Monday, July 15, 2013

Ozzie On The Road Again (Finale)

   The best part of travelling is getting home, settling into your favourite chair and reflecting on the wonderful things you saw and did.
   I'm in my favourite deck chair looking out over El Toyonal and running the once-in-a-lifetime road trip through my mind's projector. There's much for me to reflect on after one month covering 6,622 miles through two countries, one large province and 15 states. We travelled though mountains, across high plains and deserts, through boreal forests and rested for a while in lake country.

   The lives of people we observed were as varied as the geography. But on reflection, they are in many ways much the same. They have the same aspirations, and the same types of problems.
   The most prominent and difficult problem is the political system - in both Canada and the United States. Everywhere we travelled we saw the results of decisions made by bureaucrats and politicians trying to please everyone. Decisions based on fear of being unpopular.
   We passed through areas in both countries where governments are bankrupt or teetering on the edge. Places where infrastructure is falling apart, where police services are being cut back, where recreational areas are closed and places where kids are not getting the education that is their right.
   There is not enough money to do everything and the political systems are too polarized to form the team effort needed to create innovative solutions.
   But what do I know, I'm just a dog. An Alaskan Malamute happy to be back in the hills beside the Pacific, where it's refreshingly cool.
   Thanks to Mom, Steve, John, Marcus for bringing me along. 
   And thanks to folks who came along through my blogging. I'm turning it back over the Old Guy now with the hope that he won't screw it up.

Some Bonus Snaps
Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado

Red Rock Monuments Everywhere

My Favourite Perch


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Ozzie On The Road Again - 8

   Most folks come to Las Vegas for the gambling. Not our little band of travellers. We come to a boiling parking lot in the warehouse district a mile and a half from the throbbing heart of The Strip.
   It is hot enough to fry a burger pattie on the asphalt at the rear of the lot. The parking area serves two newish warehouses not unlike others you would find away from the downtown core in any North American city. The only thing different about them is they are a desert sand colour, presumably to reflect the scorching sun.
   The far corner of the one building sports two glass windows, a glass door and a clever logo indicating that inside is Acrylic Tank Manufacturing. It seems an odd place for an aquarium company considering that I haven't scented a drop of water in the last 100 miles. 
   Life is full of surprises, however, even for a well-educated Alaskan Malamute such as me. They not only make custom aquariums inside, they film the work and turn it into Tanked, a popular kids reality show. 
   Tanked follows two real-life brothers-in-law who run the family aquarium manufacturing business. They will built any size of shaped aquarium that a customer requests. They create them in the shape of cars, pyramids, phone booths or whatever and leave Tanked viewers amazed and laughing.
   There's a little gift ship inside the plant and the guy running it tells me it receives up to 1,000 visitors a day. Las Vegas is a production town for a bunch of reality shows and tours of the production locations have become a business.
   He explains that millions of kids watch Tanked on Animal Planet TV because their parents don't want them watching the violence and sex of regular TV channels. So any adult who brings a kid to Las Vegas and asks "what would you like to see?" ends up out here in the warehouse district.
   It's a neat place to visit and there are no one-armed bandits there to pick your pockets.

The Place to Get Tanked in Vegas

Marcus and John Outside The Tank

How About an Aquarium Like This?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ozzie On The Road Again - 7

   A silly rule blocked the path to getting the photo of the decade today. I couldn't get in to the Four Corners Monument, so missed the chance to stand in four different states at the same time.
   Four Corners is where the state lines of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico intersect. It is the only place in the United States where this happens.
   The No Dogs Allowed signs were up all over the place, so people with cameras had to settle for snaps of people standing in two states, then bending over to touch the other two with their hands. How contrived!
   Four paws would have done it nicely, one paw in each state.
   Even worse, the Navajo Fry Bread stands were inside the No Dog Zone. Navajo Fry Bread is the best treat anywhere in the southwest.
   The Four corners is Navajo country, seemingly stretching forever across the tops of Arizona and New Mexico and the bottoms of Colorado and Utah. The Navajo are the largest native tribe in the U.S. and have their own government which includes a police force. 
   Despite no fry bread and no paws in four states, it was a wonderful day. The scenery here is spectacular. The canyonlands range in colour from red, to brown, black, white and grey. Throw in some green for the pinon bushes and some blue for the sage. 
   We went through Monument Valley and were awed at the different formations of rock projecting high into the sky above the high desert flatlands. The Glen Canyon Dam creating Lake Powell is a great stop with its modern visitor centre.

