Monday, June 24, 2013

Road Tripping with Ozzie - 10

   Wow, the scents here are all new and terrific! What a place. It’s a zoo of scents.
   We arrived at St. Nora Lake just before dark and I got my nose to the ground immediately. Raccoons, bunnies, deer, moose and yes, my ancestors, those brave and bold timber wolves. The Old Guy said he sat out here and listened to the wolves and coyotes howling three weeks ago. I can hardly wait to join that chorus.
   The final leg of our 3,000-mile journey to this fabulous place was uneventful with not too many exciting sights. A bit of a letdown after all the excitement of meeting relatives in Sault Ste. Marie. All of them of course loved me immediately.
   Checked out the water but it’s odd. No salt like our water in San Francisco Bay. But when you look out over the water you see an entire shoreline of wild and unpeopled forest. That’s where they say the wolves live but the Old Guy took photos of wolf tracks on his property here this spring. They were as big or bigger than mine.
   I think I’m going to like it here. Nana is at this place and she gives me lots of attention and has food all over the place. So far all I’ve done is look and drool. Part of my extensive education in California was learning not to snatch food when no one is looking. But you know even Malamutes have weak moments . . . .
   That’s it. Hope you enjoyed being along for the trip.

(P.S. What's with the photographer? The latest pictures are sepia. Hard to find good help anymore).

Check out Mom's blog at:

Arriving at St. Nora Lake

Hmmm . . No Salt

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Road Tripping with Ozzie - 9

   Disappointment is inevitable on a 5,000-kilometre cross-continent road trip. Ours came after crossing into Canada and arriving at Thunder Bay. Fog banks that followed a huge thunderstorm shrouded Nanabijou, the famous and mysterious Sleeping Giant.
   The Giant is a mammoth rocky peninsula that juts into Lake Superior and fills a good part of the eastern horizon when you look out to the lake from almost anywhere in Thunder Bay. It is a sight not to be missed but we did despite waiting and hoping for the fog to lift.
   Nanabijou looks like an Indian chief in full head dress who has lain down on the water to sleep. Legend has it that the thunder and lightning that sometimes lashes the lake is the chief stirring in his sleep.
   The Old Guy was born and grew up in the shadow of the Sleeping Giant and always raves about it. I must say I was impressed and had a yearning to get out there and explore.
   Farther down the shore we visited Rossport to explore some more local history. The tiny village, tucked into a bay protected by pretty islands, used to host one of the world’s most famous fishing derbies.
   The Old Guy’s memoir Waking Nanabijou: Uncovering a Secret Past gives this description of the Derby in the 1940s and 1950s:
   “Rossport at derby time was a gold rush town. People walked shoulder to shoulder on the town footpaths and few tiny streets. Boats floated gunwale to gunwale at the docks and at anchor in the harbour, one of the prettiest along the north shore. People cooked on open fires and on portable barbecues. They slept in boats and in tents in yards rented out. The excitement tingled in your nostrils as you pushed through the crowds. Any one of us thousands of fishermen could be the winner. No matter who you were or what friends or money you had, if you knew how to work a lure at the end of a rod, you could win the Rossport Fish Derby. The tiniest boat could be the biggest winner . . . .”
   First prize was a brand new car, a big deal in a time when many people could not afford to buy a car.
   We also visited a historical site which goes mostly unnoticed beside the old Rossport Inn. There stands the mast of the Gunilda, a New York millionaire's yacht that struck a reef August 30, 1911 and sank in two hundred metres of water. Legend is that the yacht carried the millionaire's treasure. 
   Tacked to the mast is a small plate remembering Charles ‘King’ Hague, who drowned August 8, 1970 while trying to explore the wreck. Hague was a childhood friend of the Old Guy and they lived on the same street.
   Interesting stuff along an interesting and picturesque highway that follows the north shore of Lake Superior between Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie.

   We made it into the Soo before dark and were treated to Chinese food by Auntie Barbara and Anthea, who is the Old Guy’s sister and niece. I got to clean up the leftovers, a swell treat for a Malamute on a diet of dry kibble.

