MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016: Blog http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog en-us (C) MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016 mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Thu, 18 May 2017 17:40:00 GMT Thu, 18 May 2017 17:40:00 GMT Bryce Part 2 http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/5/bryce-part-2 Another moody day but we were committed and could skip the first few stops we had already done.  The climb up to 10,000 feet is amazing and it really does just make one stand in awe and wonder.  As my Mom says "God don't make no Junk!"   Some HDR in here that I messed with some - hey otherwise it is all just red rocks!  Depending on your monitor they may look funky.

]]>
mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/5/bryce-part-2 Thu, 18 May 2017 17:39:54 GMT
Bryce Part 1 http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/5/bryce-part-1 We did two trips to Bryce so I'll try to put the photos in two posts for each day.    Hard to choose what to put in here!  The long skinny ones of course are off the Iphone...no editing there.

I personally loved watching the weather go through but the others in the group were not as thrilled with the cold and the wind.  I could have stood at some of those points all day and just taken different shots.

]]>
mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/5/bryce-part-1 Wed, 17 May 2017 00:07:37 GMT
A Walk up to Mossy Cave http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/5/a-walk-up-to-mossy-cave The cave wasn't the draw but the waterfall was!   Of course.  I did however take one picture of the moss in the cave just to prove it is there! On the way back out it started snowing.....

 

]]>
mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/5/a-walk-up-to-mossy-cave Sun, 14 May 2017 20:40:23 GMT
Kodachrome Part 2 (and Grosvenor Arch) http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/5/kodachrome-part-2-and-grosvenor-arch  

Views around the park and from our drive to Grosvenor Arch.  All part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

]]>
mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/5/kodachrome-part-2-and-grosvenor-arch Sat, 13 May 2017 00:41:58 GMT
Kodachrome Part 1 http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/5/kodachrome-part-1 We love State Parks and I will say that the 2 Utah ones we've stayed at definitely told me that they are cared for as well as the Oregon ones I adore!   I met my family (we had 3 spots together) and had a lovely time with them.  They were game by day 2 to try a short hike so we hooked up Teddy and Epic and they were troopers, hiking up on top of one section of the park and we had amazing views!   I'm probably at this point going to start just posting photos until I get to the post for Bryce.  I have LOADS as every time the light changed the colors and beauty changed as well. 

My two complaints about the campground was the presence of too many ferel children cutting through people's campsites and too many parents that even though they might be with their kid (say on bikes) were letting their children pester other campers.  I am NOT a fan.  My dogs were better behaved than well than at least 3 of the kids camping there.  That said, there were also a few brave families there with their children that were absolute joys to behold.  Well behaved, helping their parents, etc.   Okay, so a pet peeve of mine is that campgrounds of any sorts put loads of restrictions on people with pets, but nothing for those with kids....just sayin!   The other was that they took the time to make lovely paved sites, but they were extremely unlevel.  I was up on 4 blocks on one side of my skinny trailer to get even close.   

Okay on to the photos, these are either from the campground proper or from our hike that first day.

I love these guys and we were really glad it wasn't summer hot when we did this hike.  The one in the lead with Teddy is my Mom - turned 80 while we were there!  Very proud of her!

It was so interesting how this stuff looks like it would be wet mud but it isn't (it probably is during the rains) it is solid sandstone.

Many more to come!  

 

 

]]>
mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/5/kodachrome-part-1 Thu, 11 May 2017 20:13:40 GMT
Highway 12 Scenic Byway http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/5/highway-12-scenic-byway After my lovely stop north of Salt Lake City, I headed out fairly early on Sunday morning and headed south, then east, then west.  Yeah I know but hang in there with me.   I will here and now say that the 100 miles from Willard Bay sucked!   Even with no horrible traffic it was stressful hauling the trailer through the city, but we made it without too much trouble.  I did start scouting for gas stations as I got out of the big traffic areas so I knew where I could fill before heading back into the city in a week or so.   I spotted the most lovely, easy access, HUGE parking lot station in Mona, on the exit for Young Living (they make lovely essential oils there at the farms AND host a massive draft horse show each Fall).

I had planned my route to head east at Scipio and then to Selena and a pop back west to catch the Highway 12 Scenic Byway.   Yeah, I should have researched more!   First off, that scenic byway is WAY better going west to east (but I knew going home I didn't want to take the time and effort to do that - when I'm headed home am like a horse headed to the barn).   The other thing I didn't realize (although it wasn't an issue for us) is that there are like 3-4 major mountains you "get to" climb over and not a one of them that you could get a run at.  I thanked God it was cool out!   NOT recommended for large motorhomes or big trailers for sure.    Because I was going the wrong direction AND because I had the trailer I didn't get to pull off and get photos of many of the scenic pull outs that I wanted to.  Oh well.    It was gorgeous but it is a very slow (I knew that going in) drive on curvy mountain roads with speed limits around 30-35.   My recommend, camp at Kodachrome or around Escalante somewhere and then plan a really long day to head over towards Torrey and back with just a car.  It is totally worth it!  I'd also highly recommend getting the pamphlet on the US 12 Scenic Byway and Backways at whatever end you start at (check with the Visitor Centers or online).   

