Sage Monkey

Sage Monkey

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ruby River Camping

This past Friday we packed up, left civilization and cell service behind and headed out past Alder, MT to get our camp on. We spent the first night in the Vigilante forest service cabin with my best friend Jen, her husband Ben, their two kids Noah and Alex ages 6 and 2 and their two Norwegian Elkhounds. You know its remote when you log an additional  40 miles on dirt roads to get in and out. The cabin is located in the heart of grizzly country but luckily we were bear incident free although a big black bear did meander down towards the cabin to get a better whiff of some of Ben's caramelized onions for our Friday night dinner.

Dispersed camping along the Ruby river / reservoir system

Saturday morning we parted ways and off we went, 3 rolling stones with no plans in place but all the time in the world. We scoped out a sweet dispersed camping spot on the Ruby Reservoir on a rather large and private peninsula. Dispersed camping is primitive camping that is located within the National Forest Service area but it is outside of a designated campground. There are dispersed campgrounds all over Montana. These spots have very few services such as bathrooms, trash removal and occasionally no fire ring. You can roll up first come first serve and your welcome to stay there anywhere from 14 to 16 days. Our spot was epic for a couple of reasons the first being it was isolated. No one was near us for miles and the most recent visitors to our camp had been some moose who left us sizable tracks imprinted in the sand as well as piles of fresh poop. Sage was of course grateful for the morsels of moosie meadow muffins. In addition we had our own private beach directly to the right of our tent. 

We may be in Montana but thats Taylor pork Roll were making for breakfast. #jersey #philly

Lake stick fun

We spent the rest of our weekend eating and drinking entirely too much and fishing as much as we could handle. Sage spent the same moments marauding around finding mule deer legs to chew on, foraging for moose poop, and trying to ruin every second of our fishing that she could. If I ever had any doubt in my mind its now been clarified and 110% certified, Sage is the worst fishing dog period. She doesn't discriminate….you could be fly fishing, lure fishing or using fresh bait but she will intervene and she will wreck your good time while maintaining an insane level of cuteness. This is how she operates:

She zones in on your lure

Then she swims out scaring away any and all fish all while trying to bite your line 

Then she makes tough choices. It's either enthusiastically wrapping herself in your lines or getting dry flies stuck in her fur. Regardless the end result is always the same….. 

She finds herself excitedly tied to a tree extremely annoyed barking obscenities as loud as she can. Life is so tough when all you want is fishies. 

Despite her attempts at destroying our good fishing times we prevailed. We all made it home with a moderate level of camping hangover. I can't wait until we have another little pup to share all of this with. From this weekend on we will spend a good portion of our time next to some river getting our Montana on.  I can't wait. Be sure to check back and follow our shenanigans on Facebook at: Adventures of a German Shorthaired Pointer

Friday, May 15, 2015

Cape May, NJ with Dogs - Travel Edition

Cape May, New Jersey is a charming Victorian seaside retreat that can be found at the southern most point in the Garden State.  It's quite different than the Jersey Shore towns made famous by the awful MTV show of the same name. There are no cookie cutter blocks of shore houses, night clubs or tired amusement parks. Instead Cape May is a historically rich town with trolley tours, jazz festivals, enchanting and unique bars, clean beaches and awesome foodie spots. It's the beach gem of New Jersey and it's also dog friendly. You will know you have graced its threshold when the Garden State Parkway dwindles down the miles and deposits you at Exit Zero.

Sunset off my parents back deck

After driving across the country last summer with Sage and planning an exciting upcoming summer full of road trips I am quickly realizing that it's a challenge traveling with dog(s). Even with websites like Bring Fido there is limited information on activities outside of hotels. The things I especially want to know when looking at a destination is where can I find off leash places to run my batsy pointer pup in addition to spaces that we can hang out together as a family. So moving forward when Wyatt and I take trips with the pup(s) I'm going to pass along our detailed experiences so others can hopefully benefit if they plan on traveling with their pooches to these spots. I've decided to use Cape May, NJ as my first Travel Edition of blog posts for two reasons. Number one: I have been blessed that my parents have a beautiful shore house in Cape May just a couple of blocks from Broadway beach. It's been a family sanctuary not only for us humans but for my families pets as well. Number two: Wyatt was born and raised in West Cape May about 7 blocks from where I have vacationed my entire life. Theres nothing like moving 2,200 miles to meet a guy from your pseudo home town. Did you just hear that? Someone started playing its a small world after all.

