Watercubs & Kivisilmän

working show-quality newfoundlands

Introduction Our Dogs News Puppies Working Articles Photo Gallery
News - 2014                                  News 2013
News - 2010-12

News - 2009
News - 2008 Our dogs in the news

USA trip 2014

We most definitely hadn't been planning on another trip to the USA in 2014, but as several of Merita's puppies were moving there just as our summer was starting and as Bettina had received a vet clinic placement opportunity she would be crazy to reject, the trip was planned. Planning Annina and Bettina's flights was quite a challenge arranging Annina to travel from Paris with Jona and Sisu to NY and continue with Brook to Portland, while Bettina would travel from Brussels with Finny and Kimber straight to Portland via Vancouver and Seattle. Despite leaving on the same day, Bettina would reach Portland a day earlier as Annina had a long transfer at NY. Leska and Lynn (who own Orka) were kind enough to let us stay with them for the couple of days before we were to head on our long drive to Texas.

The flights were pretty uneventful and the puppies of course happy to get out, but also happy to go back into their crates. Surprisingly actually Kimber and Finny voluntarily spent their nights in the crate (door open) when at Leska & Lynn's! Brook was separated and spent the nights keeping Leska awake ;-). Kimber's owners had preordered some kibble which we ended up giving for the whole journey; "hamster food" as I call it! It was a good decision, as despite the pups having been on raw food when still with us and could have been on it during the trip (just would've meant
e stops during the drive), it was definitely the quick and easy decision for the trip. 

Our road trip from Portland to Dallas was carefully routed out, using our friends' knowledge of the area, google maps and roadtrippers.com (a very good site!!). Since Bettina was driving, she had the major definitive say in how long the days should be and where we'd book our hotels. We booked the hotels/motels in advance through booking.com just so that we'd know for sure that we'd find a location to stay overnight with the puppies rather than having to spend time finding a pet friendly motel within our price range.

Our rough itinerary indicating when and how far everything would be (took the addresses/phone numbers out before posting this):

Wednesday & Thursday

Bettina arrived to Portland Wednesday night. As it was a late arrival, we just crashed straight to bed. Thursday morning we took the time to wash Kimber and Finny before picking up Annina and Brook Thursday around midday.

Finny getting dried & Kimber getting dried after their washes

After the wash we packed all the pups and Orka into the car and headed to the airport with Leska and Lynn. As our rental car had to be picked up roughly at the same time as Annina, at the quick pick-up area we loaded Brook into the car with Leska, Lynn, Kimber, Finny and Orka, while I jumped out and headed to the rentals with Annina and her suit case. We would meet the pups back at Leska's house after picking up the rental car. We had many to choose from but our priorities were enough luggage and pup space as well as a light vehicle colour. We picked well! The car never got too hot despite it being +40C at some points of the trip. We were also able to guide the airflow to the back to the puppies by lifting the gps/radio board up. That kept the puppies cool and up warm enough.

Thursday afternoon we went to St Mary's Woods for a therapy dog visit. This is the place where Orka's been going to since he was a young puppy. All the residents were absolutely thrilled to be able to meet the puppies. This visit was something that Annina'd wanted to experience already for a long time. The visit was great for everyone involved. The puppies loved the attention, the residents loved seeing so many "little Orkas". Fortunately they'll be able to follow Brook grow up, just how they've followed Orka. It was slightly too warm for the puppies though and mentally exhausting, so we kept the visit short.

Cooling off in the front lawn (Annina taking photo).  -   Annina taking the puppies to the residents.

Thursday evening we spent at the house, getting ready for Friday's grooming session and the weekend waterwork trainings.

It was important to let the puppies be puppies - these photos are from their morning play. Getting damp from the dew, but thoroughly enjoying themselves!


Friday we held a grooming workshop.


Friday afternoon we did a little photoshoot:


Just to make it safe for everyone, Bettina hauled the load of puppies across the street while Annina kept a close eye (and hands on!)  the puppies. Only once we got to the "photo shoot area", we hitched Orka up. Annina undoubtedly had the most difficult job trying to keep the curious puppies still, but managed well :-)!


After the photoshoot we went for some food preparatory shopping for the trip - getting some dry snacks and lots of drinks (soft drinks and water) for the trip.

Saturday & Sunday

We held waterwork camps at Cottonwood beach. The schedule was our usual of starting the trainings at 9, training two separate groups 1,5 hours each, having a lunch break and a lecture and then training the groups another 1,5 hours each. We had full days each day, with some repeat participants from our -13 and -12 camps, as well as some from all the way from California, some new newfs as well as both our "puppies" from the area: Orka (Nostokurki) and Lydia (Telegrammi). It was really great training with everyone. We ended the trainings around 5pm on Saturday and 4pm Sunday. Everyone enjoyed the trainings, but seemed to especially learn from the Sunday afternoon trainings when we got the participants to think up of exercises for each other. Everyone was great at it despite it being a new way to think of waterwork for most of the participants :-).

Bettina holding the lecture - one of the groups training - participating in a group exercise

The puppies spent the day in their X-pen in the shade, but got plenty of attention from the participants and plenty of play time between the trainings to keep them sleeping :-). They also had their first opportunity to go for a swim, which they all eagerly went for :-). No hesitation at all.
Pups in their pen - pups swimming after a jump - Kimber swimming

Orka (K. Nostokurki) towing in Leska with Annina - Lydia (K. Telegrammi) bringing in an oar with Jackie and Bettina - Brook swimming to and towing in the rescue buoy.

