The Family (not a) Reunion

The Martin siblings (Robin, her sister Debbie and brother Mark) had been planning this family reunion for as long as any of us can remember.  Finding just the right location that is not only accessible for everyone, but that also provides sufficient activities for a teen, a couple of college students, a handful of millennials, young parents with a one year old, and us older folk, is not an easy task.  So after much thought, discussion and debate, the group finally settled on Vail, Colorado.  Next task…….finding a date range when it would be convenient for all 17 invitees to attend the five-day event.  So after much thought, discussion and debate, the group finally settled on July 5 – 9.  Reservations were made, activities booked, and all were looking forward to a great reunion.

But of course “the best laid plans of mice an’ men often go awry”.  Brother Mark and his family had to cancel last-minute (everything is now alright), which was really very sad and unfortunate.  So with only 2/3’s of the group present, we felt we could not call this a family reunion.  Hopefully that event can be planned for a future date.  This event turned out to be 2 related families who happened to be spending a few days in Vail at the same time…..AKA “the family not a reunion”.

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Wednesday was arrival day, and between the horrible traffic from Denver to Vail, the delay getting into our room, the “this isn’t the type of room we booked” issue, the “this room doesn’t have air-conditioning” issue, and recovery time from very early travel day mornings (aka naps), everyone did their own thing for dinner and turned in for the night.

The next few days were filled with long walks, an ATV adventure, pool time, bike rides, a hike up the mountain (very impressive Debbie, Zach and Jordyn), gondola rides, a concert, shopping, eating, eating, eating, and more eating.

Every day started with the 7 am wake up call provided by the local garbage company’s recycle trucks picking up glass bottles below our windows, and ended with ice cream at one of several parlors in the beautifully quaint Vail Village.  Our last day happened to be our 38th wedding anniversary, and Debbie baked an incredible cinnamon roll heart for all of us to share for dessert.

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It was a great trip, we had a lot of fun, but we really missed the Martins!  Hopefully the siblings can give it some thought, have the discussion a few debates, and come up with another plan!

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Today we picked up a very happy and well cared for Wilma (thanks again Andi, from the bottom of our hearts) and made the long drive to Green Valley, Wyoming.  Hoping the hotel’s garbage gets picked up late!

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Posted in Colorado, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Denver With The Kids

With the great weight of our “what to do with Wilma” problem lifted off our shoulders, and the huge sense of relief knowing that she is being well cared for, we happily found our way to a King Soopers (groceries) and our Airbnb home near Cheesman Park and waited for the kids arrival.

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Looks like I’m photobombing a picture of the kids.

We barbecued burgers and sausages for dinner, told our day’s stories, had a few drinks, and settled in for the night……everyone safe and sound!

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Our place in Denver

Sunday started with a nice homemade breakfast of eggs, scrambled with leftovers from dinner, and then a trip to the Denver Zoo.

The zoo was fun (aren’t all zoos fun?).  We saw several shows, and Kayla really enjoyed the Giraffes, Elephants and fish exhibits.

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After our afternoon naps, Emily, Adam & Ryan treated Robin and I to dinner for our 60th birthdays.  They found this great place called Vesta, located in the LoDo (lower downtown) neighborhood near the ballpark.  Everyone got their favorite dishes including Kayla.

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Kayla got the edamame, mac & cheese, and ice cream

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Completely stuffed, we still had dessert (so sorry no pictures, but we had Spring Creme Brulee, Vietnamese Coffee Mousse, Sticky Toffee Pudding, and of course Kayla’s Cup Cake Ice Cream).

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Revived due to our sugar highs, we came home, put Kayla to bed, and watched the movie “Inferno”.

Monday started with the discovery of mouse poops on the dining room table and in the kitchen!

To be honest, after Wilma throwing up to start our trip, her skunk encounter, her diarrhea, and the catastrophe at the dog sitter, a little mouse poop didn’t really bother us. We cleaned up and bought a few traps.  Much easier to clean up than dog poops!

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Next, we bought some sandwiches and salads at Whole Foods and headed to Washington Park where we had a nice picnic and Surrey ride around the park.

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This is not as easy as you would think!

Next up….the Rockies v. Reds baseball game at Coors Field.  The park is really nice and the game lived up to the Coors Field reputation of giving up lots of high altitude induced home runs.  We had a great time, ate some good ball park food, and mostly enjoyed the post game fireworks…..Kayla seemed to like the show but definitely not the noise!

