Monday, September 30, 2013

Mile 5555: Kansas and Oklahoma

Although today’s drive was a bit longer than yesterday, it wasn’t nearly as arduous for either of us. Because I asked River to sit still in his cage through two classes and a very long car ride, all back to back without release or complaint and he did remarkably well, I wanted to reward him today with a lot of attention to his comfort and needs.

Before we hit the road from Kansas City, we stopped to play in a park. River hadn’t had a chance to really break into a full on run in a while, and he was making up for lost time this morning. 

Once he seemed to peter out, I got him in the car and we hit the highway for Oklahoma City. 

Mini Nav was taking me on a route that was going to go down Missouri and Alabama and then cut across right into Oklahoma City, but since I already drove through Missouri yesterday, I altered my route to go through Wichita and then down south from there, so I could drive through Kansas and Oklahoma.
Still THREE MORE hours to Wichita?!

Kansas was pretty, considering how much nothing there was. I did notice something I don’t really see a lot of; ponds.

At some point in Kansas, we stopped in a Rest Area and ran around for a good half an hour until he was pooped again. And, he also pooped again. I let him lounge outside the car for a little bit before getting back in, to help further break up the day.

Once we got into Oklahoma, I got the feeling it was trying not to let us get out. There was a highway closure as we got into Tulsa, and no indication of any detour or alternate route to take to get out, just a “Road Closed” sign.

I stopped in Tulsa to find a place to grab a bite to eat and we found a really nice dog friendly restaurant with out door seating and I got a catfish and hushpuppy salad. River lied on the ground near my chair and ate pieces of bread and some kibble I brought along. 

So a few more miles down the road, we get into a town called Okmulgee, there was a horrible accident that seemed to involve multiple cars and trucks and took out the electricity for a few blocks around, including the traffic signals. There were probably a dozen police and emergency vehicles with their lights flashing, and a man directing traffic to turn just before the wreckage. And the entire town seemed to turn out to check it out, as the sidewalks were full of people milling around and saying how awful it was.

So I couldn’t figure out how to get around this major closure of a lone highway in the middle of Oklahoma. I finally pulled off the road and zoomed in on the map to find a side street that looked like it opened onto the highway a few miles down the road. It was a small, residential road that I was on for a while, but finally, I got back on the main highway.

Night had fallen by then, so the last two hours were a straight shot that I didn’t see much of. Today will be the last day I have off, without teaching responsibilities or massage clients for almost a week, so I’m glad it was such a nice, leisurely one.
River ready for bed


Waiting for the bus to St. Louis at a depot in Edwardsville, IL
Today was sure to be an interesting day. It was the most ambitious undertaking of this entire trip.

I woke up in Caseyville and headed over to Edwardsville to teach a 90 minute MEGA ROCKIN class at Gaia Studio.  Tracy Stamper put the ball in motion, when we connected on Facebook, but passed the torch onto Sally Burgess who organized and hosted the class. 

We had a nice group of very seasoned Nia teachers, and the class went great. It was over before I knew it. Usually after class I like to stick around and chat and let everyone who wants to, meet River. But today I had to make a quick getaway and only had time for a few pictures and brief conversations as I was breaking down the cage and loading the car.

I didn’t even have time to shower or change clothes or eat anything. I loaded the car and headed to Kansas City. 

Google maps said it was just over a four hour drive from Edwardsville, Illinois to Kansas City, Missouri. It was now noon and I had a class at 5pm in KC. When I started up my navigation, it told me that I would be arriving around 4:15pm. I was relieved to see that, and to know that I might have time to stop if I need to.

My gas gauge showed that I had almost exactly the right amount of gas to get me to the studio; with maybe a half gallon to spare. 

So all was going well on the drive as I watched the numbers adjust due to current conditions. As we were leaving the St. Louis area, I saw The Arch. I was surprised at it’s size. It might have just been an illusion from the perspective I got, but I expected it to be bigger.

As i drove, my ETA changed from as early as 4:08 to as late as 4:29, and my gas gauge showed sometimes that I could drive to the studio with 15 miles worth of gas left, or that I would run out on the way if I didn’t refuel. I kept weighing the options of stopping for gas or a quick bite of food, but decided to keep pressing on.

I drove over the Mississippi River. It’s the first time I’ve seen it, but have heard about it all my life. And just as we were driving over the Missouri River, our trip odometer passed 5000 miles.

In this video, I shot the Mississippi River as we drove over a bridge, and then I shot Kansas City as we drove into downtown.

About 50 miles outside of Kansas City traffic stopped! Literally stopped to zero MPH as if we were all parking there in a long row. After a minute or so, the congestion moved as a unit as a snails pace. I tried not to panic, but I saw my ETA go from a luxurious 4:20 to a more risky 4:39. And the amount of gas that I was using went up in the 20 minutes of stop and go traffic, to the point that I was concerned that I’d need to fill up before I could make it. And with my arrival time pushing closer and closer to 5pm, the option of stopping for gas was starting to mean that it would make me late. 

Finally, we passed the spot where the road construction had closed down one lane, and once we got to the point where both lanes were open, we started to flow again. 

And we made it to the studio at about 4:40.  No one but my host, Marcelle, was there. She was setting up a reserved parking space for me right in front of the studio door, which was very thoughtful. Moments after we arrived, throngs of people started showing up. I was able to visit the rest room and take River on a quick pee break on a nearby lawn before going inside and setting everything up. 

Poor River. I have never made him stay in the car without stopping for this long. It was over four hours and he never complained. He mostly slept the whole way and sat up once or twice to look out the window.  Having his head in my lap and scratching his ears lightly as I drive does wonders for keeping me relaxed in traffic.

Speaking of which, what is up with you, Missouri?  Why so rushed and rude? So far I’ve found three states that absolutely refuse to follow the speed limit and not only that, give me attitude for not joining them in their flagrant disobedience of the law. When the speed limit is 70, I set my cruise control for 73. Generally two or three MPH over the posted maximum speed limit. But in Missouri, Michigan and Ohio, they weren’t having it. I was not only being passed on the left and right, but I was being flashed with headlights, tailgated and flipped the finger and honked at. I’m trying to figure out what they are communicating to me. It seems to be, “How dare you go the speed limit when I want to speed.” If I were going under the speed limit, at least their obnoxious behavior would make sense to me, but no, they are incensed that I won’t break the law along with them. It sort of makes me sad to think that they are so anxious and suffering from “There is better than here” syndrome. Maybe they need a dogs head in their lap to calm them down and allow them to enjoy being where they are. 

We had over 30 people in class in Kansas City. and it was a ROCKIN great time. I love to see all the smiling faces as the familiar songs come on and to watch them as they dance my moves to these classic tunes.

