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The Power of the Great Outdoors

November 2, 2014
Dog Trails Oregon

Pippin on the McKenzie River Trail, Oregon

One of my most very favorite things to do of all time is to go for a walk in the woods. Fortunately, I’ve made my home in Bend, Oregon, one of the great “gateway” cities to outdoor recreation. With the Deschutes River running through the heart of town, and the Deschutes National Forest virtually out the backdoor, the land itself offers up vast and varied opportunities for outdoor adventures. High mountain lakes, such as Elk Lake, Suttle Lake, and Sparks Lake, also teem with invitations to stay, play, explore and relaaax.

I will say that owning a water dog, like Pippin, the Golden-on-the-Go, provides constant motivation for cutting loose in open spaces.

I came across a great article recently about the power of spending time in the outdoors, which includes a wonderful section on mindfulness, that I want to share with outdoor enthusiasts and couch potatoes alike.

Thank you serotonin! “Mounting research shows the profound effect that fresh air, plants, trees and natural outdoor elements have on our health and well-being. When you spend time outdoors, especially being active, you can lift your mood, think more positively, feel more internal calm and greater harmony with the world around you,” according to exercise physiologist Tina Vindum.

Link here to “Reduce Stress in the Outdoors,” by Tina Vindum for Athleta Chi.

If you live in Central Oregon and want to explore the fabulous landscapes that surround us, you can download FREE Deschutes River Trail map below.

Deschutes River Trails System Map


5 Reasons to Take Your Dog on Vacation

December 13, 2013
Pips bags are packed

Pippin: The Golden on the Go

Guest Blog by Ryan

Just because you’re leaving town doesn’t mean you need to leave your dog behind.  While bringing your dog on vacation may complicate some things a little, it can make other things a lot better.  From giving you an excuse for some alone time, to meeting the locals and keeping kids in cars comfy with dog-themed animal slippers, here are 5 reasons and tips for taking your dog with you on vacation.

1. Dogs can help your kids with homesickness and car rides

Vacations are supposed to be fun and relaxing.  However, having a homesick kid on your hands can change all this.  Your kid might be upset about anything from the local food, to being dragged to museums, to being away from his or her friends.  Fortunately, if you take have your dog with you, then your kid may have at least have one furry friend from home that may help make them feel more comfortable.

Bulldog Slippers from Crazy for Bargains

Bulldog Slippers from Crazy for Bargains

Having your dog in the car can be helpful too.  A dog can be a welcome distraction to keep your kid from asking “are we there yet?” or just serve as a playmate in the back seat.  Also, getting out of the car every couple hours to take the dog for a quick walk can be a welcome chance for everyone to stretch their legs.  To make the car ride go faster, you may even want to help keep your kid distracted and busy with a movie like Homeward Bound.  You could even give them some dog themed slippers (you can find a variety at Crazy for Bargains) to keep them comfy while they snuggle up with your dog.

2. Dogs may give you an excuse to get away

Let’s face it – vacations can put everyone in very close quarters.  Whether it is cramped hotel rooms, crowded car rides, or aggravating in-laws, after being around the same people, all day, every day, a little alone time may be in order.  Fortunately, bringing your dog with you can give you just that.  Are your travel mates arguing?  Crying baby keeping you up?  You can slip outside and take your dog for a walk, then come back once things have cooled off or quieted down.

3. A dog can give you something to do when you’re bored

Maybe your husband likes walking around old battle grounds but you prefer botanical gardens.  If this is an issue when traveling, your dog can help you make the most of visiting almost any area where pets are allowed.  Whether you and your dog are playing Frisbee in a field or hiking through the hills, or just waiting for your hotel room that was supposed to be ready an hour ago, having your pet on hand can help keep you occupied and engaged, even if whatever you are sightseeing isn’t your cup of tea.

4. A dog can help you know what it is like to be a local

Sure, you may have read the travel books for an area, but taking your dog for a walk around where you are staying, or even scoping out a local dog park, can show you a side of your destination that you would have never found before.  Also, how many times have you struck up a conversation because someone asked if they could pet your dog, or because your dog decided to greet and sniff another one on the street?  You may have one of the best ice breakers right at the end of your leash.