Where's da beach?

It's this way!

Cape may has a diverse selection of beaches and shoreline. Some of these areas are off limits to dogs leashed or not, at all times due to nesting areas of some endangered bird species (Cape May Point State Park and Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge). Some beaches have specific seasons in which dogs are only permitted at select times. But there are a few areas that you can officially and unofficially enjoy your dogs on/off leash at all times of the year.

Cape May City Beaches run from the Cove to the Poverty Beach

Cape May City beaches (as pictured above) only allow dogs on the beach and promenade from November 1st to March 31st. I will say that you will see people in the evenings or early morning running with or walking their dogs on the promenade outside of that specified time. I'm by no means telling anyone that they should do that, rather I'm just letting you know that I've yet to see someone get ticketed or thrown off the promenade for walking their dogs… included. With that said don't even try to sneak them on the city beaches in season. You'll get bounced pretty fast.

There are two spots that you can officially and unofficially run your dogs. The first place is Higbee Beach which is a 1.5 mile strip on the Delaware Bay. This section of beach has very small waves and on calm mornings looks more like a lake than a bay that leads to the ocean. Beach tags are not required and their are no life guards. In fact once you past the jettys there are basically no people at all.  The three photos of Cleo and Luna posted so far were all taken on Higbee beach at the height of the season and you'll see there is no one there. Officially Higbee is open to dogs from September 1st to April 30th. Unofficially people run their dogs there all year round. In fact early in the morning when strolling down the beach the only other people you will see other than the occasional surf fisherman is another person walking or running their dog. When I used to own Cleo and Luna they found Higbee to be a beachy sanctuary. Sagey only got to visit once when she was 10 weeks old or so.

Higbee Beach

How to get there

Red dot marks the spot! Take New England Rd until it dead ends in a small sandy parking lot. You have two options at this point. Pull straight into that parking lot and take a path through some woods, over some dunes and onto the beach about halfway down. Or before entering the parking lot make a right and follow the sandy road until it deposits you in another parking area across from the Cape May Ferry. Walk out towards the water and follow the path to the left that leads out to the jetty. When I was an official east coaster and would go here on a regular basis I would typically leave the pointer pack on leash and walk them at heel until we were past the temptations of the surf fisherman near the jetty and then I would cut them loose. Please remember to bring plenty of water for your dogs, a ball to play fetch with and bags for their poop. Letting your dog poop on the beach just means your a jerk. Don't be a jerk. And keep in mind in high season you will see a ton of birders in this area. Please be respectful of them and do not allow your dogs to run in the dunes....only on the beach or you will end up being the person that makes this unofficial spot off limits for everyone else.

Lower Township Beaches

The next place you can run your dogs on the beach "officially" all year round are the lower township beaches highlighted above in brown. Your dogs have to be leashed on this beach at all times. There is also a rumor that there is a woman who pretty much watches and waits for you to take your dog off its leash and calls the cops on you. I guess some people have nothing else better to do with their time. But if your OK with your dog being on leash then its definitely worth checking out. To get to the Lower Township Beaches follow directions to the Cape May - Lewes Ferry terminal and before turning into the complex make a right. Drive north and parking for the beaches will be on your left.  

Cape May Dog Park

How to get there

There is also a Cape May Dog Park but in my humble opinion it's not worth the time and effort to visit. It's very small, there is no shade, parking can be hassle in peak season and the City of Cape May makes you jump through some serious hoops to be eligible to use it. Dog owners must apply for a dog park tag that costs $20 seasonally or $10 weekly and you must have the tag visible at all times while using the park. To apply for a tag you must fill out an application at the Cape May City Clerks Office on Washington Street. You will have to present current vaccination documents, your dog license, and sign a acceptance of risk and liability form to be considered. This is probably why no one is ever at the dog park. For the record I'm not thumbing my nose at the city requirements. They make perfect sense from a responsibility standpoint but if your commandoing in for a quick weekend getaway it just seems like an awful lot to ask of people who only want to drop in to the park for 30 minutes. The dog park is located at 705 Lafayette Street if you want to check it out.

Throwing beers back at the Nail

My Cape May days used to begin with a hearty run down Higbee beach complete with sand romping, ball retrieving and a good amount of swimming because this of course makes for tired GSP's. We all know tired GSP's are happy GSP's. But other than beach excursions there is plenty to get out and do around town with your pups. Here is a quick list of places your welcome to bring your dogs and also where you probably shouldn't go.

