Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The 10:10 to Yuma

We've been in San Diego for a few days visiting my mom and checking out her new plantation shutters. Sweet! I'll post photos in a couple of days.

In the meantime, we're packing up for our drive to Yuma in an hour or so. Will spend the night there--why, we really don't know--but on the way plan to stop at the Thousand Trails RV park in Descanso, about 40 miles east of here. Have to see if it meets, or better exceeds, our incredibly high standards for camping. Even if it doesn't, we'll be staying there in July. Why? Because it's free. And "free" is good.

But the best part about heading east is that we get...to see...DAISY in the next couple of days. She's still in boarding school/bootcamp/prison. However, we've talked our way into a visit under the guise of taking a training lesson ourselves. Fat chance of that but I'll lie my way into anything in order to see our little skank of a pooch. Stay tuned for emotional reunion pix. Bring kleenex.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Christine, Frank, Aunt Betty, where for art thou?

Turns out our newest blog followers are Paul's cousins and aunt. He says it's good to know you're all up and at 'em and enjoying life on the road across this wonderful land of ours. For the benefit of our other followers, Paul's aunt and at least one of her children are taking a cross-country road trip and you can check it out at www.frankhartzell.com

Cousins, would love to hear from you via email. Paul's address is paulryan02@hotmail.com We are also hitting the road again in our classy 17-footer at the end of July all through August. Heading up the west coast and would like to stop by and see Betty if at all possible. Christine and Frank, where are you folks as well as Steve and Eric? Time to reveal yourselves. You can't hide forever. Big cousin is watching.

Time now for a rant! Nah...we miss our Daisy too damn much. Paul is down in the dumps and Sir Rantsalot is now Sir Drinksalot and keeps missing the keys. When we have Daisy back home in two-and-a-half to three weeks, I think Paul will be back in form and the liberal sparks and spittle will fly in all directions.

I'll be hitting the road early. By myself. But so far, I have to admit his liberal rants have been right on the mark. (He has a gun to my head, by the way.)

Answer to cousin Christine's question about Daisy's trainer-- His name is Paul Blauschild (sp??) at Central Pet in Amado, Arizona, about thirty miles south of Tucson. Central Pet has a rather impressive web site. Nice facility. New. Daisy doesn't seem to warm up to just anyone or anything but certainly has adjusted well here and seems to like it a lot. Course the little trollop is kenneled with five males her size and about a half-dozen females. All spayed and neutered. It's something like a reality TV show. We're told Daisy is ruling the roost and enjoying her cellmates. But we still miss her and it is still all about the dog.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dog Days of Early Summer

Our stable of blog-followers continues to expand! A big welcome to our newest, Christine, whose picture looks like Lola Montes (look her up--alternate spelling is "Montez").

I know you've all been waiting for a Daisy update so here goes. She's been at a southern Arizona bowser bootcamp for more than a week. After a couple of rough days at the beginning of her incarceration, it appears Daisy has adjusted. We spoke to her trainer on Wednesday. Before he launched into her progress report, he needed assurance that I hadn't jumped off our deck and that I was continuing to eat since I've been so forlorn in her absence. After I told him that, yes, I'm eating and looking on the bright side, he said that Daisy is not only thriving but has morphed into the leader of the pack (didn't we say that would happen? See earlier blog entry).

She and her little cellmates enjoy at least five hours of intensive "play" per day in the kennel's grassy yard. Her digs include not one but two large crates, outfitted with a few toys and her favorite pillow from home. Formal training begins on Monday and that's when we'll see if she makes the grade. Now I have another worry: what if she likes boarding school so much that she won't want to come home? That being stuck with the two of us is cramping her style? What then?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Keep on Blazin'

"Just because I went from world's cutest dog to a snag is no reason to incarcerate me."

Welcome to our newest blog follower, Robin.

How people stumble upon our blog, I don't know. But we appreciate them weighing in. What would be even better, though, if, as those preachers like to say, you'd send check, cash or money order to the following address..... That would help put a dent in our bills and support me in my life of unemployable leisure bumming off my long-time consort (and sucker) Paul. And help pay for Daisy Dog's month-long stint at the gulag where she's undergoing intensive training.
Nah, just kidding about sending money. Actually, we're fairly well-heeled right now. Paul, the unapologetic liberal, received a fat stimulus check--I received nothing, of course. However, I did win 26 big ones yesterday at a HUGE Indian casino west of Tucson. That's 26 dollars, not 26,000 dollars. Of course, we were attacked by a band of hostiles as we left the casino and barely made it home with our scalps intact. (Was that politically correct or no?)

Back to Daisy. We've made the mistake of letting her train us and take over our lives--we did that willingly--but now she won't come when she's called, runs after birds, rabbits and bugs, and howls at the slightest provocation. So, along with learning how to come when called and bark only to alert us, she'll receive snake and Colorado River Toad avoidance training.