Our friend Ken had given us paper maps which ended up being extremely useful. Rather than just following the satnav, we were actually able to follow where we were going much better; knowing what was around us and where we were heading next etc. Sunday after the trainings we still had 475km to cover before reaching our hotel, with planned stops at a Newf statue and at Stonehenge. From the waterwork camp at Cottonwood beach, we took the road 14 heading west, crossed over the Columbia River on the Bridge of Gods onto road 84 which we took all the way to Baker city where our hotel was. Our first stop was going to be a newf statues at Cascade locks, but unfortunately we couldn't see it from the main road and it would've just been a guessing game to where it was had we decided to go looking for it. As it was only the start of our trip, we decided to continue ahead.

Columbia river

Our next impromptu stop was at Starvation Creek because we still wanted some photos of the Columbia river before it got too dark. We'd fed the puppies as we'd packed the car leaving Cottonwood and so it was time to let them out. Both peed and pooped, posed for some photos and then went back to sleep in the car as we headed off. 

Finny & Kimber - Starvation Creek with Columbia River in the background

Only 1,5 hours inland (east) the scenery was already changing from the lushious green pinewood forests to a much barer and dried landscape. It went from dark green to yellow. The rock features and plateaus in the hills were facinating. Even though we were still following the same river and had only driven a short while, it was like we'd come to a different world.

Transition from lushious green forest to dry rocky hard ground with only a little vegetation - "lines" in the hills

These photo are from around the Dalles area. Some of the "lines" were "tilted" but still straight as if drawn with a ruler.

Our next planned stop was to try to find Stonehenge (World War 1 memorial site). It was one of the sites we'd found through roadtrippers.com website and thought it might be nice to see as we haven't had the chance to visit the "original" Stonehenge in the UK. We saw it from across the river already but had a little detour through a farm yard first ;-).

Bettina with Kimber & Finny looking over the Columbia River. Note the mountain at the far right :-)!  

 Bettina with the pups at Stonehenge. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous from the top. We could've spent ages up there, but as we knew we still had a long road ahead, we soon got back on the road towards our motel.

We lost view of the Columbia river soon after, heading towards inland. The sun started to go down around Pendelton. We saw signs for Threemile Canyon, Boardman, Sage Center, Boarman Tire factory. We also saw our first "Dust Blowing Area" sign of the trip (for 40 miles!). We passed, Umatilla, Walla walla, Echo. As it was getting dark and we couldn't really take many more photos or see the scenery along the way, we stopped at a gas station to get some coffee. Their "strong" ended up being like dishwater ;-), only making us really want another bathroom break! And so we stopped at a Jack in the Box in a random little town where everything else was closed. The sunset was beautiful and the rest of the tip we drove in darkness. We got to Baker City before midnight. We fed and walked the pups, took our wetsuits to dry and went to bed. We set the alarm for 7AM, and as we'd decided to take turns taking the pups out during the night, Annina was to wake up if and when they needed to go. The pups settled in quickly and the night was uneventful.

Dust storm area - our first glimpse of what it really means "flat land" (nothing in comparison to Texas though!) - beautiful sunset


Monday's journey was planned to be 1258km, being estimed to be approximately 12 hours plus stops. We woke up early, ate breakfast, filled up the car, did a quick detour through a supermarket and left Baker City around 8AM. We didn't really have any specific points that we wanted to see along the route, apart from trying to reach the Arches and dead horse point state park before it got dark, so that we could backtrack to Green River (motel) and continue onwards from there on Tuesday. Unfortunately didn't quite get to see either of them, as the trip ended up taking slightly too long due to some traffic when going by Salt Lake City. We missed both by approximately 30 minutes!

Anyway, Monday morning we packed the car and left Eldorado Inn (decent hotel) on the 84 towards East. As our arrival had been in the darkness, we were amazed to see some tall high snow capped mountains in front of us. The scenery had changed from "flat & yellow" to being more mountainous with low spare harsh bush. We passed a cement plant, saw our first long train (60 wagons), passed Snake river and some other random places with random names ;-).

The view from Baker City, OR  -  Undulating landscape

Undulating landscape with some decent rises. The roads were perfect and were that through the whole journey.

Our first stop was at the state line crossing between Oregon and Idaho. We were to only cut a small corner of the state, but a state line crossing is ALWAYS a good photo op! It was also a good time to let the pups out for a little walk. This was the first time that we could feel it getting warmer. Once again, once we crossed the border, the scenery changed. From slightly undulating hills, it became flat again. We also saw the first signs of warmer climate through seeing field watering on throughout the day on lushious green fields when the surrounding ground was yellow and dry. 

Idaho border - change of landscape - green artificially watered fields

Difficult to appreciate but again we saw razor sharp level plateaus - it was flat, but beautiful

We passed Mountain Home, King Hill and Bliss. Then we started seeing signs for "dust storm area"s again, "safety corridor" signs and signs with "stay alert, stay alive". It's difficult to appreciate from the photos how large these planes were, but essentially they were like pancakes with mountains on the sides. When you see "water" on the road because it's so flat, you know it sure is flat! We decided to turn the radio on for entertainment, but the majority of the channels had either gospel music or pop songs about Jesus ;-).

"high winds", dust storm cautions. The safety corridor was at the mountain range. "Occasional blinding dust".

A view at the "safety corridor" - Mandatory photo of a Coca Cola truck! - Kimber peeking :-)

  Idaho - First cows!