Me and Unk Gerry Poling in Thunder Bay

We Travellers at the Gunilda/King Hague Memorial

Friday, June 21, 2013

Road Tripping with Ozzie - 8

   The cold fog obscures it, but I know it is there. I can taste it in the northern breeze and feel it in my nostrils. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Gitche Gumee, the Big Lake. Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake by surface area.
   The Old Guy senses it too. This is the countryside of his family and the lake has been part of their history for almost 100 years.
   We had overnighted in a small campground at Pipestone, Southern Minnesota, a sacred Indian site of special stone for making ceremonial pipes, then headed northeast for Duluth. The flat farmlands, dotted with large steel silos for storing ethanol corn for gasoline, gradually turn to wooded parkland. The pines, so dominant out west, now are a minority among the birch, popular and other deciduous trees and bushes.
   We pass Cloquet, where the Old Guy’s branch of the family began. His father was born there three years before the Great Cloquet Fire of 1918. The fire killed 453 people, and another 52,000 were injured or displaced. The Old Guy’s family moved north to International Falls and eventually into Canada, but always on the Big Lake.
   The land and the weather have changed dramatically in the seven hours it took to drive from the southwest corner of the state to Duluth on the far tip of the lake. It was in 80s in the morning but on the lake we peered through lake mist created by temperatures in the 50s, much appreciated when you are carrying a coat like mine.
   The others here are shivering and running for their jackets (except for Marcus who no matter what the weather always is in shorts and T-shirt). But if this is what the north is like, I’m loving it! So much so that I romp along the shoreline then wade into the waves for a refreshing dip.
   I expect to sleep soundly, lulled by the waves breaking against the stony shore and without my constant panting that comes with the heat.
   Lake Superior can be unwelcoming, however, and during the night throws one of its famous tantrums. Monsoon rains leave little lakes around the RV. Flashes of lightning illuminate us inside and the thunder is deafening. Later gale force winds rock the RV and start tearing the rain covers off tents across the way.

   This a very unhappy lake and the Old Guy reminds us that it is the same unhappy lake that took down the mighty Edmund Fitzgerald, immortalized in song by Gordon Lightfoot.

Staying Cool Beside the Big Lake

Dictating my Latest Post to the Old Guy
Lake Superior Getting Hostile

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Road Trippin' with Ozzie - 7

'Put Ozzie on Mount Rushmore!'

   We made some progress yesterday on the ‘Ozzie on Mount Rushmore!’ campaign. Not as much as I would have liked because of those silly dog restrictions in U.S. National Parks.
   I was allowed up only to the lowest Mount Rushmore viewing level for a photo op. They wouldn’t let me onto the long mall right below the mountain on which the faces of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln are carved into the rock. That mall is packed with hundreds of people, most of whom, after giving me a glance, would have supported my campaign.
   Really what is the government worried about with these restrictions? Do they think I would scramble up the mountain and pee on Washington’s chin? Geez. No educated and sophisticated dog would ever do that. I mean I’ve got American Kennel Club papers, eh.
   At any rate I’m looking for more support. If you think you’d like to see my chiselled great looks carved into Rushmore, just make a comment on this blog.
   As mentioned the other day, it seems unfair to have four presidents and no dogs carved into the mountain. I mean look at our contributions to society. And, most people agree I have the most adorable face they’ve ever seen.
   I should mention that Rushmore is in South Dakota’s Black Hills, a name which leaves a wrong impression. These mountains were named Black Hills because they are heavily forested with dark, green pines and from a distance appear black. They are rugged and very beautiful.
   We wanted to stay longer but had to make up some time so headed out for the real barren part of South Dakota – the Badlands. We have a good routine going; Marcus is chief engineer looking after electrical/sewer hookups etc. while John is the chief of campfires. Mom does the planning and driving and cooking. The Old Guy just sort of hangs out looking confused and telling stories.
   We camped in the Badlands. Beautiful white/grey jagged land forms that look like small unvegetated mountains.

   Join the chant: ‘Ozzie on Mount Rushmore!’

