic and a lot more messy.

So one of the things that’s been on my “Bucket List” is going to a cat cafe. I always figured I’d have to go to New York City or a more trendy, metropolitan area in order to experience anything like it, but fortunately, some fellow cat lovers opened one right here in Richmond! Hooray! It’s a combination of a cafe “Central Purrk” with an adjacent lounge called “Zoomies.” They charge admission in half hour and hour long increments, and you’re welcome to purchase items at the cafe and then bring them over to play with the cats!

Essentially, it’s Kaitlyn heaven.

But it gets even better because they use the cat-centric space for other fun activities like Yoga with Cats, Movie Night with Cats (where they show movies about cats, of course), and Cat Paint Night. This last activity I had the privilege of attending, and it was all around one of my favorite experiences, and I plan to go back soon!

I first have to point out that I wasn’t going to go to a cat-themed activity and NOT dress appropriately. And by that I mean, I had to wear this super cute cats in space dress. It’s pretty much my favorite thing right now because CATS and SPACE and PURPLE. It’s glorious. (You can get it for yourself at Modcloth if you’re as cat-obsessed as me!)

In fact, it was so much of a hit that one of the cats mistakenly assumed my dress was another cat and pounced on it!

I started out the evening by having a few minutes to pet the kitties and then we jumped right into painting! We had several cat-themed pieces we could choose from and I ultimately went with this cat drinking coffee at the edge of a table one. I modeled mine after sweet Sir Finnegan since he wasn’t there to join in on the fun. (Not that he would have wanted to, but I can dream). I even made sure to add in his iconic “under-the-nose” smudge.

Because we were working with acrylics and you have to wait a bit between layers for the paint to dry, I had ample time to play with the kitties between coats. JJ, this stubby-tailed orange tabby was especially curious and even accidentally jumped into my paint dish and tracked paw-prints over the countertop for a bit. (He was mostly interested in getting to the cups of water we had out for cleaning our brushes which was NOT cat-friendly drinking water!) It was pretty much the quintessential “painting with cats” moment!

After we’d finished our paintings there was also plenty of time for kitty cuddles and to really see the cats’ personality’s shine. Elliot, the only kitten of the bunch, was a fan favorite because of his colorings and his sweet and cuddly personality. I also had the triumph of being able to pet Ozzie (a rather skittish Maine Coon looking cat that was taking some time to warm up to people). And Jaina, one of two black cats at Zoomies, was an absolute doll. She had to show everyone that she was the BEST wheel runner. JJ was probably the most sociable and chill of the cats. He spent most of the evening snoozing on the top of a cat tree right next to me.

Basically it was all around amazing and everyone needs to check out their local cat cafe. Animal rescue groups are doing some amazing things these days in terms of connecting with the community in fun, new ways that’s ultimately leading to more pets being adopted (And less euthanized! Yay!)

So go play, pounce, and paint with your favorite local kitties!

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Home is Where Your Friends Are

The last year has involved a lot of change for me. A new job. A new city. Transitioning to being a “real adult” like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.

I’ve spent a lot of my life hating myself and where I live and my life circumstances, not because they’re particularly horrific, but because they’ve felt out of my control. (Raise your hand if you’re a control freak!)

So this year has meant a lot of learning to let go when it’s too much and fight when it’s absolutely necessary. Sometimes it’s a little hard to distinguish between the two when you’re in the throes of emotional turmoil, but I think I’m slowly getting the hang of it.

But what caused me probably the most mental anguish a year ago as I transitioned to this new adult life, was wondering if I’d be lonely.

I was moving away from my home, my family, my few friends, and the majority of the life I’d built post-college. It wasn’t much (not what I’d imagined for myself upon graduation, at least), but for someone who has a hard time making friends and connecting, I was fearful of what the future held. Yes, I was actually moving closer to several friends from college and a few cousins (oh, and of course, my long-distance boyfriend of four years), but it still seemed daunting.

How could I make this new life my own and this new place my home?

What I found is that Home is where your Friends are.

I capitalize “Home” and “Friends” here because it’s more than just your home/house or the people you hang out with outside of work. Home is a place that you feel comfortable. That you are yourself. That you can take off the ill-fitting skinsuit that society makes you wear in order to blend in or be accepted.