After class, I was able to drive to the nearest gas station, although my indicator said my tank was empty and the number of miles I could drive was at 0.0. Just to be safe, I put it in Neutral when could and coasted down the street to the nearest BP.

River still seems to be suffering from his Swimmer’s Itch. Or at least that’s what I’m thinking it is as the onset seems to coincide with our explorations of the Great Lakes. It breaks my heart to see him every once in a while go frantic on himself. I can relate to the feeling of having itchy skin for whatever reason and how irritating it can be. I can also see how strongly he reacts when I scratch him; something he didn’t really used to care about that much, now sends him into ecstasy. I’ve put coconut oil on him twice, but I think we may need to go for something stronger. 


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Our Lakebound Journey Turns into a Southwestern Trek

Suited up for hittin' the road
Two days ago, our journey continued east, just past Buffalo, past Lockport where we saw the Erie Canal, and to a small town in New York called Olcott. Here we found beach access to Lake Ontario and satisfied the first part of our quest for this tour; to touch all five Great Lakes. After playing for less than a minute in the cold water, we went back to the grassy park nearby. 

That was three days ago. Ever since we sat in that grandstand at Olcott Beach Park near Lake Ontario, our lives have pretty much consisted of driving, southwesterly, over not too terribly interesting terrain.
...saw some corn...

We drove from Olcott back to Cleveland the first night and didn’t get back in until about midnight. The drive took about ten hours total, each way. Pretty long drive to go to a park for fifteen minutes. But this was a very special park for a very special reason, so it was worth the long drive. 

On the way out to the lake, I was concerned that I had only brought my short pants with me, but it didn’t turn out to be that cold. On the way back from the lake, I was regretting not bringing the cooler and my food. My idea was that we’d drive four hours out there and then have a nice long lunch and then drive four hours back and have dinner. But it didn’t work out that way. It took much longer to drive out there, including breaks. And I ended up eating my lunch about halfway to the lake, in a rest area in Pennsylvania. By the time I was on the way back from the lake I was very hungry and ended up stopping at a roadside burger shack for a quick cheeseburger and fries, that River had to sit and watch me eat. 

Yesterday morning, we woke up and got right back in the car for the drive from Cleveland to Indianapolis, which wasn’t too exciting. I was surprised how big Ohio is. Much of the drive the previous night was in Ohio and much of this drive went through it for hours as well. River perked up immediately upon our entering Columbus; he seems to want to go back there and investigate more. I’d be interested in seeing more of Cincinnati. 

We stopped at a Wal-Mart parking lot somewhere to chase each other and take a break from driving, but other than that, it was a straight shot. 

We got into Indianapolis just in time for me to meet with a client for a massage. After that, I spent the rest of the evening looking around for some good food. As I usually do when I’m out of food, or when I’m not in the mood to eat what I have, I checked Yelp and Urban Spoon for some nearby restaurants that I could order take out from. I kept getting pointed to this place that seemed to change names a few times but kept getting enthusiastic reviews. I was shocked when I got it. I don’t know if I found the wrong place or if I am really hard to please, or if Indianapolitans are easy to please, but I found the dish I got to be very mediocre and way too sweet. Or maybe I just ordered the wrong thing.

I had intended to meet with a friend when I got into town, but after all the driving and the lack of sleeping, combined with the not-too-nourishing meal, I just felt tired and hoped to meet her for breakfast instead. She, unfortunately had a class to teach in the morning, so we didn’t get a chance to connect. 

So this morning, once again, we pile right into the car and hit the highway.

Ever since talking to the Mini Dealers in Milwaukee as I waited for my car to be serviced, I’ve been toying around with using the Sport feature in my Cooper Countryman S differently. My dealer in Seattle had told me when I bought it that using the Sport feature “may cause a dip in my gas mileage” which I didn’t give much thought to, because I liked the zoom zoom feel of it. I even asked him, and others, “Why would I ever turn that feature off?” seriously asking for a reply, but no one seemed to answer it with more than a shrug.  But when I asked these guys in Milwaukee, one of them says, “well it’ll zap your gas mileage.” And that struck me as very different. I can accept ‘may dip’ but a ‘zap’ that’s serious!

Ever since then, I’ve been using the Sport feature only when I want to be accelerating, and then I turn it off when I’ve reached my cruising speed. It turns out to be a lot better to drive that way, in the first place. Changing speeds gradually, as done in highway driving, is much smoother in regular mode than Sport mode.

Almost immediately after starting to do this, I noticed my gas mileage start to increase. It had never been higher than 30.3 when it started to go down due to cheap gas in the midwest. Since discovering BP Supreme it went back up to 30.3 and stayed there for days, until I stopped driving in Sport mode on the highway. It is now showing my average MPG at an all-time high of 30.6.

Once we entered Indiana, we stopped for a picnic at a rest area. 

Then we got back in the car and drove almost all the way to Missouri. We’re just a few miles from St. Louis now, in a town called Caseyville, Illinois. It’s close enough to St Louis to have come up in my search when I looked for Nia in St. Louis, so it must be considered a suburb.

River is still itching all over. This place has a nice tub, with a seat in it. I think its a sign that River needs a bath. I hope he doesn’t mind Dr Bronner’s Castile Soap.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Visiting Lake Ontario

We slept in a little bit this morning, and I decided to do some laundry. So we didn’t get started right away.

The only way I was going to be able to fit Lake Ontario into my itinerary was to stay two nights in Cleveland and use the second day to make a day trip to the lake. It was going to be about four or five hours each direction.

First, we drove through Ohio to get to Pennsylvania. As we got further east, I noticed more and more colors in the landscape. Purples, different kinds of greens, yellow, white, red and shades of amber.

We stopped to eat at the Pennsylvania state line.
Stopping for a picnic lunch at the Pennsylvania state line

Back on the road and soon we were passing through New York wine country.

It was three hours into the day and we were still next to Lake Erie. I had to rethink being impressed by taking a whole hour to drive all the way around Flathead Lake in Montana.

We drove over the Erie Canal and finally, Lake Ontario started showing up on the map and I could start looking for beach access.
Kickin it at Olcutt Beach. Yes, that's Lake Ontario in the background.

I was lucky, because the sun was about to set, and the first place I investigated turned out to be pretty cool. There was a park with some grass for running, and a gazebo for lounging in, and there was some pretty cool lake access down some narrow stone stairs.

After spending over four hours driving, you’d think that we’d spend more than fifteen minutes in the park, but no. We turned around and headed right back. 

In the dark, I don’t enjoy driving as much. I don’t really notice things, and in fact, I find it easy to miss things. And River isn’t very lively, either. He slept most of the way home. 

