Tag: figure 8 island
Only once has Ace plunged into the surf with reckless abandon.
That was his first time. At a beach in Delaware, upon his first sighting of the Atlantic, he bolted out into the water, only to get hit face first with a giant wave that flipped him over. Ever since then, he has exercised caution, and only with encouragement from multiple people has it been possible to beckon him out any deeper than his knees.
Yesterday, though, as we continue to drag out our departure from Figure 8 Island in North Carolina, he ended up playing in the surf – and without seeming preoccupied about how big and scary the next wave might be. That was thanks to two dogs, a blue tennis ball and a girl named Georgia.
We’d stopped at the Winston house — the same family that provided a personalized watering station for Ace, complete with signage, over the weekend — to visit again with Mac, a golden retriever, and Jet, a black Lab.
Ace had seemed only mildly interested in the dogs on our earlier visit, partly because he was worn out, partly because that’s the way he is. While he immediately warms up to people, it takes him a while with dogs. (I’m the opposite). He’s nice enough upon meeting another dog, but it usually takes him 15 minutes or so of sniffing and acting aloof and reserved — especially with other big dogs — before he’ll even consider playing.
But getting together with Mac and Jet, and realizing there was no shade he could lay low in, he participated in some canine frolicking, all instigated by 8-year-old Georgia.
She’s a take charge sort, but not in a bossy way.
Georgia told me she plans to become an animal doctor. (That was her term, and a much more manageable one than “veterinarian.”) And she did seem to have a way with dogs — not just her own, Jet, but her aunt’s dog, Mac, and even Ace.
On the beach, she seemed a master choreographer, leading them in their antics, and she offered to throw the tennis ball I’d brought along, assuming Jet and Mac would chase it even though Ace wasn’t likely to.
At one point, I stood in the ocean with my camera and asked her to throw the ball over my head, so I could take pictures of Jet and Mac charging through the waves to get it. Surprisingly, a couple of times, Ace showed up in the frame, apparently not wanting to be left out of the fun.
Later, with the help of some peanut butter crackers, Georgia demonstrated Jet’s obedience skills, and soon had Mac and Ace under her spell as well.
One gets the sense, even at 8, and even if her plans to become an animal doctor change, Georgia is going to accomplish what she sets out to in life. When she heard I was writing a book, she asked to be in it. When told the book was based on my travels with Ace a year ago, she said she’d settle for being on ohmidog!
Told that would require permission from her parents, she left, returning a few minutes later with a note from her mother.
“I hereby allow ohmidog! to place any and all photos of my sweet Georgia “Peach” Winston,” it said. “Jet Winston, too!”
When I jokingly asked her if she wrote the note herself, Georgia said no, adding that she hasn’t mastered cursive yet.
I assured her that would be easy. It’s just like printing, only with waves.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 8th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animal doctors, animals, ball, beach, dogs, figure 8, figure 8 island, georgia, jet, mac, obedience, ocean, pets, photography, playing, surf, swimming, training, travels with ace, veterinarians, water, waves, winston
How nice is this?
Ace and I were taking the mile-long walk down to the end of Figure 8 Island and back on Sunday when we stopped to meet some other dogs — a golden retriever named Mac and a black Lab named Jet.
Their owners were on the beach, and though strangers — to me, at least – they offered Ace, who was looking a little bedraggled by then, some water. He graciously accepted and drank their entire supply.
After some chatting, Ace, I and friends moved on, walking to the inlet and turning around for the hike back. By then — it being especially hot, and our morning walk having started around noon — Ace was really dragging. In addition to being nearly as out of shape as his master, he had been taking in a little salt water each time he gingerly waded into the ocean.
We were passing by Mac and Jet’s house again when — though the people and dogs had all gone inside – we came across the note above, written in the sand, with an arrow that pointed to a full bowl of fresh water.
Ace made a beeline for it, lapped some up, then laid down, resting his chin on the edge and drinking almost the whole bowl before lazily getting up and lumbering a few hundred more yards.
All along the way, in addition to sniffing in the smells, he was keeping an eye open for shade. Anytime he saw a group under an umbrella, he felt the need to visit, and not being on a leash (shame on me) he did.
