Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Davis and Thomas West Virginia

Well its been an eventful week, and some of you know that I have been very politically active over the past year. However, I'm just not going to go there. In the words of my favorite candidate Bernie Sanders, I have nothing polite to say

Let's talk about some recent outdoor adventures instead. On a recent weekend we decided to go check out Davis and Thomas, two tiny towns in the mountains of West Virginia. 

Started with Davis, very tiny but with a picturesque lake and park right in the middle of town, 

next to an abandoned motel that could have been part of a horror movie set and very close to a hippie store, 

which advertised itself as a hippie store and which of course we checked out.

And that was about it for the sights to see in Davis, except for a store that sold a few pumpkins and apples and that had this dog in the living quarters behind the shop. After ascertaining from the proprietor that the dog was in fact alive, I was able to go back and pet him and admire his extraordinarily stiff paws. 

Dogs are ridiculous. 

On to Thomas, which had a few more shops but more along the lines of antiques, Christmas decorations, and kitschy clutter than my preferred sort of shops, which feature 13 varieties of all-natural lip balm and vegan jerky.

There actually was a store with vegan jerky, so it wasn't a total loss.

Off to the nearby George Washington National Forest to park the van 

and camp. 

Some cuddling with the dogs to try, and fail, to stay moderately warm through the night.

Love our camping trips but it might be time to move to motels for the season.

The next morning, it was a relief to get up to a sunny day and check out Blackwater Falls State Park, which is right in Davis' back yard. 

Gorgeous waterfall and a boardwalk that allows an amazing view. 

and a cool forest with big rocks and trees that found their way around them. 

These trips are not always the most comfortable. But the chance to escape with my people and see something beautiful and new is worth it!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Wellness Poultry Lovers Variety Pack from Chewy.com

This month, our friends at Chewy.com offered an entire case of canned Wellness Poultry Lovers Variety Pack
Who could turn that down? 

You may remember that I am blessed with at least one dog who is a picky eater and turns up his substantial nose at many foods. 

Usually, I'll set down his food and he'll eye it warily, pace around a bit, sniff it, wander away, and then only eat it when Dahlia comes close and says Hey, are you gonna eat that?

But he seemed to love this food! I set it down and he dug right in.
Seems like a good product too, with wholesome ingredients like meaty snacks, grains, sweet potatoes, and vitamin supplements.

I always get a little uneasy when I do a dog food product review and talk about the ingredients, because I can say wholesome and hearty all I want--the meaty parts were once living breathing animals I would have loved to know. 

Not eating meat myself has never been difficult, and I haven't missed it all these 27 years. But I think my pups would miss it. So I get all our kibble from the Petsmart dumpster so we're not supporting those industries (it ends up in there when the packaging is slightly damaged but the contents are perfect), and mix it up with canned food from Chewy, or sometimes scrambled free-range eggs and cheese, or sometimes tuna or veggies or whatever I'm eating. 

Its a funny place we're in, as animal lovers who especially love our dogs! But we do the best we can. 

Dahlia sure felt good about the canned food, and I can only assume she said a prayer for the chickens silently to herself. 

But then, Dahlia feels good about most things. Tomorrow maybe we'll share some broccoli and oatmeal. 

Thanks again Chewy for the high-quality deliciousness--and for offering a large selection of vegetarian options, which we'll be checking out!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A few more days of summer staycation

Well I forgot to post this post in September, when it was timely! It's a little cooler now, but not much else has changed. 

Vermont was a tough act to follow with respect to outdoor fun with the dogs, but we've been giving it our best shot.

On these hot late summer days humans are not much different than dogs. Both species like nothing more than to find a body of water and just roll around in it.

Good time to scope out a new swimming hole. 

This one is on Seneca Creek very close to where it joins the Potomac. Mostly shallow, but deep enough that the dogs had to swim 

when as always, Florian insisted on going back a different way than we came. 

I'm not complaining; it was actually quite magical walking through the water as the sky darkened and it started to rain, and then thunder. 
The dogs got very tired and a little anxious, especially Dahlia as she is so short and had to do a lot of swimming. 

Seems to me that it takes dogs years after they learn how to swim, to actually have confidence in their abilities. 

Fozzie, by this time, loves it. 

Dahlia enjoys getting in the water but feels safer on land, so was trying to find a path through the woods for most of our watery way back. 

Poor little things.

After that exhausting day we didn't feel bad leaving them home for a dog-free date day. Right where Seneca Creek joins it, the Potomac is very wide and perfect for kayaking.

We spent the day just paddling all the way up, past dozens of great blue herons and blooming riverside shrubs, and back down under the bright blue sky. So relaxing. 

After letting them rest for a day, time to get the dogs out again. This time to the Patuxent Research Refuge, a great place close to home for walking,

viewing wildlife, cooling off

and just enjoying being outdoors, in a beautiful place, with my favorite people.

We'll just keep doing this as long as the weather's good. And then we'll do it even more once its not!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Best Birthday Ever

Not to call undue attention to myself or anything, but today was my birthday! It was epic. 

