30 June 2007

Dogs in Need

We were going to bitch about our human visiting a local animal shelter, but, instead, we've decided to give a shout out to some great dogs who deserve loving homes. Our human is a real softie, but he knows we can't really take on any new pack members. Still, he couldn't help but visit the Humane Society of Western Montana. He particularly liked two dogs: an aussie mix named Bacon and a cattle dog mix named Maggie. There was also a beautiful husky mix named Freya, not to mention all the other cute, handsome, sweet, smart dogs waiting to go home. Mmm, Bacon, Bacon, Bacon...!
"Oh, Maggie, I couldn't have tried any more... You stole my heart and that's what really hurts."

28 June 2007

City Slicker

He can't hide it from us: the human misses urban culture! He's just a mountain man poseur! He dragged us into Missoula last night so he could get some pad thai (delicious, he said: Sa-Wad-Dee Thai Restaurant). And, today, he left us to shop for art supplies at the University of Montana (supposedly the best place for art supplies in the state) and to try the buffet at Missoula's only (we're told) Indian restaurant, Tipu's Tiger, the "oasis in the alley," which also happens to be a vegan establishment. Yeah, bourgie is right. His flirtation with suburban sprawl notwithstanding--did we really have to stop at Target?--we can sense his excitement every time we approach the booming metropolis that is Missoula. Like the billboard for Southgate Mall implores: "Discover the Great Indoors!" You can take the boy out of the city, but you can't take the city out of the boy. [Sigh] Buko wants to know: "Does this mean we can go home now?"

26 June 2007

Do you know this puppy?

We had a great day yesterday, long but fun. First, Narra took third in obedience (Open B) at the Five Valley Kennel Club Show in Missoula! (The previous day's performance was nothing to write about. Let's just say agility nightmares of knocked over jumps invaded the obedience ring!) So the human was in a good mood--he does call obedience "our" self-esteem builder. :) Anyway, we finished early, so the rest of the day was for exploring. We headed south into the Bitterroot National Forest and found ourselves on Lost Horse Road, heading to the Twin Lakes. The map showed a little trail that winds between the lakes (which are tiny), around the western one, and then splits: west to the Wahoo Pass in Idaho and north to the Lost Horse Pass. Looked good to the human, he figured we could swing back at the fork, and even the boys would like to come along. The boys just want to know why, why, why??? The trail was short, yes, but it went up and down, was almost entirely wet and muddy, littered with rocks, boulders, and tons of fallen trees. It was an obstacle course! The girl went nuts--we want to know why she can leap effortlessly over four-foot trunks but cannot clear a 20-inch agility jump?! The boys' small gift through the ordeal was encountering little patches of snow. By that point, however, Buko was pretty much looking for a couch.

Okay, so there was this Australian Shepherd puppy hiding under a maroon pickup in the parking area. We figure it got separated from its people. Little thing was scared, very young--eight months at most--and the human didn't let us visit with him. Narra poked around his truck, but he was hiding way underneath. After putting us in the van, the human went to visit. The puppy was friendly with him (of course, he came bearing beef jerky)! Then--of all things--he tested the puppy's obedience training: sit, down, stay, come. All of which seemed familiar to the little guy. He even did a nice, little front. Attention was great. Egad, the human was in love! As much as he wanted to abscond with the aussie, we figured the pup's humans would be back soon enough. And the van was crowded enough! (But the human did alert the ranger station to the puppy's presence.) Whew, a narrow escape--must our human be so easy?!

Again, it wasn't us!!!


This is "dog food" poop--raw-fed dogs don't make stuff that looks like this... :)

24 June 2007

Somebody else's poop

Thinking about the national parks again, we have a question: anyone else's human ever pick up some other dog's poop? That is, some unknown dog's poop that's just lying there?! Well, our human did! He just couldn't stand not doing it. We were walking at Kintla Lake campground, and there, to the side of the road by a bunch of rocks, was a huge pile of poop. It was definitely dog poop, mind you, and from some big dog at that. The decision whether or not to pick it up was twofold. First, on the macro level, some inconsiderate dog person did not clean up after their pooch and, as a result, endangered national park privileges for the rest of us. Therefore, to clean it up served the greater good. We approve--although uncomfortably so. Second, on a more personal level, what if someone at the campground saw it and thought it was from us?! D├ęgoutant! The human couldn't let that happen either, so, again, a nod in favor of the poop removal. The final thought perhaps should be: is our human so consistent and diligent in picking up OUR poop ALL THE TIME? Hm...
More Polebridge dogs... We know the poop wasn't from these guys. But what a life, huh?

