Puppies!!! by Tracy Munson

Speaking of Dogs Rescue has 2 adorable puppies available for adoption right now.  They won't last for long, so if you are looking for a large breed pup to add to your family, you will have to act fast.  I met these 2 and they are gorgeous, but they are going to be HUGE, so prospective families must be prepared for the responsibilities and training requirements of such a large companion.

Paul is a curious little love bug.  For more information on Paul, and to see if he is still available, click here.

Mary is a little braver and more independent than her brother.  When we were there, she was mostly interested in sleeping in the sun.  To find more info on Mary or to check her availability status, click here.

Springtime Continued... by Tracy Munson

Maybe it was the never ending winter that is making me want to squeeze every dewdrop and blossom out of this Spring, but I can't get enough!

A young doe among the Cherry Trees, early on a misty morning in High Park, Toronto.

High Park has been utterly insane, but if you get there early enough, you can still get photos without the crowds.  The morning we went was fabulously foggy, which is quickly becoming my favourite weather condition to take photos in.  I have a feeling that will serve me well on our upcoming trip to Newfoundland!

Early morning fog adds some atmosphere to the sakura in High Park, Toronto.

After an hour or so, the park was beginning to get more crowded (it was still only 7AM!).  We popped home for some coffee and pancakes and I took the opportunity to dash over to a neighbour's beautiful front garden to test out the macro capabilities of my new Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens.  Have I mentioned that I love this lens?

Raindrops on a white tulip petal. 

Pink tulip with raindrops on a textured background.

Then back to the park, by 8AM and already we got the last parking spot, only because someone was leaving!  We were hoping for some migratory birds, but had no luck and had to settle for Mr Wood Duck and his reflection.

A male wood duck and his reflection swimming in a pond in High Park, Toronto.

Speaking of Dogs Calendar Outtakes by Tracy Munson

Graham and I had such a blast photographing dogs for the Speaking of Dogs calendar on the weekend.  Last year's calendar turned out amazing, but I'll let you in on a little secret, this one is going to be even better!  There were some real characters in the bunch and a lot of hilarity. Here's a little sneak peek at some of my favourite outtakes.

Don't worry, I got loads of great photos of these dogs for the calendar...these just ain't them.

Don't worry, I got loads of great photos of these dogs for the calendar...these just ain't them.

Mature Lady "Champ" in Toronto by Tracy Munson

A few weeks ago, we met Champ,  a stunning German Shepherd dog who is looking for a home through Speaking of Dogs Rescue, in the Greater Toronto Area.  Champ is a classy lady who is aging with grace and hanging on to her looks rather well!  She is calm and dignified and would make a lovely and well mannered addition to the family.

Champ is a mature German Shepherd dog and a true lady.  She is seeking a home in the Greater Toronto Area.

Champ is a mature German Shepherd dog and a true lady.  She is seeking a home in the Greater Toronto Area.

After being spayed and having her teeth cleaned, it was discovered that Champ had Lyme disease! She has been treated and is feeling much better.  Don't worry, Lyme disease isn't contagious to other pets or people, but it is carried by ticks, so this is a reminder to be careful, use tick repellent and check yourself and pets thoroughly after hikes, especially in tall grasses.  I found one of the nasty little buggers on my neck last year, after wading into a field of canola after the perfect angle for a photo.

It was worth it, but only because I did NOT contract Lyme disease. That would have sucked.

It was worth it, but only because I did NOT contract Lyme disease. That would have sucked.

Anyway, I digress.  Champ is a wonderful dog (who really seems like she should have a dignified name like "Audrey" or "Emma").  You can find more information about Champ (perhaps short for Champagne?) here

Still a beauty, at 11 years young...we should all be so lucky!

Still a beauty, at 11 years young...we should all be so lucky!

Springtime in High Park by Tracy Munson

The Magnolias are out and the cherry blossoms are well on their way, the birds should arrive any day now.  Meanwhile, I'm still having fun with my new lensbaby (that's the actual name of the manufacturer, btw not like "furbaby".  I'm not that crazy about my lenses YET).

An elderly gentleman sits on a park bench and enjoys the cherry blossoms in High Park, Toronto.

A soft and dreamy photo of magnolia blooms, taken with the lensbaby velvet 56 lens.

