Nordhouse Dunes, Part II

Our camping trip to Nordhouse Dunes was divided into two distinct segments.  John and I arrived on Wednesday, established camp, and did our usual hike/bike/read/relax thing.  So wonderful just to park our fat butts and do nothing.  On Sunday, everything changed.  John escaped to head farther north with three buddies to tent camp and bike for five days.  Yea!  Jezzy and I get the Fireball all to ourselves for the first time!

Caroline towed her Camp Inn teardrop trailer up to join us for a few days.  With her mountain bike perched on the car rooftop, she made a splashy entrance into the campground, and he snazzy rig was the object of many envious glances all week.20140720_164415 Everyone wanted to peer in the window, and check out her amazing clamshell kitchen.  With a tongue-and-groove hatch, and stainless countertop, it’s a camping machine. 20140720_164052 She and Greg have thousands of miles on it in the five years (or so) they’ve owned it, including a three month trip to Alaska.

Caroline and I solidified our friendship years ago on bicycles.  We’ve traveled on bikes to Spain and New Zealand, and at least six states.  Riding the beautiful wooded trails and gravel roads in NW Michigan was our goal, and we made the best of it. 20140722_094740 Gravel and sand, sunny and shady, we spent three terrific days on our bikes, precariously riding beyond our capabilities at times.  What a hoot.  Lots of great sights on lightly traveled roads/trails.20140722_10372620140722_104116

On one of the trails near the campground one day, we happened upon two hikers.  One of them had picked up a ‘hitchhiker’ on her shoe.20140722_093055

Great food.  Happy campers.20140726_07545320140720_174016

Did I mention that I finished four books in 10 days?  (one was 700+ pages).  Bliss…..

Caroline had to leave after a few days, so Jezzy and I had a bachelorette pad for three days of our own.  Lucky Jezzy had endless hours on the the leash, with me catering to every whim of sniffing this leaf and that stick.  What I didn’t cover on two wheels, I walked with Jezzy.

One interesting sight in camp involved a large motorhome, in which lived two adults and three enormous dogs.  20140722_115001These folks actually had to run their generator in order to power their dog’s blow-dryer.  Not sure how I feel about that (but the dogs were adorable – a Newfie and two Leonbergers.)  We were pleased to be able to keep the Fireball powered up for 10 days with our 120W solar system, despite the challenges of a VERY shady site.

John was finally delivered back to camp by his friends, after five wonderful days in Empire.  Great cycling in the area of Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.  Most beautiful area in Michigan.

Now we’re back home, and find that we’ve got mutant squirrels living nearby.  I thought I had spotted an albino squirrel one day while walking with Jezzy.  Not albino, just squirrels with white tails!  Gary Busey has kind of a mangy tail, and is easy to spot.20140730_123203 Farrah Fawcett has a huge, fluffy tail.20140730_123239 There are two more, but this is the first time I’ve seen any two together.

Should be an interesting weekend coming up, as we’re heading out in the Fireball.  Going to crew for a bunch of crazy cyclists riding 100 miles of dirt roads and two-tracks on The Night Shift.



Big Winds in Dead Horse

“Be careful,” said the Ranger as we checked into Dead Horse Point State Park, near Moab. “There’s a high wind alert for tonight. 50mph gusts. Also, there are no toilets in the campground, due to construction. But, there are two portajohns.”

“Water?” we asked.

“Not for your trailer, but there is a sink outside the (non-functioning) bathroom you can get drinking water from. Or, you can get water here at the Visitor Center, or use the flush toilets here.” (The VC is about 1/2 mile from the campground).

Perhaps, this was not the best start.

We were lucky to get setup before the wind started to knock us around. It was only 4pm or so – way too early to pack it in and hunker down for the evening. So, John decided to hike back to the Visitor Center to check out the exhibits and the movie (nearly all Visitor Centers have movies of their park, which we love). My job was to take Jezzy for her pre-dinner poop stroll. Heading out to Dead Horse Point seemed like a good choice, since it was only 1.5 miles each way.20140330_162434

Jezzy doesn’t like wind. When it’s windy, she thinks it may lead to thunder, and she HATES thunder (see posts on Thundershirt). But, she needs to learn that she doesn’t get to make ALL the decisions in our household. So, off we go on a trail, which heads out on the east rim of the Canyon, about 2000 feet above the Colorado River.

Every now and then we get pelted by a blast of rain. Dark clouds are rolling in, and the wind is definitely picking up. Jezzy’s not happy. I’m less than joyous myself, but we’re on a mission. 20140330_160629After a mile or so, we are headed to a narrow point on the Canyon rim, where we’re about to head out onto a thin strip of land known as Dead Horse Point. Legend has it that cowboys would round up wild mustangs and corral them at this point, about 30 yards wide. Fencing off the open side with scrub and brush, they would choose the horses they wanted to keep, and leave the unwanted horses on the point, and they would die of thirst.

