Road Trip

“Road Trip”!

That’s all the girls (Kali and Kloe) had to hear.   They ran to the rack where there leashes are hung, strung them in their mouths, and headed off to the garage ready to spryly jump into the back of the Subaru Outback.  Ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration…  In the spirit of full transparency I have to tell you that Kloe has acquired car-ride anxiety and has to be coaxed (usually) lifted into the car against her will.  And Kali’s old and dysplasia-ridden hips don’t allow her to make the leap, although the desire is there…

Kennedy Meadows, located in the Northern CA Sierra mountains is only an hour from the Golden K and that was our destination this past Friday.  We packed a lunch for us and snacks for the girls and were ready to head out to the high Sierra’s, away from the heat and smoke from the Ferguson fire that has been blowing our way for the past several days.  Holly tried to convince Kloe that jumping into the back of the car would yield her many high value treats but she wasn’t having any of it.   In frustration, I picked up 80 pounds of an uncooperative Golden Retriever (which is more like a 100 pounds when she is in that state of mind) and threw her gently lifted her into the car.   One down…

I then instructed Kali, as I always do, with an “up” pointing to the back of the car.   On queue Kali lifts one paw onto the bumper with shaky hips.  Her eagerness and willingness says yes, but her body says no.  She looks at me and I help her complete the task and give her a assist and lift her into the car.  The girls sit and face us as the hatchback  closes.  Time travelers on their way to Kennedy Meadows.

We’ve been meaning to address Kloe’s newfound anxiety of car-rids, so a we made a detour in town to Dusty’s Den.  Dusty’s is a local pet store and emporium owned by our friends Deborah and George.  So we make a quick stop to pick up some CBD oil in the hopes that this will be the elixir Kloe needs to help take the edge off of her car-ride anxiety.  We’re in and out within minutes with “the stuff” 🙂 and head on up the hill to Kennedy Meadows.

As Golden Kali readers may be aware California is on fire.  Sad and scary for all our rural communities is the fact that the forest is overgrown, global warming is a fact, and our resources are over taxed and understaffed.  One of the newest fires to break out is the Donnel fire, about 10 minutes south of Kennedy Meadows.  This fire started Thursday, the day before our road trip, and we passed by as it was about 350 acres. The smoke was in view from the ridge of Highway 108 as we passed by without threat to the road or various campgrounds and US forest land cabins.  [As of this post the fire has grown to 8000 acres, and destroyed many historical buildings.]

Kennedy Meadows is a special place.  Nestled high in the Sierras it’s the place so many of us Bay Area natives would go to when we were young adults to get away from the “city” and experience nature.  The Stanislaus river, the Sonora pass who’s summit tops 9000 feet and leads into the real high country of Bridgeport and beyond, and the majesty of Mother Nature is magnificent.  And there we were.

We unloaded the girls and started off on a short hike to the river where the girls could cool off and wade in the river.  We passed a few other hikers, some with dogs, and we were so proud of our girls who were interested, polite, and well behaved even when other dogs barked at them.  Kali has come such a long way from the Taiwanese rescue who was so anxious around other dogs when she first arrived in America four years ago.  And Kloe, now two and half, has learned not to pull when we encounter another person or dog, but instead postures herself  to greet them and engage.   We are very proud of our girls…

While at the river Kali got her leg caught in some rocks and came up limping.  The unfounded worries that I am prone to immediately assessed that Kali would not be able to walk the half mile back to car and that I would have to carry her 60+ pounds the entire way on by shoulders.  Holly quickly spoke up and said, “if you try to carry her the whole way who will carry you?”.  It was a good point.  As Kali limped I encouraged bribed her with high value treats to keep her walking all the way inspire of my worry that her leg was hurt and walking was making it worse.  [Update:  her leg was fine and  she was faking in order to get the HVT’s].

We made it back to the car, my pocket now empty of treats, and had lunch.  Kloe eagerly jumped out of the car and settled next to Holly’s sandwich chair.  Kali elected to remain in the car in an effort to perpetuate the injured leg drama.  We ate our lunch, drank a beer, fed the girls some of our watermelon (they love watermelon!) and sat in the quiet of the forest in awe of the beauty of the high country.

As we reloaded and headed back down the hill to the Golden K we were feeling blessed to live within the beautiful Stanislaus Forest,  worried about climate change and how fire season in California is almost year round, appreciative of the herculean fire fighters, and feeling blessed to have been rescued by our girls Kali and Kloe.

