Jewfish Creek Bridge, The Video

Once upon a time, I made my trip to the Florida Keys.

There is a very stark break between the mainland and the Everglades in Florida City.  Everything simply “Stops”.

You get past that and there are a very few businesses way off in the middle of nowhere.  A cement factory and a quarry come to mind.  A marina is just on the other side of the Monroe county line.  But until you get to Key Largo, there’s practically nothing but grass and nature.

And this one massive scar through the landscape called US1.

Granted it is a scar, but you actually need it there to get to the Keys.

I am sure some people who are more ecologically aware would say that it does not belong there, nor do we in an ecological niche like those beautiful little jewels, but there are also people that would argue that nobody should live below the I-4 line where the land ceases to be land but more like a swamp.

Like I said, I’m not that ecologically aware.  My own feeling is don’t expand it, and contract development in the keys where possible.  But no draconian solutions, please.  They are beautiful and we can enjoy them if we play nice with nature.

Just before you go onto the island that Key Largo is on, there’s one big deep water gap.  A “Cut” so the larger boats can go into or out of the Florida Bay.  That is at what is now the Jewfish Creek bridge.

I realize I am being a small bit imprecise, but grant me that.

Since the old drawbridge was replaced years ago, they built an improved structure and then the bridge we have now.

The bridge itself is kind of minimalistic, maybe a bit stark, and painted in aqua blue, which is befitting of a place as knock down beautiful as the keys.

One of my earlier trips I took a picture and wrote about it.  For some strange reason in all the 8 or more years that I have been writing, that particular article gets read frequently.

What I did was revisit it.  I was down there for my birthday, a few days later.  Knowing that I was going there,  I brought my little video camera for the trip.  Hopefully this video will satisfy the area’s fans.

Hopefully my color commentary won’t offend too much and that my very shaky hand is not too awful.  But for now, I present the video.  For your pleasure or disdain.

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Video – A Trip To The Fort Lauderdale Beach, January 28, 2017

Yep, I had the camera on and the phone in hand.  I remembered to hold the thing the “right” way so you don’t get one of those stupid videos with bars on either side.

A trip to the beach.  Full HD.  Me acting goofy with the radio on in background.  The idiot software on youtube says that there’s a copyright in the music so you’ll have to tell me if it causes a problem.

Anyway, if you’re feeling cold and icky, this was my ride home in the Jeep from the burger joint I went to for lunch that day.  Kind of hard to bark at a trip like this and I had a clean ride North on A1A.

 

Now, that whole bit about practicing Spanish at the beach that you hear me laughing at myself with?  You see, since I am learning the language, I listen to very little English Language radio.  I always did like what we Anglos would generically call “salsa” but there are many more genres than just that.   So I put on the one station on the radio in the car, and in the kitchen, and sometimes on the speaker network in the house.   I also watch a minimum of an hour of Spanish Language TV per day but that varies and can be “the whole afternoon”.

I did enjoy the drive anyway, and it was nice to get out of the house and have a burger with a very good friend.

Here’s the drive back.  If you’re hating the weather where you’re at, feel free to watch this.  Aqua Colored Water, Brilliant White Sand, and a whole beach full of people.

Rack Convinces Me To Play – Video

Every so often I get the urge to shoot video.

This blog is very Photography Heavy, but it all comes from the same camera.  The trusty Samsung Galaxy S4.

I do video so infrequently that I had to find all the bits and pieces that I used last time to generate the files.  Luckily Linux simply updated everything for me and it Just Worked Just Like The Last Time.

Anyway, enough boring stuff huh?

Lately I’d go out back to do the Morning Inspection.  Happens right around 7:30AM.  I’m due for the second mug of coffee, Rack is due to water a Palm Tree or three.  Once that is done, I get herded.  He wants to play.

Before it was him going around the yard at lightning fast speed.  Now, he’s more interactive and more assertive.   For a dog who was completely “shut down” when I got him, I’ll put up with the assertions.

Oh, and he’s finding his voice, Finally.  After three and a half years.  Give or take a bit.

 

You will see what I mean.  Safe for all viewers.  Goofy for them too.

Now, if you want to see it, it’s in full HD on Youtube, and here is the direct link.