I will say it is a bit hair raising (and I'm used to the mountain driving) driving the backbone of part of Grand Escalante Staircase but there were some nice pulloffs (luckily not much traffic) to get some photos.   So I am going to start the masses of red rock pictures with these couple!  I couldn't stop for long as I needed to keep pulling uphill mostly and didn't want the truck to overheat and didn't want to pull into camp at dark (was meeting my family there).  Tally Ho!

]]>
mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/5/highway-12-scenic-byway Tue, 09 May 2017 19:24:04 GMT
Great Salt Lake Here We Come - Oh the Birds! http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/5/great-salt-lake-here-we-come After a 2 night stay in Dillon my friend Robin headed home and the dogs and I headed south to our next stop.   I had reservations at a Utah State Park north of Salt Lake City.   I am a HUGE fan of staying in State Park campgrounds if I can get the services I need.  I'd found this one of course back in December when planning my trip and reserved a spot for 2 nights with a full hookup.  Willard Bay State Park is absolutely lovely and I cannot say enough for the behavior of my fellow campers - most with families.   There were kids (pre-teens especially) wandering the Nature Trail the entire time but they were very well behaved.  The big group a few spots down was playing horse shoes and I'd say at least 50% of the campers had dogs - none of which were running loose.   What a treat!   I also had the honor to meet a camper couple that pulled up across from me with the cutest little tear drop like I'd never seen before.  It was called an A-scape made by the people that make the A-liner trailers.   On my way out on Sunday they were the only ones up and moving and I needed a pair of eyeballs for a trailer light check.  The husband came over, I commented on their trailer and I got a tour (didn't even have to go in).  They'd moved up from a traditional bed only tear drop as hubby had back issues and wanted a trailer he could stand up in.   This was compact and AWESOME.  Come to find out it was one of the first off the line and they'd just gone to AZ to pick it up.   Had a lovely little solar panel on the roof, a/c, a dinette/bed up front and a full kitchen with an under counter fridge.  Nice and light inside and very light to pull.   As we visited before I left I found out the live in Stevensville, MT.   Made me smile.

The only warning about the campground is that due to it's location to the water and confirmation from other campers, come warm weather it is overrun with skeeter and bugs.   I was not surprised so this was the PERFECT time to be there.

I had also noticed that this campground was fairly close to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and of course I saw the opportunity to possibly do some photos of birds.   Of course I was up and out of the campground fairly early (the sun doesn't come over the mountains though till after 8).  Here are the photos from that adventure.  The visitor center wasn't open yet but luckily the flooding had subsided (happens every year) and I was able to enjoy the drive in to the auto tour.   So here are birds and beautiful scenery from the area.  I will say I was very impressed with myself and the way the bird photos turned out.  Yes, I deleted a LOT but these I was very happy with (and I am my worst critic).

Am going with Glossy Ibis here only because the bird book said you cannot tell it from a White Ibis except in breeding season and even then it appears that is hard to tell....although I think the first photo might just be a White Ibis, the other two definitely fall in the Glossy Ibis category I think.    I saw more ibis here than I've ever seen anywhere.  They were very literally EVERYwhere.   That was so surprising to me.  I just didn't realize there would be so many in this area of the country.

A Cinnamon Teal and his girlfriend.  Was very happy they were so calm and the light was decent.  Aren't those red eyes just striking?

Not the most fabulous photo as these Long-Billed Curlew's were really moving snagging their breakfast.  Still wanted to show it since I did see quite a number of them.

Another hard to photograph bird as they are about as freaky as ducks.  Gotta love those American Coots though (and those freaky green feet).

I couldn't resist the line of swallows.  They really have the cutest faces.

A little bit of shadow but this Meadowloark serenaded me and well, it really is my most favorite bird song ever.

There were amazing numbers of American Avocets out and about and I couldn't resist showing you all some of the preening activity going on.  It did appear most were already paired up.  I am getting to the point with some of my wildlife photos that I'm not looking for perfect portrait things anymore but rather photos that show more of who they are and what they do.

One particular reed and cattail bed was really close to the road and there was so much blackbird activity going on I couldn't resist.   Both Red-Winged and Yellow-Headed blackbirds were hanging around as well as some super quick songbirds that I couldn't capture or identify.   Always a challenge getting the right backgrounds when they are so busy but the last one is kinda different/cool.

A male Northern Shoveler.  He was hanging with his girlfriend but they couldn't figure out if they wanted to stay together.  Another hard to photograph dude because of light, freakishness and that light and dark.  I have a closer one of him but I think I like this one better.

Most of the Western Grebes too were pretty freaky about anyone looking at them.   Still some pretty good shots for far away and knowing they can dive and swim a loooong way before you get the camera focused.

These Black-Necked Stilts were so fun to see in such large numbers.   I was very pleased with these first two shots (oh the challenges of black and white birds) but the water images after were some of my favorites.

