25 July 2007

Missin' Missoula?

As it turns out, the road that runs north of the Sawtooths runs straight into Missoula! Funny thing, huh? Also known as the Salmon River Scenic Byway (lots of "scenic byways" this trip--at least they've all lived up to the billing), this highway indeed follows the Salmon River north--and we followed it. The scenery was beautiful and the river cool on yet another 90+-degree day. We enjoyed the max AC in the van, then would stop and run around for a bit, take a dip in the river, then hit the road again. Not a bad way to manage the heat.

Anyway, back to Missoula... can we just ask why??? At first we thought the human was forcing us to accompany him on a questionable assegnation: we knew he'd been thinking about that homeless orphan Bacon. Luckily, that was not the case. Quite to the contrary, in fact: we scored organic Bitterroot ground beef! This meat is good stuff and many thanks to our human for thinking of stocking up. He also enjoyed re-visiting Stevensville and the Bitterroot Community Market where the beef can be bought. And we know he was tempted to use their free wifi, but he wouldn't let us fry in the van while he surfed the net. When we reached Missoula proper, the human did treat himself to a Thai dinner. That's okay, we'll give him that. After all, if there's ever a good reason to go some place, food is as good as it gets. :)

Update: Bacon was adopted, we found out. As was Maggie (happily living on a ranch in Kalispell) and Freya. Guess we're out of the woods!

Jacks Unleashed (sort of)

Perhaps the most notable aspect of our visit to the Sawtooths was Jackson's first visit to a (kind of) dog park! We really appreciate that the forest service recognizes the role dogs' play in their humans' enjoyment of the outdoors (not to mention our own)--as evidenced by two, off-leash dog beaches in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Jacks was able to enjoy Alturas Lake's newly designated dog beach, at its most northwest shore. (And this beach is clearly marked at the parking area!) Given Jacks's lack of canine social skills, he normally can't join in on these activities, but Narra and her human ran reconnaissance to see if this place might be an exception. And it was! The beach was comprised of a series of little alcoves, each somewhat private. Only one other dog-and-human combo was out, so it seemed a safe bet for Jackson. He did stay on an extended lead, however, just in case... Good thing, too, because the very pretty, white Akita at the neighboring alcove decided to come over for a visit. Narra and Buko sniffed and welcomed her, but Jacks was restrained by his human. To his (Jacks's) credit, he remained relatively calm while the Akita's human came to retrieve the wayward one. All in all, a successful and satisfying outing for all of us. (Although we now find Jacks sometimes looking off wistfully into space--perhaps thinking about what could have been?)

Idaho Sawtooth Massacre

Actually, the Sawtooths were pretty cool--though can you believe we went back to Idaho??? The human was considering a number of options (including going back up to Mt Baker), but, in the end, decided we should move on to new territories. He has always wanted to see Sun Valley, so that's where we went--though the real target was the Sawtooth National Forest. First, let us say that we can imagine the Sawtooths would be ultra-spectacular in the winter--they weren't bad in July. However, the number of people there was daunting, to say the least. The heat was manageable (especially since the evenings were totally cool), but the crowds were--we suspect--typical, huge summer crowds. Not our scene. Or our human's.

Case in point: we had thought to play around Redfish Lake--there's a dog beach there--then camp at one of the numerous Redfish campgrounds for the night. Well, we couldn't find the dog beach (even though we were told there would be obvious signage). We may have had better luck on paw, but, unfortunately, we couldn't find any place to park! Yes, indeed. So, we thought we should just grab a campsite, and let the human find the dog beach. Guess what? Not all the campgrounds were full, but most were. And, really, would you want to grab the one or two sites left (which clearly were the least appealing)? To make a long story short, we blew off Redfish Lake to find a little solitude and quiet. We wound up at the Iron Creek campground (just west of Stanley) which ended up being super. The next morning, we left the Sawtooths behind.

On a side note, we'd like to add that we're not really resort types, so Sun Valley and Ketchum were total eye openers for us. Places like Whitefish and Bigfork come perilously close, but this place was like no other (though we haven't seen Aspen or Palm Springs). This place revolved around the golf course and, we imagine, even more so around the slopes come winter time. Also, for a little town in the wilds of Idaho, Ketchum hosts quite a bit of conspicuous consumption. Was there a beemer convention in town? And, wow, we didn't even get a chance to visit the Sotheby's real estate office...

16 July 2007

A dog park called Seattle

When we returned to the city, we (Buko and Jacks, to be specific) were elated to have beds and airconditioning. Not to mention Whole Foods (organic meat!). What we did not realize, however, is that this city called Seattle is, in fact, a magical place where dogs roam off leash, can socialize freely, and have ample opportunity for aquatic frolicking (not to mention the beautiful views). Also, we're endlessly entertained by the attention paid to picking up our (dogs', that is) poop. :)

We first visited Marymoor Park in Redmond, written about in Bark magazine as the best dog park in the US. We thoroughly enjoyed it, and while we might not concur with the superlative, it definitely ranks up there. Our buddy Wally recommended one of his old haunts, Magnuson Park, which we thought was outstanding: lots of room to run and his sissy Morgan's great beach. We also checked out Dr. José P. Rizal Park in Beacon Hill because our human wanted to connect with his peeps. No peeps, but a fun trail and terrific views of Safeco and Qwest Fields.

