Merlin’s latest road trip destination was the sun, or rather, the annular solar eclipse May 20, 2012. Tracking Northern California weather in the path of totality from the Pacific Ocean landfall to Shasta and Tahoe, we packed our gear and headed north, sniffing out the best place to be when. Redding’s Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay presented a poetic site for great viewing, crossing the Sacramento River and bisecting the US midway between Mexico and Canada. Merlin joined the throngs of eclipse viewers as the moon slid across the edge of the sun. When the black circle of the moon popped into the center of the sun, a great roar of awe and appreciation rose from the bridge. As in ancient traditions, the clamor chased the sun-eater across the sky’s perfect circle. Staring up through our eye protection, we were held mesmerized watching Earth’s primal unchanging circle eclipsed. Another cheer arose as the black new moon popped out of the solar disk and disappeared. The perfect circle of the bright source of life on Earth was restored.
Merlin’s solar eclipse road trip field tested Planet Dog Eats treats. A responsibly active company that takes its fun seriously, Planet Dog makes Merlin’s favorite gear for on the road and at home. Merlin’s travel beds, collapsible water bowls, and hemp harness have logged thousands of miles. Ever the gracious dog ambassador, Merlin shares treats on road trips and with studio visitors. The new Chicken and Pumpkin Pot Pie is his preferred flavor.
Two weeks after the solar eclipse, we roused at 3am to observe the lunar eclipse, glimpsing the cool white night circle darkened behind wisps of fog. Twelve hours later the rare Transit of Venus began, giving us another opportunity to use our solar viewing safety shades. Realizing everyone watching around the planet would be gone before the next transit in 121 years sparked an appreciative shiver. Astronomical perspective makes the present more precious. From new moon to full moon, Venus crossing to summer solstice, it's been an especially exciting month of cosmic events.
Merlin’s favorite star, besides our local sun Sol, is Sirius, the Dog Star. Reappearing just before summer solstice, Sirius is the brightest star in the sky, blazing blue and bold in the summer night. Associated with dogs across time, Sirius gleams as the guardian eye of Orion’s great dog, Canis Major. In hot summer, Merlin waits for cool dark to take his evening walk. Transforming into a creature of the night, he slinks between shadows, sniffing, listening, slipping between the realms. Does he hear Orion whistle? Does Sirius call him home? Linking Planet Dog and Dog Star, we bark back the sun, grateful for life, light, and love at the height of summer.
We wish you short dark and long light of sweet dreams and inspired awakenings. And lots of celebratory biscuits along your cosmic orbit.
Jun 28, 2012
May 24, 2012
Happy birthday bridge!
Merlin commemorates the Golden Gate Bridge 75th anniversary with a new greeting card, posing in the center of Lands End Labyrinth with the Marin Headlands and the famous bridge behind him. Off Lands End Trail, the labyrinth is nested deep in the wild Golden Gate National Recreation Area in the dog friendly Coastal Trail network winding along the cliffs from Sutro Baths ruins at Seal Rocks into the Presidio. Lands End juts out into the endless Pacific at the edge of the continent, guarding the tempestuous Golden Gate as strong tides surge under the glorious bridge straddling the entrance to San Francisco Bay.
Spectacular sights, superb sniffs.
Our IRL Twitter pal Sally_K, celebrates the bridge every day with her commute snaps. The official 75th anniversary festival takes place May 27, 11am-11pm, with fireworks closing the bridge for an hour. Follow anniversary tweets and the Golden Gate Bridge itself to plan accordingly, and watch for new projects to enhance visitor experience!
Merlin’s new cards arrived the day before Marin Open Studios. Published by Palm Press, they were a huge hit with studio visitors, especially since the real Merlin was present to accept biscuits from adorning fans. Yeah Merlin, your first published greeting card!
Merlin earns a biscuit for each card sold, so get out and fetch your very own Merlin in Lands End Labyrinth cards to share and collect. And toss Merlin, woof, woof, a San Francisco treat!
May 2, 2012
Get out and enjoy spring, labyrinths and art!
Feb 29, 2012
Merlin has traveled many realms on his road trips, and every February we wait for snow to transform Lake Tahoe into Winter Wonderland. Tracking the first real storm of the season on Weather Underground, we packed Merlin’s Planet Dog road trip gear and waited for that magic window of clear roads after fresh snow dump.
