Whirlwind Spring Recap

Matt and I have been going non-stop this Spring with yard work, running, family gatherings, weddings and work trips.  As a result, I’ve been pretty bad about blogging (I need to use our rare down time to relax!!).  Nevertheless, I do want to share what we’ve been up to so I’ll attempt to use this post as a catch-all recap of our Spring…

After returning home from California in mid-April, we spent a weekend in New Jersey to celebrate the marriage of two of our college friends, then I raced three weekends in a row (Rick’s, St. Tim’s, and Elwyn) before we embarked on another work trip, this time to Baltimore.  We were in Baltimore for three days and got in some good meals and two nice runs around the Inner Harbor (which is beautiful!!).

After Baltimore we were home for a few weeks during which I ran three more races (Victory, Rocky Run, and Radnor).  We also celebrated Mother’s Day, my mom’s and brother’s birthdays, and Memorial Day, AND started on a major home landscaping project… ripping out and replanting all of the overgrown shrubs along our front walk (more on that in a future post!).  For my mom’s birthday I did a photo shoot of her on her new horse and then Matt and I had my mom and stepfather over for a fancy dinner of grilled salmon and avocado with roasted corn relish and Mexican rice pilaf.  (And don’t worry, that recipe will be up on the blog soon!!).  🙂

After Memorial Day we had the pleasure of taking care of Matt’s parents’ German Shorthair, Bella, for a few weeks.  Bella patiently watched us dig up stumps in the front yard (fun!), went running with me at Ridley Creek State Park, and, best of all, got to come with us to the Hunting Camp where she got to experience the central PA wilderness.  We were at the Hunting Camp for 3 days, during which we hiked and ran over 20 miles.  Matt and I also made a big taco dinner for everyone on Saturday night but we were too busy cooking and eating to take photos of the food, sorry!

Matt and I left the Hunting Camp late Saturday night so that we’d be home for our first wedding anniversary on Sunday.  We celebrated by sleeping in, doing some yard work, then spending the afternoon wine tasting at our wedding venue, Sweetwater Farm and Grace Winery.  The winery recently started hosting dog-friendly tastings so Bella came along and happily flopped on the ground between our chairs as we sipped our wine.  After the tasting we had dinner at La Porta, our favorite local restaurant, and then returned home to — you guessed it — MORE yard work!  🙂  Good thing we both like hauling rocks, compost, and stumps around!

The Tuesday after our anniversary we headed out of town again, this time for a work-related trip to a nuclear power plant to do a nighttime lighting demonstration.  It was a productive visit but between the Hunting Camp (4 hours away) and nuclear power plant (5 1/2 hours away) it meant that we spent close to 20 hours in the car in less than a weeks’ time.  And the road trips weren’t quite over yet…

On Saturday we were on the road again, this time to Avon-by-the-Sea, New Jersey for another fantastic wedding celebration.  The weather was perfect and we spent the night in Asbury Park right next to the boardwalk and the beach.  I loved waking up to the view of the beach and sand right outside our window.  New Jersey is pretty nice!

That’s about it for my whirlwind Spring recap.  Now that our travels are done (until 4th of July, at least), I’m hoping that we might have a little more time to kick back and relax.  First I need to make it through the Media 5 Mile race on Friday night!  🙂

How’s your Spring going so far?  Has it been busy or relaxing?

DockDogs Recap: Ocean County Decoy and Gunning Show

Last week I cautioned New Jersey to watch out for the Little GSP and it turns out I was right! Bailey had a fantastic weekend at the Ocean County Decoy and Gunning Show and came away with the top jump of the weekend and a big blue ribbon to show for her efforts. Everything about the weekend was great — huge crowds, perfect weather, lots of new competitors, and season-topping jumps from Bailey!

Prior to this event, Bailey had actually only achieved three scores in her “Elite” title category this year — a 23’1 at June Bloom and a 23’2″ and 23’0″ at Dover. All of that changed this weekend when Bailey jumped over 23 feet a total of SIX times! This was such a pleasant surprise that I’m pretty sure I was smiling all weekend. Here are the scores from her four competition rounds:

Saturday Wave #3: 23’3″ and 22’2″
Saturday Wave #4: 24’1″ and 23’10” (woohoo!!)
Sunday Wave #6: 23’4″ and 13’6″ (<;-handler error on that second jump!)
Sunday Finals: 23'2" and 23'6"

I didn't take a single photo this weekend, but here's a video that fellow competitor Tom Aquilone took of Bailey's 23'4" jump during Wave #6. I suggest you stop at the 1:23 mark unless you want to see me mess up my throw on the second 13' jump… 😉

Other highlights of the weekend included a brand new competitor — a yellow lab named Dexter — who started his first-ever Extreme Vertical competition at the opening height of 4'6" and ended up WINNING the discipline with a grab at 6'4" (a HUGE achievement for a new competitor!!) and also some beautiful elite-level jumps from our canine friends Mojo and Bosco. Off the dock, we got to meet the nice volunteers from the GSP Rescue of New Jersey and it was neat to get to tell them at the end of the weekend that Bailey had won the DockDogs big air competition! Maybe next year we can try to coordinate with them to get some GSPs that are in need of adoption on the DockDogs dock in front of the big crowds.