The gang (minus Oz) at Four Corners

Glen Canyon

Finger to the Sky

A Snow Cone in a Cup, No Fry Bread

Living Beneath the Giant



Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ozzie On The Road Again - 6

   Finally found a couple tourist sites where dogs are allowed and have the same privileges as humans. Both were nerve-wracking to say the least.
   Started the day with a visit to Traders Rendezvous, a mountain shop on the main street of Gunnison, Colorado. They welcomed me like a visiting dignitary. However, I quickly discovered that the shop is all about selling animal bones, skins and related trinkets.
   The place is stacked with piles of elk, deer, moose and other animal antlers. Also lots of taxidermy; stuffed deer, wolves, buffalo all with glassy eyes. Very creepy and I began to suspect the folks who run the place had an ulterior motive for inviting me in.
   There is also a gun section there and the Old Guy discovered an ancient Winchester 38-55 like his grandfather used to carry. That launched him into a long, tedious series of ancient hunting tales.
What a Spooky Spot
   Farther south in Telluride, the famous ski resort, I was invited to go up the mountain in the cable car. Great views, but not a great ride for a dog who loves his four feet firmly on terra firma.
   Telluride is built into a box canyon so the only way out of the place is the way you came in. But the views are wonderful. Every which way you turn you see a row of jagged peaks, or a colossal single mountain or a colorful row of red rimrock.
   Heading south from Telluride we went through a pass at 10,000 feet elevation, and then kept climbing. I was starting to breathe shallow.
   Into Arizona and New Mexico tomorrow.
Main Street Telluride
Going up, up, up

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ozzie On The Road Again - 5

   Colorado! State of majestic mountains and broad fertile valleys. And, finally some coolness.
   We've ended up in Gunnison in a lovely valley in west-central Colorado. Population about 5,800, elevation 7,700 feet. Definitely cattle country.
   Gunnison's historical claim to fame is that no one here died of the flu during the great Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918. The town closed itself off to the outside world during the outbreak.
   All highways leading into the town were barricaded. Train conductors warned passengers that anyone who got off in Gunnison would be arrested and quarantined.
   Naturally, when the Old Guy heard of this history he bugged me to include in my blog a mention of his book Killer Flu: The World on the Brink of an Epidemic. Geez!
   I might visit here in winter. The place gets an average 50 inches of snow and because it is in a low valley is considered one of the coldest winter places in the U.S. Colder than Alaska? No educated Malamute like me is going to believe that.

Arriving in Colorado!

John and Marcus Doing Water/Elect./Sewer Hookup

Goats Eating RV Park Shrubbery


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Ozzie On The Road Again - 4

When you are an aristocrat Alaskan Malamute like me, you’ve got to hate these Great Plains. Reason One: It’s too damn hot. Temperatures ranged from 90 to 107 degrees in Nebraska today. Even the creeks and ponds were too warm to be cooling off spots. Any shady spots were occupied early in the day by the rattlesnakes.
   Reason Two: History. There is much wonderful explorer and pioneer history here. However, for canines, past events are not a happy memory.
   This is the territory famous for being the starting point for the Louis and Clark expedition just over 200 years ago. Those were the two lads that President Jefferson sent out to explore the unknown parts of the new America and to find an overland route to the Pacific Ocean.
   In 1803, a year or so before setting out on the great exploration, Captain Merriweather Lewis bought himself a strange companion. It was a Newfoundland dog named Seaman. Lewis must have really wanted the dog because he paid $20 for it, a large sum back then.
Chillin' In RV A/C
   Seaman, until recent history had been known as Scanlon because of smeared ink on a document containing his name, endured the entire trip to the Oregon Coast and back. He suffered some hardships including being bit on the leg by a beaver.
   His fared much better than the other 263 dogs who joined the exploration. They all were eaten when food ran low. Seaman was the only dog to return home, which shows the wisdom of choosing the right owner and sucking up to him and her.
   You can read more about Seaman at and there have been books written about Seaman including Lewis and Clark and Me: A Dog’s Tale by Laurie Myers 2002.
   Other highlights of knowledge acquired out on the Plains:

  • In Lemoyne, Nebraska (pop. 40) rattlesnakes took over a new church and churchyard in the early 1940s. Ninety rattlers were rounded up before services could be held in safety.
  • TV dinners were invented by a Nebraskan in 1954. Gerry Thomas, a salesman for Omaha-based C.A. Swanson and Sons, is credited with yet another way for people to get indigestion.
  • Back in the 1980s a gosling was born with no feet in Harvard, Nebraska. Someone who took ownership of the gosling made shoes for him and taught him to walk. Andy the Footless Goose was featured in a 1989 People magazine article and appeared on the Tonight Show. Sudden fame can be dangerous. Andy was kidnapped and murdered in 1991. His body was found with his shoes still on.

