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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Giving Thanks in the Desert

We spent the holiday of thanks and gratefulness out in the wondrous red rock desert of Utah. After we learned that Shyla could travel, albeit with no running or long hikes, we headed out on her first camping trip. I think that this girl was made for our style of vacation!
It was unseasonably warm - glorious, you might say - in the desert. I rode my bike each day in shorts, and we lounged in the sunshine during the daylight hours.
The one "downside" to winter camping, even in the desert, is that daylight is scarce. I had many hours to learn how to make photos in the dark, with long exposures making mystical looking pictures. Early one evening, clouds blew in front of the setting moon with the backdrop of the still-reddish western horizon.

When we camp, we have time to get to know each campsite in great detail. We learn where the North Star is, and exactly when the sun will rise and set on our temporary home in the desert.

I had fun capturing photos of the stars rotating around the North Star from our campsite near the "Top of the World". My first try was when the sky was still red from sunset. It was hard to see the stars with my naked eye but my camera saw them when its shutter was open for a long time.
Then, I took another one a little later when the sky had turned darker. Can you believe the beauty of our world?
Shyla's leg problems changed our normal camping routine. She was allowed only short leash walks - which we did close to camp. We did a variety of training games during our short walks like stand-stays even when I was tossing objects around her. It was a great opportunity for her to learn to generalize her training to all sorts of locations. With every dog who joins us, I am surprised to realize that they need to be taught that "stand" means "stand" regardless of whether it's in our kitchen, in the forest, or in the desert.
Shyla has vet appointment on Tuesday to x-ray her leg again. If the lesion on her ulna is getting smaller, then we'll assume that it was a mystery injury to her bone (we never saw any injury occur). Alternatively, if the lesion isn't shrinking, we'll be heading for the experts again, for a bone biopsy to look for an infection or cancer. My gut feeling is that it's an injury, perhaps an old hairline fracture that got banged on a rock or something (that scenario was proposed by the vets)... but only time will tell.

I'm trying to be more like a Dog, just like my precious K taught me - and we're making the best of things rather than worrying.

As you'll see as I show you photos from our trip in the coming days, I have many of Shyla and not so many of R. That was because of our odd schedule, where we did a "tag team" routine of puppy-sitting Shyla in camp, with each of us humans going out for adventures on our own. But, don't worry - I have a few good ones of our handsome black lab!

I am so happy that Shyla loves camping as much as the rest of us. I feel sure that we have many adventures in our future!


  1. So much learned from one very special 'K'hanine!

    What great great great pictures!

    The wow factor is off the chart!

    Good luck with the next visit!

  2. Glad to hear Shyla enjoyed her first camping trip. Good luck with the vet visit.


  3. It is so good to hear from you again. And I am thrilled that you all got away. My MOM took me and my gal pal Belle camping on Thanksgiving and Friday in our mountains, it was GREAT!! What beautiful photos. MOM and I are smilin' real big to see that happy girl of yours. Looking forward to reading and see more of your adventure.

  4. What gorgeous pictures! Fingers crossed for a good vet visit

  5. The sun must have felt wonderful for all of you. So glad Shyla is a camping dog. Still hoping the leg problem is not something serious.

  6. Beautiful shots of Shyla and the night stars. So glad you guys had a great time but we did miss your posts.
    Can't wait to see more pics.

    Bert and My Vickie

  7. That is very beautiful. Woof! :)

  8. Camping, a whole new adventure for Shyla and she passed with glorious colours, lovely photos, and I do hope you soaked up some good rest time as well. Sunshine, nature's healer. Greetings from Jean.

  9. Shyla's first camping trip! I am so happy for her! And for all of you that you got to get away to the spectacular shows of nature.
    The sky show is amazing,,,, I love it.
    And I am so glad you all had a good time.

  10. I knew Shyla would love camping! She looks like such a rich, wonderful shade of brown in your pictures. I love all those pictures!