 

I saved the best for last!   This Snowy Egret is a first for me but I will totally admit that had it not been for another guy parked along the road behind his car with a camera I would have missed it!   He of course had the prime light but I'm still pretty tickled at these!

 

 

]]>
mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/5/great-salt-lake-here-we-come Sat, 06 May 2017 18:22:01 GMT
It Was Great http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/5/it-was-great Back from a great vacation and have many photos to share.  I'll get the posts out as quickly as I can but I came back to work with a new large scale project and am pulling 10 hour days and by the time I'm done, looking at the computer is the LAST thing I want to do.  Still I want to share my adventures with friends, family and the pups so here we go....

I took off the first day with trailer in tow but not after some drama in that as I was ready to hook up, I noticed a low tire on the truck.  Thank goodness we were leaving later in the day and only had 150 miles to go.   With 90 minutes before Robin would arrive to follow us to Dillon (thank goodness I was pretty much packed up) I had to run to the tire place and get it fixed and the rest checked.  Sure enough - there was a screw in it.  Crisis avoided but more drama to start a vacation than I'd like!

We took the back roads to Dillon and I now have a "go to" route to take if I go that way again (and I did on the way home).   Have done I15 more times than I can count and this was much prettier.   We arrived in Dillon, got setup at camp and ran into town to find La Fiesta Mexicana - a converted school bus that is owned by Mexican immigrant and serves THE BEST Mexican fair I've ever had.  On paper plates with plastic wares but amazing and a ton of food for the price.  So glad we went!

The stay at Countryside RV (where I've stayed many years ago) did not disappoint either.  Lovely spaces, green grass (already mowed), lots of birds out in the irrigation areas.   Reminds me I need to get my Campendium reviews done too!  I also got to use my new gate made by friend Maria for the xpen yard.  OMG it is so nice and so much easier than dealing with unhooking expens.   A+ for that!  I have decided thought I'd like one more expen to make the yard a bit larger -  or at least have the option especially when we are parked on pavement with the skinny trailer.

The next morning we got up and I couldn't get the stove to light, and the water heater was out.   Hmmmm, we had hot water the night before!  Monkeyed around with switching propane tanks and at least got my coffee going but they both were showing all but empty.  The first trip of the season is always spent working out the kinks.

We took off for Bannack with all the dogs loaded up and it was chilly!  The now State Park was awesome and even though the weather wasn't picture perfect we almost had the place to ourselves.  I got some photos of Robin (on her camera) that she wanted and after we were done wandering through the ghost town we went back with the poodles for some fun shots (channeling my friend Carol - not nearly as good as hers but still fun).

 

First stop the Bannack Cemetery which honestly if you aren't paying attention you'll miss it.   I'm always fascinated by the memorials left (and that no one has run off with those coins).   The wooden head markers that now are all but gone, leaving the dust left under them as a mystery and the amazing iron work that was done back in those days.   This cemetery was very large and most of the markers and fencing are gone but still very interesting to read the stories (or imagine them).   The pebble work on Mabel's grave below is something I have never seen before and I thought it was very cool.

Next stop the town of Bannack - our first State Capitol!  Hope you enjoy the photos....I am sure you will see some of the things that caught my eye, but I leave you to find your own.

And some photogenic poodles!  Well they kinda look like convicts in the first shot!  LOL  We'd found the wagon wheel area taking photos of Robin so I knewwwww that we would have some interesting things there.

Back to the trailer mid afternoon and loaded up the propane tanks and went into Dillon in search of propane.  The gal at the Cenex was awesome, filled em up (and no they were NOT empty) and explained that the last time they were filled it was likely the person who did it (the actual propane place here in Helena no less) didn't take the air off the tops so there was an air lock that we hit.   Nice, but hey, she did it right and all was well the rest of the trip.  Relief and off to Muffaletta's for early dinner.  Another foodie place in Dillon I had heard about.  It did not disappoint!  THE best EVER grilled cheese I've ever eaten and I've eaten a LOT!

 

]]>
mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/5/it-was-great Fri, 05 May 2017 00:32:02 GMT
That Time of Year http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/4/that-time-of-year Since I've been joyfully watching many snow geese and swans fly over my home and watching them down on Lake Helena, I felt it was a good time to share again some photos from previous years at Freezeout.   I will say I think I have seen more around the Helena Valley this year than in previous and it makes me very happy.

We are happily getting ready for Spring (my garden bulbs are up and the crocus are already done blooming and there are buds on many bushes), not really enjoying the windy days and could use some moisture.  

]]>
mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/4/that-time-of-year Wed, 05 Apr 2017 16:19:14 GMT
Eagle Patience and Rowdy Ravens http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/3/eagle-patience-and-rowdy-ravens

We were kind of hoping the eagle would take flight to get over to the carcass when the coyote left.  Nope, she ran her little legs off and high-tailed it over that way.  

Now these two spent a good half an hour flying around arguing about everything.   It was rather comical actually so I had to try to capture them.

