Thursday, May 31, 2007

It's a Boy!

It's a Boy!!

It was paw-sitively love at first sight!
We'll be bringing home our new wee-wee hopefully next weekend!
He's a gorgeous blue fawn long coat male ~ meaning he'll be a smokey color.
The picture above is at 4 1/2 weeks. Here he is at 2 1/2 weeks.

Here he is at 7 weeks. His parents are AKC registerd and our boy is a show prospect, so Mum is thinking about showing him, as well as possibly breeding him with Zoe, Rhyana's chihuahua.

Here he is with his parents and his brother. His mom is 6 lbs and his dad is 4 lbs, so he won't get very big.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Petco 3rd Annual Unleashed! Chihuahua Race

Thanks to everyone who wished Mahal well on her first ever chihuahua race. Gareth, Nikka and I traveled to Kirkland early this morning with the three chihuahuas, Mahal, Zoe and Nina, in tow to take part in the Petco 3rd Annual Chihuahua Race. Meet Team Watermelon, from left to right: Zoe, Mahal & Nina

Why Watermelon? Those were the only matching dresses we could find for all three. However, the team uniform didn't survive the trip. They figured out a way to step out of them. So we got them blinged up for the after-race celebration.

We were met at the racetrack by Gareth's sister and her boyfriend Josh, who registered Zoe to participate also. Mum's chihuahua, Nina, is a little...big Nikka put it, so we didn't race her. (Zoe actually belongs to Gareth's sister, Rhyana, but Zoe and Nina are inseparable, so she allowed Mum to take Zoe when she and Nina moved in with us.)

Petco raced 10 chihuahuas at a time, and there were a good 100 or so chihuahuas in all shapes, colors and sizes in attendance. Mahal and Zoe were placed in the same pack and Josh and Nikka held them at the starting line while Phedre and I waited at the finish line with treats.

The Petco referee yelled, "Ready, set, Petco!" and the chihuahuas were unleashed! .... To wander around the starting line looking around at all the spectators. Mahal eventually trotted down the track, all the while gazing all around her not even paying attention to my yelling, "Mahal!" and waving her favorite stuffed toy like a crazy woman. Phedre had no luck with Zoe either even if her high pitched "Zoeeee! Whee! Wheee! Whee!" resonated across the track.

Mahal could have taken second if she hadn't wandered over to the sideline judges. I guess from their angle, all legs look the same? Instead she got third place. Only 1st and 2nd place advance to the next round though, so it was time to go home.

As for Zoe, she eventually scampered across the finish line after the winners were already declared. At least she finished the race.

Thanks to Josh & Phedre for meeting us in Kirkland and helping us race the wee-wees, and of course much thanks to Nikka for the extra pair of hands! The chihuahuas love her, and I think she had a lot of fun.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Lake Quinault Lodge & Olympic National Forest

Have you ever had one of those Southwest Airlines commercial moments that make you ask yourself, "Need to get away?" Life comes at us faster and less apologetically every day with the constant demands of work and family. It seems like only yesterday we were welcoming 2007, yet in just a matter of days we'll be halfway through the year. Yes, that means we're almost done with May. Had to think about it, didn't you? When our lives are so hectic we can't remember what month it is much less which day of the week, it's time to stop and give yourself a break.

When you crawl into bed at night, don't you ever wonder at the calming sound of silence? Don't you enjoy the feel of your body and mind slowly turning itself off for the night? It's a wonderful feeling because you're taking a break from the stress of work, the annoyance of cell phones, the nagging of email and the mind-numbing of television. Silence. Peace. It's what your mind and soul craves but you've been too busy to listen.

Somewhere there's got to be a place of tranquility and peace your soul's been craving. Guess what? There is, and you don't need to hop on a plane to get there.

My husband, Gareth, and I were kindly invited to enjoy lunch at the Lake Quinault Lodge, located in the heart of the Olympic National Rainforest. It was a good 45 minute drive away from where we were staying at Ocean Shores, but it was an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of what makes Washington the Evergreen State.

When you hear rainforest, don't you think of the tropical jungles of South America? Or maybe that restaurant at Westfield Mall? Needless to say, your first thought isn't Washington. I was quite surprised to learn that Washington is the home of the nations three rainforests, and the Lake Quinault Lodge allows you the opportunity to sleep and play within one.

Entering the rainforest was like stepping back in time. Gone were the noises we associate with today's life: The rush of traffic, the blaring of the radio or television, the ringing of phones and the harried voices of the other stressed people with whom we surround ourselves. Here there was a different noise, so different, I couldn't call it noise. The soft rustle of the breeze through the dense trees was too calming to be noisy. Birds were chirping, leaves were fluttering, the lake was lapping at the shore like slow, even breathing. Here was peace. Here was tranquility. The hushed crunch of gravel under our feet was almost too loud in this place void of noise but full of sounds: the sighs and whispers of Mother Earth, the enchanting beckoning of nature.

