Monthly Archives: May 2016

Walk Report: Fernandez Ranch

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There is a MeetUp based dog hiking group calls Wags n Trails Klondike and I have been wanting to join. This past Sunday morning Klondike was able to make some time and we joined Wags n Trails for one of their easier walks, a 3.72 mile, 105 minute medium paced loop through Fernandez Ranch, a public recreation area maintained by John Muir Land Trust, between Hercules and Martinez, roughly 25 miles north east of  Berkeley.

 A Good Walk

  • It was great to be out walking with a ten other devoted dog owners and their well cared for, well trained, much loved dogs
  • At less than two hours and just under four miles, this was a nice, medium sized hike accessible to most people and their dogs
  • There was a serene quiet and sense of space hard to get at even the best walks closer to the city
  • Lots of flora and fauna and a good mixture of environments – open plains, hills (nothing too outrageous), switchbacks  and swimming opportunities, which of course Mr. Klondike did not waste. The park brochure promises:

Breathtaking views await at the top of the Whipsnake Trail and kids can have a giggle rambling the hills and meadows looking for a variety of bugs, beetles and animal tracks. You may even catch a glimpse of a rare animal or two, including the endangered Alameda whipsnake, the California red-legged frog and maybe an American badger. But keep a keen eye out for the whipsnake — despite the two bright yellow stripes on its back, it is shy and hard to spot.

At dawn and dusk, the meadows at Fernandez Ranch come alive! Deer emerge from the woods and coyotes howl to one another. Oak-studded slopes and freshwater wetlands give way to Rodeo Creek, whose banks are cloaked in Coast live oak. In the springtime, poppies, lupine and the threatened Mount Diablo sunflower — which only grows in Contra Costa County — blanket the ranch in vibrant color.

  • Dogs officially allowed off leash
  • Trails are well marked – you shouldn’t get lost
  • Parking is not an issue

Of Course, It’s Not Perfect

  • The flora and fauna include lots of ticks, and we saw a rattlesnake. Neither was a problem – the rattlesnake was happy to get away from us and, probably due to his thick fur, Klondike only got one tick which was easily removed. Still, you definitely want to be aware of both. For ticks, by the way, consensus on the trail was that this is the product to get.
  • With traffic on a weekday, Fernandez Ranch can be 90 minutes from Berkeley, and possibly as much as two and a half hours from San Francisco. Without traffic it’s just 25 minutes from Berkeley. On a weekday, I’d skip the drive and head for the more accessible Inspiration Point , Strawberry Canyon,  or the always awesome Roberts Recreation Area. On a weekend, absolutely, yes, worth it.
  • Bicycles and horses are allowed on the trail, though we didn’t see any
  • Little or no cell phone reception except in the parking lot

Klondike Walk Score: 84%

Important Notes

Water is not available on the trail, there is no trash disposal on the trail and there are no restrooms on the trail. I would absolutely suggest bringing water for you and your dog. We went on a fairly cool morning (low 70’s) and really wanted it.

Printed maps weren’t available so I’d definitely suggest downloading the map below and printing out. Thanks Jenny B for pointing this out!

Access

Here is a Google link for driving directions. The official address is 1081 Christie Road, Martinez, CA, 94553. For those of your who enjoy such things, here‘s the Google Earth satellite view

Chris Road Exit
You will take this exit from Highway 4 to Christie Road. Note it is right before the rusty bridge and easy to miss.
Fer Ent
Entrance to the park is also a bit easy to miss. It is the third opportunity to turn right, the first two being a gate to a private house and what looks like a gated private road. It is 0.6 miles from where you leave the freeway.

 

Route And Pictures

FINAL MAP FOR WRITE-UP
Route is shown in orange highlighter. Click here for PDF map.
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Klondike happily trots across the bridge connecting parking and picnic area with trailhead
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Over the bridge and officially on the Windmill trail!
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This shady, covered area is right near the trailhead and where the walk offically began
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Along the Windmill trail
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The group in line. Don’t worry – it’s cool to open the cattle gates, just close them again
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More Windmill
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Whipsnake hits Windmill here
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Klondike reminds you: Fork to the left to take Whipsnake for just a little bit before hitting Woodrat. He also reminds you: the word is Whipsnake, a reptile, much as your eye wants to read the sign as Whisper. People language is so hard.
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And… we turn from Whipsnake onto Woodrat
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Klondike did not go into the pond on the left, unlike another dog, but did available himself of a swim opportunity a little further down the trail.
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Fork to the left, over the bridge, and you are back on Whipsnake and heading up toward the trailhead. Klondike has warned me to keep my lens cleaner. Sorry Mr. Klondike.
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This is one of a few switchbacks on Whipsnake. A well named trail.
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Another cattle gate. Just open and close as you go through
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Whipsnake pretty much turns into Black Phobes
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From Black Phobes it’s less than 10 minutes to the trailhead
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Klondike chilling in the shade, adjacent to the parking lot,  with his water bowl (after a tick check)
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Thanks Fernandez Ranch! It was nice meeting you, we’ll be back!