A carving of a face in the trunk of a cherry tree in High Park, Toronto.

A carving of a face in the trunk of a cherry tree in High Park, Toronto.


Rescue Dog "Chex" in Toronto by Tracy Munson

This week, I photographed a lovely boy for Speaking of Dogs Rescue in Toronto.  He is an outgoing, energetic collie mix and he is very attentive and smart.  He also gets along well with other dogs, which is a bonus.  For more information on Chex and the other dogs available right now, visit http://speakingofdogs.com/available-dogs/

Chex is a rescue dog available in the GTA through Speaking of Dogs Rescue.

Chex is a rescue dog available in the GTA through Speaking of Dogs Rescue.

Chex is a rescue dog available in the GTA through Speaking of Dogs Rescue.

Chex is a rescue dog available in the GTA through Speaking of Dogs Rescue.

Chex is a rescue dog available in the GTA through Speaking of Dogs Rescue.

Chex is a rescue dog available in the GTA through Speaking of Dogs Rescue.

Springtime is coming.... by Tracy Munson

...And I got some new lenses!  Super excited about my new telephoto which is going to allow me to capture some pretty awesome wildlife photos AND my new, dreamy portrait and macro lens that will let me capture amazing details.  Can't wait to have more exotic subject matter than robins and squirrels.

Available Rescue Dogs in Toronto by Tracy Munson

Jacqueline is an adoptable dog, available in the Greater Toronto Area, through Speaking of Dogs Rescue. She is a bouncy, fun loving terrier mix. She is awaiting surgery due to some degenerative issues in her hip, but no one told her that and it is not slowing her down!
Jacqueline is an adoptable dog, available in the Greater Toronto Area, through Speaking of Dogs Rescue. She is a bouncy, fun loving terrier mix. She is awaiting surgery due to some degenerative issues in her hip, but no one told her that and it is not slowing her down!

Here are just a few of the lovely dogs available for adoption at Speaking of Dogs Rescue in Toronto this week.  I photographed these lovely ladies at Petopia, an awesome doggy daycare centre in the east end of Toronto that always keeps a few spaces open for rescue dogs awaiting foster homes.

For more information on Bijou, see here.

Penny is an adoptable dog in the Greater Toronto Area. This sweet, senior beagle is available throug Speaking of Dogs Rescue.
Penny is an adoptable dog in the Greater Toronto Area. This sweet, senior beagle is available throug Speaking of Dogs Rescue.
Jacqueline is an adoptable dog, available in the Greater Toronto Area, through Speaking of Dogs Rescue. This sweet Jack Russell Terrier (mix? she is tiny!) is 10 years old, but she looks like a puppy!
Jacqueline is an adoptable dog, available in the Greater Toronto Area, through Speaking of Dogs Rescue. This sweet Jack Russell Terrier (mix? she is tiny!) is 10 years old, but she looks like a puppy!

Travel with Dogs - Banff by Tracy Munson

Day 7 of travelling to British Columbia with dogs. My partner Graham, our 2 chihuahuas, Becca and Delgado and I take a 30 day road trip from Toronto to Pacific Rim National Park, on Vancouver Island, BC and back again. We will be camping, staying at pet friendly hotels and participating in whatever activities will allow us to bring our furry family along.

Becca and Delgado contemplate Two Jack Lake in Banff National Park.  

Becca and Delgado contemplate Two Jack Lake in Banff National Park.

 

The Plan: Spend 2 nights in Banff National Park and then head up the Icefields Parkway - supposedly one of the top 10 most scenic drives in the WORLD, to Jasper National Park for another 2 nights.

The Reality: That is exactly what we did! We finally got on track, hurray!

A Fairy Slipper orchid in Banff National Park. At last, we had time to stop and shoot the flowers.
A Fairy Slipper orchid in Banff National Park. At last, we had time to stop and shoot the flowers.

Day 7, at last we had a full day of staying in one spot and the weather was beautiful. We puttered around the campsite, feeling smug as those around us packed up and left. Eventually, we got cleaned up and went into Banff to pick up a few things, including a fishing licence for Graham. After that, we both agreed that, although we felt like we should go for a hike or something, what we really wanted after a week solid of driving was just to chill out and enjoy the nice weather. We meandered our way back to the campground, stopping for photos (me) and fishing (Graham) at Lake Minnewanka. I decided that would be a great spot to return to for sunset photos.