Today we started with a trip to the Children’s Museum of Denver, which proved to be a lot of fun for all of us.  The museum had great interactive exhibits on water, bubbles, rockets, energy, fire stations, and even dentistry and kitchen teaching.  I (I mean Kayla) liked the bubble exhibit best.

We noticed that the Denver Botanic Gardens is just a few blocks away from our Denver home, so Emily, Robin and I walked over to enjoy the gardens.

Our farewell to Denver, 4th of July dinner, was pizza and beer at Wyman’s no. 5, just steps away from our home, and ice cream at Liks. Tomorrow we are off to Vail!

Happy 4th of July!

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Andi To The Rescue

On Thursday’s drive to Denver we decided to take a slight detour so we could see Boulder, and have lunch on the much acclaimed Pearl Street Mall.  Sadly, we quickly discovered that dogs are not allowed in the Mall area…Ugh. Then it started raining….so we just got back in the car, drove around the CU campus, which looked amazing, and made our way (hungry) to Denver. Bad omen…..hmm.

Arrived in Denver and got settled in at the Residence Inn and Suites Cherry Creek.  Robin had a strong urge for Sushi and we were lucky to find dog friendly Hasu Sushi & Grill, which had a nice outdoor seating area. My favorite was the Cherry Creek Roll (Lobster salad, king crab, spicy tuna, and avocado).

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Cherry Creek Roll on the Left

Friday brought a nice, albeit brief, break from the recent heat wave.  So with temps hovering in the upper 70’s we took a long morning walk to the Cherry Creek retail district for coffee, and scones.  Then, after lunch at Big Smoke Burger, we took Wilma to a do-it-yourself dog wash and got her nice and clean for her pending week-long stay at the dog sitters.

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I have to admit that Wilma did get a piece or two of my chicken sandwich

Later that evening we had a really nice dinner with Andrea (Andi) Tropper.  Andi is the daughter of my best and oldest friend Al Pearlman. Andi and her husband, James, just moved to Denver about one week ago, so we were happy to meet with Andi (James is on a two-week hike on the John Muir Trail), see how things were going, and report back to her parents, Al and Ruthie. Happy to report that Andi is doing great and very excited to be in Denver.

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So much fun to have a beer with my friend’s children!

This coming week is our mini-vacation with our kids and granddaughter in Denver, followed by the Martin family reunion in Vale.  Both events are not conducive to having a dog present, so we arranged to have Wilma stay with a dog sitter in Denver for the week; something we find a bit nerve-racking, but the sitter’s reviews were great, she has a large closed in backyard, and is home all day taking care of dogs.  So we were hopeful that Wilma would be happy, entertained, and well cared for after we abandoned her for our own personal pleasure!

Well, our hopes were dashed big time!  As we were parking in front of the sitter’s home, we saw another couple at the door, dropping off their dog.  They must have been regulars because they were in the home only a couple of minutes.  As we passed by, I said something (to the couple leaving) akin to “looks like our dogs will be getting to know each other”.  He replied something akin to “I hope my dog is good to your dog”.  Ok, um, he must have a weird sense of humor…right?  We get to the door and we could hear A LOT of dogs in the backyard barking up a storm.  Our sitter starts explaining that she has more dogs than usual but several will be staying only a couple days…….she got a few emergency requests.  I remember hearing something about cancellations, a trip to Italy, and how she just can’t say no.  So this was concerning…..we saw at least four other dogs in the yard, all of which rushed the back door as our sitter went to open it for Wilma. She quickly realized two of the larger dogs in the yard (including the new arrival) were way too anxious to get to Wilma, so she tried blocking them from entering, but her efforts were futile.  Before we knew what was happening, the dogs were literally attacking poor Wilma.  Robin was trying to get Wilma out of the house, I was trying to get the dogs off of Wilma, the sitter was trying to keep the other dogs outside.  One dog in particular was in full attack mode and had Wilma by the neck.  I was able to grab it by the collar and keep it in place while Robin got Wilma out of the house.  Wow…….that could not have gone any worse!

Wilma was understandably completely freaked out (as were we).  She got in the car and the safety of her crate and hunkered down. Robin went to inspect her for any damage, and I went to find the sitter who was talking to the neighbor across the street (one of the little dogs got out when we left and went across the street).  The neighbor was complaining about the noise and telling her something about the neighborhood noise ordinance.  I told her that this wasn’t happening…..she said “OK”, and went back into the house.

So now what?  We are supposed to be moving into a “no pets allowed” house in just a few hours, the kids are landing soon, and here we are in Denver with no place to take Wilma. Then Robin remembered Andi.  The Pearlman kids grew up with Yellow Labs, and Andi mentioned at dinner how she really wanted to get a (big) dog but that they were going to wait until her and James were more settled in Denver.  She is a Speech Therapist at the local middle school so she’s free for another month, and her apartment complex not only allows dogs, they have a dog park, including an agility course.  Andi to the rescue!

