I hope you’ll excuse a blog that has little to do with dog training this week. We just got home from vacation – where I spent the last eight days and 1,840 miles on the back of Paul’s Harley. Yes friends, if you weren’t already aware, this dog trainer/behavior consultant is also a biker chick.
So, I fully intended to keep a daily journal so this blog would be a quick bit of editing and push-the-button done, but of course that didn’t happen. My intentions got soggy the first day and never quite dried out. Of course, I always take pictures of dogs wherever I see them, so there are a few canine bits to follow…
We left Peaceable Paws about 9:30 on a warm, sunny, Sunday morning – final destination, Laconia, New Hampshire Bike Week – me in a sleeveless shirt, a little worried about getting sunburned (but not much worried).
We hoped to make it to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, by 1:00pm, in time to go on a fund-raiser ride for the SPCA of Luzerne Co., a shelter that used to be run by a friend of Paul’s, Ed Gross, until he retired a few years ago. According to our trusty GPS we were just going to make it, until the skies got ominously dark and the clouds opened up to deliver four inches of rain in one hour. Paul dashed off the Interstate and under an overpass to try to keep us dry, and in the process hopped a divider and broke the kickstand spring. A couple of hours, one bungee cord, and a stop at the SPCA later, we finally caught up with the ride finish at Bentley’s, where we hung out with Ed, had a couple of drinks, and tried to dry out.
(Didn’t help my frame of mind any to discover, when I dragged out my rain gear, that inside of my rain jacket was a soggy wet musty mess. At some point in the past a water bottle must have leaked in my saddlebag and been absorbed by the jacket liner. Yuck.
Leaving Wilkes-Barre the next morning, it was still cloudy and damp. I had dried my jacket lining with the motel hair dryer, but the odor still clung. I put it on, holding my breath, and climbed on the back of the bike, to make our way north to the Adirondacks. We stopped at the Harley dealer in Binghamton, NY, for a couple of hours to get the kickstand fixed, the exhaust welded, and a new rear tire. Consoled ourselves over ice cream at Friendly’s next door… We weren’t planning to arrive at Laconia until Wednesday, so we had plenty of time to wander our way north and east, through small towns, including Lake Placid, former winter Olympic site.
Upon crossing into Vermont, our nostrils were immediately assailed by the overpowering odor of confinement dairy cows. Seeing those poor Holstein girls standing and lying down in six inches of their own waste made me reconsider my addiction to cheese and ice cream – vegetarian crack, as they are sometimes known. I wonder where Ben and Jerry get their milk from…?
Wednesday dawned cool and cloudy again. Would we get any serious sun this trip? I’m still wrapped in several layers to ward off the cold. It seems reasonably warm out, until you get on the back of the bike and the wind starts whipping. Haven’t put on the thermals yet, but they are in the pack, just in case. Today was endless miles on the bumpiest road I’ve ever been on, at least on the bike. Thought we would never get there, but finally pulled into the parking are outside our rental cabin-by-the-creek in Lincoln, NH, 45 minutes north of Laconia, and home for the next three nights. We unpacked quickly, and decided to head for the action. Radar showed a little rain, but not supposed to arrive until 9pm – we should have time to go find bikes and food.
No such luck. Not much going on in Laconia (we found out that night that the bike stuff is really in Weirs Beach, east of Laconia) and we got rained on again heading back to our cabin. Dang. I looked at New Hampshire online and discovered that it looks like Swiss cheese. The lacy kind. Like it was really just water and someone dropped in a few blobs of dirt here and there so they could dock their boats and build vacation homes. There’s a lot of water there. Everywhere!
We woke up to clouds and sprinkles again Thursday morning, and hung out at home base, sleeping in and waiting for things to clear a bit. Finally headed for Weirs Beach around 11am and did one side of the biker party, dropping in at the Harley dealer, scoping out vendors, buying a scarf to keep the wind from whistling down my neck, and scrounging something that passed as vegetarian food for lunch. Then back on the bike to head north to Mt. Washington, the biggest must visit attraction of the area. This is the highest peak in the Northeastern US, and it’s an 8-mile climb from 1,000 feet to 8,200 feet on a partly-paved road. The road was closed to cars today so bikes to make the trip safely.
Blessedly, the sun came out on the two-hour ride to the mountain, and stayed out for the rest of our trip. I finally got warm! We did see a moose on the way (yay!) but I missed getting a picture (darn!). Although at 8200 feet with 30-mile-per-hour winds it wasn’t exactly toasty at the top. The ride and the view were exhilarating. The whole cold, wet, rainy trip was worth this one event. As we neared the top, clouds started whipping across the road, and then we were totally fogged in. The fog parted briefly for us up at the top, where, on a clear day, you can see 5 states, Canada, and the ocean. So they say. Apparently it’s rarely clear up there, so it’s hard to prove. The trip back down was every bit as beautiful, but the gate was closing at 6:45, so we couldn’t dawdle. Dinner, and tumble into bed, with plans to see the rest of the Bike Fest Friday.
From rags to riches – Friday was sunny and in the upper 80s. Perfect for riding on the bike, hot for walking around. We toured the rest of the vendor booths, picked up out HOG member Laconia pins, and spent the day relaxing. Then back to the cabin to pack up for an early-Saturday departure. I was excited – we planned to meet my cousin Jeb Barnes, who lives in Gloucester, for breakfast in Lowell, MA. She was my favorite cousin when I was a kid, and I hadn’t seen her in 21 years, since my sister Meg’s wedding.
On the road at 7:30am, Saturday, for breakfast at the Four Sisters Owl Café in Lowell. GREAT food – best of the trip. My spinach and Swiss cheese frittata was delicious, and it was indescribably wonderful to see Jeb. We promised to get together again soon – Massachusetts isn’t really that far from Maryland!
Seven long, hot hours on the road Saturday. Have to get to Paul’s Dad’s in Hanover, PA for Father’s Day on Sunday, and then make it home to pick up the reins and leashes of farm and dog trainer life, in time for evening feeding.
We spent Saturday night in Port Jervis, NY – former home of our wonderful PB Pig, Sturgis, then up and out Sunday morning early to see Dad. We got there at 2pm, right on schedule, hung out two hours, and split for home and the kids.
Although one week felt way too short, it was, of course, marvelous to be greeted with wagging tails and smiling faces. Even Dubhy, our undemonstrative Scottie, was clearly happy to see us. And now, biker togs are safely stowed in the locker in the garage (except for the rain suit, which is waiting its turn in the washing machine), I’ve sorted through the 1000-plus photos I took from the passenger seat of the bike, and it’s back to life as a dog trainer/consultant.
It’s great to be home!
Maggie the Westie comes home with me tomorrow from the shelter, so I can evaluate her, setup her behavior program, and find her a Gold Paw foster home. More on her progress next blog…
Warm Woofs and Happy Training,