And Friends are the people, places, and things that make you feel comfortable. That don’t judge you. That love you (or are freely open to be loved in the case of inanimate objects or activities).

This sounds super weird, I know.

“But Kaitlyn, how can an inanimate object be your ‘Friend?’ That sounds like someone living a sad life!” you say.

Perhaps you could take it that way, but I would say that my camera and editing software and YouTube are my “Friends” because they’re part of who I am. Wherever I go, as long as I’m making videos, there’s a comfort in it that allows me to feel at Home in my own skin.

But more obviously it works for people. I have literal “friends” like Alanna who I worked on several video projects with over the last year. I had the wonderful opportunity to grow closer to her once moving here and for that I’m eternally grateful. But at the end of July she moved to New York City (a very big dream of hers being realized). One might think, “Oh but Kaitlyn, now your friends aren’t where your Home is? How does this work?” I think the biggest thing I’ve learned post-college is that the people who are your best friends don’t have to be local. Sometimes they live on the other side of the country or on a different continent! But true friends are ones who stake a claim in your heart amid all the chaos of life. In fact, I can pretty confidently say that most of the people who remain immensely special to me, I don’t see physically on any regular basis.

Now while I’d love to have an infinite supply of money and start some kind of commune where I can gather all my favorite people together and we could all do our various things, I know that’s not quite possible and I’ll have to keep on living with digital communication until that becomes feasible. But what it means for me is that Home is wherever I want it to be. For Alanna who just moved to NYC, Home isn’t back in Virginia but right there with her. You carry your Friends with you, wherever you go. California. Guatemala. The International Space Station. It is a wonderful and burden-lifting revelation.

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Stitchers Season 3 Finale Reactions and Hopes for the Future!

Hello my fellow Stitchers friends (or maybe you’re wondering what this whole “Stitchers” thing is about)! We’ve come to the close of another season of Stitchers on Freeform. It’s always gut-wrenching (because the Stitchers writers can be merciless with their cliffhangers!) as well as sad (because no more Stitchers for who knows how long!?) This season was a culmination of much of the mystery behind the Stitchers program, Kirsten’s fractured family, and the romance writhing under the surface for #Camsten.

So how did everything turn out? And where might it go if Freeform renews this beloved show for another season? (#RenewStitchers4 on social media, peeps. Shout it from the rooftops!) Let’s find out!

Ivy is good!

About two-thirds of the way through the season, they dropped the bombshell that Ivy was the one who created and ran the anomaly that trapped Kirsten inside of her own mind at the end of season 2. Everyone dealt with the news in their own way, but it dealt particularly hard blows to Kirsten (who felt betrayed by a sister) and Linus (who felt like his affection for her had been abused). Considering that Ivy hadn’t even known Kirsten that long at the time of the anomaly and we see that Stinger kept showing up and demanding her help, she seemed like a lost cause!

However, Maggie knew what she was doing and had Ivy double cross Stinger which ultimately led to his arrest. Hooray! Kirsten and Ivy get a chance to form a sisterly bond, and Linus FINALLY gets that date with her.

Camille is working on those trust issues!

One of the first revelations of the finale is that Camille and Amanda (now back together, yay!) are going to move in together! And even more surprising, Camille is actually 100% down for it, show a big step for her in terms of personal growth and opening up to trust again.

While I’m not sure I’m as 100% down with this idea as she is (I love Amanda, but it seems so fast and reckless! Like I know you want to learn to trust more, but girl, there are steps between 0 and 100!), I do wonder how this will play out. I think Camille has a lot of baggage from her past that she needs to deal with before any long-term relationship is going to work. Maybe Amanda will be someone who can help with this? But I could also see it taking a toll on their relationship as they try to move forward.

Who picks the stitches? Kirsten’s brain!

In a lot of science-y explanation, we learn that Kirsten and her mom both have nanobots installed at the base of their brain stem. According to Stinger it was how the Stitchers technology was originally designed to work (and what caused the “reflection” that Cameron’s mom saw in Kirsten’s brain scans). But through a bit of sleuthing in Denise Nichols’ memory (a NASA mathematician they learn has been somehow involved in choosing the cases to Stitch into), they realize that the nanobots in Kirsten’s brain have actually been exchanging information with Denise’s supercomputer, but it was ultimately Kirsten’s brain that picked the cases based on what parts of the brain were left to map. Whoa! Talk about the unconscious mind, right!

