Over Christmas we went to Germany to see our family & friends. We had a wonderful time exploring the German Christmas market, playing cards and enjoying lots of good food. One of my highlights was our dog sledding tour in the Thuringia Forest. We have met the Kraft family many years ago who established themselves as the leading dog sledding & training school in Germany. They’re the sweetest people and their dog sledding team consists now over 17 dogs (mainly huskies – but also malamute, samojede, Czech wolf dog & more). They offer dog sledding tours, musher training, dog scooter tours, hiking with dogs and even alpaca tours (yes they own a pack of alpacas as well). You and your furry friend can also stay in one of their brand new apartments for a longer vacation. Julia (daughter) is a trained animal physiotherapist focused on natural healing methods and Ralf (dad) besides leading the tours, also published several children books. Check out Huskyerlebnisse.de for more information and mention my name for a recommendation – they’re awesome!
We didn’t have any snow in the city this year, but luckily there was snow in the forest to get the dogs out. Dog sledding is a really good work out too, as I like to run and push the cart to help the dogs. They listen to “Halt” (stop), “Go” and “straight”. I LOVED every minute of the tour!
Here’s the video from my dog sledding trip this year:
My next goal is to do a dog sledding tour in Canada – maybe even with an overnight stay in the middle of nowhere. Has anyone done it and can recommend an area and supplier? Please share!
As you know I love all animals but dogs have an extra special place in my heart. My favorite shows are The Dog Whisperer and Dogtown. When I still lived in Florida I wanted to volunteer at Dogtown which is a no-kill shelter in Utah, but timing didn’t work out at the time. So when we moved to California, I finally made plans to travel to Utah and volunteer for a day at Best Friends (aka Dogtown). The sanctuary is in Kanab and located in the beautiful red rock canyons in southern Utah. Its home to dogs, cats, bunnies, pigs, birds and horses – about 1,600 animals! I signed up to volunteer with dogs for an entire day. First was a quick orientation and then I was assigned to one of the dog kennels. They’re set up very intimate – you can’t imagine that so many animals live here – as they are small round houses with only a few kennels in each. They also have outdoor access whenever they want to a nice backyard. Dogs are grouped together by age or if they have any medical conditions. I was very impressed of the set up – as it doesn’t look like your regular shelter at all. Usually when you enter there’s a big hall with dogs barking and it feels very depressing – this was not the case. There were many volunteers so the dogs get out on a trail at least twice a day and are well taken care of with cuddles and love. Some of the volunteers stayed at cottages on the sanctuary and were able to take a dog with them for an overnight trip. I have to plan this next time (but I’m afraid I will not give the dog back after the weekend :-)). First I took out an older dog, who had his own customized doormat from a sponsor who visits regularly and sends gifts (see the picture on top). He was so sweet! They have nice trails where you can take out the dogs and play with them. I took walks with different dogs all morning – I wouldn’t be able to decide which one to adopt they were all so loving. The animals at Best Friends are cared for really well (in some cases better than other people at home would do). Of course, they still need to be adopted so other animals can be taken in at the sanctuary. However, I’ve never seen such a happy shelter! For lunch I went to the cafeteria which offers only vegan food. AWESOME! I had a delicious salad and the view on the terrace was spectacular! In the afternoon I helped cleaning up the kennels and trails (dog poop) and then it was time to say good bye! I do want to plan another overnight trip there – as it was such an amazing experience. They also have Best Friends Los Angeles – if you’re in the area there’s a STRUT YOUR MUT coming up October 22, 2016! If you don’t live close by check out the website and donate if you can.
I was excited to learn that there are some great beach dive spots on the Big Island, as I always get sea sick on boats. Last time we went on a scuba diving trip in the Florida Keys and I took bonine plus chewed ginger before and on the boat, and still got nauseous (and provided food for the reef fish). I wanted to get a dive guide for our first trip on the island, as I think it’s easier to follow a guide who knows where the reef is. However, the guy was not available on the day we wanted to go and the dive shop was very helpful in explaining us in detail where the good spots are. Also, Ulli always prefer to self explore than go with anyone else. So we rented our gear at Kohala Divers (recommended) and went to the beach dive spot in Puako. As I didn’t dive for a few months, we took our time with setting up our gear and not going too deep. It felt good to be in the warm waters (in California I usually wear a thick full wetsuit plus hoodie) and it was also pretty calm. On our first dive we explored the beginning of the reef. As it was such a positive experience, we rented the gear again on Day 5 and went back to the same dive spot. That time we actually went further out and found the lava tubes – amazing to dive through there! Unfortunately, we had the wrong filter & lens on our gopro camera, so none of our video reflects the underwater beauty. Later that day we went to Hapuna Beach for some more snorkeling (I became a fish on this trip) and I filmed with my iphone – at least I got some nice memories from my sea turtle friends (Honu). I went snorkeling every morning at the resort, where they were 3 turtles at home. They are so peaceful and gentle when they swim. It was very important for me to never get too close to them, even though they seemed not afraid.
On Wednesday we planned a zip lining trip in the rainforest –which is the other side of the island (Hilo side). The drive was quite spectacular as we started on the sunny, warm Kohala coast, drove over Mauna Kea –which is 4,200m above sea level – and it got freezing cold all of a sudden (we had our top down in the Jeep) and then went back down to the town of Hilo where it was warm and rainy. All of this within 2 hours of driving! We also spotted several rainbows – no wonder with all this change of weather.
We met with the tour operator of the zip line in Hilo and took their bus in a private area in the rain forest. Unfortunately, it was raining the entire trip – but the weather was still warm so I didn’t mind. I’ve done zip lining before and I’m not (too) afraid of heights, so I had a great time going through the lush green forest and enjoying the view different waterfalls. My favorite part of the tour was when we stopped for lunch/fruit snacks in this little hut. There was a pig that welcomed us and loved our fruit. Ulli and I named the pig Ziggy – it also had little piglets. They’re so smart – I could see having a pig as a pet 🙂