Wild for the North Fork

The human was insatiable--so much so, that he went back for more--TWICE! As if oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, and a ridiculously large, sweet cinnamon roll weren't enough, the second time he had to try the sugar cookies and something called a butterhorn (like a cinnamon roll but with LOTS of butter--tasted like if Cinnabon made ensaymada). The third time, he went back for the oatmeal raisin and peanut butter (what? no chocolate chip? is he nuts???), plus he tried their foccacia: one with blue cheese, spinach, and garlic. Smelled good to us! Looked good all over his face, too. Ha ha! To be fair, we spent so much time on the upper North Fork, we did pass the Polebridge Merc all those times. And, really, if you're there, why not just stop in for some goodies, right? (And--we couldn't believe it--we did pass the merc one last time, but the human kept going!)

Anyway, yes, we enjoyed the west side of the upper North Fork much more than Glacier National Park on the east. Our first night camping, in fact, we enjoyed the whole Tuchuck Campground all to ourselves. (It really did spoil us because our Glacier experience followed...) The human got what he wanted: he chose the northernmost, most remote campground he could find on the map. Getting to Tuchuck (campground, trails, and mountain), we turned onto Trail Creek Rd. from North Fork Rd. just six miles south of the Canadian border. On the way, we passed an array of cabins and homes that made us want to live up there: spectacular views of Glacier (without the people), not to mention the river and all the creeks. We were told that, indeed, everyone up there is off the power grid. Some folks use solar, most rely on diesel. All have CBs, many have some medical knowledge, but there is a helivac, in case of emergency (though it takes 20-30 minutes to get up there). Yikes. But it's outrageously beautiful and totally away from it all. And the deer! They populated our campground--but we weren't allowed to chase! They clearly did not understand the situation: they just stood there watching, trying to determine what manner of beast we might be. Ha, we woulda shown them if we had the chance... :)

The trailhead for Review Mountain was right at the campground. (What happened to the Tuchuck trailhead is what we want to know?) The boys were very thankful to sit this one out. Narra took her human straight up the mountain! They gained over 1000ft in elevation in about a mile. The trail was pretty spectacular, though. Blooming wildflowers everywhere, in all sorts of colors (though bear scat everywhere, too--the human was armed with his bear spray!). The terrain changed quite a bit also, from a bed of pine needles and moss to rocky slate and gnarled roots. The human is not much for heights, so when the trail ran along a precipice, he got a little nervous. And, of course, his nervousness translated into constant calls for Narra to be careful. Sheesh. She was much more sure-footed! After the serious ascent and a little switchback, they reached a rocky outcropping that opened up to an outstanding view of the valley and snow-peaked mountains in the distance. Well worth the workout. Even better yet, not another human in sight!


National Parks Suck

Primarily because most don't allow dogs on the trails. Phooey. Secondly, because they're over-crowded and only offer a canned experience of the outdoors--unless, of course, you're in the backcountry, but we wouldn't know because dogs aren't allowed on the trails.

Against his better judgment, the human took us to Glacier. He even bought a 7-day pass and made us camp there. Ugh. Our first day was wet, wet, wet. On-and-off rain relegated us to tour by van. Unfortunately, we couldn't see much because the mountains were shrouded by clouds (and because we'd gotten dog snot all over our windows). As it happens, Going-to-the-Sun Road wasn't open all the way anyhow, so we went as far as we could and saw what was there. Mostly, what was there was a whole bunch of people running around in raincoats trying to take pictures with big cameras. We hope they got some nice mist shots... We were reminded of South Park for some reason, imagining hordes of little cartoon people shuffling around as a single unit, making that shuffling sound that cartoon people do.

Thankfully, we had great weather when camping day came. We trekked on up to Kintla Lake off the Inside North Fork Road (also closed part way, btw). The lake itself was beautiful. Though not only are dogs not allowed on the trails, we are also forbidden from frolicking in the waters. Hmph! The campground was a little tight: we were surprised that during the middle of the week in mid/late June, people were already adventuring out there. Then again, the ranger did tell us that people all seem to think they can avoid each other by going to the most remote areas. Not! Quarters were a bit cramped. Initially, an empty site buffered us from father-and-son dueling banjoes from WV (they were admiring a bag full of pelts by campfire), but late in the evening a father, son, and daughter invaded. Even though they said we were "good looking," we felt overrun. To top it all off, the next morning, the human had the nerve to leave us in the van to go hiking on his own! Ha, we knew it wouldn't be as fun, and we were right.

