Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tails of Rescue: Dinka

Text: Trina
Photos: Greg and Landon

There's something sort of magical or serendipitous in randomly crossing paths with and falling in love with a rescue dog. As someone recently commented here, "Sometimes you find them; sometimes they find you." Either way, it's an entirely different experience from purchasing a dog from a breeder or, Dog forbid, a pet store. I'm not even going to get into the pet store/puppy mill thing other than to say they should be wholly boycotted. I think most people are pretty aware of that.

I even boycott breeders, mainly because with a ba-million dogs a year being put down for lack of homes, we don't need people making a ba-million more dogs every year. For more on the downside to breeding and purebreeds, go here.

You'll often hear people say that rescue dogs are more appreciative or devoted. That may be true, but I say ask not what your dog can do for you; ask what you can do for your dog. When you rescue a dog you're almost always doing something to mitigate and potentially heal a prior harm done to the dog by a human. We humans do so much damage on this planet, not the least of which is inflicted on "man's best friend." Whether it was beaten, dumped in the desert, starved, neglected, or just abandoned, most rescue dogs come with some kind of psychological or physical injury inflicted on them by a previous owner. Treating them well and giving them a loving home is the least we can do to compensate for what they've undeservedly suffered at the hands of our fellow humans. That's the main reason I prefer rescue dogs. It puts right a wrong.

This post (in what promises to be a series) celebrates a recent happy ending -- or beginning, really -- for a little lost dog who managed to cross paths with dog lovers who, even if the timing wasn't quite right, or life circumstances weren't ideal for adding a dog, opted to take in a rescue dog in need of a good home.

Skinny little Dinka had been running frantically, skittishly around the neighborhood for two weeks before Mary was finally able to approach her and coax her inside out of the cold. The scrappy, floppy-eared, frightened little girl showed up when Landon and Mary were focussed on spending a final few years with their old dog Gus, and making those precious final years the best they could be for the old boy. A new, young dog wasn't in the plan, and initially seemed to be a source of stress and chaos in their lives. They decided to at least foster her, even though Landon wasn't making a connection with her.

With no bias or hidden motives whatsoever, we pointed out that she was built almost exactly like our Sprocket, which would likely make her one heck of a mountain biking dog if given half a chance. When we checked in with them after a mere three days to see how things were going, the report was that she and Landon were warming, albeit tentatively, to each other, and, indeed, she was even showing signs of possibly being a pretty good trail dog. We crossed our fingers, knowing that if that turned out to be the case, it would tug at Landon's heart strings like nothing else could.

Indeed, just a week later, after taking Dinka on a couple more progressively longer and faster mountain bike rides, and being impressed with her speed and enthusiasm, Landon had to admit that despite the timing, she was a really good fit for their lifestyle. He also had to admit that somehow he had finally fallen in love with her, as Mary had done pretty much immediately.

Now, a couple of weeks later, little Dinka's fear and anxiety have dissipated and she has relaxed into her new, loving home with big brother Gus and mountain biking parents who will not only treat her incredibly well, but take her out for the kind of trail running she's built for.

Gustifson Herman Adamson and Dinka Jane on Rockin A trail, Moab. Photo by Landon

Other tails of rescue:

More to come: Caz, BJ and Bella, Honey

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bucolic Thanksgiving

a la Terrier Man

Rarely Seen, Elusive Species Caught at Last

Text: Trina
Photos: Various** and Mike C.

Many a tall tale has been told over the last few decades of an elusive ape-like creature on a mountain bike that has, at last, been observed and studied for a duration sufficient for scientists to arrive at an official classification of the species.

"We've been seeing this guy out there while on unrelated field studies," said a wildlife biologist who wishes to remain anonymous. "It's been a real source of embarrassment for us, knowing he's out there but being unable to identify or even snap a decent photo of him all these years."

