Posts Tagged ‘road trip

10
Mar
19

Loss and the Long Road – Part One

May 4-6, 2018 and May 11-12, 2018

It was a cruel irony that the wagon I had ordered to pull Yukon along the Mississippi River on a weekend Great River Road adventure showed up the day after I had to let him go. I sat and cried, like I had so many times since the previous day, before cramming the box into a dark corner of the garage.

I came home on that Friday to find Yukon’s injured leg was swollen to double its normal size. As I was palpating his leg, I felt a large, hard mass in his groin and my heart sank. I knew what it meant, but wasn’t fully ready to let go.

The next morning, I woke early and carried my goofy dog that I loved so much to the car. We were heading to Kruse Park Dog Beach on the shores of Lake Michigan, one of Yuk’s favorite swimming spots. I walked with him slowly down the steps to the sand, despite his condition, he was amped to be near one of his favorite things, water. He enthusiastically chased ball after ball into the waves, his back end collapsing time and again, my heart breaking over and over each time. I’m not sure what others at the beach thought as I held my wet dog, sobbing before deciding it was time to leave. He was unable to walk up the stairs so I carried him, tears blurring my vision.

His body may have been broken, but his spirit was definitely not!

I didn’t want to go to sleep because I knew what the next day would bring. Yukon was my first dog and I’d never had to make the decision to end the life of a beloved pet. We were all exhausted and finally I had to force bedtime. I pulled a huge, thick ribeye out of the freezer before lightly grilling it for my pal’s final meal, then sent my vet a Facebook message and he agreed to meet me at the office in 20 minutes. I held Yukon as we took X-Rays, my fears were confirmed he had a large mass in his groin and two smaller metastasized tumors in his lung. While I knew the answer, I asked my vet, “What would you do if he were your dog?” To which he replied, “He has no quality of life and he’s in an incredible amount of pain.” It was at the same time the most difficult and the easiest decision of my life. Mira and I by his side, me whispering “I love you, buddy.” in his ear, the euthanasia drug was injected and after a few labored breaths, Yukon was gone.

See ya later old pal!

A short five days later, I had plans to take on another section of the Great River Road. I was devastated by the loss of Yukon and was ready to cancel plans and lie in my dark bedroom, clinging to Mira. Then I realized that sitting and moping would accomplish nothing, that one of the things that was helping through this loss was the many photos and videos I had collected during out many adventures together. Dammit, Mira and I were hitting the road in honor of our buddy!

Mopey Mira

When work ended Friday, I rushed home to pick up Mira, gather some things and hit the road. That night’s destination, Davenport, Iowa. We arrived late and after chowing down on some Capriotti’s and shedding a few tears while staring at the television, Mira and I cuddle close and got some much needed sleep.

One little monkey jumping on the bed!

Since our first adventure on the Great River Road, I had armed myself with more information (ordered maps, guide books, etc.) and had a pretty good idea of which route I wanted to take on this weekend trip. We started northbound from the point we began our southbound leg on the last visit to Davenport. Our first stop was Centennial Park, I pulled into the entrance to find the mighty river had broken free of its banks and inundated the park. I was still able to find a place to park and Mira and I were able to walk along the flood waters dodging debris as we went.

Mira hanging out in front of Centennial Bridge – Davenport, Iowa

Mira, I don’t think that’s what Tina Turner meant when she sang “Rollin’ on the river”

Flooding and debris along the river in Centennial Park

Driving north along the western side of the Mississippi, we enjoyed the short glimpses of life on the river (well, I enjoyed them while Mira snored in the back). The only definite stops I had planned on this drive were Effigy Mounds National Monument and Potosi Brewing. We crossed the river at Dubuque, Iowa before heading to the first of these stops, Potosi Brewing, which is conveniently located right on the Great River Road.

Postosi Brewing Company

After learning of Potosi while planning, I called to make sure Mira would indeed be allowed in the outside eating area and double checked again when we arrived. The hostess said they normally didn’t allow dogs out there on the weekends , but since it was 50 degrees and sporadically drizzling, they’d make an exception for my furry beast. Mira settled under the table as I ordered a Tangerine IPA and some chicken fingers (I know, super adult). Eating quickly as not to freeze, we headed across the road to get a photo with the giant Potosi bottle before once again hitting the road.

Mira, dogs don’t like beer!

