Thursday, November 24, 2016

Stunt Dog Experience with Alex

Last Sunday, November 13th I took Alex to see The Stunt Dog Experience at our local Bankhead theatre. After crossing the street between the parking garage and the theatre we stopped to visit Livermore's iconic statue stationed directly in front of a corner ice cream shop. The sculpture is a charming portrayal of a boy sharing his ice cream with a dog. The title of the art sculpture is Sunday with Jessie. Alex patted the top of the dog's head. Many a hand must have done the same. The paint is wearing off in the stroking spot.

As we were about to enter theatre for the matinee show I had Alex pause by the poster advertising with The Stunt Dog Experience.

Once inside the theatre lobby was an area featuring a local adoption agency. Alex made friends with a little chihuahua. Every dog in the show had been rescued from a local shelter or pound. Several were narrowly adopted just the day before scheduled euthanasia.

I encouraged Alex to leave the dog he was petting to enter the theatre telling him there would be many more dogs inside. He needed convincing because I think his philosophy is a that a dog is like a bird – one in the hand in worth more than several in another room. But he and I did eventually head toward our seats. There were banners hanging on the stage.

I took my requisite event selfie of the two of us once we were settled in our seats.

Our seats were in Row L, not quite front row seats, but they were on aisle and the way seats were angled we had a great view. Being farther back was actually an advantage. We could see the full travel of the Frisbees as they were flung from one side of the stage to the other and high in the air, And when there were time trials where the dogs negotiated a slalom, a hoop, a tunnel and a ball catch, we could capture it all with little head movement. Alex laughed a lot, especially when the dogs barked and he clapped with glee at their antics.

After the show some of the canine stars gathered in the lobby for a meet and greet. One of the livelier performers was a part cattle dog mix, a high energy breed. The emcee of the show described him as part clown, part athlete, and part ADD. Alex petted him but we were told the dog was not a lover.

Alex had to go to another cream colored performer to get some doggie kisses.

Although it had been quite sunny when we arrived, the sky had opened up and it was pouring rain as we made our way outdoors back to the car. There was several inches of water building up within the gutters outside the garage.

I had not brought umbrellas but Alex was undaunted and squealed "wet...Wet...WET" as we scurried to the car. Well, "scurried" until our timing was off and we just missed the pedestrian crosswalk light. We had to stand in the pouring rain until it S-L-O-W-L-Y changed back to "walk". The picture does indeed reveal that Alex got wet!

Once home, Alex tried on his new stunt dog T-shirt. Efforts to get him to look at me and smile were fruitless.

Alex preferred to look down and admire his new shirt.

The stunt dogs from the show have fame all their own. From 1999-2000 they performed for every half time show for the San Francisco 49ers home games at Candlestick Park. They have been on television shows such as Late Night with Dave Letterman, The Ellen Degeneres Show, Good Morning America, and the Tonight Show. The founder and emcee of experience is Chris Perondi who is a firm believer and proponent of adopting dogs from rescues and shelters. Check out the web site and scroll down watch the feature video on Youtube. It is an excellent showing of what Alex and I enjoyed so much. There are a few facts about the show in the next photo. The Stunt Dog Experience is two 30-35 minute segments with a 15-20 minute intermission in between. Be sure to take the family when the touring show is near you. 

As I write this post on Thanksgiving Day, the National Dog Show is playing on the TV in the background. How ironic. These focus-bred canines are quite a contrast to the lovable, lively, eclectic mutts from the stunt show. I am learning a lot about the pedigreed pooches. Did you know that the long ears of basset hounds sweep along the ground as they sniff to help funnel the scent to their nose? Terriers have long tails and are white so that when they relentlessly pursue their quarry down a ground tunnel, the owner can see them and haul them back by their tail. I guess mutts, unlike pedigree breeds, were meant to entertain.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Half Moon Bay Birthday Trip

Yesterday was Frank's 68th birthday. I refrained from buying him yet another book. Our book shelves are overflowing and we have stacks around the house. I opted out of purchasing him another tool. He has specific ones that need replacing and only he knows those details. I suggested instead that we take a day trip to enjoy each other's company and see some interesting sights. We went to Half Moon Bay, a small coastal village with a quaint downtown area and state beaches, about sixty miles west-southwest of us on the Pacific coast. Going there mid-morning was a little over an hour's drive. Upon arrival we stopped at its visitor center to get our bearings and looked at this map on the wall.

We spent most of our time during our visit mainly in the downtown central area of the map. We drove a few blocks west on Main Street, parked, and strolled the area.

The first store we went in on Main Street was called The Paper Crane. The subtitle on the door reads Cards, Gifts, Letterpress.

