Sunday, August 9, 2009

What Happened & Where We Think We Are Today

My apologies to those who have been "following" this blog as I've been lax on content generation. So here's the Reader's Digest version...

Our last day in NY/NJ was Saturday the 25th. Luna and I left the Kohler home in Babylon and headed to LaGuardia to pick up Ed Furtek, who flew up from Ft. Myers to help me with a timely drive home. We made it to Tony & Lois' home just before one and at the same time as Florence Duggan's arrival. I took the timing as a good sign.

Ed opted to stay with the Jeep as I escorted Luna to the Smid backyard to meet up with Lois, Florence & Sunny Boy. After some running around, sniffing and typical dog behavior, Luna and Sunny got down to business. She was highly accepting, did not yelp or whimper on the tying, which last 13 plus minutes. Florence instructed me to put her up in the truck, keep her still and not let her pee until southern Maryland or 3 hours! I did what I was told and after saying our goodbyes, Ed, Luna & I pulled out of the Smid driveway in Oakland New Jersey at 1:30 pm on Saturday, and pulled into Ed's driveway in N. Ft. Myers at 11:05 am Sunday morning. Two alternating drivers is the way to slay a big road trip.

Here I type two weeks later and given behavior changes, enlarging nipples and general consensus of those who know her, we're pretty sure our mission was successsful. We have a visit to our vets on 8/25 to know for sure, and in the interim collecting names of folks who are interested in Vizsla pups. One inquiry came from a gent who lives in northern New Jersey, close to Florence who referred him, who was down here at South Seas on vacation with his family! We met on the Sanibel Causeway so he could see/meet Luna and I shared my South Seas history with him. Small World!!!

And for those who don't know, we've been "V-sitting" Jabal, a 5-month old bitch who lives on Grand Bahama Island with our friends the Alnebecks. Ginny got her the Friday before my & Luna's return, and she goes home this upcoming Saturday. We've very much enjoyed her and the two V experience she's prepared us for. Oh, how we forget what puppies are like!!! Next post...the results of the 8/25 vet visit...stay tuned!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Making Puppies – God Willing

Luna & I left Long Island Thursday morning for the two hour drive to the Smid’s home in northern New Jersey, drafting behind the masses making their morning commute into Manhattan. Because the Throgs Neck Bridge was partially closed along a key northern route, I opted to take the most southern west approach along the Island, crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, always a treat and reminder of my childhood. The Verrazano is a double-decked suspension bridge that connects the boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn and was the largest suspension bridge in the world until 1981. It is the starting point of the New York City Marathon and is the geographic entrance into New York Harbor. And a Long Islander’s preferred route to most of New Jersey and all points south, and how we always drove to Florida.

We made it to Lois & Tony’s just past noon and given Tony was away in Canada, Lois asked Sunny’s breeder, Florence Duggan, to join us. I took Luna into the fenced back yard, letting her off leash and she busied herself checking out the dozens of scents, marking each and every one along the way. Lois and Florence brought Sunny out a few minutes later and it seemed like the only thing these two Vizslas were interested in was in following and then marking each others scents in the yard, not the business of the day. But that ‘pawplay” didn’t last long as Sunny’s interest soon became very, very specific. Florence had me call Luna over to her and held her by the collar while Sunny approached and mounted.

Luna was anything but cooperative and despite Sunny’s effort, the first mount was off target so we separated them, let them run a little bit to burn off any excess energy and then tried again, this time with me holding Luna with Lois and Florence assisting Sunny’s guidance system to target. Florence gave me a firm warning to keep my face and hands away from Luna’ mouth, as it remained obvious she really wasn’t all to accepting of what was happening. This second mount was on target and Luna yelped at the appropriate moment, as I had been warned to expect, but instead of a traditional tying, Sunny somehow slipped out.

We let go of both dogs and due to Luna’s behavior – running about Sunny with not a mean but certainly an alpha bitch growling – we separated them, with Florence taking Luna inside, and then the three of us sitting outside with Sunny during his recovery, assessing what had happened and what to do next. Sunny looked a bit spent and like all he wanted was a nice steak and a cold beer. Florence thought Luna was on the cusp of being ready, that the day’s second attempt may have delivered a decent amount of semen, but given the outside tying, probably not much prospect. After some back and forth dialogue, we decided to proceed with our plan to return Saturday for another shot at a natural mating. Later that evening, Lois called and suggested we try an artificial insemination on Friday and then back it with the planned Saturday breeding. Back to Long Island we went.