“Giant, scary beer bottle…I’m outta here!”

Because of the high water levels, the ferry across the river I intended to take wasn’t in operation so I crossed the river once again at Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin and headed north to Effigy Mounds.

As fascinated as I’ve been about the indigenous tribes that inhabited the desert southwest, I’ve never learned much about the mound builders that once dwelled in my own “neighborhood”. Once inside the visitor center, I chatted with the ranger working the information desk and stamped by National Park Passport. She recommended a trail that Mira and I would enjoy. We wound our way up the switchbacks, squirrels flitting back and forth through the green forest. The mounds were hard to comprehend from ground level, huge earthen mounds that from the air resembled birds, bears and nondescript, circular mounds. It’s unclear the exact reason for the mounds (in some areas they were burial mounds), perhaps territory delineation or ceremonial/sacred sites.

Effigy Mounds National Monument

We reached the top of the climb through the mounds to reach Fire Point Overlook, a broad vista overlooking the Mississippi. We chatted with a couple of people that were heading in the other direction before making our way back down toward the parking area. Mira has always been a conversation starter, which is good for a solo traveling introvert like myself. A couple in the parking lot stopped me and asked if they could pet her which she of course loved. Mark and Cheryl were up on vacation from Iowa, staying in Prairie du Chien. We chatted forever about dogs and travels and motorcycle touring (Cheryl did quite a bit of solo motorcycle travel) before heading our separate ways.

The view from Fire Point Overlook

My hope for accommodations was to camp on the river at Perrot State Park but when I arrived, every single campsite was filled. As the sun was dropping toward the horizon, I checked a couple other campgrounds which were also full, camping on the big river would have to wait. I wasn’t even able to get a motel nearby and ended up driving an hour east to Tomah, Wisconsin. As much as I wanted to camp a bed and a shower sure felt great after a long day of driving!

Tired little dog, sacked out at the Tomah, WI Super 8

01
Mar
19

April Adventure Part Two – Route 66 and the Great River Road

April 13-15, 2018

The threat of an impending ice storm made me load up the dogs shortly after returning to my parents’ house after backpacking. Thankfully, it was clear sailing for the entire 3 hour drive home.

Early next morning, I woke to a dreary, grey, drizzly day. Since I still had two days left of my four day weekend, I decided to chance potentially bad roads and hea out on a “short” adventure. Because of Yukon’s bad leg, we couldn’t hike and I had been hankering for a Capriotti’s sub so Davenport, IA it would be! Since we’d be going past some bits and pieces of Route 66 that I hadn’t been on, I decided to check the ‘Roadside America’ app and see what interesting places we could visit on the 5 hour drive to Iowa.

Me: There’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark out, and we’re wearing sunglasses. Mira:  Hit it!

First stop, Route 66 Food N Fuel to see the Bluesmobile on a Stick after snapping a couple of quick photos, we moved on to Rich & Creamy for some ice cream on the Mother Road. Looking at routes as an alternative to taking I-80 as I have on what seems like a million occasions, I decided to get off the expressway and on to two lanes, crossing the Mississippi River at Clinton, IA.

Bluesmobile on a Stick at Route 66 Food N Fuel

Rich and Creamy in Joliet – the pups loved their little doggie treat

Yukon, you have no thumbs, you can’t pump gas!

A frigid, wet wind whipped at the dogs and me as we walked down toward the mighty river for a photo. Yukon, despite a bum leg, was throwing a tantrum because he was close to a body of water and I wouldn’t let him go swimming and Mira was tired of the wind and made several attempts to escape to the warm Jeep.

The Mighty Mississippi at Clinton, IA – Yukon wanted to swim, Mira was trying to escape to the Jeep

Heading south on 30, I noticed a scenic route sign imprinted with a riverboat wheel. My interest piqued, I looked it up to find we were on a lesser known scenic route known as the Great River Road. At that point, I decided I’d do my best to trace the entire route in sections. As we were in the area, we stopped at American Pickers headquarters (Antique Archaeology) in Le Claire. Mira begrudgingly sat to have her photo taken in front of the iconic car in front (bribed with treats from the nice ladies inside the gift shop of course). It was a short drive to Capriotti’s and my delicious “Bobbie” sub followed by a stop for some of Toppling Goliath Brewing’s Pseudo Sue, a beer I’d been wanting to try for a while simply because they feature a T-Rex on the can.

