Cutting the California corner

We leave Reno and the state of Nevada and go diagonally across the NE corner of California, today’s journey thankfully much less than yesterday’s marathon, which was like driving south-north through the length of England. Today we merely do three states.

We leave Nevada and cross into California through the originally named Bordertown. At Susanville we detour via the back roads and leave the trucks behind climbing into the the Californian Sierras. We stop at the small town of Adin for lunch at a local but very nice deli with views of the distant Mt Shasta to the west – we decided not to make that side trip due to the extra distance. The country roads today are single lane and windy so the speed is reduced by nearly 20 miles from yesterday. Lisa insists on having the windows down so I am able to pick up the scents of horses. Much to their annoyance, I bark my ‘I want to be with my soul mate’ barks. I stick my nose out to sniff a different scent and have yet to figure out the many herds of cows. Perhaps they can stop the car tomorrow so I can get closer to them.

We finally arrive in Klamath Falls and following advice from fellow dog lover Erin at the visitor centre, we go for a walk along the river to see the falls, in reality a series of rapids. Never mind at least it’s a walk. We then head off to the brewery restaurant and I am forced to watch them eat from outside the patio area, silly Oregon health rules.

We retire to the Running Ranch hotel, in fact a very up market Holiday Inn with a great golf course. What a surprise that I am allowed. Also had a rare play with a yellow lab of all dogs.

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Last day in California and a disaster

Buckingham – we’re up early again for the stunning walk along the cliff, the only others about are other dogs and their humans. Very red sky means bad news but this is cancelled out by a flight of Canada geese flying north. A local tells us that the sea is especially nice today because it is flat and the waves are high.   Lisa even joins us to take in all the beauty the coast has to offer.

We set off for more coastal driving north and we take the scenic redwood highway drive only to find the twists and turns makes Lisa rather queasy.   The drive is slow, it takes us 11/2 hours to cover 45 miles, but the redwood is stunning although it’s difficult for the camera to capture it in a moving car. Just before rejoining the 101 we go and see the drive thru’ tree. Someone has  cut a hole through a beautiful large tree just so that they can charge punters like us $5 for the privilege of seeing it. Needless to say we are too tall to go through.

We finally arrive in Crescent City and as they began to unload the car, disaster!  They forgot to pack my bed when they left Fort Bragg!!  Luckily, I have a backup thin foam bed in the back of the car so I’ll have to get used to sleeping on it during the night… I can read their guilt stricken faces so they take me to the beach for a run and I have the last laugh.

This place is literally in the middle of nowhere.  It’s a working fishing village devastated by the March 2011 Japan tsunami.   The commercial boat basin was destroyed and 16 boats sank.  They lost an estimated 32 millions dollars due to the multiple surges all within 10 hours.

They leave me warm in the room and go for dinner to a local recommended restaurant, food is fine but the waitress is patronisingly odd, we are talking back of beyond in the middle of nowhere here.

Santa Rosa to Mendocino

Buckingham – We are the first and only occupants of the dog park early this morning until a pit bull puppy turns up.  Her human has no control over her so I have to action to protect mine, can’t stand unruly dogs!

Our morning is taken up doing paperwork and then we fulfil a longtime ambition of Lisa’s and visit the Charlie Brown museum. Charles Schultz, known as Sparky (his uncle nicknamed him at 2 days old after Spark Plug,  a horse in the Barney Google’s comic) apparently built it, the ice rink and the tennis courts.   He spent 30 years here drawing cartoons, eating breakfast and lunch at The Warm Puppy Cafe.

We leave Santa Rosa in the afternoon and drive north along 101 before heading towards the coast on 128.   A stunning road surrounded by skyscraper redwood tress.   What a nice drive it is and the Sports Drive of the BMW comes into its own on the curves and hills, although the Thule on top of the car throws the handling off.

Along the way we stop at the Navarro winery to do a tasting.  As usual, Mark goes in and Lisa slowly follows behind and prepares me to put on my best behaviour.  It works every time.  I’m in the tasting room and although I do not sample the wine I am provided with crackers.   The winery even have their own dog park next to the lama field, what strange creatures, like fluffy deer.

On to the pretty coastal town of Mendocino, where we go down to the beach and watch one of my brethren body surfing in the waves (quite literally).   Of course I go nowhere near the water.   The waves are stunning.   It reminds Mark of the coast of Devon.  They have dinner at a nice but pricey restaurant called 955 Ukiah but  just normal fare for me in the back of the car.

Go West…again

Buckingham – Mark and I decide to do the ‘bug loop trail’ this morning.   It starts off easy enough then we lose our way up the mountain side.  I go completely nuts as I haven’t had a good off leash walk for quite a while and I run like a mountain goat up and down the near vertical slope no doubt scaring Mark ****less.   We scramble down the hill to the riverbed, get stuck and he has to help me clamber over the rocks.   We come across a natural rock pool complete with waterfall which must be nice when there is no frost on the ground.