All the Stingers are now alive and awake!

The episode ends with Kirsten and the team being able to successfully wake up Jacqueline from her stitch-induced coma by firing Kirsten’s emotional energy from the corpse cassette toward her mother in the stitch tank. And in a beautiful scene of all white and light where Jacqueline and Kirsten meet for the first time in years, their theory proves successful. Sleeping beauty is awake and Prince Charmless (aka Stinger) is there to gather her up in his arms and promise he’ll never leave her. (Which, on the one hand, is a great callback to season 2’s finale when Cameron promised Kirsten he’d never leave her, but also proves that Stinger’s one and only priority has always been Jacqueline and not either of his daughters).

Camsten finally got to be together! (For a little while…)

#Camsten finally became a real thing this season! And with Linus’ genius work on an oxytocin filter, by the end of the season, they got to be together physically as well. So the finale begins with culmination of their romantic relationship, and you just knew it was too good to be true. Midway through the episode I was afraid that during the ultimate stitch, Kirsten would revert back to her emotionless, temporal dysplasia problem. (It seemed fitting because it was Kirsten’s initial stitch into her unconscious but still alive mother as a child that gave her temporal dysplasia in the first place.)

So while I was relieved that the consequences of the ultimate stitch weren’t a loss of her emotions, I wasn’t expecting the gut-punch that was her losing her memories.  On the one side, you’ve got Cameron freaking out and blaming himself because he allowed her to stitch when he knew it wasn’t safe. But on the other side, you have their friends trying to remain positive and not place blame because it’s out of their control now anyway, right?

Lost memory or covert mission?

But did Kirsten actually lose her memory? It seems heartbreakingly so until the final moment of the finale when a shadowy figure approaches Kirsten and she says, “I will never forgive you for what you’re making me do to him.” Which, of course, had all the Stitchers fans like:

So what might season 4 hold for the Stitchers crew?

We’re, of course, all asking, “Who’s Kirsten talking to?” and I think that will be at the forefront of our minds if (when!) we get a season 4. My prediction is that it’s actually Jacqueline. Most things I’ve seen have suggested Maggie or Stinger, but when did Kirsten have time to coordinate with someone her “memory loss” post stitch. No one, except for her mother, who via the nanobots they both have implanted in their brains, could potentially communicate with one another, especially when they were connected in the stitch.

As for motivation, that’s a little bit harder. We’ve only ever seen positive memories and affection shown for Jacqueline. Though she hasn’t played much of a role on-screen so far, the IDEA of her has permeated the show and Kirsten’s motivations since season 1. Essentially, while she’s been implied to be a “good guy” on the show, there’s actually no evidence to prove this. And who knows what happened to her while she was in a stitch-induced coma for years? Basically, I think Jacqueline might be next season’s new antagonist. What she’s actually working towards and whether it’s for the good or bad of our beloved characters, I’m not quite sure about yet, but I think if she is the one Kirsten was talking to, she’s definitely going to be causing some trouble!

If you love Stitchers as much as I do be sure to use the hashtag #RenewStitchers4 to spread your love and sign the petition for season 4 here!

 

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Glamping Adventures

My unplugged vacation was a success! Although I did find that despite being on top of a mountain in basically the Middle of Nowhere, Virginia, I did still have 4G LTE which was surprising and also didn’t entirely cut me off from social media. But I still enjoyed myself immensely and was actually able to RELAX which is a big deal for me.

I even went the whole week without writing or filming or editing any videos! What madness!

But honestly, it was a welcome break from not only my day job (which is video producing/editing) but also my YouTube life. And sometimes you just need a little YouTube vacation!

However, I wanted to share with you, the magical place we stayed because you can stay there too! It’s working farmstead called Cair Paravel (Narnia reference!) and has 3 sites available on AirBnB including the very cool yurt we stayed in!

So if you don’t know what a yurt is, I brought you a handy-dandy dictionary definition:

But it should be noted that we weren’t staying in a movable tent. This yurt (and many others available for rent around the U.S.) is based on the ancient tent-like shelters of Mongolia, but it’s modified to be much more sedentary with a hardwood base and ceiling, a working kitchen and bath, running water, a small A.C. unit, ceiling fans, and even a loft for extra sleeping space! While it’s an open layout with a lattice framework and screened windows with several layers of flaps to open and close in order to help cool/heat the structure, it was really like a beautiful, round cabin in the woods!