We returned Friday and I left Luna in her truck crate and visited briefly with Lois and Sunny inside. His attention to me was incredible…like I had been dipped in pheasant and quail stew and rolled in tripe. Jumping, barking, sniffing and following me everywhere! I asked Lois if it was because he smelled Luna on me, which she confirmed but also added that was how he greeted her and Tony. He’s a high energy V, even for an 11 year old! Lois put Sunny up in his travel crate in their van and we followed them to the home of a woman named Diane, breeder/owner of the number one Lab in the ring and number two in the country in field, who was going to do the AI.

We entered Diane’ dog room, placed Luna in a kennel then positioned Sunny for the “collection”…an incredible experience to witness in person for the uninitiated. I held Luna’s panty at Sunny’s nose while Lois held him by his collar, while Diane did the collection and Luna stared at us from the kennel. All the time the three of us were encouraging and soothing Sunny by telling him what a good boy he was, and I tried to keep my gentlemanly composure and hide my smirk – but almost lost it when Diane changed her tune from “good boy Sunny” to a “oh, good man Sunny – good man!” After Sunny did his part, Lois took him out to their van and returned to assist with Luna. Diane took a non-needled syringe, pulling Sunny’s semen from the collection bag (a good amount – 2-3 plus tablespoons).

We then positioned Luna over Diane’s right knee to elevate her hind quarters, massaged Luna’s vulva and then inserted a good 8-10 inches of a thin plastic tube, connected the syringe, plunged and delivered the “liquid sunshine” into Luna. While we talked about the multiple progesterone tests with results all over the board, Diane’s encouraging assessment was Luna was ready given her swollenness and softness. We kept Luna in the elevated position for a good five minutes, then put her panty back on and I was given firm instructions to not let her urinate or do anything else for the next 3 hours. As we had 2 plus on our drive, that wasn’t going to be a problem. Along the way back to Alan & Amy’s home in Babylon, I drove through Floral Park, my old home town, past the house I grew up in and the street where I saw my first Vizsla 40+ years ago.

We’ll be returning to New Jersey later this morning for the last time on this trip…ideally for au natural puppy making, but Diane offered her able assist on doing another AI if Luna wasn’t receptive. Thoughts of what is hopefully to come given this mission’s success will occupy much of the drive, as will my best wishes and prayers for Jennie & Chris O’Brien of Chimera Vizslas, for their beautiful Mimi is due to give birth to her litter any time now.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been…

The climactic refrain of the Grateful Dead’s Truckin’ has been rumbling in my mind for the past two weeks. I was not able to make a blog entry for more than a week as I had no internet access once Luna and I arrived in Mount Airy Maryland on Sunday the 12th (we obviously did not make Philly) and very poor internet connectivity at the Holiday Inn in Orangeburg New York. So sorry for the length of this posting that will bring you up to date.

On the drive north on Sunday the 12th we experienced some of the worst stop and go highway traffic between Richmond, Virginia and Washington, D.C., easily loosing more than an hour of drive time. I called my old friend and former South Seas coworker Earl Raven who had recently taken a general manager position at a hotel in Silver Springs, Maryland, thinking his hotel might make for a great resting place. Earl trumped that concept one better by extending an invitation for Luna and me to stay at his home in Mount Airy, which I readily accepted.
Earl and his wife Nina have a wonderful home on 3-acres for themselves, youngest daughter Tess, their sweet, mature golden retriever Toby,
three horses (including a “full grown” mini smaller than some dogs I’ve seen) and five cats. While I thoroughly enjoyed Earl & Nina’s company, getting caught up on each other’s family and mutual friends, Luna was in her element being able to stretch her legs running off leash, meeting a bunch of new animal friends and taking in tons of new scents.

Monday morning’s walk included spotting three deer on the edge of the Raven property that Luna looked at and snorted to catch a whiff of, but fortunately did not take off after them. I think the Raven's mini horse who was territorial during a carrot treat the evening prior gave my red girl pause when looking at the deer. Besides, there were so many scents, from animals to barn and numerous flower beds Nina had planted, Luna’s attention remained “local” so to speak. The barn swallows nesting on a beam near the peak of the barn, and the big Maine Coon like cat, gave Luna plenty to consider during our first casual morning. We left Earl & Nina’s at 10 am that morning and began the final leg of our journey north to New Jersey.

