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California Trip 2.0

As expected, I had a fantastic time at the Marco seminar. What Chris Ott talked about, I was really able to put into action with Marco. Lots of floor time and he is very direct and to the point. I like the English as a second language thing, it really made me focus on what he was saying, and the translation made for good feedback. Like "don't makea soup outa there", and "your doga isa younga, he doesn'ta havea the eea ssa peea yet". I love that, Hi-Fi doesn't have his ESP yet, I love the idea of physic Hi-Fi. There was one dog younger than Hi-Fi, the rest were mature and seasoned, but we did okay, held our own even if not as seasoned as most. My biggest take home is I gotta get back into shape. My fitness level is not what it was even 6 months ago. Luckily I know how to do it, it just means I have to do it;) Also arm flinging, and moving out of things quicker. I admit running in the sand was certainly more difficult for me, but my reflex times are slower than they have been, even on regular dirt surfaces. The throw back, gotta eliminate it from my handling with Hi-Fi, it does make him go wider. Walking courses over and over again and focusing on just handling is my homework. More independence on backsides is my homework with Hi-Fi.

But, there was way more than just seminaring! We took a road trip, a real road trip, driving the coastal route all the way down. First stop were the redwoods, gah. I know this place is my heaven. My place, where I belong. We were lucky enough to be able to spend a night at Jennifer's home, even though she was off in Spain somewhere. She opened her house to us and it was lovely to have a yard and comfy place to rest. She lives in a magical place, the Redwoods, well, yeah. Can't get enough of them. We did not get enough time in them my opinion, but I never think I have enough time to spend in them. We woke up early the next morning and traveled to Santa Rosa to have brunch with Heather's aunt. It was awesome! Such a nice woman and she has excellent taste in breakfast food. Wish we could have stayed longer there too, but we were fiercely warned not to get stuck in SF or San Jose traffic. So we left by noon and made our way down to Santa Cruz via 101 and Hwy 1 through Half Moon Bay. I drove this portion and yes, it took longest to drive through SF, and it wasn't even heavy traffic time.

We made a few stops along the way for some photo ops. Heather made a point of shaming me every time she tried to get Hi-Fi to pose for photos because his posing skills are not up to par. Eh, true, not something I have worked on, he finds it to be too much pressure and turns his head away from the camera and closes his mouth. I suppose I could train it, but I haven't really had the need to. He will usually pose for me, the big black camera is a bit intimidating I suppose. Maybe that can be put on my list of homework so he can be perfect like all the other posing BC's and Heather can stop her shaming;) I still think he is perfect despite his distaste for the camera. The drive to Santa Cruz was worth many stops though, so pretty! Bright and Hi-Fi were perfect travelers too, such good dogs. Both seemed like veterans of the road, when in reality it was there first big road trip. Hi-Fi is super easy to travel with, no worries except the time he did not immediately come when called in the forest... I guess he was hanging out with a few ladies and their dogs, having a great time. That is kind of a Fred move, shocked me.

We had a BLAST with Laura. Such a great host. I wish we had been able to spend more time with her too. She is the best Santa Cruz tour guide ever. I am sad we were not able to visit heroin hill and transient alley, but maybe next time. She did take us on two very lovely hikes through some old growth, it was perfect. We also went to dinner at a fun tiki restaurant. Good times, the best really. It makes me want to visit her more often. Santa Cruz reminded me of Eugene in many ways, but with a surf culture to it. Not enough time spent in any one place, we were on a schedule, which also meant no down time, but the dogs handled it all in good spirits. That Bright, she is such a good dog, easy peasy. Her and Hi-Fi made for good travel buddies. Except for when Hi-Fi is tired. When he is tired, he is done. That is also a Fred trait. He wants to be left alone to sleep, not to be bothered or pestered. It took him four days and a full day of agility with no down time to reach this point. By Sunday morning he was kind of done with the travel, but still a good, good boy. Just not his happy, bouncy, goofy, take on the world self. I could see he was a bit tired and ready for real sleep, not car sleep. But he did well at the second day of the seminar too. He is kind of perfect for me, this dog.