A quick stop at Antique Archaeology (American Pickers) in Le Claire, IA

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The Bobbie and a 4 pack of a Pseudo Sue – the perfect combination!

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I’ve mentioned before, when on the road with the dogs, I tend to stay at Motel 6. They definitely are spartan but they’re usually pretty decent and dogs stay free. Motel 6 in Davenport was no different, definitely not fancy but clean and comfortable. Unfortunately, they put us in a room on the 2nd floor, not awesome with a 65 pound dog that is struggling to walk. I carried my giant black dog upstairs and placed him on the bed where he instantly made himself at home. Snuggled into bed with the dogs, we fell asleep to the Discovery Channel.

The dogs know how to make themselves at home after a decade of road trips!

After following a short section of the Great River Road from Clinton, IA to Davenport, I was intrigued. A lesser known scenic route similar to the vibe of Route 66 that runs along the Mississippi River from its source at Itasca State Park in Minnesota to the Gulf in Louisiana. After reading up on this road that was previously unknown to me, I decided day two of our road trip would be to follow it from south of Davenport to Alexandria, MO before heading home via back roads connecting to Route 66.

Yukon, my four-legged divining rod was beside himself with excitement as we drove along the shore of the big muddy Mississippi through Buffalo, Montpelier and Muscatine on our way to a quick stop at Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge.

Navigator Yukon at your service

Sergeant John F. Baker Jr. Bridge – I-280 over the Mississippi River

I pulled into the first parking area for the Wildlife Refuge, the parking lot being excessively muddy, I left the dogs in the car to do some exploring along the shore. I saw hundreds of fish, dead on the bank like there was a massive die off and they washed up. The smell was something special! My boots caked with a couple of inches of mud, I returned to the Jeep, today would be a driving day instead of a hiking day.

Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge and a few photos of the fish die off

White Pelicans taking flight from Muscatine Slough

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As we made our way south, we sometimes lost sight of the river, but were rewarded with rolling Midwestern farmland in exchange.  It started snowing as we drove a tunnel of trees, two lane back portion of the Great River Road into Keokuk, Iowa which was named after the great Sauk leader Keokuk.  I continued on, crossing the Missouri state line, filled my gas tank in Alexandria and started to head east toward Route 66.

I live for rural two lanes!

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A statue of Sauk leader, Keokuk, the town’s namesake

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Nearby carved eagle statue

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Made it to Missouri!

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Looking for life on two lanes on our way to Atlanta, Illinois

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We made our way east, traveling on more rural back roads in pursuit of another of Illinois’ Muffler Men (Mira and I visited Gemini Giant the previous fall) in Atlanta, Illinois.  I left Yukon in the car, leashed Mira up and started toward the imposing figure of “Tall Paul”, a muffler man formerly resided in front of Cicero’s hot dog stand in the Chicago suburbs.  I sat Mira in front of him with the intent of getting her photo, she was freaked out and dashed toward me for protection from the scary figure.

Mira says, “I’m outta here!”

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Loaded back into the Jeep, we made our way back home.  After 35 hours, 5 states and a little over 1,000 miles we were back in our driveway, a fun little adventure under our belts.  I’ll always cherish this trip as it was Yukon’s last road trip, three weeks later I had to have him put to sleep.  His leg that was a presumed CCL tear was actually a very large tumor in his hip with metastasis to the lungs that there was no recovering from.

RIP Yukon – 7/2006-5/6/2018

 

13
Feb
19

Back in Time 2018

Well, 2018 was a bit of a rough year. A year of loved ones lost, both two-legged and four-legged. But also a year of new adventures and new experiences. I didn’t keep up with documenting these adventures so I’ll be stepping back in time, via this blog, to recap the excitement (and the pain) of this past year.

08
Feb
18

The Road

 

“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” 

-John Steinbeck, “Travels with Charley: In Search of America”

The road trip, it has been immortalized by many an author, from Kerouac’s stream of consciousness, to Steinbeck’s descriptive narrative, to the frenetic, drug-fueled musings of Hunter S. Thompson. It’s an American tradition.

Tires humming beneath me, chewing up endless miles as they roll west.  The loneliness of the small hours of the morning, the only company my four-legged companions snoring contentedly in the back, and the music – Tom Petty, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, all whose lyrics I belt out at the top of my lungs, windows down to let the cool air wash over me and keep me alert.