We entered Utah at elevation 4513ft, pulled to the first rest stop and were disappointed to not see any "welcome to Utah" signs! The pups went for a little wonder around with Annina while I filled the car up again. It was definitely starting to get hot even though it was only midday. There weren't many stations along the road up until now, so we decided to stay on the safe side and fill up every time the meter went to 1/4 tank. After all it WAS a rental and we didn't know how accurate the meter was.. Even though it definitely wasn't my first time filling up, I was amazed a how cheap it is. Don't you Americans ever say it's expensive to fill up! We got some coffee for the road (good coffee!) and off we went. We definitely noticed we'd changed state again by seeing a different view when looking out. We'd reached the "mountain range". It started being more undulating again, with a green grass cover on the ground. Then we started to head towards a different set of mountains.

Annina and the pups looking at the trucks. When you see Annina in a T-shirt, you know it's warm! -

Scenery coming into Utah.

Starting to head towards the mountain range that ran all the way from northern Salt Lake City to its southern side. Looking at the map, this is Box Elder Peak, close to Garland and Tremonton.

We saw a sign for "Honeyville, Bear River".  We finally managed to spot a "Welcome to Utah" sign and had to stop for photos.
It was Annina's time to pose with the pups - and then I took Kimber for a little walk while Annina walked Finny. Before the trip we'd promised to concentrate on one pup each, allowing them to get some one-on-one personal training time and bonding with us rather than always needing to compete for attention. Finny was Annina's pup, Kimber was Bettina's.

Bettina pointing to "her" mountain with a gigantic "B"  -  Finally starting to see some traffic approaching Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City on the left. It all looked extremely clean and pretty. Probably a city worth vising another time! We just cruised past. We did get stuck in a traffic jam on the south side of SLC, debated getting out and getting some food, but decided we'd rather just wait it out on the motorway. I am glad that we did though, because the evening news said there'd been a death (shooting) right by the exit we would've taken! Glad we stayed in the car and continued.

It was around 4.45PM and 92 F (33.3C). The car was keeping cool and we were advancing pretty well on our trip, but this time Bettina was desperately needing the bathroom again. Instead of just stopping at rest stop, we found a Wallmart and decided to stop there. Just for a quick bathroom break. Annina did of course also go, but she also fed the pups and really let them play outside in the shade. The puppies had been excellent travel company sleeping in the car for the journey, so they definitely deserved a quick rough play session while waiting for Bettina.

We continued again and drove past Provo, a sign saying "If you die today; heaven or hell". Though that sign was followed by a reassuring(?) "No fatalities in Utah on the roads for 4 day". I don't know if we should be more concerned by how low the number was (FOUR DAYS!) or concerned for the fact that they were advertising it?

Southern Salt Lake City / Provo area   -  Willard Reservoir on the right

At Ogden,we continued onto the 15S, and at Provo we decided to take the smaller road 6  through Price and to Green River where our motel was, instead of taking the larger 15 and then 70. At this point we were doubtful we would get all the way to the Arches and didn't want to repeat-drive on the 70 the following day. At least taking this smaller road would allow us to see more. And what a GREAT choice it was. This was again new scenery that seemed to change every corner we took!

Just as quickly as it always changed - it was now GREEN again!   -  This was our first glimpse of the stunning redness of the rocks that we admired the whole of the next day

Beautiful green undulating hills - red, light red, green and blue all together in the same landscape - my tanned hands showing our way to calculate and remember how many wagons we'd seen in the long trains, this one had 94!

Once we had gotten through the green "mountains", the landscape became rocky

... until it opened to THIS view. We kept pointing to each other "look at that", "wooow", "there", "take a photo of that". It was breathtaking!


Taking the pups for a final little wonder before reaching Green River. - this photo is just from the opposite side of the road where we parked.

We drove a little ways along the 70 and 191 towards Moab, but as it was really getting dark, we decided to make U-turn and just go to the hotel. It was like "from Mars" as a friend described it. Absolutely gorgeous and out of this world. Something you need to see to believe. We found a small store in Green City, got good big salads, walked and fed the pups and went to bed. At the hotel we got a pack of "Kahvi" (Finnish word for coffee!) in our room which was a nice surprise. As it was finally cooling down, the pups really played in the room with Annina's shoe ;) (and a couple of toys) before zonking out. It was my turn to wake up during the night and I did. As I took the pups out in the early morning, a GSD with its hair up and teeth showing ran towards us - I quickly rushed the pups back in and decided not to go out without Annina again until morning! The dog was probably just a guard dog, but really scared me, being out with the two pups! The rest of the night was uneventful.


Tuesday morning we again woke up around 7am. Let the puppies out (went together after last night's scare), fed them, ate some breakfast and headed off.

Bettina with the pups - ignore how perfectly Bettina aimed and parked the car ;) The parking lot was empty so this was allowed ;-)

Annina with the pups at our motel - view from our motel at Green River.

Our first stop was to fill up the car and then head onto the road 6 west.

Our Tuesday's journey time was going to be 158km, with a rough time estimation to be approximately 13 hours plus stops due to the smaller roads and lower speed limits. Our route which we took was: continue road 6 west, then take the turn onto a smaller road 24 south towards Capitol Reef. From 24 we turned to 12 south and drove through Grand Staircase and Bryce Canyon. We then got onto the bigger 89 south through Kanab all the way to Page, continuing south until taking a turn west to 64 towards the Grand Canyon. We then took the 180 south to Flagstaff and continued on the 40 east to Holbrook where we'd booked our motel.

As we got onto the 6, the first sign was "no services for 106 miles"; it was a relief we'd just filled up! The scenery was absolutely amazing; just what we'd seen a glimpse of the previous evening. Vast open spaces with fascinating rock formations and "mountains".

These are taken on the 6 right after Green River.

We saw some amazing rock formations and "lines" on the rocks 

Still on the 6 - the roads were excellent with only a couple of other cars

Once we took the turn to 24, we barely saw any cars anywhere. 