With a rolling green lawn and a spectacular view, the Lodge invites visitors to sit, relax and absorb the splendor and glory of nature. Almost immediately upon arrival, Gareth made a friend.

Our lunch was hosted by the lodge's new events coordinator, Roger, a former forest ranger, who told us the "lodge cat" was new and free to any new home that wanted him. Gareth doesn't need much encouragement when it comes to adopting cats, but he realized the logistics of taking it back to the hotel would be tricky. Besides, this cat had it made. A beautiful view, an adirondack chair to lounge on. It would've been cruel to take him away from the lodge. Speaking from a cat's perspective, of course.

We met Roger in the Roosevelt Dining Room where we enjoyed a tasty lunch served by friendly staff. A soft-spoken man with a brilliant smile, Ranger Roger educated us on the history of the landmark hotel and the surrounding national park and took us on a quick tour of the surrounding area. He was extremely knowledgeable of the forest, his pride in and deep love for the area evident as he spoke.

On October 1, 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Lake Quinault Lodge during a fact-finding trip. He called Lake Quinault "heaven on earth." During his visit, the topic of establishing a park came and nine months later, Roosevelt signed a bill creating Olympic National Park, which to this day remains a treasure countless visitors have enjoyed.

Covering an area of over 633,600 acres, Olympic National Forest is simply a place of breathtaking beauty, with so many shades of green, even the air seems verdant. The forest is a a temperate rainforest, so while it can get up to 25 feet of rain each year, it's accessible year round for such activities as camping, picnicking and hiking. While staying at the lodge, visitors can also arrange to go swimming, fishing, auto touring, canoeing, kayaking and interpretive tours to personally watch wilderness and wildlife abound.

The Quinault Lodge offers adventurous vacation packages for hikers, photo enthusiasts and fishermen. There's even a golf course nearby. Roger enjoyed telling us how the Roosevelt Elk like to traipse through the golf course, indelibly altering the landscape, so that golfers believing a straight putt can win their game stand astounded as they watch their golfball roll and bounce like a ping pong ball across the green.

But if you would like to just rest and rejuvenate, the Lodge is definitely the place to do that as well. While this landmark hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it does offer high-speed wireless internet connection in its lobby. But like its website says, the Lodge is the perfect place to leave the cares of the work-a-day world behind. Curl up with a good book either by the grand fireplace in the lobby or on a lawn chair by the lake, picnic at the gazebo or have a romantic sunset dinner with a gorgeous view from the dining room.

However, it would behoove you to let the fresh air invigorate you and enjoy the impressive wonder of the forest and take in such sights as the largest Sitka spruce tree in the world. Also in the Quinalt Valley are the World's Largest Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir & Mountain Hemlock, the United States' largest Yellow Cedar & Western Hemlock.

For photo enthusiasts, the best time to catch the enchanting loveliness of the forest is early to late spring when the moss is moist and full, the forest floor is dense with new life.

The visit to Lake Quinault Lodge was definitely a highlight of our Ocean Shores getaway. A return trip is definitely on the calendar to take better advantage of the diversity of activities, sights and points of interests. Or just to get away.

For more information about Lake Quinault Lodge contact them by email, phone, fax or visit

Lake Quinault Lodge
345 South Shore Road
Quinault, WA 98575
Toll Free: 800.562.6672
Phone: 360.288.2900
Fax: 360.288.2901

For more information about the Olympic National Forest, visit or

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Ocean Shores Getaway - Electric Boats

When Gareth first told me he'd arranged for a boat trip, I imagined ripping through the oceans on a high powered speed boat. I'm not an avid sea-farer, especially when it involves bouncing around on rough currents. I get motion sickness on a floating dock. Needless to say, I wasn't exactly thrilled. He told me the name of the company giving us the boat tour was Ocean Shores Electric Boats. I changed my mind's image to a choppy ride on the ocean on a runt of a machine with the annoying buzz of an electric scooter.

Boy, was I way off.

Ocean Shores Electric Boats was a pleasantly surprising treat. A short jaunt down Point Brown Avenue, we were met by Jim Kimzey, owner of Ocean Shores Electric Boats. It would've been a shorter jaunt if we hadn't made the mistake of looking for their storefront on the ocean side of the avenue. When we approached Jim's business, I actually wondered how we were going to get a boat from his store to the ocean and if it meant hitching it to our Hyundai, I figured we were in for a long day.

His storefront is rather deceptive, especially if you aren't familiar with the inner workings of the town of Ocean Shores. You figure, it's a smattering of family owned businesses, vacation houses and the big ocean. If you came upon this:

would you expect to find this in his backyard?