It’s a 3 1/2 hour drive from Merlin’s Marin to South Lake Tahoe, from Pacific Coast sea level over Echo Summit’s 7,382 feet to lake elevation at 6,225. We travel US 50, the old California Trail Carson Route following early emigrants, gold rushing 49ers, and the Sierra Nevada Pony Express. California’s first designated state highway, US 50 is a Lincoln Highway scenic alternate. Yes, we stop for stretch breaks at all historic plaques. The first snow is usually Fresh Pond. A required stop, Merlin leaps from the car to attack the closest snowbank. Enthralled by snow, Merlin tunnels with his nose while rolling around on his back and punching the sky with his paws, forming darling dog snow angels.
Merlin has been welcomed across America, although certain Midwest motels insist on giving him a smoking room, even though I insist he doesn’t smoke, and he smells better than most travelers I’ve met. With a nose a half million times more sensitive than a human hotel clerk, dogs deserve a clean, quiet place to rest for the night so we boycott all smoking dog establishments. For dog friendly accommodations we consult AAA guides and Bring Fido and often stay at Three Peaks Resort near Stateline, lured by their Saint Bernard in flowered beach shorts sign. While checking current snow cams, we discovered the pet friendly section on Tahoe South website and were smitten by the newly renovated Avalon Lodge. Promising to pamper people as well as pets, we pounced on a mid-week special and packed the pooch.
Avalon welcomes us with a cozy fire and hot mulled wine. A comfy dog bed, water bowl, and humongous biscuit were waiting for Merlin. Human amenities include posh New Zealand spa balm, scrumptious fresh breakfast breads, and an elegant, fireplace warmed guest room. Wet earthy aroma of the opulent travertine-lined shower transport me back to one of my most extraordinary hotel experiences ever, the magnificent Museum Hotel in remote Cappadocia, Turkey.
While most people visit Tahoe snow for winter slope sports, we pursue snowy forest trails and photogenic vistas. Fueled by Alpina Coffee on the way to Emerald Bay, we park at a snow-covered bike trail through Eldorado National Forest. Merlin springs from the car and flops in the nearest snow to wiggle a fresh dog snow angel. Romping and rolling, he bounds along the mixed conifer forest trail, sniffing raccoon prints and listening for deer. Dog heaven. We make fresh paw prints in the snow covered Angora Garden Labyrinth and head towards Heavenly for lunch at the Blue Angel Cafe.
Continuing northeast into Nevada, we duck past the casinos and nip out to our secret beaches. Merlin races across the sand and plunges into the clear water for an icy drink. Always on the lookout for Tahoe Tessie, legendary cryptozoological cousin to Loch Ness Nessie, Merlin trots along Zephyr Cove. Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America, second only to Crater Lake in depth and mystery. Merlin pads along the shore, big grin, head high, chasing floating ice and gold-flecked waves. More dog heaven.
We return to Avalon where Merlin is welcomed to laze in the lounge with us by his new best friend in Tahoe, host extraordinaire Dan. We’re all looking forward to visiting Avalon again soon. Maybe Merlin can arrange to get us snowed in at Avalon’s vacation rental chalet. Sleeps six, plus dogs. Anyone want to join Merlin for snow angels?
Jan 24, 2012
Time for the annual Sorting of the Maps. In case you missed Merlin’s disclosure of his secret road trip planning process, it involves tossing dog biscuits on maps. Merlin indicates the range and reach of travel by the order and speed of biscuits munched. This January’s biscuit toponymy tossing indicated an intriguing balance of new and familiar destinations.
Last year, Merlin trotted new trails from Barstow to Taos, adding several dozen new labyrinths to his collection.
This year starts close to home, exploring the local Pacific Coast, open spaces, and dog parks within a day’s drive. Merlin continues his Aqua Therapy, strengthening his gait in the underwater treadmill at the Animal Wellness Canter of Marin. In June, we’re installing an Art Labyrinth at the Marin Art Festival, compiling a map of Marin Country labyrinths. Maybe we’ll lead a Labyrinth Garden Walking Tour. Want to come labyrinth walkies with Merlin?
So, maps are sorted. Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Year of the Dragon. Red envelopes of hope, wealth, happiness, and dog biscuits for all. Happy new paw paths!