Back at the campsite, I relaxed while Graham went fishing in Two Jack Lake. We were visited by another squirrel, this time a red squirrel so bold he was sitting on the edge of the dogs' bowl, eating their food while Delgado snored in a sunbeam about a foot and a half away. I tried to get a photo, but when I moved, he ran up a tree and cussed me out loudly for about 45 minutes. I've met some vocal red squirrels in Ontario, but never one with such a foul mouth as this one!

So, the squirrel ran up a tree as soon as I pointed the camera at him, but here's how close he was to Delgado. He was sitting right on the edge of the bowl, eating kibble, without a care in the world.
So, the squirrel ran up a tree as soon as I pointed the camera at him, but here's how close he was to Delgado. He was sitting right on the edge of the bowl, eating kibble, without a care in the world.
Do you kiss your mother with that mouth? This foul mouthed red squirrel cussed me out for 45 minutes after I startled him while he was eating out of the dogs' bowl.
Do you kiss your mother with that mouth? This foul mouthed red squirrel cussed me out for 45 minutes after I startled him while he was eating out of the dogs' bowl.

Graham returned to camp without any fish, so it was pasta with homemade pesto for dinner - yum! Then, we had to zip into Canmore to grab some more fishing line because he got a snarl and lost half of his line. I was irritated at first, but on the way down, we saw several herds of elk and I got some great photos. This was the first exciting wildlife we'd seen on the trip, although we were pretty much bored with elk by the end of our time in the Rockies. When we were in the town of Canmore, we even saw elk just strolling across residential streets! We also saw 5 or 6 rabbits hopping around, but they all looked like domestic rabbits, not wild ones. Sure enough, it turns out that Canmore has a feral rabbit problem and there's even talk of a cull :(

A bull Elk with an impressive rack coming in.
A bull Elk with an impressive rack coming in.

Errand done, we headed back into the park, to my chosen sunset spot on Lake Minnewanka. It was a pretty sunset and I got some decent photos, but nothing as spectacular as I had been hoping for.  After awhile in the spot, when the colour was fading and the sky was darkening, I began packing it in. Another couple pulled up and stopped to take a few shots and the woman struck up a conversation with us, saying she was so happy to see another female photographer, that they were usually men. Then, she asked if we had seen the grizzly bear across from the gates of Two Jacks Lakeside Campground - OUR CAMPGROUND, just a few minutes earlier. She showed me amazing photos of an enormous grizzly on the back of her camera. Well, no, we didn't see the grizzly at our campground because I was too busy taking unspectacular photos of the stupid sunset! Doh!

The sunset view that held me back...
The sunset view that held me back...

It was not all for naught, though. It came up in our conversation that we were headed to Jasper the next day. It turned out that's where the other couple had just come from - they said their bear count on their trip so far was 16! She also gave us a tip on a road to drive in the evening to see bears and we did see a black bear there, which as of writing this, 2.5 weeks into our trip is still the only bear we've seen in a place where we could actually pull over to take photos. I'm kicking myself for not getting her name or giving her my card. She was so helpful and obviously very knowledgeable and experienced with photographing wildlife in that area. I would love to be able to thank her. Unfortunately, we were being eaten alive by mosquitos and also by our mutual certainty that our campsite was being ransacked by the grizzly bear as we stood there talking, (guilt, because we had forgotten and left dish cloths hanging on the line).

On the way back to the campground, I was feeling a little uneasy. I was desperately hoping to see a grizzly bear from the car, but I didn't care for the idea of seeing one in my campsite! That's when I made the second regrettable choice of the evening. As we came around a corner, Two Jack Lake came into view. Higher up than we had been, the sunset was back...and it was spectacular. I hopped out at an overlook, snapped a few quick shots and jumped back in the car. I just wanted to get back to the camp and make sure everything was ok...I guess I was also half hoping to see the grizzly bear, while simultaneously wishing he would be far away. That sunset I skipped out on after a couple of shots turned out to be the most fantastic of the whole trip (in my opinion - you can judge for yourself).

Sunset at Two Jack Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta.
Sunset at Two Jack Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta.

