Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Lost in the Ozone, Again. Really.

The Second Sub-Chapter From Dooley the Dejected
A Captive Island Dog A Long Way from Home
Well, hello again.  This is another post from somewhere up  in the mountains about the strange summer of Dooley the Demented.  No, it's not about the islands.  The islands are a land of blue and white and turquoise.   This land is different.  There is no beach.  No sailboats. People cover all of their skin up and wear things on their feet.  We are  far from the ocean.   A high, arid place with strange animals and customs.   And the predominant colors are not blue, white, or turquoise.

We still find water,  but it's different than seawater it seems.   The Big Dude likes to plan these trips from one place with water to another.  I don't know why we don't just stay down in the islands where we're surrounded by water in every direction.   That's definitely not the case up here.  

Colorado has a lot more places not covered with water than the Caribbean.  I mean, there are some serious rocks  sticking up out of the dirt around here.    

There are these things called creeks and rivers that  people plug up to make big puddles of fresh water.   This is all new stuff to a dog that's spent his life on a small desert island with no fresh water.
I wonder what Preacher's flamingos would think of this place?

This is Watkins Lake, on the Cache La Poudre river, just outside Laporte, Colorado.  The only flamingos we've seen near here were plastic and stuck in the window of a second hand store.

We hadn't started out looking for a lake here, either. This was the result of another one of our forced march bicycle trips.  You know the ones where they stuff me in a little wheeled carriage and haul me over miles of bumpy dirt roads.   We do see some interesting places as a result.

All this talk about water makes me thirsty.  Fortunately Nice Lady and Big Dude have learned to never go anywhere around here without taking water.   That part's not so different than the Turks and Caicos.

We've been splitting our time up between a number of different camp sites this summer.   I've seen more strange animals here in a month that I ever imagined on Providenciales.    You saw the things with the big horns in the last post, right?  Well, this week we saw these funny looking things with a totally different style horn.   What ARE these??

The Modus Operandi here has been to set up their shiny mobile den in some shady spot for a few days and then to go out and explore the surrounding areas.   This has resulted in some real interesting hiking adventures. Fortunately, Big Dude didn't insist we try to walk up all of them.

I miss my warm island home every day, but I gotta admit there are a few cool things to look at here, too.   Last week we drove up to the 'tree line', I think the Big Dude said.  I don't know where it is, but I know it's a lot colder than some other places we've been and that it gets hard to breathe after walking up just a little hill.   We have to stop every five minutes just to breathe.  Of course the Big Dude doesn't listen to common sense.  We walk a while, wheeze a while, walk a little, wheeze some more, turn blue from the cold and oxygen deprivation.... you get the picture.

I've heard that humans lose a lot of heat through the top of their heads.  Well.... from what I've seen up here I'm not sure it's just the heat that evaporates, if you get my drift.    Need I say more?
I thought the tree line was going to be a line of trees just sitting there waiting like a line of porta-potties for needy dogs.   But it was a lot more than that.   The tree line actually has a lot of trees on it. Thousands. Zillions. Well, right up to the point where it stops, that is.

Sometimes we just drive through these places, and the Nice Lady and the Big Dude whip out those obnoxious little cameras and go all "ooohhh" and "aaahhhhh!" for a few minutes.   Other times, we stop and go hiking.    I like the hiking trips the best. 


I can smell all kinds of other critters up on the tops of these mountains, but Big Dude usually grabs me just as I get onto the trail of something interesting.   I think he got tired of having to scrub me down when we got back to the den.

For the past few weeks we've been staying in one location with no other people around at all.   We climbed a hill to snap a photo. That's our shiny little den there in the middle.  See the band of trees just behind the truck and den?    That's actually a small band of Ponderosa Pine that's about a hundred meters across.   The telephoto lens from the hill top makes it look a lot more compact than it is.   There is a deep ravine  on the other side of that  campsite.  The trees line the sides of the ravine.  Things live in that ravine.  Big things.   Big things that look remarkably like a really, really big cat.

Here are some photos of the way we've been living for most of August and September.     No people.  No boats.  No phone or internet.   Just a lot of fresh air.  Cold nights.   More stars than I ever realized were up there. Lots of strange animals coming through at all times of the day and night.  But for some reason my people seem to like it here.   

Me?  Well, being a crafty, clever island dog I find ways to amuse myself.   It's getting a little more difficult lately since they've been keeping me on a tight leash so the cat doesn't eat me.  I wish they had never seen that Mountain Lion.  Seems like a lot of worry over a big kitty, but they seem to be taking it seriously.   I guess I'm restricted to camp these days.   With all their silly rules and regulations.

