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Showing posts from September, 2009

Hi-Yo, Silver, away!

Slowly, but surely, Miss Maddie the alpine westie is gaining back her strength and stamina on these brief walks that we take around the mountainside. The hot summer temps are fading away, maybe too fast for my liking, but in the coolness of digits less than 70°F, the dogs handle it much better outdoors. We came across an old hotel over the weekend, its exterior still in good shape even if the property was no longer in operation. Along the outside wall, iron rings were firmly attached for way back in the days when people traveled by horse. An iron boot remover/puller was firmly embedded right next to the entrance. I've never taken riding lessons, but now I'm thinking, wouldn't it be fun to go on a vacation through the italian countryside only on horseback? I believe there are already these types of eco-tourism here, and I've read about one where you travel by donkey instead. The dogs would probably prefer to walk it themselves, as long as the pace was kept to a t

Hiking a little piece of the Via Francigena

Fur-kid #1. Alpha female. The senior dog. You can't imagine how excited she gets whenever the word "hike" is mentioned. Maddie lives for outings such as these, and there is no place that she won't go without that fearless westie bravado. I think it turned out to be the highlight of her trip, being that for Maddie aka the alpine westie, a vacation isn't a vacation unless you muck about in a forest. The Via Francigena of today is probably a lot more hospitable than it was centuries ago, and it is truly incredible to think that this route was once used by pilgrims on their way to Rome. The segment that we did is more of an easy [T - touristic] route, much of it gently winding through shady forest, hugging the course of a waterway. The trail is left of Hotel La Clusaz (midway between Etroubles and Gignod) and leads to the town of Gignod. It's a piece of cake for persons/dogs of all hiking levels, and popular with runners and mountain bikers. Just remem

Monte Bianco and the Giant's Tooth

Panoramic view as seen from the charming town of Pre-St-Didier in Valle d'Aosta. Monte Bianco on the left, the Giant's Tooth on the right, signaled by an arrow. 3rd day, Courmayeur — The big alpine blue. It just takes your breath away. The sun is mercilessly harsh at this altitude, and the mighty Monte Bianco has to be one of the most impressive of natural wonders in Italy. We were nearing the region's northern border again, avoiding the Mont Blanc tunnel leading into Chamonix, France, and getting close enough to gaze in wonder at what is known as the 11th highest peak in the world. She is majestic at 15,781 feet above sea level, and therefore demanding the sort of climbing skills way beyond our experience. We'll probably never visit during the busy ski season but there's one unique feature that nature buffs would appreciate - il Dente del Gigante - the Giant's Tooth. Second in popularity to Monte Bianco, this "tooth" is surrounded by myth f