Wish I was There Wednesday

Maybe because winter has been fairly fleeting here snow wise, I decided to take a nostalgic  stroll through some photos of a trip to Alaska’s Inside Passage.

If you’ve never experienced a visit to this scenic destination, you’ve missed out on an amazing adventure. Incredible vistas, unique Native cultures and remarkable wildlife, Alaska has it all. While I would have loved to have spent some time at Glacier National Park, my visit was limited but still provided some incredible glimpses of this unforgettable state. So grab your beverage of choice and let’s see a few of the more notable scenes, shall we?

The Emerald City, aka Seattle

Departing from the port of Seattle with its infamous Space Needle on the horizon, the cruise ship headed northward toward Juneau. Named after the gold prospector Joe Juneau, the city became the state capitol in 1906. Due to its rugged terrain, Juneau is unique among state capitols insomuch as there are no roads connecting the city with the rest of the state although there is ferry service available for autos. It’s basically an island city…on land. You either have to fly or boat into the city. With around 31,000 full-time residents, the populations swells from May through September when cruise ships visit, by about 6,000 people per day.

Located approximately 12 miles from downtown Juneau is the famous Mendenhall Glacier and surrounding landscape which is protected as part of the 5,815 acres Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area, a federally designated portion of the Tongass National Forest. Despite the ongoing glacial ebb, this spectacular site will nevertheless take your breath away with its sheer size and presence. Given that temperatures continue to rise throughout Alaska and fact that the end of the glacier has a negative mass balance, it will continue to retreat.

I was mesmerized by the floating pieces of the glacier in Mendenhall Lake and with the ice color which appears blue due to the absorption of all colors of the visible light spectrum except for blue, which it transmits. Named after noted scientist, Thomas C. Mendenhall  who served as Superintendent of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey from 1889 to 1894, he also served on the Alaska Boundary Commission and was responsible for surveying the international boundary between Canada and Alaska. In 1892, this glacier was renamed to honor Mendenhall. The naturalist, John Muir, had first named the glacier “Auke Glacier” in 1879 after the Aak’w Kwaan of the Tlingit Indians. Bear sightings are not unusual in the area and one must be vigilant when hiking.

Tracy Arm Fjord, south of Juneau is a deep and narrow fjord with considerable floating ice ranging from hand-sized to pieces as large as a three-story building.

Tracy Arm Fjord
Floating Ice ~ Tracy Arm Fjord

No trip to the Inner Passage is complete without a stop in Skagway. Noted for being the setting in Jack London’s “Call of the Wild,” Will Hobbs’s book Jason’s Gold, and for Joe Haldeman’s novel Guardian, as well as  John Wayne’s film “North to Alaska” filmed nearby. Skagway became populated after thousands of miners hoped to strike it rich in the region during the Klondike Gold Rush.

The prospectors’ journey began for most as soon as they climbed over the White Pass above Skagway. In 1898 the White Pass Yukon Route began laying narrow gauge railroad tracks along the route as a result of the gold rush. One notable hooligan interred in Skagway’s Boot Hill is Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith, one of the most unscrupulous con men of the time.

White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad
Colorful Skagway garden

Alaska’s native people (Eskimos) have had a significant impact on the state’s culture and the many museums along the way should not be missed.

After taking in some incredible handcrafted items, it’s always good to experience the bounty of the sea. Crab anyone?

Alaskan King Crab ~ it doesn’t get any fresher than this.

Many other stops along the way provided equally stunning scenery. I could go on and on about beautiful and fascinating Alaska with its wide and breathtaking vistas. It’s not uncommon to see a spouting blow-hole from a whale along the way but you need to be quicker than I was at trying to photograph it. Though failing at any photographic remembrance, that image will remain forever burnished in my memory. And so will the sunsets.

You simply can’t go wrong taking a trip to the 50th 49th (with thanks to Evil Squirrel) state for seeing beautiful locations and learning about the Old West Frontier. Have you ever been there? What was your favorite part?

Live, love, bark❣

Monday Moanings

[An open letter to the dogs on a Monday from a questioning huMom]

Dear Canoids,

Is it just because you’re ‘canoids‘ or because you’re too smart for your own good poodle selves that makes you do things in a contrary way designed to negatively impact the Ranch upright?

