Sunday, July 30, 2006

Blackberry Cobbler and Pups

Nothing says summer like Blackberry Cobbler and Pups.
I came across a Blackberry Cobbler recipe and decided to give it a go. I loooove berry cobbler and I remember eating blackberries when I was a kid until I got sick. Now I know my limitations.
It turned out decent. The berry part was great. But I haven't worked out how to make the out-of-this-world-fantastic pastry dough. I know there's some technique, some secret that I don't possess. It's certainly much better than some of my previous attempts. The dough was properly cobble-y. And it was pretty terrific with a cup of coffee.

Today we took the two pups for an outing to the local dog park, which is nice in theory, but in actuality our yard is more pleasant and there's much more for the pups to do. The dog park is a yard of dirt with a water source, some patchy grass, and a few old tennis balls laying around. They separate the big dogs from the little dogs with a chain link fence. At home they have their fort, and their excavation site, and dried figs and sticks to play with. They have their drinking/swimmin' hole and space to romp.Pup kisses.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Road to Castle Crags, Redding/Dunsmuir CA 06/30/06

I went to high school in Central Valley, just north of Redding, and south of Dunsmuir where Castle Crags State Park lies.Lived there for about 6 or 7 years and never climbed the Crags. Although I knew where every swimmin' hole and sneaky falls and secluded coves were on the lakes and rivers, the Crags were not my stompin' grounds. I do have very fond memories of my high school days and the lake. Being that close to such recreation was unbelievable. It was the mid 70's and I felt a youthful freedom, and life was carefree and adventurous. It couldn't have been better.

And I'm glad to see that not much has changed in Central Valley, except they've gone and changed the name to City of Shasta Lake for some reason.

So, on our way to the Crags we pulled into the Circle-K in Central Valley to stock up on water and trail food, then drove past my old high school and the house where I used to live, then headed up to the Crags.

The temps were hovering at 100 degrees in Redding but the Castle Dome Trail is covered by a pine/fir canopy and we stayed pretty comfortable, until we reached the granite Crags. We rested often and kept hydrated and fueled.
The first glimpse of the Crags' vertical granite slabs through the trees is so so exciting. They tantalize and lure you ever upward. Then suddenly the leafy trail gives way to rocky shoals and towers of granite begin to rise up out of the ground and soon you're clambering on the rock.Having our fill of the majesty of Castle Dome, and Mt. Shasta in the distance, the undisputed mountain king, we were ready for a cold brew and a good meal at the revered Brown Trout Cafe in Dunsmuir where two Thanksgivings ago we had lunch and the best vanilla latte ever. For lunch way back then I had their mushroom soup and Will had the tri-tip sandwich. It was so good we vowed to return someday. And that day had arrived. Unfortunately, since that exceptional encounter, the Brown Trout Cafe has changed ownership, along with their menu, and there was a 12 year old behind the counter making the lattes! Pffffft. But hey, the beer was good and cold, and we just climbed the Crags.

Monday, July 24, 2006

One Less Pup at my Feet

Going through our vacation photos I came across this one snapped by my husband as we entered the South Rim of the Grand Canyon after spending the day on the road with the pups. This little girl pup, with the uncorn dot on her head, may get adopted by a nice couple who live in Los Feliz, but nothing has been confirmed yet.A very nice couple and thier young son came over last week to meet the little black one, who we've been calling Blackjack. They curently live in Burbank and will be moving to Walla Walla, WA very soon and said they needed to discuss it and would call me the next day.

They didn't call, and I didn't check my email until Sunday, so I had feared that they had changed thier mind. But before I called them to confirm this I checked my email just in case and was so so happy to see an email from them saying they were going to adopt ther.

I went in to the kitchen to tell Will and began to cry. I'm so happy she's going to be with this great young family. From the Monument Valley in Navajo Nation UT, dumped on the side of the road like trash, to the beautiful country of
Walla Walla, WA with her new family. She has such a tale to tell in her young life.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Beartooth Scenic Byway, MT/WY 07/06/06

Route 212 beginning at the town of Red Lodge, MT to Cooke City, MT, called the Beartooth Scenic Byway, has been heralded as the most beautiful road in America by the late Charles Kuralt. And on our road trip I made a point of including this stretch of byway. We were not disappointed. Expansive views and a feeling of being on top of the world are very accurate descriptions. A series of switchbacks took us to the top where each bend in the road revealed alpine lakes.On the Beartooth Plateaus we saw the glacier-carved cirques, alpine lakes in the hanging valleys and we pulled over many times to see what we could see out on the tundra. And what we found were patches of hard snow giving way to crystal clear, icy cold streams cutting through the meadows of rock and wild flowers. Beartooth Scenic Byway and gateway to the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Road to Troy, MT 07/04/06

Finally, some photos from our road trip. And believe me there’s lots more to come. But the highlight for me, and what I’ve been sooooooo looking forward to for forever, was to be there in Troy for the 4th of July with my husband and my family.

