Friends come in all sizes

Mis Amigas en La Pueblita

Here are a few of the Amigas I got to know at El Rancho La Mesa.  We ran into each other while walking home from our respective escuelas and eventually the girls overcame their fears of the Poodles and started hopping the fence to visit.  The the picture below was taken after I’d showed them a video of one of Nickel’s daughters,  Ally,



practicing agility (competitive obstacle course racing).  The girls were so excited about trying to train the dogs that we set up an “agility ring” made up of chairs, tables and boxes so they could run the dogs around, over and onto the ‘obstacles.’  We ended the day with the young ladies teaching the Poodles how to come, sit and down in Spanish… and they learned a few training words in English themselves.  It was a lot of fun for everyone.


Marta and Sara were the two girls who visited me the most.  They would come into the camper and we’d talk until their mom called them home.  They were very patient with me and Sara was particularly great at figuring out new ways to say the same things so I might understand.  Sara was going on 12 and very curious about the world.  It was a struggle at times to make conversation simply because my usual questions for a girl her age, about ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ or ‘what’s your favorite movie/character/book,’ weren’t conceptual parts of their lives.  We talked about school and dogs and family but mostly they asked questions about me and the girls.  Sara and her sister came from a very poor neighborhood (hence their need to jump the fence to enter the RV campground) but their hearts were rich.  I gave Sara a plastic apricot poodle head magnet from my wall and the next day she showed up with a gift of her own.  It was incredibly touching.


Sara’s gift to me


PS….. More to come about that little white dog you see in the picture above……


Day 39: Glacial Milk and Flour

My fascination with glaciers started during my summit of Chimborazo, a 20,000 some foot mountain in Ecuador, in 1991.  I’ll never forget how intrigued I was with the ice formations that stool higher than my head and the wide gaping crevices.

Click here to read more about this mountain

Due to it’s position on the equatorial bulge, Chimborazo is the highest peak if measured from the center of the earth.

After that climb I began reading all that i could about glaciers; their formation, history and personalities.  Yes, Glaciers are fascinating characters.

Here’s a great site to learn a little more about these beasties:

Click here to learn more about Glaciers

Click here to learn more about Glaciers


In the mean time here are a few tidbits:

1.  Largest glacier in the world


Courtesy of Click to read more about this glacier.

The Lambert-Fisher Glacier in Antarctica, is 250 miles long and approximately 60 miles wide (roughly the size of Rhode Island). It’s a whopping 8202 feet deep (roughly the height of Mount Shasta) and drains 8% of the Antarctic ice sheet.

2.  Some glaciers “Gallop.”


Click here to read a famous story about a Galloping Glacier.

A galloping glacier can advance many feet a day.  The Hubbard Glacier (in Alaska) once moved at a rate of 32 feet a day for months.  You can witness movement when a glacier “calves.”

3.  Glaciers are retreating; a worrisome sign for scientists.

Image provided by Jeffrey Kargel, USGS/NASA JPL/AGU, through the NASA Earth Observatory.

Click for a great article on glaciers and global warming. Image provided by Jeffrey Kargel, USGS/NASA JPL/AGU, through the NASA Earth Observatory.

4.  Some glaciers “Calve.”


Click here to see a calving in action

This is how icebergs are born. It’s the process of ice breaking off the terminus of a glacier into a body of water.

5.  Some glaciers “Hang.”

Click to learn more about Hanging Glaciers. Photo by Mierk Schwab

Click to learn more about Hanging Glaciers. Thank you Mierk Schwabe for the use of your photo.

Click here to check out more   Mirk Schwabe  photos. 

These are seen in alpine areas and result due to the angle of the mountainside.  As the glacier moves it cascades down as avalanches and icefalls.

6.  Glaciers have Ice Worms.


Picture courtesy of Seattle Times. Click on image to read story.

  Surprisingly, there are worms that live in the depths and surfaces of glaciers.  You wouldn’t think anything could grow in such a harsh and desolate climate.

7.  Glaciers make MILK and FLOUR.


Glacier flour. Click here to see a quick video.

A very fine sediment created by the grinding of glacial ice against rock flows from the glacier.  It’s a powder as fine as chalk and it stays suspended in the run off water as it travels from the foot of the glacier all the way down rivers and into lakes.  The Milk gives the water a, well, milky appearance and in lakes it can create a soft turquoise color.

The Poodles and I had a great time hiking along a milk and flour filled river.  It was fascinating to see the clear streams entering the main milky river and how the confluences mixed.

river milk


Day 38-40 My Pot Of Gold

We arrived in Jasper National Park late in the afternoon.

First stop was down town to get some groceries and fill up with gas.  We found ourselves in a world of RVs… sadly realizing that we were no long queens of our own domain.  It was literally a sea of bright and shiny RVs  packing the street, lining every inch of the curb.  Renting campers must be a popular past time for Canadians as it was clear that most of these vehicles were brand new, very clean and most were label with a large orange maple leaf with the slogan “Adventure Canada!” or “CanaDream.”  I could have sworn that people were looking at my beat up and filthy Oso with distaste.