Andi graciously agreed to take Wilma in for the entire week.  I don’t know if it was Robin’s sobbing pleas, or just Andi’s natural empathy and love of dogs, or maybe all of the above, but we will be eternally grateful to her for her willingness to take in our traumatized pup (from her traumatized parents)!

Thanks Andi for saving our trip and our dog.  Al and Ruthie, you guys did a fantastic job raising a wonderful daughter!

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Not Our Typical Drive Between Cities

The vast majority of our drives between destinations, on trips with Wilma, are kept relatively short. and therefore do not include side trips.  Occasionally we come across something interesting but it’s either too far off our route or not dog friendly (shame on you Barringer Crater!).  Yesterday we passed on an opportunity to visit the Golden Spike National Historic Site (where the Union and Central Pacific Railroads joined their rails in 1869….any Hell On Wheels fans out there?), as it would have added several hours to our six-hour drive to Layton, Utah, and it was still too hot (mid-90’s).

So most of our drives are really pretty boring, our research relegated to the discovery of dog friendly restaurants or nice picnic areas for lunch and exercise. And that’s OK……it’s what we signed up for; we love (most of the time) traveling with our beloved Wilma.

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Attention!

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Yesterday, however, our drive included a couple of very interesting events…..one expected, the other not so much.

First, located just a few miles off Highway 84 near Twin Falls, Idaho is the “Niagara of the West”, Shoshone Falls.

 

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Well, it’s no Niagara Falls, but it is pretty spectacular nonetheless. The falls are on the Snake River, just a few miles from where Evel Knievel attempted to jump his motorcycle (skycycle) over the Snake River Canyon in 1974.  We didn’t attempt to find that particular site, but I’ve read that the dirt ramp he constructed is still there.  Maybe next trip…

 

The next (unexpected) event just appeared in front us as we were approaching the Utah border.  Apparently the thunder-storm that cooled off our stay in Boise the other night, also set off a few wildfires, one of which happened to be closing in on our route.

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This was the closest we have ever been to a raging brush fire, and it was truly impressive in its power and scope.  We were grateful we were able to get through before they closed the highway.

So it turned out to be a pretty exciting and scenic trip to Layton.  Lunch, BTW, was in the Burley, Idaho Jimmy John’s parking lot…..not too exciting.

Today we drove to Rawlins, Wyoming.  We had a Subway foot long sandwich lunch at a nice park in Green River, and Wilma continues to poop normally (no pictures)!

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Lunch in Green River, Wyoming

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Main Street Rawlins, Wyoming

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Turns out they have great Thai food here!

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Roaming the River Cities

We love visiting cities that have developed their waterfronts for pubic recreational use. Both Bend, OR and Boise, ID rank high on our list of desirable “river cities” as they have done a fantastic job of taking advantage of their waterways.

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Robin and Wilma on the Deschutes River

Our first full day in Bend was spent walking along the trails and parks that follow the Deschutes River, which always seems to be happily filled with tubers, paddle boarders, rafts, and kayaks.  The banks are lined with beautiful parks, retail & restaurants, a music pavilion, and beautiful homes. One of the many dog parks even provides river access for the pups to cool off!  We followed the river into downtown, bought some sandwiches and found a nice spot for a picnic.

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Unfortunately we are still in a bit of a heat wave so we got Wilma indoors for the afternoon and then walked back down to the river for dinner at Hola Cafe.

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Saturday we got up early so we could hike up Pilot Butte, an extinct volcano located within the city limits, before it got too hot.  We read that from the top you can enjoy wonderful views of the Cascade mountains and the entire city of Bend.  Sadly, we never got to see the views because the park doesn’t open until 10 AM.  Really?  Ugh!

Lucky for Wilma we discovered a nice dog park, complete with a creek and pond, and decided to spend the morning giving her some much needed time off leash.

Wilma especially loved the pond, but interestingly, her wet coat really brought out the skunk smell from her encounter a few days ago.  Now she was wet, dirty, smelly, and having a meltdown because it was time to go (only child syndrome?).  So much fun! Maybe her reluctance to leave was because she overheard us talking about taking her to Dirty Paws dog wash for a pedi/pedi and a nice soapy bath!  Sorry Wilma…..all good things must come to an end!

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Hey, it’s not like this is fun for me either!