We’re back in the room, the five Great Lakes and a sixth have been conquered on this trip. River is scratching himself like crazy right now. I put some coconut oil on him in hopes that it would soothe him but he’s still going at it. I’m afraid the local fleas have taken a liking to him or he’s got some sort of algae from the lakes?

I will say that my shoes haven’t recovered from being in Lake Erie. I couldn’t wear them today, they stunk so bad.

Here’s hoping River’s skin stops itching soon. I hate to see him suffer. But he doesn’t look good. His coat is so shiny now. And smells good, too. 

Lunch on Lake Erie

Today we woke up in Ann Arbor and played on the grass outside of our room for a while. We met a few people who are big fans of dogs and especially pit bulls. River made a lot of friends that morning, as he was being particularly playful and sociable. I think he liked the idea of having a big lawn right outside the room door.

We headed to the local farmers market, which I found out was on Wednesday mornings. It was a nice one, and I got a few things before I found out that dogs weren't allowed. :(  So we had to cut our shopping spree short.

So we got in the car and headed east. What I typically do is look on the map and find a city that has a park near the shore of the lake I'm interested in, and then I set my GPS to navigate us toward that city. Once I'm near the lake, I zoom in and look at which streets go closest to the shore and especially those streets with a park.
A bridge on the highway leading into Cleveland

Driving into Ohio, I was struck by how industrial it is. There are signs on many of the highway exits saying "No H.M." which I assume means No Hazardous Materials.

I thought, "Wow, it's such a common occurrence that they not only need a sign to prevent it, but they can get away with using a colloquial lingo on the street sign."

The first attempt at getting to Lake Erie was a fail. I landed on a long stretch of private property. The shore views were great, but once again, as was the case with Lake Huron, I could only catch fleeting glimpses of the lake in between houses as we drove by.  That wasn't good enough.

So I stopped a man I saw walking his dog. I figured he was a local so I asked him about the nearest beach access and he pointed me to a bird refuge called Crane Creek. He said we couldn't swim in the water, but that we could go on the beach. That was all I wanted. Well, I did want to get my feet wet, but that's not 'swimming' now, is it?

So we headed to Crane Creek.  The video is some of the drive we took from the highway to the lake. Driving through the bird refuge was pretty. And River seemed really interested in what was out there. If you'll notice in the first part of the video, as is typical for him, he's casually looking out the window or looking through the windshield. But when we get inside the bird refuge, he stuck his nose out the window and was visibly anticipating getting out of the car and exploring further.

I also took a shot of my GPS, which shows that we're following a road that seems to end just feet from the shore of the lake. I thought it was interesting that we were so close to the lake, but if we didn't know it was there, we could never tell.

So we stopped and had lunch on the shore. We both got our feet wet, but didn't spend any time really frolicking in the water as we sometimes do.
Lunch on the shore of Lake Erie

After lunch we had just enough time to get to the motel room, check in, and get ready for Nia class.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but the practice of teaching Nia classes like I do, all over the country is surreal. I walk into a strange place, set up River's crate and teach class to a room full of people I've never met before. And then I break down the cage and leave town. The feeling is hard to describe, but it very often feels like it's not real because it is so strange and mostly effortless. Much gratitude goes to my producers who might take umbrage to the term "effortless" but from my perspective, I really just walk into an unfamiliar place and do my thing and leave.

Having said that, I must say that tonight's class was even more so than most. Angela Huang was my producer and she is certainly a woman of few words and zero Facebook presence. Even her internet presence was mysterious because I was able to open her website once, but whenever I went back, I got a notice saying that there was a security problem and I was being blocked for my protection. (Thanks Apple).

So today, not having heard a word from Angela since months ago when we set up this gig, I just show up at the address I was given. It seemed to be a home. But I did see the Nia logo out front, so I figured I was in the right place. No one was around yet, as I was half an hour early.

But the doubts started creeping in. I double checked my time and date and address; all correct. I had no phone number, so River and I just practiced our obedience skills in the driveway.

Eventually the students started showing up and informed me that the studio was in the back.

It was a great class. There were many Nia teachers in the class and the students were mostly all very familiar with the practice. This makes teaching it such a breeze. Before I knew it, the class was over and the 20 or so new friends I had just made began to disperse. They invited me to come back, and there was even a comment about when I planned to relocate to Ohio.

After class, a few of us hung around in the lobby of the studio and chatted. Angela brought out some homemade chocolate which was incredible; made with raw cocoa and coconut oil. They were telling me about how I shouldn't miss seeing the Metro Parks. I hadn't seen any, but they seemed really proud of them, so I will see if I can squeeze in a visit to one while I'm here. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Finding Huron

We got a relatively early start this morning so that we could have all day to track down this elusive thing known as “the shore of Lake Huron”. 

Yesterday we came up pretty empty handed considering we not only didn’t get our feet wet in the lake, we were not even able to find a decent, unobstructed view of it.

Last night I looked at a map and noted two cities that were right up against the shore of the lake and had parks in them. I entered those two cities in my GPS and hit the road.

We drove past what seemed like corn fields for about two hours until finally we came to
our first stop, which was in Sanilac. I found a park right next to a harbor. So we were able to see the lake and we could play near it, but it still escaped our reach.

I captured a pretty funny video of River being scared by a drinking fountain that looks like a lion head.  Here, you'll see us driving through the corn, then the scary lion in the park and finally, our connecting to Lake Huron.

Then we got back in the car and made a short trip to Burtchville Township Park and finally we found it!! Shore access. So we both got our feet wet in Lake Huron today.

We played there for a bit, ate some food and then headed back down to Ann Arbor, where I had two appointments set up for massages in the motel room.

The thing that I've noticed about Michigan drivers is they love to speed. In fact, when I drive at the speed limit, they get really upset with me. I set my cruise control for three MPH over the posted speed limit. I figure it allows for the 2 MPH discrepancy that I've noticed between my speedometer and those radar speeding signs that tell you how fast you're going. And then it also allows another 1 MPH over the speed limit so I can feel like I'm getting away with something, but it won't get me in trouble. And the locals just won't have it.  I was honked at at least four times and a couple of people gave me some hand signals that basically mean "I don't like the way you drive". And it felt like everyone was furiously passing me on both sides no matter what I did.

And I kept checking the speed limit and yes, I was going the proper speed. But I guess, to Michiganians, 70 MPH just isn't fast enough.

It got really drastic in Detroit, where the speed limit through the city is 55. I think everyone wanted to go 80.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Super Human Rock & Roll FloorPlayShop

Jason is bringing Super Human Rock Nia back to Olympia. This time in the form of Super Human FloorPlayShop.