5. A dog can help keep you moving

Most people want to do as much as possible on a vacation, but fully packed days can be difficult with the late nights and accessibility of the snooze button.  Maybe the cold waffles at the free continental breakfast aren’t worth waking up forr, but if you have to get out of bed to walk or feed your dog, then you just have to do it.  Once you’re up, you may as well get a jump start on the day.

Bringing along your dog may slow you down sometimes, but it can do a lot for your sanity while traveling.  Whether your dog helps you to explore areas you’ve never seen, or just helps to keep your kids quiet in the car, there are plenty of reasons you should bring him or her along with you on vacation.  Make sure to take advantage of all of them so you and your dog can both have a “barkin” good time traveling!

Ryan is a dog lover who has owned two labs and traveled with them internationally multiple times.  In addition to his dogs, he likes climbing, hiking, and reviewing Broadway shows for kids.

Hearts of Stone

November 6, 2013

The Heart Tree in Hailey, Idaho

Heart TreeOne of my very favorite spots, anywhere, ever, is a little trail that leads to The Heart Tree in Hailey, Idaho. Not a particularly fascinating hike, not in an exotic location, not on maps or in books, The Heart Tree is known by the locals and was created by locals … <!–break–>with a little help from Mother Nature.

The trailhead is located on the perimeter of a Hailey neighborhood, and follows the Wood River, laced this time of year with yellow leaves and the smell of the seasons changing. The trail also gives good access to fetch-and-splash spots for Pippin, Joe and Gravy (three of the sweetest, best dogs ever) as it winds through alder and aspen trees.

Rounding a corner you’ll find an unexpected sight – part nature, part nurture – that will take your breath away. The Heart Tree has grown up from the land and embellished by the people who love it, and each other. There, you’ll find hundreds of heart-shaped stones wedged in the tree’s bark and branches, and scattered at the base.

I don’t know who started it, or exactly why, but people visit The Heart Tree to leave a stone, take a stone, or trade one for another. I image people embark on this ritual for deep, penetrating personal reasons, or happy, generous lighthearted reasons. I don’t really know. But I do know that I love that tree. I love the whole idea of it.

Take a stone, leave a stone, but I defy your happy or hardened heart to leave this little spot of terra firma untouched.

My thanks go out to Raine Kidder, sister, who showed me this magnificent spot, walks with me there very time I visit, and shares the magic of a hundred hearts with me.

Draper Wood River Reserve, Wood River Land Trust
The Draper Wood River Preserve, completed in 2007, ties together many past river and riparian projects in the heart of Hailey by protecting 80 acres and 1/2 mile of Big Wood River frontage. The trade with the State of Idaho, which created the preserve, also included a 40-acre parcel that became a link for further river protection and public access downstream when the 103-acre Preserve at Colorado Gulch conservation agreement was donated at the end of the year.

Visiting Draper Wood River Preserve
Draper Wood River Preserve can be accessed by either of two Hailey entrances. Cedar Bend Entrance: Turn west on Cedar St in South Hailey and park near the entrance on the right side of the road. China Garden Main Entrance: Turn west on Elm Street in Hailey and continue to Aspen Drive.  Turn left on Aspen Drive and park at the entrance on the right side of the road.

Two Lazy Dogs on a Biscuit at Lake Billy Chinook

July 18, 2013


Pip loves a boat ride! He’ll even ride the “biscuit,” towed very slowly behind the boat, with a chaperone on board.

Lake Billy Chinook is great fun for boating, wake boarding, wave running, swimming, splashing and more. If you don’t have a motorboat, don’t worry. The shores offer great opportunities for splashing, playing and picnicking.

Three Oregon rivers converge at Round Butte Dam to create Lake Billy Chinook: The Crooked, The Deschutes and The Metolius. Only one exits – The Deschutes – and this river flows from its headwaters at Little Lava Lake in Central Oregon to the Columbia River Gorge.

Lake Billy Chinook is at The Cove Palisades State Park, near Culver, Oregon, 42 miles north of Bend, Oregon.