Gas stops pared down to minutes – fill the tank, let the dogs stretch their legs, grab a drink to make sure caffeine levels remain high enough that if I had to push the vehicle to my destination, I could.  The sun peeking over the eastern horizon, lighting everything ahead of me. The terrain changing from Midwestern corn fields to the rolling short grass prairies of eastern Wyoming, Montana or Colorado.  That first glimpse of the Front Range in the distance.  Approaching my first night’s stop, delirious exhaustion bordering on hallucination, overridden by the excitement of the new surroundings and the possibilities.  This is my happy place, the place I feel at home, the place I feel alive.

03
Aug
17

Into the Big Wild

For years I’ve dreamed of loading a backpack and wandering off into the wilderness to experience nature for more than just a day hike followed by a night of car camping.  An excessive number of hobbies won out and backpacking was kicked to the back burner.  Until now!  At the end of last year, I started thinking about how wild it would be to do a Rim to Rim backing trip in the Grand Canyon.  In December, my first real backpacking pack was on its way, an Osprey Aura AG 50.

Fast forward to the end of June, I had a few days off after the 4th of July holiday and was planning on hiking the Shingle Mill Pathway in the Pigeon River Country State Forest in the Lower Peninsula’s northeast section.  Home to the state’s only elk herd (along with many other of Michigan’s native flora and fauna) and the largest section of contiguous state land ownership in Michigan, it is a quiet retreat from the madness of city life.  I couldn’t wait to set foot in what forester and conservationist, P.S. Lovejoy coined the ‘Big Wild’ and decided to experience it properly, I needed to spend a night and walk the trails with a loaded pack on my back.

Lovejoy Monument – Pigeon River Country State Forest

Mira and I left AuGres (my parents’ house) in the morning for the short drive to the Pigeon River Country State Forest.  Driving east out of Vanderbilt I saw my first brown and white DNR sign indicating I was near, excitement mixed with a touch of anxiety welled up as I pulled into the parking area across from the Pigeon River Bridge Campground.

Over the winter I had read about the proper way to pack a backpack and practiced several times at home prior to leaving, my pack weight upon leaving the lot was 29 pounds with food and water (including Mira’s food).  Mira’s Ruffwear Singletrack pack was loaded with her Ruffwear boots, her food and water dishes and our Thermacell.  She was ridiculously happy to be tackling another adventure with me.  After snapping a few photos we proceeded to take our first steps of our backpacking adventure.

Time lapse of packing, realizing I forgot to load my hydration bladder, unpacking and then repacking :-)​​  **upside down until you hit play

Trying to get a nice photo at the start of our journey – Mira had other ideas 😂


Time to start!


While planning, I decided that I wanted to do the loop clockwise (no particular reason, my brain just likes clockwise).  Plans were quickly squashed when I failed to realize the loops “end” didn’t have a common point near the campground.  I continued on counterclockwise, toward the Pigeon River Country Headquarters and the next campground.

A few miles in, it became apparent that my pack was very ill-adjusted.  My butt hurt, my legs were uncomfortable and I had the sensation that the top of the pack was forcing my head forward, chin to chest.  Instead of stopping and attempting to fix it like a sane human, I continued forward, completely uncomfortable.  We only saw one couple and their young Brittany in the stretch from Pigeon River Bridge to the Headquarters, stopping for a minute to chat about dogs and bird hunting.  The forest’s solitude was proving to be blissful!  We made a quick stop at the headquarters building to read the pamphlets posted outside about bears, elk and fishing before heading toward the campground for a break.

Forest Headquarters


The Pigeon River State Forest Campground, while a nice little rustic campground, was definitely a stark contrast to quiet of the trail.  Families cooking on grills and bathing suit clad campers carrying inflated tubes were all bustling around, enjoying the nice (hot) weather and the cool water.  One such family stopped me to talk, they had a young Aussie at home.  They were curious about Mira’s pack and decided that their energetic four-legged family member should start carrying their own trail goodies.  I made a couple of stops at the river to let Mira wade in, get a drink and cool her paws before heading on.  We reached the 6 mile split and kept heading heading north through the pines toward the 10 mile split where we would head west to check out one of the area’s sinkhole lakes before making camp for the night

6 Mile Split

Photos of clear turquoise waters with downed logs drew my attention while browsing the internet during the planning phase of this trip, Section 4 Lake looked like a place I would need to stop and wet a line.  The lake which used to be off limits to fishing due to research purposes (these sinkhole lakes with no streams entering or exiting were perfect for studying) was now open to fishing during trout season for anglers using artificial means only.  Thoughts of catching a jewel colored Brook Trout from this stunning water made me pack my 6 piece fly rod and a small stash of flies.