(Mom has more on our trip at:

Note open space to left where Ozzie's mug could be carved

The Badlands of South Dakota

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Road Trippin with Ozzie - 6

   We left Cody, Wyoming thinking the best of the mountain scenery was behind us. Boy, were we ever wrong.
   We had expected to head east into the rolling high plains and prairie that stretch hundreds of miles to the Dakotas. However, Mom found a scenic route through Bighorn National Forest. Spectacular!
   We corkscrewed our way up to 9600 feet above sea level, getting stunning views of the Bighorn Basin Country below us. Up top we passed through broad green, and sometimes snowy, alpine meadows which graced us with little streams that gurgled a welcome to wade in and lap your fill.
   The Old Guy said this is an ace route compared with the more southerly Wyoming highways where it is more flat and bland. I knew that, but sometimes you just have to let him talk.
   The descent of the east side of the mountains was nerve-wracking but we were rewarded with panoramic views.
   Later we detoured to Devil's Tower National Monument. That's the towering chunk of rock you saw in the movie Close Encounters of a Third Kind. The sky closed in with dark clouds and I heard eerie sounds, the kind that only dogs hear. I figured they were coming to take the Old Guy because some of the things he says make me believe that he communicates with space people.
   I'll be glad when we finally reach Mount Rushmore so I can start sweet talking those stone carvers into getting my gorgeous mug carved into that mountain. The people we met today all agreed I would be a terrific  addition to Rushmore.


Devil's Tower, spooky, eh?

Sniffing Around Bighorn
Leaving Yellowstone

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Road Tripping with Ozzie - 5

   It was enough to make me howl. I got to see Yellowstone’s Old Faithful geyser blow despite all the restrictions placed on us dogs.
Long, Hard Day
   Dogs are not allowed on the viewing walkways in the national park so I found a comfy spot along the edge of the trees and got to see the entire show over the heads of the hundreds of spectators lined up on the walkway.
  Old Faithful blows every 40 to 70 minutes these days. The intervals are not exact so you have to sit around with your camera focused and ready to shoot.
   Sitting back in the trees I didn’t get my usual attention from the crowd. However, later the Old Guy and I sat outside the Old Faithful store and snack bar and they lined up to pet and photograph me. The Old Guy seemed annoyed at having to answer all the same questions over and over again. What breed is he? How old is he? How much does he weigh? Is he friendly?
  There was even a Japanese translator then for a while to help all the Japanese tourists who crowded in to get my picture. I heard the Old Guy grumbling later that if he had a dollar for every question asked he could pay for this trip.
   We also visited other highlights of the geyser basin. But I wasn’t allowed to get close to the hot springs, hot mud pots, sulphur flats and other interesting sights.
   But it was a major wildlife day. We saw bison and elk. The first bison was scratching his back against a pine tree, which is one of my favourite things to do. Feels really good and that bison had a smile a yard wide.
   Then we saw two elk taking an afternoon time out in an old burn off the highway. Both were bulls with their racks in velvet.
   Now the BIG ONE. We saw a grizzly bear!! Yes, a real live grizzly bear in the wild. The Old Guy started to run out of the RV to get a picture, then realized he could get his ass bit so anchored himself in his seat and rolled up the window tight.
   The grizzly had emerged into a clearing, saw the RV and took off. Those babies can really run.
   Just after that we started down the mountains into Cody, Wyoming. What a descent. The road followed the Shoshone River and the mountain views were spectacular. It was almost like being in an airplane.
   Before the descent we crossed the Continental Divide and at altitude 8,300 feet we found some snow that I could play in. That stuff is in my blood!      
   Tomorrow we are going to head toward South Dakota and Mount Rushmore. I going to ask mom if we can talk to some of the stone carvers about getting to work on my image on the mountain. I mean four presidents and no dogs just doesn’t seem right. Most of the people who met me today would agree.

More on the trip at Mom’s blog:

Bull Elk Resting

Grizzly on the Run

Old Faithful Blows

Playing in the Snow

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Road Tripping with Ozzie - 4

