Feels Like Home

Last week, Moxie and I met with an agility instructor for an hour-long private session of introduction to the sport. Moxie ran through a tube, jumped through a suspended tire, and pranced over a balance beam like an old pro. But I was struck by the premise here: It was as if the obstacles represented efforts to re-create experiences a dog might have were she lucky enough to, say, cross a stream on a fallen branch, leap through brush in pursuit of some wild beast, or shimmy through the narrow opening between boulders along a mountain trail. Moxie doesn't need the PVC-and-plywood version of these adventures. She's crossed and leapt and shimmied all over the country!

Settling down felt strange at first when we came back to Austin, but our great times continue... with Moxie around, excitement lurks around every corner. We walk nearly everyday to a neighborhood park where she meets up with dog buddies for fetch or chase while I compare notes on walks and kibble with other dog moms. A couple of times a week, we venture to other destinations like Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park, where Moxie runs and I ride my bike to a dog swimming hole, or the dog park off Riverside Drive -- a veritable dog-topia complete with impromptu playgroups and plenty of humans around to throw balls. The city of Austin boasts 206 parks, 12 preserves, and 26 greenbelts, so plenty of exploring awaits us.

Every time Moxie & I get in the car, I remember what it's like to be on the road. There's nothing quite so freeing as having everything you really need in the world packed into the back of a station wagon. We'll taste that feeling again -- our next road trip will take us back to DC in the spring. But until then we're savoring the sweetness of home.


Honky Tonk Puppy

Tennessee, it turns out, is a very long state. But it's quite lovely: the interstate wends over and around forests and cotton fields. We broke up the drive this afternoon with a walking tour of Nashville, which during our brief visit lived up to its reputation as a music-crazed party town.

We're aiming for breakfast in Memphis tomorrow morning before pushing on through Arkansas, where we'll be keeping our eyes peeled for ivory-billed woodpeckers.


Oh, Shenandoah!

I could summon a dozen clichés to describe the perfect fall conditions we witnessed today in Shenandoah National Park. But the most original description I could come up with while navigating the curves of the Blue Ridge Parkway was this: If the many-hued forest were a fabric, it would make a skirt my crazy 6th-grade art teacher would have worn. (She was the one with elongated holes in her earlobes presumably owing to years of heavy jewelry.) The clichés might have been better.

Moxie & I hit the road again today after three weeks catching up with family and friends (and blog postings) in Maryland. I'd hoped to camp tonight, but temperatures threaten to drop into the low 30's, which is rather too cold for us to bear. So we're resting our hiking-weary feet in a high-speed-internet-equipped hotel this evening. Tomorrow: Tennessee.


Climb Every Mountain

As we've come to expect, the Midwest treated us well this trip. S & K and their Australian shepherd Booker treated us to a delightful impromptu overnight in Madison. Then we lunched with A & D north of Chicago and spent a great weekend with M & K to the city's west. We even scaled Mt. Hoy -- which at 150 feet appears to be the highest spot in the county!

Mt. Rushmore

Moxie in '08?

We Heart Wyoming

We meandered through the state last month, driving through Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park before camping in Yellowstone, where a coyote sauntered by just meters away from our tent and bison made an obstacle course of the road east. Then we visited a dinosaur tracksite (which was discovered by a friend of a friend) and spent a chilly night camping in the Big Horn mountains.

On the way, I compiled this list of commonalities between Wyoming and Texas: 1) Cowboys 2) Big sky 3) Always-in-season boots 4) Frontier spirit 5) Love-to-hate-them politicians 6) Cowboys


Smoke Got in Our Idaho

Wildfires burned around Boise last week, and WWII-era planes buzzed overhead as crews worked to control them from the air. Even though the blazes were nowhere near the city, cool evening temperatures trapped air in the valley so even downtown you couldn't forget the fires.


Miles and Miles of Beaches

In 1899, Oregon's legislature deemed its beaches "forever open as such to the public." Then in the 60's, the state's Supreme Court confirmed un-fence-able even the deep dry-sand areas extending from the high-tide line to the cliffs that hallmark this stretch of coast. Still today, people and dogs can walk for miles along Oregon's beaches, unencumbered by pesky property lines.
K from Austin flew up to join us for five leisurely days of playing in the surf and on the sand. By day we saw sea lions, gray whales, puffins, jellyfish, and even a starfish washed up on the beach. And in the evenings we watched pink sunsets from an oceanfront patio before curling up in front of a fireplace, relishing the coastal August chill and looking forward to the next morning's misty magic.Back to the real world, Moxie & I are back in Boise now for a week before scooting back East for a fall wedding.


You Can't Make This Stuff Up

A 200-gallon vat of lentil chili. An entire city decked out in lentil regalia. A parade and live bands and royalty and even a costumed mascot. All of it honored the homely lentil at the National Lentil Festival in Pullman, Washington, two weeks ago.