Day 154 Stalking the Wild Cat’s Claw

Wild Edibles[odDec 8


Click on this picture to read more about this very interesting plant.

On the beach near our campspot I ran into a strange vine. I first noticed the pods because one grabbed me around the ankle. It was a very imprssive beast with some very sharp claws.

Had I known at the time I could eat both the seeds and ochre like pod I would have been able to cook them up with the trigger fish. I thought it looked pretty tasty but I’m not one to eat unidentified vegetation without someone else try it first.  At the time I was more interested in collecting the odd pod heads for my sister. She has her own eccentricities and while I eat the plants I find along side the sidewalk she makes them into sculpture.

Apparently the seeds that spring out of the pod (above) are nutty and sweet and the fruit (below) can be steamed or fried like orca.  This plant has a long and valued history with the native people who used the fruit and seeds for food and the fibers of the plant for weaving.


I’ve been interested in what you can eat off the ground since I was a toddler when the ‘5 second rule’ became established protocol. That behavior was supported when as a pre-teen when I discovered the recipes from Euell Gibbons, Stalking the Wild Asparagus  

I admit it. I’ve always been a geek.

In highschool I made acorn muffins, cattail stew (the plant not the animial) and yellow birch tea and as an adult I’ve finally graduated from stalking organisms from the plant to the animal kingdom.  Today I caught and ate my first fish. Ok, so I didn’t actually catch it, Nickel did… and well ok she didn’t actually catch it. Basically I haven’t graduated from  scavenging to the hunting yet.


There was a storm out in the Gulf last night and the high tide came in fast and furious. The next day when the poodles and I hit the beach for our morning constitutional, we found quite a number of marine animals washed up on shore. You’ll be happy to know it wasn’t the pacific grebe or gull that we collected for supper but a freshly beached fish. I guess we’ve come up in the world! There were a number of species to choose from, there were several porcupine fish, a cornonet fish and a trigger fish. The triggerfish was still alive so I threw it back into the water. Sadly despite it’s weak attempts to swim away, the tide kept bringing it back in. One final time and Nickel decided that throwing away good food was just not acceptable and went in to retrieve it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I realize the poor thing was doomed and I decided that I might as well see whether all those filleted triggerfish I’d found on the beach in Loreto would lived up to their apparent reputation so I bagged it. I hate totell you, but it wasn’t quite dead and I didn’t’ know what to do about it. I decided the most merciful thing was to kill it outright so I hit it in the head with a rock.



Fine Scale Triggerfish, Balistes polylepis

Of course I didn’t have internet access to guide me along in this new culinary endeavor, but having seen enough  triggerfish on the beaches in Loreto, I at least knew they were edible and had an idea about where to begin. filleted

dinnerI’ve never fillet a fish before but I’ve watched enough So-You-Want-To-Humiliate-Yourself-Trying -o-Cook Reality TV shows that I felt confident in giving it a try. Now that I’ve watched this YouTube clip, I realize where I first went wrong and I shouldn’t have removed the skin before cutting the meat off the bones, but at least I had the basic area of the fish properly dissected out. diner4I didn’t actually end up with two fillets, more like trigger tartar, but I did ended up with enough fish for dinner although most of the prime meat went into the boiling pot for the poodles. I’m always satisfied when everything can be used so I boiled the entire fish for the dogs . dinner2I suppose I felt a strangesense of responsibility in making sure this fish’s death was meaningful and worthwhile.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt least that’s what TinTin was telling me.

…………………………………………………………Tomorrow we go snorkeling

Day 153 What ever happened to the saying: Don’t shit where you eat?

As the Late Joan Rivers Said, “Can we talk?”

Dec Jan 7


Enhanced shadow photo

I was eaten alive by either sand fleas or no-see-ums last night. The small red welts that multiplied over my arms and legs kept me up with insane itching. Unable to sleep and too tired to read I ruminated over my morning ritual of garbage clean-up.

I had decided that for every free day of camping I should pick up a garbage bag full of trash and considering the state of this beach I’ll be staying for a while.



When doing this sort of thing day in and day out you become intimate with certain aspects of the beach goer’s culinary preferences. For instance I know that a favorite dish is cooked clams and corn-on-the-cob anointed with hot sauce out of little plastic bags. They use Styrofoam plates and prefer to sip their beverages from plastic cups rather than straight from the bottle.  I guess I’ve become the connaisseur of consumption.