To date, documentation has been spotty at best, with photos like the ones below. In this first example, the creature is seen biking in the mountains of Colorado, presumably in late spring, or maybe summer or possibly even early fall:

This image of him *riding* on what looks to be the Dixie 311 was captured last summer:

This photo shows him on a lesser known stretch of the Turkey Flats singletrack, sporting his ubiquitous, hundred-pound black backpack:

After decades of nothing but brief and distant sightings, near misses and not-so-close encounters that resulted in photographs like those above, experts are crediting the perseverance and wiliness of inveterate explorer and photographer Mike C, who finally managed get close enough to photograph the shy creature, and to do it well.

"Now that we finally have some decent footage of the guy, we've been able to narrow down his lineage and characteristics enough to give him a name," explains the BLM taxonomist. "We're calling him Photographericus Gregiluckiens, for reasons we feel are fairly obvious and don't warrant much explanation."

Photographer Mike reports, "He has always hidden from us. Either behind a rock, a hard place, or his own camera. It finally occurred to me to lure him out with gummy worms and crushed Fritos, the common energy boosting foods of bikepackers worldwide. It worked like a charm! I had him literally eating out of my hand!" The result is Mike's recent, ground-breaking field report including the following images of the Photographericus Gregiluckiens in his natural environment:

Scientists working on the Photographericus Gregiluckiens project have noted that in almost all cases, the creature appears with a lamprey-like trail companion. "It seems like the trail lamprey might actually be the smarter of the two species. Take this photo, for instance (below) where Photographericus Gregiluckiens is just blazing thoughtlessly forward on a line that clearly could send him plummeting to his death, while the little red trail lamprey has observed and calculated the risk of said line and stopped, obviously thinking, [squeaky dog voice] "Are you kidding me?"

More great shots of Greg and other gnarly boys, girls and trail lampreys at Mike's blog

**First 3 photos used without permission from Oregonbigfoot.com

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Final-Final Harvest

We finally-finally made the final-final sweep through the garden, generally putting it to bed for the winter -- mulching some greens we're hoping to over-winter for extra early spring crops, and harvesting the last of the frost-kissed root crops...

... some of which were destined to become carrot and cashew payasam, and beet soup.

The final-final task with the most urgency was destroying the squash bug egg stashes.

By now, the leaves have fallen off the vines and withered into well-hidden and well-camouflaged papery husks, each one with 45 eggs tucked carefully into its folds. Multiply that by 524 leaves lying around, and you get 8,567,344 future squash bugs waiting to decimate next year's crop just like they nearly did this year . Having read that burning all leaves and vine remnants is the only effective way to destroy the eggs, we tried to make a discreet, non-smoky, inside-city-limits-sized slash pile like the farmers out in the country do, only ours was right next to the street. The "discreet, non-smoky" part didn't go so well and standing in front of the fire and making the "What??" face whenever a car drove by didn't make for a very effective visual blocking technique, so we had to abort the mission and hastily extinguish our little fire before getting arrested. Ultimately, we decided the best we could do was simply to remove and throw away all the squash vine debris and not put it in the compost.

Spent New Mexico Primrose

So now that the garden is tucked in for the winter, we can finally settle in to the season where all we do in our spare time is sit around eating the food we've saved up. Bon apetit!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Kitty Litter Cake

I'm sure you're all familiar with the wonderfully repulsive yet perfectly edible kitty litter cake.

With this cake, I've had great success and satisfaction in grossing out un-gross-out-able people, namely my dad and baby brother. However, feeling it to be just a smidge too tame the way it's commonly made, the last time I put one together for a "Guess What You're Eating" themed dinner party, I ramped it up a bit with rice maggots and a raisin fly with onion skin wings.

There, there. Here's a nice pecan tart to settle your tummy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

We Pause Now for this Commercial Announcement

Words and marketing ploy by Greg

This is not a commercial blog. No siree. But, if you happen to like the photos that you see around here, and if the mountain biking photos are some of your favorites... Then you have a chance to nail some up to your wall for a whole year. All you have to do is follow this link:

Mountain Bike Scenic Calendar

Riding Season

Words and photos by Greg

The day was expected to be sunny. (But wasn't, really.) The trails were dry. (Mostly.) The temperatures were perfect (for long sleeves). One friend and two dogs. Another day in prime riding season.