I think my favorite part of the whole weekend was right after we won. Several parents wanted to take photos of their children with Bailey so I had Bailey sit while each little kid stood next to her and smiled for the camera. I put a Zuke’s peanut butter treat between Bailey and the photo-taking parents and as a result she was very well behaved during her impromptu photo shoot! Bailey was very sweet to all of the kids and I think she could definitely tell that she had done a good job at the event. 🙂

Last weekend’s event was awesome and we definitely hope that the Decoy and Gunning Show will invite Delmarva Dockdogs back to Tuckerton next Fall. Delmarva’s next DockDogs event will be the Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Maryland from November 9-11. We will be at the event but Bailey won’t be jumping due to the colder weather (she’s a baby) and the fact that we’ll be gearing up for DockDogs World Championships the next weekend. If you’re interested in learning more or signing your dog up for the Waterfowl Festival, you can click here to visit the event web site. 🙂

Watch out Jersey, here we come!

Next weekend Bailey, Matt and I will be joining Delmarva DockDogs for our second annual event at the Ocean County Decoy and Gunning Show in Tuckerton, New Jersey! I loved this event last year because all of the spectators are waterfowl-hunting, outdoors-oriented, dog-loving people and there are hundreds of vendors who are catering to that crowd. For me, that makes this festival MUCH more fun to walk around than a big state fair with aisle after aisle of funnel cakes and ‘fresh squeezed’ lemonade (although those are nice, too..). Last year we saw multiple German Shorthaired Pointers spectating with their owners which was really neat since GSP’s tend to be rather uncommon in the greater Philadelphia area. I’m hoping to meet even more GSPs this year!

My favorite little GSP had a great time at Tuckerton last year, bringing home the blue ribbon in Extreme Vertical and a 2nd place in Big Air. Hopefully the weather won’t be too crisp and fall-like this weekend or else she may decide that it’s too cold to jump!

The Details:
What: 30th Annual Ocean County Decoy and Gunning Show
When: Saturday and Sunday September 29-30, 2012
Where: Tip Seaman County Park, Tuckerton, New Jersey

Do you think your dog would like to try DockDogs? This is a great event for first-timers because there will be lots of practice time and plenty of Delmarva club members willing to help! The cost is $10.00 for an unscored “Fun Jump” or $30.00 for registration in a “wave” which will get you 2 scored jumps and a chance to qualify for finals which are split up into five divisions. Learn more at the DockDogs event page (or just ask me!). 🙂

The Fair That Never Was

Or, why I drove down the NJ Turnpike last night with my high beams and hazard lights on!

On Friday I eagerly reported that Bailey and I would be returning to the Monmouth County Fair for a weekend of DockDogs fun. Well, mother nature had a different plan. The fair was plagued by severe thunderstorms that resulted in a 4 hour “rain delay” opening on Saturday and the complete cancellation of all festivities on Sunday (today). It’s a good thing we got some jumps in on Wednesday when the weather was still nice!

Bailey rockin’ the dock on Wednesday evening.

As I was driving to the event on Saturday a friend called to let me know that the fair had closed at 12:45PM due to storms and at that point they didn’t know if/when the event would reopen. I was already 1 1/2 hrs. into my drive so Bailey and I hung out in the car at a rest stop for 3 hours (!) before receiving word that the fair was reopening at 5.

Bailey patiently waits out the storm at the Woodrow Wilson Rest Stop on the NJ Turnpike.

After a relaxing afternoon in the car Bailey and I headed up to the deserted, water-saturated fairgrounds. The DockDogs event staff were able to fit in the Extreme Vertical competition and two Big Air waves before the Fair closed again at 9:30 due to advancing storms. It wasn’t all bad, though… Bailey won Extreme Vertical! That’s our first EV win at a National Event and although there weren’t many competitors and her jump wasn’t actually that high for her (only 5’10”) I’m still thrilled to have brought home a blue ribbon!

(That’s the muddy bottom of Bailey’s crate in the background… all of our DockDogs gear is currently spread out on the driveway to dry!)

My trip home Saturday night was one of the worst driving experiences of my life. As soon as I got on the Turnpike I could see the cars ahead of me start to brake. This usually means one of two things — either a state trooper with a radar gun is sitting on the shoulder OR (much worse!) the highway has just been overtaken by an onslaught of torrential wind-driven rain. Sadly it was the latter so I spent 40+ miles of my trip home in the right lane with my high beams and hazard lights on. I know, I know, I was that car last night but hey, I’d rather slow down traffic than bring it to a dead halt by triggering a multi-car accident.

I somehow managed to hit all of those intense storm cells on my drive home. They were moving east and coming across the turnpike in waves.

While on the topic of slowing down traffic, have you ever wondering how the heck those drivers who fly by you at 50 mph in a downpour can actually see the road?? I was crawling along at maybe 20 mph (I quite frankly couldn’t take my eyes off the road to check) and I couldn’t even see the lines on the highway. Maybe I just have bad eyesight but I believe that my speed was much safer for the road conditions last night.

The severe pockets of rain didn’t end until I was about 15 miles into Pennsylvania and by that time I was violently shivering and my teeth were chattering uncontrollably – a combination of the scary driving and also the fact that I had apparently been blasting the A/C throughout the whole storm! (I didn’t realize this until the rain stopped.) What a drive!

Storm aftermath: this huge, well-staked, professionally installed tent at the fair was no match for mother nature. (Photo from Monmouth County Fair)

I woke up this morning to a message from the Fair saying that they will not be reopening today due to damage caused by those storms. That means I don’t have to make that drive again, thank goodness!!! I don’t know how DockDogs will handle the event placement but if they just use the existing scores this would mean that Bailey wins Big Air with her 22’6″ jump from Wednesday and she also wins the “Iron Dog” competition with her combined scores from Big Air and Extreme Vertical. (The third leg of Iron Dog, “Speed Retrieve,” was supposed to occur today.) We’ll see how things play out but for now I’m just glad that I don’t have to face the NJ Turnpike again anytime soon.

Another one of Bailey’s crowd-pleasing jumps from Wednesday. They loved it when she caught her toy!