Wednesday, October 23
6:00 - 8:00 pm
Motion in Balance Studio
219 Legion Way
Studio 203-A
Olympia, WA

Contact Julia Annis on Facebook for more information or to reserve your spot

In this playshop, JAG will discuss, teach and demonstrate how we can use our bodies in the most efficient way possible, allowing us to tap into our own Super Human capabilities. And then he uses classic rock music to guide us in a Nia routine that allows us to practice being Super Human in many of the major Nia movements.

There will be a fun, extended FloorPlay section in which JAG will play around with many ways to condition and heal the body using a big wool blanket and a slippery wooden floor.

Come and rock! Come and play! Come and get your Super Human on.

River, the wonder dog will also be there. He loves meeting new people. He'll hang out in his cage while we do our work, but he'll be available for meet and greet before and after class.

Lake Huron (almost)

This morning it was so nice to sleep as late as my body wanted to, and to take two hours to get ready and on the road. We passed the 3000 mile mark for the trip on our way out of Chicago. I’ve discovered that BP has a 93 octane gasoline and I’ve been using for the last few tanks. My average MPG has gone back up to 30.3 as of today.

We left Chicago through a village called Rosewood and saw a lot of really cool parks. We definitely want to come to back to Chicago and spend some time; it seems like a really cool city. 

The goal for today was to get to experience Lake Huron. It was a long drive. We passed through Indiana, appropriately nicknamed the Crossroads of America, and soon we were in Michigan.

We stopped at Rest Areas now and then, to eat and stretch our legs, but other than that made a pretty straight shot to the lake. It was almost sunset by the time we got to the shore so we didn’t have much time. I found that the places where the map showed close access to the lake, it was all private property and the houses were blocking the lake. 

As I drove through a residential area, I could sneak peeks of the lake in between the homes.

In the video, the lake is hard to see because of the sun’s glare, but the end of the video is probably the best view of the lake we got. Here it is:

Lake Huron

I think it’s appropriate that the chain link fence is in front of it. It symbolizes how restricted the coastline was from us.
River enjoying Lake Huron

We drove about ten minutes south of the lake to a town called Saginaw where we stopped for the night.

I asked the guy at the front desk at Motel 6 if I could have a room with a microwave and he told me there were no microwaves on site except for that one he pointed to in the lobby. That was fine with me, so I didn’t pursue it. I notice that the room he gave me was a handicap access room and I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to park in front of it because it was a blue, handicapped parking spot. I almost went back to the office and asked if I could have room 129 instead because that one had a parking space in front. In the end, I decided it wasn’t worth it and just walked the few doors down with all the bags and the crate. When I get into the room, I see it is a massively spacious room with a microwave and a mini fridge.

I heated up some broccoli and lamb chops that I that bought at the Brookfield, WI farmers market and cooked in an oven in Milwaukee. Some of the fermented vegetables I got at the Co-op in Duluth rounded out the meal nicely. For dessert, I can have some chocolate covered malt balls courtesy of Jill Campana and The Nutman.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Chicago and Lake Michigan

It’s been three days since I had to pack everything into the car; I didn’t miss that. But today was my last day in Brookfield.  Again, I wasn’t able to sleep in as late as I’d have liked, especially considering how late it was before I went to bed last night. But I was going to meet a friend from New York who had since moved to Chicago and wanted to make me lunch.

It was only about a ninety minute drive, but I had to get up early enough to pack everything into the car, shower, check out and get my coffee.

We had a lovely meal with my friend Kelly, her husband Letham and their twin son and daughter.  They were still pre-speech toddlers, but when they saw River they would make barking sounds at him. He was interested in the children, as they were in him, but they weren’t interested enough to want to get close to him. In fact, at one point when Kelly put one of them on the ground to interact with River, upon being face to face with the dog, he immediately started to cry.

Kelly made a wonderful, simple meal out of roasted potatoes, shredded Brussel’s sprouts, broccoli and pork roast. We also took a little walk around the neighborhood. It was actually so cool to see River walking right next to the baby stroller. He looked so much the “Nanny Dog” part, and he seemed to take to it.

After lunch, they went to their swimming lessons and River and I took the opportunity to check out Lake Michigan, the second of our Great Lakes. We found a sandy beach and played with one of the new toys we got in Wisconsin.

We played until it was time to check into the motel in Chicago: 3pm. I wanted to take a nap, but I had to shower and eat and re-arrange my playlist. Tonight’s class was a 90 minute version I call MEGA ROCKIN.

Catherine Ehret was my producer for this event and we had a nice, full room of Rockers. Three of them were brand new to Nia, and I think all of them are hooked now. I cautioned the class that a 90 minute exercise class is an injury waiting to happen if they don’t pace themselves properly, but I don’t think I took my own advice. I didn’t get injured, but I was going full bore the whole time and after class I felt extremely acidic in my stomach and was almost nauseated. 

Cathy and I had talked about going out to dinner after class, but when she suggested going to an Irish Pub, I was filled with dread. In my state, I couldn’t fathom enjoying going to a pub and being social. All I wanted to do was shower off and lay down and be quiet. She understood. Although I would have loved to spend more time with my new friend, I had to honor my body. As she said, “this won’t be the last time.”  So we can make a point of socializing the next time. 

She had come to the Seventies class yesterday at Sacred Space, so we had a conversation then. I’m glad we did, but I wish we could have gone out tonight, too. 

Instead I drove back to the motel, showered, fed River and wrote in my blog. Now that I’ve settled down and some time has passed, I think I’ll actually eat something.

Tomorrow there’s no class planned, and no one to meet, so I can finally sleep in as late as I want. I’m looking forward to that.

ROCKIN: The Seventies - Wisconsin double-header part 2

I woke up early this morning to have a massage client in the room. 

After he left, I took River to the local farmers market here. It was packed! I drove around the parking lot for five minutes, along with many other drivers, just basically waiting for someone to pull out of a parking spot so I could slip it. Finally, it happened.

As we were getting out of the car, I had River on his long leash so we could first run and play in the grass. My theory is that if he has been run a little bit ragged, he’s more likely to surrender to being obedient in an exciting situation such a walking through a farmers market. A couple with a chihuahua on leash were walking toward us as we approached the grass. River was interested and was about to head over in that direction, but the little dog barked ferociously and lunged at River, who playfully skipped away in the opposite direction. I was impressed with his response. It felt nice to be able to say “Good Dog” as the couple were disciplining their dog for bad behavior. We played with one of his new toys until he seemed tuckered and then we headed for the market.

Once I stocked up, we headed back to the room to get ready for class. It was an afternoon class today: ROCKIN: The Seventies. My host, Jill Campana had requested I include Kashmir in the routine, and it wasn’t in the playlist, so I made some last minute adjustments before we headed to Sacred Space in Hubertus.

