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Wordless Wednesday: A Lab-derriere cross

lab_terrier_cross

What do you get when you cross a Labrador with a terrier?

No really, I’m hoping you might know.  A lab-derriere cross, perhaps?

A vintage shot of Jager and our first CCI puppy, the lovely Inga, on vacation with us in the RV.  The cooler weather has inspired me with thoughts of autumn.  When then led to fond memories of a fall camping trip on Skyline Drive with these two road dogs.

Wait just a sec, you say.  Did we just see the words RV and camping trip used in the same context? C’mon now. Does one truly “camp out” in an RV?

And I would respond to this by saying that RV is an acronym, not a word. Otherwise, good catch, y’all.  Even traveling in a rustic beast such as this, we were far from roughing it.

But road trips with the dogs has always been my vacation of choice.  And I can prove it, too.  For those who want an early taste of autumn, grab yourself a pumpkin spice latte and do some leisurely clickin’ for our past RV adventures. 

Top 10 reasons to take an RV vacation with your dog

Recipe swap – RV Road Dawgs

Pawprints in the sand

Nature gets uppity (featuring the Joe Dirt car!)

It was a dark and stormy night

Chocolate: it’s not just for breakfast anymore

Color my world with dog

Spirits of the season

I do hate when I have to get my mean out

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Kentucky Horse Park – Part 2 

 

I can make more kids cry before nine o’clock than most people do all day

Would you like to pet her? I ask the young boy. It’s ok. Her name is Euka.

I gotta admit, the one thing that consistently brings a sadness in my heart is to see little kids afraid of
dogs. Sure, I understand that there are families, and plenty of them, that are missing the glory of a good dog included in their clan. A personal choice made for a myriad of reasons. So we do encounter the occasional wee one that has no idea of even how to greet or pet a dog. But holy cow, these kidlets that have a fear of dogs already wired into their psyche, well it twists my heart a little.

So I see this boy, around eight years old, stop short in front of Euka and just look at her.  Euka and I are in the great room at a Lexington hotel awaiting the nieces as they finish their breakfast. The girls and I seemed to decide on breakfast as the precise time as every other guest here, so nearly every table is occupied. But no matter, I’m fine with parking myself in one of the comfy wingback chairs near the entrance of the room where the pup and I can people watch. The princess is granting audience to a handful of admirers and just doing a stellar job of it.

Ain’t nobody crying here.

Then this boy. T-shirt and shorts and barefoot. I have no warning bells going off yet, but afterwards when I debrief myself on what went wrong here and how fast it happened, I realize this is the point where I missed some important clues.

Even though he came running into the hotel lobby with a burst of adolescent energy, he is gentle with Euka, patting her on the head, stroking her on her back. I look up expecting to see a parent or two behind him, trying to catch up with their energetic child. But nope, this barefoot boy is left to make his own life decisions this morning. He darts back into the hotel proper as quickly as he came in.

I’m talking with another family and fielding questions about CCI as the boy returns. But he brought younger companions with him- another boy around five and a toddler wearing nothing but a wet diaper. And yep, you guessed it … no adults.

Using the prior permission granted to pet Euka, he extends this admission to the other boys before I have a chance to react.  They descend on her, hands everywhere in an instant. Ugh, this is not good and I tense up. Boys, I say. Only one person at a time, ok? And gentle, see? Pet her the same direction her fur lies. Like this . . .

All for naught, that. In an instant, they’ve lost interest in the pup and are now running, the three of them, back and forth across the entrance of the great room. One kiddo actually leaps over Euka as she lies by my feet. Euka, my brave girl, has been totally fine with the goings-on until 3 … 2 … 1 … Let’s Play! She’s inspired to join the excitement and breaks her Down in an attempt to join the sprint race happening before her.

I’ve got her settled back into her Down, but now safely stowed to the side of my chair, when a Styrofoam bowl holding about six flakes of cereal is set before her. Ah, the toddler has managed to help himself to the breakfast buffet. Well, that’s great, having such life skills before the age of three. Miss Euka, who indeed is accustomed to eating from a bowl placed before her, reaches her nose to sniff at the goodness of this gift.  Bonus points to me for reacting quickly enough to grab the bowl to hand it back to the oldest boy  and telling him to throw it away.