I've found that if I just smile and pretend to agree with whatever the Big Dude says, eventually he wanders off to sharpen something or fix a widget.  Fill a tank. Tweak a doodad.  You know the kind of stuff he gets into when he's left without adult supervision.  Eventually he loses interest and wanders off and leaves me alone .  I suspect a short attention span.

Even with all the little animals I need to supervise I still make time for my daily naps and suntan maintenance schedule.   My sunny naps are one of the high points of my day.

The weather here is nothing like the Turks and Caicos Islands, either.  Every night around sundown the temperature starts dropping.  And in the morning there is ice on the top of the truck!!   Frozen water!  Astounding.   You'd never see that in Providenciales.  Ice there is an eight mile round trip and about six dollars.

And I've discovered another one of their little secrets.  Did you know that the bright yellow stuff that sits on the tops of candles can be used for warmth?  It's true!  I swear.   Every night, Big Dude and Nice Lady pile up a bunch of sticks in this metal thing and light them up like they were a big candle.   I have never seen an open flame on Providenciales that wasn't attached to a candle or gas grill.  Who knew common sticks would burn?   And here I thought those were just for fetching.
This heat by fire idea is great.  I am almost certain it will become popular with other dogs, once I get the word out.

We are seeing so many new animals around here that I've lost track of all of them.  Everything from those big things with horns to strange looking little bugs.   This one, for example.  What the heck is THIS??

And more importantly, if I don't eat it, will it eat me?   We are accustomed to little bugs that bite, but the comforting word here is 'little'.    You know, mosquitos and gnats.   Annoying but they don't fly away carrying much meat.  I don't know about this thing.  He's not little. Does it bite?  
Speaking of things that bite, I've been continuing my investigations into the larger critters around here.   Those guys must not care much about their horns.  They leave them lying around all over the place. 

The Big Dude will pick up a horn from time to time and bring it back to camp to show us, but those horns are not anything to worry about.   Apparently, once the deer drops the horn he's done with it.

This is not the case with some of the other animals around here.   We've been finding fresh bones.  With fur and animal feet still attached.   This stuff is about fifty meters from where they spotted the Mountain Lion.    And only a few hundred meters from where I've been trying to sleep. 

I know I've  mentioned the hiking from time to time.    This isn't all as relaxing and idyllic as I might have made it sound.  Nope.   Hiking has all its own complications and dangers for a small dog on a big mountain.   Recently we had to cross this  huge, boiling, scary, ferocious, dangerous out of control river.  No kidding.  Really.   The Big Dude insisted that we walk across these two twigs that were barely hanging on to the banks of the raging cataract, which was boiling angrily thousands of feet below me.  It was traumatic.  I've got photos.


He browbeat me into trying to cross first.  I think he just wanted to see if I could do it.  If I could survive this almost unbelievable ordeal.  And I tried, really, I did.  I got almost all the way out to the edge of the water...

When I looked down and could see the horrible cataclysim far below me.  The vision of the deep, swirling waters carrying away small animals, rocks, people, and entire villages  was there in my mind no matter how hard I fought it.

I had to give up on the solo attempt.   Heck, I don't think Rin Tin Tin himself could have done this one on his best day.  Lassie, maybe.  Dooley?  Nope.

I don't know why they were laughing at me, but they were.   I think they were under the impression that I was once again suffering from shallow water anxiety, like I was that day on the beach when I was too cautious to jump out of the rubber boat.   They laughed at me that day, too. 

Sometimes it's just easier in the long run to go along with whatever he wants to do.   You know he's not going to take any advice from me.  But bottom line, we eventually made it across the horribly treacherous and frightening chasm.  Just barely survived the ordeal.

He got himself a new pair of hiking boots and started wearing that stupid vest with all the little pockets and suddenly he thinks he's Indiana Jones.  Sheesh.
He does carry a fair supply of doggie treats in one of those pockets, though.  Come to think of it.  Scratch what I said earlier about it being a stupid vest.   It's not stupid.  
It's just ugly.
And nobody told me that we'd have to cross back over the raging river again.   No bridge, this time.  I had to take my life in my own paws again, and drag my hangy-down parts through water so cold it was a shock to my system.

He wasn't going to carry me, obviously.   He was mumbling something about chicken little muddy wet dogs and his nice new vest.   I had to take matters into my own paws.

Well, that's about it for this report from the hinterlands.   We're returning to Providenciales next month, and moving right onto the sailboat.  Just about the time this place starts turning white with snow and after the threat of hurricane seasons fades into distant memory.

I'll try to sneak you some more photos out  if he leaves his computer open again.  In the meantime, this is Dooley the Demented.  Somewhere near the Wyoming border.