Today went pretty much as I outlined it in yesterday’s post. We arrive in Portland a little after 1:00pm. I was scheduled to teach at 2:30, but they had gotten behind by 30 minutes. That left me with two hours of free time. Beth and I changed clothes, and I hauled all my supplies into the room where my session was to be held. Then I took Penny for a walk. There is a long trail behind the Portland church running parallel to a new road in a new development. So Penny and I ambled down that way. It’s maybe a half mile long, and probably less than that. I was delighted to find several squirrel and mouse tracks, so I knew we’d have a shot at casting some.

Penny enjoyed the walk too, helpfully bringing me sticks to throw. I got back to the church, put Penny in her crate in the car, and then went inside. I sat in on a session led by Bill Wood, the Union Pathfinder Director (Union is the next level in the hierarchy up from the Conference). Beth sat next to me and listened as he presented his PowerPoint slides. Beth turned the pages in my handout (which was really just a copy of Bill’s slides). When that ended, it was time to work on Animal Tracking.

I had prepared for 19 students (it would have been 20, but I botched the first set of photocopies) and I had eight. I’m not complaining – I would rather have too many handouts than not enough. Four of the eight attendees were kids, and they didn’t seem terribly interested. That is, of course, a mystery to me since I find tracking so fascinating.

Of the four adults who were there, one had already earned the honor. I was afraid that almost all the attendees would have it already, so I had decided to focus on how to teach the honor rather than on the honor itself. I kinda did both, once I had an idea of what my audience was like.

First we went over some of the theory parts. I showed several of the photos I’ve taken over the past couple of years. Then we headed out to the trail and cast some of the tracks I had seen earlier. There’s no way they would set up before we left, and in fact, I’m not positive these will be successful. It was very cold outside, so the joint compound may have simply frozen before it could do any setting. I’m not sure how that will affect the casts. Maybe when they take them inside, they will simply reliquify. Hope not!

Then we went back in to warm up a bit and talked about telling dog and cat tracks apart, and telling squirrel and rabbit tracks apart. We also covered hopping vs walking birds, and plantigrade vs digitigrade walkers (that is, flatfoots vs toe-walkers).

Then we went back outside with some tempera paint so we could afflict poor Penny. Just as we did in the summer, I poured some tempera paint in a paper plate. I lifted Penny, and Peter (a friend of mine from the Limington Lantern’s Pathfinder Club) dipped her paws in the paint. Then I took her for a short walk. We repeated this and I took Penny for a short run. Then we measured the distance between the tracks. Check off that requirement!

We went in again, and that was pretty much the whole honor. I started gathering up my casts, and in short order, Beth and I were ready to bug out.

I asked David to go and collect our casts in the morning, and he said he would. But just to be on the safe side, I told Va that I had asked him to do that. She will help him remember.

One cool thing Va told me was that in one of the classes she went to, they presented my Wikibooks project as a highly recommended resource. That’s what it’s there for! Many of the people there already knew about it and sang its praises. Woot!

Beth and I headed out at around 5:30 I guess. We stopped at McDonald’s because they had an indoor playground. Beth was so well behaved that I decided I would endure the food and let her play a bit. But not for too long. We left around 6:00, and got home at 8:30.

I was supposed to swing by Ken’s house and pick up his pickup so I could fetch the fruit tomorrow. But it was so late and I had so many things crammed into my car, I decided to swing by in the morning instead. I didn’t really savor the idea of unloading my stuff twice when once would be enough. I called, but his phone was busy. I finally got through when we got home.

So tomorrow, Beth and I will get up bright an early (actually, it will not be bright yet). We’ll gnarf down some breakfast and hustle over to Ken’s to get his truck, then hustle over to Keene to get the fruit. I am really looking forward to my tangelos.

That’s about enough for tonight. Thank you both for reading!