Sunday, September 18, 2016

Summer Waning .... Hello, Autumn

I say it every year, but where did the summer go??    We are experiencing an early Fall with many trees starting to change color already.    I'm not sure why that is, as it wasn't a particularly hot or cool summer, and we had near normal rainfall.   Hopefully the early Fall doesn't lead to an early Winter!

Meeting another corgi family at the Donut Shop
Due to some health issues, we did not get in a summer vacation this year, which made me especially glad for my trip to Hawaii last Spring.    We did manage to squeeze in a long weekend of camping on the North Shore in late August.   It was wonderful to get away from some of the drama happening at home, not to mention the unprecedented road construction we have experienced this summer.   We met another corgi family at the Donut Shop in Grand Marais, and one of the daughters was starting school at Concordia College - just up the street from me - the following week!   I told her she could come down for a corgi fix anytime she wanted!

High Falls on the Pigeon River
Cascade Falls
Playing at Grand Marais harbor
The days are noticeably shorter now, so we try to get out for a good walk as soon as I get home from work each day.    Last night we were down at Gooseberry Park where a local church was having their Fall kickoff with a worship band, games and food.   The food  is what drew us in!   Pulled pork, burgers, brats .... yum!   Scarlett and Zak made off like bandits - not only in the bits of pork dropped on the ground or the 1/2 of a brat that someone tossed their way - but in all the attention they received. They never lack for it, but enjoy it especially from children.   Zak thought he'd died and gone to heaven as clearly shows in these photos.   He is a charmer.   And Miss Scarlett - who turned 4 years old a few days ago  -  no longer lets him have all the attention.    After a few minutes of watching him drink it all in, she makes her move.    She is such a sweet and funny girl and has some gestures and sounds that are unique just to her.    It's been a hard summer for me.   A few friends have rallied around me and seen me through.   But I cannot understate the role that these two fur-babies have played in my survival.   I don't know what I would do without them.
A lazy Sunday afternoon

Leif Erickson Park - Duluth

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Three Years Old!

Three Years Old
Where have the last three years gone?!?!  I can hardly believe it was three years ago that I brought that little 3 lb squawking fur-baby home with me.    I had no idea what to do with a brand new puppy, having gotten all of my other dogs at 8-12 months old, and, much like a new mother, I was scared to death.   With the help of a pet-nanny, we got through those first four months when Zak needed to be let out several times a day.   I'd come home for an early lunch, quickly let him out and clean up the kennel while shoving a sandwich in my mouth.  Emma would come about 3:00 and let him out again (as well as Princess and Scarlett). Having a brand new puppy, a one year old and a very elderly senior for 15 months kept me very, very busy but we got through it and had a lot of fun.  Total strangers driving down 8th Street would see him in the yard and come around the corner and ask if they could play with him.  That happened several times.   He was SO stinkin' cute.

Best Friends Forever
Zak had a ton of personality right from the start and today he is a big boy (long and rather slender by corgi standards) who thinks everyone on the planet is here to play with him!  He is a happy, active, smart three-year-old who, as I found out yesterday, is quite willing to pose for the camera.   These were taken in a friend's garden.   Scarlett and Zak ran and ran around their large country estate and had so much fun.   On the way home, we stopped in Barnesville for a walk around Whiskey Creek and they got to finish the day  with a swim and an ice cream treat.   I think Zak had a great birthday (one day late)!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Summer Music Festivals

One of the special treats of summer is the chance to take in some open air concerts.  There’s something  about listening to live music on a warm summer afternoon, corgis snuggled up beside me, breeze blowing through my hair, that is a delight to the senses.   I enjoy folk festivals in particular, but very few of them allow dogs.   We have found one in Wisconsin that does, and have been there a couple of times.

Hanging out with our friend Marilyn
Today, however, we enjoyed some outdoor music closer to home.  Our local MPR station, KCCM, hosts a classical music festival the first weekend of June at Rheault Farm, and we took that in today.  We ran into my friend Marilyn Proulx and it was fun to hang out together.    The music is light fare;  Americana, light classics such as Steven Foster and George Gerschwin, as well as a jazz band and local choral group.    It was a fun afternoon and Scarlett and Zak had a blast.   They looked so cute in their sun visors and, as always, attracted a lot of attention.  They were very well behaved, snuggling up to anyone who was willing to scratch their ears.