“W-H-A-T-E-V-E-R more are talking about?” said two innocent-looking faces. Umm, how about Exhibits A and B. We received about 6-9 inches of snow. In our mountain desert (aka Denver) snowfall is always calculated in a range of inches. Why? It’s called wind. Not the Wizard of Oz kind, but definitely the kind that can impact the measurement of snow. And in keeping with those ‘flexible’ numbers, you guys seem to take matters in your own paws. As in where you like to poop…you know in the deepest possible snow. Oh…and as far away from the sidewalk as possible. Usually just a few inches past the leash length which requires hiking out to the ‘dumping’ grounds. Snow in that mound is nearly always double in-depth and often the most desirable location for the 4-pawed tribe. Note previous tracks checking it out by the Ranch crew.

EXHIBIT A ~ Apart from the depth, this spot would have actually worked compared to Exhibit B.

But no, that wasn’t good enough for my sweet dogs who manage to take it to a ‘nother level, aka Exhibit B. They seem to assume there are extra points for doing it in places that are next to impossibly difficult for an upright to get in and responsibly clean up after. Seriously, Elsa…do you really have to go into the area where there are the lowest possible hanging limbs or shrub rose branches to stab me in the head and/or legs? Trust me when I say there. are. no. extra. points!! Demerit points, yes.

Exhibit B ~ Otherwise known as the bestest dumping ground.

Do I look like a 3-foot tall Hobbit who wears armadillo like armor?! Don’t answer that.

And what’s with this thing about ALWAYS having to scamper around behind my back after I’ve picked up after you, crossing the streams a la Ghostbusters style twisting the leashes, stretching the bum shoulder and providing way too many close calls at toppling the not-as-flexible as Gumby upright as she extracts herself from the dwarf forest? Do you know how hard it is to keep the leashes untangled in gloves with hands that are freezing, trying to hold on to some semblance of order, all the while juggling a poop bag whose smell could raise the dead that needs to be off loaded in a trash bin ASAP? Seriously, you never seem to have a problem with crossing in FRONT of me inside the house. WTH?!

Your loving huMom

Do your guys go ‘contrarian’ on you when it comes to conducting their number 2 business?

Live, love, bark❣

Finally…It’s Friday

After working at the hospital this week, we managed to reach Friday mostly unscathed. It’s another cold morning around the Ranch and we’re all dog-tired after some pretty intense experiences at West Pines, hospice and the hospital. This level of tiredness requires coffee for me to be a functioning upright. This level of tiredness usually produces something similar to this.

Looks like a lot of you may be receive some moisture this weekend so we hope you are able to stay safe and dry as much as possible. Whatever Mother Nature throws at you, hope you make the most of it with your favorite beverage of choice in hand accompanied with your best friend, be they two or four-legged. Happy weekend, campers. Any special plans for the last weekend of February?

Live, love, bark❣

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday ~ February 21, 2018

It’s Wednesday and while Sam and I head off to West Pines today, there’s lot’s happening in the Olympics and some of it is going to the dogs. Canadian’s figure skater Meagan Duhamel  rescued a dog from a Korean meat farm last year. Ms. Duhamel, a vegan since 2008, along with and her figure skating coach husband, rescued a second pup. The South Korean government even ordered restaurants close to the Olympic Stadium in Pyeongchang to stop serving dog meat.

Meagan Duhamel poses with her dog Moo-tae, in South Korea. (EK Park/Free Korean Dogs via AP)

Sam thinks the IOC should add synchronized peeing to the games. He would no doubt be disqualified and have to compete in the “olympic athlete competing for dogs’ (OAD) category and not as part of any country team.

Whether you’re watching and rooting for a particular country, I think we all root for Snoopy. He’ll always earn the gold in my heart. What’s been your favorite Pyeongchang moment?

Live, love, bark❣

Trot, Trot Tuesday

Single digits are not stopping this dynamic duo. Hiya, Elsa here. We finally got some snow with a couple of days of bitter cold. Mom hitched us up in our paw mittens and coats and then spent 87 hours putting gloves, hats, mittens and boots on herself before we could go galloping out in the elements. Snow? We don’t let a little stinking snow stop us.

We traveled over hill and over dale like jackrabbits hopping along, dragging pulling mom along our walk. Sam is headed over to the hospital today while I stay home practicing my Olympic skating skills. I swear, I don’t get how he can get all tangled up in his leash, come to a complete screeching stop and then look up so pitifully at mom with a H-E-L-P me look on his face whereas I can skate at full speed, perform a double Lutz jump into a full-on poop stance in the blink of an eye. Boys…sheesh. Talk about snowflakes!