Robin and I needed some comfort food, so with Wilma looking good and smelling better, we headed to Bangers Sausage House for a nice lunch of sausages, fries, and beer!  We were enthusiastically greeted by a group of dog loving employees and a server holding a full water dish for Wilma.  Looks like we picked the right place!

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An example of throwing caution to the wind…

We left Bend, and the lovely Deschutes River yesterday, and made the long drive to Boise, Idaho.  On our 2014 road trip, we drove through Boise, stopped to see the blue football field on the Boise State University campus, and moved on.  But we were in town long enough to realize that Boise is a pretty cool city and worth a stop in the future.  So here we are!

We found a dog friendly TownePlace Suites walking distance to the Boise River Greenbelt, downtown, State Capitol Building, and BSU campus, perfect for our one day stay. Unfortunately (I’m using that word way too much these days) the heat wave that has been chasing us, beat us to Boise. With temps at 100 degrees by noon, we had to get our hike in early, and skip the downtown and State Capitol.  We are hoping for some relief by early evening, and will hopefully get downtown for dinner and some more sightseeing. We were able to walk through Ann Morrison Park, the BSU campus, and Julia Davis Park, all of which share the banks of the Boise River.

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That’s a “B” for Boise State!

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The Boise River is running very high with strong currents because of a release from an upstream reservoir.  Past the trees, BSU on the right, Julia Davis Park on the left.

It’s now several hours later and I’m happy to say that we were able to visit the Capitol Building and downtown Boise.  A huge late afternoon storm quickly passed through and dropped the temperature by 15 degrees, allowing us a couple more hours outdoors.  So now we can check off Idaho’s State Capitol from our list.

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Can you spot Robin & Wilma?

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And on an even happier note, Wilma finally had a normal poop (lol)!  Hopefully her travel doggy diarrhea is now over. Tomorrow we are back on the road, traveling to Layton, UT.

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Lap dog

Posted in Idaho, Oregon, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

From the Frigid Coast to the Scalding Valley to the Balmy High Desert

After a restless night’s sleep, post skunk encounter, we found our way to the Mendocino Hotel for an outdoor breakfast of eggs florentine and huevos rancheros.

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After checking out of the tower we visited the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens (anything to be surrounded by a sweet aroma) for one last wonderful walk along the ocean.

Our day started in refreshingly cool Mendocino (60 degrees) and ended in blisteringly hot Redding (110 degrees).  Fortunately Redding was just an overnight stop, so we holed-up in our nice cool air-conditioned room at the TownePlace Suites, and other than a couple of very quick poop walks, managed to completely avoid the heat.

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Wilma found that sweet spot where the air conditioner blows just the right amount!

Needless to say, we got up very early and skedaddled out-of-town before the temps hit triple digits.  And we were very grateful to arrive in the cooler environs of the Medford / Jacksonville, Oregon area by lunchtime.

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View of Mt. Shasta from Hwy 5 North of Redding

Robin found a local burger joint called Jasper’s Cafe in Medford, known for its unique burgers and lawn seating….perfect!

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Wilma eyeing Robin’s Coconut Milkshake

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I had the Johnny Ringo Burger (fried egg, jalapenos, onions, pepper jack cheese, Kobe beef patty, on a bed of chili cheese fritos!) and Robin had a Reuben.

Stuffed…..we made our way to the Magnolia Inn B&B in nearby Jacksonville, Oregon.

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Jacksonville is a very charming little town known for its Main Street complete with functional turn of the century buildings.  We enjoyed walking the streets, and the Inn was lovely, but the three of us had a very long night trying to sleep in a full size bed!

Thursday we had a really nice scenic drive to Bend, Oregon.

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We came across Elk Lake Resort and stopped for lunch.  Wilma wanted to swim so badly!

Bend is a very popular vacation destination for many of our acquaintances in Northern California, and another place we have talked about visiting for decades.  Located in the high desert of central Oregon, Bend sits on the Deshutes River and is mostly known for it’s year-round outdoor recreational activities, beautiful vistas, and breweries (Deshutes Brewery’s Mirror Pond Pale Ale is my favorite).  What’s not to like about that!

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Robin and Wilma on one of the pedestrian bridges crossing the Deschutes River

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View of Mt Bachelor and the 3 sisters from the Old Mill Shopping District

We are renting a great townhouse adjacent to the Old Mill District (with a great big California King) and are looking forward to a couple of days of enjoying Bend!

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Posted in California, Oregon, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

And We’re off…..What Could Possibly go Wrong?