]]>
mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/3/eagle-patience-and-rowdy-ravens Sun, 26 Mar 2017 22:11:15 GMT
Coyotes on Carcass http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/3/coyotes-on-carcass I warned you - if you are squeamish this might not appeal to you but I think all can appreciate that this is the way life goes in the wild.   We pulled off where there were a bunch of folks gawking at one of the marsh areas in the valley.   Then they were looking across the road.  What?   So we look over the edge of the parking area and right there at the bottom of the cliff is an old (as in been there a while) bison carcass with ravens and coyotes (there were 2) feeding on it.  Reports had it that there was a grizzly on it the evening before and early that morning but he was long gone.    The rangers that stopped by also said there were reports of up to 3 carcasses floating around in that general area.   We only saw the one although there must be food around as the wold spotter plane was finding wolves in the general area as well (again we didn't see them).   

I was very happy to see that, even though the winter we had was more normal than the mild ones we've been having, the coyotes looked in amazingly good health.    I'll share the tale of the very patient bald eagle and ravens next post.

]]>
mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/3/coyotes-on-carcass Fri, 24 Mar 2017 15:36:05 GMT
Geyser Birds http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/3/geyser-birds These two were quite a surprise as we walked up to the lower geyser basin at Mammoth and we heard birds.  Took a while to spot them and I was amazed they were playing around at the bottom of the springs.   Of course I didn't have the right camera but still was pretty happy with the shots I got.   I definitely have a new appreciation for their camouflage.

]]>
mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/3/geyser-birds Thu, 23 Mar 2017 18:50:30 GMT
Yellowstone Bison http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/3/yellowstone-bison

]]>
mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/3/yellowstone-bison Wed, 22 Mar 2017 13:51:03 GMT
Yellowstone Pronghorn http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/3/yellowstone-pronghorn

 

]]>
mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/3/yellowstone-pronghorn Tue, 21 Mar 2017 18:17:22 GMT
Are You Ready for some Road Trip? http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/3/are-you-ready-for-some-road-trip Admittedly things have been pretty quiet and dark around our home for a while and I can say I was very much looking forward to my annual winter Yellowstone trip with my buddy Robin.   Unfortunately our original date picked ended up cancelled due to horrific weather so we backed it off a week and had fabulous roads and weather to go....at o-dark-thirty!

The time change definitely benefited us as did the clear roads.   We saw scads of wildlife on the way down to the park and once in the park and as all good wildlife photogs know, by mid-day it all disappeared.  We headed home about 1:30 and both commented on how we were avoiding wildlife on the roads all the way in but there was nothing to be seen on the way home.   I have never had to avoid as much wildlife on the road as we did heading in - but we did AVOID it all so I was happy.

Am going to break this trip up into a number of posts and I will warn you the coyote and eagle posts coming up has them eating on winter kill so if that stuff makes you squeamish you may want to skip those - although in all fairness I was really happy with some of the results!

My photography goal this trip was to get back in the groove with my cameras (that went so-so) and to become friends with my tripod.   That also went so-so but I am at least getting used to what knobs do what and I'm pretty sure that even opened up it is more steady than my hand held.  I did take the opportunity to bump down my ISO (usually use 200 for my handheld stuff) and I will have to admit I didn't see a huge difference.  Especially in the stuff shot with my telephoto completely extended.   

So this first post is scenery for you and our "surprise" shot (wayyyyy off) of a young moose, which neither Robin nor I thought we'd ever see from the road in the Park.   Also, scenery is limited because as you probably guessed, only the winter roads are open - Mammoth and to Lamar.  

 

The photo below gives you an idea how far away we were from the moose - this is at 600mm.

 

We will take it!  LOL

 

]]>
mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/3/are-you-ready-for-some-road-trip Mon, 20 Mar 2017 01:34:35 GMT
Sadly Another Tribute http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/3/sadly-another-tribute The emotional toll that has been put on my household this past month has been huge.   Not 3 weeks after Bandit's passing, my Magic-man gave me the sign that he was really done with his broken physical body and I had to make the decision to help him achieve his wish while he still had his dignity intact.  I cannot still think about him being gone without tears in my eyes but I hold on to the words of my very good friend Adele who pointed out the "dignity" (especially with the other dogs around) he deserved.   It was hard to let him go but equally hard to see my retired agility dog barely able to stand much less walk (and he hasn't been able to jump or run for months).    So I sucked up my courage and but him and his wishes first and we spent mucho lap time on Sunday and Monday and his very last hour was spent out on the front deck in his spot on the patio swing with me in the sunshine.  That is where we let him go on.   I can only hope his spirit returns to give someone else as much joy as he gave me this past 15 1/2 years.

He came to me from a beloved (now gone) friend and breeder in ND named Lilian.   I called on her spirit on Sunday and Monday to come escort him to his next adventure as she had when she brought his little life into this world back in 2001. 

