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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Beauty of the Desert

I love the darkness of the desert at night, with zillions of stars twinkling overhead. Gazing into the desert sky is another way that the desert makes me feel small - it puts me in my place.

Since we arrived in the evening, I set up a tripod almost right away and pointed it toward the North Star. There wasn't time for creativity - just a simple time lapse series of the stars spinning around Polaris. The series comprised about two and a half hours. No planes went overhead during that time and one shooting star appeared - a small one to the left of the North Star.
We slept while my camera took tons of sky photos, and we were up fairly early the next morning to explore the canyon.

First the view from above. It's easy to climb up the slickrock that comprises the canyon walls and peek over the edge at the canyon. My bike stayed back from the edge.
I tip toed to the edge, and peeked at the canyon. You can barely see the narrow dirt road that runs along the canyon floor. That's where Shyla and I rode.
We were both overjoyed to be in a new environment that was warm and sunny.
Shyla explored the sides of the canyon, climbing among the rocks.
We passed the most well known part of the canyon, a huge wall adorned with pictographs, drawn by ancient people.
It's hard to get a sense of scale from the photo above, except if you look at the fence that is near the bottom of the wall. In fact, there's even a person just to the left of center looking at the pictographs. He is tiny compared to the wall (and almost impossible to pick out).

Here, I zoomed in on him. You can also see the red pictographs that are life-sized depictions of people.
It was a wonderful first day in the desert with the promise of many more canyons to explore!

Monday, March 30, 2015

An escape

We made an escape last week from the Colorado mountains to the Utah desert - and we were completely unplugged from the outside world. It was a long drive to get to the desert (for my spine, anything more than 45 minutes is long!) but it was worth it. We pulled off the highway to camp at the mouth of a desert canyon replete with pictographs and towering sculpted walls of rock.

Upon our arrival, we had barely missed sunset but we were just in time for moonset. It was the day after the New Moon, and a tiny sliver was illuminated. And, the rest of the moon was visible too. I'm not sure why but it was exquisitely beautiful.
Our timing was amazing.
And then the moon disappeared from view.

We had a glorious time in the desert. Shyla and I enjoyed sunny and warm mountain bike rides through terrain that bore no resemblance to our mountain trails.
Each afternoon, we lazed around in the sunshine, enjoying the unique feeling that the desert gives us. For me, it reminds me that I am a tiny blip in the universe, both in terms of my lifetime and the universe's endless horizons.

I love that we still visit some of the same places where we have gone with previous generations of dogs, including Angel K. It reminds me of the links that tie us to the previous generations of our little pack.

Most importantly, it reminds me to live in the moment, sharing our love with our current generation, because time passes far too quickly to waste a moment. On this trip, I felt like Shyla and I had become a true team, a pair of best friends who love playing together, especially mountain biking. My heart swelled with love for her.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Black Dog Sunday

From a dignified dog... a racing hound (who always finds a way to outrace his sister, either with speed or mild intimidation).
We love our black dog!

Saturday, March 28, 2015


Perspective. I've gained some over the years. Sometimes, I focus too much on my dogs doing a trick perfectly...
...rather than looking in their eyes and seeing how earnestly they are trying.
Looking in their eyes and seeing their spirits is what makes a bond that lasts. I've truly fallen for this sweet girl.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sunrise and Sunset

I love days when I'm out for both sunrise and sunset. One morning recently, Shyla and I enjoyed the beauty of the deep red sunlight early in the morning.
And then, in the evening, we were out when the clouds turned purple at sunset.
It was my favorite kind of day!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Dog Tricks

I spend more time practicing tricks with the Duo in the winter than at other times of year. Shyla and I have mainly been working on her learning the names of her toys. I say "Find Ring", and she needs to go to the big pile of toys and bring me the one we've labeled "ring". She's learned pretty fast and knows the names of four toys so far.

We've also been practicing the trick of balancing a treat on Shyla's nose, tossing it in the air, and catching it. She's mastered the first two steps. Balancing it and tossing it.
The problem comes in the catching the treat after she tosses it. This one was a definite miss.
Closer on this one...
A success!!!
R is a master at this trick except when I try to take photos. He's learned that I can't enforce that he must wait with the treat on his nose while I get ready with the camera. So, he tosses it and catches it before I snap a single photo. He's smarter than I am!

