A Time to Love

After leaving the Badlands, Dan and I (along with Tindra) spent the next few days in and around Custer, SD.  This was Tindra’s last trip with us and we were so grateful that we had this time with her. The magical views of the Black Hills National Forest never do get old.  The Black Hills get their name from the Lakota Sioux, “Paha Sapa”, meaning the hills are black. From a distance, the hills of this area do appear black due to the towering Ponderosa Pine forest; however, up close, these forests are teeming with color.

Needles Highway is another favorite of mine. Completed in 1922, the highway is named after the needle-like granite rock formations that were carved over many years by erosion.  Such beauty is found in this area and surprises are noticed around every turn.

We camped out for the week, but decided to move into a log cabin when a snow storm hit the area leaving 3-4” of the fluffy white stuff.  The snow blanketed the Pines in the Black Hills creating a peacefulness that I will never forget…  A Time to Love.

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Badlands National Park, SD

Badlands National Park: The Lakota named this land “Mako Sica”, meaning “land bad”;

Badlands National Park

The park consists of roughly 244,000 acres of prairie grass mixed with sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires.  Looking out over the sometimes lunar landscape, it is desolation at its best… You can look for miles and see no sign of civilization.  Despite the solitude, the land has been so ravaged by the elements it has become quite stunning. Erosion of the Badlands reveals sedimentary layers of different colors: purple and yellow (shale), tan and gray (sand and gravel), red and orange (iron oxides) and white (volcanic ash). These striking geologic deposits also contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds; prehistoric bones are still being uncovered today by park officials.

I cannot even tell you how many times Dan and I drove the 30-mile Badlands Loop, how many times we stopped to hike the trails to absorb the surrounding beauty, or view the abundance of wildlife that roam the park’s boundaries. We stayed in the area for 2 days and with each entrance into Badlands National Park, we encountered something new and exciting.

If ever in the area, stop in at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center situated near Cedar Pass Lodge to learn more about what the park has to offer.

E.T. Phone Home

About 60 miles east of downtown St. Paul, MN lies a small rural town named Elmwood, WI.  Dan and I have traveled through this small town many times on our photography excursions. As with any small town, there is some story that surrounds the town history.  Elmwood, WI has its own special history and it has to deal with little green men and shiny round discs. The town is the home of several reported UFO sightings since the 1970s and embraces its otherworldly connection. In 1978, the town started celebrating UFO days; at that same time, the UFO sightings stopped.  The annual celebration includes food and beer tents, a UFO medallion hunt, and a parade.  For more information surrounding the UFO sightings in the 1970s, please visit UFO Evidence.  As always, in Elmwood, WI all are welcome (human and aliens alike).

Please enjoy the images from in and around this small rural community.

What is Good for the Goose

On this day, Dan and I decided to take a short trip and venture down to Reads Landing in Southeast MN.  We followed the mighty Mississippi as it twists southbound from Red Wing; our first stop was a small beach in Old Frontenac.

This small town was originally established in 1857 with the name Westervelt, the name changed in 1860 to Frontenac by brothers who owned large tracts of land in the area.  At that time, Frontenac soon began to attract wealthy residents and became a community of summer homes with Lakeside views of Lake Pepin.  Frontenac is indeed a beautiful little town, we visit Frontenac State Park often and will stop by the little beach on occasion.  On this day, the girls had fun in the sun and sand.

Frontenac Map

Heading south on Hwy 61, our next stop was Lake City.  We did not stay long but had enough time to walk the marina to see the sails that are waiting for warmer weather.

Lake City Map

Our final destination was Reads Landing, MN and Reads Landing Brewing Company.  Originally founded in the mid 1800’s, Reads Landing soon grew to a major river town located at the mouth of Lake Pepin.  In the late 1880’s the town began decline and most businesses relocated to Wabasha.  Interesting fact:  According to Wikipedia, “At one time Reads Landing was considered a possible site for the Minnesota State Capital.”  Although there is not much left in Reads Landing, it is home to Reads Landing Brewing Company.  I would recommend a stop in to try some of their hometown craft brew and a snack.

Reads Landing Map

The birds were out, the sun was shining, and we all had such a wonderful time making memories that will last a lifetime.

Farewell Spoonful of Stars

Last week, Dan and I had to say goodbye to one amazing little girl that gave us so much unconditional love throughout her time here on earth.  Spoonful of Stars, “Tindra”, was part of our family for close to 16 years- Yes, we were lucky.

I had a special bond with her since I had bottle fed her from day one. You see, Tindra came into this world via C-Section; her mother, Kayla, stopped producing milk shortly after giving birth.  The munchkin was bottle fed every 2 hours in the first couple weeks of her life.  I would like to thank “Auntie Krissy” who helped bottle feed her when I was unable to be with her for a couple days.  Kris was actually with her when she first opened her eyes!  Auntie Kris was always available to watch this little one when we needed a puppy sitter.  Thank you so much Kris for your help during her life- you were always there when we needed you.

IMG_0056The strong bond shared between Tindra and I grew over the years; she carried me through some sad times and walked beside me in the good. She knew when I was sad and would lick my face until I started laughing, then would cuddle right up to me to make sure I was ok.  Even on her last day, she mustered up the strength to lift her head to softly lick my face when I was crying.

