So this post is going to be all about Gail's recent holiday in the USA, and is the result of a painstakingly negotiated settlement whereby photos involving bicycles are balanced by dog and other animal related images.
Well let's get the boring biking bit out out of the way for starters.
Marse's dog Josh supervises the reassembly of Gail's bicycle
I had understood that Gail went to the USA to join her old friend Marse and a bunch of Marse's friends for an eight day bike ride around NW Montana.
Marse lives in Tacoma, WA. It seems she, Gail and the other riders drove all 450 miles from Tacoma to the start point in St Regis, Montana on Tuesday September 5. And all the way back again the next day... I, Bertie, think they were wimps to bottle out of the planned bicycle tour, just 'cos the route they'd planned, up to Glacier National Park, went right through the heart of an area of ferocious wildfires, and the whole state was blanketed in smoke so thick that people were being advised to staying indoors with windows closed and avoid all exertion...
Smoke covering Washington, Idaho and Montana
Gail had been looking forward to seeing all the Montana wildlife, but had to make to with this moose by the lake at Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Marse and Moose
Even in Tacoma, the parked vehicles were covered in ash, reminding folk of the 1980 Mount St Helens eruption.
So the bike group re-thought their plans and organised rides around the South Puget Sound area and in Mount Rainier National Park, where the air was relatively clear. Gail says she thinks they did this mostly for her benefit, feeling bad that she had travelled such a long way with her bicycle, only to have the main event cancelled.
One day they started from the Cascade Bike Club HQ in Seattle (Gail was awestruck by the facilities), and toured the campus of 'U-Dub' (aka the University of Washington).
Another day they rode up to Black Diamond for a hearty lunch.
Then came a visit to Harstine Island, where the ride ended with a barbecue at cyclist Bill's gorgeous holiday home.
Next, the bike group spent a few lovely days enjoying more hospitality at Jim and Lori's cosy cabin in Ashford, near Mount Rainier National Park.
From the cabin, one day they rode up the 3600 ft ascent to the appropriately named Paradise.
Later that same day, back at Jim and Lori's cabin, Gail was instructed in the essential American campfire ritual of making s'mores, the perfect follow-up to all that exertion on the bike.
Lori exhibits the perfect s'more
Another day they hiked up to High Rock lookout, where they disturbed the peace of a solitary young man and his handsome dog Champ.
And afterwards drove miles and miles along forest track to harvest Lori's secret huckleberry garden.
Returning to base in Tacoma, Marse had other things on her mind. It turns out that her dog Josh is something of an escapologist, and has recently taken to scaling her 4 ft high fence, and roaming the neighbourhood. I don't see why this is a problem, but for some reason Marse was intent on installing a DIY 'coyote roller'. This apparently involved fixing lengths of plastic tubing on top of the fence so that it rolls in such a way as to make it difficult for coyotes and/or dogs to clamber over.
Oh, just to confuse you, the dog pictured about is not Josh, but seventeen year old Liddie, who also used to exhibit Houdini-like traits, but now is a sedate, if still charmingly cheeky, senior lady.
Finally, here is some bird-related artwork by the shore in Tacoma, plus one more photo of Josh and Liddie, as by my reckoning, there is still an imbalance in favour of bike photos on this blog post...
OK, finally, finally. Gail insists on posting this video she shot at a beach party one fine evening early in her visit, where Marse's nieces Marena and Soroa provided a memorable musical interlude.
PS Next and future posts, I promise, will revert to being all about ME (Bertie).
You know what? I am so used to Gail arriving home from holidays empty handed, I could not believe my deep-set little eyes when she placed this super toy on the front doorstep and said it was for me.
This was such uncharacteristic behaviour on her part, I began to wonder is she and her friend Marse had been filling up with something other than petrol (sorrry, 'gas') on their travels in the Pacific Northwest...
Of course it all became clear when I was told the gift was actually from fellow terriers Wyatt and Tegan, and delivered via our esteemed blogging friends, Murphy and Stanley, whom Gail met (along with Bob and Carol) a couple of Sundays ago at Point Defiance in Tacoma.
Thank you so much Wyatt and Tegan!
Gail tells me she and Marse had such a super hike together with the Doods and family, and Carol even succeeded in educating Marse's pup Josh in the fine art of posing for blog photos.
Now my friends, perhaps you can help resolve a wee argument I am having with Gail just now. You see she has come home with a ton of photos and a mistaken belief that she should be allowed to post some more of them on my blog later in the week. But surely this is most unfair as I was locked up in 'camp' for the duration, without access to a camera or phone?
We have negotiated a provisional agreement that at least every other holiday picture Gail posts on this blog should feature a dog or other animal, and that shots involving bicycles should be kept to a minimum. Themes to be covered covered will apparently include wildfires and smoke, Mount Rainier, Gail learning how to cook s'mores, and installation of a coyote roller...
Hi, I'm Bertie, a wire-haired fox terrier pup. I live with Gail in Aberdeen, Scotland. An old Westie called Hamish used to live here but he died on 18th February 2010 (exactly the same day I was born). People tell me that he used to have a blog and that I have big pawprints to fill. That's a bit too much responsibility for a very young puppy - and anyway, I intend to make my own mark!
(Gail says that Hamish could certainly have taught me a thing or two about marking stuff....)