It was actually a bit nostalgic for Frank. In the rear of the store were two presses with platens. His dad had those very same type of presses in the basement of his childhood home. He wondered what had happened to them and I learned he had even explored their availability on eBay.

The store actually still did printing - not the digital kind - hands on printing with ink and presses and metal blocks to form letter and number images. 

They had a huge selection of fonts along with composing sticks to do the typesetting.

Along one wall of another store was a huge ocean mural. The surfer is nearly life size. Compare Frank and him.

Another building had a stunning mosaic. Can you see the pumpkin? Look closely and you might spot the raccoon, too.

Perhaps the camouflaged masked critter is easier to pick out in this closeup.

We stopped for lunch at the Moonside Bakery and Cafe. In front was a metal sculpture that I assume doubled as a rack for parking bikes.

We shared a huge chicken sandwich, mmm. Then, since it is an award winning bakery and it was his birthday, Frank had a luscious pumpkin pie tart.

After finishing our tour down one side of Main Street we crossed to explore the opposite side. Look at this pretty house at the intersection where we crossed.

Some stores were clustered in groups and shared enclosed outdoor patio areas. Frank is relaxing in this one.

Color abounded in the area. I loved this two-tone purple bench next to the bright orange pumpkins. Alas, I am not Peter Pan and my shadow stuck with me for this photo in front of the Half Moon Bay Inn. Frank and I both thought we might like to come back and stay a night here sometime so we could spend longer than just half a day looking around and have the  opportunity to visit the beach area as well. We were aware that although it only took us an hour to get to Half Moon Bay earlier in the day, commuter traffic driving home could easily double that travel time. Once we were home I checked the HMB Inn website and the decor looked inviting and prices were not unreasonable. So next time... maybe...

We browsed a furniture store called Cottage Industries that carried impressive hand crafted furniture. In keeping with my collection of unusual signage, I offer this one that was posted at the entrance. Why is the arrow pointing up if it is a cellar? We did visit that cellar. Chip and Joanna Gaines from the HGTV show Fixer Upper would have approved of the decorative pieces there. Nice stuff in this store...

The hostess at the Visitor Bureau had told us to check out the Half Moon Bay Feed and Fuel Company, that it was fun. Well, I will admit that the screaming coral hue of the exterior paint was quite striking.

The arch shaped sign over the front door was also beckoning - at least perhaps to Frank.

But the true advertising intent of the sign was made apparent once we entered the store. There were indeed many, many, chicks.

One of the T-shirts they were selling had some well rounded words of advice from a pumpkin, courtesy of - 2013. Check out this fun site. It has pithy advice from several other sources of nature – tree, wolf, etc.

* Be well rounded * Get plenty of sunshine * Give thanks for life's bounty *
* Have a thick skin
 * Keep growing * Be outstanding in your field *
*  Don't go to seed *

When it was time to head home, we did drive past the beach briefly, knowing we would have to come back another time to get out of the car and do justice to the scenic walking trail. This sign caught our attention as we made our way out of town and back toward the freeway. I barely caught it in the cell phone view finder as we drove past. I must admit, I have never seen a sign like that before. It is further proof we were near the beach!

Once on the freeway we saw this exit that came before where we would get off. I asked Frank if he knew what Pulgas was. He did not, so I looked it up on my smart phone. Alameda de las Pulgas translates from Spanish to English as Grove of the Fleas. Yuk! How did this come about? 

I looked up the origins of the name and found this archive web site that stated

This Rancho received the name “Las Pulgas” from an incident which happened October 27, 1769 when the Portola Expedition camped near the ocean shore and the mouth of Purisima Creek. Camp was made on the south bank but some soldiers thought they would try sleeping in the deserted village of Indian tule huts on the north bank. Even one night’s occupancy was too long, and they fled, crying, “las pulgas,” the fleas. “Las Pulgas” was the name applied to the village, for its identification, in the notes of Constanso, the Army Engineer with the Expedition.

The drive home took longer because of the traffic but Frank and I easily passed the time listening and singing to the Beach Boys. It was a nice change from Disney's It's Small World that we have to play when Alex is in the car with us. Does this playlist bring back memories?

I had planned to cook up a ham steak and make sweet potatoes with melted marshmallows as a birthday dinner but it was kind of late. We looked at each other and I offered that I did have TV dinners in the freezer... Frank quickly said "Great, let's do that". So we skipped the fancy meal, but Frank did get a piece of brownie with ice cream along with a candle to blow out. I think the day's excursion, made on a lark, worked out well - better than a book or tool - and Frank agreed.