Nearby Pet-Friendly Lodging: Best Western Inn, Madras; Select pet-friendly cabin rentals, plus RV and tent camping at The Cove Palisades State Park
Gear of Choice: Ruff Wear Float Coat is for active dogs who frequent the water, the “Big Eddy” float coat is designed for swimming in rough or fast-moving water, day or night.

Pippin’s New Hair Cut

July 2, 2013
Pip's organic mud-pack facial treatment

Pip’s organic mudpack facial treatment

“Don’t go anywhere. Stay Close.” Famous last words. Mike had the notion that an unleashed Pip wasn’t going to run off at the first sniff he got of something interesting. Bye bye.

Mike wasn’t speaking Pip’s language. Maybe he should have said, “Now, Pippin, don’t run off and get into the Bush of 10,000 Burs.” Or maybe, “Sit. Stay.”

So Pip runs off and – guess what? – comes back ten minutes later covered, covered, in burs. He looked like a spotted, brown, junkyard dog, and not the perfectly coiffed golden retriever I know and love.

One by one, I’m picking out the burs. Then come the scissors. Pip’s tail looks like it got the losing end of a fight with a weed eater. This cup is half full, I can see that now: There are a finite number of burs on Pip’s coat. It’s not like they are replicating themselves. Eventually, I will have picked, combed or cut out every one of them, though I may be at it for days if not weeks. Bad doggy.

End result: Silky-fine, freshly-brushed, lopsided coat. Good doggy.

P.S. Pippin gave himself a mudpack facial today. Silly doggy.

A Moment on the Metolius

June 29, 2013

Metolius River near Camp Sherman, Oregon

I walked with Pippin, my  Golden-on-the-Go, along the Metolius River one day. The sun had shown itself for the first time in a long time – too long a time in my opinion, and I had just finished a meeting with the good folks at Lake Creek Lodge. I had earned a mid-day jaunt, by golly, and so had Pip, who had accompanied me for several hours as I drove from sales call to sales call. (He and I both agree that we must earn the privilege of publishing a travel and recreation magazine – one lake, river, stream and waterfall at a time.)

I parked the car at the Camp Sherman Store and we headed across the road to the river trail. An easy two-mile walk-and-sniff spree lay ahead of us, to the Allingham Bridge and back. We are lucky enough to live in a region infused with the beauty and power of the natural world. So this walk was a glorious opportunity in the midst of the work-a-day world – at least when I had the good sense to get out of my head and into the place I was standing.

Pippin, the Golden-on-the-Go

Pippin, the Golden-on-the-Go

The Buddhists talk about inhabiting the moment. I spend most of life’s moments out of my body and inside my head: worrying, planning, remembering, looping, looping, looping. My feet appear to be on the ground, but my head is always in the clouds. Gravity has a way of intervening from time to time, however, demanding my attention.

This is about the time Pip decided to jump into the river without calculating his way back out. The Metolious can be swift, and though Pip wasn’t in real danger, the sight of my sweet little lad struggling up the bank got me instantly in to the moment.

It also got me wet. I pulled him up the steep bank by his armpits, and while he shook the water off his coat, head to tail, I shrugged off the  mundane concerns of my day and planted my feet firmly on the ground.

Pip was safe and happy and dashing off to his next adventure, and I was reminded to look up, and to appreciate all that was around me. In this case: the Metolius flowing beside me, the blue sky above, and an hour of time to wander away.

The headwaters of the Metolius River emerge from underground at the base of Black Butte, as cool and soft as can be – not even hinting at the current that will roil on the surface just a few miles downstream. You can hike or bike the many trails in this area or try your hand at fly-fishing. Kokanee salmon are wily in these waters and must be released after your conquest.

Photo by Bruce Jackson

Photo by Bruce Jackson

Small homes border the section of the river we were on that day, and I always feel a longing to own one of them – to be one of those lucky few who wake up every morning to the sound of the river. Maybe that would put me in the singular, beautiful moment of the day. In the mean time, I’ve got a madcap, outdoor dog to help me get there.

Travelers can learn more about recreation and lodging in the area from the Metolius River Association.