We arrived late afternoon on July 3rd (after a slight detour up into Canada) and caught up with the happenings and waited for my brother and Lynda to arrive.

My Uncle Jim showed Will how to drive Grandpa’s old tractor.
Grandpa used to ride that old tractor all over their property in Ono. And it conjured up sweet memories of Grandpa, like one of his warm hugs, to see my Uncle turn it over to Will for a spin. At the end of the day we finally couldn’t stay awake any longer to wait for my brother Mike to arrive. The last I remember he had called from somewhere near Spokane, WA. And then sometime during the night I remember waking up and hearing my brother’s voice out in the hall along with my Mom and Grandma.
I was so glad that my brother and his WIFE Lynda were able to come. And by the all-caps I mean his NEW wife, Lynda. They just got married June 17th. And I’m so happy for them. I’d only met Lynda once briefly, but we had time to talk some and my brother seems to have got himself a good woman, and I know he’s a really great guy. And I know Mom was very happy to have her children together and can’t believe her spinster daughter and bachelor son are both married now. It was a long time coming for both of us and damn worth the wait.
What a beautiful town Troy is and my Grandma’s house is just as cute and comfortable as can be. It was lovely to see Elva, another wonderful woman, and to meet some of her family as well. When the morning came, we walked over to the park where they were set up for the day’s 4th of July celebration. Vintage cars, pancake and scrambled egg breakfast, crafts, live music and all kinds of other activities, like a dunking booth.
And put a boulder, stump or any elevated surface in Will’s path and he’ll hop up on it. Likes the perspective up there I guess.
After breakfast we all kind of meandered around and did our own thing until it was time for the parade to begin down the main street of Troy. Will and I walked out onto the suspension bridge to take a look at the Osprey nest. Then we bought a couple of hiking sticks from a vendor at the park along with a couple of Troy t-shirts and scored free flags to wave during the parade. Will and I got split up from the rest of the group at the parade but congregated back at the house afterwards and spent some relaxing time sitting on the porchIt was nice on the porch, visiting, playing with the dogs and drinking cold beers.
With a good chunk of the day still ahead, and until it was time for my Uncle to fire up the BBQ, he suggested we go check out the Kootenai River Falls and gave us directions on how to get to the trail head that also leads to a swinging bridge spanning the river. We pulled into the turnout and the temperature gauge was reading about 100 degrees, but as we wound our way under the canopy of trees along the river things cooled down quite a bit.

Being so far up north there is still light in the sky at 10:00 pm, consequently the fireworks weren’t to begin until 11:00. After the long hot day with bellies full of BBQ steak kabobs and chicken, everyone began dropping out, losing interest in staying up so late for the fireworks. But Will pulled a couple of chairs out onto the lawn and set his camera up on the tripod while I scooped us up a couple of Blue Bunny Ice Cream cones. And we sat in the cool evening air, eating ice cream cones and watched the fireworks.
It was a 4th of July like no other. I love my family and the people in our lives and all the back roads and byways that got us here. And we have lots of road ahead of us.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

What's Up Pups

Back at the ranch after 17 days on the road (4,080 road miles, plus 500 air miles). The rental, a Pontiac Vibe, performed flawlessly and kept us a/c'd through the 90+ temps. The trip, which took us through 8 states (and 1 foreign country), was wonderful. We covered a lot of ground and had many adventures. On the back roads and byways we saw some of mother nature's glorious achievements.

We also encountered human nature's cruelty and a situation that called for a rescue mission. With just 3 days left on the road and the Vermilion Cliffs and Grand Canyon ahead of us,
we were driving through Monument Valley in Navajo nation, outside of Mexican Hat, Utah, when we came upon 4 pups that were tossed out on the side of the road like trash. There was no other decision but to help them and bring them with us. Fortunately the Grand Canyon has a kennel facility available, and with the very wonderful staff 's help we were able to leave the pups in their care while we enjoyed the Grand Canyon.

Now they're here with us at home. And our other 5 animals are accommodating the newbies quite well. They miss their mommy, and cry/call for her. They are comforted when we sit with them and they cluck like little ducks when we hold them.

This is Ranger. She's going to live with us.
There are two more brown ones. A boy.A girl.And a wooly black girl. They're so smart and adorable. Good travelin' pups. We'll be looking for good homes for three of them.