After taking a steep, marked trail down to the lake, I tethered Mira in the shade and took my increasingly uncomfortable pack off to access my fishing gear.  The tree lined shores made fly fishing a tough prospect and while I saw fish rising in the middle and gave it a serious go, I ended up skunked.  Float tubes are allowed in Section 4, which would be an excellent way to better fish this body of water.  Begrudgingly, I stashed my fishing gear and wrestled on my pack (I was getting better at it, but it was still a feat) and started the final push to the night’s camping spot, the south end of Grass Lake.

Fishing at Section 4



I found the dispersed sites easily upon arrival and chose one further away from the trail with plenty of well spaced trees and access to water for Mira.  Finally, I could crack one of the beers I hauled in to celebrate our first successful day of backpacking!  After finding the two perfect trees, I strung the hammock and rain fly and laid a ground sheet under it on which Mira promptly crashed.  Dinner for the evening was courtesy of Mountain House, my favorite, Beef Stroganoff.  Dinner finished and Mira fed, I set about hanging a bear bag for the first time.  I’m sure it would have been hilarious for anyone watching and after many tries I was finally successful.

Mira, one beer in and crashed…lightweight 😜


Dinner time for Mira and me


In the hammock, Mira on top of me (it was 80 degrees out, perfect furry dog cuddling weather), I read until my eyes would no longer stay open.  The haunting sounds of the lake’s resident loon, the chorus of bullfrogs and the incessant buzz of blood sucking mosquitos lulled me into a deep sleep.

Hammock time with my little trail buddy 😊

04
May
16

Pups Go West 2016 – On to Warmer Climes

A ferocious barking woke me up from a dead sleep, momentarily confused, I got my wits about me and realized it was Yukon.  Now, anyone who has dogs knows they have different barks for different reasons.  Well, this was  Yukon’s serious “I mean business!” bark, Mira joined in, though I’m pretty sure she was just barking to bark (she loves barking).  I had talked to a couple people that mentioned seeing bears around the campground so while I couldn’t see anything outside the Jeep, I’m assuming a wandering bear made its way through the campground.  There was no sleeping after that rude awakening, I tossed and turned until dawn when I decided to head down to see if fishing had improved.

Unfortunately, the slow fishing streak continued on into the morning.  Fish were still rising after some invisible bugs and I did manage a few small rainbows (one of which would become dinner) on the fly rod.  As I was cleaning the sole fish I kept, a couple drove up and started unloading some fishing gear.  They introduced themselves as Keith and Tina from Arizona.  After chatting a bit, I showed them the places I usually caught fish off the dock, and then left them to their fishing.

Small rainbowsimage

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I’ve always driven past the turnoff for Blue Spruce Campground, a rustic campground northeast of Posey Lake a short drive off of Hell’s Backbone Road, this time I made it a point to turn in and check it out.  It’s a small but pretty campground, only a handful of campsites and butted up against Pine Creek.  I let the dogs out to play in the water and considered grabbing a fly rod.  Pine Creek supposedly has small wild trout in it, and what better scenery to catch them in.  After realizing my Jetboil stove, that’s traveled with me since my first long motorcycle trip in 2010, was missing, I got the dogs back in the car and headed back to Posey Lake.  Unfortunately, my stove was nowhere to be found so I headed into town stopped at Utah Canyon Outdoors and picked up a Jetboil Flash so I could eat warm food for the rest of the trip!

Mira enjoying Pine Creekimage

The weather was still quite cold and I was ready to wear shorts, so after a stop at Nemo’s for a burger and fries, I decided I’d head to Stanton Creek Campground on Lake Powell for the night.  Last year we had a pretty miserable, windy, stormy experience there and ended up spending the night holding our tent up with out feet against 6o mph gusts and multiple thunderstorms.  Hopefully my 2016 experience would be more pleasant.