Throughout her life, she went everywhere with our family and was socialized well by meeting numerous people and other animals.  She had a very kind soul that loved everyone.  Being a Dachshund, the trait of courageousness and loyalty was at the forefront of her personality.  This little one has never shown one bit of aggressiveness towards any human, however, rabbits or rodents were not included on her be nice list.  Tindra’s mother, Kayla, was a field champion and was an extremely good scent tracker.  She inherited that trait from her mother and was always on the scent trail of some varmint, although sometimes that got her in trouble when her nose would take her places she was not supposed to go.

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Her name meant “To Twinkle”, and that she did.  She was my shining light at the end of a hard day; always happy to see a member of our family with her bucking bronco dance.  I can never repay what she gave to me and the decision to help her along to the other side was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make.  As a previous Veterinary Technician, I have helped many families through this type of loss, and the family’s pain touched me every time.   When the decision is yours to make, boy, it can be an emotional nightmare.  I truly believe that this is the ultimate loving gift that we can give our pets in times of suffering or severe illness.  For more information on pet loss, please visit the following site: The Association of Pet Loss and Bereavement.

Thank you, Tindra, for the compassion, the laughter, the unconditional love, and even for the times you were an opportunist and got into some kind of trouble (which normally involved food or Kleenex). From the early morning stretches that accompanied a wonderful array of vocals, the crazy Happy Dachshund Dance, the excitement of seeing a bunny, the way you loved your family; these memories will never drift too far from our mind.  You have taught me patience and watching you explore the world reminded me that there is always something new to experience in daily life.  No words will never be able to express the deepness my gratitude but I know; my little co-pilot in life will forever be by my side.

Our new one, Clover, has been with us now for 2 months today.  Clover is a 6 year old Dachshund that was rescued, along with 40 other Dachshunds, from a hoarding situation in the New England area by Furever Dachshund Rescue.  Clover relied upon Tindra to show her the ropes, and to teach her the courage needed to be curious and how to enjoy her surroundings.  They became cuddle buddies within a day of meeting each other.  Clover is heaven sent and has stepped up to fill a hole produced by losing both Tindra and Audrey.

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I believe we meet up with our lost loved ones someday, in the meantime, we will miss her greatly.

 

Farewell My Fair Lady

A tribute to a faithful little girl; you will be missed greatly.

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Dan and I do not have children or at least the 2-legged kind. Our children are furry, have 4 legs, and may bark on occasion; their names are Tindra and Audrey. The two are inseparable, like peas in a pod. Many times they help each other get into things they should not get into; co-conspirators they are, but mostly you can find them laying together in a yin and yang position.

We lost Audrey unexpectedly this weekend. What a terrible loss and sad time for all that knew this little girl. I would like to give tribute to “My Fair Lady” (Audrey), but first I would like to tell her story.

The story of Audrey-

Audrey came into the clinic that I used to work for at a time when my family needed her most, fate definitely played a part in this chance meeting. It was a time when Tindra had recently lost her mom and dad, she had become depressed and needed something to fill that void. Audrey was the key to mending Tindra’s broken heart.

Audrey was taken away from the family that had her since she was a puppy due to neglect. I remember walking into the exam room where representatives from the local Human Society and the city police had brought her for her initial exam; seeing this emaciated gentle soul for the first time broke my heart. Audrey stayed with the clinic for a short period of time so that we may start giving her nutrients to increase her weight. The first time I looked into her eyes I knew she would become part of my family. After a few months of fostering, I was able to adopt her through the Humane Society and legally welcome her into our home. Tindra and Audrey became inseparable shortly after meeting each other and Audrey was welcomed with open arms into our family.

A cuddly and happy little munchkin, “Have blanket, will come” was her motto. Like a typical Dachshund, they are stubborn and extreme opportunists but they are also full of life and love. This breed certainly does keep you on your toes! Her little quirks will be missed by all.  Her famous head-butt, her insatiable need for a belly rubs, her need to protect the yard from varmints (namely her archenemy “Chippy”), her need to follow her human mommy, the way she was able to get to food that was out of her reach, all those kayak rides (which she absolutely loved) and the way she lead and took care of Tindra. With Tindra starting to suffer from seizures recently, Audrey has become increasingly important to Tindra’s daily life.

Thank you Audrey, for you have added much to our lives. You have filled everyday with laughter, happiness, and unconditional love.   We were truly blessed to have you come into our lives as you have taught us much. This gentle soul is gone from this earth but not from our hearts. I know we will see her again one day. Until then, we will miss the pitter patter of your little feet and those sweet golden brown eyes.  Farewell little girl.

 

Grinding our way south… To and Fro

On a recent trip, we traveled about 500 miles through Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota.  A friend and co-worker made the statement “Wow, doesn’t the driving get boring when you are traveling from point A to point B?”  After a smile formed, I answered “No, that is what makes the trip worth while”.

We are constantly on the lookout for that special something on our trips; an abandoned building or home, a long forgotten car, an adorable wild or farm animal, or just the way the light is hitting a particular item.  Between the laughing, singing (which Dan loves), whistling, telling stories, making Daisy crowns :-), so on and so forth, we always have a great time on our travels.  The “in-between” is where the fun comes in… A turn of the head or an Ooohh, Ahhh, humff, or sigh might escape our lips, which in turn notifies the other of an upcoming special treat.  About 90% of the time, the slamming of the breaks or putting the car in reverse is followed by one of those subtle hints.  It is the “in-between” that we all forget about at times- You know, those sights or people that we otherwise take for granted as we are passing from point A to point B.

My friends comment really made me realize just how important life is and was an important reminder to cherish those “in-between” times.