Jill, along with her husband Frank, own a shop called Nutman, that sells gifts and snacks, and in the store is her dance studio. River had the honor of being the first dog allowed in the store and/or the studio. It isn’t the first studio that bestowed that honor upon him, but it’s still always an honor.

We had a great crowd for class and the routine seemed to go over really well.
Me with Jill Campana and Carol L Dusold, my two hosts for the double header event

River's set-up during class


River bides his time while we Nia

a free dance moment

pressing the earth during "Highway Star"
I used:

Stairway to Heaven    -    Led Zeppelin
Time    -    Pink Floyd   
Kashmir    -    Led Zeppelin   
Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo    -    Rick Derringer   
Immigrant Song    -    Led Zeppelin   
Paranoid    -    Black Sabbath   
Highway Star    -    Deep Purple
We Will Rock You    -    Queen
Won't Get Fooled Again    -    The Who
The Great Gig In The Sky    -    Pink Floyd
Beth    -    Kiss   

After class, we had another social snack party in the store, which River loves, because everyone likes to feed him vegetables. 

Then a few of us caravanned over to Jill and Frank’s home in Richfield where we had a delicious meal that Frank prepared. We also got a tour of their impressive landscaped yard. It was a maze of trails and plants and clearings with chairs, and walkways and decks. There was a gargoyle sitting on the ground at a fork in one of the trails and River didn’t see it until he was right next to it. And it completely startled him. He took a little skid in the gravel because he changed directions so quickly.

A bit later, he spotted Gloria, the resident cat, and attempted to lunge for her. I stopped him using the leash and he was resistant to obeying because he was so fascinated in the furry creature taunting him. It was either during this scuffle, or perhaps in his gargoyle panic that he scraped one of the pads on his front left paw and drew blood. He’ll be fine. It’s just a scratch on his leg. The bleeding stopped almost immediately, and it’s not in a place that touches the ground when he walks, so it doesn’t seem to bother him much.

Dinner was a feast that included steak, salad, vegetables, pasta with meatballs, scallops, pesto and cheese. The tomatoes were from the garden out back and were perfectly ripe. After dinner we had chocolate cake. We chatted a bit more and then broke up for the evening.

Although, i still had one more engagement planned. I went back to Milwaukee where a man named Scout lived. He had responded to an ad I placed in Craigs List asking for a kind soul that would let me use his washer/dryer and his oven/stove. I brought over all the stuff I purchased at the farmers market that morning, and cooked it and put it in tupperware in my cooler for meals for the next few days. 

Just as all of my laundry was done and I was packed and ready to go, Scout surprised me by mentioning that he was just about to pull a roasted apple tart out of the oven, and suggested that if I stayed a little more, he’d put some ice cream on top and give me half of it. How could I resist that?

It was after 4am before I got back to my room and went to bed!

Friday, September 20, 2013

ROCKIN Milwaukee: Sixties-style

Today was a good day. It was nice not to pack up the car in the morning. River and I slept as late as we wanted and then got in the car to get some coffee at Starbucks and then we went to the park and played for about an hour.

We found a stick, because we seem to have lost or destroyed all but one of his toys. And the one toy we do have is a rope, which I don’t to play with outside because it gets too dirty and smelly.

But we still had a great time, running and chasing the stick and then I’d get River to chase me. We had the park all to ourselves. I learned a lesson; if you’re wearing long sleeves, don’t run with a half a cup of coffee in your hand unless you don’t mind stains on your sleeve.
After the park, we came back to the room for lunch and a shower.

I still had plenty of time before I had to be in Milwaukee for tonight’s class, so I sought out a pet supply store where I could get us some new toys. I found a good store that doesn’t sell animals, and that even partners with a local shelter to promote adoption. They had a great selection and we have fun picking out some new toys. River got a blue version of the green rubber boomerang that he loves so much. I don’t know what happened to his green one; we must have left it in a park somewhere. We also got a new kong. I can’t imagine how I lost the kong. Maybe we still have it amongst our things and it will turn up, but I couldn’t find it today, so I just got another one. And also, since he destroyed his stuffed armadillo so quickly, I had to replace his ‘bear’. We found a really funny skeleton toy with ropes for arms that he is going to have a great time tearing apart. I also got him a dog cookie. I found a cookie decorated to look like a 1960’s Love Child Flower. And since tonights Nia class had a 60’s theme, I had to get it.

After shopping, I wanted to play with our new toys and we still had over an hour before class, which was only 20 minutes away; so I took us to another park. And we played with the boomerang for a long time until he seemed to be tired. As I was getting him back in the car, he spotted the skeleton on the floor of the car where I keep all his things. He took the skeleton from the car and dragged it to the grass to commence destroying it. I grabbed it, because I wanted to go, and that started a little tug game. But I heard it tear a little bit so I stopped the game and vowed that the skeleton is not a tug toy, but just for him to ‘kill’. It will last longer that way. We have the rope and the boomerang for tugging.

So then it was time to go to class. Jill Campana and Carol L Dusold were my co-producers for this double header event. ROCKIN: The Sixties today and ROCKIN: The Seventies tomorrow.

My normal ROCKIN playlist combines the 60s and 70s:
White Rabbit    -    Jefferson Airplane
Wooden Ships-    Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Time    -        Pink Floyd   
Kashmir -        Led Zeppelin
Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo-    Rick Derringer
Paranoid    -    Black Sabbath
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction-    The Rolling Stones
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! & I Want You (She's So Heavy) & Helter Skelter    -  The Beatles   
Immigrant Song    -    Led Zeppelin
Highway Star    -    Deep Purple
Get Together-    The Youngbloods   
The Great Gig In The Sky    -    Pink Floyd
Beth    -    Kiss   

But for this event, I split the playlist up and added some more songs to fill it out, giving me a sixties playlist and a seventies playlist.

Tonight for ROCKIN: The Sixties, we played with:

White Rabbit   
Wooden Ships
Going Up The Country    -    Canned Heat   
The Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)    -    Manfred Mann
White Room    -    Cream   
Everyday People    -Sly & The Family Stone   
Light My Fire    -    The Doors
Magic Carpet Ride    -    Steppenwolf   
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction -    The Rolling Stones   
Spinning Wheel    -    Blood, Sweat & Tears
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! & I Want You (She's So Heavy) & Helter Skelter  -  The Beatles   
All Along The Watchtower    -    Jimi Hendrix   
Get Together    -    The Youngbloods
Forever Young (Single Version)    -    Joan Baez   

We had about twenty students in the room and it was ON FIRE! I had such a good time; they’re a really strong group. They knew their Nia movements, which makes teaching so much easier, and they were willing to freedance, which I love. At one point, I asked them to get on their hands and knees and howl at the full harvest moon, and they went crazy with it. I was impressed at the sound we made. (Later I found out that the group typically doesn’t like to make sounds, so after class Carol, their teacher, told them to get ready to howl on Tuesday when they met again. :)

Carol also presented River and I with a lovely gift bag filled with dog treats and a chew toy and for me there was a Green Bay Packers T-shirt, Packers chip clips and beer cozy and a schedule of packer games. (I guess Carol is a Packers fan?). I’ll wear my new shirt for tomorrow’s class, which will be many of the same people, since this couple of classes was promoted as a double-header event.