Having recently spent two months driving across the country and back with our stressed-out dog Wilma, we now consider ourselves pretty well versed on all aspects of prolonged vehicular canine excursions.  So last Sunday we reloaded the Old Home (including all of our new concoctions for battling doggy anxiety, doggy diarrhea, doggy anaphylaxis, and doggy nausea), and set off for the Martin Family Reunion, to be held in Vail, Colorado. This will be a relatively short trip for us, about three and a half weeks.  The first two and half weeks will be spent exploring new destinations while traveling to Vail, and the last week will be spent in Vail and driving home. Easy peasy lemon squeezy…..what could possibly go wrong?

Our first stop was Mendocino, California, a “hard to get to’ rustic community situated on the incredibly beautiful and rugged Northern California coastline.

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View of Mendocino from our rooftop

We have always wanted to visit Mendocino but the nearly five hour drive, much of which is through winding wilderness roads, has kept us away.  Plus, when we want to spend time on the coast, visiting the much “easier to get to” towns of Carmel or Pacific Grove (so nice to have those places to choose from!) are just too good to pass up. However, after deciding to take a Northern route to Vail, we saw our opportunity to finally visit Mendocino, and we took it.

Now those who have followed our blog are aware of Wilma’s issues with car sickness. Although she made great progress on our previous trip, we were able to avoid any prolonged stretches of winding roads (thank you highway 40).  She can manage five hours in the car, bumpy roads, and severe weather, but 40 miles of twisty, curvy, bendy, tortuous highway 128?  Not a chance!  And to make matters worse, the outside temperature for the first 30 miles of hwy 128 averaged about 110 searing degrees. Not exactly a “roll down the window to get fresh air” kind of situation.  So, in spite of a perfectly timed dose of Dramamine, Wilma lost it just outside of the town of Boonville (she actually vomited the first time at the Walnut Creek BART station, but we attributed that episode to drinking too much water and the stress of saying goodbye to Emily).  So…..no problem….just pull over, restrain Wilma (given time she’ll either eat it, walk in it, or lay down in it), gather our supplies and clean it up.  Well, not so fast……after driving on a lightly traveled road (with pull outs every 1/2 mile) for over an hour, Wilma happened to vomit just as we were entering the very town that was hosting the extremely well attended 2017 Sierra Nevada World Music Festival.  There was absolutely no place to stop, park, or pull over.  Just crowds of people walking up and down the parked car laden, street vendor filled, two lane road.  I’m driving very slowly in traffic, Robin is freaking out about Wilma’s next move, Wilma is just standing there…..deciding just how hungry she is.  It wasn’t a pretty sight.

I finally found a space in front of a guy selling barbecue sausages (110 degrees….why not a guy selling ice cream?), we cleaned up as best we could, sprayed some doggy deodorizer, and drove as slowly as possible the rest of the way to Mendocino.  Nice start, huh?

Our Airbnb residence is a renovated and re-purposed century old water tower located just a couple blocks from the ocean and the historic downtown. The four story structure includes a Widow’s Walk on the roof that provides spectacular views of the town and ocean.  The property owner is a master gardener, so the grounds were lush with countless varieties of plants native to the coast.

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Can you find Robin in this picture?

After unpacking the Old Home and washing out Wilma’s crate pad, we took a really nice short hike along the trails in Mendocino Headlands State Park.  The coastline is truly a sight to see!

Monday we drove up the coast to Fort Bragg to hike the Fort Bragg Coastal trails.  We had perfect hiking weather (Wilma really appreciated the fog, overcast, and cool temperatures) and truly enjoyed watching, hearing, and smelling the powerful waves pounding away at the rocky coastline.

To cap off a great morning, we ventured into town and thoroughly enjoyed a couple bowls of cioppino at Silver’s in Fort Bragg.

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After all that fresh air and good seafood, we went back to our place and this happened:

Monday evening we finished our leftover cioppino for dinner, took a nice long walk around town, and decided to spend the rest of the evening just hanging out and relaxing. Again…..not a chance!  Upon returning to our tower with its lush gardens, we had an unfortunate encounter with one of Mendocino’s native creatures……a skunk!  Robin and I never saw the critter, but Wilma sure did……and she went ballistic. We quickly lost control of the situation and you can guess what happened next…WILMAAAAAAA!!!  It was too late….the front yard was transformed from perfumy to putrid.  Oddly, it is not the same smell you occasionally experience at night while driving local roads with the windows open……it’s more like a burnt rubber meets rotten fish kind of odor, nasty none the less! Fortunately none of us took a direct hit but the night air was permeated with stink and Wilma got the worst of it.  She just stood there, frozen like a victim of Medusa, wondering……what the hell just happened here???   Poor thing got a complete hose down with liquid dawn (according to Google, the dish soap Dawn does the best job dissolving the grease in Skunk spray) which….thank God…..worked wonders.  So much for a relaxing evening! Miraculously by morning the yard was back to its normal fragrant self. Looks like the only casualties may be our shoes (currently sealed in plastic, waiting for a washing machine) and our lost evening!