He was my very first conformation dog and finished his Championship in a hurry before he was even 2 years old and having only been shown 7 times.  Not a small accomplishment when his Mom didn't have a CLUE what she was doing!    He even gave me the opportunity to go into the group ring with him not once but twice.   He was a STUNNING example of the breed not only in appearance but also in his temperament.  After finishing that CH he went on to become my highest titled agility dog as well earning his Excellent/Masters titles in both Standard and Jumpers (preferred level).   My only regret in his life was that no one ever had interest in breeding their girls to him to continue his legacy.   So.....

I share his legacy in photos....

 

He was known for his "grin" that we taught him to do on the table (so having his mouth examined wasn't so traumatic).

Darned sisters beating up on him!

Love you my little man and I miss having you on my lap in the recliner!

]]>
mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/3/sadly-another-tribute Wed, 15 Mar 2017 19:54:45 GMT
Trailer Update http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/3/trailer-update Can you tell I'm really getting excited about vacation?    

As you all have figured out I don't tend to "leave things alone" much as I find things that work in the trailer and don't work or can be improved.   I mentioned a few months ago that I was embarking on a new Ramp Project!    Again, I wanted a ramp that both humans and dogs could use and feel safe on.  No small task but I'm still happy with the aluminum ATV ramp that I found to use (no holes in it).   The old dog ramp as you might rmember, was great and  long enough for them BUT it make for about a shoe-wide step for humans and I'm getting old (quit laughing) and was not really happy with the risk associated with that teeny part of the step.  I also was becoming irritated at dealing with trying to jam the short expen fence behind the trailer step to keep dogs in (Epic and Dot)!   It was irritating when the place I parked was a bit unlevel (it wouldn't fit and I was not thrilled having to crawl on my hands and knees to do it (especially on cold wet muddy ground).

I got the ramp support made and was using clamps to hold it but really was concerned with the holding power they had (or didn't have).   This was Phase 1.

After pondering it all a bit and surveying the situation I came up with a non-clamped solution that I'm really happy with (after two trips to town for hardware).    Using the slots in the step I drilled 4 holes in the sides of the support and bolted them in - SUPER sturdy and just so you don't think I'm just a genius - I did the front ones thinking it would be enough and then discovered it might still tip forward from the top.  Back to town and the back holes were secured!

Next was a solution to the clamps holding the ramp onto the support.   Those worried me too with the poodle traffic as well as the fat Mom (me) that would be up and down it.    I will tell you now I am learning much about drilling holes in aluminum between this and my trailer.   There IS a right way and a wrong way!   Again, so you don't say "Sherry you are a genius" I at first dropped bolts in this which alone would hold it, but without something on the bottom of them I'd no doubt lose the suckers in between stops.    Clevis Pins and cotter pins were the answer (it needed to be easy and I really wasn't thrilled about screwing on nuts to bolts while upside down under the ramp.

The other issue I've yet to get resolved completely is the hinges to put the 2 halves of the ramp together.   Right now I'm using bolts and nuts but I'm hoping to find some long clevis pins I can use as I want an easy way to take it apart as 2 halves are a bit heavier to move than I'd like.  I also am going to put handles on each half to carry them (drilled into those outside edges).

Are you sensing a theme?   I'm trying to do what I can to make setup and take down as easy as possible.   Especially those days when you pull into camp and it is 100 degrees and I have a headache!  LOL   I also am not sure if I'm going to figure out something to put on the ramp for traction.  Will need to see how Dot and Magic manage it without (my preference).   The new under-step gating now will go around the front of the step and support and hook to the big expens on either side.

I also got busy and am trying a new way to secure the expens in the back of the trailer.   What I was doing was jamming them behind my benches and strapping them in.  That just wasn't working all that well to be honest.  I have also needed to up the expens to 36" tall after Epic determined 30" wasn't high enough.   What I am trying (may or may not work) is securing them to the ramp deck.   Easier to secure but adds about 50 pounds to the weigh lift to shut the tailgate.   So far so good and it wouldn't hurt me to beef up the arms anyway.

Still lots to get situated inside the trailer.  I also have some work to do in the front storage and hitch area.    I also have a new system I purchased to help me with hitching up.  Now yes, I can hitch up without help and do pretty darned well BUT twisting around to see the tailgate with dogs' heads and crates in the back of the truck etc. isn't always easy....or accurate.   I found the IBall system and after some research on other options, I decided to go for it.  I've not tested it yet (too cold to mess with hitching up just for that reason).    I liked it because it has its own camera and display (which is 12 volt) as I really just didn't want yet another app on my phone or ipad to deal with it.   This is independent and that is what I wanted - only need it when hitching so will go in the truck storage the rest of the time.

