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 www.holidayvacations.net 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.   

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Winter Doldrums

Winter is about two thirds over (we hope) and really, it hasn't been bad.   We had a couple of cold snaps in January where we had sub-zero highs, but we've also had some days when it's gotten above freezing.    The best part of a January thaw is getting to start the second half of the winter with a clean driveway!   We haven't had a lot of snow this winter, and the warm days turned the little we did have into compacted ice.    By mid-February, the days are long enough that if I come right home from work without running any errands, I have time to get Scarlett and Zak to the park before dark.    We all sleep better when we've had some exercise!

Where's the "Play with Puppy" ap, anyway?
Just a subtle hint

Scarlett loves to tease Zak and is always running off with his toys.   She doesn't want to play with them, but she doesn't want him to play with them either.  She wants him to play with her!   She is quite the drama queen.     Zak, on the other hand, wants to play with me.    And he knows that the best way to get my attention is to divert it away from my computer.    He will lie beside me and put his head on the keyboard, but after getting scolded too many times for doing that, he devised a couple of new schemes.   His favorite (and most effective) one is to sit next to me, lift his paw and put it directly over the keyboard, about 1/2 inch from the keys and then look up at me with a totally serious expression.   After all, he's not TOUCHING anything, so how could he get in trouble; right?

Yes, Zak, I went to Jimmy Johns.  Unfortunately, it's not for you. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas Nights - Holiday Lights!

Scarlett, Zak and I spent a quiet Christmas home together this year.    We went to the park in the afternoon and in the evening went out to look at Christmas lights.    Scarlett was mesmerized by the lights at Fargo's Lindenwood Park.    Zak, ever cautious, wasn't so sure about them.    I talked to the vet in November about his anxiety; especially - but not limited to - car anxiety.    We're trying a few new things; one of them being essential oils.    He gets his paws rubbed with a little lavender oil every night before bed (in a coconut oil carrier) and it seems to help him relax.   We'll be trying it for some longer trips, too.    Of course Scarlett can't be left out, and she makes sure she gets in line for her paw rub too.    It's a nice soothing time for all of us, just before bed. 

Merry Christmas to all of our friends on CorgiTales!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Happy Fall Y'all

We're enjoying a beautiful Fall.  The second weekend in October and temps are in the 80's.   Love it!   A last taste of summer.   The only down side of the warm weather is bugs;  boxelder bugs, flies, yellow jackets and Japanese lady beetles ... the kind that bite!  Ouch.    But as long as I can keep them out of the house, they're tolerable.

Last weekend we went to Park Rapids and Itasca State Park.   It was a lovely day and there were some nice splashes of color here and there, but the trees were nowhere near their peak color yet.    This weekend we stayed closer to home.    After delivering a meal to some friends who recently lost a child, we drove along the Sheyenne River, walked a couple of trails and ended up at Rendezvous Park in West Fargo.   I had been there once before, in the winter, and it was nice even then, but today it was gorgeous.    There is a little lake, a lovely little stream and waterfall and beautiful foliage.   I was needing to get some Fall photos for our 2016 calendar ... and I got them!   I let Scarlett and Zak swim, chase after a ball and then they were quite willing to pose for me.   A successful photo shoot.

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