The bug café is almost empty for breakfast as most of the other resort residents are completing their exam after their month long EMT wilderness course.  Mark swaps gore stories with one of the course participants and ruins her breakfast.   We return to the room to find Lisa just getting out of the comfy tempurpedic bed.

We hit the road just after 10am and go west and north.  They succumb to their first fast food of the trip, a Mac and a KFC…ugh!  After lunch is another 2 hour stint, what seems to be the ugliest drive since our trip through the central valley of California with bad roads, industrial landscape and many corrugated tin roofs of indescribable commercial ventures.   And so on to Santa Rosa stopping at the local dog park on the way to check-in.   My bed is once again moved in to a new smell.   They let me sniff out the room and off we drive again to check out Sebastopol, a small town which is supposed to be trendy and artsy.  We drive back into Santa Rosa and find a huge line up outside the Russian River brew house.   Lisa inquires from the patiently waiting person further down the queue and learns that they’re bringing out a brew.  It must be good or there is just nothing to do in this town.

Stunning Yosemite

Buckingham – Mark drags me (or is it the other way round) up the mountain this morning as the sun comes up over the tops.  Nice view when you get up there.

We head off to the Yosemite National Park after breakfast following the Merced river upstream and the sun is out with not a cloud in the sky.  We pay the mandatory $20 to the park service to enter and then the first stop is Bridalveil falls.  Throughout the day our routes will be restricted to paved paths on the valley floor because my paws are not permitted on any of the trails.   Good thing really as this means no more hills.   At the foot of the falls we meet a crowd of travellers from Beijing who all want to be photographed with me – I am a model dog.   It is very icy and I nearly have Mark over as he hangs onto me.

We pass the famous El Capitan, a towering sheer 3,000ft monolith. the book says that the oldest person to climb it is 81 and the youngest 11!   Thank god that Dalmatians don’t do climbing!

We drive to the head of the valley, park the car and walk to Mirror lake at the foot of Half Dome – one of the major features, although Lisa is not convinced that it is really Half Dome. It’s a nice and easy 2.6 miles with plenty of interest for me, including passing a sign that says you’re entering mountain lion area.  If you see one, stay calm, make yourself look big by raising your arms and opening your coat (I’ll just raise my tail).   And if it attacks, fight back.  Thanks for the warning!!

Lunch at the village and I have to defend their food from another dog and a few rather large ravens – some bread for me at last – will have to do this guarding thing more often.

We save the best til last and go to the recommended photo op at Tunnel view. Just the right time of day as the sun is behind us and shining directly up the valley on all its highlights.


Buckingham – we leave late this morning, probably the latest so far, but Mark is not concerned because it’s only a short haul.  I of course get nervous as my stuff is always the last to get loaded.  Why do they have to keep moving just when I’m getting comfortable, even slowly putting up with the little neurotic chiweiner.

We enter the maze of South Bay area traffic and head south then east on wide freeways.   The sky is big here.   It is not until we hit Merced out of the Central Valley that we enter the more hilly country and single carriage roads.   Lisa has a fascination with cows and is forever taking pictures of these distant creatures on the hillside.

Lunch, for them, is in the town of Mariposa where they head for the local Chinese restaurant for noodles and ribs.   Some errant advice from the tourist office warns us that this will be the last gas stop before the park, so we fill up at the most expensive price for the trip so far.   It turns out that there are other gas stations in the park!

We arrive at our home for the next two days just outside the National Park – The Yosemite Rustic Bug Resort – Lisa is suspicious of the cabins perched on the hillside and is wary of the backpacker look of the place.   We check in and the cabin is freezing so we turn the heating up, then they take me for my required constitutional along the banks of the Merced river in the sun and a good place for a fresh mountain water drink. We meet a real live gold digger who is panning the river, although he will never become rich from this hobby he proudly shows us the profits of his efforts.   Lisa tries her hand but just comes up with the fools variety.

We return to The Bug and find the cabin toasty, so we will be as snug as a few bugs tonight.

Dinner, for them, is a lively affair at The Bug cafe, food is surprisingly OK and the communal room is full of hikers and climbers.   Music ain’t bad either.  Mark drinks his two alcoholic varieties so it will be snoring surround sound for Lisa tonight.

Preparing for the road… again!

Buckingham – we have been in Los Altos over a week and it has been nice to be stationary for a while.  It’s so relaxing not having to think, plan and sort out our next stop, driving distance and finding a bed for the night,  albeit the relationship with Salsa has been strained at times.

Janie and Rex have been extremely kind and generous hosts.   Instead of kicking us out for staying for so long, they leave their house for a  3 day trip to Las Vegas.  We hope they win some $$.     Without her parents at home, Salsa has been very nervous all day.   To try and calm her we take her for a walk this afternoon and after a while she learns to heel.   Who knows she may be moving to Sin City in the future.

At the last minute Mark decides to sort his medical out for the Canadian visa application and gets an appointment in Mountain View, a good excuse for Lisa to visit REI in search for more Arcteryx.