Rack! Rack! Rack! Run! Run! Run!

I need to stick a video camera to my head.  Maybe glue an old cell phone to a baseball cap or borrow a Go Pro.

You see, we have a new game in town.  It used to be that I could just stomp or jump and Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) would run around the yard a couple times.  Keep that up for a good five or ten minutes and we end up with a tired dog.

A tired dog is a happy dog, right?

He got onto us and stopped running around after a good clap and stomp.

Not good.  That run just before the dog walk would have him go back to the wormhole behind the shed and do his business where the iguanas, opossums, and racoons would come into the yard at night.  Him leaving his business back there in the beach sand that passes for soil here left scents and kept the wildlife away.

Now before you get started, I like wildlife, I just don’t want it using my pool for a place to wash their food.  Cement ponds, movie stars?  Well the wildlife droppings doesn’t mix well with crystal clear salt system chlorinated pools.

When they pay the mortgage, they have a say.  I can hear someone say that already.

So, what to do?

I jumped once, and Rack got interested.

I’m a big guy.  6’4″ and 225 pounds.  My workouts consist of a lot of aerobic activity in the way of some very high speed inline skating and a lot of walking.  It also means that I’m a bit wobbly.  Oh, I am fine on my feet, but when I stop I end up shifting from foot to foot.  The phrase “Built for speed” is appropriate there.  You can make me wobble but I can’t easily be knocked down.  I’m too used to moving.

So I jumped again and this time I missed my landing.  I ended up stepping forward to remain upright.

Rack was immediately interested and ran over to my side.

I trotted away.
Rack ran past jumping the entire way.

Fine, Rack, since you like that sort of thing, lets try this…

“This” was me jumping and trotting around the palm tree and bougainvillea in a figure eight.

You can’t outrun a McNab Dog.  It doesn’t happen.  He was right on my heels.  However he did end up in front of me.

I chased him for a change chanting “Rack, Rack, Rack!  Run, Run, Run!” in an excited voice.

He did.  This brought back the energy I was trying to drain.   He started to chase me, while I was chasing him.  We were in a feed back loop.

Winding around the palm tree in ever tighter circles, it created a vortex.  The winds were effected and the trees started to bow into the calm in the center of the storm.  There was a collapse of space-time and Rack and I ended up falling into an area beyond the universe.

We saw the Tardis fly by and waved at Dr Who when he was doing his wibbly wobbly timey wimey thing.

I forget who slowed first but it was enough to break the spell.  Rack ended up flattened out on the grass rolling onto his back to show his joy that Dad, that’s me, figured out what to do next with this high energy black and white cookie of a dog.

Mmm, Black and White cookies!  Yum…..

I gave him a tummy rub, a well earned one, and then stopped. 

Rack’s brown eyes flashed potential excitement.
I trotted off again “Rack, Rack, Rack!  Run, Run, Run!”.

Rack sprung to action back onto his feet.  Leaping over the cashew tree, he was on my tail like a flash.  We had a second session of running around the palm tree and more high pitched laughter from me.

If the neighbors were home they’d laugh too.  It’s that kind of neighborhood.

After we fell back into normal space time post visit to Rack’s family on the other side of the wormhole in the alternate universe, we slowed down to a plod.

Both of us were tired, excited, but very, very happy.   We had created a new game.  It turns out that my running at full speed isn’t really necessary, a brisk walk is enough. All I need to do is walk toward him and say “Play!” and we’re at it again, giggling, and trying not to fall.

This game is that.  See who gets dizzy first.  It’s not always me, in fact I’d say it is probably equal, fifty-fifty.  Rack will flatten out when he needs a rest and I get to gather up my own wobbles and catch my breath.

Eventually I know it’s at its end.  Rack will either try to drink from the swimming pool or trot over to the back door looking to go inside.

“Water?” I ask and get a tail wag in return.

Nothing like a little fun with the dog, right?

What’s Up Duck?

When you have a herding dog, you should be able to move these things along.

My Dog Won’t Herd, so I’m out of luck there.  We’ve done walks and there were flocks of these Muscovy Ducks all over the place.  Rack walks toward them, they hiss, and walk away.  Rack would be more interested in sniffing whatever the last dog left behind than the ducks.