California is beautiful, well coastal and Northern California. And it was empty for the most part, we never had to go through very populated areas, kind of a dream trip. The car travel, the seminar, the old friends, the new friends, all so much fun. I would really like to work with Marco again (maybe in the fall), I liked his style. Everything made great sense and basically I was uh-huh, yep, yes, help me Marco;) He really focuses on the handling, and how to make it better. My main issue was not moving out of things, so many habits I still have from running Freddie, but I can transition to running Hi-Fi, we just both need to develop our ESP.

Such a great trip. I like to travel, especially when in good company!

Redwood Highway!

Big trees here we come.

Open Mind, OMD, OMG

I had my first in person, real time introduction to the One Mind Dogs handling system, but it is certainly more than a handling system, it is a way of life. They are committed to making this system work, for everyone. My only experiences with the system in the past have been through videos and blogs, I have not had the full experience, the instructors in black (they refer to themselves as the Black Butterflies), the jargon, the explanations until now. The PNW hasn't really been exposed to the system, unless people have taken the effort to travel to the East Coast or Southern California. Things usually make it to the West Coast last, but that's okay, it's here. I have almost 10 pages of notes, lots and lots of lecture this past weekend, lots of it. I will try to make sense of all of it, but if any of you with more OMD experience have any input or if something needs to be corrected, please help me out;)

Chris Ott presented a 3 day seminar, explaining the system in great detail. I was only able to attend Saturday and Sunday, but I feel like I certainly know much more about OMD than I previously did. I have been intrigued by them for sometime due to the amount of fun they all seem to be having. The dogs, the handlers, just looks like they are having a good time to me. I signed up for a Marco Giovani seminar prior to knowing Chris would be out here, but now I can go into the Marco seminar with a little bit more understanding of what he is teaching. The system differs a lot from APHS and Justine's stuff, the other two systems I am familiar with. One certainly could not follow both Justine and OMD without giving conflicting information to the dog. Although both really do depend on cueing, leaving, and obstacle commitment. Plus there are always ways to take pieces and apply them, no matter what system one may follow.

First thing we went over were their Seven Elements Of Handling. I inserted a link so I would not have to type them all out.

The biggest difference between Justine and OMD is obviously the verbals;) OMD is very much into NOT using verbals, while Justine is very much INTO using verbals. I was reminded every time to run silent;) Hard for me. I have to say tunnel three times, I have to say his name three times, I have to give verbal cues, it's just trained into me at this point. So, at Marco, I will certainly focus on running silently. OMD believes that silent running equals faster dogs. They do not think the dogs can hear you at the larger events anyway. They will use verbals to mark nice parts, a yes, and they will use verbals for speed changes (dog's name), or as Chris referred to them, rhythm changes. Other than that, no verbals are used while handling.

OMD relies heavily on motion, no surprise, most systems do, whether they know they do or not. The thing with OMD, is that they like to get their cues out SUPER DOUPER early. Sometimes two or three obstacles ahead. They cue and go, cue and move on to the next obstacle. They depend on their dog's excellent obstacle commitment. They base the early cueing on their belief that a dog's visual perception is going at about 6/100 of a second while ours moves at 3/100 (I knew this about sound, but have not heard this about sight). Chris said that no matter how fast we are moving, or how fast our cues come, they are still coming out in slow motion for the dog. They also like to give early cues so the dog can decide how few strides to use, they do not control the dog on course, more on that cool piece later. They really want the dog to land appropriately, heading in the next direction, early cues help with this, they help the dog understand where he is going before he takes off.

OMD has their 3 C's, Connection, Commitment, Cue. If something goes wrong on a course, it is because one of these three C's was missing. I like how they break this down. Was I connected, check. Did I cue? Check. Was he committed? Check. It makes it pretty easy to trouble shoot areas where issues arise. For me, I found, my issues during the weekend were usually due too lack of connection. I really, truly understand that I can make handling my dogs so much easier if I teach myself to really connect after I perform a handling move. Usually I make a move and continue on without re-connecting. This is real life for me, so connection, if anything, was a super important piece for me to take home from this seminar. It's in my training book, it's in my wallet, it's in my mind now. I have always known I could really improve this part of my game, but somehow, this past weekend, just how it was presented, it all became clear to me on how to do it on course. Not system related, but certainly a good moment for me.