We visited Rigby, Idaho where a local teenage boy had some Eureka moments roughly 100 years ago. On Sept. 7, 1927 Philo Taylor Farnsworth became the first person to successfully demonstrate the transmission of television signals. He was 21 at the time and had been working in his teenage years to invent an electronic scanning tube for television signals.
   So Rigby, a town of 4,000, claims to be the birthplace of television.
   I wasn’t impressed, because I’m not impressed with TV. Little to watch now that great dog stars such as Rin Tin Tin and Lassie are gone. I’ll probably catch some reruns of the Littlest Hobo when we get up to Canada.
   Soon after Rigby we had our own Eureka moment: our first clear view of the magnificent Teton Mountain range along the Idaho-Wyoming border. Wow what a set of snow-capped peaks. No wonder the French-Canadian explorers here called them les trois t├ętons, the three breasts. (They had been away from home a long time).
   Our view was over several miles of unbroken sagebrush, which has been a constant on this trip.
   So much sagebrush that I started thinking about what someone could do with it. Then I thought of Stephen King who gets his book ideas by asking himself ‘What If?’
   What if a mad chemist decided to be a recluse in the high desert? And he starts looking for uses for the millions of sagebrush plants that surround him. He experiments and comes up with a food additive that reverses craziness in people; the craziness that has infected the human world.
   No so far fetched, eh? The Navajo used vapours from sage to treat headaches. The Zuni rubbed sage oil on their skin to ease body aches.
   Who says dogs like me don’t possess great thinking skills? Wait til you read my novel on the mad scientist lost in the sagebrush.

Ozzie, your rock star Alaskan Malamute
 For more interest stuff on this trip check my Mom’s blog at:

(P.S. We are in a campground at Yellowstone. The people who checked us in said they had to put us on the edge of bear territory. I'm not concerned. If a bear shows up, I'll nudge the Old Guy out the RV door and he can manage it.)

Yellowstone Campfire

Unintelligent Animals Met Along the Way
Marcus and John Enter Montana

Sagebrush and Tetons

Road Tripping with Ozzie - 3

We were glad to give a goodbye wag of the tail to Nevada, the most arid of the United States. We are beyond that desolation now and on the edge of the real mountains: The Rockies.
    We headed east from Winnemucca towards Salt Lake City then before we reached the Utah border took a sharp left onto U.S. 93 and headed north to Idaho.
    The day’s highlight was watching the desert become high desert, then foothills. Then we hit the Craters of the Moon. What a weird sight.
    Craters of the Moon is a lava field covering more than 600 square miles. It is a fascinating jumble of broken black lava rock strewn along the eastern edge of the mountains. It got there through eight major eruption periods between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago.
    The dark lava field was almost devoid of vegetation. It was so strange looking it stirred local legends and growing public interest. In 1923, geologist Harold T. Sterns described the area as “The surface of the moon as seen through a telescope.”
   President Calvin Coolidge, noting the wide public interest, had it declared a national monument in 1924.
   You can find out more about this strange place at:
   After the lava field we headed into a campground where many folks were starting to gather for the weekend. I had to make myself available for pictures of course. Sometimes I get a bit tired of all the attention, but I guess I really have a duty to my public.
   That’s why I keep a lot of stuff about myself secret. Can you imagine the crowds if people discovered I am an educated dog who can write?
   Tomorrow we head for Yellowstone in Wyoming.

Strolling at Salmon Creek, ID

Marcus, Me and John


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Road Tripping with Ozzie - 2

Writing is Tiring Work
   Sagebrush and salt flats. No wonder the pioneers were in a hurry to get to the mountains and down into California. This is the farthest east I’ve ever been and so far I am underwhelmed. Nevada is drier than dog kibble.
   The gate was ajar this morning so we slipped out and started padding east. This motor home is the real deal. Lots of places to flop when the scenery outside the window gets tiresome. The floor is laminate and cool, which is all an Alaskan Malamute  can ask.
   The first part of the day was old hat for scenery. We rolled though Sacramento and up the Sierras. We travel that route often to Lake Tahoe and skiing in winter. I got a bit excited today when I got to stare across a valley and see the mountainside where I was born.  
  After that, the road was all downhill. The freeway dividers near Sacramento were bursting with colour from the oleanders and other flowering bushes. They were replaced by the mountain pines, but then on the Sierra downside we saw scraggly trees blending into browned out mountains pocked by craggy outcroppings that looked like huge chunks of broken chocolate.
   Then at Reno the sprawling desert. Miles and miles of it, interrupted only by tired mountains worn down like the teeth of aged bison.
   We parked for the night in an RV campground in Winnemucca, which is named for a Paiute chief who was wearing only one moccasin when he met some prospectors looking for gold. The prospectors began calling him wannamucha, which means one moccasin and the name stuck.
   Chief Winnemucca and his daughter Sarah travelled widely in the 1870s and early 1880s bringing attention to the plight of their people. Sarah became a lecturer and author of two books: Life Among the Paiutes (1882) and Solution to the Indian Problem.
   This area also is known as the chukkar partridge capital of America. We haven’t seen any because any bird out today would be blown east faster than a four-engine jet. Big winds raising dust here as the sun sets.
   Monday high winds raised a huge dust storm near this RV park. They caused a 27-vehicle pileup and one person was killed.
Ready to Roll East
Checking Out the Driver
Relaxing in Winnemucca
(P.S. I didn't want to mention this, however . . . It was really upsetting when we stopped at Donner Lake. This is where a group of pioneers perished in the snows en route to California. They starved to death. During the ordeal, they ate Cash, the family dog. I really hate that story).


