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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Dog-O-Rama Year Two!

This February, we were so pleased to have our dear friends (and total dog lovers) Lee and Bill from sunny and warm California visit us for the 2nd winter in a row. Thanks, guys, for brightening our winter days with your smiling faces and, for Lee, for brightening the landscape with your awesomely colorful winter jacket! 
While we didn't have nearly as much snow as last year, when we had such an enormous mound covering our fire pit that we dug out a snow cave and had a few cozy fires (with adult beverages to keep our insides warm), this year we had just the right amount of snow for outdoor fun without putting life and limb in jeopardy. The weather cooperated and the Feb weekend was about the right temperature, too - nothing too dreadfully below zero! 

Cascade Bluff in winter glory...
 Beautiful yellow birch looking all polished and shiny in the winter sun...
...and not nearly enough snow to have a snow cave for our fire pit... 


Have I mentioned that Lee and Bill are dog-lovers? Last year we arranged for them to have a dog sledding adventure with Matt Groth of Grand Marais Dog Sled Adventures (https://www.grandmaraissleddogadventures.com/) and this year, they decided to take it up a notch. Our friends from California are now "experienced" dog mushers!  Yours truly went along for the ride... literally... and to capture some of the moments on film! 

First step to dog mushing.... get yourself acquainted with some pups...




Next step, meet your mushing teacher... he's the guy in red with the beard and the warmest looking winter jacket you've ever seen... 

Lee and Bill paying close attention as Matt explains some of the fine points of controlling a team of hounds...
They look like such good students, don't you think? 
I think this might have been about the moment that Matt was explaining to Bill and Lee that the dogs would just keep running when the sled overturns and the driver takes a header into the snowbank... 
Bill is gleefully testing his ability to balance on the sled's runners... Um, Bill, it does get a bit harder when the sled is moving...

Bill is always cheerful, no matter how cold his nose and fingers get!

"I'm ready! Let's have some FUN!"
Matt may have been cautioning him at this point about the pair of dogs in front... "No, no, they aren't actually laughing at you, Bill... They are laughing with you!"
Matt making sure all the harnesses and straps are secure...

Lee can't decide which dog is his favorite...
The dogs can't decide either... they all love him...

The Kissing Musher of Cook County

"Okay, you pull, and I'll give you treats when we're done... Deal?"
Looks like he sealed the deal...
Can't tell if this fella is disappointed he's not going out on this trip or glad to be taking a break in his snug dog house...
Ooh we are ready to run! 

These wiggly doggies are READY! 

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Can we go now, PLEEZE!!!


Off we go! 
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Whooshing along the trail! Full speed ahead, pups! 
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It was a really wonderful ride, gorgeous forest, nice light snow, not too windy or too cold, and great fun was had by all... even the dogs...maybe especially the dogs! 
We managed to pack in lots of enjoyment that weekend, including a visit to the shore of The Big Lake at our friends Marcia and Tom's place...
...and squeezed in one last smooch with the dogs for Bill... 
And after a long weekend with her new best friends, Billy and Lee, Magpie REALLY didn't want you guys to leave! 


Thanks for braving Northern Minnesota's weather again for your visit, guys - it was fabulous... Let's do it again next year!