Janie, Rex, Kevin & Salsa – many thanks for having us… and for so many days.   It’s nice to talk about the old times in Taipei when my Dalmatian predecessor brought you all together.   It is such a shame that we are not able to meet but I have you to thank for me being here today, for without Pokey Lisa and Mark would have never adopted me.

After dinner they make me jumpy.   It’s packing time again!   The car is loaded up with my food and the bags are prepared for tomorrow.   I won’t be able to relax until my bed is the car and I am safely ensconced in the back.   Then it is to decide which of the two new toys to leave behind for Salsa, decisions, decisions.

Having only got the next two days sorted Mark takes some time to try and plan the route north, perhaps along the Californian coast on 101, then a cut inland to Crater Lake followed by the express route through Oregon and Washington on 5 – hoping for dog friendly places on the way.   Please let the rain and cold stay away…  first stop Yosemite!


Buckingham – there is a saying that guests and fish are alike, they start to smell after 3 days.   Well, we have definitely been here more than 3 days but it suits me  just fine.  I am comfortable and even getting used to Salsa following me around.  Janie is still hoping that Salsa and I will become friends although she asking for a lot.

It’s a beautiful Sunday so everyone is relaxed at home.  Mark, Rex, the little wiener and I go for a walk around the  neighbourhood, it’s all road and hills. On the way back we put up a deer which the little one attempts to dash for, it’s far to far away to bother with. Lisa decides to go out to explore Mountain View and Palo Alto  and buy some proper food for me.   That’s 4 hours ago and she finally comes home with a toy for Salsa and I.   I play with my new ‘purple’ and Salsa ignores her basketball  and tries to snatch mine.  Ugh!    She doesn’t like it that I play with my new toy and barks incessantly.

Just when I know everyone is  home they decide to go out for an Indian dinner.  Janie scores by finding a good one – Steve Job’s favourite in Mountain View and he apparently visited here just  a few weeks before his demise. They conclude their gastronomic experience by going to a late night Gelato shop.I know all this because I can smell the aroma of Indian spices and my all time favourite ice cream which they usually share with me… but not tonight.

Dog walk in Crissy Park

Buckingham – we meet up again with Sam, Marie, Ethan & Zoe today for a walk.   We drive into San Francisco and walk along the seafront of Crissy Field to Fort Point in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge.  On this sunny Saturday afternoon the beach is full of walkers, runners, strollers and dogs of every flavour possible. We watch ‘Costa Concordia’ expectantly as a cruise ship navigates under the Golden Gate Bridge – from here the clearance isn’t that much!

 It’s a 3 mile stroll and Ethan tries to walk/run the entire length but eventually gives in and retires to the buggy.   We finally finish our walk at 3 pm and retire to a famous burger joint in the Ferry Building next to the downtown pier.   We sit outside for the benefit of Zoe and I.  The garlic fries with pesto are out of this world and I manage to catch a sliver in mid-air before it lands on the ground.

Lisa and Sam’s grandmother used to live in San Francisco but neither of them know where and she apparently fled the city overnight in fear of an apparent big earthquake – somewhere we have a house to claim!   The conversation progresses to the family scandal about their grandfather and the large number of half aunts, uncles, and cousins that they share.

It’s a catastrophe that they forget about my depleting supply of kibble.   They  frantically search high and low for a pet store that stays open on a Sunday night without any success.  I am now reduced to eating Salsa’s abandoned crunchy brown mini bites for little dogs whilst she is upgraded to a juicy chunky beef dinner in a can with a picture of ME on the label!   How do they get it so wrong?!    In protest, I refuse to eat only to find out that Salsa steals my dinner a kibble at a time until she licks clean my bowl so I go hungry.  Moral  of the day is …  take what is given and not for granted.

Post & bath day (sorry no pics as I am having a bath)

Buckingham – we are running in shorts this morning, not that it’s warm but the sun is out so we feel that we must take advantage of the weather before we go somewhere colder. I take my first bath for ages, not that I was dirty as Dalmatians don’t do dirty, but even I have to admit I do smell better now and my white is whiter. Can’t wait to get to he dog park this afternoon to mess it all up. My bed and towels also get a wash – it’s bound to rain soon then.

We have to stay in for most of the day waiting for the UPS man to arrive and deliver our mail that has been piling up at Mark’s cousin’s since we left Connecticut over 2 months ago. Many thanks Jon. 

Contained in the box is the latest edition of ‘International Living’ to provide more dreamy ideas of possible places to live. Don’t think that this future venture will involve me though.

Mark now has no excuse to put off applying for Canadian residency as the papers he needs are also in the box – he hates bureaucratic paperwork so will  probably find other distractions this afternoon. Lisa, though gets stuck into the mail and bills.

Mark is now back into trip planning mode and thinks that a side venture to Yosemite might be possible if the weather holds and it doesn’t snow. Sounds fun, however I will not be allowed on the park trails. Half Dome here we come!