Many of us stuck around after class and partook in a snack party and talked and played with River. He was loving all the attention and the fact that the women loved giving him carrots and broccoli.

We came home and showered and ate and as I right this, River is already in bed, asleep. He’s had a very active day. As they say, a tired pup is a happy pup.  And now, I’m a tired pup, and have a full day planned tomorrow, so I’m going to bed.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Leaving Roseville! Relaxing in Milwaukee

I had set my alarm to go off at 7:30am and despite my wanting to go back to sleep at that time, forced myself to get up, load the car and hit the road. We drove pretty much straight through to Milwaukee, where I had an appointment to have my scheduled maintenance done at the Milwaukee Mini dealer.  Glad to get that taken care of. 

We stopped at a rest area for lunch, and then at another for a break from driving just to walk and run around a bit.
at a rest area in Wisconsin 
The drive wasn’t remarkable. It was mostly either rolling vegetation-covered hills or a corridor of trees. In either case, there was a smattering of autumn colors throughout the landscape. Bits of reds and yellows were showing up in the trees.

They were gushing over River at the Mini dealer, and were enthralled by his love for bananas and all of the tricks he’ll do to get one. We were in and out of the Mini dealer in just over an hour, and now all  is well. They even gave her a quick vacuuming, which she desperately needed.

Brookfield is a suburb of Milwaukee. The Mini dealer was in Milwaukee proper, and it was only an eight minute drive to the motel. We're both much happier with this location, which is good because we’ll be here for three nights. It will be nice not to have to relocate for a while. While we're here, I have two classes to teach; one tomorrow and one the next day.

It feels like the pit bull phobia is high here, in general. Many of the people are friendly and highly complimentary toward River, but display an obvious respect and fear. They’re saying he’s so beautiful but keeping their distance and commenting that they don’t want to get eaten.

Tonight I’m going to do laundry and go to bed early.

Twin Cities

It was raining when I woke up in Duluth. I’m SO GLAD we decided to go to the lake last night when it was beautiful and clear. By the time we got in touch with our local friend, Jason, he was on his way out of the house, so he told us where the Food Co-op was and I left River in the car while I got some food. I wouldn’t have done that if it were sunny, but it was hoodie weather and I only wanted a few things...

He was fine. Sitting right where I left him, but with his seat belt unbuckled. I wondered if he’s figured out how to unfasten his seatbelt or just did it while fussing around.

Because of the rain, it wasn’t as fun to stop anywhere and run around, but we did, luckily pass by a rest area at a time when the rain had stopped where I could eat some of the food I bought and as I was sitting and mentally rehearsing for class that evening, I got in a phone call with Liz Anema, producer of my Nia class at The Marsh, to check in and make sure I was on track. I also took River for a little jog to a treed area and we explored a bit. There was no view at the rest area, and I don’t really remember much about the drive between Duluth and Roseville.

I didn’t take any pictures until we got to The Marsh.

We got there early and went for a walk on a running path that runs a figure eight behind the building and then over a bridge off into the depths of the marsh. The inside of the building is like a luxury spa resort, with a restaurant and a lounge area and another lounge area and a fitness room. I walked in with River and no one would make eye contact with me. I couldn’t see anything like a reception desk, so I headed for the room where I saw the people exercising and stood by the statue of the naked lady. Liz came down to greet me and many of the students were starting to gather and greet me and River. A tall man came out of the fitness room and went to greet River, but he didn’t like his approach and let out two warning barks that echoed through the spa. We were graciously escorted to the deck to wait outside until our class started. I feel bad for the people that River doesn’t like. I never know what to say, and I’m sure it’s hard not to feel a little hurt by not getting love from a dog, especially when you have just lost your own, recently, like this man had. 

It didn’t spoil anyone’s day, though. One main thing that River has taught me is to always return to relaxation. A moment is only a moment for a moment and then there’s another one.

It was a good sized room with a nice springy floor and lots of mirrors. There was even a stage! I sometimes stood on the stage, but a lot of my choreography was too big for it, so I had to come down to the floor. It was also an interesting challenge to step on and off the stage without interrupting my choreography.

I taught my ROCKIN routine to about 25 Minnetonkans. Three of them were Nia teachers who stayed afterward and engaged in a little shop talk. Tonight was a first, in that I used the same playlist that I used the last time I taught. I have been working on this routine since October of 2011 and this is the first time I haven’t felt the need to switch something. 

Class went very well, by which I mean I didn’t make any stupid errors. But in some respects it was challenging. I was spoiled by the joviality of Billings and none of my wise cracks and jokes were landing in this room. But they did rock with me so well. I guess the average age of the students in the room was 60 and I have a vigorously athletic edge to my classes. They were hanging in there and giving me lots of smiles. I feel like the Rock music was a bit edgy for them and they liked it.

I left River in his crate with the teachers after our powwow so I could take a shower, and then I came back and got him out so we could drive back to the motel.

So far we’ve logged 2243 miles, and I’m over 1000 miles overdue on my scheduled maintenance. I’ve gone down 0.2 on my average miles per gallon. I was holding strong at 30.3 MPG for a long time, but I think it has to do with the type of gas I was able to find in this area. Or I just don’t know which are the good ones yet, because I haven’t heard of any of them before. It was when I started using exclusively Chevron gas that my gas mileage went higher than it had ever been. I had built up to getting 30.3 MPG until I started buying Holiday and SuperAmerica and Marathon. I haven’t yet bought Conoco, and I did find a Shell station once, but mostly I feel like I’m getting cheap gas and I miss Chevron.

And now I'm sitting in my Motel 6 in Roseville Minnesota. It sounds like a street fair going on in the parking lot, like right outside my door. But it’s just ‘the local color’ OMG it sounds like it’s escalating. I’m so glad I didn’t park near the front door this time, I’d be worried about my car out there. Cars are driving and honking and guys are yelling at each other. I’m not sure if it’s friendly or heated. There’s lots of cursing.

