Thursday, 17 November 2005

November 17, 2005 Camping

A number of things have kept us for getting the amount of camping trips on the dogs that we normally have on them by this time. I’m not horribly concerned, as it is only a handful of the rookies – specifically Newt, Jinx, Q, Eeek, Spider and Dare – that have absolutely no experience resting on the trail – but we do need to get some of these trips done! 

So yesterday, ignoring a bunch of pressing issues, phone calls, emails, etc, we cleared our schedule and headed for our favorite camping spot – the Forfar Campground with 2 – 14 dog teams.
The run out was going really strong - the dogs were storming down the trail, even through the muskeg, which was really rough – so rough I had to coax my kidneys out of my throat at the end of it – so rough that 3 of the 4 zipties (you know the things that cops use as emergency handcuffs) that hold the ‘milk crate’ (used for holding my dog watering jug) onto my 4 wheeler snapped – until we ran into the cow.

Understand, we live in ranching country; cows are an everyday part of our runs – they run along fence lines beside us, they bolt in terror at the sight of a dog team, or they stand there staring with chunks of hay hanging out of their mouths, but almost always from the other side of a fence. Not yesterday. We were about 3 miles from the campground when we came across some folks trying to ‘herd’ home a wayward cow. They had a truck with a bale of hay on it in front of the cow and someone in a car behind it encouraging it along. This cow was in no hurry to head home and was literally strolling down the road. I’m alittle unsure if his owners had just never seen a rodeo and were unaware that you can throw ropes over the beasts and lead them around – or were just trying to make the task more challenging for themselves for some unapparent reason – whichever, we were forced to try to keep the dog teams a reasonable distance behind and down to ‘cow strolling speed’. Very difficult at the best of times – more so when Odie and Hector spotted the Hamburger on Hooves ahead. After traveling along about a mile and a half in ‘parade formation’, the ‘ranchers’ (I use that term loosely here) and their cow turned away from us and onto Highway 663. It was almost tempting to follow the procession to see what happened when they ran into traffic, but we just bee lined for the campground anyway.

As I was entering the campground, I noticed a lot of REALLY big coyote tracks, I was wondering what the chances of a wolf in the area would be when my team literally ran into a 140 lb wall of Malamute. He was accompanied by a 70 lb sidekick (the ‘little one’ as his owner later referred to her). Mark’s team was right behind me and his leaders Snickers and Sprite zipped into the campground. Why is it the littlest dogs are always the feistiest?? Little 35lb Sprite was on her toes and right in the Big Boy’s face. Luckily, he took the invasion of his space exceedingly well and tails were wagging when the owners came scrambling over to get their dogs.

I was shocked to find other campers in the Campground – for years I’ve joked about how we never have to worry about crowds when we visit the popular summer camping spot in the late fall/winter. Turns out it isn’t as inactive as I thought. Rob and his family make many visits here in the winter, spending up to a week at a time. This trip he was accompanied by his daughter, Darby and we all had a nice little visit as Mark and I fed the team and settled them in for their break.

Rob and Darby headed back to their campground and Mark and I started a fire and cooked a few hotdogs to kill a couple hours. Hector amused himself digging up treasures in the bush. He was most offended when I took his prize - a Pontiac Sunfire mud flap -away from him and threw it out.

After our 2 hours were up, Mark refilled water jugs in the lake, I rounded up Darby and offered her a ride up to the entrance of the campground – which she quickly accepted – and we headed home.
When we came to the stretch of road that we had followed the cow on earlier, I was wondering if he had managed to make it safely home. My question was answered when I looked up and spotted the wandering bovine standing in the middle of the road ahead. His owners were nowhere to be seen. I glanced over my shoulder to see if Mark was seeing what I was seeing. He was – he was holding his head in his hands and shaking it. The cow wasn’t looking like he was going to move off the road and I was hesitant about trying to ‘chase’ it off the road with the team. Mark wasn’t – “We are NOT going through this again”, he stated as he and his team blasted by mine.

Sure enough, the cow wasn’t giving up his piece of real estate and didn’t budge as the 28 dogs, 2 ATV’s and 2 human bore down on him. Sprite and Snicks veered around him, but they were close enough that Snicks snuck in a quick munch on his tail as she went by. He spun to stare at her, but that was it. Shockingly, if you know Hector, he and Odie led my team by without incident. I could have reached out and slapped the creature as my ATV shot by him. I didn’t, but I did sneak in a couple insults about his parents. He turned and started chasing after us. He persevered on his chase for about a ¼ mile. Honestly, if he were my cow, I’d be firing up the barbeque.

The rest of the run was pretty uneventful. The gorgeous day gently turned into a spectacular evening. The full moon was memorizing, as it came up over the cut hayfields. The half-inch of snow we had gotten the previous day gave the moonlight something to reflect off of and the headlights and spotlights were only necessary to make us visible to approaching traffic.

The run through the muskeg somehow seemed even rougher then it was on the trip out, although I would have thought that impossible. I’ve figured the trick to keeping your body intact for this ‘carnival ride’ is to stay relaxed – unfortunately, that hotdog I ate at the campground chose to make it’s presence felt at this time (I don’t often eat hotdogs and I now remember exactly why). My body tensed to ‘protect’ my stomach from the bouncing hot dog and I came through the 3-mile section of trail feeling like I had been run over by a semi. BTW – the Cat tractor is still stuck out there – in fact, it has sunk more.

We got back in about 8pm. By the time we got the dogs (yard and teams) fed, the teams put away and gear all gathered up, it was well passed 9. A late dinner of Caesar salad (I think I have found the perfect Caesar salad dressing recipe) and left over pizza and we headed for bed.

It was a good day – had a great run with the dogs, got some good stories to tell, met some interesting new people. Just about perfect in my books!

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp anchovy paste
2 cloves (or more depending on your taste - I use 3 or 4) garlic, minced
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp light mayo

Whisk everything together but mayo. Then whisk in mayo until smooth.

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