Good butt sniffin'. Can we just live here?

Roslyn aka Cicely

Since we came back to town earlier than planned, we had to find stuff to do. What better than a pilgrimage to the place where one of our favorite tv shows was filmed? More fitting still since our friend Pam lent us Northern Exposure dvds to take on the road. We love the blurring of reality and tv. :)

Victory follows defeat

We were totally defeated by the heat. Our weather luck finally ran out as record heat caught up to us on the Olympic peninsula. We withered, we whined, we packed up camp and headed for the AC. The human was a bit pissy about it, but we rather enjoyed the return to creature comforts. So we were a bit early, we were scheduled to check in eventually.

AND THEN, Narra rocked the agility trial! (Okay, she rocked one run out of four...) The very last class of the last day, she earned her first "Q" (qualifying score) in over a year. Do you have any idea how elated the human was??! Not to mention that Narra also got second place. Although she and her human did make one mistake, their time still killed the winning time. C'est la vie.

Too bad the winning way begins as our roadtrip ends--though we still have one more agility trial in Colorado!

12 July 2007


Is a town/river we passed on the Olympic peninsula. We didn't do anything there--didn't even stop--but the name's too good not to use. But here's a picture of us in the ocean--how's that?

Have art will travel

Jacks and Narra ponder "art to go"...

This is the end, my beautiful friend

The much anticipated, auspicious moment came and went without us. Yet again, dogs neglected while human seeks experience on his own. We speak of the farthest point on our journey, the most northwest point in the continental US--we can go no further. From here, we turn back. East is the only way; east is home, and Buko longs for it. His main excitement with Cape Flattery is that it does, in fact, mark the turnaround.

As it turns out, we could have joined the human on the Cape Flattery Trail. No signs indicated dogs were prohibited--or required leashing even--but the human was nervous at the warnings of sheer cliffs. We don't think he necessarily saved us from falling to a watery death, but he did save us from his own incessant admonitions of "be careful, take it easy, watch where you're going..." As if. He ran into a little Westie on the trail (who was off-leash), and he had horrible visions of the over-confident dog taking a misstep. We don't know why the human thinks this way, but we just assume relax away from his paranoia.

Canine World Domination

Has it begun in the state of Washington? We sense a two-pronged strategy: "country" dogs have actively taken to the streets, parading themselves about in complete control of the lands they survey; "city" dogs have quietly yet efficiently shaped their humans behavior, bending human wills to lavish them with luxury items and gourmet food (as evidenced by the number of "specialty" dog shops in the Seattle area). All we can say is: Bruthas and Sistas got it goin' on! While we have also developed control over our human, we are impressed with the wide-scale mobilization in Washington state.

We certainly have noticed a lot of dogs around here. And the locals are pretty interesting. The dogs of La Push, for example, really are pushy compared to the Polebridge dogs. While the Polebridge dogs wait for food and attention (which eventually come), the dogs of La Push seek them out and demand them. These two dogs accosted Narra and the human as they walked on the beach. Initially, we thought they belonged to a family that was swimming. As it turns out, the dogs latch onto some unsuspecting tourist group, follow them around and look cute. Since our human came bearing a dog, however, they must've felt entitled to being a bit more demanding. The black female kept barking at him while the brindle male just followed along. Narra was perplexed by the behavior, but these dogs paid her no attention at all. The human didn't really know what the female wanted either, so he just kept walking. Eventually, she and her partner moved onto another group of people. Our human was reminded of gypsy kids in Rome: you often can't understand what they're saying, they just follow you around trying to get your attention--what you don't know is that while you're trying to figure out what's up, they're picking your pocket. These La Push dogs hadn't worked out that part yet--not that we know anyway.

BTW, we--the human, actually--ran into a great big, white dog in Neah Bay. It must've been like a Great Pyrenees/Malamute mix--it was gigantic! His name was Kenai (what else?). And he was wandering around while his people got ice cream. The woman said she keeps trying to catch him to cut off his matted hair, but he won't stop for her. Uh huh. He probably got some ice cream, too. :)


We have "seen" some great critters on this trip (many of them would be pretty tasty, we imagine), but, for the most part, we respect and admire wildlife in the wild. To be more accurate, the human has seen critters; we've smelled them. A modernist might consider the human more fortunate as he enjoys the "privileged" sense of sight. We beg to differ: the olfactory sense far outweighs sight in terms of depth and breadth of received information. Human peripheral vision has nothing on our ability to smell all around us! Precisely why we react so enthusiastically when driving through the forest, while the human looks at us and says "huh?" If he could only see half of what we smell!