Burger and fries at Nemo’s – Michigan, you need to get on this Fry Sauce, it’s tasty!image

The lovely red rock formations of Capitol Reef National Park, made way for the barren bentonite hills on the park’s eastern end and soon Hanksville.  Southbound on UT-95 toward the lake, the scenery changed and the temperature rose.  I soon reached the Glen Canyon NRA entrance gate and Stanton Creek campground shortly thereafter.  I drove around the lake for a bit, looking for a shallow spot to let the dogs swim (Yukon was whining since the second he set eyes on the water).  They were in heaven, chasing a tennis ball out into the crystal clear water endlessly.  Attempting to herd them back to the car was like trying to drag a 4-year old away from Chuck E. Cheese – grumbling and whining (with a couple dashes back to the water) I finally got them loaded up so we could find the perfect spot to camp.

Happy dogs at Lake Powellimage

Typical photo of my two – Mira being photogenic, Yukon barking “THROW THE BALL!!”image


I eventually found a site right on the water with some decent looking structure for fishing. If you plan on camping down near the lake, it’s mandatory to have a WAG bag or some sort of toilet system, I just keep a box of WAG bags in my Jeep.  There are out houses further up in the campground.  I staked the dogs out, got them fed, donned shorts and sandals and started working the shoreline with fly and gear.

I caught a small sunfish that looked like something had recently chomped on it.  It was fairly slow going after that, with some sort of large fish following my fly or spinner in on each cast, but never committing (I’d later find out they were Striped Bass).  Finally, something bit and while it didn’t fight too well, I was excited, it was my very first walleye (very amusing considering I grew up on Lake Huron-currently a walleye hotspot).  Lake Powell has no limits on either Walleye or Striped Bass due to their predatory effect on bait fish and their rapid proliferation, so I bonked this one on the head and proceeded to less-than-expertly fillet it.  Trout and walleye for dinner!  With the sun going down, I enjoyed a small fire, watching the stars blanketing the darkening sky and the lights in the million dollar houseboats at Bullfrog twinkling in the distance.  Lake Powell had redeemed itself.

Stanton Creek Campsiteimage

Evening’s fishing funimage

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My first walleye – named “Dinner”image

Fresh fish on the shores of Lake Powellimage

Filthy Mira – who wants to sleep with this swamp thing?image

 

03
May
16

Pups Go West 2016 – Posey Lake or Bust

Camping is great, but a good night’s sleep in a real bed, followed by a shower is pretty OK too 🙂  I gassed up the Jeep and grabbed a breakfast sandwich before hitting the road, making my way to UT-12.  The mountains on either side of UT-20, the route that connects I-15 to US-89, were socked in with clouds, quite a surreal drive.

Head in the cloudsimage

Last October, we picked up an America the Beautiful pass prior to a trip out to Yellowstone to fish.  I’ve never stopped at Bryce with the dogs given the fact they can’t go anywhere except the paved parking lots and viewpoints.  With the pass, I didn’t feel guilty about spending the cash to make a quick drive through just to hit a couple of viewpoints.  Bypassing the busier overlooks, I stopped at a handful of the less occupied to take in the sweeping views of other worldly formations.  A light dusting of snow contrasted nicely with the deep red of the hoodoos as we moved up in elevation.

Bryce Canyon Viewpointsimage

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Panoramasimage

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Mira enjoyed the viewimageimage

A fellow park goer kindly offered to take a family photo – like trying to herd cats 🙂image

Exiting the park, we saw some of the park’s resident wildlife – mule deer, pronghorn antelope and prairie dogs all roaming in the meadows along either side of the park road.  Escalante is a scenic 1 hour drive east of the turn off to Bryce, the surrounding hills all had a new dusting of snow from the previous day’s flurries.  Posey Lake Road up to the campground changes drastically as you drive up in elevation.  Juniper and sage make way for tall pines and aspen as the road winds up to the lake.  The ground was covered with patchy 4-6 inches of wet snow.  The campground empty, I selected the site we stayed at the year before.  I quickly unloaded some gear and headed down to the dock to get some evening fishing in.

The past couple of springs fishing this lake had me spoiled – the fish had readily taken flies, spinners, whatever was thrown at them, the truly difficult portion of the fishing being battling the incessant wind.  The wind was still present on this visit and trout were rising after bugs left and right, but I couldn’t pay them to bite a fly.  Cast after cast, multiple fly changes and yet still nothing.  It looked as though I’d be eating a freeze dried meal for dinner this evening.