Of course, when we got back to camp, all was well and no sign of the bear. As we were getting ready to turn in, we did see a large coyote come out of the forest across the road and slink straight towards us. He had a very crouched down, stalking posture that really worried us...did he smell the Becca and Delgado? Did they smell delicious? Thankfully, they were already in the tent for the night and Graham and I both stood at the edge of the campsite and stared at him until he ran off down the road, but it was a bit scary.

This is a great example of why it's so important to keep even the best behaved dogs on leash at all times in the National Parks. I'd hate to think what would happen to a little dog who went charging out to bark at that coyote. It's possible that my years of working in vet clinics and shelters have made me paranoid, but I've seen firsthand SO many heartbreaking, one in a million disasters that no one would ever think could happen. Our little Delgado is so small (and unathletic) that we even worry about birds of prey stealing him.

With all of these thoughts in mind after the unease of the past hour, we settled in for a sleepless night. The cherry on top of the insomnia sundae was the wind, noisily rattling our tarps all night...if in fact it WAS the wind and not the grizzly bear or pack of coyotes that I was so certain of around 1:30 AM. Oh, and I had to pee. I really, REALLY had to pee. Without going in to too much detail, I will tell you that I am not proud of my actions that night and that they led to the purchase of an emergency pee bucket for the tent. I share this because I now see that this is an absolutely essential camping accessory for any highly imaginative woman over 40 who enjoys a beer or two before bed.

Some experimental, abstract photography from around the campsite ;)
Some experimental, abstract photography from around the campsite ;)

Driving to BC with Dogs, Prairies to Rockies by Tracy Munson

Days 4-6 of travelling to British Columbia with dogs. My partner Graham, our 2 chihuahuas, Becca and Delgado and I take a 30 day road trip from Toronto to Pacific Rim National Park, on Vancouver Island, BC and back again. We will be camping, staying at pet friendly hotels and participating in whatever activities will allow us to bring our furry family along.

The Plan: After crossing Ontario, the plan was to zip across Manitoba and Saskatchewan as quickly as possible and get to Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta.

The Reality: We had one night of decent weather, camping in east Saskatchewan, but the forecast was for rain and more rain if we stuck to our plan. Fortunately, we are flexible people.

We stayed at Fieldstone Campground near Moosomin, Saskatchewan on night four. Some fortuitous google maps misdirection led us into the actual town of Moosomin, rather than the campground. There was a really cool looking vintage grain elevator and we got some great shots of it, so google is forgiven this time (but not for all the other times it has led us astray on this trip!)

Grain Elevator
Grain Elevator

The campground itself was not located in the most scenic corner of Canada, but it was well kept and the sites seemed to have fairly good privacy. There were only a handful of people staying in the whole campground when we were there, so we barely saw or heard another soul. We visited mid-week in June, before the kids get out from school and the owners were obviously just getting geared up for summer.

There was a beautiful grove of fruit trees that met overhead along a lane way. I got some amazing photos early in the morning of the mist among the trees. I was a little bit devastated by all the blossoms on the ground - it looked like we missed them in full bloom by a week or so.

Morning Fog in Fieldstone Campground, Moosomin, Saskatchewan.
Morning Fog in Fieldstone Campground, Moosomin, Saskatchewan.

We had a very bold ground squirrel neighbour in our campsite. He did not care about the dogs AT ALL. He was foraging all around them, coming within inches. Becca was trembling, she just wanted to give him a little shake, SOOOO badly! If we had turned our backs for a second, I think she would have snatched him right up, but he didn't seem too concerned. Delgado was hilarious - the squirrel would come within a couple of inches of him and he would just turn his back and refuse to even look at it. This is the dog who is prepared to take on any Great Dane he meets, but he was completely defeated in the face of a little ground squirrel.  Fortunately for this fellow, we keep the dogs on leash at the campsite at all times.

A Ground Squirrel at our campsite in Saskatchewan was definitely pushing his luck with the dogs!
A Ground Squirrel at our campsite in Saskatchewan was definitely pushing his luck with the dogs!