On the 24 we saw a sign for "Goblin Valley state park". We're assuming it's the rock formation on the right.

An amazing "white line" going across the mountains

As we knew we would be heading South for most of the day and the temperatures would start to get higher and higher as the day went past, we decided to pull over onto the side of the road to let the pups out and decided to take some photos of the surroundings with the pups while it was still morning and not so hot yet. This was the first time we really noticed how the puppies were getting bigger and heavier every day!

Thousand Lake Mountain in the background

Just some size perspective - that's Bettina & Finny in front of the rock formation! The puppy pics are taken on opposite sides of the road - stunning views.

We crossed the "dirty devil river" (which actually had some water in it! - we assumed the name came from its red/muddy water colour). We also finally saw some civilization; a school bus stop and a house in a dream location!

I will just let the photos show what we saw:




These photos show the "Mars" feeling we'd also experienced the previous night driving West on 6.


It was facinating to see the shapes of the rocks and think about how they'd formed.

From the vast open areas and straight road the landscape changed quickly as we drove into the Captiol Reef area (still on the 24). It was now a very windy road, close to high mountain sides. Beautiful rock formations, but with none of the open spaces we'd just seen. It was time to take the pups out again for a little wonder as it was't too hot yet. We took a couple of photos also :-).


Smaller windier roads by the rock formatios - "cheese grated" rocks

Beautiful colours on the rocks and such distinct lines between the layers!

This was a totally "new" red for us - breathtakingly beautiful!

We then reached Torrey (a small little town) and turned onto the 12 towards South. We had high expectations for the views on this road as it had been described as one of the best sight seeing roads to take. Road 24 had already exceeded our expectations for this trip, so we were eager to see what 12 would reveal.

Torrey where we turned from 24 to 12   -

 To our surprise the landscape changed from the arid rocky scenery to a very "European" look of an evergreen forest all around! This was the Dixie National Forest. 

This was NOT what we had been expecting after what we'd driven through this morning. We actually saw some signs for snow plow warnings and "icy road" signs on our way up - we were climbing up high.
We pulled up for a bathroom break at a rest stop and got a "car advert" photo (it IS a good car, btw!)

The scenery then changed from the evergreen forest to a grassland-type scenery. We were at 9600FT.

And then just as quickly as it'd changed from dry arid to evergreen, it changed to this. We had reached the Grand Straircase. It was spectacular. Photos do not do justice to it.

Just imagine this view in all directions as far as you can see.

Windy road down from the Grand Staircase. On the way down we saw a "Kiva Coffeehouse", which means "Fun" coffee house in Finnish.


Between Grand Staircase and Bryce Canyon, saw some horses

The road 12 was very slow to drive on and wasn't as impressive as 24 had been, probably because we're used to seeing evergreen forests and preferred admiring the rock formations. The Grand Staircase is something definitely worth seeing, but we wondered (if/when we visited the area again), if it was possible to get to it another way rather than having to drive through Dixie Forest? As we were getting to the end of 12 we got a glimpse of what Bryce Canyon was all about (altitude still at 7777 feet).  We actually preferred the Red Canyon to Bryce Canyon! The photos again don't do justice to the redness of the rocks. It was almost a blinding orange/red colour. The temperatures were climbing, but as Finny'd expressed to us that he needed to go out (a loud sigh), we pulled over and let them out again.

Entering Bryce Canyon - the hillsides were RED - the photos aren't enhanced or moditied - in reality the redness is close to the picture on the right.

Taking a little break. This was the first time we could actually feel a "heat wave" when we stepped out of the car. Finny & Kimber in the photos.

These are from Red Canyon.

It had been a long morning and just as we were getting to the end of 12 we saw a sign for "free coffee"; lured by the advert, we headed into an indian gift shop. Unfortunately they were out of coffee and as the temperatures were rising and we still had a long way ahead, we continued ahead. At this point we confirmed that we would no longer be able to leave the pups in the car unattended, not even for quick bathroom breaks, because as soon as we turned the engine and air conditioning off, the car would heat up in a matter of minutes. We would alternate the bathroom breaks, keeping the car running.

We turned onto Highway 89 South. Saw signs for an animal sanctuary (50 miles ahead!), got stopped at some road works (interestingly rather than having automatic lights to indicate when it was safe to continue, there was a person with a Stop sign dressed in all orange. We felt bad for her having to be in the heat of the asphalt in such heavy clothing with a hard hat on! We ate some Chips Ahoy ice cream creations root bear float chocolate chip cookies and yogurt covered prazels. Very yummy! We saw a stand by the road that sold rocks (?).

Highway 89 right after Bryce Canyon - Highway 89 around 15 miles before Kanab.

Highway 89 was beautiful but nothing in comparison to what we'd seen this morning. We decided to skip going to Zion national park because we still had a long way ahead of us.

Road to Kanab - Some "caves" in the rocks.

We passed Kanab and instead of taking the 89A and crossing over to Arizona, we decided to stay on the Utah side and take the 89 west as we wondered if we'd see some of the the Grand Staircase again. We didn't, but we saw some other rock formations on our way towards Page.

Spectacular red mountains

"Lines" on the mountain range.

We knew we were getting closer to the Arizona border when we passed Big Water. Despite its name, there was no water around to be seen, but indicated by a road name called "Fish Hatchery Road".
It was 2PM and 100F (37.8C) outside. We were glad we'd stopped often enough that the puppies would hopefully sleep through this heat in the cool car instead of needing to go out (and they did).
We had reached Glen Canyon. 