We had only been gone one day…..what could possibly go wrong?

Posted in California, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Closing Out Trip #3

Wednesday night Adam, Ryan, and Kayla arrived at our home in Las Vegas.  It was so nice to see them again and we were amazed at how much Kayla had changed since our departure 6 weeks earlier.  We really enjoyed watching Kayla and Wilma’s reunion. They were very excited to see each other!  Too cute.

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Adam and Ryan were in town to begin their house shopping, so we baby-sat Kayla for a few days while they explored several neighborhoods and open homes.  Thursday was playground day and Friday was pool day!

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Friday night, our in-laws, Mike and Kim Sheffield, flew in from Fresno to join the house hunt and to visit with us.  I know the kids appreciated their input on home upgrades, and we appreciated their company.  We enjoyed a great lasagna pizza from Red Rock Pizzeria while doting over Kayla (Adam and Ryan attended the Tiger Woods benefit at the MGM…guess they are already in Vegas Mode).

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Off to the Strip

Sunday, before dropping the Mike and Kim off at the airport, we all toured a couple of Adam and Ryan’s “favorites so far” and then had a really nice lunch at Rachel’s Kitchen in Henderson, NV.

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Thanks Mike and Kim for joining us in Vegas!  Hopefully we can get together for a trip in the future (that trip to Sequoia NP sounds good)!

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Sunday we got a surprise visit from Brett Shapiro, my first cousin once removed (son of first cousin and fellow traveler Jill Shapiro).  We last saw Brett in LA, on our 2014 road trip, so we were so happy he contacted us while he was visiting Vegas (ironically also doing some house shopping).  Brett joined us for a Shake Shack burger dinner Sunday night at our very warm Vegas home (air conditioner broke…..ugh).  It was great seeing him and catching up (and the Shake Shack burgers were really good).

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Monday morning the kids flew home to CA, and we set off for our last stop, a return to the La Quinta Inn in Bakersfield.  We decided to stop in Barstow for lunch…..at the same Panera Bread where Wilma had her first horrible bout of diarrhea (see 4/8 post, “A Pooped Pup or a Pup’s Poop”). It was high 90’s outside and we remembered the covered patio at the Truck wash next to the restaurant (where we feverishly cleaned up Wilma). So why not return, have a nice picnic lunch at the Truck Wash, and reminisce about last trip to Barstow! BTW, I’m happy to report that Wilma has been perfectly healthy since her face swelling incident on Mother’s Day.

Tuesday we successfully ended “our first extensive dog trip” after a night in Bakersfield at the La Quinta Inn, the very same hotel in which we spent our first night.  Of course, since this would be our last night in a hotel for several weeks, we had to be given a room that smelled like rotten fish.  Although I don’t think Wilma minded the odor, we requested a room change, and were gratefully upgraded to a one bedroom suite.  It was 104 degrees in Bakersfield Monday so Wilma really enjoyed having the extra space in our air-conditioned room.

On our way home Tuesday we passed through the small town of McFarland.  For those of you who have seen the movie “McFarland USA”, the high school is just a stone’s throw off highway 99. It was fun to do a drive-by and snap a couple pictures (Go Danny Diaz!).

We arrived home Tuesday afternoon and are looking forward to a restful 4 weeks before leaving again for a family reunion in Denver.

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Trip stats:  8,000 miles driven, 25 cities, 19 states, 5 state parks, 1 rattle snake encounter, 3 veterinarian visits, 1 haircut, 1 tire rotation, at least 100 people met because of Wilma!

Best Hotel:  Aloft Oklahoma City

Best Scenic Drive:  Tie between Nashville to Asheville and Grand Junction to St. George

Worst Hotel: Comfort Inn and Suites, Charleston WV

Least Scenic Drive: Omaha to North Platte, NE

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We Should Have Purchased that Pet Insurance!

We couldn’t leave Colorado Springs without at least one visit to the local Veterinarian, so after Wilma refused to eat her dinner and subsequent breakfast, we stopped in to see Dr. Roman Dye at the Westside Animal Hospital. We thought maybe she had a tooth or jaw problem as she was only interested in soft food, but everything checked out fine, so we bought some special “easy to digest” soft dog food and packed up for our trip to Las Vegas.