Actually, that’s not entirely true.  Rack met the ducks shortly after we got him.  He walked over to a duck, sniffed it, decided it wasn’t for him, and went back to his own business.

It’s a test for herding ability with dogs when they’re puppies.  Set them out with a flock of ducks, appropriately sized, and see what happens.

If the dog eats the duck or the duck eats the dog, you’re not going to have a good time.
If the dog herds the ducks into a nice tidy circle, send him to a farm.
If they ignore each other, then you don’t have a herding dog, despite the blood lines.

Mine is of the latter.

This particular morning I had nothing to do with herding, training dogs, or the like.   I needed to take the Jeep out for a spin around town and perhaps to actually go somewhere instead of making a big loop staring at palm trees. 

Standing on my front porch, I was confronted by a flock.  10 or so of these mostly black and white birds were watching me.  I watched back.  Content to let them feed, I merely took a picture then walked out to them.

That’s all that is necessary, they may act annoyed and hiss, but they’ll move along.  You don’t need to do anything more.  I got them to move over to the neighbor’s yard where there were some more tasty grass simply by walking to the mailbox.  They’re so laid back that it is possible to pick one up, but what do you do with a bird that doesn’t want to be held anyway, so get the thought out of your head, kid!

Lettie on the other hand, she had a proper eye for that sort of thing, but she was a little quick when it came to the ducks.  She’d run after them, the ducks would fly off, and that would be the end of it.  No more entertainment.

Lettie’s gone, Rack’s not good at it, so I managed quite well by myself. 

The Jeep and I went on our errands and the ducks are still in the neighborhood.  

So remember that when you do go for a ride, look for ducks in your driveway.  Otherwise, the pressed duck you get could be a bit messy.

Selective Hearing In Dogs Can Be A Help In Training

It’s the dry season in South Florida.  That is why you folks are clogging up our roads and putting money into our businesses.  The weather is nicest this time of year for people from out of state.  Their homes are surrounded by something we’d put in our drinks and our freezers, while we’re complaining about something that would make a Scotsman sweat in the “heat”.

It’s also a great time of year for us to do some outdoor chores like pest control.  Our homes are constantly being invaded by the great outdoors, and if you don’t want to live with great patrols of ants making their way inside to carry you off, you get on a first name basis with a pesticide company.

Herbie.  His name is Herbie.  If you ask me nicely I will even give you a reference.

But Herbie, as good as he is, can’t be here the entire time.  We got some pellets and spread them around the foundation of the home to make a ring of doom for critters.  Sorry, we pay the mortgage, you critters don’t.

It created a problem for us.  More specifically, for Rack, my McNab Dog.

Yeah Him again.  You see, he’s incredibly intelligent and is learning English, at least the way we speak it.

There’s a wrinkle to that.  Dogs hear individual words and try to assemble meanings.  Humans store the sentence, or paragraph, and try to assemble meanings.

At least some of us do.  Both people and dogs.  When you’re talking about a McNab, you’re talking about a dog that is as smart as the smartest out there.

So one morning we were talking about whether it was time to add a ring of doom around the house, give it a booster shot of poison.  That means that we couldn’t let Rack out to run his lap around the yard.  His family on the other side of the wormhole that is in behind the shed will have to do without him for a couple weeks.  The poison that we used is persistent and will take a while to soak in with rains.  Since we have just had our first rain in weeks, the prospect of not using the back yard with Rack is very real.  We put notes on the door so that I will remember, and even one at Dog’s Nose Height.

That was the discussion.

Rack heard “Rack Backyard Note Go Run”.

He trotted to the back door, sat down and stared holes into us.

I walked over to the door and my velcro-dog was with me, glued to my right calf.  I needed to go outside.  Luckily he does understand more than I think he does, and I get great results when I devolve my own University Educated English into a Pidgin Dog Speak.

I said “Rack, This Says Not For Dogs” while pointing at the post-it note with the thick letters that say “No Dog”.

I swear Rack Moaned before he looked back and forth between the note and my own eyes.

“Rack, you can’t go out”  pointing back at the post-it I said “Not for Dogs.  No Dogs Allowed”.