Kloe Gotcha Day #2

How embarrassing!   I thought Kloe’s Gotcha Day was on May 9th but it is actually on May 7th – today.   Thank goodness for Facebook who reminded me this morning by showing me my post from last year. As if Kloe would know or even knows what the heck a Gotcha Day is.  But I know what it is and I’l always remember the day we brought her home from Lodi, CA where we picked her up.

She rode home to Livermore on Holly’s lap squirming a little bit but only because she wanted to play and  cuddle.   We arrived home to introduce her to Kali, her new big sissy and soon to be surrogate mother.   Kali, true to herself, barked when Kloe entered the house as if to say, “No!  I’ve been very happy here having mom and dad to myself for the past two years and I don’t need the competition of a incredibly cute puppy.   So you, missy can just go back where you came from.”

Within an hour Kloe won over Kali’s heart and they were playing and cuddling.  Kloe wanted to be wherever Kali was.   At times coaxing Kali to play tug-o-war and Kali was so respectful and cognizant that Kloe was a wee 15 pounds so taking it easy on her.  At other times when Kali was sleeping Kloe would lay on top of Kali or find a way to spoon.  Kali was so tolerant and such good big sissy.

Two weeks later we packed up 23 years of Livermore, put Kali and Kloe in the back seat of my truck and drove to our new home in the Sierra Nevada Foothills.  Kloe wasn’t in Suburbia long enough to get used to that so our five acres in the middle of the foothills was just another step in her brief two month life.

Fast forward two years and Kloe is a true mountain girl chasing squirrels and jack rabbits, co-existing with the black tailed deer and – being the chewer she is – loving the lifetime supply of twigs and sticks that are at her disposal.

That little 15 pound pup we brought home two years ago has grown up into a beautiful 80 pound young lady who brings endless and ongoing love and joy into our lives.

Happy Gotcha Day Kloe.  You are my sweetie girl.  You are a great companion,  You are a fantastic listener.  You are unconditional love in it’s truest form.  For that and for you I am so grateful.

Kloe:  then and now

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Boomer

On the day after we moved to the mountains I met a dog named Boomer.  This  dog sauntered up the long driveway to our house like he owned the place.  As a suburbanite transplant who just moved to a rural area I thought, “uh-oh” how many dogs run around freely in the surrounding areas that will be coming onto our property?”  I shooed Boomer away not knowing what to expect.  Would he charge?  Would he bark and take an aggressive stance?   But Boomer, who’s name I didn’t know at the time,  gave me a sad little look as he jogged back down the driveway and out of sight.

The next time I encountered Boomer was a few days later when I took Kali out for her first walk in our new “neighborhood”.  The neighborhood is comprised of mostly five acre parcels with an eclectic mix of homes,  many set back away from the road and out of sight.  As Kali and I walked and explored I noticed Boomer, whose name I still didn’t know,  following us but keeping his distance.   I posted it about it a the time expressing moderate concern about safety and how walks might be significantly different from our old creek trail in Livermore.    Boomer stopped when I looked back at him and he remained still as Kali and I moved on.   As we headed back home Boomer was still in the same place and as we got closer I realized it was the same dog that walked up our driveway a few days earlier.  As Kali and I passed by he kept his distance and eventually ran off with the same sad little look he gave when when he jogged down our driveway.

It turns out that Boomer is a very friendly and sweet dog.  With his black and white speckles and round body shape and short legs he looks like a cartoon dog.

 

Boomer the cartoon dog

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While there are many dogs in the area I’ve never seen another dog walking around freely like Boomer does.  Most families here have at least one dog, many have more, and they seem to fall into one of two categories.   One, they are like our girls who stay within fenced areas or inside the house. Or two, they roam their fenceless property freely and only occasionally come out to the edge of their property line as we walk by but not onto the road where we walk.  They seem to know their limits and what their job is.

With the exception of one or two instances I’ve never seen anyone else walk their dogs.  I can’t blame them as we live on a mountain and it’s usually uphill both ways….  But we walk our girls almost every day.  Often Boomer will join us skipping along in front by several yards and then scurrying back to wait while we catch up.  It used to concern me that Boomer was out and about by himself all the time; and without a collar.  But he seems very capable and comfortable and knows his limits.  I’ve never seen him near the main road where cars travel and he seems to know where everyone else lives and takes care to help them find their way.