I don’t like to do it, it’s not my nature you know. But I had to get my mean out. It is way too early in the day to deal with this crap.

Realizing the seriousness of the situation, the oldest boy is now shouting at the diapered toddler. Telling him, and this is a quote, you can’t feed cereal to a dog because it has sugar it in and that’s poison and you kill dogs that way. To ensure the tiny fella gets this message clearly, he continues to shout the same message over.  And over.  Diaper boy runs behind a chair to work this through his head. Which apparently can’t be done without a goodly amount of shrieking.

Oh hey, guess what happens now.  A responsible adult shows up.  Naw, just kidding.  But she may have been an older sister or something. I see she does have shoes on, so I’m starting to have some hope that we’ll reach the end of this tsunamic drama soon.

Why’s he crying? she asks. The tale of attempted assassination of dog by sugar poisoning is shared and without a word or glance our way, she stomps over to grab the tiny fella by the arm, yanks him from behind the chair and drags his damp diapered self through the hotel lobby.  The shrieks continue to echo down the corridor.

Way to go, Aunt Donna. says a niece. Yeah, nice one, says the other.

Thanks, girls. Hey, I made a little kid cry before nine o’clock, I say. It’s all downhill from here.

Ok, here’s the thing. We can’t change people, right? We’re always at risk of encountering situations that can quickly escalate out of control. The worst part of the scene I’ve described went from 0 to OMG in less than two minutes.  What I can change is bumping up my awareness of these potential sketchy encounters and how, or even if, I allow the pup to be greeted.

We want to be good ambassadors for CCI, we really do. It’s a noble goal, I think, to have every encounter with my pup in training to end on a positive note. So, this out-of-control kid encounter has me rather bugged.

So here ya go, world. I gotta put a harness on this soft and spongy heart of mine. It’s for the greater good, you know. A couple of changes that seem simple enough and yet will make a difference.

Things like making sure there’s an adult supervising the young ones; shoes are optional. And instead of allowing Euka to be petted, she could be asked to shake hands. A polite no, not right now; the puppy is working will pass my lips more often.

Easy ’nuff, all that. But now for the hardest one … I have to get my mean out a lot quicker before we hit Situation Meltdown. Yep, this sure feels better than being smacked in the back of the head for my prior lenient behavior.

There’s no crying at the horse park

Photo op with Kentucky’s finest.

The nieces, the puppy and I pack our bags to leave the drama of the morning behind us. Day Two of our Kentucky Horse Park adventures await. There’s fun to be had and we’re determined to find us some.

We have the pleasure of meeting up with the Kentucky Mounted Patrol for a photo op. One officer shares a story of his sister who has a disability.  With both lupus and a seizure disorder, she is partnered with a seizure alert dog. Her dog alerts her prior to her seizures, allowing her time to place herself into a safe situation. He used the word independence when describing the partnership of his sister and her assistance dog. And you know, it seems every time I hear this word, it has an even deeper meaning.

More equine exposure for Euka’s socialization as we walk about the horse park.  Horses of the World is an educational experience for all of us as we pet the velvety noses of Norwegian Fjords, Morgans, Friesians [swoon],  Shetland ponies, Clydesdales and their global kin.

  


Observing Horses of the World at a safe
distance from their non-business ends.



Euka asked me to take a photo of the
 lovely Belle and her hot pink Gentle Leader.
Because, Euka says, Belle is copying
her style.  She’s a trend setter, you know.

Ok, so I don’t know if this obstacle course below was set up for dogs or for miniature horses, but there’s no difference for the likes of us.  We put Euka through the paces pretty much just to show off.  A crowd of folk were sitting on a set of bleachers by the course. It’s my guess the lot of them were just happy to find a place in the shade for a few minute’s rest with their lunches. But hey, we took the opportunity to show them the stuff of a CCI pup for a couple of minutes. Dinner and a floor show, folk. No charge.

You’re welcome, ya’ll.



Euka demonstrates an Up.
And a lovely Jump over the hurdle.

I take note that I’m not the only one snapping photos of the canine derring-do. Huh. Spectators are shooting the scene as well.  My Uh-Oh radar goes off when I see a young fella step aside from the bleachers to get some closer shots and I suspect that perhaps the puppy is not the object of his attention.