We hadn’t gotten far from the Ace watering station when another woman beckoned, and we, eyeing the shade of her umbrella, veered in her direction. She went to a cooler and pulled out a bottled water, pouring it into her cupped hand for Ace. He polished off the whole thing.
Issuing thanks again (though no one was offering me water, I might point out), we trudged homeward — by now having fallen far behind our friends, due to our slower pace and Ace’s philosophy when it comes to humans: There are no strangers — only friends he hasn’t yet met (who might also have good stuff like water and treats and shade).
Shade can be hard to find at the beach.
Kindness, though, is usually only as far as the next beach chair.
(Photos by Amelia Bellows)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 7th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, beach, dog, dogs, drinking, figure 8 island, friends, heat, hot, jet, kindness, mac, north carolina, pets, reunion, salt water, shade, strangers, travels with ace, vacation, water
This photo seems to sum up Ace’s feelings (as I read them, anyway) about the ocean.
Upon seeing it, he starts acting half his age (I do too), gets totally energized (I do somewhat), and bolts into the water until a wave hits him and he starts having second thoughts.
He eagerly chased this ball into the ocean (and he’s not real into ball chasing) and scooped it up. Then, though his tail was in full curl – the barometer by which I measure his happiness – he got a look on his face that seemed to say “what am I doing in here?”
Then he rushed ashore before the next wave broke. He loves the ocean. But he has a slight fear, or should we say healthy respect, of waves.
Ace and I were in Wilmington visiting friends Steve and Louise Coggins, who we’ve told you about before, and who, in addition to putting us up, sponsored my table at a “Lunch with an Author” event at Cape Fear Community College.
The event, which raises money for creative writing scholarships, was pretty easy duty — a two minute speech, and lunch with a friendly group of people who, by virtue of sitting at my table, got my book (“DOG, INC.: How a Collection of Visionaries, Rebels, Eccentrics and Their Pets Launched the Commercial Dog Cloning Industry.”)
Among the dozen North Carolina authors appearing were Rory Flynn, the daughter of Errol Flynn and author of “The Baron of Mulholland”; Martha D. Peterson, a former CIA agent and author of “The Widow Spy;” and Katerina Katsarka, author of “Around a Greek Table, Recipes and Stories.” Katerina also stayed at the home of Steve and Louise, and brought along some the best spanakopita I’ve ever had.
Ace didn’t get any of that — I don’t think – but he did manage to mooch more than his share of treats at their home on Figure 8 Island.
As opposed to the hands-free bottle, or an IV Coca-Cola drip?
The only downside of the trip was a flat tire. Fortunately it didn’t take place until I had arrived on the island. Unfortunately, my spare tire, while it rides on the back of my Jeep, is temporarily trapped behind a locking bicycle rack.
A locking rack whose key disappeared a long time ago. (It’s pretty amazing that, in our 27,000-mile road trip with Ace, that never arose as an issue.)
That appeared to mean I would need a tow-job, and a whole new tire, even though the ones on my car are only about two weeks old.
The tow-truck man quickly located the hole, though, and plugged it up. He also passed on some useful beach knowledge — misting yourself with a Listerine-water mix (I presume in a hand-held bottle), will keep no-see-ums away.
It was far too quick a beach visit, but a thoroughly enjoyable one, especially for Ace, who got a sufficient amount of ocean time, a more than sufficient amount of treats, and some quiet time with his good friend Earl.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 6th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, beach, cape fear community college, coca cola, coke, dog inc., dogs, figure 8 island, flat tire, hand held bottle, john woestendiek, lunch with an author, north carolina, ocean, pets, road trip, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, waves, wilmington
Once again it’s time to get out the metaphorical crowbar — metaphorical ones being far lighter and easier to use — and dislodge ourselves from the beach.
And once again, pry as I might, leaving isn’t easy.
Though the sun was making only intermittent appearances — which didn’t really matter, because even rain is better at the beach — Ace and I had a great four days in the Wilmington area.
Our appearance went well at Pomegranate Books — a fine little bookstore that pulled in an equally fine crowd. Ace got to meet a lot of people. I did some reading and talking and signed lots of copies of my book, “DOG, INC.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend.”