On a recent walk Boomer led Kali and I back home.  He was a little ahead of us and he stopped in front of our gate that leads up to our property.  Boomer seemed to know that’s the gate we use to go back home from our walks although it is not the same gate we use when start our walk.  Boomer stopped and waited.  As we approached and headed into the gate he ran on up the hill back to his house, probably feeling satisfied that he got us home safely.   He is truly a great escort and I now laugh at how I could have been concerned the first day I saw this sweet guy saunter up our driveway who only wanted to welcome us to his neighborhood.

Boomer leading the way back home

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Boomer the real dog

 

 

Swim Time At The Lake

It was almost as though the water took the weight of the world off my eight year old Kali.  Well, I guess in some ways it did because when you’re paddling and floating the water is absorbing much of your weight instead of your joints and bones.

And so it was for Kali this afternoon at the lake.

With summer winding down we wanted to get the girls back up to the lake for another romp in the water while the weather was still reasonably warm.  I’m sure they wouldn’t mind the cold freezing snow melt later this year but Holly and I would!  Kloe loves the water and we knew that she would have no problem getting in the deep stuff so we were prepared this time with the long 30 foot leash.   We’re not yet comfortable letting either of the dogs, especially our little dare devil Kloe, into the Lake without a “safety net”.

Kloe had a blast, as expected, swimming out to retrieve the sticks we threw in the water.   This was the first time she really had an opportunity to outright swim without her legs touching the bottom of the lake and it was fun to see her eyes when she realized she was floating and then started paddling.   She did get a little more reserved the deeper out she got.   This actually made me feel relieved because one, she knows her limits to a degree, and two, I wouldn’t have to reel her in like a Marlin.  On the other hand if squirrels could swim and happened to be in the lake all bets would be off and I’m pretty sure Kloe would hyperplane towards the dastardly swimming vermin.

But Kali was really the surprise star of the afternoon.

Kali had been hanging around in the shallow water as Kloe swam out to retrieve sticks.  We gave Kloe a break and put the long leash on Kali just for grins.   Before we knew it she was romping and stomping in the water.   I threw a stick as a joke but the joke was on me.  Kali dove into the water, swam out to the stick, grabbed it, and brought it back and dropped it.   I threw it again and she repeated the exercise.

So shame on me for underestimating my (aging) Golden Kali who seemed years younger as soon as her fur hit the water and her feet began to paddle.  Most days with Kali are a joy but today will stand out for many months to come.

She won’t get a lot of points for style or grace but I give her a 10.0 for effort and heart. Good girl old lady!

Moments In The Sun (with our girls)

We took the girls for a drive and picnic up to the lake today and were pleasantly surprised when we found an area of the beach where dogs were allowed.  During past visits, due to signs all along the beach telling us “no dogs”, we were not aware that there was a section of the beach where dogs were ok.  Today as we strolled around the camp sites and trails we decided to go towards the beach and walk as close as we could with the girls.   I spotted a sign that said “Dog Area” with an arrow pointing down the trail.   Sure enough as we walked a little further we saw lots of dogs on the beach.  So we headed down.

Kloe loves water and although we’ve not taken her to a beach before I was pretty darn sure she was going to go nuts (nuts in the best way possible) when she hit the water.   My only regret is that we didn’t have the long leash so she was restricted to the shore with me holding on to the lease for dear life because this dog is so strong she would have pulled me under like a hungry great white shark with a baby seal in it’s jaws.

So we did the best we could with what we had and what we had was a ton-o-fun!

It was so fun to see Kloe jumping and splashing in the cool water.   The other dogs in the area were very dignified boring simply standing in the water paw deep or laying next to their owners in the sand.   I imagine had we planned for it and brought our beach chairs Kloe would have eventually laid down next to us and chilled out like the boring dogs.  But during the time we were there she was entertainment for all the beachgoers along this 50 yard stretch of lake shore. It was fun to see the smiles on the faces of young and old alike as Kloe did her thing in the water.   Kali even got in the game prancing knee deep in the water, smiling, and more than tolerating her little sister’s antics, seemingly very proud to be part of this pack.

As we all walked back to the car and our picnic lunch Holly and I were grateful for this beautiful day, our girls Kali and Kloe, and certain that we would be back very soon with the long leashes, beach chairs, and cameras ready to capture more of these beautiful moments in the sun with our girls.

Moments in the sun with the girls

 

Next time we bring the long leash for sure!