Our first stop was to drop Emily off at the Denver airport.  So sad to see her go, but we really had a wonderful visit and miss her already!  Thanks Emily for joining us, keeping Wilma happy, being a guest blogger, and adding a lot of fun to our journey!

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We had a very wet, stormy, yet scenic drive down hwy 70 across the Rockies to the Springhill Suites in Grand Junction, CO, where we found a nice Italian place for dinner, had a nice walk around Main Street, and gave Wilma her soft “easy to digest” dog food.

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Our next day’s drive to St. George Utah was unexpectedly spectacular.  The route, which took us just north of Arches, Capitol Reef, and Canyonlands National Parks, was carved through several narrow canyons and mountain ranges.  We stopped at several scenic bypasses, and truly enjoyed the long drive.

Arrived at the TownPlace Suites in St. George, brought in burritos for dinner, took Wilma out for a short walk (90’s plus outside) and gave her soft “easy to digest” dog food. Unfortunately, the very next morning, our poor pup refused her breakfast again, and…..um…returned her prior night’s dinner.  Fortunately, we are now pretty well versed on all of Wilma’s travel issues, so on to Las Vegas where we can settle in for 10 days, and care for our anxious pet.

It was really nice to get to our Summerlin (LV neighborhood) home, park in a garage, unpack the Old Home, pick up groceries, and fire up the grill for a home cooked meal. Wilma enjoyed her rice, chicken, “easy to digest” soft dog food (plus various meds) and found a nice chair to claim as her own.

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Our Home in Summerlin

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The weekend was spent hanging around the house and exploring the neighborhood.  We took some nice walks to the local shopping areas, and let Wilma enjoy the backyard pool.

Of course we couldn’t finish the weekend (and Mother’s Day) without a visit to the local Veterinarian, so after Wilma’s face swelled up like a blimp, we stopped in to see Dr. Nance at the Sun City Animal Hospital.

Dr. Nance figured she got into something that either stung her or that she’s allergic to, so several injections later, we came home and lamented getting another pet (just kidding). Wilma’s swelling receded relatively quickly, and I’m happy to say she has been pretty normal ever since……knock on wood!

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Monday we drove to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and took the 13 mile scenic drive.  The red rock formations are really impressive and the views are great. We plan to return one of these days to take advantage of the hiking trails!

Yesterday was uneventful…….except for the part where I drove the Old Home through the garage door.

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So here’s what happened:  It was a nice cool day, so we decided to take Wilma for a walk along the Las Vegas Strip.  We went in the garage, opened the automatic door, got Wilma into her car crate, got in the car, and started to back out.  Then…..Bam!!  Apparently the automatic garage door started closing just as we were backing out. The back of the Range Rover crashed into one of the door panels taking the (severely dented) door completely off its track.  It turns out that when Robin got in the car, she placed a water bottle in the cup holder (a reasonable thing to do).  Unfortunately the garage door opener was also in the cup holder, so the water bottle hit the button and……..bottom line, the garage door was totaled, and the car only suffered a small paint chip.  Our property owner was exceptionally cool about the whole incident and had the door replaced within hours (which was great since the RR was stuck in the garage behind a half closed door).  So no visit to the Strip yesterday, but we did pick up some great Thai food for dinner and enjoyed watching the Warriors rout of the Spurs.  Never a dull moment!

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This morning, with the garage door opener in the glove compartment, we finally made it to the Strip.  Wilma seemed to tolerate the noise, crowds (yes, even on Wednesday morning), and countless solicitors.  She even made a few friends!

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Tonight we are so excited as Adam, Ryan and Kayla are coming to visit.  Adam and Ryan will be exploring various neighborhoods and housing developments for their impending move along with visiting some friends. We get to show Kayla the rest of Vegas!  Then on Friday our in-laws, Mike and Kim Sheffield, will join us.  It will be so much fun to have a full house (and other people to talk to) for a few days.  Hopefully there will be no more visits to the Vet!

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14,115: Pike’s Peak Elevation or the number of people in Colorado Springs who pet Wilma?

Get ready for your first guest post of Old Home road trip round 3! On Friday morning I (Emily) flew from SF to Denver and got swept up by my parents and Wilma as they passed through Denver on their way from North Platte, NE to Colorado Springs. To say Wilma was excited to see me would be a massive understatement.

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Since I arrived on Cinco de Mayo we figured we better get some Mexican food, so we headed down to the local taco joint on the Colorado College campus about a mile from the house.

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Cinco de Mayo tacos at La’au’s Tacos.