While Sam is putting smiles on patients faces over the next couple of days, I’ll have a few hours of peace and quiet each day watching the snow accumulate and our evil squirrel. He better hope he doesn’t slip off his branch while I’m outside. Stay warm and we’ll be back soon.

Live, love, bark❣

Monday Musings

Yesterday was just shy of 70 and today’s high will be in the mid-20’s with fresh new snow. Elsa however seems to relish it, munching as much of the snow that was left earlier on the north side of the street as she can. She will no doubt dash about like a gazelle doing leaps and bounds in new fresh stuff. Stay warm out there this week.

Live, love, bark❣

Happy New Year 狗

Happy New Year! Today marks the start of the Chinese Year of the Dog. Here at the Ranch, we celebrate dogs all year long but starting today it’ll have extra meaning. 

Even the Post Office got into celebrating which is quite remarkable considering how many dogs tend to be…ahem…less than hospitable with mail deliveries [yeah, I’m talking ’bout you, Sam!]. Look at the beautiful new stamp they created in honor of {wo}man’s best fur-iend.

We know that dogs are loyal, friendly, and kind but did you know that those born under the sign of the dog are said to have some of those same traits? Honest, easygoing, and helpful to others, uprights born under the sign of the dog are less likely to seek money and power and more likely to try to make the world a better place.

A dog’s lucky numbers are 3, 4, and 9, and unlucky numbers are 1, 6, and 7, so keep those in mind when you buy Lotto tickets. Lucky colors are red, green, and purple while blue, white, and gold are unlucky. Those born on the 1st, 6th, 7th, 17th, 21st, 24th, 26th, 28th or the 30th day of the month in the Chinese lunar calendar are said to be the luckiest. Though I’m not very well versed in Chinese horoscopes, the three links here provide a lot of info for those interested and provide the basis of material for this post.

So what’s in store for 2018?

2018 is said to be an unlucky year for people born under the sign of the dog. Thank goodness I’m glad to have been here a while. I have enough bad luck without tempting  Chinese astrology. It appears that years that share your birth sign are thought to bring bad luck and recommendations are for dogs to stay calm and try to relax. How do you get a pogo stick to relax for a whole year? Just wondering out loud.

New industrial projects or energy developments for 2018 are predicted to be successful, while endeavors based on greed and individual drive will likely be rejected. Familial relationships will be of significance this year. This could be seen as a year of hope that’s filled with the kind of dialogue that helps cultures achieve solidarity and reject indifference. We can only hope that rings true in 2018.

Got any thoughts on the Year of the Dog? Do you follow horoscopes in general? Not to sound creepy, but what’s your year/sign? For the record, I’m an Ox, something my family has suggested over the years.

On a separate note, our friend Friday is here which means the weekend is just waiting for us. Any plans for ringing in the Chinese New Year?

Live, love, bark❣

Now Where’s that Dog?

If you follow us on Instagram (wait, what…you don’t…well click on the Instagram link on the right and check us out), you probably saw a camouflage photo of me on the new carpet with a feeble attempt at humor from mom. Sam here. For those of a certain age, we use to read Highlights Magazine and go to the page where you had to find certain objects in the picture.  Well I can tell you if I wasn’t wearing a bright new bandana, I’m sure mom would end up vacuuming me up. Now I understand why my sister, Elsa the Ninja complains she has it rough being a black dog on a black dog bed, but I didn’t appreciate what she was talking about. I mean, I’ve got hospital duty next week mom, so don’t vacuum me up, okay? I think I heard her reply something about ‘turn-about is fair play, dude’ but I could be mistaken. Should I worry?

Day 3 and mom can’t find me but for the bandana and nose.
Is this like Where’s Waldo?

Live, love, bark❣


Happy Valentine’s Day

Hi there, Sam here. Well you all probably heard about Elsa over the weekend and how she had a seizure (she’s fully recovered and is making my life miserable fine now). I’m sorry when she has them but even more so this year because it kind of put the kibosh on my plans to see if sweet Lucy would be my Valentine fur-iend.  So today dear Lucy…this one is for you.  I hope you have a fur-bulous Valentine’s Day celebration. We all “woof” you.

Today is also Ash Wednesday and mom says we have to give something up for Lent. You think giving up my baby sister is what she had in mind? Just kidding, Elsa. I ‘woof’ you, too. Mostly all the time.

Live, love, bark❣

Monday Moanings

It’s a new Monday following a rough weekend. We feel a lot like this image. How was your weekend?

Live, love, bark❣