I had never heard of Salomon shoes when I first started adventure racing but they seemed to be a very popular brand among racers at the time and I bought a pair because I needed shoes.
Racers either loved them or hated them and right away I loved them.
There are many other companies that have worked their way into the market over the past few years and many are good shoes but Salomon still has a strong and loyal following, including this runner.
With the exception of one pair of Montrail trail shoes that are now pretty much toast after I put far too many miles on them, I have only worn Salomons for the last 10 years.
At one point I had six pairs in rotation and counting.
Once they became too worn to trail run or trek in they were downgraded to paddling shoes and even lawn mowing shoes, and with a profound sense of loss I once had to throw one pair away at the end of a race when one shoe was ripped beyond redemption.
Thankfully the duct tape held up long enough for me to finish the race.
They were fairly expensive even years ago but I could always find last years model or a closeout somewhere and get them cheap(er), even one time driving down to North Georgia to buy up three pairs that were in closeout at an outdoor store.
Now.........not so much with the sales.
I'm running about 21 miles a week right now (with aspirations to increase that) and there was no getting around it. I needed shoes.
And I got this pair for Christmas.
After a great run yesterday (in absolutely clear and absolutely freezing cold conditions that made the frozen trail feel like concrete) to test them out, I realize that I still love these shoes................
With my truck in the shop all day to repair something related to the 4-wheel drive function, LC and James and I drove out to the base to walk.
We picked an area that LC and I have ridden bikes on in the past.
An area popular with deer and dove and turkey hunters.
An area which is filled with old paved and gravel roads and overgrown trails and (as with my bike ride the other day in a section of the base that is not too far from where we were today) the remnants of old buildings from the time when Arnolds Air Force Base was the much larger Camp Forrest during WWII.
Although it is a wild and woods-filled area, I knew heading out there that with no snow, no streams or rivers or lakes or water falls, no hills or mountains, and with vegetation in hibernation for the Winter there would likely be few picture taking and blogging opportunities.
It would, instead, be a time for LC and I to quietly walk with our dog who (now that she has a fenced back yard where she can again run and play and chase squirrels at will) does not go for walks as often as she used to.
LC and I wandered around the house getting ourselves ready and at some point in our preparations our intuitive mutt picked up on the fact that we were heading out.
My sweet puppy soon followed first me, and then LC, and then me again as we moved from room to room gathering our things - watching intensely and with great anticipation.
She always knows...................
After two very sunny and very very cold days, this morning was also sunny but 15 degrees warmer.
Still cool and windy, but an absolutely gorgeous day.
LC parked his truck on the grass embankment adjacent to Wattendorf Highway that leads from Tullahoma and heads all the way to the I-24 Interstate and beyond, and we walked through the open gate and headed down the flat and wide open paved road.....................
LC and James led the way and I trailed behind, taking my time, looking around me and wondering whether or not I would find anything "picture taking worthy".
I looked up into the sky in front of me, saw the jet stream of the plane in the Winter-blue sky and absently snapped a picture...........
Then zoomed the camera slightly and snapped another picture as I quickly realized that from the angle I was standing at it appeared that the plane was flying into the sun............
And then zoomed one more time and snapped this picture.
LC and Jamie were a long way ahead of me but still within sight, and I stopped walking for a moment to look back over the three pictures I had just taken.
I smiled to myself as I realized that I really liked the pictures.
Yes........I take pictures of really random things sometimes.
Like new running shoes sitting on the steps leading from the kitchen down into the den.
And a plane flying into the sun.............
Turning from one paved road onto a second wide open paved road.
As LC and James and I walked down the center of the road with our dog very happily setting the pace, we realized just how much fun it was to walk on roads that were completely isolated and empty.
No traffic. No people. No noise.
Nothing and nobody.
And it was very very good..............
The first of a handful of concrete foundations and pillars we found during our walk today.
As with so many other things I have seen during many walks in Tennessee, Alaska and Wyoming, I always wonder what the story is behind random things I come across in the woods.
This structure was not exactly random because I knew it was a remnant of a well known bygone era, but as I stood considering it for a moment, I wondered what exactly this building - this particular building - used to be............
Transitioning to gravel road.
There are endless miles of roads and trails on the base.
So many of them are accessible to the public.
Judging from the number of people I have run into over so many years coming out to this place, it is not highly used for walking or running or mountain biking.
In this particular area I only remember coming across one hunter in all those years............
We stopped often because our dog stopped often.
We gave Jamie the opportunity to investigate whatever she wanted to investigate.
And we allowed her to set the pace for us and sometimes to even set direction of travel for us.
After a walk of about four miles she was still looking for more..............
The last time I took pictures of frozen puddles I was in Juneau Alaska.
In a rush as I always was at that time. Stressed out as I always was at that time.
But even then I saw something wonderfully and uniquely artistic in the random shapes that were frozen into the puddles on the ground................
While Jamie was stopped yet again, busily sniffing the ground on the trail of something that not long ago passed this way, I looked up into the deep blue sky and again absently and without thinking snapped a picture of another jet stream..............
And began playing the "zoom in" game again...........
If you click on the picture below you will see three jet streams.............
I was really loving this walk.
Enjoying my quiet time with my Mountain Boy and my dog.
Enjoying cool but warmer temperatures.
Enjoying the deep blue sky.
And while walking on trails that were pretty but non-descript when it came to picture-taking, I was also unexpectedly having great fun taking pictures of jet streams................
I was surprised to see this small tree.
It was bright green, lush, completely out of place here on old base roads.
LC said that he thought it was a magnolia tree.
I will take his word for it because I have no idea, but it was a one-of-a-kind and a beautiful standout among the browns I saw today..............
My bow legged in the back and pigeon toed in the front, happy and healthy and trail-loving pup..............
A very small and very unexpected frozen pond.............
I wrote in a blog post not long ago that one of my missions this Winter is to take pictures of any shot of bright color that I find in nature.
Much of the outside at this time of year is bleak and brown, dead and dormant.
But not every single thing is that way.
A splash of unexpected and very welcome bright red close to the end of our walk.
There was not a lot to take pictures of today, but somehow I found things to take pictures of.
Funny how that works..............
Of Winter's lifeless world each tree
Now seems a perfect part
Yet each one holds Summer's secret
Deep down within its heart................Charles G. Stater