We've also had fun with the dogs trying to learn to do tricks next to each other. They each independently know some of the same tricks. However, I've discovered that they immediately "forget" how to do the tricks when they are side-by-side. Over the winter, I taught them to wave simultaneously while side-by-side. However, I don't have any photos because they "forget" how to wave when I take out the camera! Slowly introducing the camera is the next step in that trick.

But, they did let me take a photo of them taking bows next to each other! You can see their different styles - Shyla likes to have her chin on the ground and R doesn't. But I was thrilled that they cooperated for a photo!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Shyla at Sunrise

The days of experiencing that special sunrise light are becoming rarer, making these photos more precious to me.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Mornings

Sunrise is accelerating earlier and earlier, making it harder for Shyla and me to see it.
I can't complain - that means that spring is here. The Robins have returned, much to my delight!
And they sing in their beautiful voices when Shyla and I are out early in the morning.
I love the sound of birds singing on a springtime morning!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Moose Monday

When the moose cow and calf were hanging around near our house, I watched the calf closely one day through a telephoto lens. First, he scratched his face with his rear hoof.
And then, he shook, like a dog does after going in water.

He ended his "shake" by sticking out his tongue!
One of the very nice things that I learned about Shyla during the moose visit was that she's a very calm and quiet wildlife watcher. She'd gladly sat close to me while I watched the moose from afar through my telephoto lens.
R doesn't have the patience for this role but I'm glad that Shyla does!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring - Rocky Mountain Style

On the first day of spring, Shyla and I started with playing in the snow. I asked her to "bring" the toys, and she was temporarily confused about how to "bring" two toys. She decided to make two trips. Smart dog!
Then we visited a trail camera that has been "snowed in" for 6 weeks. I found two fun photos on it. Look in between the trees at the flying deer. What an athlete.
And then, a couple of days later, a coyote passed the camera. He sure looks young and cute to me.
Although it doesn't look much like spring outside yet, we have daffodils in our kitchen to put us in the spring state of mind.
Happy Spring to all my northern hemisphere friends!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Moose, moose, moose!

The past few days have brought winter back. It's been cloudy, colder, and snowing at times.
We've had a moose pair hanging out nearby. I've been seeing them a couple of times per day. I feel pretty sure that the mother moose must recognize me by now.
I can't believe that they can survive on what I observe them eating. Douglas fir branches? They can't be very tasty.
They seem to eat for a while and then lie in the snow. I've never seen them lie on bare ground (there are some snowless areas now!). I think that they must like the coolness of the snow.

Here was mom, chewing as she lay in the snow.
Here was Junior, lying near his mom one morning.
I also see them in the evenings. I imagine mom thinking, "You again?". They've been smack in the middle of one of the only packed and easily traversed trails so it's been hard to avoid them.
 And, after spotting me the other evening, she turned around and did this!
I think that maybe it was a message! Actually, I believe that the pair moved on this morning. Although I've enjoyed watching them, I'll also enjoy a break from worrying about them!

I'm starting to know how to read the mother's body language better now. The pair was in a big open area where I could watch from far away for a couple of days. I could see how the mother's posture changed when she got nervous about me, and then I could discern when she relaxed again. Knowing more about their body language and how I can prevent them from getting nervous will help me in the future, assuming that I don't accidentally ride near one without seeing her ahead of time.

With all the clouds, we've had a few nice sunsets. One was absolutely spectacular but I couldn't find any way to go around the moose pair to photograph it from a high point. Another was also pretty, and the moose pair had kindly vacated my favorite spot so I could photograph it. It was foggy and cloudy, creating a muted but colorful sunset.
Life has become quite exhausting all of a sudden. I've had a string of small health setbacks, and they've left me tired. I'm going to take it easy over the coming week so my posts may be short and sporadic. Thanks in advance for your patience!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

New Arrival

Still Here

Definitely Still Here