Girls at the lake

 

Face Lift for the Golden K

The Golden K had a bit of a face lift last week.  33 dead pine trees were cut down at their knees.  They never saw it coming.  But we did.

When we bought the property there were already 16 dead pines.  Over the past year – mostly during early spring – another 17 bit the dust.  Bark Beetle dust that is.  The beetles bore their way into the bark of the pines and the pines, after five years of drought, can’t produce enough sap to fend them off.  It’s evident from red dust protruding from the bark instead of sap.  You can almost see the trees dying in front of your eyes.  The death starting at the very top and quickly working its way down to the lowest needles.

Fortunately we still have 107 Pines and plenty of Oaks and Cedars and the 33 now removed pines will hardly be missed in the landscape and organic fabric of the Golden K.

The crew was here for five days and there was a lot of chain saw action to say the least.  Much to Kloe’s chagrin.   When you live in the mountains the sound of chain saws is as natural as the chirping of the birds or cockle-doodle-doing of the roosters.  Kloe has literally grown up listening to chain saw noise. Maybe it was the proximity of the saws cutting down our 33 trees or perhaps some sound beyond our audible spectrum that bothered her.   Whatever it was Kloe was very agitated when the saws were buzzing.  Kali, not so much.  Except for thunder nothing seems to rattle Kali.

Kloe survived the week and The Golden K is better off with the 33 dead 100 foot plus matchsticks.  If you’ve never experienced the sound of a 120 foot tree hitting the ground you are really missing something.  There’s a certain majesty of something that big and heavy hitting the ground with a massive thud and bounce!  On one of the falls I was about 15 feet behind the crew member making the cut.  After it was on the ground he turned around. I told him that I knew he does it all the time but for me it was so awesome to see and hear this massive piece of mother nature hitting the ground.   He grinned and told me that it never gets old for him.  Every time he still feels the rush.

 

So 33 dead trees and a chunk of change later the Golden K is a safer place.   33 fewer matchsticks in the event of a fire and 33 fewer chances of a giant child of nature falling on our house, or God forbid one of us or The Girls.

So at the end of the day ( a term I dislike but use here any way) our small piece of the forest was thinned for the greater good and as we look out over it, or under it as the case may be, we continue to feel blessed with our romantic perspective of life at 3100 feet.

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Boss Lady Holly declaring the job is officially done.

Merging The K’s

As some followers of Golden Kali know I have another blog called The Golden K.  The Golden Kali blog began the day after Kali arrived from Taiwan and joined our pack.  The Golden K blog started shortly after relocating to the mountains a year ago.

The lines between the two blog sites have blurred because we wouldn’t have The Golden K without our Golden Kali and her sister Kloe.  The tag line for the Golden Kali blog used to be “Kali’s new life in America”.  When we moved to the mountains the tag line changed to, “Kali’s new life in the mountains.  The tag line (I’m a big fan of tag lines) for The Golden K is, “A romantic perspective of life at 3100 feet”.

I can’t think of Kali and Kloe without thinking about how lucky they are, we all are, to be living on five acres of paradise in the mountains.  And I can’t think of the Golden K without thinking about Kali and Kloe and how the Golden K would not be so Golden without them and it certainly would not be called the Golden K.  Maybe the Iron Ranch, or Silver Spurs, but not the Golden K.

So I now succumb to the obvious and will merge the two blogs because they are really the same.  I hope regular followers of Golden Kali will enjoy an occasional post about The Golden K located in the Sierra Nevada Gold Country town called Tuolumne.  And I hope followers of The Golden K will get to know Kali and Kloe, the inspiration for the Golden K.

Followers of Golden Kali can read the first post from a year ago for more context about The Golden K here:   https://goldenk.net/2016/06/22/the-golden-k-begins-now/.

Welcome to The Golden K

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Solitude

I’ve never been very good at giving the one word answer or the ‘in a single sentence describe the..”  I tend to be a little wordy.  Holly will laugh when she reads the last sentence and think to herself (or say out loud), “A little?!?”.  Often when I’m asked an important or provocative question, rather than take a thoughtful pause, I usually start talking to fill the space while my mind is thinking and formulating the right answer.  The succinct and meaningful answer.  The answer I wish I had  given after a moment or two of silence while I thought it out rather than vamping on gibberish until I “got there”.