The collection of birds on this lake, ruddy ducks and coots, bring a soundtrack of mechanical clucks, whistles and whirrs.  If I closed my eyes, I could easily believe I was surrounded by their prehistoric counterparts that roamed the area in the Late Cretaceous.  A loon and its haunting, wavering call sounded out over the lake as returned to the surface after a bit of subsurface fishing (hopefully having more success than I had).  Seeing that a trout dinner wasn’t in my future, I packed my gear into the Jeep and drove back to the campsite.  The dogs happily played in the snow surrounding the site while I heated up water for my dinner.

Rewind to 3 months earlier, early February, I found myself under the knife to repair what the MRI showed as a torn rotator cuff.  I woke up in a sling and instructions for post op care for a biceps tenodesis.  What?  Apparently, once they opened me up, they found that it wasn’t a torn cuff, but rather a frayed biceps tendon and a torn rotator interval.  They clipped my tendon from its original attachment point and used a screw to reattach it to my upper humerus.  When I left for Utah, I was just beginning to work on strengthening the biceps muscle in physical therapy.  I’m sure my ortho doc would have been thrilled to see me chopping and sawing firewood with my freshly repaired arm, but what’s camping without a campfire?  I got enough wood together for the night, my arm held out,  nothing a beer and a handful of Motrin couldn’t make better!

My wood selection was damp and the resulting fire was unimpressive and very smoky.  The temperature dropped, and while it was still light out the dogs and I retired to the Jeep to warm up and read for a bit before drifting off to sleep.

Mira enjoying the campsite, and her new ballimage

Our accommodations for the trip – a bit smaller than the old Jeepimage

Mira cuddled up, watching the campsite as I readimage




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Yesterday was day three of Michigan’s rifle season. I had all of Friday’s opening day off work to sit but the deer I did see were not in a safe shooting direction. After work both Saturday and yesterday, I sat for the short time I had prior to legal shooting light, against the “pig shed” behind the barn. Still no meat in the freezer but enjoying some time outside, shivering off some calories and watching wildlife. After tonight’s shift I have two days off, time for the hunting gods to shine down on me (I think the wool mid layer I’m wearing in this photo is called the Artemis so perhaps hunting goddess is more appropriate). Hoping to have some lean, healthy wild game to process before the end of the month! After picking up some of @stormykromerofficial wool mittens on a UP trip this fall, I don’t think I ever want to go back to gloves, my hands are so much warmer!! #michigan #rifleseason #hunting #deerhunting #riflehunting #whitetaildeer #fieldtotable #frozen
The puppies when the vacuum comes out: “OH MY GOD, we’re both going to die!!!” Mira when the vacuum comes out: • • #australianshepherd #aussie #australianshepherdsofinstagram #bluemerleaussie #seniordogsofinstagram #olddogsrule #dyson #dysonanimal #vacuum #nofear
“Poop in your shoe will I” I’m not sure Mesa appreciates his Yoda headband but he’s pretty darn cute! • #aussielovers #aussiepuppy #aussie #dogs #dogstagram #australianshepherdworld #australianshepherdsofinstagram #dogsofinsta #instadog #dog #aussies #puppylove #australianshepherd #puppy #puppiesofinstagram #dogsofinstagram #aussiesofinstagram #aussielove #cute #doglover #reddog #redmerle #redmerleaussie #adventuredog #adventurepuppy #starwars #yoda
Mesa and I had a rough time at puppy class last week. A lot of hyper puppies in a room with a lot of motion put this little herding dog way over the top and he was a bit reactive. I’ll admit, I cried on the way home but we regrouped and worked hard on obedience all week placing a lot of emphasis on eye contact. Instead of throwing him into the thick of it last night, I asked the trainer if I could work with him on the periphery, rewarding eye contact with me and for calm behavior. He was a little squirrely at first but by the end of the night was a rock star! I’m glad I chose to set him up for success, we both walked out of class feeling more confident!! • • • #aussielovers #aussiepuppy #aussie #dogs #dogstagram #australianshepherdworld #australianshepherdsofinstagram #dogsofinsta #instadog #dog #aussies #puppylove #australianshepherd #puppy #puppiesofinstagram #dogsofinstagram #aussiesofinstagram #aussielove #cute #doglover #reddog #redmerle #redmerleaussie #adventuredog #adventurepuppy #dogtraining
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