Take Only Memories

Little portrait of me, Ranger the Corgi, and the lupines at Fort Ord.  Photoshop "oil painting" of  handsome me and the lupines.<br />Pappy Snack Pockets, is that a biscuit you've got there?<br />(All photos and digital paintings on Ranger's blog by Elise Huffman.)

Little portrait of me. Photoshop “oil painting” of  handsome me and the lupines.
Pappy Snack Pockets, is that a biscuit you’ve got there?
(All photos and digital paintings on Ranger’s blog by Elise Huffman.)

If you go to Fort Ord National Monument in Monterey/Salinas, California remember to take your dog. He/she can be there. Yay! Remember to take along some water and a camera (with charged batteries) to capture and refresh your memories.

A picnic is also a good idea. Be extravagant. Buy handcrafted bread, boutique peppered jerky, and local wine,  some vegetables, maybe an avocado. Bring iced tea. A cookie. Bring some dog biscuits and some warm, smelly Camembert to share with your dog.

With 86 miles of trails and 7,200 acres this park is huge. But not many trees for shade. As a corgi, forced by nature to wear a black fur coat at all times, this is a consideration. If possible go when there’s some fog to cool things down, or a little breeze, or bring a little stroller with a sun umbrella for the corgi.

Jeff and Ranger under the California Oaks at Fort Ord, some welcome shade.

Under the California Oaks at Fort Ord, some welcome shade.

Attention humans!: 1. Don’t walk too fast. 2. Don’t jerk on the leash. 3. Stop for overheated corgi breaks. This may require waiting while your corgi digs a shallow hole to lie in. Be patient. You need a rest too, especially after that wine you had with your picnic.

“Take only memories, (and photos and of course those dog poo bags)
Leave only footprints. (and wee.)”—Ranger the Corgi.

Lupines on the hillside at Fort Ord National Park.

Lupines on the hillside in the foreground.

There are millions of lupines here. Lupines smell wonderful and sweet. A little too sweet for my liking. Far better sprinkled with a little corgi pee.

Fort Ord hillside with a dusting of lupines.

Dusting of lupines in the distance. Yes, it’s Photoshopped. When the photos aren’t so great and you only have a few, it’s time for Photoshop.

Cattle dogs, mutts, humans, mountain bikes, horses carrying lazy humans, me, and “nature enthusiasts” were on the trails.

When horses pass by stand off to the side. Dogs should sit so they don’t frighten the horses. Humans should not sit or crouch, it frightens the horses. Horses are easily frightened so we have to make accommodations for them. Don’t get too enthusiastic! Woof!

More horses. I forgot to sit down while they passed. But at least I didn't bark at them.

More horses. I forgot to sit while they passed. But at least I didn’t bark at them.

Ranger sits on the side of the trail at Fort Ord while a horse passes by. When horses pass you on a trail sit down and wait. They're nervous creatures and must be accommodated.

When horses pass you on a trail sit down and wait. They’re nervous ninnies.
Photoshop painting by Elise.

The camera’s battery died, about 20 minutes into our hike. Poop. My mom tried to use her crappy cell phone camera, because the real camera was dead. She said “I don’t know why but I’m going to try and use the cell phone camera.” Later she was cursing the thing. “These phone cameras really suck,” she said. Jeff responded with “That’s probably why you said “I’m going to try and use the cell phone, I don’t know why.” “Right,” she said, but continued to try to edit and rotate some little image of me for another ten painful minutes.

Always bring water for your dog. Be patient while he sits in the shade to catch his breath.

Always bring water for your dog. Be patient while he sits in the shade to catch his breath.

We were at the top of a hill (sheep in the distance) and there were four bars on the cell phone! This was supposedly some kind of miracle. Elise called her sister to share “Wow, wish you were here! The cell phone coverage is amazing!”

Hillsides with lupines Fort Ord National Monument.

Hillsides with lupines Fort Ord National Monument. See the lavender color in the distance?

We walked on a narrow trail over grassland hills, lupine, through oak woodlands and chaparral. We saw a snake. We saw a dead star-nosed mole. I sniffed at him and was just about to roll on him when my humans jerked me away. Dang, why are they always doing that!?

We left, after hours of hiking, south on Hwy 68. Near Toro Park nature enthusiasts were snapping photos of a pasture full of purple lupines. They didn’t even have to get out of their cars.  We had no camera, so we could take only memories.