OMD teaches everything independently and they focus a lot on flatwork. All obstacles are taught to be performed independently and really the only skill besides obstacle commitment is the dog's understanding on how to turn away from the handler. Chris mentioned that all obstacles should be able to be performed independently from 30' away, and backsides by at least 12'. They rely on one step sends. The handling system is set up so no training is needed, if the handling is performed correctly, dogs will naturally read and understand it. It is not the dog that needs the training in this system, it is the human. Also very different than Justine's system.

OMD has 34 handling maneuvers, and more everyday I imagine;) I'm sure we have all heard the names, The German, The Whiskey, a reverse wrap, the human arrow, etc. Chris made a point of telling us all to not get hung up on the jargon, but to perfect our timing instead. She said that all of the moves are made up of mostly the same cues, but it is the combinations and exits that give them their names. She explained it like a list of ingredients. You may use buttermilk, flour, salt, and baking soda to make pancakes, but you also use the same ingredients to make scones, muffins, and biscuits. It's how you combine them that make them different, hence the 34 different names. It makes teaching and explanations easier if they all have names.

There are NO THROWBACKS in the system, so no K-turns (front to blind), one armed serps, or backy-uppies. Their serps are always done with an off-arm, their blended front crosses use both arms to cue, and they use their front cross arm with the Jaakko turn (front to blind). Notice in the video that the handler is using her left arm to guide the dog over the jump, with a K-Turn handlers would use their right. But, OMD does not use throwbacks because they do not allow them to cue and go.

All cues should have clear and different physical cues. I asked what their serps look liked compared to their threadles. There are no threadles in OMD, they are called false turns. The false turn also uses the off arm and looks very similar to their serp, but their false turn has feet turned toward the dog and their serp has feet facing forward. I think location may play a role too. With their False Turns (threadles), they do not want the dog turning in between the two obstacles, but they want the dog turning at the landing side jump wing of the first jump. I had a very hard time visualizing this piece and am still a bit confused. We did not touch on False Turns so I did not get to work through them. I am hoping Marco may bring it up so we have a chance to do them and I can gain some clarification.

What I really liked about OMD, but couldn't explain what I was seeing until I took this seminar, is that they do not handle to assist the dog. They cue and go. They allow the dog to determine how many strides he needs to get through a section. They want the fewest amount of strides through turns. They prefer turns with speed, rather than turns with extra strides. Of course the dog is not out of control, and the dog always knows where it is going, but they do not want the dog hitting the break pedal to make a turn. When I think back to my sister's boyfriend teaching me to drive, he said that to me, do not break in turns just so you can put your foot on the gas again. He taught me to take my foot off of the gas prior to turns, not to break at the turn just to immediately put my foot back onto the gas. There is a hiccup there when the breaks are hit, a deceleration that takes not only speed away, but add times to getting back up to speed, when, really, it could be smooth and sweet by just removing your foot from the gas pedal. They tightest line is not always the best choice, nor the fastest. So a dog who is jumping very collected, adding extra strides may be tighter, but the dog who is going a bit wider, with fewer strides may be going faster, and is probably having more fun;)

I am glad I have had my introduction to the system, I'm not going out and buying my OMD apparel anytime soon, but there is a lot of great info to be gained. I have been doing agility for 17 years now and OMD certainly has some innovative ideas. I have many more pages of notes I could write about, but mostly they are the names and explanations of their different handling moves, which really get way too much press time in my opinion. I am less interested in their handling "moves" and much more interested in their ideas and philosophies.

And here, a video of my feeble attempts at handling OMD style. It was VERY hard for me;)

I am so lucky Hi-Fi is is such a good sport.

Once Upon a Time....

