Monday, October 1, 2012

Commuting and Pleasure travel on New Mexico's Rail Runner train


                                Photo:  Courtesy of Rail Runner    Photographer:  Ernie Montoya 

Rail commuting and pleasure trips bring savings and convenience into life.  Trapped in a car in Southern California for 28 years, logging 2-3000 miles a month commuting in a vehicle, working in the field, the pleasure of rail commuting or pleasure traveling makes dollars and sense. As New Mexico is now our home, Rail Runner is our choice. 

When looking for ways to cut expenses, enjoy a relaxing trip rather than stress on freeways, it makes every bit of sense to use the resources available to make a trip most enjoyable. The scenery is beautiful, seats comfortable, and the added thrill of riding a train is a "no brainer".

Comparing cost and time to our destination was done.  We live in New Mexico now, where the fabulous Rail Runner commuter train lives. The Rail Runner runs between Belen, NM and Santa Fe, NM with bus transit and shuttle services at most locations or at least access to them.

A comparison - Commuter train vs vehicle.    Travel distance 100 miles.

Our trip is approximately 96 miles round trip. 

By vehicle - it takes us 1 hour and 20 minutes (sometimes more if there is a traffic snarl), traveling on a busy freeway, at the cost of $17.- 20. fuel cost round trip in one or the other of our vehicles, vs $2. each, (senior fare) round trip on a weekend on Rail Runner.  A shuttle bus is present when we arrive, and the services are free. Fares are only slightly higher during the week, and still pale in comparison to driving.

On the commuter train, it takes 1 hour and 10 minutes.  We are leaving and arriving at the same destination for this comparison. The rail commuter offers free bus transit services. 

Entrapment - or vehicle dependence as we call it,  makes no sense - particularly when options are available.  If we make 100 weekend trips a year to this destination, which likely we will, - by travelling on the train, we will save 1300. - 1600. a year. 

What uses can anyone find for 1300. - 1600. a year?   There's no doubt that most people could find ten dozen uses for the money saved. Does it make sense?  We think so.  The added benefit to our environment could be multiplied to enhance a cleaner air for future generations is also a goal. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rough and tough recyled fabric dachsund toy survives

Denim doxie toy made with love and the wondering how long this rudimentary blueblood cloth companion would remain intact.  It passed the test.  After 11 days, only a tail is missing.

The denim fabric is durable and resistant to chew holes that expose stuffing.  What a better way to repurpose  denim jeans and pants?   What doxie does not want to enjoy discovery of what's inside?  It will be a challenge.  Enrichment and problem solving?   Hoping so. The entertainment value has exceeded most toy expectations.   



Friday, September 14, 2012

Pleasing small dogs, dachsunds, any dog, with the right toy

                                        (Corey and his best buddy looking out the window)

Small dogs are eager and easy to please, like all others.  The key is finding the safest, most indestructible toys that amuse your best friend.

Corey is our latest family member.  A dachsund/min pin mix.  He is a comic, dubbed court jester Corey. An active smoothie furred, short legged, shark tooth dynamo that loves to play.  Young and courageous, his adventures lead to leaping from tall places and believing he is an eighty pound doberman.  At 9 pounds, it is hard to imagine that one so small can get into a bit of trouble. Yet, if we were that small, there's much to find to get into mischief just six inches off the ground.

In a new experience with a small court jester is that toys become objects of great curiosity.  Most all cloth doggie toys become "shredded wheat" in a short time.  Forget squeaky toys which become the object of intense and wild interest until disabled.  As we have all come to conclude, there is something very fascinating to most all dogs with toys that create noise.  With the exception of a well constructed doggie toy that comes with a price, (there are some out there), toys are clearly our best pals best friends. 

Found a couple of solutions to the destruction.  Create toys that keep Corey entertained, yet withstand the course of destruction and fun.  Enrichment toys pose a challenge as with zoo animals, their forever confinement and need for stimulation.  It is a source of fun to deliver treats in a manner to allow their instincts and thinking to "work" for getting things they want.  Not having any experience in animal behavioral science, decided, what works for children, has gotta work for canines.  Let me qualify this.  Children are given toys to stimulate their growth and learning process, without the task of unleashing the Oreo cookies. 

Have integrated a couple of challenges that enhance Corey's life with fun and lead to less destruction. What dog does not like a toy that can be rolled around, particularly if it rattles. 

Took a margarine container, cut a hole in the top that releases tiny doggie bisquits when rolled around and toppled.  This was the first test of enrichment.  What was learned is that curiosity of noise became paramount. What followed was that the entertainment yielded a reward.   After comparing the $9. treat buddy on the left with the butter container, the entertainment value was greater with the recycled container.  The only difference is that the treat buddy, which is made of great durable rubber is that for a small dog, it's heavy. It unscrews and can be filled with treats, closing it to allow treats to filter out when played with. Although it comes in different sizes, purchased a small one and learned how heavy it was after dropping it on my foot.  Found that it is a tad heavy for a small dog to engage wildly with it for long.  

Had to duct tape the lid after a first try. After that, the container stayed intact.  Tiny bisquits can be inserted in the top. 

The next level was creating a cloth toy that was indestructible.  After trying many types of recyled fabrics, they all ended up in shreds.  Got to thinking about closely woven heavy weave.  Denim fit the bill.  After creating a simple denim bone shaped toy on my sewing machine - and inserting a squeaky over a week ago, the solution was found.  

Corey will also have his own personal doxie toy built from durable denim.  There is still work to finish his own fabric buddy, that should provide the same durable fun as the rest without the shred mess.   Does he mind that all his toys will be denim blue? If he likes the toy and it squeaks, it does not seem to matter to him what color it is. 

No matter how our great companions and buddies are entertained, safety, fun and enrichment should be a goal.  After all as humans, we know what we like and buy.  Our best buddies should have the same.  

"Chow" for now...and literally speaking,..rut roh, it's breakfast time, then a day of play and my 14 hours of sleep. ~ Corey

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Little dogs vs big dogs - it doesn't matter!

Big dogs, little dogs...a dog is pure joy!  After having many rescues over the years, another has filled this house.  Sitting at my feet, as this blog is written, is Corey,  the "emperor of this kingdom".

Corey is the sovereign ruler of this empire and the Ambassador of household smiles and laughter. If the human heart beats at the rate of a peaceful creek, the job of a dog like Corey is complete.  No medicine is a sure fire cure for what a pet companion can accomplish at the flick of chasing a tail.

"Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever!"

Please....rescue, spay and neuter.  


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Black bears feast on cherries in the wild.

What black bears do in the wild during foraging season.  Soon black bears will begin scouting out dens for winter hibernation, birth of cubs in January, and their busy life continues throughout the year teaching their young and foraging. 

                               Wild Cherry Feast in the Great Smokey Mountains  - Cades Cove. 
                                                Black bears doing what wild bears do.