We packed up and hit the road day 5, a lovely morning but it didn't last and soon enough we were back in rain. We kept our hopes up until about 4pm, but by that time the downpour was so torrential that camping was out of the question. We stayed in a motel in Swift Current, on the far west side of Saskatchewan. It was time to regroup. It was calling for the rain to continue for the next few days in the area of Dinosaur Park and for nice weather in the Rockies, but a few days later, it would reverse. Basically, it looked like sticking to our plan would mean we were stuck with bad weather indefinitely. We finally made the decision on the morning of day 6 to skip the badlands and head straight for The Rockies.

The rain was still heavy as we packed up the car that morning and we were really glad we hadn't tried to camp! I was becoming more and more apprehensive as the day wore on; the rain just was not letting up, but I was checking my weather app whenever I had a signal and it kept insisting that Banff was sunny. We reached Calgary...still raining and then, FINALLY, just past Calgary, the Rockies came into view AND WE COULD SEE THE SUN, streaming through the clouds! It was definitely a "hallelujah" moment...if we were that kind of people. Instead, we just took a lot of photos and felt our moods elevate, along with the...well...elevation.

The clouds break up and sun streams through, just as we approach the Rocky Mountains, near Banff National Park, Alberta. Hooray!
The clouds break up and sun streams through, just as we approach the Rocky Mountains, near Banff National Park, Alberta. Hooray!

I had gone on the Parks Canada website that morning to reserve us a site. I googled "best campground in Banff" and "best place to camp in Banff" and so on, and got little beyond the Parks' website and trip advisor. From reading trip advisor reviews, I had chosen Two Jack Lakeside Campground and it was lovely. If you are able to reserve one of the sites right on the lake, it would be well worth it. Having reserved only that morning, I wasn't able to get one of those sites, but ours was still pretty and only a short walk to the lake. The campground has lots of mature coniferous trees, which provide some privacy, but you can still see your neighbours. Despite this and the fact that the campground was full when we were there, it was almost eerily quiet. I kept catching myself whispering around the campsite! Although I didn't get a chance to check out the other campgrounds in Banff, I would not hesitate to recommend Two Jack Lakeside. In fact, we ran into some hikers from Red Deer a couple of days later, in Jasper. They spend a lot of time in the Rockies and said that Two Jack Lakeside was their favourite of the campgrounds in Banff.

Our two chihuahuas have a contemplative moment at Two Jack Lake.
Our two chihuahuas have a contemplative moment at Two Jack Lake.

Driving to BC with Dogs, Lake Superior to the Prairies by Tracy Munson

Days 3-4 of travelling to British Columbia with dogs. My partner Graham, our 2 chihuahuas, Becca and Delgado and I take a 30 day road trip from Toronto to Pacific Rim National Park, on Vancouver Island, BC and back again. We will be camping, staying at pet friendly hotels and participating in whatever activities will allow us to bring our furry family along.

How not to take a great photo of your dogs: Sit them in front of a loud, crashing waterfall on a cold, rainy day. Sometimes, you just aren't going to get the shot, no matter what you do.
How not to take a great photo of your dogs: Sit them in front of a loud, crashing waterfall on a cold, rainy day. Sometimes, you just aren't going to get the shot, no matter what you do.

The Plan: we had planned on spending the first night in Lake Superior Provincial Park and then making it to Quetico for the second and third nights. Seemed feasible to someone who last drove this route when she was almost 20 years younger...

The Reality: Turns out, now I can't sit in the car for so long and the dogs need walks and we keep stopping to take photos and to pick up odds and ends. Quetico was extremely optimistic, we didn't even make it to Thunder Bay by the second night. Also, summer is not here yet this June, at least not in northern Ontario. it was cold...REALLY very cold.

We wound up in a little place in Nipigon, called the Birchville Motel.  The room was small, but clean and not at all shabby. It had a nice, big TV and even had USB plugs to recharge devices - I don't think I've ever seen that before.  We were worried because, having driven around Nipigon, all the motels we saw looked super creepy and/or gross and then, driving out of town there was one that looked BEAUTIFUL, like a log cabin motel...and of course, it had a "no vacancy" sign. I knew from google maps that there was one more motel to go and thankfully it was small and neat looking and I didn't feel like we would be axe-murdered there AND they allowed dogs, so...SOLD!  (In fairness to Nipigon, all small towns look to me like a place I may be axe murdered in, when I'm pulling in late in the evening, and it's starting to rain and I still don't have a place to stay...but if I roll into that same small town on a sunny afternoon, with nothing but time on my hands, I'll probably decide that I want to live there.)