Alrighty, girls. I say, giving the fella what I intend to be a maternalish stink-eye look. That’ll do for now. You wanna go check out the Mounted Patrol horse barn again?

No boys in sight.  You know, this trip was so much easier on the mind when these girls were younger.

Princess of Confidence Town: Population 1

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Kentucky Horse Park – Part 1

I’ll be in my office if you’re looking for me.

Why do you call her Princess? asks my niece, Morgan. 

I look down at Miss Euka.  Did I just call her that? I ask.

Ah, I realize that, yes this is indeed true. And giving myself a moment to ponder, it comes to me that our petite puppy even responds to her girly-girl nickname. Heh, guess I should be checking that little habit.

I call her Princess, I say. because she walks around with an air of inflated self-entitlement.  

Another Euka truism.  We have us here a remarkably confident pup and a girl comfortable in her own skin and coat. She steps into every situation with an attitude of one who grants audience to her people. 

Whatever y’all were doing before, says Euka.  You can stop.  I’m here now.

But before you fully form the thought that I’ve created a monster, I want to say that this is not my fault. Wait, no, what I mean is that as a volunteer puppy raiser I would much rather deal with an confident and dominant pup than one with fear issues to overcome.  Our Miss Euka has shown us from the very beginning that she is ready to embrace all that life has to offer, hasn’t she? 

Bring it on, says Euka.  And keep it coming.

Well, so far we’ve taken on shops, restaurants, grocery stores and countless budget meetings in the office. What’s next on the socialization list for this pup in training?

How ’bout horses and lots of ’em?  The nieces and I had packed our gear into the Toyota for our annual road trip to the Kentucky Horse Park. And because things are always more interesting when you include a dog, we toss Euka into the back seat to transport her to her first equinotic encounter.

Now I’ve been making this horse park trip for twelve or  thirteen years or so and the nieces have been my cohorts for the past few. Aunt Donna’s only rule for the horse park adventure is you must be at least eight years old. Oh, and it helps if you like horses. That one’s not a hard and fast rule, but it seems like you’d have a much better time since Horse is all you’re gonna see, hear and smell for two entire days.

CCI pups are exempt from these rules, of course.* Despite what Euka thinks, she really doesn’t have a say in the decision.  Her participation is mandatory, however I will leave it up to her on whether she enjoys the company of horses. Actually, I was pretty darn curious to see how she takes in these noble beasts. Could it be possible that our princess may get an equine assisted attitude adjustment?

I’m thinking we should start small and build up with this horse exposure experience. Let’s just walk around and soak up some sights and smells and Ack, Euka don’t!, I cry.  Road apples, those sweet manure treasures, are sending out their siren’s call in wafting waves of sensory temptations.  As I redirect Euka’s attention from a steaming hay brownie, a quarter horse with rider passes by on clomping hooves. 

Well, so much for starting small. The horse is close enough to touch in his casual pass by. I see Euka give the fella a once over, from hooves to both heads, and pretty much give the scene a dog shrug as she looks back to the delicacy baking on the pavement. I could take him, she says. With one paw tied behind my back.  No fur off her back, our brave girl.

I see you, dog. says the Titan.
I’m your huckleberry.**

In the covered arena, we take a few minutes to watch a drill team of some very skilled young ladies and their gorgeous horses performing in the ring.  Euka gets a second row seat to watch the action with perked ears. By second row seat, I mean she’s in a Down at the end of an aisle to enjoy a dog’s eye view of the drill team. I watch her reaction and wonder just what the heck she’s thinking.  Four legs on these things, but two heads? They’re running and playing and yet don’t smell like a dog at all. Too big to chew on, but I bet if I grabbed a leg  . . .

Even as the riders approach the front row spectators to allow their horses to be patted on their velvet noses, Euka doesn’t move to break her Down. She loses interest after a bit and closes her eyes for a quick not-a-cat nap.

This is good, I think. Let’s bump it up and check out the stables for the event’s guest horses.

As we cruise about we encounter Tennessee Titan, the miniature donkey in all his tyger-spotted glory.  Tennessee Titan is a super star of mini donkeys, so I was hoping to get a photo op, but was told he’s not a big fan of dogs. We respect that, of course. Especially since at this point I couldn’t tell you if Euka was a big fan of mini donkeys.  I get a quick click of the OK Corral standoff and we move on.