Places you can and should go:

The Beach Shack at the Rusty Nail: The photo above was taken here. I used to love to cruise in with Cleo and Luna and order some brewskies and kick back around a fire pit with my toes in the sand and listen to some sweet live music. You can head up to the bar to order your own drinks or munchies or wait for a waitress to swing by and grab your order. They even cater to your pooch by making dog food and dog beer available for purchase. My only warning is that in high season as you can see above it can be hectic and can be loud. People love to pet your dogs especially kids so if your dog is aggressive, gets social anxiety or isn't confident in situations like these then this is not the place for them. Luna always had a blast here never holding back from treating herself to a little sand digging. It was always my favorite place to take them in Cape May and its located at 205 Beach Ave. In addition, Wyatt also loves the Rusty Nail and we have appropriately dubbed our favorite watering hole in Bozeman the Nail West in honor of its magnificence.

There are several other restaurants that have either sidewalk or patio seating available where your dog is welcome to join you. There are several places in town but these are the ones I would recommend:

The Mad Batter - located at 19 Jackson Street (Get the fresh squeezed lemonade it's off the chain)
The Blue Pig Tavern - located in the corner of Congress Hall on the corner of Congress Place and Perry streets. Good breakfast spot. Get the mimosas. Mimosas make any morning better.
Zoe's Beachfront Eatery - located at the corner of Beach and Stockton Place across from Convention Hall on the Promenade. Another good breakfast spot.
Lobster House (raw bar) - located behind the Lobster House restaurant which is at 906 Schellengers Landing Rd. Wyatt and I agree that its a gem of a spot on the Cape. So bring your pooch (on leash) and sit out on the dock by the schooner and watch the fishing boats come in and out while enjoying some refreshing adult beverages. My favorites here are the New England Clam Chowder, crab claws with spicy mustard and clams casino.

Sage Pups only trip to Cape May in January of 2014

Cape May is pretty welcoming when it come to places to rest you and your pets head. Here are some recommendations for overnight accommodations:

Billmae Cottages and Billmae Cottage Too - Owners Bob and Linda Steenrod have several offerings for pet friendly cottages. There website even says, "Periodically we have Yappy Hour on the wrap-around porch, where dogs and owners get to meet and have treats". There locations are on Washington Street and also on Lafayette Street.
The Highland House - Located at 131 North Broadway is actually in West Cape May not far from my parents house. They have a fenced in play area for four legged guests.
Palace Hotel - Located at 1101 Beach Ave this hotel sits right across from the beach. My brother and Sister in-law stayed here several times with their Bassett Mr. Fisher while my parents were rebuilding their house this past year. There is a $25 fee per night per pet.
Marquis de Lafayette Hotel - Located at 501 Beach Ave this hotel sits right across the street from the beach and is a couple block walk from the outdoor mall. Pets are welcome on the first floor only in special pet suites.
The Beach Shack Hotel - This is the hotel portion of the Beach Shack that I described above when discussing the Rusty Nail. They are located at 205 Beach Ave right across from the beach. They have a limited number of pet friendly rooms.

And be sure to check out VRBO for pet friendly vacation homes and condos for rent.

Horseshoe Crabs

I decided to write this post and put it out now because it's one week before Memorial Day weekend. In my family we always celebrate this weekend in Cape May together. It's our tradition and it's something I have looked forward to for the last 20 years. This Memorial Day will be the first year that I will be in MT forging new traditions. Next weekend we take off for a camping, hiking and fly fishing extravaganza with Sage. Check back for a blog update on those adventures.

So that should for the most part cover it! Activities, beaches, bars and accommodations. All you need for a bang up weekend with your best dog friend in Cape May. Enjoy and let me know how you make out!

Be sure to follow our shenanigans on Facebook at Adventures of a German Shorthaired Pointer.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Updates and Announcements

I've been receiving emails, Facebook messages and blog comments inquiring about my obvious absence from the blogosphere.  This is the longest stretch I've ever gone without blogging since I began over 4 years ago. After some serious reflection these last few weeks I realize a lot of it has to do with no longer having Cleo and Luna in my life. At times this blog has felt like a painful reminder of them and an aching reminder of the void losing them has created for me. It's been difficult to write having lost my muses and the inspirations brought on by their little spotted troublesome selves. It's been something I have had to work through these last few months. I feel I've evolved and grown from it rather than letting it entomb me and the good news is I feel my inspiration returning with a vengeance I and have been thinking about this blog in a very longingly way. 