We arrived at my Cousin Marie’s home in Old Tappan New Jersey at 3:30 Monday afternoon. You know you have great relatives and friends when they open up their home to you and your menstruating dog! My Aunt Mary (Marie’s mom) also happened to be up from Florida visiting, so we all got to enjoy some bonus family time, and Marie and husband Joe’s great hospitality. The Northern Jersey weather was magnificent with temps in the high 60’s, so we dined on their porch deck overlooking their spacious backyard. Luna enjoyed her first time chasing lightening bugs, but not catching them (they must taste really, really bad). Marie grilled delicious boneless pork chops and then surprised me with an early, impromptu birthday brownie for dessert. After dinner Luna I rolled my stuffed self and Luna to the truck as we headed to the Holiday Inn just 5 minutes away. As she’s a “hotel pup” Luna gladly curled up on two of the down pillows, dead center of the king bed, making some room for me to catch some sleep as well.

The next morning we headed to Oakland New Jersey to meet Tony and Lois Smid…and Luna’s betrothed, Arsla & Auburn's Sunny Boy. We arrived at their vets for our 11 am appointment and just minutes before being called to an exam room, Tony and Lois walked in the door. As Luna was the only “V” of the 5 dogs in the lobby, Tony & Lois quickly figured out who we were, as we only knew each other by phone and email, and the only photos exchanged were of our dogs, not ourselves. We enjoyed a brief getting to know you session which included a lot of Luna kisses, especially on Tony. She and I slipped into the exam room for her vaginal smear and blood draw to get a progesterone reading (it was 1.5 on the prior Friday).

After the exam, we waited in the lobby for the smear results and Tony went to get Sunny Boy from their van for the big intro. As other Vizsla owners can appreciate, when Sunny Boy walked into the room, he and Luna locked their attention on one another and acted like there wasn’t another dog in the room (there was), with full attention, furious tail wagging and lots of head and bottom sniffing. Sunny immediately recognized Luna as a bitch in heat - this is his 21st time at studding - and as Tony told me to expect, his tail was going around in a circular “screwing” motion instead of the typical side-to-side wag (a special "I smell a bitch in heat!!!"). Needless to say, these two Vizslas were getting excited and all amped up, so Tony took Sunny outside.

You would have thought someone had had taken away a bunch of quail or pheasant the way Luna whined and scratched at the door with Sunny no longer in the room! I was happy in that the two of them had an obvious “animal attraction” and was looking forward to both my and Luna’s additional time with Sunny as well as Tony & Lois. While anxiously waiting we got the word that Luna’s cellular discharge was still showing nuclei and just a slight cornification of the cells’ walls (as a bitch gets ready for breeding the cells loose their roundness and the wall of the cells form corners). As we’d have to wait until the morning for the progesterone results, we all left to spend more time with the dogs and then enjoyed a nice 2 hour getting to know you lunch. Unfortunately, when the vet called the next morning, Luna’s progesterone was only 0.3…it had actually gone down 1.2 points! Adele Neupert had warned me of her similar experience with Carter, Luna’s full sister from a prior litter of their parent dogs Ike and Elle.

Determining the dog to mate Luna to had been a somewhat tortuous experience I alone put myself through. I first approached the owners of three outstanding dogs in Florida, all members of our breed club, the TBVC. My breeding objective is to produce pups just like or ideally better than Luna in temperament, natural hunting ability and conformity to standard. The one “improvement” I wanted was in size, as Luna is a BIG BITCH measuring at the very top of the AKC Vizsla standard. I also considered dogs in Michigan and Pennsylvania, as well as frozen sperm from a dual champion that had passed away 15 years earlier. Throughout this “exploration” I greatly benefited from the advice of many other Vizsla owners with breeding experience and knowledge of the bloodlines. Especially Luna’s breeder Mary Rathbun of Egri Vizslas, Adele Neupert of Vermilion Vizslas and owner of Luna’s sire Ike and sister Carter (both of Mary’s Egri kennel), and Jean Matmor of Valley Hunter Vizslas who opened the door to the V world for me. I was relieved and pleased when the 7th dog considered, Sunny Boy, offered everything I wanted and Luna achieved “approved bitch” number 21 for this "Sultan Vizsla”, an exceptional gentleman of 11 years.

Sunny is a moderately sized male and has Luna's same physical appearance, especially the head and face. He is a dual champ...field champion, amateur field champion and master hunter (there are no higher AKC hunting titles a dog can earn). Sunny rocked in the show ring, earning both American and Canadian champion titles, as well as a best in specialty show title (best overall dog competing against other Vizsla champions). And he welcomed me with lots of quintessential red dog loving (aka wet face) and the stories shared by Lois & Tony confirmed Luna like loving, loyalty and sometimes goofy like personality (we don’t at times call her Lunatic for nothing!). I’m very excited over the prospect of these two making some very special pups…a “heavenly litter of future stars” as after all, their parents are the Sun & Moon! How’s that for expectations?!