Keep sniffing, keep rolling, keep aiming high.—Ranger the Corgi

“The digital camera is a great invention because it allows us to reminisce. Instantly.”Demetri Martin

“I bought a new camera. It’s very advanced. You don’t even need it.”Steven Wright

Walking the Trail with Pappy Snack Pockets

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In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.–Margaret Atwood

Yes, exactly. You should smell like dirt, pee, grass, and death. Dirt: from shredding the ground in your mark-ups. Pee: from your brushes with interesting social postings. Grass: just nuances as a reminder of nature. Death: as a reminder of life, just a whisper of death, a desiccated worm found flattened on the trail, or something a coyote digested, though not well. Human’s call this “disgusting” but I don’t know the meaning of that word.

It’s basically spring here already and it’s been here since about February 14, the day I didn’t get chocolate.

Acacia blossoms dotted the Carmel trail. They’re a very yellow, sneezy flower.

Acacia blossoms dotted the Carmel trail. They’re a very yellow, sneezy flower.

For corgis most of the best smells are conveniently located at nose level and right along the trail, often in the tall grass…

For corgis most of the best smells are conveniently located at nose level and right along the trail, often in the tall grass…

Umm, nice. Corgi sniffs along the spring trail's tall grass.

Umm, nice. The world has gotten green and luxurious for me.

I know, we’re on this trail in Carmel, and it’s spring and lovely. But, I must stop for a moment and address an important concern. It came to my attention that Jeff didn’t really like his nick name “Uncle Snack Pockets.” I apologize for my thoughtlessness. I love this guy (alot) I don’t want to hurt his feelings. From now on I’ll be calling “Uncle Snack”  the more respectable name of “Pappy Snack Pockets.”

We like to kid around and make up names. Elise is “The Queen.” Jeff is “Pappy Snack Pockets.” I’m called many names: “Mr Begoobecurs,” “Rainboo,” “Stranger,” “Hoover,” and “Whyyoulittlemonkey.” We all have a bunch of little knick names. However, these names should be somewhat respectful. No one ever calls me “Junior Poopy Bum,” for instance, and I appreciate that. Sometimes our nicknames are not nice ones. For instance Jeff is also “Possum Socks” and Elise also goes by “Sheewawipoo,” her “Indian name.”

How did they get these names? Jeff’s socks were once stolen by a possum. Elise often carries my poo bag around for multiple uses, so “She Walks with Poop” became “Sheewawipoo.”

Of course a full psychological work up could be done on the names we’ve made up for each other. Elise says “maybe some passive aggressive thing going on?” I say “huh!?” The main thing is no matter what anyone calls you you must know that your true name is not any of those names.

So, back to my story. A few weeks ago I hit the trail with “Pappy Snack Pockets.” (Try saying that 10 times fast! “Pappy Snack Pockets, Snappy Pap Hockets, Snacky Hot Pockets, Hoppy Pick Pockets”…grrrrr!) Our “Dog Lover’s Companion to California” recommended Mission Trail Park on Rio Road, Carmel, California, with 5 miles of hiking trails for dogs, off leash! It’s right across from the Mission.

Ranger running on trail, big smile

Can you tell that I’m happy? Woo hoo….running off leash…

Wooo hooo, off leash!

…and running back again!

Ah ha! I know you're up there Nutty McNutkins! I mean Mr. Gray Squirrel.

Ah ha! I know you’re up there Chirpy McNutkins! Ahem, I mean Mr. Gray Squirrel.

It's wonderful me on a wonderful trail.

It’s wonderful me on a wonderful trail.

Here’s a guy I met I’ll call “Random White Guy,” I could also call him “Little Guy Like Me”
I said “I’ll be with you in just a second. I’ve got to figure out this scent.” When I looked up he’d been dragged away by his humans. Hey, wasn’t this an “Off Leash Trail”?

I liked this trail immediately, because I was just really happy to get out of the car. I would have been happy to get out of the car pretty much anywhere. Anyplace not moving will do.

I also liked that we had never been to this place before, and it was not too hot, not too cold, not too steep, too urban or too sterile. Lots of dogs had peed there. (Yay!)

You’ll have to visit this place yourself, if you’re ever in the area. The trail winds around. It goes by creeks and ravines, even a view or two. It has a little bit of manicuring to its natural beauty. I give it two paws up!

Here I am with my most excellent human, Jeff, aka “Pappy Snack Pockets.” Make sure when you hit the trail that you have a human along with deep snack pockets! But find your own, this Snack Pocket is mine.

Here I am with my most excellent human, Jeff, aka “Pappy Snack Pockets.” Make sure when you hit the trail that you have a human along with deep snack pockets! But find your own, this Snack Pocket is mine.

Here we are again, back at the car. Carmel Mission Trail on the right...park on side of road.

Here we are again, back at the car. We’d walked a big circle. Carmel Mission Trail on the right…park on side of road.

Remember not to shake off the dirt before you get in the car. Don’t let them wash that stink off of you!—Ranger the Corgi.