OK i just went out there, with River. We saw some friendly guys resting by a moving truck just outside our door, and a third guy on the second floor above my room. They complimented River on how beautiful of a boxer he was but commented that he was too skinny and that I should feed him some bread. We laughed and then headed to the car. I was amazed how quiet it was. I was actually looking forward to seeing what all the activity was. And then I think I heard someone yell something about a bull dog as we walked to the car to get River’s crate and then just the sound of dog barking as we walked back to the room. I dropped off his crate inside and took him for a walk and did some obedience training in the hallways.

As we were coming back in, a very dark and energetic man, who was also involved with the moving truck, was acting all testosterone toward River and making his girlfriend laugh with jokes about how who was going to eat who first. River had no idea no harm was intended, we all laughed, but he was clearly miffed. As they walked off she said, “that wouldn’t work; he’s a vegetarian”.

When we got back into the room I wanted to help River get rid of his obvious frustration at what was going on. I tried the game we saw that black lab playing but I wouldn’t let River join. I slammed the rubber ball on the floor aimed so that it would land on the bed and he got to jump up and jump down to bring me the ball. Or sometimes I’d toss it high above him and he’d jump for it and catch it. He loved the distraction.

The grand finale was a loud, continuous banging like someone pounding on the hood of their car over and over. and then it became more like a thick metal object striking concrete. Someone said something about something being broken and then a man and a woman got into a huge screaming argument and drove off mad.

Now, it is quiet. River is snoring. Whew. That was real.

We’ll leave early tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lake Superior

Less than ten minutes after getting on the road this morning we passed from North Dakota into Minnesota, and less than ten minutes after being in Minnesota, I was frustrated with the speed limit situation. 

I’m not a speed demon by any means, and I’m not impatient, but I felt like all of the posted speed limits as soon as we got into Minnesota were at least ten miles per hour too slow. It felt very, very conservative; especially after driving all the way from Seattle at 70 MPH.

What is the big difference between 45 and 50 miles per hour?  Is it really different enough to warrant posting a sign saying 50, and then 100 yards later, one that says 45, and then in another 100 yards, back to 50 again?  really??? But no matter what road I was on and what the posted speed limit was, I felt like I was crawling. At one point I was on a straight road with nothing but grassy marsh on either side as far as I could see. And I couldn't go faster than 50!  I was on a similar road, only with more turns, in Montana and I was able to go 70!. So it didn’t take long before I was saying to myself, “This place should be called MinneSLOWta”.

And I think the locals have dealt with the ridiculously low speed limits by ignoring them. As I said, I am not a speeder. I set my cruise control to 2 MPH over the speed limit, (which is probably why it is so vexing to me when the speed limit is changing all the time) But I found the locals were passing me left and right. At one point, someone was glued to my tailgate, so I just slowed down to about 15 miles per hour to force them to pass me. Honestly, there’s no reason to be driving so close to someone that they can’t see your front license plate. It’s impolite and dangerous. 

On the other hand, maybe some locals have really taken to the whole s-l-o-w d-r-i-v-i-n-g thing because when I got on I-35, I noticed something I had never seen before. I was so relieved to finally see that 70 MPH Speed Limit sign, but I laughed out loud when, right below it, was a sign warning that the MINIMUM speed was 40 MPH. FORTY!  I've never seen a minimum speed limit sign.

Which reminds me of something I didn’t mention about North Dakota, that I found delightful.  There were billboards that said simply, “Be Nice.”  That’s in. White background, black text. And some of them said “Be Polite.” I thought that was so cool.  On the other hand, the most notable billboards in Minnesota said “Life begins at conception” What a difference a state border can make, huh?

About halfway to Duluth, we stopped at Crosby City and played for a while in a park.
we saw this dragon at the Crosby City Park

And when we got to Duluth, the first thing we saw was a scenic overview Rest Area, so, even though we were only four minutes away from the motel, we stopped. Who can resist a scenic overview rest area? This one had a sculpture called The Gate. Which was supposed to work with the environment. Specifically it was reminiscent of the straight lines of the land and the lake, which, when viewed from a specific point, is dissected by The Gate. The photo I took was probably not from the right place, but here’s The Gate.
The gate

Playing in the Crosby City park was the highlight of my day until we got to the hotel and I looked at my messages and I saw that someone had responded to my ad asking for help. Last night I had run out of food, so I placed an ad on Craigs List asking for someone who could help me with the dog situation while I went shopping (or alert me to a dog friendly market) and most importantly, to let me come and use their kitchen to cook my stuff up.
The guy who responded told me he had just gotten back from the farmers market on Saturday and was juicing and making some celery coconut soup and some free range chicken and wanted to invite me to join him. 

His name is Jason and he turned out to be really cool and totally into healthy food, like me. We commiserated on the lack of choices in Minnesota, but he told me that there is a food co-op in Duluth. It was closed, he said, but we could go in the morning.
Tonight he took River and I on a tour of the town, showing us the courthouse and the jail and the old town and the harbor. He explained how Duluth is the oldest town in Minnesota. And he took us to a beach on Lake Superior, where River and I both got our feet wet. I tried to take a picture, but even though it was a bright, full moon, the camera couldn’t gather enough light to make it come out. But it was beautiful.
Almost full moon over Lake Superior at night
We stood on the Canadian Shield, which is an outcropping of granite. He explained all about it, but I didn’t really understand it. But we stood on it! :)

So, he fed me some soup and some homemade pesto on shredded kolrabi, and the chicken which he made based on a traditional african recipe with lots of vegetables and spices, and we sampled his homemade wares including kim chi, almond milk, nongranola (granola made without grains) and date bars.

Tomorrow morning we’ll meet again so he can take me to the co-op before I head to the twin cities. I won’t have time to cook but I can buy some blueberries and other foods to take on the road and eat raw.

Monday, September 16, 2013

I-94 from Miles City to Fargo, ND

After a brief play in the courtyard in front of our room at Motel 6, today was all about driving, driving, driving...
"Before you start packing up the car, we should go out and play on that grass"

The first part of the drive was incredible. I didn’t realize I was going to get to see the Badlands.

As I drove past the border to North Dakota I was impressed by the landscape. It just kept getting more and more painted and sculpted and I thought, ‘Why aren’t more people talking about how gorgeous North Dakota is!?” Then I saw the sign that said these were the Badlands, and I was reminded that at least one of my friends has told me I’d love that drive. He was right.

But then, more driving.

Another Rest Area --- and then more driving.

We made it to Fargo by dusk and there’s now 1807 miles logged on this trip.  Tomorrow we should see our first Great Lake!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Rockin in Billings

1340 miles so far. Miles City is where we will spend our fourth night.