Lessons in Swimming, Friendship & the Importance of Someone to Love

June 29, 2013

ATT00008Can a picture tell a thousand words? I don’t know. But for me, sometimes a  photo drops into my life and makes me want to learn its story. It literally captures my imagination. And it demands an explanation.

Such is the case with this image of Suryia and Roscoe.

An orangutan named Suryia ended up – for reasons unknown to me – in an animal rescue and rehabilitation center in South Carolina. Suryia wasn’t doing well at all, however. He was despondent, lonely and declining physically and emotionally. Until one day …

… an old hound wandered in to the sanctuary. The dog had been abandoned, was lost and starving, and had arrived terribly emaciated. Suryia snapped-to like his long-long buddy had just arrived. He stayed with the hound, named Roscoe, night and day until Roscoe was well again. Throughout the ordeal, Suryia found a reason to live again and Roscoe found renewed health and the love of a best friend. The two are now inseparable and – reportedly – particularly enjoy swimming and “just hanging out” together.

Just hanging out … isn’t that what we all need? We’re wired up for companionship, to care for and be cared for. It’s in our bones, in our instinct, to gather in the company of people who see us, hear us, know us, and have the grace to love us.

ATT00003 ATT00006

The Corner Office on the Couch

June 26, 2013

Kyla & Associates: Report to Shareholders

Photo by Valorie Webster Photography & More

Photo by Valorie Webster Photography

The fiscal period of June 26, 2013 began with a rigorous strategic planning session, with the goal to improve staff productivity and increase corporate assets. To that end, senior management initiated the first in an aggressive series of research and reclamation projects, targeting regional waterways, parks, and fields.

At the Columbia River Symposium today, for example, lead researchers gathered numerous vital resources such as sticks, slobber, and goose poop. Sniffing was revealed to be the most efficient tool in targeting lucrative opportunities, and was preferred exponentially over heeling, sitting and staying.

Strategic partnerships were initiated with two terriers, a hybrid model of exotic origins, and a young, but promising black Labrador. Early results indicate promising options for new markets and corporate expansion opportunities, as well as a sharp increase in staff morale.

My corner officeAn informal debrief at the water cooler revealed a positive sense of lazy contentment, but also a clear call for improvement in the benefits program. To the latter, bacon, cheese and peanut butter polled highest.

About Kyla & Associates

Kyla & Associates is located in a corner office on the couch, with a panoramic view of the park in the backyard, and two devoted personal assistants with waggly tails (Pippin & Sadie, each of whom enjoys a long history of success in nap mergers,  biscuit acquisitions and accounts retrievable).

Elk Lake, Mermaids & the Full Moon

June 6, 2013
Photo: Wanderlust Tours

Photo: Wanderlust Tours

It isn’t in Pippin’s nature to howl at the moon, though I cannot understand why. I have been known to belt out a few yowling hollers myself on more than one occasion. (Note: if you have a mind to try it, it’s best done amongst a plucky group, well outside the confines of civilization.) I tried to teach Pip to howl once, but he lowered his ears and ran off to chase a bug.

The full moon, rather, beckons Pippin and me to the water. And Pip does like to go kayaking, as all good waterdogs do. He nestles himself on a blanket in the front of the boat and rests his chin on its lip, watching the lake go by underneath him. I like to think he dreams of mermaids, but maybe it’s birds and bunnies he’s pining for.
Elk Lake – a sparkling, high mountain jewel in the Cascades – is startlingly calm when the moon comes up; quiet, still, and totally abandoned except for the reflection of the night sky, and we intrepid revelers.