  Nickel doing her best to help the cause

nickvsvultureNickel knows that the mess isn’t just created by ‘litter bugs.’  The trash barrels are scavenged by turkey vultures, seagulls and dogs and the wind plays a roll in scattering it further.   But it’s not so much the general trash build-up on the beach that frustrates me it’s the thoughtless despot of human waste and toilet paper.

It’s not surprising that after consuming copious amounts of food and drink sooner or later one has to ‘go’ and the locals have established pit toilets for that use.  While not the most ecological or sanitary of solutions it does seem to keep things contained and tidy.  Evidenced by the flora cascading out of the buckets, the mixture of desiccated waste and the occasional desert rains render the technique effective.



(and yes I wear gloves)

I find it interesting that many of the plastic and styrofoam items are in the process of decay in one form or another but the paper products (mostly toilet paper but the occasional paper towel) were unaffected by decomposition.  I’m guessing that the plastics fall apart due to intense UV light.  They’d break into millions of pieces when I tried to extract them from the sand unlike the TP that remains in its entirety.

If you anticipated that the paper products wouldn’t fall apart due to the desert environment, you’re probably right but it’s not just in dry climates that toilet paper hangs around.  During this trip I’ve found plenty of toilet paper litter in the wet areas like northern US and Canada.  Yes, this is a global problem.  I even found undigested toilet paper in one of the burned out forests of the Northwest Territories, a place where the forest fire exploded trees and melted rock.  It’s disgraceful.

It wasn’t the pit toilets that offended me, it was the plethora of wads of TP poking their heads out of the sand across the beach that wouldn’t let me rest.


It particularly surprises me that anyone wouldn’t think about the ramifications of burying a wad o-paper in the sand on a windy desert beach where it can be easily unburied by the shifting sand and where it obviously  just doesn’t go away. Seeing the evidence all around them why do these people go ahead and  poop and then bury the paper like cats in a dirty litter box. With the number of people making visits to this sandy powder room how much *$%(^$¡♠& can a beach support?


A small drop in the bucket…. litterally (get it?)




 So let me say, dear people…

Please Dispose Of Your Toilet Paper in an Appropriate Manner. It’s not that hard.

There are two simple ways to handle TP in the great outdoors:

  1. You bring a lighter and after wiping your bum you burn (the paper).
  2. You bring a zip-lock bag and neatly pack it out with you.  If you think this sounds gross let me tell you that finding your used paper everywhere isn’t pleasant either. Line your zip-lock with paper towels and you don’t even have to look at the icky contents (your contents).

When I climbed McKinley we pooped in zip-lock bags and brought the entire contents back down the mountain with us (20,000 feet) for proper disposal. I’m not asking you to bring everything…. Just bury your waste at a proper depth and bring the paper part out with you.

 I’ll reiterate here that this isn’t just a local-person’s-issue it’s also the campers who are coming through and using the beach.


 If you’re sick of my pictures of toilet paper, good.  That was my goal.

 SO.  What do TP and poo have to do with sand fleas and no-see-ums? Nothing. Except the thought of them all keeps me awake at night..


Day 149-150 Que Es Esta?

Still in Loreto

Jan 3-4


I conceded and gave Nickel my wallet…. after emptying it of pesos course. You’d be surprise at what she’s inclined to buying.


Nickel carrying her wallet while watching Pelicans. Maybe she thought their beaks were big pocketbooks and she was going to give them some change.

Our first walk of the day was to the Marina which is a very nice walk along the harbor amongst with several large bronze statues; a Whale Shark and several Sea Lions, lines of fishing boats and dozens of Pelicans, Boobies, Gulls and terns taking advantage of the easy capture of fish in shallow waters.  Nickel was absolutely engaged with the Pelicans as they plummeted and crashed into the water.  I was worried at one point she might just follow a few into the bay.  Once again we were met by people asking questions about the dogs and children wanting to say hello.  Of course this was Eureka’s favorite part.loreto-marina

Later, the poodles and I scavenged along the shore north of Loreto and came up with some interesting creatures (at least parts of them) to research.  I thought it would be fun to post pictures and let you guess what they might be.  This might be too  much for the squeamish so be forewarned.

We’ll call the game…..

¿Que Es Esto(a)….. What is This?

Hints will be given as you go down the page and answer will be posted the following day.

¿QUE ES ESTA?stingrayhip This is my pelvis.  The poodles have decided this is the best thing on the beach to eat.  Their mom says it’s a good source of mucopolysaccharides, proteins, collagen, calcium, suffer, glucosamine and chondroitin.  Who cares.  The poodles say it tastes Grrrr-8!

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What’s your guess?








You might have thought I was a shark but you’re wrong.  This is my tail.  

Think you know????