Below, the Colorado River makes a 180 degree swing. It’s a spectacular viewpoint.
However, as we neared the neck of the point, the wind gusts nearly knocked me off my feet!  Jezzy was wild and frantic, trying to dodge behind me so that I could protect her. Me? I wanted to hide behind her! So, we retreated, without getting to see the famous bend.

Safely home, we battened down and got biffed around by gusts of 55mph. It was wild.20140330_160623 At one point, we headed out into the howling win to help out our tenting neighbor.  His tent had become unmoored from three of its four stakes, and was flailing around wildly – we feared it would become totally unhitched, and fling itself over the canyon wall.  He got it under control, but I’ll bet he’ll be sleeping with red dust in his sleeping bag for years.  Finally, around 2am, things settled down. Quiet prevails again.

In the calm of morning, we look with dismay at the interior of the Fireball.  Every surface is covered with a fine red grit.  Our soft slippers make scratchy noises on the floor, and our coffee cups sound like sandpaper on the tabletop.  We got just enough rain to set the dust into a red cement on the windows.  It’s awful enough that we just had to escape.

We headed out on the Trail again, and this time got to see the famous Dead Horse Point. 20140331_094852It was worth the wait.  We’ll get around to cleaning up some time later today.

Waterfall wonderland

John had tagged Robert Treman State Park as our next destination.  Its attraction is that it’s less than a three-hour drive from Cooperstown, so we figured to arrive and be setup before nightfall.  What an awesome state park!  We had nearly our pick of sites, and chose one of the primitive sites – we don’t need water or electric for a two-night stay.  There are few campers here in the 75 sites.  So far, so good.

We wanted to hike, and this park has several trails which wander past an assortment of waterfalls.  The walk was terrific – most of the time we were within earshot of the bubbling Enfield Creek, as it rolls downhill over a variety of waterfalls and rocky shoals.  We were suited up for rain, as it had just started to sprinkle as we left our site, but serious rain never materialized until later.

We started out climbing and climbing20131016_11063820131016_110800Two back to back staircases left us panting.  We pressed on.20131016_11210220131016_11285120131016_11342320131016_113709Even for a couple of experienced barricade jumpers like us, we it the dead end at Lucifer Falls.  The Upper Gorge Trail was closed, with no passing.  But, we did get a great view of the Falls, which drop 115 feet.20131016_114041  Turned back, we crossed the stream to cross the Cliff Staircase for another view.20131016_115644Returning to camp on the Rim Trail, we were astounded to find yet another waterfall, complete with a bathhouse and swimming area. 20131016_124923 Can’t imagine what a thrill it would be to be a kid and splash under a real waterfall.  This place must be a madhouse in the summer.20131016_132327Tomorrow we pack up and head out to a State Park called the Grand Canyon of the East.  Can it get any better than this?  We’re amazed at the wonderful camping we’ve found.

Jezzy has collected a faceful of leaves that she’s reluctant to surrender.20131016_140711One icky note…..found a tick embedded in my shoulder when I showered. tickHave to admit that I freaked out!   Dr. John took my pink tweezers to it, and dispatched it quickly.  We checked Jezzy over for the third time today, and we each got a more careful inspection.  No more!

Rustic New York

We’re creeping slowly eastward thru the Adirondacks.  Autumn has a firm grasp here – nights are cold, and the days are crisp and sunny.

along the road in Speculator, NY

We’ve had no phone service or wi-fi for four days now (or electric power for that matter), so many of the stories we had to tell have already faded.  Guess that’s why people keep journals and blogs, right?

After leaving the Finger Lakes area, we rolled thru the Adirondacks toward Putnam Pond State Park.  Some of the hills on the northern edge of the Lakes were huge and long.  At one point, as we were lumbering up a mile-long hill, John looked down at the speedometer and noted that we were getting a whopping 4 gmpg!  “It’s going to cost us a dollar just to get up this hill”, he commented.  What’s going to happen when we really get into the mountains?  Guess we’ll find out.

Putnam Pond is incredibly beautiful.  We like rustic & remote, and this was right up our alley.  20130923_115303The aging facilities were spotless – not hurt at all by the fact that we were one of only two campers in the entire park.  Overhead, flocks of geese passed by about every 15 minutes.  Must have been thousands that went by in the two days we were there – probably headed to the Montezuma Refuge.