Big Water - Glen Canyon

The soil was now very dusty instead of rocky or having undergrowth like before. - Glen Canyon

We saw signs for the Arizona border and a sign with "A million dollar view - just for you" advertising Page. And just that it was! We started seeing glimpses of Lake Powell; the bluest blue water we'd ever seen. With the blue water and the red rocks - it really was a million dollar view. I was glad we'd chosen to take this route.

Lake Powell from Wahweap overlook. The scenery was stunning. This was one of my favorite locations throughout the trip. - Snapshot of Annina taking the photos

We took a dirt road track to a Wahweap overlook sightseeing spot up high. This time Kimber needed to go out. As it was hot we really didn't go our for a walk, but instead carried the pups one at a time a couple of meters from the car from where we thought they might go and hoped they would (they did). Kimber really wanted to go back into the car; it was too hot for her. To our surprise our black Finny didn't seem to mind the heat! We were quick with both though of course, but already now we were seeing a distinct difference in Kimber and Finny's heat sensitivity!

This shows how close the car we really were (car running) Kimber & Finny.

A "Thumbs up" for Finny! - Glen Canyon Dam and the bridge we took from the edge of one cliff to the edge of the other! 

Glen Canyon Dam was at 3827 feet. The first town on the Arizona side just five minutes along the 89 after the dam was Page. Founded in 1957, sitting at the height of 4300ft. We were starting to get hungry, were still wanting the coffee we'd mentioned when leaving Bryce Canyon, but we really had to fill up. We quickly filled up first, but as it was so warm outside, the car heated up to a very high temp already in the five minutes the airconditioning was off for the filling up, we decided to continue instead. We did manage to spot an Arizona sign on a parking lot, pulled up close, got everything ready and took a photo in less than a minute before packing the pups back into the cool car.

Pups & the Arizona sign - leaving Page (a very new town)

Upon leaving Page we saw signs for "watch for animals", indicating free roaming livestock. We were also entering the Indian Reservoir - something that especially Annina wanted to see. We were probably expecting to see the stereotypical native americans with their horses, feather hats and well you know.. We didn't, but we saw a lot of similar unbuilt landscape to what we'd seen earlier during the day. What amazed us both is the extent of unbuilt land everywhere. Since pretty much early afternoon yesterday we'd only seen smaller towns with vast planes of non-built areas. Yes we were going through national parks, but even then you'd never see such areas anywhere in Europe. In Europe you could maybe see an open area, but within five minutes to an hour of where you were, you'd reach habitation.

We saw the most spectacular mirages on the road after leaving Page. We were also amazed that they'd fenced the road sides for most of the way. We probably spent a good half an hour trying to figure out why, until we reached the conclusion that it was to keep tourists from "wanting to go to that rock" and not making it due underestimating how far it was & hot temperatures. We came to that conclusion because the fences wouldn't've been sturdy or high enough to keep animals off the road (and no animals could really sneak up onto the road without you seeing them due to the flat plateaus where the visibility was tens of kilometers).

Here you can see the fencing - Mirage - Selling native indian jewellery

Driving on 89 through an Indian reservoir - Beautiful scenery 

We stopped at one of the Indian jewellery stalls - I bought Annina a necklace, Annina bought me bear earrings. I also got us some beef jerky (as we still hadn't had a proper lunch!). The sun was starting to go down and we still needed to reach Grand Canyon before sunset. We really needed to just continue ahead. The pups were sleeping and we were getting good km coverage. We turned onto 64 and headed towards Grand Canyon. Upon opening the jerky packet Mr Finny woke up. We put the packet down, he went to sleep. We took another piece of jerky - Finny woke up, and so it continued until we made the connection that we should just take a piece and put it in our mouths as quickly as possible to not disturb his sleep ;). 

Our first views of the canyon.

Reaching Grand Canyon - The puppies enjoying their ride, sleeping veeeery contently like they did the whole journey

Once driving past the entry payment kiosk we were surprised that we couldn't see any of the canyon from the car; only deep forest on both sides of the road! We were following the map they'd given us and as we only had moments before it started to get dim, we strategically skipped the first sightseeing turn off counting that everyone else would go there. We pulled off on the second and third short roads to the edge, and stopped a couple of other times just on the side of the road in places where we could see the canyon from the road.

The Grand Canyon really was superb, but probably because we'd already seen SO MUCH during the day it was difficult to appreciate it. Probably like Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon has been overadvertised so we had high expectations and had an idea of what we were going to see already, and that's why they didn't make as big of impressions on us as Red Canyon, Grand Staircase and Wahweap overlook.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon - Bettina with Finny
Bettina and Finny - Annina with Kimber - Annina with Finny and Kimber

Annina walking the pups - Bettina walking the pups - Bettina hiding behind the pups for the "puppies only" photo


Finny & Kimber - Kimber and Finny

As the sun was starting to set, the temperature started to drop down and we were really able to take the puppies out for a good walk around. Both pooped, played a little outside and ate some before we continued ahead. There was no rush anymore as we'd reached all our sight seeing spots for the day. We missed out on seeing the Meteor crater that Annina had wanted to at the end of the day, but we would've only gotten there after dark and so it wouldn't've been worth it. Had we not lost time on 12 earlier during the day we *might* have just made it there by sunset.

We stopped at the first food place aftere exiting Grand Canyon where we got big coffees each and a pizza to go. This was the first food and coffee since breakfast, the coffee that we'd been wanting to get since stopping at the "free coffee" sign early afternoon!

180 South - last photos of the day

We took the 180 South from Grand Canyon towards Flagstaff, after which 40 East to Holbrook where our motel for the night was going to be. The night was uneventful apart from the rally Finny and Kimber did all night - stretching their legs and running around the room, really growling and playing as loudly as they could. It was finally cool for them ;-). They had been absolute angels for the car journey though, letting us know with a big sigh or a small whine (just once!) if they wanted to go out for a pee. And when we took them out, just like our dogs, they peed immediately, even if it was only a tiny tinkle (we always took both out if one had to go) which it usually was. They slept contently for pretty much the whole day in the car.  