Klondike Wraps Indie Film: Details Soon

 

Sing - On The Set With Klondike (2)
Mr. Klondike relaxes with some of the cast and crew on the set of Sing

Today Mr. Klondike wrapped up principal photography for Sing, a comedic short film. While Mr. Klondike generally avoids indie projects, he made an exception for Sing based on the strength of its script and the close relationship he has with some of its participants. Also treats.

Watch this blog for further details.

Sing - On The Set With Klondike (1)
As a busy artist, Mr. Klondike strives to use his time as efficiently as possible. Here he combines a production meeting with a tummy rub 
Sing - On The Set With Klondike
The crew sets up for an outside shot

運命の瞬間

 

 

Rocket Dog Pic 2015-07-29_0013
この場所、この時。写真は chickpeaphotographystudio.com から拝借しました。

シロクマ通信です。

英語版のほうでビルが昔話をしたがっているので、つきあうことにしましょう。2014年の7月19日土曜日。近所で犬猫にお家を探す大きなイベント(要するに捨て猫や犬を飼いませんか、というイベント)があり、それに彼が行きたがっていた。参加レスキュー団体35超、参加動物300頭超。アメリカの動物愛護に対する熱の入り方が分かるね、という催しです。

もたもたしていたので到着したのはイベント終了時刻の1時間ほど前でした。常識的に言えば、そんな遅くに見たのでは「いい犬」「いい猫」はもうみんな行き先がきまっていそうなものですが…。

白くて大きい生き物がいて、「あの犬」と思い、あっという間に申込用紙に記入している私がいました。ビルは驚いていました。東京からアメリカへ引っ越してきて13年、犬が欲しいなと言いながら、なんだかんだ言って犬を飼う時期を遅らせてきたのは私だったからです。それがろくに見もしないうちに迷いなく決めている。人生なにがあるかわからんものです。

申込用紙に記入して、お試しにイベントの周りの地域を2人と一匹で散歩して、あれよあれよという間にビルは担当者に愛想を振りまき、私は更なる用紙、契約書みたいなもんですかね、に犬の居住環境その他について書き込んでいました。

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手続きを終えて、犬を車に乗せました。犬の首のあたりには苦労のためか栄養失調のためか、大きなハゲがありました。下の写真で私が情けない顔をしているのは犬を飼うのが厭だからではなく、40キロ超の犬が不安で後部座席から前へ移動してきてストレスで変なヨダレをダラダラたらして私の肩から胸にかけてぐっしょり濡れてしまったのが蒸発して身体の半分がヘンテコに冷え、更に爪が下腹に食い込んで動けないのが苦しかったからです。犬を飼う苦労のはじまり…みたいな。

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そして下の写真が、イベントの帰りに立ち寄ったペット用品店のレシート。犬を一匹飼うために必要な品々…あきれるほどたくさんあります。この日の出費は600ドル超。昔なら必要じゃなかったような「犬のおもちゃ」とか「犬の歯磨きセット」みたいなものは買わなかったのにこの値段です。なんたることよ。このお店はその後クロンダイクの大好きな場所になり、年がら年中立ち寄ることになるのですが、このときにはそんなことを知るよしもなく。

IMG_4924さて次は犬に名前をつけなければなりません。

シロクマみたいな大きな犬の名前は簡単でした。♪ What would you do for a Klondike Bar? ♪ というアイスクリームのコマーシャルソングを思い出し、この日の出費と今後この命を預かることに対する責任の重さを想像したら♪クロンダイクのために何をする♪という歌はぴったり。名前はクロンダイクに決まりです。ロゴのシロクマに似てますし。クロンダイクというのは地名でもあり、カナダの北西部、アラスカとの境の近くにある場所です。行ったことないんでわかりませんが、ウェブで写真を見る限り自然の豊かなところのようですよ。

そして獣医さんを探さねばなりません。とりあえず基本の健康診断は翌日にでも必要です。でも今後とも信頼できる所がいいのは間違いありません。今まで関係ない分野だったので何にも知らない。どうやって探すのか? この件、ビルが知恵をしぼりました。

また書きます。

 

That Dog!

 

 

Rocket Dog Pic 2015-07-29_0013
Scene of the crime caught on camera! Found this picture at chickpeaphotographystudio.com

Set the Way Back Machine to July 19, 2014. The began like any other Saturday. Except I’d seen a sign for a large animal adoption event (35 rescue groups, 300+ animals) at Jack London Square in Oakland, not too far from our house and right next to my gym. And when I told Mieko about it, she said she’d come with me.