Hidden within the town of Ocean Shores are 23 miles of interconnected fresh waterways, lakes and canals, and Ocean Shores Electric Boats sits on the bank of one such waterway. Jim, along with his wife Nancy, operate a boat rental business that offers hourly rentals of 21-foot Duffy Cruisers . Now in its third year, the business offers a wonderful hands-on boating experience.

Their website at touts "If you can drive a golf cart, you can drive an electric boat." Jim, a warm, personable gentleman, was gracious enough to accompany us on a tour of the waterways. While patiently tutoring us on the simple mechanics of the boat, he entertained us with his personal story of chance and fortuitious coincidences that brought him and his wife to Ocean Shores after a career with the Department of Health. He educated us on maritime rules and pointed out various wildlife and points of interest along the water route.

The boats are enclosed and can heated on those cold days, making them accessible year round. They seat up to 10 comfortably, providing the ideal setting for family or group outings. During warmer weather, you may cruise with the large zippered windows open or closed in any combination. Gareth got to captain first, but I got my turn eventually. Even though I'm biting my lip in concentration, it's actually quite easy to steer. It needs only a light touch, and of course, at 7 mph max, dont' expect it to turn on a dime.

While I loved steering, I found myself distracted by the scenery and being the picture-taking passenger on a smooth & leisurely boat ride was more to my liking. The cruising speed was just enough to allow me time to relax, enjoy, and wait in anticipation of what was around the next bend or island.

I learned that fishermen had the right of way and I had to steer clear of their lines. In No Wake zones, we could shut to motor down and just float along past beautiful houses, waving back at their friendly owners.

Each boat has a motor that is very quiet and, since they are electric, there are no exhaust or fuel fumes. The boats are powered by a bank of marine batteries that are operational for up to ten hours. Renting the boat is like a renting a car, with a contract signed and rules explained. If requested, a navigator can be provided, but maps of the waterways are available on the boat. Rental fees are very reasonable, especially if a large group shares in the cost, making them ideal for small parties.

Make the electric boat tour a part of your itinerary the next time you travel to Ocean Shores. It's a tranquil and fascinating way to get a different perspective of coastal town. Who would've thought you could have fun on another body of water at Ocean Shores that wasn't the Pacific Ocean?

Ocean Shores Getaway - Ocean View

Gareth & I are working on a more official article about our trip, but I wanted to get a few thoughts down before time gets away from me.

Gareth arranged a great getaway for us this past weekend to Ocean Shores. We stayed at the Shilo Inn Suites on Ocean Shores Boulevard with an oceanfront view. I have to admit, I wasn't exactly thrilled with the weather on Friday, when we drove southwest to get to Ocean Shores. What could've been a beautiful, scenic drive was quite dreary, but for a Friday evening commute, it was quite hassle-free once we were south of Lakewood. Not a lot of beach-seekers this time of year.

It's been at least five years since I've been to Ocean Shores, but for Gareth it's been at least twenty-five, so it was practically a new experience for him. Now that he knows how accessible it is and exactly why I've longed for a trip to Ocean Shores since he's known me, I see a lot of trips to Ocean Shores in our future.

I'd forgotten how cold it can be by the ocean, but the fresh gusts of wind and the roar of the crashing waves called out like an old friend. The ocean has a way of jumpstarting your heart. It changes the rhythm of your pulse, literally taking your breath away. I didn't even have to see it to feel it's affect on me. I could smell the salty sea air and hear the seagulls and I knew I was where I needed to be.

The fresh ocean air is oddly invigorating and calming at the same time. I woke up Saturday morning wanting to take on the world...but slowly. Gareth had scheduled an electric boat trip, a lunch at Lake Quinault Lodge and dinner at the hotel restaurant. I was reluctant to get out of bed too early, but Gareth beckoned me to the balcony to see who was welcoming us to Ocean Shores. With bleary eyes, I could barely make them out as they blended in with the sea grass, but luckily, the digital camera has better morning vision.

A trio of deer made their way to the ocean on a well tread trail, passing below our balcony in the process. Off in the distance, early risers made good use of the ocean winds to fly their kites. What made the sight even more fascinating was the swarm of shorebirds forming around the bigger kite.

Apparently Grays Harbor County is a bird watcher's paradise. The region tends to attract birders from all over the country. Many come to search out sea birds on the open sea boat trip out of Westport, while others take in birding in Ocean Shores. Each Spring, hundreds of thousands of shorebirds stop to rest and feed in Grays Harbor estuary on their migration northward. We caught the tail end of the mass migration, where birds fly in beautiful formations, usually timed just hours before high tide came in and again after the tide lowered.