Now while the yurt itself was a beautiful sight to behold, it was really all the interesting things that happened while we were there that made our trip memorable.

Clumsy McClumsy Pants

So as soon as we arrived we had to explore the yurt which mean opening up all the cabinets and flipping all the switches to see what they controlled. It also meant running up to the loft area to check out the row of cute twin-size beds and even musical instruments! Parker drummed a bit on the bongos and we looked up through the skylight and marveled at this awesome little place we got to stay in for a few days.

Then we decided to begin our descent so we could make a trip to the grocery store (a nice 30 minute drive) to stock up on food for the week. You would think doing something as simple as walking down some stairs would be easy-breezy for me, right? No. Nothing is easy when it comes to managing my physical body the way it’s supposed to be managed.

Parker took the stairs first and I followed quickly behind. I’d taken about 3 steps when I felt my foot slip a bit and I caught myself. (I was was wearing socks which was my first mistake). And I said, “I’m going to slip, Parker.” But I kept descending and with another 2 steps, my feet slipped again and I reiterated (a little more distressed this time), “I’m going to fall down these stairs!” Then one more step and somehow I was gone, my feet completely out from underneath me as I desperately tried to hold onto the railing and then eventually the cables that lined the stairs. I’m not sure how I managed to fall the last half of the stairwell without killing myself (or at least seriously injuring myself), but somehow I made it off the stairs with just a bit of a sore back from where it had bumped its way down a few stairs. And Parker staring at me like I was crazy.

“Well, you did say you were going to fall down the stairs,” he quipped matter of factly.

So it was with that slightly traumatic instance that I began my vacation. Fortunately I was not seriously injured. And I did NOT go back up the stairs. I also did not wear socks while in the yurt anymore after that. Socks + hardwood floors DO NOT mix well.

The Wildlife – Both Beautiful and Terrifying

We also experienced LOTS of wildlife on our mountain adventures. Some were a bit scary. Like when I spotted a snake slithering through the rocks of the firepit that Parker had just been walking on and around to stoke the fire. (After some research I determined from its markings and head shape that it was a non-venomous water snake. Still creepy but we weren’t in imminent danger. It just liked our warm fire!)

We also had a funnel weaver spider. I tried googling the exact kind of spider it was (Maybe a grass spider? Maybe a barn funnel weaver?) All I know is that it was BIG and it made funnel-shaped webs and it was IN MY BEDROOM. Googling was futile because it just gave me the heebie-jeebies, made my skin tingle, and made me NEVER want to go to Australia because their funnel spiders are deadly. (Is Australia just one big deathtrap?) There was a “Bugzooka” in the yurt which Parker considered using to dispose of this creepy giant in our living space, but he was so high up and Parker is just as freaked out by spiders as I am and it required him to get way too close to it.  So…we just lived with a spider roommate all week. We eventually became a bit desensitized to him and would even walk under the doorway where he’d taken up residence. But sometimes he would disappear for a few hours (hopefully just down into a nearby crevice), and it would freak me out. He was much too close to my open luggage and it made me think I would be taking home our new spider friend!

On the not-so-scary side of wildlife encounters, we also ran into a few deer. The first was on our trek back up from White Oak Canyon falls. This encounter was actually a little concerning because it was a lone deer, criss-crossing the trail around us and seeming completely unconcerned with us (or several other human passersby). Parker mentioned it made him wonder if it had rabies. (She got close enough where we could actually see her ribs poking through her sides and I felt like during the height of the summer there should have been enough deer yummies to fill up her tummy. But I also know very little about deer.) It was an interesting experience to get that up close and personal with a deer as we basically walked a good quarter of mile on the trail with her.

The best wildlife encounter though was with a fawn and his momma. (Can you say Bambi!)

These deer were quite a bit more standoffish than the previous one although after determining that we weren’t a threat, the fawn slowly explored his way closer to us as shown in this awesome video:

We also watched the sweet baby deer having a case of the “zoomies” (or rather deciding he needed to show off for his new human friends). He made several laps at top speed on the hill above us with his (probably exasperated mother) looking on and rolling her eyes. All in all, this was probably my favorite experience of the trip!