Assets, and ratios, and ROCE, net profits, tax percentages, IPO's and, COGS, all a thing of the past. I'm done, I'm done with my frigging mathematical applications class. It was in depth and covered a WIDE range of shit I hate. Ugh for math, yet I see so much of it as a Tech. I usually just have someone else, like my pal Megan, calculate the drugs, I'm just not confident with it, I will do it, but don't trust myself, I always have someone double check my work if I do draw up drugs. My skills are strong in other areas, not necessarily the drug calculations. Problem is, at work anyway, that my pal Megan gave her notice. We created our Friday world, and it was strong, for awhile, but bricks started falling, and now that Megan is leaving, well our make believe world is gone, the dragons have died, and I'm faced with the King. I work for the King, reality is here. So, many things going through my mind. Mostly excited for Megan, but not really excited for the choices I am going to have to make. Just anxious.

Still get to see her, pals hang out outside of work.

I can't think about it now though, because well, today starts off the big, fun, non-stop company, go places, do the things, all the things month. Today we have company coming in for a meet the Hot Pie visit, and then they fly out tonight. Hi-fi may be someones potential baby daddy. Not sure if it will happen, it's just a meet and greet, talk about what I consider his "issues" to be and we shall see if they are a good match. Or if he is even what she is looking for in her next puppy. The breeding thing is all a crap shoot, one can take all precautions, and well, who knows. I'm not even 100% I want to breed him or that she will want to use him, but talk and discussion are always good. He is a very nice dog in many, many ways.

Baby Pot Pies? (photos by H)

Oh, before our company comes today, I have to go pick up the jumps at the Beef Bend Facility so we can transport them to the seminar this weekend. I found out that the facility where the seminar is being held uses old style, connected at the bottom, metal jump cup, metal jumps. It's fine, and well hey, whatevs we used them for years, but I can't run my young, fast dog on connected metal jumps and not worry. He has never seen them. He only knows if he hits something, it falls over, he is used to give. And learning new handling, being asked to run differently, well there could be some mistakes. So I was going to pull, but thanks to Heather's lovely suggestion, I will get the full on OMD experience this weekend;) I'm not very familiar with it, so much of it will be new to me.

Hopefully will not be an issue at the seminars. Bars that is, goofiness can stay. (photo by H)

Seminar presenter, Chris Ott, is staying with us this weekend. The original seminar organizer has injured herself, so she asked me if I would host Chris in place for a spot in the seminar, hey, why not I say;) I didn't even know she was coming, so bonus fun times. I work tomorrow though.... They are bringing Chris over tomorrow night, and I may still be at work. Luckily Rosie will be here, I think. She has plans to go see Davy sheep herd, which I would have loved to have scheduled too. So is goes, two day seminar, teach Monday and Tuesday, then Heather and I leave for California for 6 days! Fun times, good times. We have adventures planned, and beaches to visit, and friends to buy beers for, and places to stay, and photos to take. Oh, and seminars to run and puppies to meet, all of that too. Very excited by this.

Then I have a few days teaching, a day at home to recover, then the clinic again. But then a competition, and Tori is coming!, and there will be build your own Pizza, because well, Italy! If you haven't heard Tori and Rev are going to Italy for FCI Worlds, uh yeah, kind of awesome. Maybe it is time to make my Italian Meringue Cake, there will be fresh Oregon strawberries, yes, because Italy and fresh berries (Heidi;) And maybe some hikes, and walks, and talks, and more seminar days. And laughter, and probably crying, because I do that too. All good stuff.

Remember them? Can't wait. (photo by H)

And then it will all lead back to what next? I will hopefully in some place finish up this term, I am so very close. I have two papers I have to submit. Then I will also have to deal with my work schedule, what will I do?

Then there is my mom, she isn't doing so well. Life. Eh.
So super inspired! Freddie and I had THE BEST TIME doing obedience today. So much fun working with Denise, she is so on my level. I can truly relate to how she trains, I love listening to why she makes the choices she makes, and she has 100's of ideas and games to work through almost any issue. She puts so much thought into her training. I wish she lived closer, I would work with her more often with both dogs. Denise Fenzi makes training fun, really, really fun. She is totally in my top three trainers I love of all time.