We woke up in the state capitol (Helena, Montana) and filled Thumper with gas and got her a wash. The other day I used a gas called Holiday, because it sounded fun and appropriate and because it contained some sort of good detergent that kept everything clean. Well, as soon as I drove out of that Holiday station, I felt like I had left the parking brake on or the turbo wasn’t clicked on, but it was. It was just crappy gas. No more Holiday for us. 

Today we drove on US 12 to good old I-90 on our way to Billings, where I would stop to teach my ROCKIN Nia class. Not much happened, but I did have a pretty big WOW moment when I got my first taste of the long, straight road. I drove through Big Sky Country today. I tried to capture it on video but again, it doesn’t seem to capture the awe of it.
Sleeping soundly on those long, straight Montana highways.

I pulled into Billings and it immediately reminded me of Missoula. I parked on 29th street where the studio was in an urban district. As I took River out for his walk, just as we did in Missoula, I wondered if I would turn the corner and see the same kind of park we played in. But it wasn’t there. Just more urban-ness. I have been practicing the vocal control; especially thanks to the hand incident. Today as we were coming out of the alley, a family was walking on the sidewalk. We were about to meet, when I backed up and said COME, he did; GO AROUND, he walked behind me on got on my right side and HEEL, and he walked at my side. The family watched with smiles on their faces and had passed our path in the time it took to put on our display.

It was such a joy to meet and rock with the Billings Nia community. Aimee Carlson was the mastermind of the whole thing and Sue Tucker was a master behind the scenes organizer. Between them they certainly got a buzz going. The room was full with over 15 dancing bodies. One was, I’m guessing, seven years old.

They love to laugh in Billings, which is good because I love to be goofy and make people laugh, so we got along fine. As I was being introduced, Aimee mentioned that I was going to drive to Miles City after class and there was a resounding “Ooooo!” Which made me think I was missing something as I couldn’t find ANYTHING out about the town. So my response was “Why, is it a really nice town?” And they laughed and laughed. One woman said, “Well, it’s far.”  I knew I was with some humorous people.

They also love to work out. The routine can get pretty intense and they were loving every minute of it and broke out into applause on more than one occasion. 

Of course, River was a big hit and was very well behaved. Before class, he was showing off all of his tricks and how politely he can sit by while I set up his crate. Oddly, he didn’t sleep much during this class. Every time I looked over at him his head was propped up on his blanket watching us. I think he’s trying to figure out what it all means.

After class, we socialized for a bit in the lobby. Finally River and I got back in the car for another two and a half or so hours. We stopped at a Rest Area about an hour into the trip and I knew I had my work cut out for me when I saw the scene we were driving into.

There was a big grassy hill the length of the parking area. We parked on the far right side, where there were no cars. On the far left side there was a man playing with a black lab. They looked like they were having SO MUCH FUN. The man had a rubber beach ball that he would bounce and it made a loud high pitched slamming sound that excited the dog. Then the man kicked the ball up the hill and the lab darted after it, struggled to pick it up and eventually brought it back to the man.

River locked his eyes on this game as soon as I shut the engine off. But I still went ahead with our basic ritual. I stop the car and remove his harness, and put on whatever I’ll be using; in this case it was his flat neck collar and the 50 foot nylon leash. Then I get out of the car and walk around to his side and let him out.

He immediately ran toward the dog, but I called River, STOP. And he did. I said Come. He didn’t. But then I said, “NO, Come!” which is what I usually say when I’m giving him a firm correction on his prong collar. He responded to that by breaking his start at the game and running toward me. He gave me a tag and then ran off in the other direction. I allowed that since he did respond and he did avoid interrupting their game.

All in all, we were there for a good ten minutes and I never had to use the leash to control him. There was one time that I think maybe he felt the end of the leash, because I hadn’t let it out in time, but in any case, the tension was minimal and he stopped immediately.

I was so proud of us both.  Him for responding to my commands in such distracting circumstances and myself for breaking my habit of using the leash as my first resort for correction and learning to use my voice instead.

The other dog is playing off to the left. River is facing away from them.

Of course, rolling in the grass is a must

It was dark by the time we got to Miles City.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Flathead and Big Fork

The day started out great because we found a farmers market that allowed dogs, so we went and got some green vegetables (broccoli, kale, cucumber and zucchini) and some peaches. And I also couldn’t resist getting the cookie shaped like Montana. While we walked through the market, a man stopped me to ask how I trained him to be so responsive to my reminders to walk at my side whenever he forgets. I briefly explained the training philosophy and the theory behind the prong collar and he said he’d probably get one for his Chow that he can’t keep from pulling on the leash. As we chatted his toddler and River spent some quality petting time.

Driving through Kalispell is charming; especially the Historic District, which looks like a set from an old western. There was even a saloon with swinging wooden doors.

We spent the rest of the day around Flathead Lake.  I learned that it is the largest fresh-water lake in the USA after the Great Lakes. It was enormous. It look an hour to drive all the way around it, not including the stops we made.
I was surprised how much fun River had on the boat launch in Flathead Lake
He was so excited by being at Flathead Lake that he completely destroyed his armadillo

Discovering the town of Big Fork was an unexpected surprise. It was a tiny little town with tons of character. River and I stopped and we practiced some more proper leash-walking and did some sight-seeing at the same time.
In Big Fork, River was fascinated by this power dam on the Swan River

After a long training session, River relaxes in the gazebo in Big Fork, Montana
While driving around the lake, I giving River a little scratch on the head, but when I looked back up at the road there was a large deer right in front of the bonnet of the car! I gasped and startled River. Fortunately the deer was mid-run and cleared my car before we collided. Although it was close and I think all three of us had to take a few seconds to recover from that. About a half hour later I saw a dead baby deer on the side of the road. That one wasn't so lucky. I'm so glad I didn't hit that deer.

Once we made the loop around the lake, we headed for Helena. Driving on MT 83, MT 200, MT 141 and US 12, we passed through the Flathead National Forest, the Lolo National Forest and the Swan Lake State Forest (I don’t think I’d ever been through a state forest before). We also passed through the Blackfoot Indian Reservation and we passed by Lake Inez, Seeley Lake and Salmon Lake.

Just as we were passing Swan Lake, I noticed that Thumper rolled over 10000 miles. And now the “Service due!” light that used to only come on when I started the car, has now become a triangle with an exclamation point inside of it that stays constantly lit. So far on this trip we have logged 967 miles.

Outside of Helena, I notice some terrain that was new to me. It looks like the floor of the desert with rolling dunes covered in scrub, but there are evergreen trees scattered all over. Not enough to call it a forest, but there are individual trees everywhere. I’d never seen such a big expanse of sparsely placed trees.