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Nope, not a funny mask but that is my mouth.

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Have you guessed what I am yet?  Don’t be too sure!  ………….  

Tell us! What’s your best guess?

Blog Photography 101~ today’s assignment



Connect the dots



Connect to people

Connect to your feelings

Connect to your beliefs

Connect to your past

To meet up

To join together

 At first it seemed that this word didn’t carry much weight.  It’s flippantly used to describe the most mundane events in our lives.  Sure we try to connect to our feelings, to our pasts and to our inner child but mostly we just connect the dots and connect to the internet.

I experienced connection on significant levels over the past year:  I’ve re-connected with a childhood best friend and neglected family members, and managed to strengthened some friendships that were suffering.

When something connects there is more than just a casual touch; there’s a linking, a fusing, a joining and there’s a commitment on both sides.

I think it’s fantastic that I’ve discovered the unswerving meaning of ‘to connect’ and I don’t even need a toy in my mouth.

Bliss…. photo 101 assignment

It was impossible for me to choose one photo to represent Bliss so I chose two.  You might be surprised that both involve my dogs (tongue in cheek).

To me, Bliss can be manifest in two ways.

Joyful Ecstasy 


Serene Introspection

 Here is my photo of what Joyful Ecstasy….Leading to BLISS…. looks like.

Nickel expressing her Bliss in new spring grass


and here is my photo representation of Serene Introspection… leading to BLISS.


Nickel, TinTin and Eureka over looking thousands of miles of Tundra in The Yukon

If we pay attention, our dogs show us everyday what it means to be BLISSFUL.

Day 35 Dancing in the Moonlight

Our day began by passing through more herds of bison.  Eureka decided this is the favorite part of the entire trip.  She’s even displaced TinTin by riding shotgun and scanning the horizon for beasties.

Leaving the burn area behind us, it was a relief to see the green of the pines again.  The road here follows the Liard River which is a tributary to the Mackenzie River.

We arrived in Port Providence, a quiet Dehcho First Nation village.  There was evidence of buffalo even along the sidewalks running up to the library.  The campground here is fenced by heavy wire and wood construction.


Two things to note about this video.  1.  The Flies, Wow were they bad!  The bison were tormented by them!  and 2.  The barking Poodles,  Wow were they bad!  The bison I was tormented by them!


From the car these bison may look nonthreatening and small,  but check this out!

Do you think this might be hint to their  their size……?


Yeah…. more poo….

I decided not to continue on to Yellowknife.  I started to feel the draw of Central and South America calling.  I decided to continue along the Deh Cho Highway Eastward and then south into Alberta, through Glacier National Park in Montana and back to Seattle.  The thought of more hundreds of acres of burned forest between Fort Providence and Yellowknife and driving through more groups of bison (with the dogs over the top excitement) was enough to convince me to head south.

After a quiet night in Fort Providence’s provincial campground we headed back down the Makenzie Highway and east.  We pulled onto a narrow dirt road for camping.  It ended at a small rocky field where we settled down for the night.

I had been told that The Northern Lights could be seen this time of the year so I’d been getting up around 2 and 3am to look at the sky.  Unfortunately, the nights had been over cast and obliterating any chance of seeing them.  This night was crystal clear and the stars were thick but everything was obscured by the Full Moon.  Walking out onto the slabs of rocks and large patches of gravel I noticed that the Poodles and I cast strong shadow.  What better than to be…..

Dancing in the Moonlight


and making Shadow art

IMG_4075 IMG_4072


IMG_4049 IMG_4046











Of course you’ve already seen the Poodle Petroglyphs, Sand Art and Block Prints.  It was this evening that started the whole show.

Shadow Pupp(y)ets Art Show

You be the Critic……

Poodle Petroglyphs

(Deh Cho Route, Northwest Territories, Canada)


Kiss Me by TinTin


Grizzley by TinTIn


Giraffe by Eureka


Ballerina by Eureka


Humpless Camels by the Gang


Buffalo by Nickel


Howl by Nickel


Skinny Legs and All by Nickel



(Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada)


Rocky Raccoon by TinTin


On the Savana by Eureka



Mini Me by Nickel


Baby Giraffe by Eureka and Binky


Plumb tuckered by TinTin


Little Fox by TinTin












Lion by Eureka



(The Dempster Highway, The Yukon, Canada)


Tippy Toes by Nickel













Naughty dog by Nickel


Queuing Up by the Gang












My Little Pony by Eureka



Alter Ego by Eureka




Who is your Favorite Artist?   TinTin?  Nickel?   Eurkea?

Which of their pieces do you like the best?