The seminar was set-up so each team (12 total) got to pick the subject of learning, these were pretty much private lessons while everyone else audited them. Really a great format because I learned so much from watching the other teams. It broke up the monotony of the seminar too, nothing was done the same way twice, so good for me. I love how she works with each individual dog, it kept me engaged the entire time, and it gave me very useful information for Freddie. No generic dogs at a Denise seminar. There were a few times I slipped out to hang with Freddie, but for the most part, I was actively learning. It has been at least four or five years since I have been to a Denise seminar, much more crowded this time around;)

I have pages filled with notes and exercises, I am feeling so, so, so inspired to train Freddie again. She really got him, understood him, understood how he thinks, how he works, his motivations, how we work together. I honestly cannot say enough about how much I got out of this seminar. Freddie also had a blast, he enjoyed the training as much as I did, and that to me is what it is all about. We both truly had so much fun. When obedience is this much fun, of course we want to train it. The games she gave us to train are so active, so much fun, just FUN, playful activities that Freddie adores. The act of the games serve as a reward for Freddie, so no need to stop and give cookies. I played a little bit this morning in the field with both dogs, and chasing Hi-Fi became the reward for Fred. So much I can do with the information she gave me. I want to train it all;)

Denise was a perfect way to start off our seminar learning. Although the next three are with Hi-Fi, and focus on agility, I'm feeling ready to learn and learn some more. I really do need to focus on handling Hot Pie, I'm always just so much more in love with the training. I need to find that person who inspires me and motivates me to become a better handler like Denise motivated me to become a better trainer. I know it's out there, I know it is, I just need to be ready for it when it appears.

photo by Carol

Hot Pie is a special guy, I want to learn how to handle him in a way that is suitable to him. I like the Justine stuff, but there are certainly parts of the system I have issues with, sometimes I do think motion is a better way to go than trained cues, and sometimes trained cues are a much better way to go than relying strictly on motion and position. I'm just trying to find that balance, what works for Hi-Fi, and what doesn't. What works for me and what doesn't, and what works for both of as a team and what doesn't. I want to get to the point where I really trust him and he trusts me. Time and practice I imagine;) We are certainly entering the phase where it depends on me to bring it together. The focus is coming off of him since I feel comfortable with his obstacle training, and it is coming down to me. Oh, this place again;) Always at some point comes down to this place. Luckily we have three seminars coming up up that will be focusing on my handling, oh lucky day. My faults and short comings will soon be pointed out, always my favorite;) Why can't training me be as much fun as training Hi-Fi and Freddie. Maybe it is and I just haven't found the right games yet. I do love working with the dogs, for that I feel extremely lucky.

Photo by Carol.

My main goal going into these seminars is to give Hi-Fi the same level of commitment that he gives me. More specific goals.... I do not repeat things we get right, even if asked to do so, I train smart, I break things down, and I do not over run my dog. Of course I give appropriate warm ups and cool downs for both of us (no matter the sequence), and I always make Hi-Fi my number one priority. I will take notes and video of the instruction I receive, something I'm not always the best at doing. But it helped me so much with taking home and remembering the information from my time with Denise. So much information is lost when I'm out there on the floor focusing on my dog. I think we are ready. Bring on the handling lessons. A new era for Pie and I.

Stopped Contacts!

Okay, so to add more to my plate, well a welcome more;) I have opened my contact training class. I have decided to not go the classroom route with this one, I think everyone will be working different aspects, so these sessions will be taught individually, as privates. 8 weeks of private e-mail lessons for $209, kind of a deal. But I do think with everyone coming from different places, individualized attention will serve students the best. Some are retrains, some are from the ground up, some are coming from running to stopped, and no two dogs train the same way. I don't think I am in any danger of too many students;) So yeah, this is the best path I think. I do love the classroom setting, and students do learn from watching others, but the contact subject is just so vast.

Excited about it. My lesson plans are certainly shaping up too. Videos are the most time consuming, but the basic ones are done. I imagine I will be making videos as questions arise, but I am getting it down to a science.

I am loving the teaching thing. Certainly closer to doing it full time, much closer than I was just a mere four months ago. Bring on the teaching opportunities!