Speaking of the Ipad another think I wanted to get was a bigger better, not tethered to my cell signal, GPS.  In searching for an actual GPS with offline maps I was visiting with my ever geeky (it's a good thing) brother and he suggested the Sygic app - 7 day free trial.   What he did was bought a cheapo tablet (I didn't want it on my phone, I wanted a big enough screen to SEE) and put the app on it.    Screen is actually bigger than any of the actual GPS screens too.   I downloaded the app to just mess with it my one requirement being that I could easily create CUSTOM routes either in the app or on Google and download them.   This allows for both (although I've tested making them on the tablet and it works just dandy)!   I ordered a "cheapo" Android tablet which promptly had an issue with the speakers so it got returned (plus the Android operating system annoyed me since I've not got experience with Apple).    But my Ipad didn't have GPS and no way was I buying another Ipad (too expensive).  The whole idea here was to not spend $200+ on a GPS.   Geeky brother to the rescue again and I now have a handy dandy GPS Bluetooth unit that connects to my Ipad!

The Dual Electronics XGPS150A Universal Bluetooth GPS Receiver for Portable Devices  has tested out amazingly well and paired in with the Sygic app no problem.

I've got my maps saved off for my trip to Utah and home.   There are some great things in the app that I do like, there is a speedometer that shows up (no additional app needed for my truck which doesn't show the right speed because of the big tires), shows rest stops (and other points of interest you have selected) and the mileage to the next, gas stations, etc.  For $20 there is also a heads up display (for at night) and a dash cam.  Highly recommend clicking the link and checking it out!   Plus offline maps - no cell signal needed.   The little GPS as you can see will also work for hiking (with your phone) if you want.   Now to figure out what I want to use to secure the Ipad in my truck.

Yup, I'm all geeked out - what happened to the days when we traveled with no phones, no GPS, no connectivity, just a paper map (which I'm also taking by the way - just so you know)!   My new Ruggables came the other day and I have a fancy new gate being made for my expens but I will save those for a future update!  :)  It has now turned cold and snowy and I'm not inclined to go out and work in the trailer now till it warms up again!

]]>
mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/3/trailer-update Thu, 09 Mar 2017 21:11:53 GMT
A Woofers Update & Food Change http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/3/a-woofers-update I've got a number of posts to do so decided to kind of split them up a bit here so I don't bore everyone.  This one is canine related (as you might have guessed).

MT Waggin-land is busy even with the loss of our beloved Bandit.   Hospice care still goes on for my other 2 seniors and Magic I am starting to see fail and don't think he will be with us terribly much longer either, but then, he may surprise me.   He just is struggling with losing his sight as well as instability in his rear legs and what I suspect is some CCD (canine cognitive disorder).   I already have a gut feeling he isn't going to be one that will go as peacefully as his brother.   So we take it a day at a time.   Dot meanwhile still plods along, totally blind and deaf but still up moving around and yelling for her food most mealtimes.  The photo below is BEFORE her bath and haircut - which everyone got a few weeks ago....

All the dogs got their first sun bathing chance out on the front deck recently and then, well it turned cold again.  Needless to say when the wood stove isn't burning, the heated dog beds (we have 3) are the favorite napping spots!    Luckily it was warm enough for me to get the front deck cleaned off (yes this IS cleaned off), the rugs laid out and the dog beds put down.  New "fencing" however was required after Dot walked right off the edge of the deck within her first 3 minutes.   It isn't an every day place so I'm sure she just doesn't remember.  So some short expen fence fixed that problem (with a couple of boards where it wouldn't reach.

The other bonus to warmer weather (and that most of the snow is gone now) is that the dog door is open for their convenience (after some repairs) and with a little shoveling and an hour of fence repairs, the "back 40" is also open for business (the poodles LOVE that!).   

My front yard is all melted off which is definitely a big bonus for training.  Epic is entered in both Rally (Excellent) and Novice Obedience in a few weeks so along with classes once a week we are desperately trying to get in some practice for that.   Still have a few hiccups in some areas and I have NO idea how he is going to handle switching gears from Rally one round (where I can talk to him and we do more "trick" stuff) to formal obedience the next (no talking).   We shall see.  I keep telling myself that if I can put a CD on a weimaraner and a xolo I can certainly manage it with a poodle!    We also have some agility coming up the weekend after that.  Nope, not one iota of practice but we are going to go have fun anyway and support the club!   I'm totally okay with the ensuing train wreck!

Sterling is all scheduled out for the next few months with his therapy visits and in the meantime is just hanging loose, playing some games and trying to get back at Epic for all the evil things he does to him when they are outside.  They are both thrilled I have the big yard opened up so they can run up there.  

Tinker is also doing really well.  Her skin is improving and then has setbacks but I feel we are on the right track.   She is goofy and silly and loves to go for rides, walks and REALLY loves to go in the bedroom and do trick training stuff.  She ALSO is in love with any visitors and especially Auntie Adele who did her first ever massage and JSJ session recently!