We arrived at the event an hour before it ended. Think of a good sized street festival made up of animal rescue organizations with some vendors (everything from  pet supplies, doggie day care centers, and carpet cleaners to insurance companies) thrown in for good measure.

Walking through the event, Mieko looked towards the Rocket Dog Rescue display, pointed at a large, white pile of fur and said “That dog. We need to adopt that dog.” I was dumbstruck. My wife, who had spent the last 12 years coming up with reasons not to get a dog, had fallen in love from fifteen feet. To quote Blaise Pascal: The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.

In any case, fifteen minutes later we were taking That Dog on a trial walk. And fifteen minutes after that I was being as charming as I knew how to the adoption counselor (there was another couple milling about, showing dangerous interest in That Dog), and signing papers.

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After that we got That Dog loaded into the car, somehow. Note large bald patch, one of several, probably due to stress and malnutrition. On That Dog. My wife does not have a bald patch.

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Mieko wanted me to explain why she looks miserable in this photo when she should look elated. The scared dog had just migrated to the front seat, probably seeking human comfort, and was nervously drooling all over Mieko’s shoulder and chest, leaving her chilled from the evaporation, not to mention dealing with a 90 pound  lapdog.

 

On the way home we made the first and largest of what would turn out to be many, many, many Pet Food Express stops

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You’d be amazed how fast dog supplies add up when starting from zero…

Realized that That Dog needed a checkup. And a name.

The name was easy. Thinking about the commitment we’d made, the “What would you do for a Klondike Bar” jingle popped into my head, and That Dog became Klondike.

Picking a vet for the checkup was a bit more involved.

To be continued!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

卒業(またもや)おめでとう!

grdogpeep
クラスの仲間たち。左からAnita (立っているほう)とIsabella・Bill、Klondike (白い衣装で座っている)、 Mieko・Heather、Harley (三毛の衣装で座っている) とChris・ Jean (黒い衣装) とBrian・SusanとSassy (座っているほう)

 

5月5日は卒業式でした。クロンダイクがまたもやクラスを終了したのです。毎度お馴染みBravo!Pup Talent 3という、上級者向けのパフォーマンスのコースです。クラスメートはクロンダイクの他に4組いて、みんな頑張りました。仲良しになったので名残惜しく、早速みんなで集まって遊ぶ約束をしたほどでした。

たった6週間だったのですけれど、その間毎日練習した甲斐があり一段芸のレベルがあがりました。いつもクラスに通っている期間は犬と人間の繋がりが強化されなんでも数倍素敵に感じられます。犬にとっても人間にとっても楽しい時間です。犬を飼うのは「大変」だという人がいますが、手間暇かかるからこそ楽しいのです。クロンダイクはいつもよりごきげんでした。もちろんビルも。

会場は見ておわかりの通り、ペット用品のお店のフロアの一部。クロンダイクはこのお店が大好きなので、それもごきげんの理由と思います。普段は用事がないとなかなか連れて行ってもらえないですから。毎週大好きなお店へ行って1時間おやつをたくさんもらいながら遊べるのです。いいなあ。

groupbow
クロンダイク、ハーリーとブライアンが観客にお辞儀をしているあいだ、イサベラとサシーはお行儀良く待っています。
Bill&Klon (1)
今年の猛獣ショーの内容はまだヒミツです。この写真一枚だけお見せします。

Talent 3 Diploma 5-5-16

Congrats to Talent 3 Graduates

 

 

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Graduates, from Left to Right:  Anita (standing) and Isabella; Bill, Klondike (seated, in white) and Mieko; Heather, Harley (seated in white, red and black) and Chris;  Jean (in black) and Brian; Susan and Sassy (seated)

May 5, 2016 marked the graduation of Bravo!Pup’s Talent 3 advanced performance class. Taught by the amazing Sandi Thompson,  the class wasn’t primarily about learning new tricks. Not that new material wasn’t taught, it was just that  everyone in that class walked in with a pretty good repertoire, so the focus was on polishing performance behaviors until they shined.

During the class, Klondike improved as performer, and had a great deal of fun. In fact, we are thinking about changing his name to The Thump because of the non-stop, super strength, full contact tail wagging he’s started. I think this happiness came from a combination of training treats, attention, the strengthened bond that comes from working closely with your best friend during training/rehearsal, the class’s location inside a Pet Food Express store (a favorite Klondike destination) and the positive energy in the room. But whatever the reason, we’re grateful for the experience.

It was also a blast for the bipedal participants, who greatly enjoyed spending time around their own kind (human and dog) and exercising a shared passion for dog training.

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Klondike, Harley and Brian take a well deserved bow while Isabella and Sassy wait their turn
Bill&Klon (1)
While details of our performance are still confidential, I was able to get Mr. Klondike to agree to release this one shot

Talent 3 Diploma 5-5-16