Can you find Oso in the picture below?



A little closer…..



From town we headed into the park and down the Icefield Parkway.

It was extremely gusty at the parking lot where I hoped to spend the night.  There were very few people around, and since there was only one other camper in the lot, I felt free to let the poodles off leash to explore the rocky outcrops near by.

There we were surprised by some cloud breaks

and a special rainbow treat.


3peak jasper






 Tomorrow we go for a river hike….

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.

Day 23 To Dawson City and Chores

We found a nice hidden spot to ‘bushwhack’ our last night on the Dempster



βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ … βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ … βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ…

It was a quiet spot and we got the camp set up so late there wasn’t much to do but get to bed.  The next day we woke to the sun. I let the dogs out to go potty and it was so nice outside I decided to latch the door open to let in some fresh air. .  I always make a lot of noise and take a peek around before letting them out.   Eureka and Nickel did their business and quickly came back in with the expectation of breakfast.  As I prepared their meal, I heard TinTin on the steps.  Since she occasionally has a hard time maneuvering on them, I went help her.  Oddly, despite having her two front paws on the stipes she wasn’t trying to go up but, instead,  looking over her shoulder.  I followed the path of her gaze and saw a great big Grizzly walking toward her.  It wasn’t looking menacing and, , it looked pretty calm. It still wasn’t giving off any signs of stress; not that I really know what a bear looks like when it’s stressed but the literature describes it yawn, lick their lips, etc…much like a dog.    I told TinTin to hurry up and reached around the side of the camper to get the door unlatched so I could close the door.  TinTin started to come up the stairs but decided, instead, to jump back down and face the bear.  At that point it was about 3 yards away but lumbering slowly towards us.   TinTIn gave a big bark and the bear stopped.  As soon as Eureka and Nickel heard TinTin, they too started to bark and lunged forward toward the doorway.  I blocked them with my leg while I was still reaching around to get the door with one hand and trying to haul TinTin in with the other.  The bear stood up, turned to the side and reared forward and AWAY.   It galloped off into the woods.  I wish TinTin hadn’t been out there so, maybe I could’ve watched it from the safety of the camper.  I never felt that the bear was a threat and I think it was more curious than anything.  TinTin certainly thought she was hot stuff afterward … scaring away a big brown bear!

βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ … βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ … βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ…

So enough excitement for the day.  We needed to head south and I still wanted one more hike before we were back in Dawson City (the goal for the day).

Of course We couldn’t leave without one more day of hiking.




βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ … βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ … βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ…

TinTin scaring herself

βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ … βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ … βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ…


Nickel being a goof=ball









Fall colors are getting more intense


My only chore for the day was to stop at tombstone campground and see if they found my sunglasses.  Can yo believe someone did?  It does seem ironic though, that after so many days trying to see wildlife with my myopic vision, now that we’re headed back to civilization I can see.

 βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ … βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ … βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ…

Quick stop at Two Moose Lake to see migratory water fowl.  Saw two Tundra SwansIMG_3489




βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ … βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ … βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ…

To Dawson City

βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ … βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ … βββ⊄∇Γ… βββ⊄∇Γ…


Dirt Road…. I’ll miss you!

I picked up hitch hiker who was headed for Dawson City.  She is a young artist who spent the last 4 months at the Tombstone Campground doing some type of teaching.  She made the trip (via hitch hiking) once every 2 weeks in order to do laundry and to get groceries.  Apparently Tombstone has had more rain this year than usual and her tent has been very damp throughout the summer.  I know the feeling of a damp tent and it isn’t pleasant.  On the other hands she’s seen a great deal of wildlife and she’s done a lot of hiking.  She said it would help her art.  It was nice to have some company for a short bit.  We only have about 20 miles to get to DC.

Rain begins to come down again and I get a better understanding why there are wooden ‘side walks’ in town.  It reminds me of pictures from the old west.31c


The library (where I can use the internet for an hour) has an elaborate ‘anti-mud’ system going….


Those black squares are boot jacks and brushes

Lo and behold!   A Royal Mounty!!


actually he’s just an actor for one of the tours in town


Chore Number ONE!…. Wash Foxy…..





OH that felt good!!!

 Days at an end and although I hadn’t planned to stay the night I decided it was a good opportunity to get some other chores done.  It’s a nicer environment than Whitehorse and I can do my laundry and some shopping.  we take a ferry to other side of river to a provincial campground.  Sadly the one hundred campsites are packed with people.  We’re now on the Alaskan Highway that brings people to more touristed areas.  Even this time of year it seems a very popular destination.  After a quick walk along the river we call it a day… I miss the Dempster already….