Anyway, we were thinking about this today because we "saw" a bald eagle! We had seen one very fleetingly in the northwoods of Wisconsin last year, but this one was so clear. It swooped down and then up into some trees, perhaps to a nest? Regardless, it was rather spectacular. Most of our other encounters have been a little too fast for the human to enjoy visually; we, on the other hand, can linger on a smell. :) For example, our one encounter with a bear--a black bear on the Blodgett Creek trail in the Bitterroots: he (or she) was actually on the trail ahead of us. The human thought it was a large dog running off leash, when he realized it was a bear, the animal had scampered off. We were jazzed, though! We could still smell it and were ready to flush it out. Before that, the human did get to watch a mother bear and cub running through a field in the Spanish Peaks, but they were so far away, it wasn't really like being there. Also, our one encounter with the elusive moose was similar. We saw it on the road to Moose Lake, of all places. Even though it fled quickly, the human got a pretty good look: it was a young one, not as big as the one on Northern Exposure nor as developed as the one on Maine's "moose crossing" signs.

We've done alright checking out the wild life. The human hasn't seen any wolves or mountain lions, though he'd like to. And we'd love to see whales, but that probably isn't going to happen. Anyway, we won't tell him all the things we've "seen," he'd just feel left out. :)(These guys, btw, are enjoying themselves at the bear center at Wazzu.)

07 July 2007

Artist Point

Do artists have points? We're never sure... Our artist thinks he does, but we find that he's often confused. Imagine our surprise to see on a map a place called Artist Point. Well, it exists on the map anyway, at the end of the Mt. Baker Scenic Highway (aka highway 542). We didn't get to see it, though, because the road was closed. Can you imagine road closures in July because of snow? Pretty awesome, huh?! The promise of the scenic byway was completely fulfilled: absolutely spectacular, even though we didn't get all the way to Artist Point. We did get as far as the ski area, however, and that was already pretty awesome. We loved the snow!!! And there was tons of it! Imagine our silly human running around in shorts, a t-shirt, and sandals on huge banks of snow! And always Narra gets to do the fun stuff. She went out onto the real snow, even got to run and play. There were tons of people, too, though, and dogs, so the boys bided their time in the van. They got to walk around eventually, just not on the paths and slopes where everyone else was. Still, we all thought it was the most fun--and most beautiful--part of our roadtrip so far (sorry, Montana, but we do love you).

Oh, back to the point... we kinda feel like little Oblio and Arrow--it's all good. :)

Jack Twisp?

We had a first-time experience the other night: no clue how things looked in the dark, but revelation with the light of day (no, nothing to do with this post's title, naughty minds!). Not knowing where we were going to camp for the night, the human drove and drove into Washington state well past dark. We arrived at the first campground we saw on highway 20 just outside the town of Twisp. Since it was dark, we had no idea what the place looked like, not even the surroundings on our way out there. When we woke up in the morning, we were happily surprised by the beautiful river--the Twisp River--that we heard in the night plus views of snow-capped mountains. We played for most of the morning, then leisurely headed on our way.

Incidentally, are Volvos indicators of bourgie-ness? We hate to think so, but it apparently is the case. The number of Volvo sightings went up exponentially when we hit the town of Winthrop--a decidedly bourgie locale, the eastern "gateway" to the North Cascades Scenic Byway. Even worse, we're talking Volvo wagons, not sedans. What's up with that? We do have to say that the Volvo SUV has to be the height of bourgie-ness, though. Winthrop is the first we time we've seen those in number since leaving home! Oh, my.

Tell me about it, Spud

Although we were a little sad to leave Montana, going someplace new was exciting--even if it was Idaho. We arrived in Moscow just in time to beat thunderstorms, and the weather was generally good after that. It might have been the gloomy conditions under which we hit town, but Idaho didn't look terribly appealing at first glance. The weather, we're afraid, is probably what we enjoyed most about the state.

To be fair, we did have fun once we headed south to Hell's Canyon. The human had thought to stop there on our way back east (after Washington state), but we had an afternoon free after finishing early at the agility trial. The human describes the agility trial as a "disaster" (yet again), so he took the opportunity to take a long, scenic drive and let off some steam. We were all in a great mood after running around White Bird Battlefield, then descending the steep, beautiful forest road to Pittsburgh Landing on the Idaho side of Hell's Canyon. No off-leash shenanigans down there--the human is terrified of rattlesnakes! Luckily, all we encountered was a phenomenal sunset in the canyon.

Also, the human had a good time visiting family friends in Pullman (WA) over the weekend. (Wazzu, btw, is a really nice campus, much nicer than the University of Idaho which is rather ordinary.) It's always nice to reconnect, but we were made to wait in the van--no fair! While the human was treated to home cooking (twice!), we waited and waited... Not only that, he was given home-baked banana bread (and fresh Washington apples and cherries), none of which he shared. That's alright, we'll see how he feels about it all when we get home and he's fat and soft! :)