Nothing Really New

Spring is here, I love spring in Oregon, so green and colorful, and the temps are perfect. It makes me want to clean and fix everything in my life and house that are not functioning properly, I have spring fever I suppose;) Clean and get rid of things. Luckily I'm not one to collect many things anyway, but I am really in love with getting rid of things that have lost their value or are taking up space. Oh, I am also deep into cleaning up the property after our winter of flooding. So tired of mud. I want a mud free life, not sure how to make it happen, but I can take some steps to lessen it. Like ordering 4 yards of pea gravel, that happened. And we shoveled it all. That happened and it happened for hours and hours. Good manual labor, nothing like it to make one tired. Then yesterday I got bark, and moved and shifted it all around too. Good times I tells ya. Today the rains come, and they come hard, so it was nice timing on my part I think. We shall see if there is less mud.

So much stuff I have on my plate, yet I don't want to eat it all. I have been feeling a bit stressed to get it all done, to do it all right, to excel at everything I do, that sometimes it is easier to not do it at all. Uh, procrastination? Yeah, I'm the best at putting pressure on myself. I think most of us are. I am planning on going on a solo hike on Thursday, I'm going to visit a favorite haunt of mine. Hopefully the weather will cooperate. I know both dogs and I need it. Probably shouldn't be hiking on a day when I could be doing so many other things, but eh, I can get stuff done tomorrow.

Hi-Fi and I went up to "Fargus" for a one day competition. Was not as fruitful as I was hoping for it to be, my head just wasn't in the game. I enjoyed staying with Kerilyn, touching base with a few far away pals, and running in a new environment, but eh, not in the game. Poor Hi-Fi did fabulous though. He kept his head in a new place and did exactly what was told to him. I think we are going to get this agility thing down pretty soon;) I would like to find a regular instructor, someone who knows us as a team and can help guide us. I haven't found anyone yet, but I have some ideas, we shall see how it all pans out.

This weekend Freddie and I work with Denise Fenzi. I am hoping to get some help with his fronts, heeling on leash, and focus when we first enter the ring. He is always looking outward for the excitement, I want him to look to me, shall see how that goes.

The weekend after that we have Chris Ott here, then the weekend after that Heather and I go on a road trip to Southern California! Super good times. Lots to look forward to, lots of fun, and lots of time spent with the dogs, can't beat that.

Obedience Fred!

Freddie an obedience dog? YES! We went to our first trial, unprepared, well not as prepared as I would have liked. I wanted more distraction proofing, and ring proofing, and well, more understanding from Freddie, but we did it, and we did okay. Yesterday we would have placed third right behind London, but Freddie went down in his sit, and today we did place third, so respectable, but not nearly what we are capable of. Freddie just had no understanding what we were doing. He is so accustomed to pulling me into the agility ring and waiting for the leash to come off, that well, we did not have very graceful entries into the ring. And then the heel on leash was really messy, he had double the points tacked off on his heel on leash vs. his heel off-leash.

On leash heeling is the first exercise, it took Freddie a left turn, me running into him, and then me stopping him and asking him to heel for him to understand what we were doing (both days). After that, not too bad. Figure 8 was good, heel off leash lovely (really strong stuff), recall good, finish great, all good stuff. It was very exciting and nerve racking to compete with him in obedience. I just was not sure what he would do.

He let out one bark each day, not too bad, but something to certainly work on. He was a bit more goofy today than yesterday, but did well enough. I am really looking forward to moving forward with him through the classes and exercises, he seems to really enjoy it. The judge today made a comment about how excited he was to be in the ring;) So yeah, he enjoys it enough for me to continue with him. I just need to help him figure out what it is all about. It is not agility, which I think he really thought it had to be. His entrance into the ring and immediate focus is what we need to work on the most. The rest will come.

Stays were perfect today, he had a dog break on each side of him and he was all, whatevs. The barking rally dog in the ring to his right, and the running, jumping retrieving dog in the ring to his left were enough to gain his interest, but not enough to make him break. So kudos to Freddie. I wasn't sure I wanted to go this weekend, but am very glad we did. We are working with Denise Fenzi in a couple of weeks and now I have a great big list of questions and things I want to work on. I would not have had these goals prior to the competition.