Our hosts, Steven and Louise Coggins, and their dog Earl, were hospitable and otherwise magnificent, somehow making time for us between their jobs and all the noble work they do, for a variety of causes, on their own time.
In connection with one of those, I got to go along to see a screening of the new documentary “Nefarious: Merchant of Souls,” the first of a planned three-part series on human trafficking.
As with my previous visits to their home on Figure 8 Island, I marveled at the amount of good-deed-doing they manage to squeeze into their lives — generally doing so while I was lazily sitting on a rope swing or lounge chair.
On Wednesday, leaving Ace and Earl behind, I went with another visiting friend to Wrightsville Beach, and lunch at a place called the Oceanic. Though muggy, we sat outside on the pier, sharing it — the pier, not the lunch — with the seagulls.
“Don’t feed the birds” signs were everywhere, as were the gulls, waiting to swoop in for the leftovers when diners departed.
As soon as I sat down, this one (above) landed right behind me, and managed to snag a french fry from the neighboring table just seconds after it was vacated. A waiter quickly came by and covered the basket of fries with his tray. Party pooper.
On Thursday, the sun was out in the morning, but then storm clouds rumbled in. For a good hour, though, the beach side of the house afforded sunny views, while, on the inland side, it was grey and dark, with flashes of lightning.
Earl, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, didn’t seem bothered at all by the thunder, while Ace, five times his size cowered with every rumble.
The rain and sun fought it out all day, both winning several rounds. Late in the afternoon, a drizzle was falling when I walked Ace and Earl on the beach. When we turned around and began walking back, into the wind, Ace fell into step behind me to keep dry, sometimes stepping on my heels, sometimes bumping into me when I stopped, which I did a lot, so he would bump into me.
This morning we packed up the stinkmobile for the trip back to Winston-Salem. My first day here, I had left my windows down, to air out the car. Rain left both front seats soaked, which only made it more pungent, and required I cover them with my collection of dog blankets, my towels, and some of Steve and Louise’s.
Finally, they seemed to have dried out.
I just hate leaving the beach.
It makes me feel a little like the seagulls, after the french fries are covered up.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 23rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, america, animals, appearance, author, beach, book signing, dog, figure 8 island, north carolina, pets, pomegranate books, road trip, travels with ace, wilmington
We interrupt these kudzu dogs to bring you a sad announcement from the beach: It’s time for Ace and me leave it.
I’ve always had difficulty leaving the beach — any beach. But this one, near Wilmington, N.C., is especially hard to tear myself away from.
While I have renewed my offer to our hosts, Steve and Louise Coggins, to be their live in gardener, while I’ve again contemplated being an island stowaway, bouncing from one unvacated house to the next, while the beach still beckons, tugs and all but wraps its arms around me, it’s time to go.
But I’m sitting here for a few more minutes in Steve and Louise’s all but empty oceanfront house — they both having gone to work on Monday morning. I’ll just have one more cup of coffee while my camera, computer, and cell phone enjoy the same kind of recharging my stay here has provided me.
Then I’ll go. I promise.
I should also whip out a quick thank you note. That might take a while. Then maybe one more walk on the beach. Then I’ll go. Really.
As I can’t find a pen, this will have to suffice, and maybe they will happen upon it.
Dear Steve and Louise and Earl (that’s their dog, pictured at the bottom of this post),
Thanks so much for inviting Ace and me to spend the weekend — and for all the wonderful food and drink and friendship.
I think I speak for Ace as well when I say there’s no place we more enjoy being — in part because of the scenery, in larger part because of your graciousness.
Sorry that you didn’t feel the time was right for a live-in gardener, but the offer remains.
It was great to see you guys again, and Earl, too. I’ll take him out for a quick walk on the beach as soon as I finish writing this, though that may delay my projected departure by another 30 minutes or so.
As a small token of our esteem, we leave you with a few beachy photographs — measly pictures of the things you see in real life everyday. The far greater and unrepayable gift is the one you bestowed on us by inviting us down.
Love, John and Ace.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 18th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, beach, college, departure, dog, dogs, earl, figure 8 island, friends, leaving the beach, louise coggins, north carolina, ocean, pets, photography, reunion, road trip, shore, steve coggins, travel, travels with ace, vacation, wilmington
No other place — and I’m just speaking for myself now — is, at once, so stimulating and soothing. Give us the sound of pounding surf, the sight of gliding pelicans and the smell of salt water and, of course, access to some air conditioning, and we are happy souls. All my senses, and perhaps even my brain, seem to to work better at the beach.