While there we did some research on Colorado College. Turns out it’s a private liberal arts college founded in 1874 with about 2,000 undergrad and will burn a hole right through your wallet at around $70k/year in tuition. Notable alum include Lynne Cheney (Dick’s wife) and Peggy Fleming (1968 Olympic figure skating gold medalist). Anyway, the students were as disappointed as we were that La’au’s taco shop ran out of margaritas, but the tacos were pretty good!

Saturday morning we made our way to the Royal Gorge Bridge in Cañon City, CO. The bridge spans the Arkansas river and claims to have been the world’s highest suspension bridge when it was built in 1929, but is now “one of” the world’s highest suspension bridges. Either way, it’s pretty impressive at about 1,000 feet above ground.

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It’s also worth saying a few things about Cañon City, CO as it was quite an interesting town to drive through:

  • Note the tilde above the “n”. Yep, it’s pronounced like “Canyon”. It’s one of only 5 cities in the US with a tilde in its name (I’ll make you search the other four, but spoiler alert, they are mostly in New Mexico).
  • A primary employer of Cañon City is the CO Department of Corrections, and the town has 13 prisons, including a Supermax prison, known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies”, where every inmate is in solitary for 23 hours per day.
  • If there are any “The Man in the High Castle” fans out there, yes, Canon City in the show is based on Cañon City, CO, and no, it wasn’t filmed here.

We had lunch at a lovely spot near the entrance to the Royal Gorge park overlooking the Rockies (it’s honestly hard to find anywhere to stand in or around Colorado Springs where you don’t have a beautiful view of the Rockies).

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Lunch at 8 Mile Bar & Grill in Canon City. Wilma is eyeing that buffalo burger…

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The Old Home enjoyed a view of the Rockies while we ate lunch.

Saturday night we watched the Warriors scrape by in game 3 and enjoyed some Thai food take out.

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Wilma and I celebrating another Warriors victory.

Sunday we grabbed some sandwiches from Einsteins and headed to hike around the Garden of the Gods. IMG_0575

Where did the name Garden of the Gods come from, you ask? Well, in 1859, two surveyors explored the site. One of the surveyors suggested that it would be a “capital place for a beer garden”. His companion, awestruck by the impressive rock formations, exclaimed, “Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods.” A beer garden in the center would be pretty cool though…

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Pikes Peak

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The views were pretty spectacular and the formations were very cool. We also enjoyed watching some rock climbers scale their way up the formations.

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“Kissing Camels”, do you see it?

Sunday night we went to Phantom Canyon Brewing Company for dinner and sampled some more local beer (we have also tried a variety of beers from Bristol Brewing Company).

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Beer flight and shrimp n’ grits with bacon on top

Monday we attempted to hike Pulpit Rock Park. Pulpit Rock is another neat rock formation we happened to notice while driving the night before with promising views of the Rockies and the city below.DSCN4489Unfortunately, the trails didn’t really work out the way we thought and we were all a bit too spooked by our encounter with a rattle snake to go off-roading, so we kept the hike short and went to brunch early.

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Baby rattler!

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Colorado Springs Huevos Rancheros box checked! Not pictured but yes, view of the Rockies in the background.

After brunch we got Wilma nice and clean at the local Wag n’ Wash.

Tuesday morning dad and I drove up to Pike’s Peak. Pike’s Peak is the most prominent peak overlooking Colorado Springs and is one of Colorado’s 53 “fourteeners” (mountains over 14,000 feet in elevation). Pike’s Peak peaks (ha) at 14,115 feet and the summit can be reached by a 19 mile scenic highway. Unfortunately, the previous night’s snow storm caused them to close the road at mile 16, getting us to 12,870 feet. Dad and I think aside from being on board an airplane, it’s the highest we’ve ever been (including as a result of the edible dad bought for dessert last night). As always, the pictures don’t do it justice but hopefully they give you a sense of just how high above the clouds we were!

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Here you can see the switchbacks working their way up the side of the mountain.

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The old home sitting high above the clouds.

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Check out the road winding down the mountain.

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Selfie at 12,870 feet!

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View of the summit from below.

On a final note, it really is worth reiterating previous blog discussions about what it’s like to walk around with Wilma. The amount of attention she gets is just ridiculous. For example, at the Garden of the Gods visitor center viewpoint, there were more people taking pictures of her than of the Garden of the Gods. You can’t walk for more than 30 seconds without hearing a “beautiful dog”. And she really is!

Thanks mom and dad for letting me join the old home for a few days!

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Our Colorado Springs Airbnb.

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