Rattlesnakes are out and active this time of year. We know of at least four instances of rattlesnakes striking and hitting dogs whose curiosity got the best of them. Two dogs were bitten on the nose and survived. One was bitten on the tongue and didn't. The fate of the fourth dog remains a mystery. The average vet bill for snakebite exceeds $2000. That's a lot of trips to the casino to say nothing of hostile Indian avoidance training. (Is that politically correct?)

By the way, the Colorado River Toad is a venomous creature in Arizona (isn't damn near everything here?), living almost anywhere near water. A friend in Sedona has one that hangs out on the edge of her "spool" (combination small swimming pool and hot tub). The toad has venemous glands behind its head. When a dog chomps down, the venom is released into the dog's saliva. The bite could turn Daisy into DOA.

Anyway...we may be able to visit Daisy at boarding school in a couple of weeks. That's when we start taking our own lessons in behaviour modification. As important as it is that she be trained, we have to be, too. But let me tell you about the separation anxiety we're going through, after spending virtually every day with this dog for almost a full year. When she's not a part of your immediate environment, it's damn disconcerting. Sounds silly but it will probably be this way for a few days until we get used to her absence. By the way, tomorrow, June 15, she'll be one year old. Paul says he'll just get drunk and fire a rocket. Whatever the hell that means. I hope he doesn't plan on doing that in the house.

We're going to call the boarding/training facility this morning to see how Daisy's adjusting to her first three days there. We figure that smart little pup has probably organized a break-out and the whole kennel-full of critters has made a run for the border, only eighteen miles south.

Sorry to bore you with this, but it helps to talk about it. How pathetic is that?

Monday, June 1, 2009

At Home on the Range

Real cowboy hats for the real cowboy and cowgirl.

Cowboy/chef giving us the two-finger salute.

Paul with his boarding-house reach trying to steal my dinner.

The barn at Dave and Micki's. Beyond it, green pastures and the Verde (or "Green") River.

Prison garden. The chicken wire keeps the plants in and the critters out.

Micki's dad carved this moosehead out of wood. Its life-like detail is amazing. He had worked for Walt Disney at one time. Micki's dad, not the moose.

Cowboy's sweetheart, Micki. Proving that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, she has her father's talent for woodcarving. This "twisted cross" is only one of many impressive examples.


Sedona has the reputation of being a magnet for new age afficionados. Some would call them "nutcases", citing the long-haired guy in the flowing purple robe and gray beard who strolls through the tourist district with arms upraised and eyes rolling in their sockets. In reality, Sedona is more a haven for retired people, reclusive Hollywood celebrities, and cowboys.

This has been and still is ranching country. Sedona began as a farming community with apple and peach orchards planted along the banks of Oak Creek. The farms butted up against open range that fed herds of cattle. You can still see some grazing along Highway 89, the artery that runs from Sedona south to the town of Cottonwood.

Like Sedona, Cottonwood is also a retirement town with a cool historic district that houses some of the best restaurants in the area. Better than almost anything you'll find in Sedona which likes to be known for its cuisine but "ain't". The restaurateurs have the attitude that since this is a tourist town people will pass through once so let's not go all out and serve them up the finest fare possible. Let's give them mediocre food that's overpriced.

So that's why when we go out to eat we head south to Cottonwood's Tavern Grill, Nick's, Hobo Joe's (for breakfast) or the old standby, Casa Bonita for good Mexican food. There's also a Casa Bonita in Sedona and it's excelente. It defies what was previously said here.

But you won't find a better meal in Cottonwood than at our close friend Dave Garner's. Dave is the real deal--a gen-u-ine cowboy who parlayed his love of good, downhome cooking into a career as a professionally-trained Cordon Bleu chef. He and his wife Micki operated a sheep ranch in Wyoming along with running a popular restaurant near the town of Thermopolis. Dave built the restaurant himself-- a huge strawbale structure that served up everything from homemade pizza to blue-ribbon steaks.

Being the renaissance couple, Dave and Micki eventually traded in their snow shovels and relentless heat of the restaurant kitchen for 'year round warmth and new careers in Arizona. Micki is the activities director at a residence facility in Cottonwood while Dave sells real estate. He was the agent who found us our house in Sedona. He, along with our buddy Tim Dugan in Green Valley, are the best agents we've ever had.

This past Sunday evening, Dave cooked us up a scrumptuous pork roast with bread stuffing and studded with peaches. Accompanied by new potatoes, green salad and topped off with cherry cheesecake. Oh, and lots o' wine. We provided a big cheap bottle called "Red Eye" or "Fish Eye", some Australian swill that wasn't befitting the wonderful meal.

We had appetizers in their rolling garden that Dave built atop a wheeled trailer, encased in chicken wire to keep the critters out. Those critters not only include wild birds, squirrels and other high-desert dwellers but a herd of cattle that Dave and Micki manage. Their gen-u-ine ranch house sits on a small plat near the Verde River not more than a mile from Cottonwood's city center but a million miles away in look and feel. We'd love to live there, having developed a taste for farm and ranch life during our tenure on "America's Heartland", the TV series Paul hosted.

So kudos to Dave and Micki for another wonderful evening. We'll host them for bbq and beer later this month.