Summer’s last stand

Old man winter is nefariously creeping our way … ever so slowly. After an amazingly sunny and uncharacteristically long summer, he allowed us to dip our toes in the autumn colors only to project snow by the end of the week.

And it’s supposed to be a brutal winter.

So, a few weeks ago to throw the winter blues off course, Jeremy and I decided to stretch out our summer with one final last-minute excursion south that seamlessly turned into a family reunion.

After packing the car with camping gear, beer and one redheaded Jeb we left Germany late afternoon and rolled into the most pristine campground one has ever pitched a tent on in Maribor, Slovenia at about 9 p.m. Jeremy and Jeb started tent/grill duty while I chatted with the Park Ranger. I explained our friends Dave and Lesley were a few hours behind, so the ranger knighted me keeper of the gate key and took off.  (Slovenians are very trusting …)

Dave and Lesley had a weeklong trip to Croatia planned for quite some time. We decided to Shangai the first few days of their vacation after a conversation that went something like this:

“We’ll be in Croatia next week.”
We’ll be in Croatia next week!”
“We should hook up.”
“We should hook up!”

The next day we hit the open road once more, this time with our small caravan and made it to Plitvice, Croatia by amid-afternoon to meet up with our Italian correspondents Tad and Megan Trivisonno, who joined the trip with less than a week’s notice after a conversation that went something like this:

“You off next weekend?”
“I am off next weekend.”
“Wanna meet us in Croatia?”
“I do wanna meet you in Croatia.”

From there, the seven of us rock-climbed, hiked, sauntered through Plitvice Lakes National Park and dined on the finest of Croatian cheese, Italian wine, German beer and brats, and a batch of rich chocolate brownies that would have made yo’ mama blush.

Then we laughed. Oh how we laughed.

In a short four-day trip we earned three new passport stamps: Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia, but vow more exploration in the aforementioned countries is needed.

Croatia, especially, has been on our radar for quite sometime, and this trip really only brushed the surface. While the scenery was beautiful, it only acted as a backdrop for some much needed catching up.
Traveling is good for the soul, but so are the friends you drag along with you …


Another notch in the collar

Sky Dog, beloved family friend and faithful companion turned 10 years old today.

After a thorough woodland walk, she dined on the finest of chicken and rice "cereal" and contemplated the high points of her life over a dram of scotch and a fine cigar.

High points included flea-biting her stuffed squirrels, tearing apart a toy ferret, and devouring a treat she noted tasted remarkably similar to bacon.

After all these years, and despite her Houdini-like antics and ankle-biting tendencies, she's still our favorite bitch.