Day three, we carried on towards Thunder Bay. We stopped to shed a tear at the Terry Fox Memorial and to ponder the difference one remarkable human being can make in the world. The skies were becoming ominous and our conversation a was a bit glum.

Terry Fox ended his run across Canada to raise money for cancer research, just outside of Thunder Bay, when it was discovered that his cancer had spread to his lungs. He passed away 9 months later, but over $600,000,000 has been raised in his name.
Terry Fox ended his run across Canada to raise money for cancer research, just outside of Thunder Bay, when it was discovered that his cancer had spread to his lungs. He passed away 9 months later, but over $600,000,000 has been raised in his name.

We made it to Kakabeka Falls just in time to snap a few photos and then the intermittent drizzle turned into serious rain. This was the day that we learned the real difference between weather resistant and waterproof. It turns our that the rooftop bag we bought for the car AND my backpack which was inside it are just weather resistant...and not very. Night 3 was spent in yet another hotel, the Super 8 in Kenora. It was ok, but not as nice and modern as the one in the Sault. Also, the room may have looked shabbier than it really was, because my clothes were hanging from every surface, trying to dry out.

I guess there is the occasional scene that doesn't look better with a dog in front of it.
I guess there is the occasional scene that doesn't look better with a dog in front of it.

With regard to travelling with the dogs, however, I must say the rooftop bag has been extremely helpful and now we know enough to pack everything inside garbage bags! We drive a Toyota Echo hatchback and space is at a premium. On previous road trips, the passenger has had some combination of the two dogs on their lap and at their feet. Not a big deal for an hour, but not being able to move your feet for hours on end becomes problematic on longer trips, especially when you have passed a certain age. Now that we have a lot of our stuff on the roof, we can have a crate accessible in the back seat for the dogs to climb into and it makes a big difference. They seem to really like it, too and half the time when they jump up on the passenger's lap now, it's to climb over us and into the crate! (Our dogs sleep in crates most nights, so they love their little dens). We had originally wanted to purchase a hard shell rooftop carrier, which obviously would have been preferable, but just couldn't find one to fit our tiny car. Fortunately, our dogs are quite happy to sleep a number hours every day that would make an overweight, geriatric house cat feel ashamed. They sleep all day in the car and then just conk right out in the hotel room as soon as we're settled in. They enjoy long walks and stuff, but they don't seem to REQUIRE any exercise at all, which makes them perfect travel companions for us! This trip would be very different with, say a 2 year old Border Collie!

Day 4, we made it across Manitoba and into Saskatchewan, where we actually had 1 night of nice weather and were finally able to camp.  (Coming up next ;)

This is the only photo I took in Manitoba. This is the only photo TO take in Manitoba. If you can picture this (+/- the blue sky and white fluffy clouds) for 6 hours or so, then there is no need for you to ever drive across Manitoba. You're welcome.
This is the only photo I took in Manitoba. This is the only photo TO take in Manitoba. If you can picture this (+/- the blue sky and white fluffy clouds) for 6 hours or so, then there is no need for you to ever drive across Manitoba. You're welcome.

Driving to BC with dogs, Sault Ste Marie by Tracy Munson

Days 1 and 2 of travelling to British Columbia with dogs. My partner Graham, our 2 chihuahuas, Becca and Delgado and I take a 30 day road trip from Toronto to Pacific Rim National Park, on Vancouver Island, BC and back again. We will be camping, staying at pet friendly hotels and participating in whatever activities will allow us to bring our furry family along.

Dogs on driftwood, Harmony Beach, Lake Superior ON
Dogs on driftwood, Harmony Beach, Lake Superior ON

The starting point: Toronto

The Plan: camp in Lake Superior Provincial Park for the first night.

The reality: we got off to a much later start than we had planned (not really surprising). Having been up until 1 AM packing, we weren't too keen to get up and start our 10 hour drive when the alarm went off at 6. The result was that we ended up hitting the road around 9:30 AM, which put us in Sault Ste Marie going on 6 PM. It was getting chilly and windy and we decided that the shores of Lake Superior may not be for us tonight. The temperature was going down to 3 degrees Celsius. A quick search on trip advisor found that the Super 8 in Sault Ste Marie allowed pets, so we booked a room. From previous travels, I expected it to be mediocre, but it exceeded my expectations.