The other nice thing about obedience, short days! We were done by 10am and on our way home. Also, all the obedience people are very, very nice. From the ring crew, to the judges, competitors, and club members, all so helpful. I am really, really happy I have found a place where I feel comfortable with Freddie. It's all new to us, we have no expectations, it will be much more difficult for him to injure himself, and I am just super, super excited to be training with him again. He sure loves to work with me and we have a challenge in obedience, the challenge to make it just as exciting and as fun as agility was for him. Good to be back in the ring with him and not feel worried. This is how it is supposed to feel.
I know I planned and purchased this trip for Rosie's birthday, but I feel guilty because I had sooo much fun. I just couldn't imagine doing all of this without Rosie though, the perfect travel partner.

Like taking BART to Union Station from the airport. And walking around in circles looking for our hotel. Then taking a bus to the Mission District for the Cesar Chavez Festival, and walking down darkened alleyways in Chinatown to find the best dim sum and seeing locals playing mahjong in well lit basements. Then there was the part where we saw friends, and went to a baseball game, and went to Haight Asbury on the wrong day and wrong time, so many things we did together.

We arrived in San Fran at around noon, which gave us plenty of time to explore. We decided to spend Saturday afternoon in the Mission District at a Cesar Chavez festival, eating and dancing and getting a feel for a super cool neighborhood. Unlike the Portland neighborhoods that are really spread out and separated by rivers and freeways, all of the SF neighborhoods are on top of each other and fuse together, moving quickly from one to another. It was amazing traveling through the city by foot and bus, we got a real feel for the place and how people live. SF is a very open city, so open that drug use nothing to think twice about it seems. We smelled more marijuana than we ever did in college, seriously, every neighborhood, every corner, every person seemed to be walking around enjoying a bowl with their pals, or just by themselves. Oh, and needle use, saw that too, and masturbation, I suppose I could tell that story.

Mission food and homes.

Day two was going to start by being picked up by some pals at our hotel at 8:40, so Rosie and I wanted coffee before it all began. There is Starbucks that could be seen from our hotel room, so we adventure down to it on a quiet Sunday morning. An aging man with heavy face and neck tattoos opened the door for us to enter as he was leaving, nothing too nutty for Sunday morning in SF. We ordered, we sat down, we started reading the news. I was heavily into the BBC, I knew someone sat down next to me, but didn't think much of it because, well people sit I suppose. Then all of a sudden Rosie gets up and says "I'm extremely uncomfortable, we are leaving now". I barely had a chance to see what was going on next to me before she shook my arm and headed out the door. As I'm regrouping I notice the man who sat down next to me, who sat down pretty close to me, was the same face tattoo guy who was leaving the shop as we entered. Uh, but he came back, and had a pretty hardcore porn magazine open and laid flat on the table in front of us, while his hands started to shift in his pants. Immediately all thoughts of hundreds of refugees drowning off the coast of Italy were gone and I was running to get out of Starbucks. Not my favorite memory of San Fran so far. But shortly after that two super cool cats pulled up in a fuel efficient wagon and we hopped in and headed over the big red bridge to the coast.

Oh. ..the road to the coast. ..twisty.... curvy...loopy... Even with the coolest, best driver, I got sick. Talk of taking the road hung over came up, and Rosie looked at me and said "oh Tammy, are you okay? You look so pale." And that was it, I asked Laura to pull over as soon as she could, and yeah, vomit. Coffee and cream that was tainted by face tattoo guy all came back up. Super embarrassing, but as I was kneeling over, I looked up and saw lots of little napkins and paper towels where other fellow vomitters had left their mark. This road had taken many. I felt off, but better, and Channan gave me the front seat, so we did make it to the beach without any other incidents. I now know that I can only sit in the front seat these days on rides that are anything but straight. It took a two mile walk on the beach to recover from the drive. Even then I was not 100% sure I trusted I was better.