Wednesday morning we set the alarm again for 7AM, but didn't get out of bed until 8AM. We were both shattered and really needed the extra hour to wake up. While Bettina took the pups out and showered, Annina had breakfast. Then Annina stayed in the room to shower and pack up and Bettina went for breakfast across the road from the hotel. Funny thing is, despite not talking to each other before breakfast, we both sat at the same seat, ordered the same food, ate it in the same order, ordered exactly the same amount of coffee. The waitress laughed and said we must've been traveling together!

We left the hotel closer to 8.30-9AM. We'd stayed at Americas Best Value Inn at Holbrook. It really wasn't "best value", but instead a very dodgy hotel with mouldy bathroom, stained walls, airco unit half hanging off the wall and as I turned the lights off before shutting the door to leave, the light bulb burnt out. Good timing. It was time to go.

Our trip was going to be the longest in km's today covering roughly 1350km (estimating it to be roughly 13 hours not including stops). We were going to drive through the Petrified Forest and see the Cadillac Ranch. If we had time we might stop by Breaking Bad houses in Albaquerque (Annina's demand!).

Since we'd driven the last couple of hours the previous night in darkness into Holbrook, we really didn't have any idea what it was like outside. It was flat-ish, arid with low bushes. The fire danger was "orange" (on a scale from green, blue, yellow, orange, red).

Scenery near Holbrook - Entry to the Petrified forest

We started driving on the 180 South, then took the Petrified Forest Road. We were lured into the first giftshop even before entering the petrified forest by a sign for "free petrified wood" - we got two :-) and also bought a mug and a couple of cards from there. We got a couple of leaflets telling us what we could and could not do (do not pick up your own rocks!), a map of the area and a little info on how the petrified wood had formed. Petrified wood is wood that's become solid as a rock over time. It was fascinating! The rocks were formed 50-200 million years ago from trees that were buried in mud and volcanic ash. The decaying wood spaces waere filled with water and minerals until it became solid rock..

Entering the petrified forest, this road actually had a sign of "caution bumpy road", but was as flat and smooth as one can be - "wood log" on the side of the road

Very "volcanic" type formations - Bettina carrying Finny for his pose with the log

Finny and Bettina - Scenery from petrified forest road - A "forest"

We were suprised how little "wood" there actually was in the area, with only one larger "forest" that we saw from the road. There was some volcanic-type formations along the road and large flat planes. It was beautiful, but we felt that we'd already seen so much the previous day that nothing could top it ;-). That's the trouble with traveling a lot! We stopped at the Newspaper rocks where Annina took photos and saw some petroglyphs on the rocks. Our next stop was the Painted Deset. This was a stunning stop. Everything was red and beautiful as far as you could see. This wasn't as "red" as the previous day, more like a pink-ish tone.

Stunning painted desert

Posing for some photos - This time Annina hiding to get the "pups only" photo - Annina walking Kimber - success!

Annina taking photo - on our way after painted desert

We let the puppies out (peed), took a couple of photos and hoped that they would sleep for as long as possible as we would now be getting on the highway 40 towards East (old Route 66 :-) ) and the temperatures would only be getting warmer. It was warm, but it wasn't hot yet. We were going to drive on 40 for most of the way, so weren't suprised by the "continue 209 miles then stay left" the navigator showed us. It was around midday, with 12 more hours on the satnav. We crossed over Dead River and Crazy Creek, saw lots of rest stop signs for indian jewellery and signs for indian reservations. We saw a pancake house. The landscape was mostly flat, with some occasional rock formations.

A couple of photos of the rock formations 

We crossed the New Mexico state line. There were lots of "Gusty winds" signs and "safety corridor" signs around. We stopped at the first visitors center hoping to see a "Welcome to New Mexico" sign. Not quite what we wanted, but got the NM sign in with the pups!

Typical scenery in New Mexico

Very typical scenery - New Mexico sign with the pups

The gusty wind signs and signs for safety corridors weren't for nothing as we saw some real dust storms! They were both facinating and terrifying at the same time (there really are none in Europe). We'd seen some very small ones earlier during the trip in Idaho on the planes, but they were nothing in comparison to the ones we saw in New Mexico. I think you can almost make out one "dust tornado" in the photo above left, a little under and left of the orange wind sock. There had actually been a dust storm forming not far from where we took the pups&sign photo, it was interesting to see it from so close, seeing all the individual clumps of dirt being lifted from the ground. Needless to say that we took the photo quickly and continued ahead.

We saw lots of signs for casinos, lots of U-HAUL trailors, passed Casa Blanca (yep we've seen the movie), Annina tried taking photos of the signs indicating how large of a fine you'd get if you ran over a road traffic worker (not that we were planning on it, but just for our own interest to see where the fines were largest ;-) ) and how much it cost to build the roads. The road works really weren't road works like we'd been used to, as we hardly had to slow down or even noticed that there was work going on. The roads were pretty perfect though; wide lanes, straight roads, easy to drive on. There wasn't much traffic either.

Typical New Mexico scenery - Safety corridor - typical scenery

We then stopped at a Route 66 cafe - the pups didn't need to go out, but Bettina did! We bought a couple of coffee mugs as souvenirs and some actual coffee to do. As the temperatures were getting higher, Annina stayed in the car.