First Some Updates
Since moving to Montana Sage and I have flourished. There is not a moment that goes by where I'm not completely happy and fulfilled being here. Sage like me loves the big open spaces and all it has to offer including very little traffic. We have even gotten used to its quirky weather isms that spur reports saying things like 70 degrees and sun with a 100% chance of snow. In fact I found myself smack in the middle of a blizzard this week rocking my favorite pair of flip flops.  Such is life in Big Sky country.

Burning off the Spring time crazies up in Hyalite 

Our 2014-2015 hunting season came and went. We didn't get out quite as much as we had hoped too but we did have some fantastic adventures together. Next season will be much easier to navigate since we will have been here a year and will have had time to make connections and figure out the BMA system. I did go back and finish editing a post I wrote but never published on our first successful hunt last fall. It was a pretty memorable day. You can read about it here: These Mountain Grouse don't Stand a Chance

1500 Acre area we were training in Three Forks

Coming full circle training season has once again arrived. We packed up and made the quick trip down to Three Forks a couple of weekends ago to attend the first official Montana Sharptail NAVHDA training day of the year. I was stoked to get Sage out on some birds but the day was made extra special by spending time with my good friends Keith and Kerry Lucas. Keith, Kerry and I were members of the Del Val NAVHDA chapter in NJ and we have been training together for the last several years. They moved to Montana shortly after I did last year. Needless to say it was comforting to be around and training with old friends. In addition the Lucas's own Grace who is Cleo and Luna's older sister. Gracie and Cleo share the same sassy and intense personality so my heart was warmed by just being near her. I hope to be heading out towards Billings in the coming weeks to train with them again.

Kerry working Gracie

Sage is doing very well and is her normal wild woman self. She's proved to be the absolute worst fly fishing dog on the planet. It took only a few times out for her to figure out the best lies for trout in the eddy so of course she stands in them scaring off any hiding giants. When you do happen to tie in a fish it becomes a frantic and spastic dance of her desperately trying to grab the fish and deliver it to hand and us trying to run away with it still on the line. Luckily she has a soft mouth when she does manage to get a hold of one but she's finding herself getting invited on fishing excursions less and less. 

Sage has developed a love of cat food that was clearly inherited from her mother Cleo. Everyday becomes a challenge of barricading it on the counter only to find she has used her GSP super powers to destroy it in our absence and stuff her face on kitty chow bounty. I often think these dogs posses some kind of black magic voodoo that is of course never used for good. Imagine if she decided to use her wizardly to vacuum the house instead of stealing chapstick after chapstick off my bedroom dresser to eat and mash into the carpet. But she is a gem of a dog and has proved to be the best traveling companion a girl could ask for.

Sage Monkey the world traveler. A Yellowstone National Park aficionado. Deep in thought contemplating eating that big juicy bison patty.  

Sage showing off in Lamar Valley just where GSP's rank with wolves, coyotes and foxy loxys.   

Sage and her favorite fly fishing and lap riding partner in crime Wyatt

A Quick Announcement (drum roll please)
Somethings have been in the works behind the scenes and it's time to make it "Internet official" and announce that our pack will be getting bigger! I sent in our deposit a couple of months ago to Sharp Shooters Kennel in Wisconsin and are on the waiting list for a female GSP puppy. I expect our new baby girl to come home sometime between the fall of 2015 and spring of 2016. I can't even explain how the thought of having two shorthairs again makes me feel. I want to bust at the seems with joy. Sage will love having a four legged companion as well. I can only imagine the bewitchment she will teach her future protege. 

So Whats Next?
We have our first big camping trip planned for Memorial Day weekend so I will be blogging about that for sure. Tomorrow we start our weekly training with the local sub-group of the NAVHDA Sharptail chapter. In addition each week will be training on our own down in Three Forks. It's time to ramp up our training for the UT test so I will be updating you guys on our progress. Also I have been re-editing some old posts I started but never quite finished and will be polishing them for publishing. I'm excited about this blog again and am ready to start putting out content. 

Be sure to check us out and follow us on Facebook at: Adventures of a German Shorthaired Pointer