The beach was lovely, brunch was lovely, although I worried about eating, and we got to walk with a group of dogs, and not be responsible for any of them. It was so much fun. We crashed the beach house for a few hours then headed off to see some redwood trees. Very beautiful part of California. The hike was short, but sweet, then we drove to a super swank agility venue so we could watch Kirk and Banksy practice. Ohhhh.. Kirk's running dogwalk is super lightening amazing and that Banksy can turn and burn, so much fun. I even got to run Banksy, she ran for me, she is a blast to play with, tugging machine. I have to wonder if my BC's are just big or if girls are just small, or if it is somewhere in between, but Kirk and Banksy are half the size of the boys. Both little pocket rockets!

After our agility time we went to the oldest restaurant in SF and had fish and chips. So. Much. Fun. Good. Times. I adored our special time with such amazing people. That Channan is a planning genius. She had our itinerary down to the minute, and we mostly stayed on time, mostly. Pretty good stuff! I will miss them and it does make me want to plan more California trips.

The trip to the beach and the forest was very welcome, otherwise I would have thought SF was pretty much just city, city, dim sum, and city. I still feel like Portland is a small town compared to cities like SF. Mostly because of the population, crowds, crime, and well crowds. Lots of people living in SF, lots of housing right on top of each other, and lots of money right next to desperation. The Financial district being right next to the Tenderloin is probably not a mistake. But the awesome thing about real cities is that there is real food. Have I mentioned the dim sum? Chinatown quickly became my favorite place.

Our hotel was on the edge of Chinatown so it was super easy to pop over to an alleyway or side street and pick up .60 cent potstickers with chunks of ginger in them. Oh, so perfect. I also loved all of the open air markets with fresh produce and seafood, truly made me feel I was in a different world.

Rosie really wanted to go to the Haight, since she was a child all she ever wanted to be was a hippie, so of course the Haight is a place she would want to visit. She chose 4/20 to go. Whew, I'll get to that... I wanted to see the Castro first and have a drink in one of the famous gay bars, I mean how could I not? The history of the Castro is well, history. The people in that neighborhood have paved the way for gays all over the world, so yeah, a drink to celebrate please;) I had so much fun with the older Queens who were also having a daytime drink. It takes a special breed to have an afternoon drink in a bar on a Monday. I rarely drink, let alone in the afternoon, but let me say, it is the best time to have a drink;) It means you have no responsibilities and are on vacation! I think most of the people drinking that afternoon were retired and they were all very friendly, telling us their stories and sharing photos of their dogs.

After our drink we headed up to the Haight, after listening to two older men argue about the best bus to take, Rosie and I decided to walk, not too far at all;)

The Haight, on 4/20 at 4/20...uhhhh Like 10,000 kids all heading to Hippie Hill to smoke dope. Wow, not what we were expecting, at all. Super out of our element, and probably the oldest people there. We had been smelling pot all weekend, but now we were breathing it too, we decided to walk back down to Market street and catch a bus back to Chinatown. Not sure where everyone's parents were, but these were certainly just kids. And because no one was funding this gathering, the city had to pick up the tab. They closed streets, and had cops everywhere, and had to pick up all of the garbage left behind, a big hassle really, and it ruined our Golden Gate Park experience, boo to the kids.

Yeah, that is not fog in those photos, a giant haze of smoke. It took us some time to not smell it anymore. I do think I will remember SF of smelling of garbage, pot, and expensive perfume. Something that I don't think we would ever see happen in Portland, I just don't think it would be allowed. Not sure how we would stop it, but I can't see it happening.

I loved walking around with Rosie the most. Just strolling through streets and finding super cool things to talk about and experience. A place where we have never been together, something pretty special about that, plus no dogs to take care of, we were able to focus on just us. I loved every moment of it. Oh, and the baseball game;) I really had a fun time, I understand why cities have major league teams, it brings everyone together with a common like. No matter their differences outside of the stadium, they all love the same team, they have common ground and that is pretty cool. To see such wide diversity sitting next to each other and bonding, I get it. Plus, the game was action packed and The Giants slaughtered the Dodgers, super fun game to see live.

I vow to not go so long between just Rosie and me time again. I am super happy to be home, but the time away put some things into perspective, just like vacations usually do.

Hopefully a very large phone photo

Great breakfast with great company in a great city.

Great breakfast with great company in a great city.



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May 2015



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