But riding season only ends when one stops riding. And I'll do my best to make it last through the winter.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Lines and Photos by Greg

1. Lines
Each day the sun traces lower across the sky, now just over a month away from the lowest trace of the year. But there was warmth in the sunshine and blue in the sky when I left town with three friends and a dog. Just a few minutes from the outskirts of town we parked and then rode into the afternoon.

2. Lines
Bare rock like a blank page where imagination and skill brush wheels upward, across and down. My own lines are drawn conservatively. While others draw bold strokes that defy the situation's gravity and match traces through the sky.

3. Lines
Here snow has fallen and melted again. Except in shadows where our tires press paths into lingering white. Where ice succeeds and traction fails and sliding draws lines from clawing hands and scrabbling feet.

4. Lines
Shadows stretch across the stone as the sun drops toward mesa tops. Colors pull away in taffy light, then dim our motion into streaks that burn away the last of the day's heat. Leaving us in cold air.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sprocket Meshes

Memories and Photos by Greg

Round about a year ago...

It's been just over a year since we had our little buddy Sprocket the Assyrian Moth Hound join the family. And almost one year since we set out on our first vacation with him. Where we could have lost him, but didn't, and where he burrowed his way deeply into our hearts.

He'd been found running loose by a local veterinarian. She'd tried to find his owner, and then tried to find a new owner, but he'd ended up spending most of the summer in a kennel in her clinic. Trina thought we should take him home. Just until we could find a good home for him. Ha!

We'd taken pictures and put up posters around town announcing his availability to a good home. Then after about three days with us, we were out hastily taking the posters back down. He'd wormed his snuggly and affectionate way into our hearts.

But we were all still somewhat tentative about each other when we set off on a trip to southwest Colorado and New Mexico. The main focus of the trip was to see wildlife along the Rio Grande. Which we did. But we also had our bikes along, and hit the trails.

In Gallup, NM we spent most of one day enjoying the sunshine and trails with Zeek and Sprocket. Zeek, our stolid trail running JRT was a known quantity, but Sprocket hadn't been on this long a ride with us. And he did great. Actually impressed us with his speed and his enthusiasm. And with his tenacity and ferociousness in facing a hungry and dangerous-looking mountain lion sculpture.

The next day we set out on another multi-hour bike ride. We were worried about the dogs' feet and stamina and thought it would be best not to torture them with another long day of running. So we left them at the truck near the highway. Zeek was tied up at the side of the truck, as we'd done with him on many occasions. But we'd already learned that Sprocket wouldn't stand for that. He'd chewed through a leash once already. And he did NOT like being left behind. So we secured him inside the back of the truck in the kennel we'd fashioned on a platform. Then we shut the topper door and took off up the trail on our bikes as he whimpered and cried at being left.

We were two or three miles into the wilds, stopped to enjoy the scenery, when we heard the clink of dog tags. We looked back and there was Sprocket, nose to the ground, tracking us down. Oh crap. Then we laughed. We later discovered that he'd squirmed between the kennel bars, scratched open the topper window and jumped all the way to the ground. Then had found his way to us. Despite this dangerous escape he was fine, and actually very happy to see us.

He got to come on the rest of the ride and wasn't the least bit bothered by the extra miles we'd been trying to save him from. And more importantly, he'd managed to prove that he really wanted to be with us. He'd escaped the confines of the truck (a problem we've since remedied) and had avoided the temptation of a nearby farm with animals to chase, the dangers of a highway, and had pointed himself after us. We couldn't help but love him.

After a year, we're still being constantly reminded of how lucky we are to have had him join us. Even Zeek thinks so, sometimes.