We come across a second photo op with another delightful, and more dog loving, miniature critter.  Johnny Rocket and his handler are gracious to allow us a moment of their time. Euka is still brooding over the stuck up donkey and refuses to look at the mini horse, no matter how kind he is.  Nobody out-attitudes the princess, it seems.

Oh, and I have to tell you about our run in with the law. See, I shot the sheriff and . . . sorry, that’s going to be a pun so bad even I can’t finish that sentence.

Ok, I took a photo of Lena, the equine half of a mounted patrol team for the Sheriff’s Department. Lena is sixteen and a half hands of Friesian with an attitude of one who does not gladly tolerate fools. My impression of this lady is she is one of the most rock solid horses you’re ever likely to encounter. A chick it would be unwise to piss off, I would think.

Hmm.  Oh Euka, I sing. Let’s go meet the Sheriff’s horse. Maybe I’m taking things too fast here, going from mini whinnies to a hardened Friesian.  But never being the kind of girl to shy away from a bad decision, we give this a try.

Horse people may notice Lena’s ear posture in this shot. Right? Now look at Euka. Well, as best you can.  Our little girl with the Irish tan has gone super-nova into the background. But I think you can get the general goings on here.  Another Friesian has just passed by. Lena is reacting to that horse.

And Euka is not. Her posture is relaxed and she is going about her day like this is nothing much more than being in the office, only without air conditioning.

Alrighty, now check out the next shot. Here’s what happens when cocky meets confidence. Lena leans in to  meet her new pale canine admirer. Meanwhile Euka is sure the horse is a new entry into her fan base. Give her one of my CCI bookmarks, says Euka to her people. She can read about me on the internet later.

Again, we have a confident posture exhibited by the pup. Ear flaps relaxed, tail down and paws in a casual stance. In fact, you may notice that she has not even moved from her spot from the first photo. Neither in retreat nor in the interest of an excited greeting. Nice.

Hail there, my tiny pasty friend, says Lena.  Well met.

Of course, it helps quite a bit that the girls are so at ease with both horses and dogs. Morgan has the leash, which is transmitting her positive vibes to Euka. All is well in the world, say the leash vibes. Carry on, y’all.

Hang loose for Part II of our Kentucky Horse Park adventures coming soon. I’ll even throw in a drama-filled story from the hotel.  It’s a cautionary tale about why you don’t always want to allow folk to pet your service pup in training.  Euka’s not the only one needing life lessons here.  Sometimes I need a smack in the back of the head.
  

________________________________________
 
* Yaxley, our CCI pup #3, joined us on the great horse park trip a couple of times.  His adventures are at Freshly baked road apples and Poptarts: Not just for breakfast anymore.  Due to timing, this will be Euka’s only trip with us to the Kentucky Horse Park.

**Quote from Tombstone (1993) as said by Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer). Best read with a drawling southern accent of sorts in your head.


 

Wordless Wednesday: We’re not fancy people

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Jet skiing at Cedar Island. Sans the jet ski.

We’re not fancy people with fancy things.  Hey, it’s not like I completely reject the material life though.

We do so enjoy vacationing in a natural setting kinda venue and all. And I’d rather be in the quiet company of family and my beloved dogs than among throngs of tourists.

Micron says he can go either way. The big guy thrives on the attention of folk, because as he says, once someone rubs your belly they’re no longer a stranger.

But our mighty Micron is also an appreciator of what nature can offer up. On the first Saturday of summer, we Ohioans were not surprised to find ourselves in the midst of a hot, humid afternoon. The dogs had placed themselves strategically about the house next to the air conditioner vents.  Wouldn’t it be so nice if we lived near water, I said to the Husband. So Micron could go swimming again? Like he did on vacation last month?

But because we’re not fancy people with fancy things, we did what we could for our water lovin’ dog.

This, says Micron, is the best day ever!

Salty sea dogs

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That is not our dog.

Nice doggie, I say, hoping that it’s true. Then to the kid, let’s put Euka back in the car.

Just a precautionary measure.  She seems docile enough though, this yellow dog.  She greeted us by barking an alert while we’re outside the White Point Take Out awaiting on another awesome lunch by this humble little place. Our second visit to choose noshables at the take out on Cedar Island because once is not enough. We must have more of the local seafood goodness offered here.