Regrettably the vet’s advice was Luna wouldn’t be ready until Thursday to Saturday at best and I made the decision to kennel her and return to Florida for my 50th birthday weekend at Palm Island and an important meeting for my Vacation Auction business that Monday. I flew out of JFK on Thursday with a non-refundable return flight for Tuesday the 21st. My hope was Luna timing would play out as forecasted and two breeding sessions would have occurred so I could just pick her up and head home. As they say, timing is everything.

The news on my return was Luna progesterone didn’t start to ramp up until Monday (4.5) and the vet now projects this Thursday and Saturday will be days 3 & 5 of estrus, prime puppy making time. So here I type very late on Wednesday night (ok Thursday morning) getting ready to take Luna to Sunny tomorrow morning for their first red dog rendezvous of love. We’ll go back Saturday late morning for the final “Klimt moment” before we begin our drive home to Florida with my great friend Ed Furtek, who is flying up from Fort Myers that morning to help me drive. She’s chillin’ on her bed in the living room of my other great friends Alan & Amy Kohler, while my anxiety is beginning to escalate. Never been there or done that before. Have done the research and spoken to Mary today who prepped me on what to expect and do when tying occurs. Yikes! Tomorrow will be, in a word, exciting and I’ll try to post an update late Thursday. As the announcer says just before a commercial break “stay tuned for more highlights are to come”. From Babylon New York I remain the Traveling Vizsla’s driver…Sal.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Luna Time

When I awoke this morning little did I know what road would lie before me. We came to the realization this past Thursday even that Luna had come into heat. In retrospect, she began spotting Tuesday evening, but after a boat run to Picnic Island with our friends Steve & Sooz Johnson and their handsome schnauzer Zack, there was a major V8 moment when Ginny had Luna sit on one of our white beach towels. We headed to our vets Friday morning right after breakfast and Luna had a vaginal smear and progesterone test. The smear, where a q-tip is used to transfer Luna’s discharge along her vaginal wall to a couple of slides indicated she was proestrus and the progesterone test results weren’t received until this morning. Our vet, Dr. Kirk Andazola of Coral Veterinary called to report Luna’s progesterone was 1.2 and he forecasted her going into ovulation in 2, maybe 3 days. “You might want to start your drive to the stud dog.”
Luna’s betrothed is an 11-year old extremely accomplished gent named DC Can. CH AFC BISS Arsla And Auburn's Sunny Boy MH owned by Anthony & Lois Smid of Oakland, New Jersey. That’s were we are headed with the intent of meeting for the very first time on Tuesday morning at their vets. Having never done this before, adding a 1,200 plus mile journey into the mix, is making this quite an adventure. Thank God Luna is a wonderful traveler!
Ginny got us all packed to go while I did one last run to my office and then to the airport to pick up an Avis Jeep Liberty, as I figured out the value of putting a couple thousand miles on a rental versus adding to my Mountaineer’s 185,000 after our South Dakota & Louisiana road trip last November.Throughout our get ready, Luna repeatedly stood at the laundry room door to our garage, or laid by the truck in the garage, as if she understood, or at minimum, wanted to make sure she wasn’t about to miss this road trip. We rolled out of our driveway just before 3:30 and headed north, thinking Oakland NJ was our final, but not sure as I had not been able to reach with the Smids and wasn’t sure where they or Sunny Boy was. Fortunately, Lois and I finally connected by phone and I learned they were in at a dog show including a Vizsla specialty in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada, just west of Niagara. They would be returning to Oakland on Monday when Luna and I should arrive. Having left my home without knowing their status, I was glad they weren’t west of the Mississippi, like in Colorado or California!!!
The remaining part of the day’s drive was more comforting. Our first stop was a rest area in Sumter County just south of Ocala. Luna and I had a nice walk, stretched out legs and she enjoyed her lamb dinner. We drove a little further north into southern Ocala and jumped off I-75 and took 301 north until we hit I-10 east towards Jacksonville, with one bathroom and gas stop in Lawtey along the way. At 9:55 we crossed the Florida – Georgia border and at 11:50 checked in to the Holiday Inn in Pooler, Georgia. Luna loves getting settled in nice, big king bedded hotel rooms and after a good nights rest, we going to try and make it to Philadelphia tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll be able to connect with my friend Nick Dominijanni who is the DOSM at The Penn’s View Hotel, one of my favorites and offers a great Italian restaurant with the largest wine bar in America…hope they’re dog friendly! Until my next posting…