First off, waking up next to my beloved people, the furry ones and the Swiss one, and being showered with joyful hippie gifts--tie dyes and lip balm and hippie parfum and all my favorite things in the world. Then, a birthday text from my sister and a note that she'd bring Princess Sky over for the day, as she often does on Wednesdays. 

My little Princess came crashing into the yard, exploding love all over the place. Then she zoomed around the back yard while I pulled a few weeds, zoomed up the steps and down half a dozen times, wrestled with Dahlia, ate Fozzie and Dahlia's food, and let Dahlia hump her for a few minutes. 

Pretty soon it was time to load up Fozzie and Dahlia and leave Princess here to make out with Florian, which was a good set up for everyone involved. Uncle Johnny needed to go to Baltimore for a doctor's appointment, and I wanted to go on a hike with my dogs, so let's combine those activities for fun all around.

Not 10 minutes from where I left Johnny is Patapsco State Park. Where the dogs and I unloaded, walked right down to the water, and had the best time ever.
Walked in the stream, which was cool and fresh (like certain noses), tossed sticks for the dogs, watched them splash around. 

Left the phone in the car, so these pictures are not from Patapsco, but from Sunday's hike to the Monocacy River, which was also epic. 

But if I had taken pictures, they would look a lot like this, because as you may have noticed, all my hike pictures look a lot like this. 

Because in the end, what else is there? 

When you have two wet dogs, sloshing around, arguing over a stick, everything else kind of just falls away. 

And you are left with pure bliss. 

On this hike I couldn't take pictures, couldn't check the time, wasn't distracted by technology or compulsive iphone brain.

Just me, the dogs, the cool water, the warm air, the green vegetation.

And a lot of really good sticks. 

After sloshing around for a while, letting Dahlia get nice and clean then come out and roll ecstatically on her back in the dirt, then dragging her back to the water to rinse and holding her by the harness as we walked back to the car so she wouldn't do the roll thing again, back to the car.

And a short drive to pick up Johnny, with Dahlia on my lap and taking selfies, Because fuck it. It's my birthday. 

Then home to eat half a pineapple, do some online planning of the revolution, and receive mindblowing kisses and cuddles from Princess and my two tired, happy dogs. And then dinner with my sweetie and rest time for the short people.

Wouldn't have done anything different.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Staying Close to Home for a Far-Out trip...to Vermont

Well this has not been the easiest summer. But it did contain some intervals of peace and joy, and things seem to be on a better track now. After a stressful July, Florian and I rewarded ourselves with a summer road trip to Vermont, which we knew would be an amazing and slightly cooler place to take the dogs. 

Our intention was to camp, explore the extensive national forests and parks, and discover a lot of trails and swimming holes. Of which there were no shortage!

The first place we stopped was this gorgeous creek in the southern part of the Green Mountain National Forest. 

Amazing white rocks and heaven for the dogs as although Vermont was cooler than Maryland, it was still pretty hot.

Our entire week-long vacation consisted of driving around the state and stopping wherever we saw a cool trail, stream, or ski area worthy of exploring, some interesting rocks, a public campground, or a nifty little town with a General Store that sold maple syrup and local beers. 

There were a few great surprises, like this Spirit in Nature Interfaith Path Sanctuary in the Green Mountains. We happened upon it when driving out the dirt road from our campground our first night in Vermont, and took some time to walk on the Buddhist, Pagan, Interfaith, and Druid paths

 which were beautifully laid out through a magical forest

and each of which had signs to remind you of the gifts of inner peace and reflection brought by each of the great spiritual traditions. 

It is amazing how seeing such things, and especially being reminded of them in such a beautiful setting, can instantly bring about a state of well-being and joy. I think even the dogs felt it.

When we passed a ski area, 

Florian insisted we check t out and it was a good thing! It turned out to be a great place for the dogs to run around.

Of course in the summer it was totally empty, and there were some amazing views 

and even a stream at the bottom where everyone could cool off. 

It was a bit challenging to do city and shopping visits since we had the dogs and it was hot. But we did check out Burlington, and even there found attractions for everyone to enjoy

My favorite camping spot was one that we got to well after dark, after the one we wanted to stay in, Smuggler's Notch Campground near Stowe, was full. We drove around looking for another place, checked out a couple of overpriced, kind of smarmy private campgrounds, almost ran out of gas, 

and finally, on a dirt road in the middle of the forest, saw a clearing and a place to pull off.  

We woke up to a display of flowers and a stream to freshen up in, 

and a nice picnic table where we could eat breakfast and relax.

Absolutely loved that place. 

Also loved Warren Falls, another gorgeous creek where the water had carved out these deep potholes

Magical! But we were there in the morning, so it wasn't hot enough yet to swim...

at least not for the humans
Fortunately, later we came upon our own private lake where there was no one, and we got to have an amazing swim 

As you might imagine, after about 6 days of this we were satisfied and a bit tired.  Fortunately Florian bought a queen-size inflatable mattress about halfway through our trip so we could rest in comfort, and the dogs could too.