But this is our first encounter with the big yellow lab, a gal who came over from a neighboring yard just to keep things honest.  A salty sea dog, she is.  No collar and, funny enough, no further interest in us once she planted herself by the take-out window.

This local eatery is no fast food joint, by the way.  It’s the closest place to grab lunch within a fifteen mile radius on the island, but really we’d drive past any old Mickey Dee’s just to score more crab cakes.  There’s a wait once the order is in, so most folk we see just hang in their trucks until the deep fryer gives up the goods.  So we park ourselves and try to look less touristy by doing as the locals do.

Like the nice fisherman pictured here.  When he left his truck to pick up his lunch at the window, there was no yellow dog on the deck. While his back was turned, the golden girl moseyed up the steps and planted herself in a position of self-entitled comfort. Fishermen can have some quick reactions, it turns out. He turns to rush back to his truck, deftly stepping over the dog with seasoned sea legs. It was like a ballet. Kind of. But still pretty darn impressive. A lesser person *cough* me *cough* would result in 1. a face plant, 2. a broken something that’s critical for gainful employment and 3. got free ride to the nearest medical facility.



She’s between bath times, too. Once a year, whether she needs one or not.

While on the subject of salty dogs, y’all may be relieved to know that Micron finally got his beach time as promised.  Sure, it wasn’t really planned since we just intended to let him out for a potty break, but the big goober just tossed his furry self into the briny deep and then pranced about in spasms of joy.  But once he was kinda wet, we figured that’s the same as full canine saturation.

Might as well just let him have his way with the water. The dog that we nearly have to use a spatula to get off the floor, has found his passion.

He’s like a flippin’ canine jet ski out there.

Yep, that’s a rooster tail.

 

Rising from the sea like he’s Poseidon or something.

Anyone with a golden retriever knows full well what a dog smile looks like. For the rest of you, here ya go.

I ruvs you so much, Food Lady.

He’s so ridiculously happy, it makes me feel bad about what’s coming next. But at the same time, why is salt water the best thing ever, yet fresh water from the hose is boiling acid from the depths of hell itself? 

A complex combination of bribes and threats are the only thing keeping the big guy from bolting here. Lookit, I tested it myself.  The water pressure is fine and the water is actually warmer than the fish pee water in the bay.  It’s like he doesn’t want to smell clean or something. Huh.  Dogs.

It gets the hose again.*

An album with more photos of the Three Dog Vacation adventures are on the Raising a Super Dog Facebook page.  Feel free to drop a comment when you visit!

____________________
*The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Floundering in the rain

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Hey Micron, says Euka, staring out the window. Explain this thing about human beans and water.

Whad’ya mean? asks Micron. He puts down his chew bone and walks over to see what the puppy’s looking at.  Might be squirrels, you never know.

Well, I don’t get it, says Euka.  Yesterday they went out in the big blue water bowl out there and were all laughy and stuff.  Then later they even sat inside that bubbly water bowl, the one that makes rumbly tummy noises.

Yeah, I saw ’em, says Micron. I’m still a little fluffed about not being allowed in. Right? Like, hello . . . water dogs and water. It’s a natural thing. He glances over at Jager.  For some of us.

And it’s not just the big water bowl thing, says Euka. I mean, just lookit out there. It’s raining! I want go out and jump and roll around in the squishy smells. But they’re all rushy about us doing our business and making us come right back in.  It’s like they don’t like water today.  But yesterday it was ok and  . . .

I know, says Micron. Sometimes it’s hard to put a paw on what’s going on inside those round heads. He pats the top of his own head. Since they’re missing the Knot of Knowledge up there, some of their thoughts just kinda bounce around like a pea in a balloon. You know, like your ball with the bell inside? It never makes any sense either.

But I’m not too worried, he continues. Today’s when they promised to take me down to the beach so I can carry wonderful things around in my mouth. Right, Food Lady? He looks at me with those root beer brown eyes and blinks.

Um, I say. Slight change of plans there, big guy.

Even I have a hard time reconciling why I don’t mind the pool and the hot tub, but yet worry so much about my hair in the rain. But it’s true, I don’t really feel like a beach walk on this cool, rainy day.  I feel bad, though. After checking out the sights for the past couple of days with Miss Euka, we did promise the big yeller feller a special outing of his own today. 