Sure, I’m channeling an old Charlie Brown cartoon but it worked.  Rack’s ears went down, tail dropped from excited to grumble height, and he slunk out of the Florida Room.   I went out back and dealt with the pool’s water level and came back.

Rack was staring at the glass door, then the note, and when he spotted me, myself.

“Sorry Boy, not today.”

See, he will go to the back room when he needs to go Use The Tree out back, and our own routine is for him to stare me down until I pay attention, then I’ll ask him “Show Me” and he’ll lead me to what he needs.  Kind of like Lassie where they’re asking “Did Timmy Fall Down the Well?”.

Leads me to wonder why they didn’t build a wall around that damn well with kids falling in it so often.

That particular morning I took it a step further.  I got him to go out to the Front Yard on his own.  That isn’t a big deal for most, but Rack is highly fearful.  He’s afraid of anything noisy, which could be anything from a leaf moving down in Miami to my own making a Kissing sound toward him or the parrot.

I managed to coax Rack out front where the street was, let him Use The Rock instead of the Palm tree out back, and watched as he stopped.  His tail went full tilt.  He saw a pack of dogs being led out for their march round the block. 

“Rack, go home”.  He looks up at me as if to say he wanted to go play.
“Sorry Buddy, let’s go home”.  I didn’t have to say it again, he was already in motion toward the open front door.

It proved that I had a few milestones passed that I didn’t realize I had passed, all because I don’t feel like living with ants.

Rack could be depended on to go out front, avoid the pack, and go back into the house on command.  Pretty big step for a dog who would go into hiding and shiver in a corner when I dropped my mixing spoon on the floor the other day.

The forecast is clear for a week more so Rack will be out back only on leash. That’s a shame because I really do enjoy watching him run around the property like a CrazyDog.  The grass will grow back where he “corners” around the big palm tree and accelerates past in a black and white blur on the way to the wormhole behind the shed.


But, the good thing is that we just had a mid-term test and passed with flying colors.  He’s well on the way to becoming another Dog Of A Lifetime like my Lettie was.  I could open the door to the house, she’d do her thing and come back, completing whatever tasks I told her I needed done on the way.  I swear if she had thumbs, she could have built us that pergola over the spa I was thinking about.

Rack is learning.  He may not get a construction permit, but he’s figuring out life, and at this point that’s a good thing.

Rack The McNab Superdog Romps in Wilton Manors

He’s a working dog.
Why are you keeping him in a house?
Doesn’t he get out of control?  Tear things up?  Bark like crazy?

Yes, he’s a working dog.  He’s also amazing.  He’s amazing in the house and out of the house.

We have all heard stories about dogs that bark like mad for no reason.  They sometimes go out into The Yard and bark at the skies.  They may bark at a passing airplane.

That’s a sure fire clue that the people in that house do not need a dog, and that the dog is bored.

I’d be willing to bet that the people would also benefit getting out and walking a good solid mile or more, no matter what the breed of dog, no matter what psychological problems the dog has, and no matter where they live.

Otherwise, I stand by my original assessment, they probably should not have a dog.

But.

It is definitely possible to keep an intelligent and active breed dog in a house.  There are people who do it in small Manhattan apartments.

You have to give them a job.  Every breed benefits from having a job, that’s what dogs do, active or not.

That is what I am doing here.  Rack’s job is to burn off energy and act silly.

We call it Doggy Pong.  One of us is one or more houses away on a quiet street from the other.  Then we send Rack back and forth.   It usually takes about three cycles or so of back and forth to get him to tire.

If you think he’s not enjoying this, take a look on his face when he comes back the second time.  The mouth is smiling so broadly that he looks like his head will split open.

The run back and forth is just a flurry of legs going every which direction, feet pounding on pavement, and fur flying in the breezes.  I swear it looks like an old Looney Tunes cartoon where Wile E Coyote is running after that Roadrunner.

Painted railroad bridge and falling boulders omitted.

It’s an all ages video, and in full HD.  If you want to see it outside of this page, hit this link to youtube.

Otherwise, enjoy.  We do this all the time!  Even the neighbors get into the act.  When Rack pauses, mid video, and looks over his shoulders, a potential buyer for the property is laughing at the romp and joins in on the fun.

Doggy Pong!  A Game The Whole Family Can Play!