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Bruce Gora passed away yesterday from cancer at the all too young age of 58. I can’t recall when we first met, but I can recall many memories of my time with Bruce, either at lunch, at an art event or listening to him play with the Juice Band. The below video is a great tribute to Bruce’s life, and will give you a sense of the man so many have enjoyed from having been touched by him in their lives. I will miss him.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My friend Richard Jackson sent me this YouTube link this morning and given I had just been in New Orleans, it did strike a personal cord with me. Great tune, done by street musicians from all over the World and very well edited. Definately worth the post and the time to view.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008, 10:15 am to Sunday, November 30, 2008 11:58 pm

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Fort Myers, Florida to Kimball, South Dakota to New Orleans, Louisiana and back home again. 4,744 miles on the odometer (4,062 miles of direct routing per Google Maps) and lots of cities and towns, and great times with family and friends along the way. Considering 5 days in South Dakota and another 7 in Louisiana, most of the road was accomplished in 4-5 days. The BIG trip is over and now back to reality. Luna appears to have no problem slipping back into routine…the question is how well I will do with all of the catch-up at work. Reality is sinking in.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Last Day of Hunting & On To Louisiana

We awoke Friday morning to 20 degrees and a light dusting of overnight snow, with gusts of 10+ mph. Luna was quick to do her morning business and didn’t need much coaxing to come back inside the game room. After her feeding I headed to the main house for my morning coffee and juice, returning 10 minutes later. Although Luna had been indoors for 10 minutes, she was trembling and even had a little teeth chatter going on and I was second guessing if I should allow her to hunt our last day. I asked the ranch’s owner Curt to take a look at her and after thumb pressing her gum, showing a white to pink return, he allayed my concern, attributing Luna’s shaking to nervous energy. “You didn’t drive her almost 2,000 miles not to hunt her, did you?”

I was glad we did as Friday was by far Luna’s best day in the field (mine too) and given it was our last day of hunting, there was no regret or second guessing decisions. It had warmed up to the mid-twenties, but the wind was blowing hard and cold out of the north, making any unexposed [face] skin feel like it was being pealed back. You would have never thought Luna had been shivering earlier as she was blow and go in the field. The ice crystals on the corn () stalks would fall on her dark red coat and look like little diamonds sparkling in the early morning sun. She hunted really well, getting on three solid points, flushing a good dozen plus birds and had a couple of fine to-hand retrieves to my buddy Scott Riddle. I did pretty well too, with three, clean solo birds and shared shots on another ½ dozen. As a group we finished the day with 37 pheasant and 113 on the three days, all on Curt’s Wagon Wheel Ranch & Bird Dog Lounge.

After lunch, I go us packed, loaded, said our goodbyes and headed to the west and south in an attempt to link up with Paul Hermes, a fellow Floridian and Vizsla human who was in Gregory, South Dakota hunting pheasant with his father and brother. I wanted to see Paul as I had read about his “ridiculously goofy hunting hat” on our TBVC Yahoo forum and had hoped to acquire an image for this blog. No such luck! It turns out Gregory County, South Dakota has a) no AT&T signal or co-share (my cell carrier), and b) not a single pay phone anywhere. After multiple attempts I decided to go ahead and head out of Gregory, heading out on US 18 to get on I-29 South. I finally did get cell signal and reached Paul while he was in a field looking for a pheasant he shot. Luna and I continued on an incredible 150 mile drive east on a two lane road through some outrageous South Dakota countryside…lots of towns with less than 500 population and lots of Lewis and Clark territory.
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Once we got on to I-29 I was determined to get as far south as possible so that Saturday’s big drive would get us as close to Sunset Louisiana as possible. We made it as far at St. Joseph, Missouri (300 miles) and checked into a Drury Inn. The next day we were able to get to Texarkana, Texas where we checked into a Ramada Inn…a slight edge above our hospitality experience of Alachua’s Royal Inn. The upside was it left us with only a 4 hour drive to Eddie & Adele Neupert’s farm in Sunset, Louisiana, which I was itching to get to. It was nice to see Mary Rathbun and Luna’s relative dogs Kokeny and Harvielu “Harvi” who earned her AKC Junior Hunter at the trial that was taking place. We were also able to visit with Adele & Eddie’s Carter, Luna’s “twin” sister from a prior litter.

We got a great family photo of me, Luna and her sisters and then were able to run the dogs after the hunt test was over. Luna, Kokeny and Harvi were able to chase up a pheasant and a ½ dozen quail. Soon afterward, Mary needed to get on the road to return to Minden, LA and after helping Eddie with some clean up chores, I met him & Adele at a local Mexican restaurant before returning to their farm for the night. Monday morning Luna and I made it to my sister-in-law Cindy and her husband Robert’s home in one of my favorite cities…New Orleans.I advantaged “alone time” to get a great massage to work off the 3,700 miles of road I’ve driven in 10 days and visit The National World War II Museum, something I’ve wanted to do for years in my NOLA visits, but have never had the chance. Picked up Ginny, Ally, Jessie and the rest of the Ft. Myers portion of our family at the airport Tuesday evening and checked into out B&B, the Margaret Gardens Inn. Today we delivered Thanksgiving baskets to a 1/2 dozen disadvantaged families in New Orleans and tonight (Wednesday) we’re going to do the New Orleans Original Ghost & Vampire Tour.

