Monday, August 24, 2015

Au Train in August

Zak goes for a kayak ride

Last August, when Daniel arrived from China for a year of 'home assignment', my brothers and I gathered at the cabin in Au Train for a week.    This year we returned there for ten days, just before he goes back to China for a five year term.    Last August, we were looking forward to the coming year.   Now we are looking back on it.   It's been great to have him in the US, and we're already looking forward to (and planning for) his next home assignment!

Beach time, kayaking, berry picking, day trips to Tahquamenon Falls, Whitefish Point, and Grand Island, and many games of Rummikub filled our time together.

Tahquamenon Falls
Scarlett and Zak had not been swimming yet this summer, and I wondered if Zak would remember how.     He has no fear of the water, but losing touch with the ground was, once again, a hurdle he had to overcome.    We took him to a small inland lake, and from there, progressed to Au Train Beach on Lake Superior, enticing him into the deeper water with a stick.    At first he was quite willing to let Scarlett do the fetching and he'd wait by the shore to grab it and take the credit!   After a while, I held Scarlett back and that was all the push he needed.   He was off - swimming like a champ; going out into deeper and deeper water, undaunted by the waves.   Zak would retrieve the stick and hand it off to Scarlett in perfect  relay form - over and over again.   It was so cute!!

Sharing - corgi style

Au Train Beach
Back at the cabin, they thrived on all the attention.     Zak was always able to find someone to throw the ball or scratch his years.
Some lovin' from Dan
Hanging out with Tim
When bedtime came, he wanted to sleep with me, but first thing in the morning he'd push Tim's door open and crawl in with him for some snuggling. Scarlett and Dan had a great chemistry.   With three humans around, she didn't have to compete with Zak for attention.  
  There were plenty of tummy rubs and ear scratches for her too.
Back yard campfire

Plenty of sand to dig in

Stopping to say Hi to Paul Bunyan
We made a few stops on our trip to and from the Upper Peninsula.    I have a picture of Princess and Dee with Paul Bunyan from some years back so of course I needed the same photo with Scarlett and Zak.   And the day we went home was a hot one - so we cooled off with a stop in Duluth and a walk around Canal Park.    We've had a busy but fun summer.   There has been a nip of Fall in the air the past few days. The forecast of El Nino means we could have a mild winter here in the Upper Midwest.    At least that's what we're hoping for!

Canal Park, Duluth


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Final Goodbye

We spent ten days at our cabin in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan this month and one of the things I did was to spread the ashes of Princess and Dee Dee at Au Train Beach.  This was the place where they swam and had so much fun over the years.    Wonderful memories.  How I miss them.  Forever in my heart, sweet girls.   Rest in peace.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Terrific Two!!

Happy Birthday to Zacchaeus Robert!   It's hard to believe that it was two years ago that I brought that little 3 lb bundle of puppy sweetness home with me.   I remember sleeping the first night with my finger in his kennel ... the only thing that would make him stop crying.   Puppies are SO cute, but they're also a ton of work and I can honestly say I'm enjoying him more today.     I did have a little talk with him a couple of weeks ago, and explained that "2" markes the official end of puppy-hood so I expect to see some positive changes in his behavior!    Seriously, he's a pretty good boy.   He barks a lot and LOVES to play, but he has never been much of a chewer and rarely has an accident, so he is no longer kenneled during the day. That makes HIS day a lot more enjoyable, and mine too - as I know the pups are home, playing and hanging out together and not confined to a crate.

Zacchaeus Robert - 2 years old

Yesterday we took some pictures at the Yunker Farm Dog Park of Zak and Scarlett.    They are just as photogenic as my girls were.  

Later, in the afternoon, we enjoyed just chillin' in the back yard while we watched the Blue Angels perform as part of the Fargo Air Show.    So fun!   

Friday, July 24, 2015

Summer Outings

In the Upper Midwest, summers are short.  It's not uncommon to have snow in May, and snow in September isn't unheard of either.    So when the hot weather finally arrives, we grab on with both hands and milk it for all its worth.  Cleaning the house?  Cooking?  Indoor hobbies?   There will be plenty of time for all that, come Fall.   Summer - we spend outside.   As much as possible!

We've been to a couple of fun state-wide corgi meet-ups this summer.  The most recent one, in Blaine, was a picnic for humans at an events center for dogs!    Seriously!   I didn't know such a place existed.     Scarlett and Zak had so much fun, and I enjoyed visiting with other corgi enthusiasts.   The stories of corgi antics never end.

Scarlett the clown

I've been recovering from a couple surgeries, so we've been a bit more home bound than usual.  But tonight we had a little outing to the Sabin General Store. It's an old fashioned soda fountain in a small town about 10 miles away.    The pups and I shared a peppermint bon bon waffle cone while we watched a wedding dance that was taking place across the street.    There was a sign in the middle of the street with arrows pointing to the locations for the ceremony, the reception and the dance.   All three were in the same block!   Only in a small, rural community would you see that!    We capped off our day with a trip to the Moorhead Dog Park. It was a lovely evening with a cool breeze, but the days are noticeably shorter than they were a month ago.   Summer is going fast.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Colorado !!