Marcus and Mom: Adopted Nebraskans
107 F and Looking for Shade


Monday, July 8, 2013

Ozzie on the Road Again - 3

   Things are cooking and jumping here in the Midwest. We rolled out of Chicago in a booming thunderstorm while listening to the radio news that 75 people were shot in the city during the four–day July 4 holiday period. Reports varied but it appears 12 people died of gunshot wounds in a variety of shooting incidents and more than 60 were wounded. Two of the critically wounded were little boys who were celebrating in city parks with their families and were hit in separate incidents of random gunfire.
   We breathed easier after rolling out of the storm and big city traffic and into the undulating cornfields of Iowa. Not exactly quiet here, either. Talk radio everywhere, including one show devoted to the highlights of nudity so far in 2013. Been a good year, I gather, with a nice selection of celebrity women having posed nude for the cameras. This is Iowa?
   We found the Midwest we expected when we pulled into a campground just southwest of Des Moines. Just down the road is the town of Winterset, birthplace of John Wayne. He was born there May 6, 1907 to Clyde and Mary Morrison who named him Marion Robert Morrison. His father was a pharmacist.
   This is America, so the birthplace is much celebrated. They are raising money to build a new museum that will teach new generations “the character quality of John Wayne.” It costs $7 for adults to get into the current museum. Here you can buy a Duke Talking Pocket Watch, a Duke Calendar, a John Wayne Bobblehead and a Green Berets mug.
   There’s another movie connection in this area. This is Madison County where the bridges were featured in the 1992 book and 1995 move The Bridges of Madison County.
   Back in Canada it takes a canoe, compass, and machete to find the disputed burial place of Tom Thomson, the now famous Canadian painter, and subject of one of the country’s most enduring mysteries. (click the Old Guy’s website for details about his Tom Thomson book).
   More cornfields tomorrow. Meanwhile, remember the Duke’s words:
“Courage is being scared to death . . . and saddling up anyway.”

John Wayne Birthplace/Museum

Proposed New Museum

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Ozzie On the Road Again - 2

   The absurd discrimination against dogs prevents me from providing first-hand reporting on the trip to Wrigley Field, one of America’s holiest baseball shrines.

Dogs of course are not allowed on Chicago’s L (for elevated) transit system serving the stadium. Even if I got there, dogs are not allowed into the stadium. However, I can provide a report from various sources, none of whose reporting is as accurate or detailed as my own would be.
   Wrigley Field is the second oldest major league ballpark, opened in 1914. The oldest is Boston’s Fenway Park which opened in 1912. The L stops right beside the stadium and pours out thousands of people into the lively neighbourhood surrounding the park. Many crowd into Murphy’s Bleachers, the famous sports bar where patrons grab a beer and spill out onto the street.
   If you look up from the street you see an amazing example of American entrepreneurship. Bleachers have been built atop the stone and brick apartment buildings lining Sheffield and Waveland Streets. The bleachers look down in to the ballpark. You don’t need to buy a regular stadium ticket to see the game from there, but the people who own the outside bleachers charge a price for the novelty of watching the game from these perches.
   Inside Wrigley there is real grass and the outfield wall is draped in ivy. You are back in a different time, expecting a legendary player such as Babe Ruth to trot onto the field.
   There are hot dogs, pretzels and salted peanuts for sale. And, beer, of course.  You need to get a pink wrist band to buy beer. It’s proof that you are old enough to purchase alcohol. They even made the Old Guy go to the pink band desk to show his age ID. Obviously, it’s not just the umpire who is blind here.
   Wrigley truly is a place of miracles. The lowly Chicago Cubs defeated the league-leading Pittsburgh Pirates 4-1.
   That's it for now.

Murphy's Bleachers

Apartment Bleachers
The Venerable Ballpark

Steve, Marcus and John

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Ozzie On The Road Again - 1


Ready for the 4th
Hey, I'm back blogging. This has been a swellerino week. Celebrated Canada Day July 1 with the folks in Canada. And July 4 Independence Day with the folks in the U.S. Cool cross-border stuff.
    For those of you just joining the ride, here's the background. My name is Ozzie and  I'm a pure bred Alaskan Malamute. Was born in the Sierra Nevada near Truckee, CA and loped down the mountains to keep a San Francisco-area family safe and happy.
   Me, Mom Marcella and the boys, John and Marcus, have been RVing across North America with the Old Guy who usually writes this blog and has a cottage up in Canada. Now we are headed back to California and Dad Steve is with us for part of the ride.
   Phew, this background stuff takes a lot of space and energy!
   At any rate, here we all are in Glencoe Village (just outside Chicago) visiting friends and celebrating July 4 ( which is the day after my birthday! Thanks for all the cards and calls).
   Americans are much more enthusiastic than Canadians about celebrating their heritage. There were Independence Day gatherings in parks, house parties, flags on almost every doorstep and enough fireworks displays to dazzle the most jaded observer.
   Driving into Chicago I must have seen three dozen huge billboard ads for Krazy Kaplans' Fireworks. Interestingly, 99 per cent of all fireworks set off in the U.S. come from China, according to the New York Times.
   Another interesting July 4 fact: three presidents died on  Independence Day - Thomas Jefferson, James Munro and  John Adams.
   Went down to the beach twice today. Once for a swim and once at dusk for the fireworks displays. Towns and villages lining the shores north of Chicago put on spectacular displays. Got a sore neck from turning my head to see them all.
   You read  all kinds of bad stuff about the U.S. in the Canadian papers. But July 4 is the real America. Lots of nice folks, and of course nice dogs too.

Fireworks in Every Direction

Wading in Lake Michigan