Needless to say, we have been blessed with so much good in our lives, for which we are incredibly thankful. Wishing you & your family a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Sal & his Family

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Days 5-7 Hunting Fools

We awoke early Tuesday morning, checked out of the Hampton Inn in Mitchell and drove to some public grounds near the Wagon Wheel Ranch where we’ll be checking in and hunting Wednesday through Friday (actually the Bird Dog Lounge). We had a good day of hunting...about 3 and ½ hours and Luna loved every stinking minute. Unfortunately, as there was only three of us, a lot of birds got away from us on early flushes and despite a couple of long shots, we only bagged one cock rooster thanks to the good shooting of Richard Miller. We then headed to the ranch with a quick stop at the liquor store for provisions, and enjoyed a wonderful welcome dinner with friends as everyone arrived at the camp.

Wednesday morning’s hunt was over-the-top, although I didn’t hunt Luna that am as she got abrasions under each front leg underarm from the vest she wore in the field Tuesday (meant to protect her teats and underbelly). We limited out at 37 birds (we were able to shoot the daily bag for the three of our party who made deposits but were no-shows), so we were officially “done” by lunch time. I got one bird clean and shared a couple of other birds with the Riddle gang.
After lunch, all of us other than Buck Riddle headed out to public lands and my well rested bitch was itching to get into the field. With eight of us we were able to have two blockers at the end of each field, a couple of flankers and four drivers (walkers). David Dempsey had a great shot on a big rooster but it fell into some Russian Olives (I walked this patch the day prior and I can tell you they are mean, mean, mean with ¾ inch to 1 ½ inch thorns that do a hell of a job on one attempting to walk through them). Fortunately, Luna’s small enough that she was able to get in and retrieve the downed bird, her first official pheasant retrieve! We bagged a couple of cock roosters on that afternoon hunt before heading back to Wagon Wheel Ranch, where our host Maureen Geveshausen (Curt’s much better half) had prepared an outstanding prime rib dinner.Thursday morning greeted us with 30 degree temps and a slight, falling snow. Luna had her first “snow” experience Tuesday afternoon, but hadn’t given it much consideration other than learning to eat it for moisture when thirsty. This morning was another story…she seemed puzzled by all this cold, wet white stuff on the ground and between it and the temp, was “amped up” more than her usual high voltage self. She was pleased with her breakfast (some fatty prime rib scraps thrown into her Wellness grain free lamb and Instinct kibble) and even more pleased that she was going to hunt with the ranch dogs. She loved riding in the bus that we all take to the various fields (we hunted fields of corn, millet, sorghum and milo) and she was getting and giving some dog sugar love to everyone, as evidenced by the photo of her planting a big wet one on Brandon Combs. Uncle David made her butt wiggle and got her to talk with some nice tail base deep tissue massage. We limited out (again) with 36 birds before lunch and Luna had a much better hunt than her master, with multiple flushes and a half dozen retrieves (I shot some but hit nothing). The ranch owner’s Curt is calling her “dear Luna” because he thinks she runs like a deer…she ran hard and fast 100+ yards on a downed but not dead rooster taken on a long second shot by Scott Riddle was a sight to behold!

We came back to some very delicious pheasant chili Maureen had prepared for us. I decided to stay back at camp with David and Buck to blog while the rest of our party headed to shoot some public lands. I figured both me and my pup could use some rest (I’ve walked and she’s run many, many miles) for tomorrow’s final hunt.

From South Dakota, where the land rolls and the wind blows…

Sal & Egri Luna Bella of Edisonia!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Day 4 – Arrival

After yesterday’s long road push both me and Luna where whipped, but she obviously less so than I. Fortunately she didn’t stand over my sleeping body and start her morning lick of my face and whine to go out until a little after 7 am CTL (almost 2 hours past her normal 6-6:30 am EST typical wake up time). I slept so hard I don’t think I moved at all from the time I put my head on the pillow till my wet morning wake up kiss from my dog.