It is a rare year that I don't take a camping trip somewhere, but last year was one such year.   Princess was very elderly and just not up to a big trip.  So Scarlett and Zak had never been camping - until three weeks ago when we went to Colorado.    As luck would have it, our first night out was a stormy one in Western Nebraska, and Scarlett wasn't so sure she liked sleeping in the tent with all the thunder and lightning going on.   During a lull between storms, I took her to the car and she felt much safer there.   I let her sleep in the car the next two nights and then coaxed her back to the tent.  I spread an old sleeping bag out next to my air mattress and she and Zak were quite comfortable there.

My brother Tim joined us and we spent four days at Moraine Campground near Estes Park,  followed by four days in Coloardo Springs.   Rocky Mountain National Park is home to a large herd of elk.   From the safety of the car, it was fun to see Scarlett's and Zak's reaction to them (wide eyed stares and lots of barking!)   The next morning Scarlett and I were snuggling in my sleeping bag and Tim had taken Zak out for a short walk.   They were just outside the tent when a large bull sauntered over the ridge into our campsite.   He took one look at Zak and charged.     Zak initially jumped back; then mustered up all of his protective courage and charged back!   Thankfully, Tim had hold of his leash, pulled him away and the elk ran off.    But that was more excitement than I needed that early in the morning!

Moraine Park - Rocky Mt National Park

Scarlett and Zak are mesmerized
by the chipmunks. 

Colorado, like much of the nation, has had a cold, wet Spring,  and the Trail Ridge Road, which takes you well above tree-line to over 13,000 feet,  had just opened a few days earlier.    We enjoyed a beautiful day, crossing the VERY snowy mountains (over ten feet deep in places!) and down to Grand Lake.  This picture of Scarlett and Zak watching the chipmunks is virtually identical to one I took of Princess and Dee Dee in the very same spot in 2006.  

Playing at Lake Grandby
We flirted with bad weather for much of our trip, but were fortunate to have the sun shining at the most important times, such as when we came upon this meadow just East of Grand Lake. It is one of my favorite spots in the Rockies. The dogs enjoyed playing in the lake and were unphased by the frigid temperature of the water. 

Grand Lake Meadow

Estes Park Dog Park
We really enjoyed the town of Estes Park and even took in a jazz festival there one afternoon.   It is definitely a tourist-friendly city, with many store owners allowing dogs into their shops and/or setting bowls of drinking water out for them.   Both Estes Park and Colorado Springs have wonderful dog parks with watering holes for cooling off.

Bear Creek Dog Park
Colorado Springs
The national parks don't allow dogs on the hiking trails, so Tim and I had to stagger our hiking or do it early in the morning or late afternoon, when it was cool enough to leave the dogs in the car.   Colorado Springs, however, has a number of parks with trails that are dog-friendly, including Garden of the Gods.   It was hot the day we were there, so we cooled off with a swim in the afternoon and then came back for a lovely evening stroll.

Garden of the Gods

 I have many wonderful memories of camping with Princess and Dee Dee over the years, and now I can begin making new memories with Scarlett and Zak.   They were great travelers.  Zak is making good progress on overcoming his car anxiety.  They had a great time, but were very happy to get home! 

Pikes Peak

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Corgi Minnesota Meet-up

I have a friend out in California who has a corgi, and they have these incredible corgi beach day events several times a year, where up to 700 corgis gather at one time - in one place!    Can you imagine?!   I've always been envious of such a fun event and wished we had something similar here. Yesterday we did.    The Corgi-MN meetup group gathered for an afternoon of fun at the Bloomington Off-leash Dog Park.     Yes, I admit I might be a little crazy; driving 500 miles round trip to take my dogs to a park with 40-60 other corgis, but it was so much fun!   We left in the morning, drove into some rain and I was concerned it might dampen our event - but other than a few sprinkles, the rain held off and our event was a smashing success.

The park is huge!    Thirty acres of fenced in space to run, play .... trails to walk on with your dog ... even a lake to swim in!   The down side is that with an area that large, it is hard to keep your dog in sight, let alone pick up after them.   There is a big water fountain that my dogs were fascinated with (we have to bring our own water in Fargo) and even a spray hose for rinsing your dog off when they roll in the mud, as Scarlett did!    In fact, Scarlett took the unofficial prize for getting the dirtiest!   That girl just loves to roll in the mud!

It was fun to meet so many other corgis and their owners.  A special treat was having a few cardigans there, amongst all the pems.    Before I left home in the morning, I put flag bandanas on my two and that sure helped me keep track of them.   It's amazing how many corgis look alike - especially from a distance, and when running in a pack!    Corgis are natural herders, and this video clip shows them banding together to herd a couple of unfortunate non-corgis that were there!   It was a hoot.