Day 13 Into the North West Territories

Waking up at Rock River Campground

Even with last night’s rain,  the truck was smothered in oily mud from the previous day’s drive.  I knocked off as much as I could, not so much for cosmetics as for functionality.  In the wheel hubs, the mud packed in so thickly it was pulling the plastic shield off the truck and in other places it hung like huge ice balls after a blizzard…. but unlike snow it was hardened and dense like cement.



IMG_2996 IMG_2995 IMG_2994


Into the North West Territories 


Home of the BEST License Plate EVER!


A short distance out of Rock River Campground we pass into the NWT.  We’re heading into an area that was made by the Laurentide Ice Sheet.  This area had ice sheets that were hundreds and thousands of feet thick and surrounded what was  called East Beringia…. The home of giant elk and bison and the great Wooly Mammoths.   I had a secret fantasy of finding a mammoth molar, oh well.  We will also be crossing the continental divide for the third time.

Our first stop:  Tundra


We drove through about 20 miles of Tundra until I found a spot that looked just right for hiking.



One of the effects of permafrost are these odd little ‘ponds.’  They are crystal clear and mostly free of debris.  I think the moss acts as a natural filter.  The tundra is a mix of lichens, mosses, dwarfed birch and Tamarack, berries and grass tumocks interspersed with rocky outcrops and ‘ponds.’



bear sighting


Although it makes for poor photography, this is the distance I prefer to be from a bear!  It was probably a 1 mile away.  Solution to the sighting?  We just hiked in the opposite direction.

This is the exact reason that walking in this area is so appealing.  It’s not great for seeing Caribou though.  They’ll see us long before we see them and in that case,  we’ll never see them.


One of my hopes was to find an antler.  During several Kayak trips in Alaska I was lucky enough to find some.  During Phil and my trip down the Noitak River (on the North Slope)  I found an entire rack.  It was in the river with the top part of the skull attached.  It probably came from an unfortunate Caribou who didn’t make it across the rough river.  In any case it was Huge; probably around 5 feet in circumference.  I wasn’t about to leave it behind so I made Phil strap it to the bow of our double kayak.  I was quite impressed with my trophy until we capsized in a ‘sweeper’ and the antlers nearly drowned Phil.  The boat was sucked into the roots and debris on the banks of the rapids and pulled underwater.  I pulled out of the kayak but as Phil pulled out, the antlers caught his pants and pulled him down with the boat.  It took all my strength to pull myself out of the water as the current pulled me into the roots along the bank.  As soon as I regained my composure I started shouting for Phil.  I saw him down stream, standing on the bank, holding a paddle and stripped naked.  By some miracle the boat resurfaced about a 1/4 mile away and we were able to collect most of our dry bags.  We still had ten days of travel by boat.  Had we had to walk, it would have been quite miserable.  In any case, I lost my antlers.


There was definite evidence of caribou in the area….


Portion of a hoof

Continue reading

Day 12 Wolves and the Arctic Circle

Wildlife Groupnot including domestics Number of species in Yukon
known as of September 2007
Amphibians (i.e. frogs and toads) 4
Fishes (not including salt water species) 36
Mammals (not including humans 66
Birds 227
Butterflies 92
Large Moths 286
Dragonflies 40
Spiders 300+
Insects total species 6,000+
Mosses 400+
Vascular Plants (i.e. not including mosses, liverworts, hornworts or algae) 1,242


Day 12 From Engineer Creek CG to Rock River CG


The first part of the day took us through twisted hilly areas of old burned Boreal forest

(In Alaska we called it Taiga forest)


miles muddy of road


and into a world unto itself




Our goal for the day:

From the beginning of the Arctic Circle to As Far As One Can Drive in Canada




Not quite Tundra yet


Even here you’ll find evidence of men marking their territory




As Nickel discovers Caribou remains (again)IMG_2860


Note where TinTin is looking …..


Wolves discover us 



Heading North we hit more rain which meant more mud.  This mud was a slick and oily substance that stuck to the car and made the traveling treacherous.  IMG_2880 IMG_2883

For about 30 miles it was like driving on black ice and slush that forced us to slow down to 10-20 miles an hour.




The driving was wearisome but once past it we had traveled over another pass and to drier terrain.   It was time for another break.

This hike took us out to the Tundra.  I am in love with hiking here.  It is abundant with plant life and if you take the time, bend down, and study you are welcomed into a miniature world of color and texture.

IMG_2917 IMG_2915




By late afternoon we reached our goal of Rocky River Campground.  Apparently a routine has been established; we headed out to the river to have a look around.


Like Engineer Creek, this one was bathed in iron deposits making the rocks red.

IMG_2984 IMG_2979 IMG_2970 IMG_2961



IMG_2993Our campsite was a lovely grassy spot nestled in a grove of poplar and birch.  Of course there were a few mushrooms to be found


Shaggy Manes… we’ll see more of these later!



The only other people in here was a mother and son.  He was about 8 yrs old and told me that his goal was to find a caribou antler.  I told him is was one of mine too….