Thursday, March 15, 2012

Puppy Love

On Thursday, March 15, we picked up our new puppy in Florence on the Oregon coast at the Sand Dunes Golden Kennel, just about a month to the day we lost Carmen to a heart tumor. The new pup is an English Cream Golden Retriever imported from European stock.

Gina, Rebecca and I made the trek to Florence and, after a tasty seafood lunch at Mo's on the Siuslaw River, we proceeded to the kennel, near the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. The breeder had two litters to choose from, but most of the 15 puppies were boys.

Luckily, we were on the lookout for a girl, so it made choosing a wee bit easier because frankly, they all kind of looked alike.

Because she had the audacity to come up and untie both of my shoes when we first met, we selected the one known as "red collar girl" from among the two litters of golden retrievers.

For all intents and purposes, she chose us, and it would have been futile to resist her spunk and charm.

As a result, we're calling her "Moxie." The dictionary defines "moxie" as "vigor, verve, pep, courage and nerve." She certainly has all of those qualities and much more.

And, as you can tell from the photo below, we already have her trained to attack the beaver toy. Some things never change.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Alpine Adventure

Booked passage to Zurich (above) for late summer, 2012. I've always wanted to tour the Swiss Alps and see the Eiger, the glacier-encrusted monolith that serves as the focal point of the Clint Eastwood professor-cum-assassin-cum-mountaineer yarn: The Eiger Sanction. Daughter Gina will join me on this alpine adventure.

Leaving Eugene on August 22, I'll arrive in Amsterdam the next day, followed by a quick flight to Switzerland. Frequently cited as one of the most livable cities in Europe, Zurich began as a Roman encampment called Turicum before joining the Swiss Confederation.

Today, Switzerland's largest city is undeniably hip with a grungy, wacky freedom that one might associate with Munich or Genoa. Once in Zurich, I'll hole up at The X-tra, a three-star hotel in the city's old town. When I have my bearings, I'll tour the city before disappearing into the hinterlands of the Swiss Alps.

First stop: the Bernese Oberland, the heart of the Swiss Alps, including the Jungfrau region near Grindelwald to view the "big three" peaks, the Eiger (above), Monch and Jungfrau (Ogre, Monk and Virgin). All have an enduring place in mountaineering lore, particularly the Eiger, whose fearsome north face has claimed many lives and remained unconquered until 1938.

Also plan to see Interlaken, an alluring isthmus straddling the crystalline lakes of Thun and Brienz, as well as Lucerne, where the city's cobblestone streets, slender spires and fresco facades evoke the classic storybook image of a Swiss village.

If I have time, I'll take a side trip to Liechtenstein, a tiny principality about the size of Manhattan on the eastern border of Switzerland. Like it says in Lonely Planet: Switzerland: "if Lichtenstein didn't exist, somebody would have invented it."

It resembles many small duchies conjured up in fiction and film, like in The Mouse That Roared: the little country that declares war on the United States hoping to lose for the foreign aid. Most come to Lichtenstein to say they've been there. After thoroughly exploring Zurich (below) and environs, I may as well.