And so it was last weekend at a friends house.  After a wonderful meal the six of us were enjoying after dinner banter and Jenny, our host, asked a great question.  A provocative question.  One of “those” questions.  Jenny and her husband Greg have lived in the mountains for many years; Greg his entire life.  Holly and I moved to the Golden K, thanks in a big way to Jenny, less than a year ago.  Jenny was lock step with us the entire way helping us to navigate the life changing journey from Suburbia to the Sierra Nevada Foothills.  And she’s still there for us and interested in “how we’re doing”.

“So what do you like most about living in the mountains?”

There it was.  Jenny asked one of those questions.  My brain started going where I make lists, prioritize the list, organize it into categories, rationalize the motivation for the items on the list, and then put it all into a spreadsheet for the beginning of an executional plan.  Yikes – I was doing it.  But this was a great question.  It meant a lot to me that Jenny asked and then I could almost hear the ringside announcer saying, “Let the rambling begin….”.

I went on to describe the people, the slower pace of life, the laid back vibe, the blah blah blabadee blah blah blah.

I woke up the next morning thinking about this question and the answer was perfectly clear:  solitude.  That’s what I like most about living in the mountains.  Not solitude as defined in the dictionary (the state of being alone) but the solitude of being in the middle of a piece of our planet that Mother Nature has shown great favor to.  A  habitat shared (mostly) peacefully by man, beast, and plants.  The solitude of the fresh air.  The solitude of the sound of the wind blown pine trees.  The walks with dogs in the middle of a dirt or gravel road.  The silence of night.  The sunlight filtered through the pines and oaks sneaking into my bedroom at first light.  The solitude of a sustained stare with a five point buck outside my kitchen patio.  The solitude of waking up to a frozen world after a night of snow.  The solitude of walking out on a cold morning, closing my eyes, and taking a deep breath.  The solitude of sitting under the summer stars with my bride of 34 years and our two Golden Retrievers, all three whom I love desperately.

So yeah, solitude.  That’s what I like most about living in the mountains.  It’s solitude that fortifies my romantic perspective of life at 3100 feet.

The solitude of waking up to a frozen world after a night of snow.

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A few days of sunshine…

We interrupt this weather system to bring you a few days of sunshine….

The Golden K is thawing out.   It’s a relief that our reservoirs are finally filling up and the snow pack is at or above average both after five plus years of drought.   But I’m looking forward to thawing and drying out for the next few days before the next storm system arrives in a few days.

We have no choice but to take what Mother Nature gives us.  Here at the Golden K we’re ok with that as she continues to fuel my  romantic perspective of life at 31oo feet.

This was Monday.  The Golden K frozen in time.

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This was Saturday.  The pines look happier and healthier already!

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This is Kloe burning off a little energy while sister Kali watches from the deck.

And so it goes with my Golden Kali…

Me:  “C’mon Kali, do something”.

Kali:  “I am.  I’m sleeping”

Me: “No I mean, romp, play, give me some fodder for a blog post”.

Kali:  “OK, post about this nap I’m taking and wake me when there is a biscuit in your hand with my name on it”.

Me:  [sigh…]

And so it goes with my Golden Kali.  Since the day Kali arrived in America almost three years ago she has been low key and very content to just hang and be with me and observe the world around her.

So this past weekend, after a few days of steady snow, when we took Kali and Kloe for a walk up to the back section of the Golden K I was smiling to see Kali exhibit a little bit of puppy in her.  I’m still very much a kid at heart and it was great to see my Golden Kali, who is just about my contemporary in dog years, act a little bit like a pup as we romped through the snow.

As we got off the path that circles the inner section of the property around the house and began “off roading” to the deeper snow Kali began acting like,  well acting like a dog.  She  romped, she pranced, and she threw herself down on the snow and seemed to make a snow angel, although in reality it was probably something dead she smelled and wanted to roll around on it as she loves to do…

Kali is about eight and I find myself doing the “numbers game” and thinking ahead to the day when Kali will be gone.  I know there are still – God willing – four or five years until that inevitable day arrives.  For Kali, like with my human kids, I would not ask her be something she is not or doesn’t want to be.  She doesn’t have to fetch, she doesn’t have to romp, and if she prefers to nap and just observe this is ok with me because she usually chooses to do these things at my feet, by my side, as a truly loving and devoted companion.

But when she does choose to romp and play, as she did this past weekend in the snow, I will cherish it and be happy for her because I see that she too is very happy to be alive with her pack at the Golden K.

Kali’s Romp In The Snow