Upon check in, I was told that the only rooms that allow pets are the 2 queen bed rooms (I had booked a single queen room), but that, because I had already paid for the room online, she had to give it to me for that price. I don't know if that will be the case at all the Super 8's along the route, but you can bet I'll be trying it again! The room was clean and actually quite nice!

The staff were very friendly and helpful and recommended the sushi restaurant next door. I never need my arm twisted to eat sushi, so I was right on board with that. The restaurant has an all you can eat menu if you eat in, but we had to get takeout because we can't leave the dogs alone in the room on account of as how Delgado screams like a possessed demon baby. The prices were very reasonable and the food was excellent. The restaurant offers a 10% discount if you show your room key, but CRAP! I forgot to do that!

The complimentary breakfast offered in the hotel lobby was also way beyond my expectations. Besides a selection of cereal and pre-packaged muffins, they had French toast, eggs and a freakin' waffle iron and batter! The coffee was weak, but at least it didn't taste unpleasant.

The weather reports for where we were headed in the next couple of days didn't look favourable (it's not often you see the commitment of a 99% chance of rain!), so we decided to take advantage of the sunshine on day 2 and putter along, stopping wherever we wanted and taking lots of photos. I'm so glad that it worked out that way, because we saw some beautiful beaches through Superior Provincial Park and took a dirt road a few kilometres off the highway to High Falls, near Wawa, which was well worth it, although we got absolutely devoured by mosquitos...I suspect that will be a common theme on this trip. Finally, we stopped in Terrace Bay for a snack, some photos at the beach and waterfall and Graham even got to throw a few casts.  I had forgotten how beautiful it is, driving along highway 17 on the shores of Lake Superior. I suspect that we won't be so impressed with it by the time we're on our way home, but for now it's quite spectacular.

Next:  Driving to BC with Dogs - Lake Superior to the Prairies

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Take better pet photos with the camera you've got. by Tracy Munson

Adorable chihuahua in a pink coat.
Adorable chihuahua in a pink coat.

Welcome to the tips and tricks section of Hair of the Dog Photography. My goal in writing this is to help you take better photos of your pets with the camera you've got - even if it's just a point and shoot or a smart phone. These tutorials will be aimed mostly at pet owners who want to take better photos of their furry friends and shelter staff whose intake photos of the animals that come through their doors could make the difference between life and death. The common thread is that both groups are usually trying to photograph animals in less than ideal conditions, with less than ideal gear. That doesn't mean you can't get a good photo, though - one that will make your Facebook friends gush or have streams of people wanting to adopt the cat with the cute shelter picture, it's just a bit more challenging.

I've spent a lot of time in the last three years learning about photography. The understanding I've gained has helped improve the photos I take with my "big girl camera" (my DSLR), by leaps and bounds. The thing is, even I don't always have my big camera with me when moments happen. When I'm at work, in the animal shelter, I need to be able to take decent photos of the animals with an outdated point and shoot and no photoshop to fall back on. What I have learned about how the camera works has helped me to get better photos, even with inferior gear. I understand, though, that if you're here, it's probably more because you're a pet lover than an aspiring photographer, so I will keep my explanations simple and show lots of examples and cute pet photos. When possible, I will also provide links to articles exploring the subject in more depth for those who are interested. I hope you'll have fun learning about pet photography along with me. You'll probably find that most of these principles will work equally well to improve your photos of your children and just about everything else, as well. If there are any specific topics you are anxious to see covered, comment below and I'll move them to the top of the list! If you want to make sure you don't miss a post, you can subscribe to my blog by email and you'll receive notifications whenever there's a new post. Alternately, you can sign up for my newsletter and receive updates once every month or so.

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Next post in this series: Light, light, light

High Park in Spring by 80s_girl

A male Oriole among the cherry blossoms in High Park, Toronto.

Here are some of my favourite images, so far from High Park in spring this year.  We're heading back this evening and hoping that the cherry blossoms will be in full bloom and maybe that we will see some more birds.  Last time we were there, we saw several orioles, a flicker and a kingfisher, but only the swans have co-operated for photos.