Our other big change has been in dog food.   I have friends (Nancy and Libby) who are impressive dog food diet experts.  Now I'm no dummy and I've gone back and forth with feeding raw to my dogs (and dehydrated raw) for many years.   It just wasn't something that I could sustain financially or time wise with the number of dogs I had.   With our numbers sadly dwindling and more and more options out there for feeding I decided to once again start evaluating what I was feeding.   Now I have to say that for the most part my dogs have lived long full healthy lives on dry kibble (super high quality) and are doing okay on what they get now (Petcurean brand) but I really felt I could do better and I knew that back when I was feeding dehydrated or raw they did even better.    I picked up a couple of books on canine nutrition and started reading.  I HIGHLY recommend these books (which were also recommended to me) and you can find them on Amazon (or other book sellers) as ebooks or print copies.   The first one is a great read for many of the stories she tells and the second is by Dr. Dodds, pioneering doctor for vaccination research and nutrition.   Neither are written in "medical-ese" as I won't read that stuff.

 

I made an appointment with friend Libby to discuss diet options and get some of my questions answered.    Tinker will be raw fed forever most likely as she is intolerant of so many ingredients that are dumped into dry kibble as fillers and such.   I took along Tinker's test results and also some general questions.   I had spent a week doing The Math to figure out if the raw prepared food (includes everything they need) would be cost effective vs what I would need to feed for super high quality canned food (yup, reading the books actually they recommend high quality canned) vs the kibble I was feeding.    The Math showed that to feed canned say to just the poodles was going to cost virtually the same as the suggested amount of raw they need (2% per pound of weight-ish to start).  Same was determined for The Math to feed the dehydrated food I use (NRG USA) and it too came out the same (will be great options for variety or travel though).   As for the kibble vs raw, well of course it is more....WAY more but I determined I could budget appropriately and be able to use kibble (something I learned was not the horrible thing we were told back in the day when raw feeding started - thanks Libby) for the times I can't afford to do raw, or that it just isn't convenient (like when we take our vacations and I don't have a place to put 40 pounds of frozen food).

I started with the little dogs and all but one was put on raw along with Tinker mid February.   The littles all switched over swimmingly so this month is our trial run for everyone!

Bonus alert, the poops are SERIOUSLY smaller (always good to have less poop patrol) once they get adjusted AND they don't stink to high heaven.    Read the books to learn why (all about that species appropriate diet).    I also learned from Libby that since I'm doing prepared raw vs the carcas feeding I was doing before I don't have to mess around with a ton of additional supplements and worry about imbalances.   Yes I still have some supplemental items I'm giving (fish oil, tumeric, coconut oil, pumpkin as needed for the ones that get stopped up easily) but they aren't every day and they are readily available.  Heck, I was doing those with their kibble anyway.

So not a sales pitch but I do think MAYBE I've found an option for feeding raw.  I will report back later on how things are going on that front.   Oh and if you wanted to know I'm feeding Northwest Naturals raw - made in the USA.   Something I've fed the nuggets of off and on since they came out.   Am also every other week or so adding some Answers Raw Cows or Goats Milk to everyone but Tinker (who is super sensitive to any dairy including yogurt).    To get some of that good nutrient in her system Libby recommended Marine Phytoplankton (you will read about that in the books above too) since any dairy seems to set her off.

My other hope is that food without all the preservatives and chemicals might also help Louie.   He's been a challenge with some of his emotional stuff (quite hyperactive at times) so we shall see what happens there.   It has already helped Teddy with much of his anxiety that I was seeing  before (and have for years).   Time will tell and I promise to spare you any poop pictures!  LOL   Everyone always says my pets eat better than I do!  

]]>
mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/3/a-woofers-update Wed, 08 Mar 2017 17:29:08 GMT
Away Too Long & a Tribute http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/3/away-too-long It is Sunday morning and it is quiet both inside and outside so I'm going to take a moment to write something and post some photos.  Again, life has gotten crazy and my blog suffers so here goes.

I will not complain that life is busy but it sure would be easier with the nasty sinus infection I'm fighting and if my back wasn't out.   Boohoo me!   Still things have to be done and honestly, I've been away from the blog mostly because the canine care here had to be ramped up substantially in February and sadly I lost my beloved Bandit a week ago.   I was determined to let him pass on his own terms as long as he wasn't in pain but as many of you know when hospice turns into active end of life care, it is exhausting.   Yet still taking care of the rest of the pack and trying to take care of me.   He did pass peacefully but the emotional toll on me resulted, yup, in my body revolting with sinus infection and bronchitis afterwards.

So here is a little tribute to my helicopter tail....

Bandit came to us in 2003 as a show prospect.  A true hairless crested (hard to find) with the most spectacular skin - till the very end - I had hopes of showing him but honestly, the chaos of the show ring was just too overwhelming for him.   He really just wanted to be him and so he was.   He instantly became my Mom's favorite lap companion.  He always had to spin around numerous times though before he'd get up in a lap.  He just was a circular kind of guy, his tail wagged in circles and circling was what he did anytime he was undecided.

He was one of my most avid sun worshipers and would almost always end up with pink and red spots instead of white for a bit every spring.