    How long were your exposures in the star shots? I've been playing with long exposures a little, but not with the stars. I love those pictures!

  11. What an amazing world...and family! We send White Dog positive energies for Tuesday along with strength and confidence. Feel us beside you.

  12. Shyla sounds like she is definitely a natural for camping. Was she meant for your family or what?! The pictures you captured of the stars are just beautiful! I love the pics from your desert camping trips, the world looks so vast. It sounds like your trip was a good way to rejuvenate and I like your positive attitude about Shyla's leg. I too, am optomistic it is just an oddball injury that will heal. :)

  13. SOunds like such a good time for you ALL! Your long exposure photos of the stars are fascinating - love them!
    I wish you and Shyla well on Tuesday.

  14. We would love to go camping there!!! Shyla's pictures are gorgeous...hope that she continues to improve! Your pictures are absolutely awesome!!! xo Jeanne

  15. What gorgeous pictures! We're sending tons of positive thoughts for you, Shyla!

    Love ya lots,
    Mitch and Molly

  16. How fun! I love your photos. One of my favorite things is camping with the boys. We found that while Sam can no longer do the long day hikes, he can do several smaller hikes broken out throughout the day. We still have lots of fun.


  17. We are SO jealous! We all love the outdoors and wish we could be camping, especially somewhere like that. I am looking forward to your pictures in the coming days. What were the temperatures? Fingers crossed for good news at the vet, I too am hoping that it's an injury and nothing more.

  18. What a beautiful time in the mountains to bond with your little beauty Shyla! And of course we know that R had the bestest time too. Your pictures are amazing.

    We're still praying for Shyla and for R. Is he back to his normal self again?

    We can't wait to see more pictures and hear of your adventures.

    Welcome back!

    Lily Belle & Muffin

  19. I'm glad Shyla adapted well to the desert! We're keeping our paws crossed that her leg heals up real quick.

  20. Welcome Back...looks like another awesome adventure. Love the shot of the stars. thank you for bringing these stunning shots to your blog, it is indeed a beautiful gift.

  21. Fascinating blog with wonderful photos. Glad I ran across it...:)

  22. Stunning photos of the night sky! I now feel like I don't even know how to take pictures! I would have no idea how to get those shots using my DSLR.

  23. Shyla is a natural at camping! That sounds fun!

    That's right - no sense in buying trouble - just wait and see what the x-rays reveal. Worrying doesn't do a bit of good - so while waiting, just enjoy life! :)

  24. Great to hear from you again, lovely trip you did, awsome pictures. Glad to see Shyla so happy, looking forward you more pictures.
    Tyra is better, she have painkillers now so I have to watch her beeing calm. But no hunting for several weeks. Maybe we will go for rehab as well

  25. The star pictures certainly made me think of the circle of life. Glad to hear that Shyla and R are doing well thus far and continued hopes for great test results.

  26. We are a bit late getting here, busy days. But we do hope that things go well for Shyla and you tomorrow.

    You really should make a book of your incredible photos -it would make a great addition to any coffee table.

  27. Those night time pictures are just the most dazzling things I think I have ever seen. I agree with Kathie B., you have several volumes of wonderful coffee table books right now.

    Good luck tomorrow, Shyla, we are all in your corner!

    Jo, Stella and Zkhat

  28. what fantastic night sky photos, i love the stars!!! i really need to figure out how to make my camera do that!!!

    glad you had a great holiday in the Utah red rocks xxx

    Charlene and Stormy

  29. I wish I'd been in a desert spot where I could see the stars. The difference in what you see without light pollution is amazing and I love your slow shutter speed shots. Unfortunately, my Tucson desert visit didn't offer the same opportunity but I did enjoy the warmth and being in such open spaces.

  30. How interesting that "stand" needed translation in different places. I wouldn't have thought that. But now I know. Just in case I ever have a dog...

    I guess I should have known. I had a child. Who had to be taught not to eat each color of crayons...

  31. Hi Y'all,

    Still playin' catch up.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog


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