Road 40 East - The rest stop we stopped at on the right

Since we knew today was going to be a long one, we decided not to drive into Albuquerque and drive past the Breaking Bad house, but instead Annina insisted on getting a good photo of sign with Albuquerque. From since we'd crossed the New Mexico border Annina had been looking out for the Albuquerque signs (she'd promised to send a photo to a friend - they are both Breaking Bad fans). We approced the city... but saw NONE! Annina was furious at me for telling her to wait until we get closer so that instead of getting a photo of a sign with "Albuquerque 400 miles", she'd get something that indicated it was a little closer than that.. But the plan failed miserably. We drove through Albuquerque and didn't even realize we'd driven all the way through it until Annina turned her head on the motorway and looked at the signs for the oncoming traffic.. As we'd missed the Meteor crater the previous night, we'd decided to skip on seeing the Breaking Bad house; we HAD to _at least_ get a photo of the city name! And so while Annina was desperately flicking through the photos on the camera, I pulled at an exit, hoping to get her the "Albuquerque" sign. We wouldn't need to turn around, but at least see a sign for going back to where we'd come from. And we did (see below).

Approaching Albuquerque - in Albuquerque on 40

Leaving Albuquerque - Annina's "Albuquerque West" sign

Well this wasn't quite what we wanted, but it was good enough to keep Annina happy. Probably the only reason why she said "fine" was because she also got "old Hwy 66" in the same photo ;-). I think she's now learned not to listen to me ;-). Looking back at the photos, she also got a sign with "Albuquerque 189miles".

Another 9 hours to go! We saw signs for "free smells", Zuzax, Moriarty, a large kennel advert on the side of the road (shelties and corgis) :-(, and indoor shooting range at Moriarty, a sign with "Moriarty... stay the night...", Free 72oz steak. As the scenery in New Mexico really was pretty similar for most of the way, Annina worked on our upcoming waterwork presentation. Bettina had her notes in Finnish from our last camp, so Annina translated them and added a couple of new bits of info. 

Annina working on the presentation - Finny looking out at the scenery

It was flat so it wasn't suprising that there were lots of dust storm warnings - Finny's looking to see what we're doing - A small dust storm forming (not the greatest of photos) - New Mexico

Dust storms, all the warning signs and cautionary tales of tornados the Californians had said right before we'd left Portland a couple of days earlier really made us sit on the edge of our seat when we saw a dark sky and what looked like "connections" from the clouds to the ground. Since we'd only ever seen tornadoes in movies, we didn't take any chances and quickly stopped to fill with gas at the next station and rushed ahead, keeping an eye on the rest of the traffic (we figured that if it was something we needed to be worried about, the locals would get off the main roads etc,), kept the radio on, and kept our heads turned towards the storm. It ended up "only" being a very heavy thunder storm that didn't reach us, but it definitely didn't look good at all. Fortunately we just got a bad scare that everyone is allowed to laugh about ;-).

Lots of tyres on the side of the road, starting to also see trucks on the road, excellent roads. - It was a lot greener than what it had been this morning in Arizona.

We then saw a sign for "You are now leaving New Mexico - Land of Enchantment" . We'd crossed the state line to Texas. At the Texas border we were reminded that we entered the Central Time Zone, and remined to "drive friendly - the Texan way" with lots of Texas flags indicating we'd changed state in case we hadn't noticed the signs ;-). The scenery changed to flat cultivated land with lots of derelict silos by the side of the road. They were very facinating complexes to both of us, but especially to Bettina having an Agriculture background. These buildings reminded her of Estonia and Latvia. We also saw lots of very fancy picnic areas by the side of the road. We also saw probably the biggest herd of dairy cattle I've ever seen (the usual herd size in UK is approx 200/head). This was the first time we also saw signs for clean bathrooms at rest stops. Usually cleanliness is a given, so we never even thought it could be used as a lure to get tourists to stop ;-). We also saw Hope road and Helium road.

It's difficult to take photos of flat land, but this is pretty much it! - Derelict(?) buildings

We were approaching Amararillo. Just as Annina was getting frustrated at not seeing any signs for Cadillac Ranch and as she pulled the map out to check where were expecting it to be and how long it would be until we'd get there, she looked out the window and a fair distance away from the road she saw the cadillacs all ligned up! Phew, we hadn't missed that also! As it was getting dimmer, we were eager to try to figure out how to get there. We pulled out at the next exit. We didn't see any signs and I wanted to continue ahead as I didn't want to start wondering aimlessly trying to figure out how to get there. Annina jumped out of the car and went to ask some locals. We were shown a small dirt tract to take and we got there! We took the puppies out and walked to the cars. As it had rained earlier during the day, the ground was wet by the cars and as we didn't want muddy pups, Annina waited on the side while I found a spraypaint can that actually worked and wrote "Watercubs" on the head of the first car. Annina posed for some photos, the pups walked and did their business. It was a good stop for them. It wasn't too hot outside as it was cloudy and it was getting dimmer.

Annina with the pups walking to Cadillac Ranch - Annina with Kimber

We really hadn't seen any "Welcome to Texas" signs anywhere yet and as it was getting dimmer, we were hoping to finally see a visitors center sign in Amarillo and we did. We finally got our "Texas" photos with the pups. There were signs for rattle snakes, so we kept the pups closeby and didn't let them venture into any of the grassy areas or off path.

Last photo of the day with the Texas sign.