Pippin, the Golden-on-the Go

Tonight, we travel across the lake with some other friends and Scout, the fastest Dachshund in the County. The moon rises over Mt. Bachelor on the eastern horizon as we make our way out of the marina and into the center of the lake. Here we rest, letting the kayaks drift lazily on their

own, while we break out the midnight snacks.
We’ve packed picnics of bread and cheese, apple slices, raw almonds, and dark chocolate. Our conversation is light and subdued, tending to the ethereal. After all, we are keeping company with Pippin’s mermaids and magical water sprites, as befits this mystical adventure. I brought along a

Scout: The Traveling Studio

fun little pack of Sophia champagne to share, which comes in hot pink cans; straws included. The perfect bit of fun for such an intriguing evening.
A slight breeze passes through, kissing our faces before it continues across the lake. We can follow it with our eyes; small ripples glitter in ever-changing patterns until, as suddenly as it came up, the wind is gone.
We take our cue from this element of air, conclude our moonlight rendezvous with a toast to all things magical, and head back to shore in silence. The quiet of the night has sunk into our bones and will ride home with us. We just know that speaking will break the spell and make us mere mortals again.

Marina at Elk Lake

Elk Lake Resources
Summer Activities: Fishing, biking, hiking, picnicking, camping and all kinds of boating: kayaking, canoeing, sailing, pontoon boating, row boating. Motorboats are allowed on Elk Lake, but boats cannot create wakes. The area is excellent for exploring and backpacking also, for its proximity to the Pacific Crest Trail.
Nearby Campgrounds: Little Fawn Campground, Point Campground, and Elk Lake Campground.
Elk Lake Resort: Elk Lake Resort is located 10 miles from Mt. Bachelor in the Cascade mountains, making it one of the most beautiful and underrated vacation destinations in Oregon.
Elk Lake Resort Restaurant: The highly acclaimed lakeside restaurant at Elk Lake is committed to serving only high quality, locally grown foods. They also serve Oregon craft microbeer and wine selections.

Elk Lake Cabins

Elk Lake Resort Cabins: Cabins range from the luxurious to the rustic; $58 to $399 per night. All have full kitchens, bathrooms with showers and towels, linens, microwave, coffee maker, silverware and dishes.
Elk Lake Resort Marina: Rent the follow watercraft at the marina by the day or half day: row boats, fishing boats with motors, single and double kayaks, canoes and paddle boards. You can also rent a 21-foot pontoon boat or “party barge,” which holds up to 13 passengers (no dogs allowed).
Music and Entertainment: Enjoy the Dinner and Music Series on the lakeside stage at Elk Lake Resort, from 5-8pm most Saturdays this summer.
Elk Lake Resort Pet Policy: Pet fee is $25 per cabin. Pets are not allowed in cabins 21, 22, 23, & 26. A maximum of two pets are allowed in all the other cabins. A refundable cleaning/damage deposit of $150 per pet is due at check-in.

To the Deschutes River & Back Again

January 14, 2013

The Local’s Super Secret Trailhead for Dogs

Pip Snow TrailThere is a staging place, entre to the Deschutes National Forest, that leads through a Ponderosa Pine Forest to the Deschutes River, where dogs can run wild in the winter months.

Today, we walked under bright blue skies through the snow. It took a half an hour through a bit of a rugged trail, pocked with snow and ice, to reach the river. (Advice: Wear your YakTrax.) Slivers of ice floated along the surface of the frigid river, beautiful, strange, awe-inspiring. The stillness and deep peace of this place was palpable in the cold bite of the air and the river’s constant journey.

When you get to the trailhead, follow the worn path away from the highway. Various trails split off into different directions, but if you stay on the most worn path, you will surely find yourself through the forest, over a ridge and down to the the river.

A great local organization called DogPAC, which lobbies for leash-free areas, has provided poop bags at the trailhead for conscientious dog owners, because “sure as shit,” as my sassy grandmother use to say, your dog is going to make a happy little deposit sooner rather than later.

Here is how you find this sacred ground, on which Pip and I have trod so many miles over the past year:

Local’s Super Secret Trailhead
Century Drive, .5 miles west of the Entrada Lodge

I will just apologize upfront for spilling the beans on this fantastic series of wide open and little-known trails. Pip and I have spent many hours and miles on this trail system, which leads to the Deschutes River for a little dip in the water.

To find the trailhead, travel on Century Drive towards Mt. Bachelor from Bend and look to the left approximately .5 miles past the Entrada Lodge. You’ll see a brown Forest Service sign on the right side of the highway. The trailhead is directly across the road on the left. If you see Widgi Creek golf course, you’ve gone too far.