Monday, July 7, 2008

Our Travels (part 1)

Here we are, in Warwick, Rhode Island, about to enter the church where two people we had never met before got married. No, not wedding crashing. The bride is Mary's daughter (and Harry's stepdaughter), Laura. Under the little-known federal law, The Nuptial Reciprocity Act of 1874, because we'd invited Harry & Mary to our wedding, we got invited to Laura & Ryan's. (I'm kidding about that law, btw.)

The wedding was lovely, the reception was at a nice country club (which is high praise indeed) with a stunning view of Narrangasett Bay, the bride was particularly gracious to us, and we had a lot of fun. There was even a picnic on Sunday, with new opportunities to eat wedding cake!

But before we could go to the picnic, we had to revisit the awesome dog park in Warwick. We'd gone there on Saturday with Mimi, who really needed more time with other dogs. There were only three dogs when we arrived: a brindled boxer named Damian, an amorous cocker spaniel (you can make the obvious pun; I'll refrain from doing so) named Joey; and a really mellow bull terrier named Bogey. Bogey, despite being un-neutered, permitted Joey's insistent if useless advances. The people at the park on Saturday (we were eventually joined by a retired record company executive with two English springer spaniels) all agreed that Mimi has the look of a Rhodesian ridgeback. Right color, right ears, and even a slight suggestion of the characteristic ridge of fur on her back. Mimi's way too small, though -- she's about 19" at the shoulders. Anyway, every time we've seen a "Rhodie" mix on TV, it's looked like Mimi.

Until we met Gee, pictured here with the yellow football we donated to the dog park. Gee, we were told by his owners, is pure bred pit bull. Now this is perplexing to me because the two breeds recognized by the AKC associated with pit bulls, American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier, are both not Mimi. She has a faint look of an Am Staff if you catch her just right, but neither type comes in her distinctive cinnamon brown. Gee here is an Am Staff, clearly -- the color (buff) is right, and the ears are right.

Which isn't a huge surprise -- we'd been told that Mimi was a pit mix. It's what she's mixed with that so engages people. Oh, and the fact that she's a love-slut. No, seriously. Other dogs and owners would arrive and she'd be right there at the gate, greeting each new human with a look that fairly shouted, "Hi, there, big guy/gal. Come here often? Care to scritch a bitch who's all alone in the world?" Mostly, people were thrilled to comply.

Here's a partial list of the other dogs we saw: a blue Weimaraner, a foxhound, a corgi, two basset hounds (different owners), two puggles (pug/beagle mixes -- a designer dog) (also two different owners), a Shar-Pei, two golden retrievers in very different weight classes, a Wheaten terrier, a chocolate lab, a border collie, two greyhounds, a great dane, an Irish Setter (everyone went "ooh" when that dog pranced in) and Gizmo, a black Chihuahua - Miniature Pinscher mix. We went today to a wonderful, 6-acre dog park here in Portland where the dogs can run around paths through the woods -- the entire place is well fenced. We met two Old English Sheepdogs and saw -- their owners weren't really feeling like socializing -- another lab and a pointer. On our walk this morning to the Prout's Neck Cliff Walk, we saw a whippet, or at least, a small dog that seemed precisely like a whippet. (I really have to stop looking at the AKC website...)

So, yes, we went to Scarborough Beach, briefly. (Dogs not allowed on the beach, and anyway it was fogged in.)
Here's what we could see at low tide, through the marine layer.

Five minutes of that -- long enough for Starman to get his English toes wet in the Atlantic -- and we decided to head back to the road on foot and go find the famed, but notoriously hard to access, Prout's Neck Cliff Walk. I kept having to explain to Starman that the Cliff Walk is not meant to be used by anyone but the locals. If you happen to know how to get to it, fine, but they (the Prout's Neck Association) isn't going to make it easy for you!

This is on the Cliff Walk, looking at Scarborough Beach through the haze. Winslow Homer lived on Prout's Neck, and there are quite a few of his painting in the Portland Museum. Didn't go see them, though. Nope, we did the Cliff Walk, didn't get a ticket because we carefully parked legally at the state park access to the beach, and marvelled at the REALLY high-end real estate, all inaccessible to mere mortals like ourselves.

Here's Mimi, enjoying her day by the sea. Tomorrow it's off to the mountains in New Hampshire and Vermont. We checked Google Maps on the best way to get there -- we can go 240 miles in 5 hours on all interstates, or 175 miles in 5 hours on the back roads. With gas at $4/gallon, it's back roads all the way!

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