Yesterday I headed alone into the wilderness . . . 

Well, okay, it was Lookout Mountain and Nessie was with me but you get the idea. The plan was to stop thinking for a while and let God speak. It was a perfect day to turn down the noise and hear the quiet Voice of peace with no agenda.

I imagined a leisurely, meditative stroll but Nessie had other ideas. 

You see, my chocolate Labrador Retriever grew up in these mountains and ever since we moved back to the Nashville area she’s been wondering where they went. At the time, we averaged three miles a day on a mountain, by a river or up a remote canyon. She climbed, licked, smelled, marked or swam with abandon. It was doggie heaven and nearly so for me. 

So, when we got out of the Escape at Point Park, she remembered it all. She put her nose to the ground and began pulling like a freight train toward the trails down the mountain. Her leash training was a distant memory. She wagged and panted and explored in a frenzy.

Only my insistence kept us from spending the night in the woods.

A relaxing sundown latte at the Rock City Starbucks seemed the perfect way to top it off. I added a piece of pumpkin bread for extra inspiration. I sat down anticipating the rare mountain air and caffeine would crank up my creativity.

But Nessie had spent too many days wandering Rock City when we had a season pass and was not about to miss the chance. She whined, barked uncharacteristically at passers-by, and made trouble until I gave up on my plan. 

When I stood, she shifted into FPD – four-paw-drive – and headed for the crosswalk. She made it all the way to the entrance before a friendly employee told us they were closing. A fact I had already discussed with Nessie which she had ignored. She wasn’t going to take my word for it. She needed to smell the iron gate. 

When I finally convinced her to head home, we faced two accident/traffic jams plus getting lost in a new construction detour before we made it. We were thoroughly worn out, having apparently accomplished nothing.

Until I woke up this morning brimming with good ideas and a new perspective.

Studies show that changing scenery, walking a dog, spending time in nature and even a good cup of coffee enhance life and tune up your immune system. They never seem to mention the problems involved.

But maybe that’s because problems are an essential part of the adventure.

Today, Nessie is tired and nodding off. Truth be told, so am I. But when she wags her tail in her sleep and curls her toes, I know what she is dreaming. And I know it was worth it all.

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