When we finally got to leave the park, we made a side trip to Bowman Lake, admittedly a very popular spot, so we don't know what the human expected. We traveled up the narrow, rocky road to the lake only to have a three parking lots greet us at the top! And they were nearly full. Talk about feeling defeated... We checked out the campground, though, and it was much nicer than the one we stayed at at Kintla Lake--and emptier. Anyway, the real problem was that on the way to Bowman, our side mirror got whacked a bit too many times and got knocked off. The human was all bent out of shape about it, so the crowd of people there didn't help his mood. He cursed and mumbled, turned around and ran us out of the park. As soon as we crossed the bridge to the national forest side, he breathed a sigh of relief and let us out to run around. We were very relieved, too.Okay, maybe they don't suck that bad...

18 June 2007

Goodbye to all this

We've enjoyed the lap of luxury for a while. The human indulged Buko's desires for the comforts of home (and a bit of healing time for a minor abrasion) and rented a condo for the week. That week's done now, so the boys are going to have to "rough it" again.

We hope the weather gets better. Sunday was a huge bust: nothing but rain and cold. Our last day in the condo was literally a day in the condo. Hey, at least the golf on tv wasn't that bad (even though Tiger didn't pull it out in the end).

We'll all especially miss the beautiful soccer fields nearby where we'd run around and play every day. The fields were also a nice place for Narra to train. She's been preparing for her upcoming obedience trial in Missoula.

We'll spend a few more days up here in the Flathead, then head down there and the Bitterroot.

17 June 2007

A Fine Specimen

A man approached us yesterday morning because he had seen Jacks from a distance. He said when he saw him he was like "WOW!" In fact, he was so wowed by the big-headed one that he wanted to know if Jacks is used for breeding. Stifling a chuckle, the human responded that no, ol' big head is not the siring type. Despite his studliness, Jacks is in fact incapable of being a stud. Sorry, ladies.

14 June 2007

It wasn't us

Contrary to popular belief, we do not hate long-eared, hoppin' critters. In fact, if we're going to eat them at all, we like them properly prepared beforehand. Imagine our surprise when Narra emerged from the underbrush along the North Fork with this in her mouth. Ewww. Luckily, we did not encounter the actual perpetrator. Guess that little white foot wasn't so lucky for this guy/gal. We hightailed it outta there.

Life off the power grid

Ah, so that's how life is off the power grid! Not bad. We took a great drive up the North Fork of the Flathead River to the small town (if you can call it that) of Polebridge. The human has been obsessed with this place since hearing about it a couple years ago. Town life seems to center around the Polebridge Mercantile, perhaps most famous for its bakery. While the baked goods seemed delicious (the human quickly consumed cookies--peanut butter and oatmeal raisin--and a huge cinnamon roll with walnuts), we were more impressed by the canine residents. They have a great scam going: tourists can't resist feeding them! (And there are a lot of tourists as Polebridge hosts an entrance to Glacier National Park.) Buko was almost convinced that life without electricity and running water could be alright. Nah.

Please buy this for us

Our starving artist does pretty well providing for us, but there are some things that are beyond his means. Unfortunately, said things are necessary for the life we deserve. Anyone out there have half a million plus to buy this cabin for us? It comes with three German Shepherds!

11 June 2007

Publicly Private (and vice versa)

We finally got out onto a real trail for a real hike today (the Dearborn Trail leading to the Scapegoat Wilderness). Despite the threatening skies, the human was determined for us to get out there. The boys got to "wear" their snazzy skijoring leads (tethered to the human's backpack), and the girl got to run free. She was pretty awesome actually: those stupid r--bits just sat in the middle of the road daring her to chase them. But she was told "leave it" and she did. :) The trail made about as much sense as the varmints. The road, you see, runs parallel to the trail--but the road is private, and the trail is public. As the signs will tell you, please keep to the trail and keep off private property, ie, the road (which is about three feet away from the trail). Again, Narra did pretty well to follow the rules--though they didn't make much sense to her either. Regardless, after we crossed the Dearborn River, we were good to go. The boys kept the pace, slow as it might have been. They managed just under six miles but were pretty pooped (and this was with minimal elevation gain). Hopefully, we'll be able to do better next time--which will be north!

10 June 2007

Crazies

Don't think it's a coincidence that our human has special affection for an island mountain range called "the Crazies.' Unfortunately for him, though, his anticipated lunacy was thwarted by kayakers. His yearlong plan to park us in Halfmoon Campground and hike up to Blue Lake were confounded by the Headwaters Paddling Association folks who, ironically, were (apparently) looking to foster some good will. (Check this out.) Not only were the parking spurs all taken, but the crowd made enjoying the Crazies difficult at best. So, we fled the asylum. We did, at least, spend a night along Big Timber Creek, in what might be considered a dispersed campsite. We were joined by a few folks who were probably also hoping for a weekend at Halfmoon. Alas. "But, mousie, thou art no thy lane..."