We took a long hike, which nearly ended in tragedy. We had been hiking for a couple hours, and determined that we were truly alone in the woods. 20130923_124018 So, foolishly we let Jezzy off her leash.  She would hang with us, and we moved along the trail, climbing and descending, sometimes over a hard rock surface, and other times over deep cushions of pine needles.  Suddenly, Jezzy stood up on her hind legs to get a glimpse of something.  Like a shot, she tore off thru the woods, her six foot dragging behind her, still attached to her bright red harness.  John and I looked at each other dumbly, then he took off after her, saying “you stay on the Trail”.  I could hear her high-pitched excited bark occasionally, quickly moving away.  Could also hear John’s  “Jezzy, come!” also quickly receding in the thick woods.  After 20 minutes or so, I could hear nothing.  I called out a few times, and started to count loudly, hoping to give John a sense of where I was.  Nothing.  Such a feeling of hopelessness and despair – you cannot imagine.

Another 10 minutes went by, and I could hear something – John, but no Jezzy.  John was pretty dirty – he had slid down an embankment in his pursuit.  He felt we should go back to the spot where Jezzy first took off, so we went about 200 yards back down the trail.  Less than a minute later, as we were trying to get our heads around the situation, Jezzy came crashing thru the brush – her harness and leash gone somewhere, but her collar and id tags still firmly attached.  She was thirsty, but quite unaware of the emotional turmoil she had caused.  Lesson learned….she will NEVER EVER get off-leash again.  Ever.

We’ve moved onto Rogers Rock State Park, just 20 miles or so down the road, just a few miles from Ticonderoga (or Ti, as we now call it). We’ve got a campsite right on Lake George, with our own private patio on the beach.

our private 'patio' on Lake George

Still no cell service or electric power, but a spectacular site.  Again, we are nearly the only campers in this 250 site park.

As we sat outside during cocktail hour our first evening, we saw a “loaded” cyclist ride into a campsite nearby.  Loaded cyclists are those who are carrying all their gear on the bike while traveling, either in panniers (saddlebags) or pulling a small trailer.  Curious to hear her stories, we invited her over in the evening, and again for breakfast.  Beth was completing her first solo tour – cycling around the Adirondack area for a week. 20130925_095531 After breakfast, she headed to Ti to catch the ferry to Vermont, where her car was parked.  Then home to New Hampshire, and her job as a hospice nurse.  Gritty and gutsy.  Good show.

Yesterday was a cycling trip up to Ft. Ticonderoga – site of the first victory for the Americans over the British in the Revolutionary War by Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys. 20130925_135817Interesting displays and a stunningly beautiful site.


Today, we’re crossing into Vermont.  Hope to find phone service along the way somewhere to post, and to check in with family.

Jezzy and The Thundershirt

Sounds a bit like a young kid’s adventure series, doesn’t it?  Unfortunately, not.

From the very day I brought Jezzy home from the Humane Society, she’s been terrified of storms, loud noises, blowing plastic bags, shopping carts, and (most of all) 4th of July week.  She’s got at least a dozen things that terrify her.  The panting, crouching, and frantic running from one of her ‘safe’ spots in the house to another are painful to witness.  Holidays with fireworks are  particularly awful.

One summer, soon after Jezzy came to live with me (she’s now about 7), I asked my vet for some doggie downers to help her thru 4th of July week.  She gave me a packet of pills.  With an approaching thunderstorm one evening soon after that, I gave Jezzy about 1/2 the dose, and hoped for the best.  The drugs turned her into a drooling, weak-kneed, shadow of our fuzzy pal. Needless to say, the remainder of that medication hit the trash.

Since then, John and I have tried to be home when we know fireworks are likely to be exploded nearby (our neighborhood seems to have a particular love of M-80s), or when severe weather approaches.  But, as each event brings new terror to Jezzy, I’m less willing to sit by and try to offer what feeble comfort we can administer.

Enter the Thundershirt.

Jezzy sporting the Thundershirt.  No problem in getting her into it at all.

Jezzy sporting the Thundershirt.  Goes on easily and snugs up nicely.

Although I don’t know of anyone who personally has used one of these, ringing endorsements have come my way.  It apparently applies gentle pressureWhy not try it?  Thirty bucks for a bit of calm for Jezzy is a pittance.  So, she and I walked over to our local pet supply warehouse, Chow Hound (I LOVE supporting local retail), and tried one on for size.  Our purchase received a ringing endorsement from the couple behind us in the checkout lane.

I’ll let you know how it works.  This week promises to be a wild one….lots of big heat, which will probably generate late afternoon thunderstorms.  It will be a good test for Jezzy’s Hell week, which begins around July 1.  Not expecting anything miraculous, but a bit of relief for our best girl would be welcome, indeed.

Feeling more serene already.

Feeling more serene already.