And this wasn’t just any beach. This was — in what was perhaps my biggest freeloading coup to date – a gated beach community, part-time home to North Carolina’s rich and famous, good old boys like Andy Griffith and not-so-good, not- so-old ones like John Edwards.
Figure 8 Island near Wilmington is a private paradise – not accessible to the beach-going hordes, private enough that celebrities (usually) find solace there, and dotted with mansions that seem to think they’re big enough to defy hurricanes.
Exclusive is what it is — the sort of place I’d be prone to make fun of, unless of course, I was invited in.
Once Ace and I were, we didn’t want to leave.
I’d made a point to time our continuing travels so that we’d be able to take advantage of an invitation to visit my former University of North Carolina classmates Steve and Louise Coggins, year-round residents of the island who were holding a mini-reunion for some college friends, most of whom I hadn’t laid eyes on in — as someone felt it necessary to point out — 35 years.
Steve, a lawyer, and Louise, a psychotherapist, are hard core dog lovers, and hard core people lovers as well. Earl, their Cavalier King Charles spaniel, is the latest in a long line of rescues. If rescuing dogs weren’t enough, Steve has also hauled some humans out of the ocean, and I’m guessing Louise, in her job, has pulled a few humans back from the riptides of life they were caught in as well.
They, and the other old friends I reconnected with, seem to remain just about as wacky as they were in college — Louise, who once tracked down Paul Newman on the island and talked him into posing for a picture, in particular. They seem to remain — despite all you hear about the vanishing idealism of my greying generation — just as idealistic and committed as they were then, too. Maybe even more so. If there’s a liberal cause, or a Democratic candidate, you can probably find its, his or her bumper sticker on the back of Louise’s car. (“Who would Jesus execute?” was my favorite.) And, beyond lip service, both she and her husband seem still up for a fight when it comes to what they think is right.
That, to me, was even more refreshing than getting slapped and tickled by a cold ocean wave, though I must report that the ocean is not cold at all. It’s the warmest I’ve ever felt it. (This continues to be the summer I came to believe in global warming.)
Ace and Earl hit it off immediately — Earl being a low key little dog who likes to sit in a lap, or other comfortable spot, and observe the humans, often with a quizzical stare that makes you think he’s still trying to figure out the species.
Ace — though he’s not big on swimming in the ocean, prefering to wade, was in his element, too.
He seems most content when among multiple friends, kind of like Steve and Louise. Their beach house — rebuilt after Hurricane Fran claimed their first — seems to have a steady stream of visitors coming and going. If it were a bed and breakfast, it would be doing a thriving business. I think there are long stretches between the times only they and Earl are there.
I hung around for two days, evening out my one-sided driving tan and pondering how I might extend my stay. I offered to become Steve and Louise’s live- in gardener — especially appropriate because, at their wedding, I, having gone attired in blue jeans, was mistaken for a gardener. I considered altering the dates of my visitor’s permit, or stowing away on the island, sleeping on the decks of unoccupied mansions during the night, frolicking in the surf by day.
But finally, and with great effort, I tore myself away.
Ace was even harder to tear away. For the first time on this trip, he didn’t come when I called him to jump in the car. Instead he walked up to the front door of the beach house and sat down — not the momentary, ready-when-you-are-sit, but that determined, try-and-budge-me sit dogs do.
But after taking in two days of good friends, good food, good sun, good surf, and a breezy oceanfront porch swing nap that — until Ace came over and started licking my hand — was perhaps the most restful nap ever in my entire history of napping, we forced ourselves back in the hot old car and headed north, headed in search of another piece of my past.
That story is coming soon. Suffice to say that — unlike my college friends, and their principles — it didn’t hold up so well.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 9th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, animals, beach, cavalier, college, community, democrats, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, exclusive, figure 8 island, freeloading, friends, gated, king charles, liberal, north carolina, ocean, pelicans, pets, private, reunion, road trip, shore, spaniels, traveling with dogs, wilmington