Jacks and Narra still enjoyed camp. :)

PS
Just to tattle: we ran into kayakers on the trail, and they had their boats on their backs. Buko and Jacks were totally cool and said "hi" to the guys--Narra, on the other hand, FREAKED. She ran off into the woods and wouldn't come when called. That made the human freak. He collected himself and kept calling; she eventually came, but what was she thinking?! Ha, so much for reliable.

Western Projections

Now we never said we understood art, but the human's behavior has been a little odd--even if he does call it making "art." He says he's working on a series called Western Projections that literally involves projected images. In this picture, he projected a video directly onto our cabin. If you look carefully, you can see the back of the human's head as he approaches a house (that he used to live in). Hm, a "house" projected onto a "house"... Huh?

Good Art

The aforementioned artist Tracey Emin is known to us only because of our human, of course. She happens to show at a gallery that he respects quite a bit, Lehmann Maupin. We don't know if that means she makes good art or not, but we do know she made an excellent piece called Reincarnation (2005) that featured a... German Shepherd Dog! We consider that the mark of good art. :) (The subtext of the piece might be a little disconcerting, but we'll leave that to the humans...)

[To see the video of Reincarnation, go to the gallery's site, follow the "artists" link, and see "video of selected work" on Tracey Emin's page.]

4mile

Is Montana only half the hip hop circle of Detroit? So just call us Emin--not just for our boy Marshall but also for artist Tracey Emin--okay, not funny. :) Our second forest service accommodation is called Fourmile Cabin which sits at the Fourmile trailhead. The cabin overlooks the spectacular Boulder River; even on a rainy afternoon, the river looks awesome. Luckily for us, our rainy afternoon (and night) gave us a surprise in the morning: snow! We got to run around and play in it, but by mid-afternoon all the snow had melted and given way to a beautiful sunny day. Tough life, huh?


Bully for us!

Rough riders we're not. The National Forest Service's Spanish Creek Cabin is about as rough as Buko is willing to go--and he didn't like it that much. No electricity, no running water? Even a bully stick wasn't enough to convince the old man this would be fun. At least he had a bed (although we never figured he and Narra would both fit into a twin bed with the human--everyone kept warm!). We did have a wood stove to keep us toasty, and we needed it because it rained most of our time there. We arrived early enough our first day to enjoy the only good weather we had. Our next cabin will have electricity, so maybe Buko--and the weather--will be more agreeable.

04 June 2007

It's the journey, not the destination

But the journey is made up of so many great destinations! :) We got a late start on our trip to Montana, but the human managed an inhuman 13-hour drive to get us to Wisconsin on the first night. It was too late to find a campground, but Motel 6 is acceptable in a pinch (in fact, our night there cost less than a tank of gas!).

Since we made up so much time, we did take some time to play in our "home" state. So many state parks, so little time. We opted for Mill Bluff (in Camp Douglas) because it was right on I-90 and didn't take us too much out of our way. Not a particularly exciting park, but we enjoyed getting out and running around for a while. And the human got our annual Wisconsin state parks pass--that means promises of more in the future!

Our real fun started night 2 at the Lake Vermillion state recreation area in South Dakota. We arrived just in time to enjoy a cool evening and beautiful sunset. We played in the lake, ran trails, and howled at the full moon (in spirit, at least). The campground itself was rather manicured for our taste, but it was great for a night (and morning) of play and leisure. From there, we spent a rainy night in Buffalo, WY at the Big Horn Motel--great place, sweet greeting by a German Short-haired Pointer, and a nice woman who agreed to take in a guy with three shepherds when no one else would. The rain let up a bit in the morning so we got to play again. The human does have moments of brilliance: he opted to get off the interstate and take the scenic route, US 16 West, which would've dropped us right in Yellowstone Ntional Park. We didn't go that far, but we did get to see awesome stuff along the way. And play, of course. :)

We did make it to Bozeman on time (although we were a little late to the agility trial on Saturday morning). At the trial, Narra was on fire (again), and, although she didn't qualify, she had some great runs this weekend. The very first run was a heartbreaker: Narra ran like th wind, right up until she and the human blew over the last jump! Too bad. She made lots of fans, though, and we appreciated the collective sigh of disappointment when that last bar went down. Glad to know she's looking good again--though we always knew she did. We made new friends, too: Tucker the corgi, Scooter and Lily Roo the Norwich Terriers, and baby boy Kody who is like Buko. :)

Tomorrow we leave civilization for the Spanish Peaks, then mid-week to Paradise Valley, followed by the Crazy Mountains. Sounds good, doesn't it? :) We love Montana! (Ahem... Buko's not so sure--he requires more convincing. He definitely prefers the couch/bed to the trail. Narra hopes to convince him otherwise.)