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Road Tripping with Ozzie - 1

   Yo, my name is Ozzie and I’m commandeering On Shaman’s Rock blog. Kick it up a couple notches; give it some vim and vigour. Make it howl.
   Dogs can’t write? Yeah, OK. Dogs can’t do a lot of things, according to humans. Well, the fact is dogs only act dumb. We don’t usually show our real intelligence. If we did, humans wouldn’t want us as their best friends. Humans are odd that way: they won’t get warm and fuzzy with anyone or anything smarter than themselves.
Who Says Dogs Can't Write
   So, let’s get the background done. I’m an Alaskan Malamute, but California bred and born in the mountains at Truckee, near Lake Tahoe. Cool place. Pine scent in the air, wild critters and, of course, tons of snow to get under your paws.
   My dad was Above the Clouds ‘Logan’ an American Kennel Club champ. Mother was Betty the Yeti, a Working Team Dog. That heritage and my AKC registration make me precious. But it’s not just breeding. I’ve had a lot of higher education. Recently I got my AKC Canine Good Citizen certification. 
   I was born July 3, 2010 and it was soon decided that my role in life would be to donate my leadership, talents and love to a family in Orinda, just outside San Francisco. Marcella, who I now call Mom, brought me down from the mountains in August and I began looking after her, husband Steve and the boys John and Marcus.
   Up in the mountains my birth name was Riley but down here they called me Ozzie. Cool because I have a rock star aura, sort of like Ozzy Osbourne. 
   So about this road trip. Every year the family goes way north to Shaman’s Rock, a place on a lake in Ontario. They visit Diane and the Old Guy, who calls me the Granddog, but I never get to go. This year Mom decided that she and the boys would take me there in an RV. The Old Guy came down to help with the trip because Steve’s work is very busy at this time of year.
   There’s much fussing over this, although I’m not sure why. My idea of hitting the road is just sneaking out the gate and following my nose. 
   I’ll let you all know when the gate opens and we start down the road.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Time to Put Apples in Their Mouths?

   The pigfest probes into the Canadian Senate, the grandest of Ottawa’s many swineries, have created storms of reporting and comment, but two critical questions remain.
   First, ask yourself what the Senate has done to improve your life, and the lives of your fellow Canadians. If you find that the Senate did do something to improve your life, was it worth the estimated $100 million a year it costs to operate this chamber of “somber second thought”?
   If you conclude that the Senate simply is another costly and useless layer of bureaucracy (sort of like Ontario’s super bureaucratic Local Health Integration Networks), then the next question is: How long will it take to chase it from our lives?
   The Harper government has sent the question of Senate reform, which might include abolishment, to the Supreme Court of Canada to ponder. Some members of the politico-bureaucracy say the Senate cannot be abolished, presumably because of the Constitution.
   This is both disturbing and amusing. Why would we leave the question of the Senate to nine lawyers and the bureaucrats?
   In a democracy the people are supposed to decide what they want and what they don’t want. And roughly 24 million minds are better than nine. Put the Senate to a vote of the people. That’s the way it should be done.
Oz and the boys at Golden Gate
Sometime in the next week or two this blog will be turned over to Ozzie, my rockstar granddog who lives in California. Ozzie, me, my daughter and two grandsons will be travelling from California to Shaman's Rock in an RV. I'll be helping with the driving, and Ozzie will be doing the writing. He has a different take on many things. So watch for it as On Shaman's Rock makes room for The Ozzie Dog's Blog. It promises to be a howl.