The skies were overcast, but it did not seem too likely to rain, so we decided to go on a day trip to a nearby forest called the Nelder Grove to enjoy a nice walk. Feeling sorry for lonely Pepper, trapped outside and in the hallway the previous day, we decided to take him with us. He could probably use the exercise anyways.
It was paved most of the way there, but there were some gentle dirt roads near the end. Pepper was SO EXCITED to be out of the house! I didn't know an older border collie could pull that hard! We decided to just let him off the leash, and he busied himself with sniffing and urinating on all the forest had to offer. Luckily, he never strayed too far. At one point he dove right into an ice-cold creek for a drink.
The Grove had a lot of great trees, lots of sugar pine and huge sequoias. Ramsey works as a Yosemite park ranger, so he was able to tell us more about our surroundings than the interpretive signs. There was a lot of "what's this plant?"
My mother collects heart-shaped stuff, so I tried to get a photo of this vaguely heart-shaped stump, but it was pointed out to me that it kind of looks like a butt in this photo. Thanks for that.
Some of the trees were HUGE. If you've ever seen a sequoia in person, you know what I mean. These weren't even as big as they can get, I've seen some elsewhere that were large enough that you could drive a car through them. We had to take dorky pictures of ourselves in front of it, of course. I love Ramsey's ridiculous poses.
We enjoyed the peaceful environment, and I busied myself with photographing the different bark textures. I think that the visual depth provided by texture is one of the things missing from a lot of human-made environments, in nature almost nothing is flat and straight. There are little things to discover wherever you look.
I think this is a ponderosa pine?
Suddenly, the dog tore past us at full tilt, only to come to an abrupt stop, and began chewing on his hindquarters. Once we convinced him to hold still for us, we noticed a number of yellowjackets crawling around in his matted fur, on his rump and behind his ears. Ramsey is deathly allergic to bees, so our tactic for bee removal consisted of poking the dog with a stick until yellowjackets came out, and then running like mad. We did this a few more times until we found the creek again and coaxed/shoved the dog into the water, splashing and dousing him. More bees emerged and we ran for it.
Eventually, we got to the car and toweled the dog off, swatting at a few bees. We hoped that we had gotten them all out, but weren't particularly optimistic. Ramsey was driving, and I briefly considered the possibility of him going into anaphylactic shock behind the wheel as the dog hopped up on the towel-covered backseat beside me. I pointed his rump toward the open window and we were underway. Twice we had to stop due to bees crawling around in his fur. Thankfully, nobody was stung, and we arrived home safely. A final bee emerged as we left the car and repeatedly tried to sting the weatherstripping around the window before flying off.
We had decided that the best course of action was to give the dog a bath. His matted, greasy fur was the source of the problem and it seemed to have been a while since his last one. I opened the bathroom window to give any stray bees a target and we set to work, armed with thick rubber gloves and the least-toxic human shampoo we could find. During the bath, two more bees worked their way free and made for the window. I'd like to say that we retained our composure, but the response was mostly "AUGH! BEE!" and running for the door. We found three dead in the water, and I found another dead while brushing the dog's tail. Frustrated by the dog's poor grooming, I brushed him for an hour or so, working out all the mats that I could find, and cutting out a few around an open wound on his leg which had been there for some time. These were likely stopping it from forming a proper scab.
Pepper seemed happy that his adventure was over and looked like a much younger (and better-smelling) dog at the end of the day. We gave him lots of love. Aww.