We still had 5 hours left on the satnav when we finished taking the photos and left Amarillo. As I wanted to get as far as we could while still sunlight, we drove past Amarillo instead of stopping there to eat. Bad choice on my part! We took the 287 towards Dallas in darkness. We always saw the signs for food too late, or any places that we saw were closed or would have been a detour away. We ended up stopping at a dark petrol station a couple of hours later where we filled up, got coffees and shared one cheese hotdog. We continued ahead, hoping to find at least something anywhere. We finally found an open McDonalds and went through their drive through - bad choice. We ended up being in a cue of 3 cars, each car taking approx 15 minutes to be served! It was the longest wait we'd ever had for "fast food", and when we did get the food it tasted very fatty and bland. We continued ahead and reached Keller (near Dallas) a couple of hours later in the early morning hours. We handed Kimber and Finny over to Karen (Finny's owner) and went straight to bed. It was a great feeling to know that we wouldn't have to wake up at night anymore from now on ;-). Thank you Karen! We'd organized Patty and Mike to come the next day to pick up their Kimber. We'd delived the precious cargo safely from Brussels Belgium to Keller Texas in 7 days. We'd had the time of our lives doing it and I'm sure the puppies had enjoyed the trip also. I do feel that it was important though for them that we traveled with the puppies for the journey as they could (and did) fully rely and trust us to take care of them without any worry in all the new locations throughout the trip.

Kimber and Finny sleeping in the car. I just wished there was audio related to this as you'd hear their deep snoring! - Ended up going 3000 miles!

We slept until later morning, had breakfast and then drove to the airport to return our car. We'd arranged to meet Patty and Mike at the airport from where they'd take us back to Karen's house. First we drove around the airport at least three times trying to figure out where the car rentals were, then we couldn't get a hold of Patty or Mike because they couldn't text our phones back (had to message via Karen) and then we couldn't find them because they were waiting at a different level to where we were ;-). We did in the end manage to find each other and arrange a future meeting spot if we were ever meeting there again ;-). We'd met Patty and Mike and Karen last year and so it was really great seeing them all together again :-). We got to Karen's house, talked about our trip, took some photos with everyone and then Kimber left for her home while we groomed Karen's other newf Meggie. We met up again later that afternoon to check out the waterwork area and let the pups swim. It definitely was a lot warmer than what it had been in Oregon! Everyone had a great time and the location was perfect for the next two days of camps.

Karen with Finny, Patty with Kimber - Mike and Patty with Kimber (photos: Mike Taylor)

Bettina, Kimber, Finny and Annina with a map of the trip behind them (photos: Mike Taylor, map: Ken Norman; thank you!)

Kimber & Finny's first swim in Texas
(photos: Mike Taylor)

Friday & Saturday

Friday and Saturday we had half day waterwork workshops focusing on each and every dog's problem areas individually. We had full days both days, with mostly dogs from last year's camp, which meant that we already knew them roughly and could jump to the problem areas quickly. Most dogs worked on carrying objects all the way to the shore (not dropping when beaching) and taking things out to a stranger (carrying on land and transitioning to swimming). A couple of dogs worked on jumps and a couple on other things. It was important for the handler to be able to identify what they specifically wanted to work on rather than just having a fun time without a training goal in mind. Most dogs achieved and well exceeded their goals. It was though reminded that even though they worked well during the session, they should continue with the techniques we showed them at their own trainings in the future. At the end of each day we had some "group exercises" and also a lecture. The camps were overall very successful as everyone seemed thrilled at what they'd learned, what their dogs learned and demanding when we'd hold our next camp ;-).

Both afternoons we headed back to the beach with Karen and Patty and Mike's other dogs and the pups. In the evening/afternoons we went our for dinners (very yummy!) with them.

Trying to figure out a group exercise - Everyone following what's happening in the water - Bettina & Annina


Sunday was our departure date. We packed our bags at Karen's, met up with Patty and Mike one more time to say goodbye to Finny and Kimber, left for the airport and promised to come back summer 2016. Annina flew back to London and took the train to Nottingham and went straight back to work. Bettina flew to Denver, Colorado where Jan Curtis met her and drove her to her house in Colorado Springs. Bettina stayed with Jan and her 7 newfs and worked at her veterinary practice for the next two weeks. She learned a lot of practical skills and got do so much more than she'd ever dreamt of. Thank you for an absolutely awesome placement, there's just no words to describe how beneficial the experience was :-). During 4th July weekend Bettina flew back to Dallas to see Finny and Kimber one last time (and to pick up her camera!) while going to three dog shows; the dog shows were very different from European shows. There was a washing station, the halls were bright, the airconditioning was on, the rings were decent size, there were specified grooming areas, you were allowed to use lots of products (and everyone did!) and everyone was very formal-looking in the ring. Very different from European shows.

Lone Star State Classic show hall - Jan with her newfs :-)

After spending two weeks in Colorado, Bettins flew to Finland for a two week summer holiday. The two weeks really wasn't much of a holiday with puppies and friends coming to train at our summer cottage every day of the week and shows during the weekends. After the two weeks she drove back to the UK with Merita (stopping in Belgium to say hello to Morgan-pup), spent three weeks at another vet practice, moved to Edinburgh, spent two weeks at another vet practice and then started university again.

All in all the summer was very busy; starting with puppies (vet checks, socialization trips, school trip etc.) and traveling (French international waterwork event, waterwork camp in Finland, our USA trip) and ending with work placements, but it most definitely was worth it. Wouldn't swap a day of it - but maybe just add a couple of extra hours to each day ;-).

Baron, Merita, Ruuti, with Koda and Myrsky visiting for waterwork - Merita and Morgan after a waterwork session

Rolli viting and playing with sister Merita - Merita, Ruuti, Baron and our visitor Thelma 

Ariel and Ruuti in Estonia (Ruuti was BOB and 3rd best in Group and became EE CH)- Vera and Merita (over the summer Vera got Achievers level 1, Merita got A & B and Achievers 1 & 2)

(c) Salmelin