Equal time, please!
Puppy love
May was a very intense month for me with some health issues and a traumatic experience that has been pretty heavy.   I have been so grateful for my little four-legged therapists.   They've kept me focused and have given me lots and lots of unconditional love. 
I love my sweet fur-babies.

Enjoying the music

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Hijack to Hawaii

About once a year, I hijack my corgis' blog to post a few photos from my vacation.  This year, with a milestone birthday to celebrate, I decided to join a tour to Hawaii.   For someone who is used to tent camping and shared bathrooms,  this was truly a luxury vacation.   We spent three days on Oahu, two on Kauai, and four on Maui.   Each island has it's own charm, and it would be hard to pick a favorite.   We began our trip at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki where we saw the Honolulu Festival Parade, toured Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial, enjoyed lunch at the Aloha Tower and had a guided tour of the city, including Iolani Palace and Hanauma Bay.   The next day I walked to Diamond Head (volcanic tuff cone), spent several hours at the Polynesian Cultural Center and walked around the upscale shopping district of Waikiki (my credit card safely back in my hotel room!)

The Aloha Tower
Highlights of Kauai (aka The Garden Island)  included a kona coffee plantation and Waimea Canyon, formed by the collapse of a volcano.  I chose to use our free day here to do nothing but explore the beach, swim in the pool and sip Mai Tais on the balcony.   

Relaxing at our ocean beach resort on Kauai
Waimea Canyon

The last four days were spent on Maui, and I could easily have spent two weeks there.   Maui has everything.  We had a wonderful lunch (I ordered fish whenever possible!) at the Maui Ocean Center, which is well worth the time to see.   That evening, a group of us walked from the hotel to Whaler's Village.   The  surf was high throughout our trip (remnants of Cyclone Winston that hit Fiji a few weeks earlier), and that evening, in particular, the waves were huge.  With the sun going down on the horizon and live music wafting from the bars on Kaanapali Beach, the night was magical and proved to be the highlight of the entire trip for me.    The next day I joined a small group for the infamous "Road to Hana", a 52 mile stretch of narrow highway that boasts 617 hair pin turns, blind curves and 56 one-land bridges!  My Scopolamine patch served me well, and I survived the trip to Hana without difficulty.   The trip back to Lahaina turned out to be much more treacherous, as you hug the edge of a steep cliff; a glance out the window revealing only the ocean far below.   Guardrails are few, and much of the road is gravel, making it truly a white-knuckle experience.     The reward for it all?    Bamboo forests, spectacular cliffs, breathtaking waterfalls and panoramic overviews of Maui's coastline and black sand beach.    The backside of the mountain takes you through the volcanic summit of Haleakala National Park.    If I am ever so fortunate as to go back to Maui, I will be sure to take in a sunrise from the top of this peak.  

With a large northwest swell eroding the ocean beaches, I did not venture in much past my knees, limiting my ocean experience to a day of snorkeling with Trilogy Tours.    I was fortunate enough to see starfish,  turtles and sea urchin, as well as a beautiful coral reef.   After a lunch of barbeque chicken on the catamaran we sailed off in search of humpback whales and were not disappointed.   That night, I attended Drums of the Pacific Luau at our hotel.    A spread of ethnic food and an evening of Hawaiian entertainment made it a wonderful cultural experience.   Our final day in Maui took us to a tropical plantation, through the lush Iao Valley and to the exquisite Iao Needle, which rises 1200 feet from the valley floor.  Our guide, Joan, was warm, professional and devoted to making the trip a memorable experience for all of us.   I look forward to traveling with again.

The Road to Hana

Black Sand Beach along the Road to Hana
One of the many waterfalls along the Road to Hana

Humpback whales

Drums of the Pacific Hawaiian Luau

Hyatt Regency Hotel - Lahaina, Maui

Banyan Tree - Lahaina

Coconut peeling demonstration

Iao Needle

You see some dogs in Hawaii, but not a lot.   Property is expensive and people live in small multi-generational homes or efficiency apartments.   Beaches are busy and activities not conducive to traveling with pets.    Scarlett and Zak stayed at Yuppy Puppy Dog Hotel again this year and reportedly had a great time.   I missed them terribly and was happy to be reunited with them.   We had a quiet Easter weekend going to the park and hanging out together.