Fortunately the land surrounding the Hampton Inn in Sioux City was all open and well from any road, so Luna got to run free in the brisk 34 degree temps with tiny snow flurries. It wasn’t but a minute before she got on a cotton tail and chased it a good 30 yards before I called her off. I’m certain she was convinced we had arrived at our hunting location, but she was good to come back inside the warmth of the hotel after 15 minutes of South Dakota chill. After my breakfast, we got back on the road and arrived in Mitchell, South Dakota a little over two hours later and met up with David Dempsey and Richard Miller. After these two V owners got their red dog fix (unlike last year, their pups aren’t here this year), we went to Cabela’s so I could get legal and do my part of re-charging the local economy.

We were soon off on another 1+ hour drive (I opted to be a passenger…it was so nice not to drive) to public hunting grounds 20-30 minutes west of Kimball….three hunters and one [very special] red dog. We hunted for 2.5 hours over a 4 hour period…lots of walking fields of corn, switchgrass and sorghum…for Luna, lots of running. We spooked up a bunch of hens…2-3 dozen…but very few roosters, and only one within range. Richard Miller got a nice cock pheasant and retrieved it before Luna was in tune to getting it for him The fields were filled with scents of birds, deer and all sorts of critters, so it was good that Richard decided to throw his bird near her so she could get an up close whiff, and she retrieved it 30 yards to me. Only one bird on the day, but only one shot taken, so not too bad. We’re looking forward to another day on public grounds tomorrow before heading to the Wagon Wheel Ranch in the late afternoon for three days of incredible pheasant hunting. The population is up 7-10% and last year we saw thousands of birds in three days.

We’ll be checking out of the Mitchell Hampton Inn tomorrow and unless Curt has installed Internet at his ranch, I won’t have Internet access again until late Friday or on my hotel stay Saturday, in route to Eddie & Adele Neupert’s farm in Sunset, Louisiana. So the blog posting may have to wait!

From Mitchell, South Dakota…home of the Corn Palace
Sal & Luna

Day 3 – Sunday the 16th

Luna and I covered a lot of road today…819 miles…left Joelton, Tennessee at 7:15 am CTL and pulled into a Hampton Inn in Sioux City, South Dakota at 10:30 pm CTL. St. Louis was our big stop of the day.

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We crossed quickly through Kentucky and into Illinois this morning, stopping in Lake Egypt, Illinois for gas and early stretch of our legs. It was the only time on the trip that Luna was able to run off leash, as it was off the interstate in a very small town. We filled up at King Tut’s at $2.019 per gallon (what a rip!). We seemed to be in Missouri forever today, entering the state at 8:50 am CTL, crossing the Mississippi into St. Louis at noon. We took an hour and a half break there…visited the Arch and downtown, which reminded me a lot of New Orleans, where I’ll be headed to after South Dakota. I was really looking for some famous St. Louis barbecue, but every downtown eatery was closed except the “St. Louis Bread Company” which turned out to be a Panera’s. Good food but not what I had in mind.
We continued our trek across Missouri, from St. Louis and its western sibling, St. Charles to Kansas City. We stopped at 4:30 CTL just to the east of Kansas City in a little town called Odessa, where we filled the tank at $1.699 a gallon (best price yet) and I filled my belly with three tacos at Taco John’s, a made to order “fresher west Tex” alternative to Taco Hell, I mean Bell.

I don’t know if it was the large Mountain Dew or the coffee I got at the Odessa gas station or both, but I drove non-stop until we crossed the South Dakota line into Sioux City, where we checked into a Hampton Inn. As you can see from the picture, Luna took no time in getting comfortably warm!Along the drive I decided to postpone my visit to Mount Rushmore for another trip. The additional 4 hours west of where we’re hunting for a 30 minute look and another 4 plus hours back is just too much road and I’ve had my fill, with 27 hours behind the wheel since 10 am Friday. From where we’ve decided to stop tonight, I only have a 2 hour morning drive to link up with David Dempsey and Richard Miller who are in Mitchell, home to a huge Cabela’s where I am sure to whip out my trusty AMEX card. I need Under Armor glove liners and steel shot for hunting public lands. I’m sure I’ll find something else I just have got to have once in the store! Luna and I are trading off more driving for more hunting, which is why we made this drive and I know the pup is itch’n to do.

I’d write more if I had anymore steam in me, but it’s low and I need to crash. More tomorrow!
Road Warrior Sal & His Beautiful Vizsla Luna (told so by strangers twice today)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Off to Kimball, South Dakota – Days 1 & 2

OK, my first blog postings were an eon ago in internet time and gratuitous. This, the first in a series of intended postings, is meant to be a true blogging experience.