Easy nuff, though. It’s not hard to make this dog deliriously happy.  Sometimes just carrying a roll of paper towels around can get the Tail of Wondrous Beauty to wag of dance of joy.  Or a ride in the car can do the trick.

And . . . all is well in Micron’s world.

But what about us human beans?  More than a little rain, this is a coastal weather phenomena that leaves one with the gut feeling that we’re not gonna work on that tan any today.

As I peer out the front door in deep concentration, what to do for lunch, a critter catches my eye. My good eye, that is.  Bigger than a mouse, smaller than a bunny.  A compact dark body that seems to be clipping along at a decent, yet oddly clunky pace.

Is that a turtle? But it’s so determined and more much agile than our Eastern Box Turtles back in Ohio. I run out with the Canon for a closer inspection and now the thing looks, well, kinda not alive anymore. Dang, nature’s harsh out here in the Outer Banks. But I go all photo journalist on the situation and take photos anyway.  Its little stubby legs are splayed out, the snouty head is on on the ground with sightless eyes staring off to nowhere. 

The poor thing.  Did it just crawl out here with some last burst of energy? A turtle’s last hurrah, so to speak.  He gathered up the last vestiges of terrapin grit and fury to pull himself out of the mud, so he could shake his little turtle fist at the sky and say I was here, world!

Huh, or is this guy just messing with me? A survival technique of the ages, the old playing ‘possum ploy? So I touch the back of his shell with my big toe and . . .

Hey, now!

Do turtles growl? I think I heard a snarl or something. This fella has risen to his full height and with the chest span of a bull terrier is standing firm to challenge me. Yeah ok, I didn’t see that coming. But even worse is the eye contact.

 
Bring it on, fool.
 

I will eat your soul, says the mud turtle. And your big toe’s going down, too.

Dang, Mother Nature. That’s some harsh stuff, girlfriend.

And so not to prove myself top of the food chain, but yeah maybe a little, we’ve scheduled a date with some local fisherman and it’s time to check out what the tide brought in for these guys.

If the sea was willing, we had our hopes up to score us some fresh flounder. We talked earlier with Vince, a super nice guy, who comes from a long line of Southern Outer Banks fisherman in his family. And we met Aaron, Jr. who was at hand to take pity on these out-of-towners and mercifully clean said fresh flounder for us.

We don’t have the tools to clean fish at the rental, was my claim. Could you help us out with that?

Aaron, Jr. will do that for ya, we’re told. There’s no one better, they say.  We select some fine flounder to fillet, which means Aaron the Third held up some fish and I said, yeah those look good. 

Can I be trusted to recognize a good flounder? No. The answer is no. The fish were big, flat, had both eyes on the same side of their head and weren’t moving anymore. And that, to me, is Good Eatin’ Flounder criteria. We are completely at the mercy of Aaron III. Who, it turns out, is a pretty decent guy, too.

I’m not kidding when I say the next hour was one of the top highlights of our week on Cedar Island.  We’ll set you up with a mess of fish and a load of bullshit today, says Aaron, Jr. as he entertains us with yet another story in that distinct Southern Outer Banks dialect. Which is different on every island down here, we’re told. The dialect, that is. Not sure about the bullshit, but it makes me happy believing that’s unique, too.

In all the talking and scaling, we came out of there with the intended flounder, some spot and a couple of trout. And a bunch of blue crab claws. A list of sundry items, as recommended by professional fishermen, to get from the island’s only convenience store was pretty handy to have for our impending fish fry and crab boil. 

Oh, is it still raining?  No matter, y’all.  We’re pan frying fresh flounder served with a side of steamed crab. It’s a good day here on Cedar Island.

We can do the beach another day.


 

More photos to this story and others from our Three Dog Vacation are in an album on the Raising a Super Dog Facebook page.  Click here to see more images of our adventures.

 
 
 


Wordless Wednesday: Base Tan

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I don’t know, says Euka.  I’ve been in the sun all afternoon and just can’t get past this base tan.

A furry reminder from Miss Euka to watch for the next installment of her tales of derring-do. Or what I refer to as our family vacation on Cedar Island. Coming soon.

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