I thought that Zak would surely be the loudest dog there, but he wasn't even close.   He was actually a little overwhelmed by all the dogs there and at one point in the afternoon I lost sight of him.   As I was walking around, calling his name, someone told me that she'd just spotted him sitting by himself under a shade tree.   I walked over there and sure enough - he was taking a little 'rest' by himself - something I have never seen him do before.   It was so sweet and I was proud of him for being able to care for himself in that way.   After a few minutes, he was back with the group, running and chasing and occasionally breaking to have someone scratch his ears.   He had so much fun.

Scarlett wow'd everyone with her speed.   I'm sure she was the fastest corgi there.   She has her basic running speed, but she loves to occasionally kick into 'overdrive' and she is amazing to watch when she goes full throttle.   She can keep up with any large breed dog, will skid around corners and occasionally somersault out of control.

After so much exercise, I thought Scarlett and Zak would sleep all the way home.  But Zak has some car anxiety and, for whatever reason, cannot relax while riding.   He sits quietly but has an anxious look on his face and just cannot go to sleep.   Princess and Dee Dee loved to ride in the car and would be sound asleep as soon as we hit the highway.   Scarlett also enjoys the car, and slept a good bit of the way home.   But Zak never shut his eyes.  I knew he was exhausted and when we got home, he was sound asleep in two minutes.   We have several other trips coming up in the next few weeks so I am going to get him a thundershirt and see if that will help him relax.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Cherry Blossoms and Yuppy Puppies

I had an absolutely delightful two week trip with my brother Dan to Washington DC and points south.  Although the cherry blossoms were a bit late this year, they were starting to bloom towards the end of our trip.    There were so many highlights of our trip, I hardly know where to begin, but here are some of them: 
  • The Library of Congress - arguably, the most beautiful building I have ever been in.

  • Museums, museums, museums!!!   The Holocaust and the Smithsonian aeronautics among my favorites, but they all were great.
  • Tour of the Supreme Court gave me a new appreciation for the judicial branch of government. 
  • Arlington National Cemetery and the 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon.

  • National mall and monument tour.   I hadn't seen the WWII monument before and loved it.   The Martin Luther King monument was also, very inspiring. 

  • Shenandoah National Park - a place Dan and I have talked about going for years.   No, it wasn't the best season to go there, but we saw a beautiful sunset and sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mts.

  • Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown.    I especially enjoyed Jamestown, where recent excavation has recovered many artifacts and shed new light on the lives of the early settlers.  I also loved Yorktown.   I had no idea that battlefields could be so interesting (we saw Bull Run, too) but many of these places were significant in both the Revolutionary and Civil wars.   The bravery of men who sacrificed all for our freedom was sobering.   
  • Kitty Hawk, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  We also stopped at Fort Raleigh, site of the lost colony, which we both were intrigued with.

  • Touring Monticello (home of Thomas Jefferson) and Mt Vernon (home of George Washington).
  • Attending a symphony at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Palm Sunday service at St. John Church - across from the White House. 
  • Performance of St. John's Passion on Palm Sunday at the National Cathedral and a Men and Boys choral concert and organ concert on Easter. 

  • Fireworks over the Potomac River at the Southwest Waterfront as part of the Cherry Blossom Festival.  

  • Easter Sunrise service with Michael Tait of the Newsboys in front of the Lincoln Memorial. 

We stayed at the International Guesthouse, where we enjoyed homemade granola and muffins every morning, cookies and tea in the evening and met fascinating people from all over the world.   Many of them were in Washington to do research or work at their country's embassy.

We ate in some wonderful restaurants .... including  Highlands RestaurantMitsitam Cafe at the Native American Museum and Founding Fathers Cafe.   Chicken kabobs and saffron rice at the Persian Kitchen were a definite favorite for both of us.
Although I loved all of it, I'd have to count Mt Vernon as my favorite place.  A gorgeous museum and educational center has been built since I was there many years ago, and I had either forgotten - or never realized - what a truly inspiring man George Washington was; giving up power, having a vision for this country that he wouldn't let die and providing leadership when it was so desperately needed.   Every American owes a huge debt of gratitude to this great man who was unmatched in his ability to pull dissenting voices together and form the United States from a collection of colonies.  He had the respect of all and truly was, the father of our country.

Meanwhile, back home, Scarlett and Zak were having a blast.  I never cease to be amazed at how different they are from Princess and Dee Dee. Princess was in a kennel twice and she trembled and pleaded with me not to leave her.   I walked away in tears; guilt-ridden for abandoning her!    I never even TRIED to put Dee Dee in a kennel.    She was so attached to me that even when I hired in-home care, they couldn't get her to eat or go off the front porch for several days!  Scarlett and Zak, by contrast, are the most socialized dogs I've ever seen. They LOVE to play and trotted off happily when I dropped them off at Yuppy Puppy Kennels.  It's by far the best boarding kennel I have ever seen. The staff are kind and caring, the whole place is spiffy-clean and the large outdoor play area is amazing. When I picked my dogs up this week, they didn't want to leave!   Thankfully, they warmed up to me after a good nap, but they had so much fun that I bought a day-care package to use occasionally when I have an especially busy week.  Unlike my Christmas vacation, which was a nightmare, I was able to truly relax and enjoy every minute of this trip, knowing my dogs were being well cared for. Thank you, Yuppy Puppy.