Luna and I got off to a slightly late departure Friday the 14th after I tied down most (but not all) of some business loose ends. We stopped in Saint Petersburg to borrow a doggie overcoat for Luna from Paul Hermes who has Luna’s half sister Buffy. As the temps are much colder than home, we figured a little extra warmth for when she’s out but not in the field would be appreciated. Plus I’m hopefully going to have the chance to buy Paul a cold beer or two in South Dakota as he too will be in South Dakota late next week hunting pheasant.

We made decent time getting into Gainesville, a little after 3:30 in the afternoon. Checked into Alachua’s Royal Inn and got Luna walked, fed and zipped in her traveling kennel (which she has learned to unzip). Picked up Ally & Jessie at 5 and headed to Applebee’s for dinner then to the Gainesville High versus Eastside game where Jessie was cheering as JV Co-Captain. An exciting high school game, but unfortunately one where the GHS ‘Canes lost in the final 5 seconds 30-27. A heartbreaker for my girls and their friends, and even with the loss, I enjoyed the excitement a high school football game offered. We all spent the night together at the Anti-Ritz and grabbed breakfast at a bagel place before I dropped them off and got on I-75 north at 10 am this morning.

Luna’s a great traveler and always has been…must be her initiation drive to us at 3 months of age, from Minden, Louisiana to Fort Myers, Florida (1,025 miles). And her commute to our office every day. Since we pulled out of the driveway at 10:15 yesterday, we’ve covered 930 miles. Today, we covered 592 miles from Gainesville to Joelton, Tennessee, from 10 am to 7 pm EST. We crossed the Florida – Georgia line at 11:05 and continued non-stop until a 3:30 break just shy of the Georgia – Tennessee boarder. Temps were in the high 40’s with strong winds, so it was a brisk walk for us both…Luna wasn’t sporting Buffy’s coat but I go back to the truck to put on my Wagon Wheel Ranch fleece. North Georgia’s trees are on the verge of peaking on their colors and the rest stop had beautiful grounds. We also filled the gas tank at $1.899 a gallon!!!

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We crossed into Tennessee shortly thereafter at 4:30 EST. In addition to the cold, it was a misting rain from the boarder until well after we cleared Chattanooga. I didn’t see the Chattanooga Choo Choo but even in the rain’s grey haze I enjoyed the colors of Chattanooga’s trees, peaking in an incredible pallet of fall hues against the Appalachian Mountains landscape. It would have been an awesome sight in clear weather and late afternoon sunlight. Three interstates, I-75 (what we were on), I-24 (what we got on) and I-59 all intersect this city. I was super glad we were headed west on I-24 because eastbound was bumper-to-bumper from Chattanooga to 20+ miles west. We were able to get west of Nashville and finally pulled of the road at 7 pm EST, 6 CTL in Joelton, Tennessee. Checked into a Days Inn and grabbed a catfish dinner at a local family-style restaurant. Was able to watch my ‘Noles Homecoming Game loss against Boston College…another football heartbreaker for the Dickinsons, although Ginster’s Vols were on a bye so she gets to skip football letdown for a change.

That’s all I’ve got in me for now…more from the road tomorrow night.

Sal and his traveling Vizsla, Egri Luna Bella of Edisonia

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Google 411 Toll-Free (FREE) Information

This is another great new Google service. Basically, Google now offers FREE toll-free service (AT&T charges me $1.25 per), all voice activated and you can have the info sent via text directly to your cell phone. You can watch the clip in the link above to learn more. I did try it and it works.

I suggest you program 800 466 4411 into your cell phone for easty of use.

Monday, July 14, 2008

First Blog Posting on Florida Travel Savings

Finally! My first blog posting. Now to ensure I don't make dumb mistakes, follow proper blog etiquette and don't come across as a complete pimp when I write about the great deals on Florida hotels and attraction tickets at one of my company websites, Really, I know one is supposed to blog on thoughts, experiences, etc., and not use blogging to market.

But hey, people can really save money using the Florida Vacation Auction, whether they "do" an auction or use the buy direct feature from one of our advertisers like the Nickelodeon Family Suites Hotel in Orlando, Starwood's Resort at Singer Island, The Sanibel Harbour Resort and Spa or the Hawthorn Suites Universal Orlando, right by Universal Studios. Quality hotels and resorts, with many offering great special offers at 20% or more off regular rates. Attraction tickets all around Florida are also offered like the Dolphin Harbor at the Miami Seaquarium, Disney’s High School Musical play at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater in Fort Myers, Jungle Island in Miami and The Florida Aquarium in Tampa Bay.

Travel auctions are not for everyone, but for those who do win on, savings of 50% or more on vacation accommodations and attraction tickets can be had. Plus unlike other travel auctions there aren't any fees added to a winning bid. See. Browse. Let me know what you think.