Bandit was ill off and on for a number of months but he always seemed to want to rally back if only for a while and I always still saw that sparkle of life left in his eyes.  I knew the Monday before he passed that he was done as the light was gone.  He was tired of fighting and his frail little body was shutting down.   Tuesday though he got some energy work from his Auntie Adele which he peacefully enjoyed.  (sorry for the crap Iphone picture - I'm finding that when it switches to HDR then the downloads suck)

Thursday night and Friday evening he spent quiet quality time with his forever buddy Dot and rocking with me in the recliner.  Friday night I laid him in bed with Dot and she gently licked him and laid down right beside him.  By morning he was gone, peacefully in the very same position I'd put him in the night before.

I miss him terribly and still look for him to be laying in one of the beds in his lizard jammies - a habit after 13 1/2 years.   His ashes will be put on the flower bed this spring with all my other dogs that have passed before him.   I miss you little buddy!

]]>
mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/3/away-too-long Sun, 05 Mar 2017 18:53:29 GMT
The Thaw Has Begun http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/2/the-thaw-has-begun We finally are starting to warm up!  YAY!   Last week Wednesday was the last single digit temp we have seen in almost a week (it was a whopping 3 degrees and -10 with the windchill).   So what did we do - went for a snowshoe walk of course!    I cannot believe that after a winter of actual snow it was the first time I'd been out.  Silly!   I convinced my friend Lori to bind up and come with the poodles and I after I had tried to hike the trail at the reservoir on Sunday with little success.    Then I got really crazy and since I had the day off on Friday I went back and it was aweful.  The snow was soft and slick and boy was my hip screaming by the time I was done.   Oh well, lesson learned....

Thought I'd share some of the proof with you that we actually did it (phone photos)...I am the one in the red coat (thanks Lori for the photo).

Make sure you turn up the volume and not only listen to me laughing but the conversation about what is going on.  Only about a minute and a half here.

These were from Friday.

I am so glad I did it and now also have found a snowshoe buddy.  Sterling wasn't that trilled with the trek so Friday he stayed home to babysit the little dogs.  He does that well.  Speaking of little dogs, Bandit is indeed still with us and after removing one of his meds seems more interested in eating.  I don't believe it he is long term but he might surprise us all.

As you can guess the dogs are really loving that the weather is warmer and most of all SUNNY!  We don't get a ton of sun in the house yet but they take every ray they can find.

With the warmer weather I decided this weekend I really wanted to start getting at least a few things marked off the travel trailer improvements list.  One biggy was to revamp the entrance ramp.   You might remember I had been using this one and the dogs could use it but the humans had to use about 1/3 of the step that was left.   For both me and my Mom that was getting a tad dangerous to do.

What I really wanted to do was get a ramp that humans AND dogs could use.  So around the holidays Harbour Freight had some smoking good deals and coupons and they had an all aluminum ramp used for loading 4 wheelers or motorcycles.   I knew that would support the humans (me).   It had been sitting in the box since then because it was too cold to deal with it.  I knew I needed to redo the wood support on the step to use it.   This was the end result of my weekend project and I'm pretty happy with it.  I will likely get something to put on the ramp for traction since I don't think the little dogs will be able to get up it without something.  I am thinking I will also do some other type of attachment of the wood support to the step, the clamps work but after a few poodle runs up and down I am worried they will come loose.   I can use the chain (came with it) to run behind the step and secure it for the time being though.  Haven't taken the time to figure that part out yet.   The lip on the ramp will be clamped to the support though.  The ramp will fold in half for transport and I also think I need to find a handle system to move it as it is a little ackward.

Still many things on the list for before I get back on the road but that is one item checked off.   Still need to get a new poly mat for ground cover, new shade cloths to use with the awning and xpens (found that what I have isn't quite big enough).  I also have I "think" found a GPS navigation option that I'm going to try out.   I'm a Google Maps fan but not for GPS because I like to go MY way and there isn't anyway to get that on to the phone.   I'll update on how that all goes once all the parts show up.   I've also ordered two more Ruggable rugs to put inside the trailer.  After getting 2 for my house and seeing how AMAZING they are I decided to get a couple for my trailer.  I highly recommend them - they don't move and the tops can be washed and dried (they dry super fast just hanging on the line).   They aren't cheap but big bulky rugs that cannot be washed aren't a good investment either.   

Epic and I start class this week to get him and I prepared for obedience competition the end of March.   I'm staying positive and mailed off the entries today.  Eeeks!    I always do better if I have some motivation to practice......

Last week I also attended a great viewing of PET FoolED (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eVoicSHimI) and while a great deal of the information I already knew there was a lot I didn't know.   It wasn't "preachy" and is done as a documentary to educate.   For most of the room it did!   We also had a great conversation with 2 ladies who drove up from Bozeman and answered any questions anyone had about feeding their dogs and cats (mostly dog people there but a few cat owners too).  I learned a lot and got a couple more books to read.   Very educational evening and I am so glad I went.

Work is rolling along.  Lots to do for sure and I just want to keep motoring along.  Having vacation to look forward to really helps.

]]>
mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) http://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2017/2/the-thaw-has-begun Tue, 14 Feb 2017 01:53:16 GMT