Midnight Intruder

There was also an instance when I definitely thought I was going to die.

Parker has been begging me to watch “Se7en” for probably a few years now. And for some crazy reason when we were downloading movies to watch while at the yurt and he (I think somewhat jokingly) suggested it, I agreed. I did note that watching a creepy movie in a cabin in the woods is probably NOT the best idea. And what did we do? Watch it at night with the lights off. (Admittedly, we had started it before the sun had gone down and just hadn’t turned any lights on yet. It was not intended to make the creepy factors off the charts!) We were near the end when there’s a general sense of unease because catching the killer seemed just TOO EASY when we suddenly heard a set of footsteps running across the deck outside. Parker and I looked at each other in the glow of the laptop screen like, “What the heck!?” We waited a moment, expecting a knock on the door and perhaps Whitt, the owner of the property to be there. It was about 9:30 PM and bit late for him to show up, but that’s the only thing that would make sense. After a moment’s waiting and no knock nor anymore footsteps, I turned on a light and Parker jumped up and went towards the door. The next few moments were a rush of turning on lights, grabbing sticks as weapons, and peeking through the blinds but finding it too dark to see much.  Parker then decided it was best to turn off all the lights, plunging us back into blackness, and lie on the floor listening for more footsteps or just any sounds at all. (I started getting particularly creeped out because the yurt sits up off the ground and there’s significant open space below the deck and body of the yurt that someone could hide in. After literally 15 minutes of lying on the floor and listening, Parker then decided he was going to check the grounds and left me, brandishing his belt like a weapon in the pitch-black yurt while he explored outside with a flashlight. This only made my anxiety worse because though I heard nothing from the outside I kept thinking, “What if he doesn’t come back inside!? This is how all the horror movies start! You never split up!” And I was imagining what I would do, who to call, how to fight, etc. It was an awful 5 minutes in my brain. Parker finally called for me from outside and asked me to come out too. (Which I didn’t particularly like because there were in fact two doors to the yurt and I imagined someone slipping in the second one while I was outside). He said he couldn’t find anyone or anything so it was best just to go back inside and forget about it. Which we did. (Although apparently after I’d gone to sleep that night, Parker had checked the loft area and the outside one more time).

Flash Forward to the next day when I thought, “Maybe it was one of the dogs running across the deck? If it’s a farmstead, surely there might be some dogs loose at night.”  I sent our AirBnB host a message telling her about our scare and suggesting that perhaps it was a dog (even though the footsteps we heard did not sound like a normal four legged creature).  What we found out is that they 1.) Do have some dogs loose at night and they like to patrol the property and 2.) Most likely we’d heard Tsuki, their three-legged dog, whose gait would have been just a bit different.

You cannot believe how much we laughed when we realized this absolutely was the explanation and how silly we would have looked to anyone on the outside of the situation, lying on the floor listening for footsteps for 15 minutes!  It was a welcome relief. And also Tsuki is creamy white/yellow and sweet and definitely not a midnight murder!

WRONG WAY!

Our final adventure of the trip involved turning our four mile hike up to Hightop Mountain into a six mile hike because I didn’t look across the street from our parking area! We ended up going about a mile in the wrong direction (and unfortunately downhill) on our last day of hiking when we were trying to make it up to Hightop Mountain. I was kicking myself for not taking the time to double check the trail and following my gut when we didn’t see an obvious trail head at the start. We were both tired at that point and trying not to overdo it since neither of us has done any significant amount of hiking in the last month or so. But we decided after turning around and making it back to the carpark that we still wanted to make it to top even with the extra pre-intended hike mileage. And we did it! Although we were feeling some fatigue on the way back which is always a little scary on rocky and steep trails like this. One misstep or a weak ankle and you’re out of commission!

But fortunately, it all turned out okay. No twisted ankles. No spider or snake bites. No rabid zombie deer (as far as we know…) I’m so glad we got to spend a week in this magical and special place. We’re definitely planning on going back (preferably in the fall or maybe early winter when it’s a bit cooler). And if you’re interested in staying in the yurt or one of the other cute places at Cair Paravel, you can book it on AirBnB here!